Chapter 36: Reflection by the River
Fan fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
I watched Mizuna as she played in the water while Ujitaro and Hotaru ran around along the river bank that morning in the kingdom Chrysalia. My hair had grown a considerably long length, or what I considered to be long, ever since I had come to Ransei. I like to keep my hair short, roughly to a man’s hair length, both for spiritual and preferential reasons.
“Geez, Shuko, are you cutting your hair again?” said a familiar and obnoxious voice. “You must have cut it last week, too!”
I turned around, still sitting on a large, smooth rock, to see Hanbei and his Pikachu come toward us. Kanbei and Lampent slowly came from behind them.
“Hanbei, you talk too much,” said Kanbei. “Let the priestess do what she will.”
I turned back toward my pokémon without another glance at them. Pikachu had already joined Ujitaro and Hotaru in running around.
“Thank you, Kanbei,” I said. “At least someone understands when a lady needs time to herself.”
“He’s just saying that because he likes you,” said Hanbei. “Isn’t that right?”
I heard Kanbei grunt, as though he was displeased by such a claim.
“I have said no such thing of the priestess!” he said flustered. “I am only curious about her skills in wielding shakujo. My bo isn’t any different, you know!”
Once I felt that my hair was at the appropriate length, I put away the small blade I used to cut it back into its sheath and put it back in a small bag.
“That reminds me, Shuko,” said Hanbei. “You said you were from a land where warriors aren’t necessary, and pokémon battle for sport than for territory. Why would a priestess like you possess the power to fight like us?”
I stood up and took a breath, hoping he hadn’t asked me that question. Still, seeing that these two have been faithful followers of my campaign since the beginning, they should know.
“I was ordained as a priestess from a temple that worships the gods Dialga and Palkia. Even though they are the keepers of Time and Space, order cannot always be kept, even when there is peace. It is for that reason that all priests in our denomination are trained to fight alongside our pokémon.”
“I see,” said Kanbei. “And it has certainly helped you upon your return here to Ransei.”
“That’s right, Shuko,” said Hanbei. “Without those skills, you would be dead by now!”
“You just don’t know how keep your mouth shut, do you?” said Kanbei.
I chuckled a little, still keeping watch over our pokémon—Ujitaro, Hotaru, Mizuna, Pikachu, and Lampent—playing with each other. It’s true that some of my combat training has helped in my own self-defense and resilience in times of war. However, something still bothered me.
Just then, Oichi and Jigglypuff came to join us. Jigglypuff went to join my pokémon and the others in some needed recreation.
“What’s wrong, Shuko?” she asked, concerned for my solemn expression.
I paused to watch all of our pokémon play by the river bank.
“Sometimes I wonder if this is what I was meant to do,” I said.
“That’s a silly thing to say,” said Oichi, smiling. “I couldn’t think of anyone better to lead our team. I’m sure the others agree.”
“Sure, why not?” said Kanbei in his monotonous voice.
“Well you could be at least a little more attractive, but you always make the best decisions,” said Hanbei.”
I picked up Sangen from its resting place. I haven’t put it back in its item ball ever since our battle in Violight. It’s not that I couldn’t place it in there; doing so is what priests in Sinnoh were to do unless it was absolutely needed for combat. However, now that I have returned to Ransei, a land plagued by war, I am compelled to have Sangen with me all the time.
But looking at Sangen, the three-ringed shakujo, made me realize something else about myself. Shakujos are usually adorned with four or six rings, sometimes even twelve, each to signify its importance, but also to show its wielder’s holiness. There are always an even number of rings to symbolize balance. But for Sangen, the three rings are incomplete and concentrated to one side of the staff’s top.
Uncle Kaz designed Sangen specifically for me, because he believed it to be special. Channeling my affinity through it has allowed me to share thoughts with pokémon of the grass, fire, water types respectively, since I only have a normal type affinity; but that’s all the extent of Sangen’s “special” powers. What exactly did that do for me as a priestess?
Now that I am in Ransei, fighting has become more a part of my regimen than it has ever been. But even though my pokémon and I have been able to survive these past few months so far, I still haven’t become a good warrior. One thing was still holding me back, that my other officers can only think of as second nature: the instinct to slay my enemies. To take another life, be it human or pokémon, just to be able to survive another day. How could I lead them if I can’t do something so simple in their minds?
“Please, Shuko,” said Oichi. “You can tell me. What’s on your mind?”
Oichi held out her arms before me to offer comfort. I held on to those arms warmly.
Come to think of it, I have never seen her fight either. Her Jigglypuff takes care of most of her fighting, but I’ve never seen her carry a weapon, yet she, too, is well-respected among warriors.
“Can I really make a difference?” I asked. “I’m just a wandering priestess, and a foreigner with no understanding of your culture.”
Oichi shook her head.
“You’re much more than that, Shuko. You’re a strong woman, the keeper of three loving pokémon, and a child of Ransei. Even if you left so long ago, you have returned with wisdom beyond your years.”
“But I still can’t think like a warrior. How can I fight if I don’t have the instinct to kill?”
Oichi moved in closer and embraced me in her arms.
“It is your will not to kill that makes you stronger,” she said softly. “True, it takes a lot of willpower to take a life. But it takes even more to fight like a warrior and choose not to kill. There was another warrior who was like that.”
“There was another?”
Oichi nodded and looked me in the eye.
“My husband, the Hero of Ransei; and your brother, Nagamasa.”
My eyes grew wide. The last time I remember seeing Nagamasa, he killed an officer for my sake. I was told he became the Hero of Ransei, which brought temporary peace to Ransei. Was he really able to do all of that without having killed anyone in battle?
“He and his Umbreon were warriors like no other,” Oichi continued. “Sure, many of the soldiers under his command weren’t as compelled as he was, but he always led with benevolence. Perhaps he was successful because he didn’t kill. We live in a warring culture, but the people here long for something more than just prosperity and order. They wanted peace and stability. Nagamasa was willing to offer them that.”
Amazing. Even though my memories of Nagamasa were much different, he became the Hero of Ransei. As Oichi and I released each other from our grips, she said one more thing to me.
“I know you’re not his real sister, but you’re much like him. That’s why I know you can change Ransei. Father Ikeda would be proud if he could see you now.”
“Thank you,” I said, bowing respectfully to Oichi, “but I’m sure you know I’m not an Ikeda either.”
“Of course not,” she said a little more cheerfully. “I could tell that the other man is your brother, your real brother. Shuichi Oda, was it?”
“It’s a great name, indeed. That’s why I know you will do fine.”
We aren’t accustomed to refer to people in Ransei by their surnames, because certain names carry a certain pride that makes them targets for other clans. I only knew of a few of my officers’ surnames, that I was hesitant to share my own. Shuichi doesn’t share his surname often either, since he goes by Prof. Ginkgo for academic reasons. Why would Oichi remember such a trivial detail?
“What do you mean?”
Muneshige’s Staraptor hovered above us, indicating that our squad was ready to move out to commence our raid on Chrysalia castle. Greenleaf’s forces had already managed to make their way into the city. It was our job to oust the warlord and his council. That was Lord Jun’s plan.
“I am Oichi Oda,” she said. “We are like sisters.”