“We really should’ve borrowed the chariots from Athena before trekking up here,” Apollo remarked as he and his sister scaled Mt. Press by foot. Though the weather allowed for a pleasant trek this time of year, hiking up the largest mountain in Vesryn was not easy with only linen robes and leather sandals.
“Chariots are useless on a mountain,” Artemis replied curtly, though she too wished for an easier way up.
Their mission from Zeus was clear: find traces of the ancient Divine Beasts of legend, the creatures said to be the manifestations of Arceus’ plates. Artemis had never really believed in legend, far preferring solid, concrete fact. However, Zeus had seemed convinced when he showed them the tablet inscribed with one of the creatures they were looking for: a seemingly massive snake, with three ribbon like protrusions that unfurled from its face. The resemblance to Arceus was unmistakable, she had to admit. But enough for a whole separate - and frankly - risky mission? She was not convinced.
“I bet Zeus wouldn’t have sent us up here if he knew how annoying mountains can be when you’re underdressed,” Apollo muttered under his breath, earning him a solid cuff on the head from his sister.
“Stop complaining, it will only waste your energy!”
“You’re complaining as much about me as I am about this stupid mountain!”
“I can’t believe we were born from the same mother. Thank goodness no one is here to witness us, or else I would be humiliated.”
Their gentle bickering continued as they slowly made their way around the precarious loose stones and jutting cliffs of the mountain. As their altitude increased, they could see the first small swirls of snow smoothly swaying through the sky.
“W-Where are w-we supposed t-to find this b-beast?” Apollo asked through chattering teeth.
“Look for trails of something resembling a snake, I would assume,” Artemis replied, the cold not bothering her as much. “It’s supposed to be the representation of the Stone Plate. Keep an eye out for any part of the mountain that’s moving…” Artemis’ words trailed off as she realized Apollo was no longer walking next to her.
“Oh for Arceus’ sake, that boy has the attention span of a Goldeen.”
She scanned the area for any sign of him. “Apollo!” she exclaimed, though the sound quickly faded into the whistling wind. Her expression tightened. Though she often argued and bickered with her twin, the thought of him in danger…it was too much for her to bear.
She prowled around the mountain, keeping an eye out for both the beast and her brother. Suddenly, something caught her eye - a flickering flame, fulgent but faint, flared in a field far away. Instinctively, she headed toward the light source. Logically, where there was a fire, there was sure to be some sign of life. But something else drove her toward that flame that she could not explain. Something inside her knew that Apollo was near that flame, almost as if she could sense where her twin sibling was even while apart.
Sure enough, as Artemis approached the clearing, she saw Apollo’s tall, lanky form crouched down next to a Pokémon, which she realised was the source of the flame.
“Who’s a good boy?” Apollo cooed, making her roll her eyes in exasperation.
Walking over to him, she rested a hand on his shoulder. “We need to continue our search, or Boss will have our heads.”
“Sis, wait. You need to see this.”
He spoke in a tone she had never heard him use before. It was light-hearted as usual, but there was an edge to it that made her feel compelled to listen.
Apollo shifted aside so his sister could get a better view of the creature. The Pokémon was unlike anything she’d ever seen. As an avid collector of Pokémon, she had an encyclopedic record in her mind of almost every Pokémon currently known. This one, however, baffled her. It mostly resembled a Houndour, but its coloration was completely off. Where there should’ve been sleek, coarse black fur, there was snowy white fluff. Instead of bone like protrusions that accentuated a regular Houndour’s limbs and back, there were softer, rounder arches that curved across its spine, and four red coverings on its paws that uncannily resembled knitted mittens. A fire burned brightly like a candle at the end of its tail, the source of the light she had seen earlier.
“What is it, exactly?” she questioned quietly, confused.
“I don’t know myself,” he replied in the same tone, moving beside her so they could both examine the creature more closely.
“Should we bring it back with us? It seems to be alone, perhaps it was abandoned.” Though the idea seemed reasonable at first, a darker thought crossed her mind. “Although, if Boss gets his hands on it…”
“Boss will find out about it sooner or later. I think we should take it with us. Whether it’s just an anomaly, or part of a larger group of species we don’t know about, at least it will be safe with us.”
Apollo looked at the creature fondly, and Artemis was amazed at how mature he sounded, and the gentle spark in his eye that appeared when he talked to the Pokémon.
“You should keep it, then,” she stated, making him look at her in surprise. To his shock, a smile graced her face, a sight he hadn’t seen since they joined Olympus.
“But sis, you’re the one that collects Pokémon, don’t you want this for–”
“Silly hobbies like that mean nothing. You were the one that found it, and you love it already. That much is obvious. It would be foolish of me to uproot such a budding relationship.” Nodding at him, her smile disappeared. “There seems to be no sign of the beast near this field. Hurry up, or else Boss will start wondering where we are.
Apollo’s eyes trailed his sister for a moment as she walked away, momentarily shocked. Shaking himself out of his daze, he turned back towards the strange Pokémon, who was already nuzzling up against his leg.
“What are you, exactly?” he asked the creature, even though he knew it couldn’t reply. His eyes stared into the Pokémon’s, which stared back, the pale yellow holding depths that Apollo couldn’t hope to understand. Shaking his head, he chuckled. “Well, hop in, I guess?” he asked, scratching his head sheepishly and holding out a Pokéball.
“Rawr!” it barked happily, touching its head to the ball and transforming into a red beam of energy. Picking the ball up from the ground, Apollo couldn’t help but grin and pump his fist into the air, letting out a whoop as he did so. “You and I will be great partners, Houndour!”
A few meters away, Artemis watched the spectacle unfold, rolling her eyes. “Hurry up, idiot!” As he made his way toward her, a wide grin still stretching across his face, she chuckled and shook her head in dismay.
“Boys will always be boys, it seems.” she muttered under her breath.
The pair headed down the mountain in relative silence, the only noise being the quiet rustling of animals in the brush and the whistling of the wind in the trees. Though they had examined the peak closely after the incident with the Houndour, they had found no traces of what they had originally come to find: the supposed Divine Beast of the mountain. Artemis could feel the tense energy coming off her twin, and she placed a hand on his shoulder reassuringly.
“I know you’re worried about Houndour. Zeus will understand, I promise,” she said, immediately knowing what was bothering him.
Apollo looked at his sister and nodded, though he didn’t say anything in reply. All traces of his happiness from earlier had faded, replaced by deep lines of worry. His hand instinctively moved to his belt, feeling the comforting sphere where Houndour was snoozing peacefully in its ball.
But just how long would its peace last?