I heard another monk up ahead and decided to check on Tiko once more.
“Are you okay, Tiko? You okay to fight?”
Instead of answering, she stared at the wooden beam that was suspended in the center of the tower, reaching from top to bottom. It was a threatening pendulum, an ominous representation of… of what, exactly? I didn’t know. But it seemed to bother Tiko, and despite my excitement at her evolution, I was worried that she needed rest.
I put her back in her Pokeball and decided that Quartza might as well get some training in, if, after all, she was going to be my trump card in the battle against the gym leader.
Quartza blinked up at me, and she rolled along at my heels, following me around the corner to the opponent.
“Respect,” said the monk.
“Excuse me?” I stammered.
“Respect Pokemon. Respect all life. Respect all battles.”
Have you ever been in a situation where you heard some song lyrics or some supposedly deep and meaningful proverb, and you’re left with a dichotomous sensation? Where you both reject and accept what you’ve learned?
On one hand, I felt the power in those words. Respect Pokemon. What had I been doing on my journey so far? I was killing Pokemon left and right, sending them to whatever awaits Pokemon after they die. Some of them died horrible deaths, others quick and painless deaths.
But on the other hand, who the fuck was this guy to go about spewing this kind of talk to random strangers? How pretentious can you get?
I brushed it off. I sent Quartza forward. He released his Bellsprout from his rosary Pokeball. Ah yes, another Sproutlic Monk.
“The last monk I encountered is the proud owner of a charred stick that was once a Bellsprout. Are you sure you want to battle?”
What was I saying? I threatened him and gave him an offer of escap in the same breath, but… what kind of person taunts like that? Who would take that threat and leave?
The monk, however, was expressionless.
“So be it,” I said, half mocking myself with such a pretentious phrase. “Quartza, use tackle.”
“Vine whip,” commanded the monk. The Bellsprout extended two vines out like bullets, and they lashed across Quartza’s face.
Quartza followed through with her tackle, but just barely. It didn’t hurt the Bellsprout nearly enough to be worth a second shot, considering the pain that Quartza was obviously feeling.
Then I noticed, she was bleeding.
I didn’t even know a rock-monster COULD bleed, but there it was. The vines had left deep gouges in the rock, and blood was trickling out, pooling on the floor.
“Shit,” I whispered, realizing how close I had come to losing a Pokemon for good. Even though I had only known Quartza for a day, I had no intention of letting her die like this.
I put her back in her Pokeball, chastising myself for not remembering how weak rock types were to grass. A rookie mistake. Snaps was a no-go then, also weak to grass.
Looks like Tiko was my only choice.
“Tiko, be careful,” I said.
The Bellsprout whipped her with its vines, but all it seemed to do was distract her from the swaying pillar. She growled–a much more threatening growl than she had as a Cyndaquil.
“Ember,” I said, quietly and half to myself.
The ember that Tiko could now produce was bigger and hotter than what she used to make. The Bellsprout didn’t stand a chance.
Seeing that charred stick of a Bellsprout made me slightly nauseous. It was little more than kindling now. Sure, that was the circle of life. Animals die. Humans use their remains for all sorts of things–clothing, tools, computers–but for them to die at my command?
The monk sent out two more Bellsprout, and they met the same fate.
As I walked away from the monk, he called to me one last time:
“Respect for Pokemon.”