Goodbye Lyra, Hello Clair!
"Cold!" Nathan shivered, chattering his teeth. "I'm so cold!"
"I'm glad I packed an extra coat." Silus noted, seeming unfazed by the snowstorm's development. "Otherwise, you would've probably developed frostbite!"
"Well, we are headed north!" Lyra noted. "Cold temperatures are to be expected!"
"Whatever," Nathan snapped between sneezes. "Let's just find a place to get out of this snowstorm!"
"There isn't a Pokémon Center for another ten miles." Lyra commented, holding up her map for proof. "We'll just have to make the best of it."
Silus couldn't help but feel sorry for his younger friend. Though Lyra was bound and determined to continue pressing on, Silus knew that he had to do something to help Nathan, otherwise the group would be slowed down, which would end up making things worse of Nathan himself in the end. Suddenly, an idea dawned on him, and he reached into his coat pocket and retrieved a Pokéball. A few seconds later, Monferno was walking alongside the group, using its tail flame to keep Nathan warm.
"Thanks, Silus! Thank you, Monferno!" Nathan chirped happily, now warmed by the heat.
"Mon! Monferno!" the monkey Pokémon replied cheerfully.
"Hey guys!" Lyra interrupted. "Look over there!"
Silus, Nathan, and Monferno turned, curious about what all the commotion was about. They saw it, however, off in the distance. A small, faint glow from a cabin not far up the hill. Considering it wasn't on either Lyra's map or in Nathan's guidebook, it had to be privately owned; likely by someone that used it as a winter home or some form of private lodging.
"What's say we stay there for the night?" Lyra proposed.
"We can't just go barging in." Nathan insisted, annoyed.
"Monfer..." Monferno cooed in agreement.
"We can always ask." Silus offered. "Its worth a try."
"Fine." Nathan relented, simply glad to have Monferno's flame for warmth.
"Then let's go!" Lyra declared.
Training in the Snow!
Moments later, the three found themselves seated on a sofa, in front of a large fireplace, in the cabin they had seen. The owner soon walked in, carrying hot tea, which she then passed out to all of them before taking her own mug and sitting across form them in a small armchair.
"You three must be cold." she noted. "What brings you all the way out here in the middle of a snowstorm?"
"I'm on a Pokémon journey." Silus explained. "These are my friends. They're traveling with me. Thank you for letting us stay here, miss."
The woman chuckled aloud, "You can call me Clair and I could hardly leave you out there in this freezing downpour. Besides, I had you figured for a Pokémon trainer. What's your name?"
"Mine is Silus." Silus replied.
"I'm Nathan." Nathan chimed in.
"And I'm Lyra, Pokémon Coordinator." Lyra added.
"Pokémon Coordinator, huh?" Clair asked, taking a sip of her tea. "I'm sort of one of those too. That must mean you're heading for Crocus City."
"I am indeed." Lyra almost squealed, pleased with herself.
"So, Clair." Silus interjected, changing the subject. "What brings you out here?"
"Well, I don't live out here, if that's what you think." she began. "My family owns this property and I was using it temporarily until I was ready to head out on my own travels. You see, I'm from Eden Town like most beginners in this region."
"That's where I'm from as well." Silus added.
"Don't get me wrong, this is a nice place." Clair explained. "But I'm looking for a change of scenery and had never had the chance to travel much. I was doing training out here until I was prepared."
"What kind of training?" Silus inquired.
"I figured you'd ask that." Clair replied with a smirk. "I'm a Pokémon Coordinator, like your friend there, and there are a lot of powerful Ice-type Pokémon around these parts. It helps to train my Pokémon to overcome their weaknesses."
"Well, if you're going to this length to train, that makes you really strong." Silus suddenly was on his feet in excitement. "So, will you help me train?"
This request drew a visible look of shock from all in the room. No one had expected Silus to ask that, especially to a person they had only just met. Lyra, however, wasn't as shocked as the rest. She remembered how quickly Silus had run off to train with the Ghost Pokémon Master back in Mimosa City, so she knew he was a glutton for learning new battle strategies.
Clair sipped her tea once more as she mulled over his request, "Me? Train with you? Well, you'd have to convince me you were a worthy trainer." she deduced.
"I'm worthy." Silus insisted, showing his confidence. "And I'll prove it."
"Oh?" Clair asked, setting her mug down. "Then take this."
Without warning, she tossed a Pokéball at Silus, which he caught out of instinct. He then examined the ball, curious as to why she had even given him one in the first place. It seemed to be an ordinary Pokéball, so he flashed Clair a look of confusion.
"In that Pokéball is a baby Pokémon. A Charmander. It is actually the offspring of my Charizard." Clair explained. "We're going to battle, in the snow, and you're going to use a Pokémon that you've never had any connection to. That Charmander."
"But why?" Silus asked, still genuinely confused.
"Because, the mark of a good trainer is working well with all kinds of Pokémon and forging bonds with them." Clair explained, placing her hand on her hip. "Depending on your performance, I'll decide whether to take your offer or not. Lyra, you can be our referee."
Battle in the Storm!
"Are you ready, Silus?" Clair asked.
The had moved outside, where there was an area for Pokémon battles; though it was blanketed in snow at the moment. Lyra, geared in her heavy snow coat, was standing to the side as the referees normal did, and both Clair and Silus were located at opposite ends of the arena. Nathan was sitting inside, on the opposite side of the sliding glass door, where he had a clear view of the battle, but was safe from the freezing temperatures.
"I'm as ready as I'll ever be!" Silus declared, confident.
"Then begin!" Clair barked, tossing her Pokéball. "I choose Gabite!"
"Gabite?" Silus asked, reaching for his Pokédex as usual.
"Gabite, the Cave Pokémon and the evolved form of Gible." came the voice of the dex. "As it digs to expand its nest, it habitually digs up gems that it then hoards in its nest."
"Gabite here is a Pokémon I got when it was still a Gible. Its from this region and its a damn fine partner." Clair explained.
"Okay!" Silus roared confidently. "Let's go, Charmander!"
Silus' own Pokéball erupted, releasing Charmander onto the battlefield. Charmander turned around to see who called it out, and immediately, its eyes lit up. It began to dance frantically, repeatedly calling out its name, like a typical Pokémon. Without warning, it leaped into Silus' arms, which he caught by instinct, and embraced Silus, clinging to him as tightly as it could with its little arms. At first Silus was confused, not sure how to react to the Pokémon's outburst, but then slowly began to chuckle, which then turned into full-on laughter. He then held the tiny lizard Pokémon to him and returned its embrace.
From her side of the ring, Clair smiled, "She really likes you. Isn't that a sight. You are one of the first humans she's ever seen, so maybe she thinks you're one of her parents."
"One of the first humans?" Lyra inquired, interested.
"Yes. When my Charizard's egg hatched into that Charmander, I wasn't allowed near it. Charizard are fiercely protective of their young for the first month or so after birth. When this protectiveness began to wear off, I quickly put it in a Pokéball. My intention was to send it to Professor Changi, when I got here to Hora, to give to a new trainer as a Starter Pokémon. But this.... this feels right. She seems really happy already."
"Alright, Charmander, will you help me battle?" Silus asked, rubbing the tiny Pokémon's head.
"Char! Char!" the female Charmander cooed, leaping down and taking its place.
"Okay, Charmander! Let's do this! Flamethrower!" Silus commanded.
Charmander cooed again, opening its double-toothed mouth and releasing a surprisingly powerful jet of intense flames directly at Clair's Gabite.
"Gabite, dodge, then use Dragon Claw!" Clair countered.
Gabite leaped out of the way of the stream of flames, charged draconic energy into its claws, and charged directly for Charmander. Silus, however, was anticipating such a move.
"You too! Dragon Claw!" he shouted, surprising Clair.
Charmander also began to glow throughout its triple claws. It then leaped, maximizing its speed by pushing off onto the soft earth and then slamming its claw into Gabite's oncoming claw. Both Pokémon landed unharmed.
"Amazing!" Clair exclaimed. "It knew Dragon Claw too!"
"Now, Flamethrower!" Silus continued, eager to prove himself.
Once again, Charmander spewed forth an inferno of powerful flames, this time hitting their mark, slamming into Gabite and sending it flying into the snow, which then melted due to the heat. Due to the double not very effective effects of Flamethrower, Gabite rose easily from the snow, but was visibly scorched by the attack.
"That's enough." Clair stated, stepping onto the field. "I've seen all I need to see."
"Huh?" Silus queried. "Done already, Clair?"
"Mhm!" she replied, picking up her Gabite and holding it in both of her arms. "Not only did that Charmander connect with you, almost instantly at that, you battled Gabite and managed to land a hit. That doesn't mean you could beat me, but it does mean you've got real potential. I will accept your invitation for training."
"Alllllriiiight!" Silus cheered triumphantly
Sensing its trainer's joy, Charmander began to dance around the battlefield before leaping into Silus' arms to join in the celebration.
Later that evening, after the group and their Pokémon had eaten dinner, they found themselves seated around Clair's wooden kitchen table, idly chatting about their adventures, when the topic of moving on arose.
"So, Silus, are you going to be staying here for training?" Lyra asked, a tone of concern in her voice.
"Not quite." Clair answered for him. "Training in one location for too long does no good. We'll continue on, I'm thinking Silicon Valley next. There's a Battle Subway there and will be great practice for Silus' next Gym Leader."
"Why do you ask, Lyra?" Silus inquired, sipping at his tea.
"Well, the Crocus City Contest is going to be held in just a few days and I was hoping to go shopping beforehand." Lyra explained. "So, would it be alright with you guys if I just went on ahead?"
"You sure about that, Lyra?" Silus asked.
"What do you mean sure?!" Lyra snapped. "I've traveled alone for years. I can manage."
"Well, if you insist. But I'd still like to meet up from time to time, to catch up." Silus said, lowering his mug of tea.
"I think I can help with that." Clair offered. "Here, take this Silus."
The older woman reached across the table, handing Silus a small, blue device. Silus took the device and examined it. In many ways the device resembled an ordinary cell phone, but Silus could tell, just by flipping it open, that it was much more advanced than that.
"Its called a Pokégear." Clair explained. "Lyra should have one too. They're pretty common with people in Johto."
"I do." Lyra agreed. "Mine is one of the older models, but it should still be compatible."
"Excellent, then Silus, you can register her number and still meet up occasionally." Clair noted.
"Sounds like a good plan." Silus agreed, smiling.
The night passed uneventfully after this point, with Lyra and Silus exchanging numbers, and then the group and their Pokémon going to sleep. The following day, the snowstorm had subsided, and the group stopped at the crossroads further up the road from the cabin.
"Well, I guess this is goodbye." Lyra said cheerfully.
"Yeah." Silus replied. "Good luck out their Lyra, hope we see you at the Grand Festival."
"You bet!" Lyra concurred. "And you keep getting those badges. Don't let Jason get ahead again!"
"You've got it!" Silus agreed.
And so, a new day dawns, and a new adventure begins for each of our heroes on their journeys to become top notch Pokémon trainers.