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Frontier Town Main Street

"You will," Bellatrix said with a nod, releasing some of the tension in her body with a small exhale. At Steven's question, she answered, "Beyond the obvious? A greater sense of freedom. The convenience of having dexterous claws instead of paws cannot be understated and I imagine you will feel something similar now that your body-type does not largely consist of a single limb.

"Illusions too," she added. "Far more convincing than they ever were when I was simply a zorua. I could demonstrate, if you wished, although each species has its own unique strengths. You'll have to find yours yourself on the basis that I am not a metang myself."
"Freedom," he repeated to himself. That had been something he thought he'd had just by coming here. Freedom from his name and title and the duties that came with it. Yet he learned that wasn't true.

He glanced down at his own upturned hands, clenching both claws into fists.

Gaining a new form. Gaining more power, maybe that was the freedom he yearned for.

"I'm not sure an illusion will help me sort through my thoughts at present, but I appreciate the offer," he said kindly. "I look forward to seeing your new and improved powers, though. Perhaps a sparring match in the near future."

He looked down at his claws again. "For now, though, I think I know what it is I have to do."

He had to train. Body and mind. This wasn't the League. He wasn't the Champion anymore. He didn't have a team; he just had himself.

He was already calculating how long the trip to Sunward would be when he found Bellatrix's gaze again. "Thank you for taking the time to talk things through with me. It's helped."

They were almost back to the Haus, and the sun had slipped well below the horizon by now, leaving only a lingering glow left in the sky. "You seem well put together," said Steven, "but if there's ever a time I can repay you for this kindness, don't hesitate to seek me out and ask."
"Very good," replied Bellatrix. "I wish you the best of luck on that front." She began to walk towards the Haus but not before nodding to Steven. "It's hardly anything," she said, "and though I appreciate the offer, it won't be necessary beyond the request to do your best to pull your weight."

She briefly stopped to turn and look at him. "And do tell me how you find those exercises," she added before heading off into the night.

Ch05: Radiant Wings and Shadowy Feathers [Grace & Silver]
“…And I’ll take a couple of Oran and Leppa. Thank you.”

As per usual after an intense training session or expedition, Silver headed straight to the marketplace to restock his supplies, especially healing berries. And after a quick exchange of money and goods, he resumed walking aimlessly through the street.

While if he didn’t get injured severely during the raid and he could have resumed training without problems, he deemed it best to take a break and not exert his body and mind after the grueling experience through that prison. So casual sightseeing around the town be it!

Soon, he approached another stand and looked absentmindedly at the goods, whistling softly as he did so and mostly unaware of nearby customers…
Phew, that had been exhausting!

Exhausting, but rewarding. Grace could accept that for sure. Once she was certain that the prisoners in the cells could be handed off and cared for safely, she decided to take her break. On the way, she'd already told herself that she'd be training with Radiance from now on-- it had such a positive effect on calming down their rescuees that there was no reason she should neglect using it now!

Especially when... she had to be helped, herself. Her thoughts kept coming back to that one moment...

Listen to your own advice and take a deep breath!” he exclaimed, a dark aura flaring around his body. “You aren’t gonna help others if you don’t first help yourself!”

Indigo droplets condensed around Silver’s hand, and clutching the Togetic’s arm tighter (but surprisingly gently), he let those droplets seep into her body, cloaking her in a violet hoarfrost to dim her blinding light. They felt cold, refreshing, like taking a bath by the sea during a hot summer day.

I’m okay, really. I’m way too used to my own anger,” Silver said as his darkness receded, and he let go of her arm. “So, please, heed your own words and take a breather.”

And so she was doing just that. Taking a breather.

How was she doing that? Well, first on her list was making sure she had enough items on her at all times-- Grace never knew when someone would need her help!

The togetic had made her way to the same berry stall, and a familiar sight had snapped her from musing over her shopping list. Her eyes widened and she raised a paw to wave, wings flapping behind her. "Hey--!"

And then realised she never got his name.

That voice amidst the friendly chatter snapped Silver out of his own aimless thoughts, his ear swiveling in its direction as he faced the new presence. Confusion swirled briefly in his trademark narrowed stare, but as soon as he recognized the Togetic by his side, his gaze softened and a tiny grin stretched on his face.

“Oh! It’s you! Hey there!” he greeted back, reciprocating the paw-wave. His mind stalled briefly as he tried to recall her name — too many people to remember! — so he decided to aim for some simple small talk.

“So, huh, how’re you doing?” Silver asked, before motioning to the various berries. “I guess you’re here for some supply restocking, too?”
"Yeah, I was thinking about restocking on some supplies myself," Grace giggled while taking out her coin pouch. She was sure she had enough but it didn’t hurt to make sure.

"Sorry, my name's Togekiss Grace! I forgot I hadn't quite introduced myself to everyone yet."
“Ah, it’s okay, don’t worry! We’re quite the big group, so it can be difficult to find moments to meet everyone. Dontcha agree?” replied Silver, adding a lighthearted chuckle for good measure, and puffed his chest with spunk. “Well! Name’s Silver! And I’m, well, a former human.”

He shot a few careful glances around, wondering if someone had been eavesdropping. Though, considering the Wayfarers’ reputation, did he actually need to keep that secret under wraps?

“So, you used to be a Togekiss, huh?” He crossed his arms and tilted his head, appearing curious. “I reckon your world is one of those Pokémon-only ones, huh?”
Grace grinned. "Yep! I started as a little, itty bitty Togepi, and then became a Togekiss to better support my friends!" she chirped, sticking her tongue out a little. "Former hughman, huh?" she then said quietly, though Silver would have noticed that she said the word strangely. It was unfamiliar to her, after all.

"I heard a lot of folks on the team are like that! Leaf is one of them, she's really nice! Do you all know each other or something, or are you all from different worlds...?"
Silver smiled back at Grace, amused by her friendly demeanor. He didn’t bother to correct her spelling, either, finding that trait actually adorable.

“We’re from different worlds, yeah. Not unlike the ‘mon members of the team who come from different worlds,” he explained, using an example to help her understand.

“But speaking of Leaf, I do know a Leaf in my world, even if she’s older than our team’s Rapidash. I lowkey wonder how’d they react if they were to meet…”

He laughed softly, remembering that a certain Lycanroc in the team got that opportunity already. “Meeting a version of yourself from another world sounds like a unique experience! How’d you think it would be like to meet another Grace?”
Grace tapped her paw against her chin in thought as all of her tilted to the side a little. "Hmm... I think I'd have a lot of nice things to say to her for doing her best to help everyone!" she answered while humming. "Haha, I wonder if we'd just team up to support others even better! Like uhh two 'team moms' or something!"
“Well, aren’t you a box of sugar cubes!” exclaimed Silver with a light playful lilt, his smile stretching further. “I dunno if I’d have such a synergy with another me. Heck, we’d probably compete to see who broods the longest or something!”

He laughed, amused by his own little mental scene, before dismissing that thought with a wave of his paw and his mind drifting elsewhere.

“Team mom… Heh, I gotta say that’s a remarkable trait. Y’know, taking care of others and making sure everyone’s okay, especially if folks don’t or can’t take care of themselves properly.” His smile waned. “Like back there, with all those people who needed help. Waiting for a little soothing light in their hopeless lives.”

But just as quickly as his expression deflated, it quickly regained a spark of cheer. “You… did good with ‘em. Plenty of good. Those healing powers of yours must’ve done wonders, and hopefully they’ll get the rest of the healing and comfort they need.”
Her eyes lit up a little with that same glow in the cells. Something about her felt... distant. "Yes... I had to help them. Someone had to be in their corner, right? Show them that they still have some hope?" she murmured.

Then her gaze refocused on Silver. "I was a little worried about wielding that Radiance stuff without proper training, but... I had to give it a go, y'know? I didn't want to be reckless, but I had to do something..."

She trailed off, and slowly she tapped her paws together. Silver noticed her hesitation. "So thank you for helping me...! I'm sorry you had to do that..."
Silver was somewhat taken aback by her shift in her mood — did he say something wrong…? — but it didn’t take him more than a couple of seconds to connect the dots and understand why she was so hesitant.

“…Oh. Um.” He grinned awkwardly and waved his paw dismissively. “You’re welcome, but… huh, think nothing of it. I just did what I had to do.”

A tiny warm smile appeared on his face. “We’re a team, no? And as a team we gotta cover each other’s back. Besides,” he winked cheekily, “there’s no harm in needing some help, once in a while. Take it from someone who believed he could do everything by himself and who had to learn that lesson the hard way.”
It was slow, but Silver watched the togetic's posture relax. "Right, we  are a team, aren't we?" she giggled softly, looking him up and down.

"Even though you're a hughmon and everything, you... remind me of my team leader back home," Grace told him, then quickly backed it up with "But just a little bit! You just said something I know he'd say."
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Silver tilted his head, intrigued, and his ears twitched. “Oh, really? Your… team leader, huh? Can you tell me more ‘bout them? If you don’t mind me asking, of course.”

The now-Sneasel leaned slightly forward. “And… are you from some… ah, exploration or rescue team? Just curious to know ‘bout the kinda job you had back in your world.”
Her smile widened some. "I'm from Benny's Adventure Team! He's-- that's Ben-- our leader is an Arcanine. He's come a long way to go from his troubled, angsty self to who he is now. As an exploration team, the five of us are the frontrunners for exploring our world and discovering new things to share with everyone else. Whether that's new plants, new land or even a new species! We're almost veteran adventurers at this point!"
Well, that explained quite a few things. A guy who went through a troubled, angsty phase… No wonder Grace saw some similarities between himself and that leader of hers.

And hearing that someone else got through that kind of dark phase gave Silver some hope that he would have found his spark of light in the future, too. Sure, he had made plenty of progress already, but there was still so much more he could do.

“…Heh. That Ben sounds like the kinda guy I could get along with,” remarked Silver, grinning sincerely. “Also, wow! Congrats for your progress as an exploration team! Gotta say that I still dunno much about the worlds of dungeons, but that sounds like a big achievement for sure!”

The now-Sneasel produced an Oran from his belt bag and held it between his paws, pressing the stump of the stalk as if it were a Poké Ball’s button.

“There are some explorers and researchers where I come from, too, but the most widespread job is the one of Trainers. Think of ‘em like… battle coaches, who lead and teach battle techniques to various Pokémon.” He chuckled with mirth. “So yeah, I guess I’m some kinda leader, too!”
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"It certainly feels like an achievement!" Grace said with another giggle and a twirl in the air. The action with the oran berry caught her eye, and she tilted her head a little.

"Like a battle coach, huh...? So... hughmans and Pokémon. You all... lived together, then? Are Pokémon ferals to you, or do they talk like they do here...?"
“Yeah, humans and Pokémon have lived together since the primeval eras, or at least close enough,” said Silver, his gaze wandering to the sky as he dug through the memories of his history lessons. “We didn’t always live in harmony, though. There’ve been countless of conflicts because of misunderstandings and mutual hostility.”

He looked back at Grace. “Y’see, Pokémon in my world are halfway between ferals and the ‘mons in this world. They all have their own cultures and languages which most humans don’t understand, and that made communication with ‘em… extremely tricky.” Then, he looked at his Oran and tossed it from a paw to another. “But time is a strict yet fair teacher. With patience and goodwill, humans and ‘mons found a connection and ways to help each other, and now neither side can’t imagine a world without the other.”
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