With the Turn of Seasons (Fiera Kitsun)

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With the Turn of Seasons (Fiera Kitsun)
Date of Cutscene: 07 March 2015
Location: Pokemon Islands
Synopsis: Fiera's grand-aunt subjects her to an unorthodox test of her skill and control, with a surprising outcome.
Cast of Characters: Fiera Kitsun

The days pass and become weeks; the weeks pass and become months; in time, winter loosens its grasp on the shrine, snow melting away and the earth and plants beginning to rouse in anticipation of the full blossoming of spring.

Fiera's training has continued throughout that time - learning the rituals of the shrine alongside the other miko who work and train there, practicing the balancing of her will with Foxfire's, and regular combat training with the other miko and with their respective Pokemon. Matsuko is stern and strict but fair, as befits the head priestess of the shrine and the overseer of her students; now that she's studying alongside other girls, Fiera knows that her grand-aunt refuses to set her apart, either by praise or by criticism, privilege or burden.

Which makes it something of a surprise when Matsuko intercepts Fiera on her way out to the courtyard for afternoon chores. "Fiera, have you sensed any Pokemon around the shrine?" the head priestess asks tersely, once the other miko are out of earshot.

Fiera blinks at her grand-aunt. "You mean, Pokemon without a bond to a trainer?" she asks. "I don't normally sense already-linked Pokemon ..." She trails off, half-closing her eyes and reaching out with her heart, extending her spirit and her senses past the shrine precincts. "None we haven't known about, Grandmother. Wild Diglett and flying- and bug-types in the woods ..."

She pauses, becoming aware of another presence, a mild hunger nosing about in the woods. "I think there's a Swinub rooting about for mushrooms or something, but ..." She opens her eyes, pulling her focus back in as she looks at her grand-aunt. "Why?"

Matsuko shakes her head, "There's something else. We've had to route more water from our well to keep the purification troughs flowing - the stream should have thawed by now, yet there's less flow than ever. Get Foxfire and meet me at the stairs; we need to take a look."

A few minutes later, Matsuko and Fiera are making their way through the woods which surround the shrine, with the senior priestess following the path of an almost-dry streambed. Fiera's own attention is divided between following her grand-aunt, making sure she places her feet safely, and keeping alert for additional traces of Pokemon. If something's caused the stream to dry up, she's certain it's not a Swinub, or anything she could mistake for one - and the fact that its presence seems to fall behind them only confirms it.

When they do reach the source of the problem, though, there's no mistaking it.

"A Snorlax," Matsuko says grimly, surveying the massive sleeper's form - half its body hanging off the edge of the streambed, an impromptu and ersatz dam restricting the water's normal flow. "We'll have to wake it up and get it to move somehow ..."

Fiera winces, looking about the forest around them. "Snorlaxes always wake up so hungry, and there's nothing green for this one to eat. Why would this one have fallen asleep here?"

"There was probably plenty of food when it dozed off," suggests Matsuko. "That could have been last fall, or even in the summer."

"You would have noticed the stream tapering off back then, wouldn't you?" Fiera asks. "But that explains my not sensing him -" She pauses, peering at the Snorlax. "Him or her," she amends. "Even standing right next to this Snorlax, I can barely sense anything, she's so deep asleep."

Matsuko grunts faintly, shaking her head. "Well, either way. Fiera, Foxfire, wake it up. And here -" She tosses an Apricorn to Fiera.

Except it's not exactly an Apricorn any more; Fiera takes a few seconds to admire the workmanship of the Apricorn turned Pokeball. "All I have with me is Foxfire, though," she points out. "And in the middle of the forest -"

"Manage," is all Matsuko said as she moves further back. "Without burning down the forest around us."

Fiera bows politely. "Yes, Grandmother ... Foxfire, by my side!" She barely has to pull out the Ninetales's Pokeball before Foxfire emerges, materializing next to her and studying the massive sleeping Snorlax.

There's a moment of outward silence as Fiera and Foxfire commune, sharing thoughts and considering strategies as they synchronize their wills and spirits ... and then the Ninetales advances, leading off with a Confuse Ray, then a cautious Ember to try and rouse the Snorlax from its slumber. For several seconds, their efforts seem wasted - and then, with a rumble, the Snorlax starts to roll out of the streambed, gathering itself (or "herself," Fiera is beginning to think) up onto all fours.

Then the Snorlax yawns, and a wave of drowsiness runs through Fiera as Foxfire lets out an answering yawn. That drowsiness is quickly followed by alarm, though, as Fiera realizes what it means: Foxfire is about to drop off to sleep herself, which is likely to leave her helpless if the Snorlax follows up with a more damaging attack. Then a second realization -

"Foxfire, return!" Fiera grabs for Foxfire's Pokeball and recalls the Ninetales before the fox Pokemon can actually nod off, then turns her attention to the Snorlax, bowing deeply. "Forgive us for disturbing you ..."

The Snorlax lets out a rumble as it peers quizzically at Fiera, much the same way that Matsuko is eyeing her grand-niece. "Fiera," the priestess begins, "I said -"

"She has an egg, Grandmother," Fiera interjects. "Snorlax, will you please trust us and allow us to see your child?"

"How can you ..." Matsuko trails off as the Snorlax shuffles aside with a rumble, revealing the smooth, curved surface of a fairly large egg beneath where it - she - had been sleeping. "By the Birds and the Beasts," the senior priestess breathes. "A Snorlax and a Munchlax, waking up together - there'd be nothing left of the forest by the time they ate their fill."

"If we leave them out here," Fiera corrects, trying to keep her tone deferential. "Then yes, if they eat their fill, the forest would be ravaged. Particularly if they wake up for the season before the plants have had time to sprout for the season -"

"Even then," Matsuko states. "What would you suggest, then?"

"We can bring food in for them at the shrine, can't we?"

Matsuko lets out a sigh that seems to start somewhere in the bowels of the earth beneath her feet. "Do you have the slightest idea how much a hungry Snorlax eats, you silly girl?"

"Most of their body weight, but that also depends on how frequently they're waking up to eat." Fiera shakes her head. "Grandmother, there's no other option - if you want to protect the forest hereabouts, that's the only option. Unless you're prepared to risk enough of a battle to drive a mother Snorlax away and leave her unhatched child defenseless -"

"SNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRR."

"- which isn't going to sit well with the mother," Fiera adds, rubbing her ears after a lengthy deep-throated roar from the mother Snorlax in question. She hardly needed her empathy to pick up on the undertones which fueled that vocalization.

"I suppose it wouldn't," Matsuko says, looking from her grand-niece to the still-grouchy Snorlax. "Well, if you want to try cementing that bond you seem to be nurturing ..." She nods at the Apricorn ball in Fiera's hand. "Put it to the test."

Fiera bows politely to her grand-aunt, then turns to the Snorlax, bowing once more, and reaching out silently with her empathic gift. It won't necessarily be easy for you, but this is how I can aid you and your child. Will you allow me to be your partner, and share your strength with me?

"Snoooorlax," rumbles the massive Pokemon. Fiera raises her head with a smile, then nods before tossing the Pokeball; the Snorlax's body glows, the Apricorn opens, and the light swirls into a smaller, denser sphere before the ball closes around it, settling to the ground in a nest of ivy. The ball quivers a couple of times, then goes still, and Fiera smiles as she feels the link stabilizing between herself and her newest Pokemon. "Thank you, Futon," she whispers as she picks up the ball, then moves to gently scoop up the egg which will hatch, given time and love, into a Munchlax.

"You pass," Matsuko says grudgingly. "And your timing is ... adequate. You know of Giratina?"

"Not very well," Fiera admits, cradling the Munchlax egg in her arms. "One of the Legendary Pokemon discovered more recently, I believe?"

"There's a damned fool out there in the Multiverse who captured one and forged a link with it."

The blood drains from Fiera's face. "Somebody captured a new Legendary? Who?"

"Not just any Legendary, Fiera. Giratina isn't of the natural world - at least, not the one we call natural. It is ... other. Dangerously different. And that man forced it into a Pokeball."

Fiera bows her head. "Do you know his name?"

"Logan Trieste. He calls himself 'Lute,' and claims to be a Pokemon researcher." Matsuko shakes her head. "If he really studied Pokemon, he'd know better ..."

"I know him, Grandmother." Fiera's voice is different now - softer but at the same time, less yielding. "He's ... if it's the same Lute, then he's - well. He's a Shadow user, among other things. I've faced him before."

"Really." Matsuko's lips tighten. "It would seem you're going to have to face him again. And that means you need to complete your training - or rather, your final tests to leave the shrine as a full-fledged Pokemon miko. The Fire awaits you."