Mycaelis entered the cold and dim confines of his underground home. The sunlight behind him waned as he delved deeper. Soon, the sunlight loomed away and was replaced by the warm glow of torches that lined the walls of the rocky cavern. The roomful underground cavern was silent.
The crackling remains of branches and logs being digested in the fireplace and the steady drops of water dripping from stalactites around Vagus’ pool were the only sounds he could make out. He made in the direction of the underground pool that lead to the flooded cave system that Vagus and Narda had made their domain. His usually flawless stride was absent. His steps were now heavy and slow as though there were a lead ball chained to his ankle.
“Narda!” he called, hoping that the Lanturn had not go out for the day.
The underground home was empty as the hole left in Mycaelis’ heart. A hole that was once filled by Vagus, his only brother and family he had left. All this emptiness was making him feel especially lonely. He needed to talk to Narda. She would know where Vagus and the others would be. She always knew everything.
Mycaelis stood at the edge of the pool, hoping its watery depths would soon glow yellow with the light of Narda’s ever-illuminate bulbs and that the cavern would echo with the chimes of her voice. No such things came. The water remained dusky and still as ever.
For a moment he remembered the occasions when Vagus’ head would pierce its surface and would gaze up at him with a cheeky grin, playfully teasing Mycaelis for his inability to swim. Mycaelis would, as he usually did, throw an insult at him or would simply scowl when he could not think of one to give.
“Narda…” his voice was desperate now. His memories only made him feel more alone.
Was it just him, or was it cold? The fire had since died out and had been out for quite some time. Other than Mycaelis’ tail-flame, it was the cavern’s only source of heat. Mycaelis folded his arms, hugging himself to ward off the chill.
Giving up on hope of Narda hearing his call, he finally made the depressing conclusion that she was out. With his broad shoulders slumped, he walked the way he had come. Along the way, he eyed the few pieces of rough furniture his home had. A worn table at which three equally worn chairs stood at. He sighed, knowing that one would remain empty…possibly forever.
His attention turned to the three beds, roughly fashioned from reeds gathered from Tao Lake above him. It was, to his surprise, that he didn’t find Vagus’ bed to be empty. A Riolu, one whose fur bristled thick and soft, laid curled up and seemingly asleep on the bed of reeds. His head was hidden, buried by his arms as he lay. A bright red bandana was strewn around his neck.
“Leon?” For a reason he could not comprehend, Mycaelis felt happier than usual to see the Riolu. He shuffled over to him with renewed vigour. “What are ya doin down here? I thought you went looking for your annoying ghost friend.”
Silence met him as Leon’s response. The Riolu didn’t as much as flinch at hearing his voice. Mycaelis soon came to Leon’s side, his mind was bursting with questions. Why was he on Vagus’ bed? What made him come back? What was wrong with him? With a shake of his head, he restored order to his thoughts. Concern entered his mind. This was someone, seemingly the only person in the world, that Vagus cared about.
“Hey!” He never took kindly to being ignored. Even so, he maintained his genuine concern. “Are ya feeling ‘right?”
He once again received no response. Not even a movement or gesture. Maybe he was asleep?
“Hey.” Mycaelis knelt at Leon’s side and gave the Riolu a gentle shake. What occurred next took Mycaelis by surprise.
Leon, in a blur of sudden movement, rolled to the side and viciously smacked Mycaelis’ claw away. With Mycaelis already kneeling, it didn’t take much effort for the Riolu to grab hold of his shoulders and force him onto his backside.
Mycaelis vision soon became a blur as Leon shook him by his shoulders.
“This is your fault!” he yelled, his voice echoing around the cavern. “Yours! Vagus ran off into those woods because of what you said to him!”
Off the top of his head, Mycaelis quickly calculated approximately six different ways in which he could have snapped Leon’s neck then and there. Leon’s words, however, proved a more potent attack than any he could think of. Mycaelis submitted and did nothing as Leon ceased shaking him and gazed into his eyes. He could tell that Leon had been holding this in for some time and intended to drive every word of his through Mycaelis’ thick skull.
“You don’t know anything!” Tears seemed to be trailing from Leon’s ruby red eyes. They were quickly absorbed by his fur. “He didn’t want to be like you! A psycho!” Leon stopped for a moment to gulp and quickly wipe away a tear. “You’re his own brother and you can’t see it! He has a heart, he has feelings, he’s not dead on the inside like you! You don’t know who he is, or who he wants to be with! You don’t know anything!”
Mycaelis had heard enough. With a growl, he shoved Leon off him. He could have thrown Leon into the fireplace that was just behind him, but that could wait.
“I knew who he once was and I knew who he wanted to be! He was my brother, until you came along!” He stopped as Leon lunged at him in a burst of speed.
Mycaelis, however, was quicker as his claw shot out and held Leon by his neck. He squeezed, knowing that the pain would keep the Riolu from attacking him. “We were fine until the day he pulled you out of that lake! He was everything to me and you took him! You changed him, Leon! You made him someone he was never meant to be!”
“Shut up,” wheezed Leon as he struggled.
With a short swing of his arm, Leon managed to loose his Force Palm at Mycaelis. The green hand that shot from the bubble on his right paw forced the Charmeleon to release his grip on Leon and tumble backwards end over end.
Leon quickly jumped to his feet and strode over to where Mycaelis lay. The Charmeleon laid face up, staring at the cavern ceiling. He remained there without the slightest hint of motion. Leon stood over him, not even caring if Mycaelis would fly into a rage and turn him into a pillow case.
“Vagus was what he wanted to be! All he wanted was more out of life and you treated him like crap for it!” Tears still streamed from Leon’s eyes. “He wanted to live, Mycaelis! Live! And all this time, all he wanted was for you to live alongside him! Not hold him back! He loved you!”
Leon fell silent and wobbled on his legs. His yelling was taking a significant toll on his strength. It seemed to be something he was unfamiliar with doing. His voice had now fallen to almost a wheeze while his body began to tremble.
“Now, Vagus is…is…” The tears became many as they fell to the smooth rock floor of the cavern. It seemed that Leon didn’t even want to speak of what might have befallen Vagus and the others.
Slowly, a sore Mycaelis began to rise from the floor just as Leon began to gradually pace his way back to Vagus’ bed. Mycaelis simply gazed at him, completely stunned at the unexpected outburst. He remained lying on the floor as he watched Leon return to his former position on the bed as though the argument, and its entirety, had never taken place.
For what seemed like hours, Mycaelis remained where he was, gazing at the Riolu, whose words had hit him harder than any battle he had been in. He pulled his legs close to him. Had he been wrong this entire time? Perhaps he had been. Vagus, since the day they had both come to Tao, he had been overjoyed at being in a new place.
A rare tear rolled down Mycaelis’ cheek as he recalled the cheeky and once two-eyed Totodile pulling him into the village fountain for a laugh. He smiled, it was a time when appreciated his brother’s playfulness. Now he was gone. Pushed away and unlikely to ever return…all because of him.
Mycaelis was never one to ask for second chances. In the life he had left, one chance was all he got. Failure always resulted in severe pain or hardship. But now, he wanted one more than ever. This was all becoming something too severe to bare. He wanted to talk to Vagus and to understand it all. To say he was sorry and to hear what he had to say.
Eventually, rising to his feet, he regarded Leon with a vacant expression. Slowly, he knelt at Leon’s side and gently caressed his head. The Riolu seemed to be shivering a little under his touch, it was then Mycaelis realised how cold his fur felt against his warm claw. Mycaelis diverted his attention to the fireplace and breathed a stream of fire, reheating its charred remains and creating warm embers.
A nearby blanket came next. He covered Leon with it, tucking it under him to keep him warm. This was a practice he had grown familiar with while tucking Kareena into bed during the weeks that followed her hatching. He then rose and gazed down at Leon who seemed to welcome the new warmth with an easy-to-miss sigh.
“Vagus…” Mycaelis sighed for a moment. “… never had any close friends. I just wanna say…I’m glad you were his first.”
He stood to leave, but could not help voicing a thought that had entered his mind. “Vagus loved me, huh?” Mycaelis gave a short snort. “You know what? Something tells me he loved us both, Leon.”
With no further words, Mycaelis turned and made for the exit. Kareena would require his attention. He had another lesson to teach her, now. One that he should have learned many years ago.