It's all going to end here, isn't it?
The girl stared up at the icy spears that swirled around her with blue eyes that radiated nothing but despair and terror—eyes that were normally full of boldness, of tenacity. Every inch of her body prickled with a cold so freezing that it almost burned. The only sounds she could hear was the old man's laughter, and the crackling snap of the icicles as they continued to form above her.
My journey…and my life…they'll end here, after everything I've been through…who would have thought?
The Pokemon before her merely gazed at her with a solemn expression on its almost lifeless, coarse face. If it held remorse for what it was about to do, it made no inclination to such sentiment. The mottled gray and blue of its rough skin shone with ice crystals, its pupil-less yellow eyes revealing no mercy. It was simply there to do the man's bidding; it didn't care what the consequences were.
"Kyurem, use Glaciate!"
The girl closed her eyes as her hands moved to her belt, grasping the trembling Pokeballs in hopes to comfort her beloved partners that resided inside them.
Forgive me, everyone…I wasn't strong enough to keep you safe.
The icicles came crashing down relentlessly.
"Reshiram! FUSION FLARE!"
A heat wave—glorious salvation—swept over the girl in a fiery burst, immediately melting the once deadly icicle spears before they even had the chance to make their way to their mark. She snapped her head up at the sound of wings crusading through the air as a white form descended to the ground, blue eyes blazing with righteous fury. A figure leapt off of the alabaster dragon's back, gray eyes darting around the scene—a girl, a man, and a dragon as cold and empty as a hollow glacier. Windswept teal green hair tucked safely beneath a cap fluttered in the breeze of the white dragon's wings, and the newcomer glared at the man—who was gaping in shock—with a vehement expression.
"So you came…the freak without a human heart…N!" the old man snarled, his blood red eyes swimming with malice as the white dragon's constant wing beats ruffled his gray-green hair.
The girl blinked her blue eyes rapidly as she gazed upon the defiant and confident form of the newcomer—N—almost reverently. He had saved her life…with the legendary Pokemon of truth, Reshiram, no less.
That was how Rosa first began to fall for Team Plasma's former King.
It was at least a month later when Rosa defeated the Champion, Iris. The young Dragon user had eagerly accepted defeat, and Rosa was inducted into the prestigious Hall of Fame with her beloved team of loyal Pokemon. Her cherished starter, the Grass serpent Serperior; her mischievous Ghost of Fire, Chandelure; her energetic Water weasel, Floatzel; her Lucario, with its Fighting heart of Steel; her calm and kind Dragon-like bird, Altaria; and lastly, her Fox of Illusion, Zoroark—who had once belonged to a certain King.
Now Rosa was "on vacation," so-to-speak, having deserved it after a long and grueling journey to become the Champion of the Unova region. As the pigtailed girl walked across the rocky ground of Victory Road with her Serperior—for some reason, her instincts had told her to take a little stroll there—she couldn't resist past memories from welling up inside her mind.
That day in the Giant Chasm…when N and Reshiram saved me from Kyurem and that man—Ghetsis, wasn't it? N's "father." The DNA Splicers merged Reshiram and Kyurem together to create White Kyurem…but I defeated it, and the two Dragons were separated again. Poor Kyurem…just a shell of the original Pokemon from which Reshiram and its counterpart, Zekrom, emerged from. Kyurem just needed a hero, like the Dragons did. It never deserved to be used by Team Plasma to freeze all of Unova. It was probably in so much pain…
Rosa gazed up at the brilliant, cerulean sky, shielding her eyes from the sun's harsh rays as she halted in front of one of the many caverns in the side of the Road's cliffs. Serperior slithered around her somewhat, rubbing its serpentine head against her arm. Rosa smiled and patted the Grass-type's head with smooth strokes, continuing down memory lane.
N…was Team Plasma's "King." An orphan boy raised by that Ghetsis, a human who could understand the hearts of Pokemon. He searched for the truth in the world…and was the hero Reshiram chose. He saved my life when Kyurem was being controlled by Ghetsis…and I saved Reshiram in return. And back in Driftveil City, those ex-Team Plasma members…Rood gave me the Zorua that had once been friends with N. All along, I guess we've been connected somehow. I wonder where he's gone…after he met me at Victory Road's gate and talked with me and told me I would beat the Pokemon League, did he resume his travelling around the world with Reshiram?
Rosa couldn't help the light flush that settled on her cheeks as she recalled the friendly and affectionate way her name had rolled off of N's tongue when he had spoken to her. She had never felt the fluttering heartbeat in her chest before she had met N—now, the mere thought of mention of him set her heart into overdrive. Was it his sincerity? His almost childlike yet noble honesty? His desire to protect Pokemon and to understand them? Maybe it was all of the teal-haired man's qualities that attracted Rosa to him. It was quite the asset that he had very nice looks, as well…
"Reee!" Serperior's sharp cry alerted Rosa back to her senses, and she looked down at her starter's anxious red gaze. The Pokemon was nodding pointedly at the opening in the side of the cliff, and Rosa followed its gaze.
Standing in the shadows was a form she knew all too well—after all, she was the Trainer of one herself.
It was a Zoroark, staring right at her with red rimmed blue eyes, seeming to beckon her forward.
Rosa was racing after the Fox of Illusion before she knew what she was doing, Serperior slithering after her as fast as it could go.
She kept running, barely registering the ache in her legs as she hopped over rocks and stones and went deeper into the cavern, the Zoroark always lumbering five steps ahead of her. At last, the Pokemon halted and turned its foxy face towards her, giving her a nod.
And then it was gone in the shadows, and Rosa was left to stare up at the falling apart castle that seemed to just grow out of the stone.
Serperior nudged Rosa's hand worriedly, an anxious whine in its throat as she cautiously stepped forward, swallowing thickly. She gave her Pokemon a comforting pat on the head before returning it to its Pokeball just to be safe, and proceeded to make her way down the crumbling steps to the entrance of the castle.
What's a…castle…doing all the way out here? In the caves of Victory Road? It looks so…lonely, somehow. Like it was forgotten. It's…sad…
…just like Kyurem, almost…
Rosa couldn't keep the gasp from escaping her lips as the new voice echoed throughout the large and empty chamber. Her blue eyes instantly locked with gray ones, and she stiffened slightly as her cheeks flamed ever so slightly.
"N-N?" Rosa stammered out, staring at the former Team Plasma King with wide eyes. "W-what are you…?"
"Hello, Rosa," N nodded politely, giving her a calm smile. He was always so tranquil, like a pond on a summer day…
N spread his arms wide, gesturing all around him. Rosa could tell that the castle she had entered had once been magnificent; grand. But it was broken, now; just a shell of what it had been once upon a time. The teal-haired man turned his gaze back to her and said in a simple tone, "You lead…I'll follow."
Before Rosa knew it, she was walking in front of N with a purposeful stride, her instincts telling her where to go in this strange, broken place. Their steps echoed and bounced off of the crumbling walls, shadows dancing in dark corridors and water dripping from somewhere unseen. Finally, after climbing another set of stairs and making their way down another large and empty hallway, Rosa came to a stop in front of a room, which N stared longingly into. Without a word he stepped in, and Rosa followed.
It was a child's room. That much she could discern. It was just as broken as the rest of the castle, with peeling walls and dust everywhere. There was a basketball hoop; a train track set; a skateboard ramp; a menagerie of toys, all forgotten and showing signs of having entertained Pokemon instead of humans.
There was nothing but silence as Rosa took the sight in, until N at last spoke.
"This place…was my world."
His voice was trembling ever so slightly.
"When I was little, I was abandoned deep in the woods. The ones who took me in and raised me were the Pokémon who lived there. Then, one day, a man appeared, claiming to be my father. That was...Ghetsis. The things he gave me were...the name 'Harmonia'...the knowledge a king would need...Pokémon with their hearts shut so very tightly I couldn't even talk to them...and this room…I'll be outside..."
Without another word, N stepped out of the room, leaving Rosa speechless.
…his life…had been like that…? Oh, N…
She swallowed and stepped out of the room as well, seeing N lean against a toppled column. He silently met her eyes before nodding towards another staircase and starting to head in that direction. Rosa immediately followed, sensing it was now his turn to lead.
This time, the chamber they entered was full of such loneliness and sorrow that Rosa's heart twanged painfully. There was a crumbling throne in the very center, and behind it was a rockslide almost—it seemed to be covering up something, if the occasional specks of light breaking through were any clue. N stood before the throne, running a finger along the edge of it, before turning around and giving Rosa a sad smile.
It was like all the anguish of the world was in that simple upturn of those lips.
"It was two years ago. For the sake of Pokémon...For my ideal world...I put my beliefs on the line and battle a certain Trainer! And I lost... But at the same time, I learned something important. To make the world better, you must accept different ideas. I learned that this is the formula for changing the world."
"Who…was that certain Trainer?" Rosa managed to get out in a soft voice.
N's gaze turned almost distant as he closed his eyes, memories most likely cascading across his mind. "…Hilda. Her name was Hilda. She was the seeker of ideals that Zekrom chose as its hero. You remind me of her, you know," N opened his eyes once more, meeting Rosa's. His gaze was so piercing and serious that she felt her cheeks flush yet again, causing her to fidget in embarrassment. "She was strong, just like you. Stubborn. Willing to do anything to protect Pokemon. Zekrom recognized her as a hero, and together Reshiram and I battled the two. She won, of course…"
"What happened afterwards?" Rosa ventured.
"I left on my journal to better understand the world with Reshiram. Hilda…became stronger. A Champion, just like you—only, she turned the title over to Iris, and went on a journey with Zekrom as well to search for her ideals. Do you know something, Rosa?"
Rosa hated how he said her name; yet she loved it as well. To her ears, he made it seem like it was a treasure.
N smiled once more, a somewhat playful notion as he noticed the pink flush on her cheeks. "I want to battle you to see if you are just as strong as Hilda. If you win…I've decided I will go on another journey—this time to find Hilda, and tell her something I wished to tell her long ago."
Before Rosa could answer, Reshiram was at N's side, its blue eyes scorching with wisdom as the alabaster Dragon stood tall and firm at its hero's side.
"I want to tell her thank you for showing me that truth and ideals can be together, and for being my very first human friend."
The White Dragon of Truth raised its unique head to the collapsing ceiling of the castle and gave a roar, a majestic and noble sound that rumbled throughout the entire chamber. Around Rosa's waist, her Pokeballs trembled with anticipation, obviously alert to the power and grace that radiated off of the legendary Reshiram's ancient form. A grin slowly made its way to her face, and she placed her hand around one of the Pokeballs—Zoroark's, to be precise—and slowly brought it into view.
"…sounds like a deal. But you have to promise me something, N."
N raised an eyebrow curiously. "Oh? And what would that be?"
With a little gleeful laugh, Rosa tossed the Pokeball into the air and in a burst of light, Zoroark appeared before her, grinning just as widely as its Trainer. Rosa placed her hands on her hips, nodding to Reshiram respectfully before turning her attention back to its hero, grin widening with her next words.
"Don't you dare go easy on me!"
The former King of Plasma Castle returned the smile, inclining his head. "I would never dream of it, Rosa. Now…let us start, shall we? Ladies first."
That day, Rosa realized something, as she and the Hero of legend went head-to-head with their beloved partners.
Hilda may always be that Trainer whom Zekrom chose to N, but Rosa would always be the one who rescued Reshiram and gave Kyurem another chance to find its own hero.
Truth be told, that was good enough for her.