The name, mentioned by an old friend, bristled his spine and conjured a sort of spirit behind his eyes. Steven watched Wallace take the seat opposite his, graceful and not without a ready conversation as always.
It was always in his interests to humour an old friend — especially one whom he rarely had the privilege of seeing. Something tugged at the edges of his lips, and his face lit up in a smile.
Mikuri, he thought in response to his name.
"The lost mural is indeed good news, but I hope that you would not have me use e-mail. I rather enjoy handwriting my letters, you know. Tea?"
Steven had pushed an empty teacup over to where Wallace was, teapot already in hand.
"Handwritten letters are preferred for the exchange of thoughts. There’s poetry in inconsistency." Wallace acknowledged the empty teacup thankfully with a curtsying nod. "Yes please."
It was almost like a ritual for Wallace and Steven to make a discussion over a hot and aromatic tea, be it in humble tea shops or in the complete darkness of a cave crawling with dangerous high-levelled Pokemon. It was unfortunate Rock-type Pokemon did not appreciate them as much as they do.
"Hm. I haven’t had tea in a while," Wallace commented.
It had been a long while since they had last met.
It was like the beginning of any other story. Two people who hadn’t seen each other for months, maybe years — who had exchanged letters over one summer and decided to meet each other again, after a very, very long time.
And just like in any other story, they decided to meet in Sinnoh — where they had last met.
Steven folded up the spare piece of parchment he had with an unsent draft, tucking it into his coat pocket. As he waited, he lifted his cup of tea and sampled it.
Just like always, the mint tea in Floaroma was as strong as it always had been. (A little too strong for his liking, actually. The locals seemed to like it just fine.)
He dropped another cube of sugar into his tea as a light breeze nipped at his skin following the opening of the tea house’s door.
"Mikuri," said Steven, before looking up from his tea.
A story stretched in a multitude of paths. As one creates, accepts, colours, and folds them, one must take care to maintain the bridges. The power of fondness polishes, the intensity of recollection rebuilds, and the sense of absence…refills them with essence. Wallace could vanish before friends and not reappear for weeks or depart Hoenn and not return for years. The new faces and places connected to his old and he did not forget for this was his story.
Another day was just a continuation. Time was an illusion one should not mourn in woe, but relish in pleasure.
Reunions were winds that filled his sail.
Wallace walked up to Steven with a glowing smile. There was excitement sparkling in his eyes, and it was not from seeing his old friend after for so long.
His lips hesitated for a split-second; it was subtle and subconscious that he did not notice until later.
"Daigo!" Yes, the friend, not the name the world knew. Wallace sat down across Steven, swishing his cape with a graceful, effortless sweep so that it fell neatly behind him on the chair. "The lost mural painted by the oldest Smeargle in history will be put in display in Olivine City! I’ve only learned of it this morning from a correspondence. His letter slipped inside my portfolio and had been there for days. Ah, I should have convinced him harder to using e-mail."
“What do you want to be when you grow up, Chris?” The face of her father slips out of her youngest memories but her entire life – twenty-one years of it – clung entirely to the legacy of her sworn promise to him. “I wanna be just like you, Daddy – a knight! That way, I'll always be by your side!” And to the legacy of his death.
“Year 474 of the sun calendar – the Grasslands, where the Karaya lived, went to war with the Zexen Federation, a rising nation to its west. A quarrel over a small toll the Grasslanders were charging others to cross their land grew into a full-scale border dispute. Fighting between the allied forces of the six Clans (the six most powerful clans of the Grasslands), and the Knights of Zexen has now become a quagmire with no end in sight.” - The battle was a sure victory. No one doubted Sir Galahad, captain of the Zexen Knights, and his fine swordsmanship. His gleaming smirk, passed onto her, Sir Galahad's second knight, and Sir Salome, chief strategist, was a burning torch of inextinguishable flames. They saw it go as he rode down the plains. As he was up front leading the charge, his form was hidden from theirs by the cavalry following him, but they might as well call what they were watching to be Sir Galahad's spirit as a whole; all knights gave him the fiercest loyalty, second only to their loyalty to the people of Zexen.
It was just a matter of time. All they had to do was to wait.
Sir Leo, the large and strong knight, galloped urgently toward them from the front lines. As he approached, they saw his square face and robust armor worn by bruises, scratches, and dirt. Nothing Sir Leo couldn't take. But his sword was still drawn and accompanying him was...no one.
“Sir Leo, you're all right!” Sir Salome said but it was far from a warm, optimistic greeting. He too noticed the important absence of someone. “Where's Sir Galahad?”
“The first charge has been wiped out. Galahad and Pelize, they...” - Sir Pelize the vice-captain, mighty of course as he was the right-hand man of Sir Galahad - Sir Galahad, the captain of the Zexen Knights, wise, skilled, honorable and brave - “...Before my very eyes, they were...slain!”
The world spun. Chris saw Sir Leo's mournful expression and the plains Sir Galahad disappeared into slip out of her sight, the sky quickly occupying of what was left of what she saw. A hand caught her from falling off her horse. Sir Salome pushed her upright, speaking to her, but Chris had already fallen from a great height and shattered.
“Lady Chris,” the Lightfellow housekeeper began. Chris turned her head around, taking her eyes away from the door. Chris took note of his bowed head and closed eyes though he did not appear to be sleepy at the slightest. Day and night he and Chris have waited. Chris was always the first to fall asleep as hard as she fought much like how her father was at this very moment.
“I'm afraid I have some terrible news. Sir Wyatt...he's...”
There were two chairs arranged in their rectangular dining table. There used to be three, but now Chris sat where her mother did at the other end that faced her father. A hot delicious dinner laid before her but Chris only paid attention to the vacant chair staring across her. The housekeeper usually accompanied Chris for dinner, standing near the wall, asking Chris how her day was, but he started leaving five minutes later before returning after who-knows-how-long, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder and beckoning Chris to eat. The housekeeper informed Chris that her father had gone missing in battle but it was Chris, several months in the future, who told herself that he was dead. When Chris had brought this up to him, he only looked down and said:
“I'm sorry, Lady Chris.”
“I thought...” she managed to say at last, “I thought at least this time, I could be by your side...” She began to sob uncontrollably. She couldn't be by her father's side when he fought. She couldn't even be by his grave for there was none. She joined the academy to become a knight to honor her father's memory and, graduating top of her class, she thought she finally did it. But she had fooled herself. She could not stop the repeat of the past. The worst days of her academy whirled back to her and possessed her.
Sir Salome shook her urgently by the back. “Lieutenant Chris, give us an order – now! If you don't, the whole force will be wiped out!”
“It's too much,” she said weakly, remembering the scornful gazes of her male classmates with vividness, a nightmare that had come to haunt her and use her own lips to admit it. “I can't – I'm just a woman – ”
“You can do it!” Sir Salome shouted, shaking her again. “You're Wyatt's daughter, aren't you?”
“Ironheads!” a lizard warrior cried, coming at them with one more of his kin. “Leave this land!”
Chris wiped her eyes with the cold knuckles of her gauntlet. The face of her father slips out of her youngest memories but Sir Galahad, who she had served for five years, stayed with her. His paternal smile, his thoughtful, asleep face; the swing of his sword, the scribble of his quill, the flight of his cape. His voice brimmed with assurance while he looked onto her with the proudest gaze. Finally, the furious glare of the redhead Tinto daughter flashed before Chris.
“You probably slept your way to knighthood!”
A big ball of anger jumped out of her from the pits of her stomach.
The lizard warrior charged toward her with the beast of a face, true to its animalistic form, and the realization surfaced in her with rage and fury that this face was Sir Galahad's murderer. She drew her sword and lunged forward from her sit, striking a deep slash across the lizard's chest. Her horse ran forward, stomping at its fallen corpse, and her blade feasted on the blood of another. Chris raised her red-pointed sword and faced the knights.
“TAKE UP YOUR SWORDS, ZEXEN KNIGHTS! UNLESS YOU'D PREFER TO DIE LIKE DOGS HERE!”
And, to her surprise, Sir Salome raised his staff vertically before his face and, right there in the battlefield for all to hear and witness, pledged his loyalty to her. It didn't register into Chris, or into the other knights, but a great surge of power – of spirit – filled everyone. Swords were raised and men were roaring. Horses were moving, swords and bows being used.
Chris was everywhere, feeling only the need to strike each enemy down until there was no more, until there was only a dawn gazing from the distant mountain at the corpse-filled field and a sense of loss seeping from their blood-soaked hands and feet.
- “In this costly battle between the Zexen and the Grasslads, Zexen lost both their Captain and their Vice Captain. At the most dire of moments, the Zexens were saved by the leadership of a mere lieutenant. Her name is Chris Lightfellow. After that battle, she became known as the Silver Maiden.”