Warning: Part of the chapter is NSFW. Err, kinda.


Chapter 5: Heart of Darkness, Eye of Light

The sun was setting in the west as Alex, Kazuko, and Jade walked down the trail. The sky was a ruddy color, and the sun looked almost as if it was leaking into the dusky sky, its warm, soft light coloring the whole, once blue sky brilliant oranges, sharp reds, and rich golds. The trees to the west, to the left of them, were illuminated by the beautiful rays, their silhouettes bright, while their dark trunks weren’t visible, making them appear as burning shadows. It was a wonderful, if slightly unnerving sight to behold.

The three of them had been walking for the past few hours, heading north towards the Indigo Plateau, capital of the Indigo League. They were all tired; their feet were sore, their bodies were drenched in sweat, and a good deal of dirt caking their bodies.
Theoretically, Alex could’ve ran full tilt and made much more ground, but he wasn’t sure if he could’ve carried Kazuko the entire time- and she still refused to go in her pokeball. Plus, Jade didn’t have a pokeball, so they had had to walk.
“I’s can’t walk another step, I’s don’t think!” Kazuko complained.
Alex nodded in agreement. He wanted nothing more than to crawl into a soft, warm bed and go to sleep.
“How far are we from the Plateau?” Jade inquired, her bright tone making her sound unaffected by the long journey, despite the fatigue that held her arms limp at her sides.
Alex closed his eyes, letting his Location Blood Gift take over. As a map unfurling behind his eyelids, he sighed at the results. “We’re about an sixteenth of the way there”. Kazuko heaved a heavy groan at this.
Biting her lip, Jade said “We’ve been walking for about half a day…if half a day’s travel is one sixteenth of the journey, then we need to walk…for seven and a half more days.
“Yeah, you’s can fuck that, you’s can…” Kazuko muttered under her breath.
“And if we have five days to get to Decee…” she continued.
“Then we need to step up our pace!” Alex said confidently cracking his neck.
“Is you’s kiddin’!?” Kazuko exclaimed, plopping down up against a tree on the edge of the path. “My feets is be stubs by then, they’ll be!” They had come to a stop by the edge of a clearing, a half circle against the right side of the path that went back about thirty feet. The grass was uniformly short, indicating that it was a regularly tended spot.
Alex had to admit, Kazuko had a (admittedly grammatically flawed) point. Continuing to study his mental map, he said “There is something else. We’re about a quarter of the way to another city, farther down the road: Dogpatch, a quaint little hamlet. If we get there, maybe we could arrange for faster transportation”. Stretching lightly, he asked “Shall we set up camp?”
“That’s you’s choice, that is; you’s the Tamer, you are” Kazuko said simply.
Alex sighed. Why must everything be difficult? He thought to himself, looking towards the sky. Why can it never be “Sure Alex, that sounds like a wonderful idea! Or, at least, he added with an inward grin, “Sures, sound like a great idea, it does!” He shook his head and said “Alright then, we’ll stop”.
As they dropped their bags onto the ground and began rummaging around for their tents and sleeping bags, Jade said tentatively “You know, I know a simple spell that should make us relatively clean, if you’d like me to use it…?”
Alex blinked, surprised. But of course, she was a Megami; she should know a few spells. Still, it made Alex…uneasy. In his hometown, and a lot of places in the Indigo League, magic- and pokegirls who could use it- was regarded with a healthy suspicion. There were its obvious destructive abilities, and every now and then you heard of a spell that went horribly wrong…
Alex had traveled around a good deal during his time as a Tamer, and had been to places were magic wasn’t thought of like this, where it was used openly and without fear. He had tried to change his mind- the idea of having a pokegirl who could bend the universe to his will had certainly appealed to him- but still…the idea of having a spell used on him was…unsettling.
But, despite only having just met Jade, he trusted the pokegirl. After a second’s hesitation, he nodded. “Sure, go ahead”. He waited, unsure of what she would do.
Jade closed her eyes, putting her hand into a fist, her index finger pointed up, and was silent for a moment. Then, a soft teal orb formed on the tip of her finger, and she leaned forward, gently poking Alex in the center of his forehead.
Instantly, every part of him that felt dirty or sweaty or both began to itch uncontrollably. He fell back, his eyes screwing shut as he scratched his nails across his skin, wherever the feeling was. When he did, the itch instantly disappeared. His arms, his legs, his face, he dragged his fingers across just about every inch of his flesh, the feeling disappearing.
Finally, he finished, and opened his eyes. His skin felt clean, and there was a small sprinkling of dirt on the ground all around him. He blinked- even his clothes were clean, though he hadn’t tried scratching them.
Around him, Kazuko and Jade sat up, having also been spasming. “Ah, much better!” Jade exclaimed, stretching. Kazuko grunted her thanks, and Alex followed suit, returning to his pack.
Within the hour, they had all set up their tents and put their sleeping bags inside. They were about three and a half feet wide, and the same height, each made for one person. Alex’s was in the center, and facing them from the path, Kazuko’s was on the left and Jade’s on the right.
By this time it was starting to get dark, so while Kazuko went in search of water (“I’s can find a river o’ lake from a mile away, I’s can!”) and Jade went to gather sticks and twigs for a fire, Alex puttered about the campsite, trying to set things up. He got grass and arranged it in the spot where they’d make the fire, made a ring of stones around it, and gathered the ingredients for their meal.
It was pretty mindless work, so as he did so, his mind wandered. It was the first time he’d been alone and been able to think, he realized, sense he’d been ambushed by Team Rocket. Considering the circumstances, he really was a different person now than he’d been before. Maybe not personality wise, but certainly in his situation.
Before, he’d been at the top of his game, and sure he’d only be rising higher and higher. He had been very selective about what pokegirls he’d allowed in his harem, and as such, had only had four pokegirls, despite five years with them. Some Tamers caught as many pokegirls as they could as soon as they started- the maximum you could have at any time in Indigo was six, and they pursued that number religiously-, and as such, didn’t exactly have the pick of the litter. Plus, when it finally came time to actually tame, they weren’t experienced enough to handle them all. Not Alex. He was careful, only picking who he’d thought were “worthy”.
Now, he’d gotten two pokegirls in as many days (not that he’d actually caught Jade), one of which was a Feeblass- he wasn’t being exactly picky. He didn’t have a choice, really. He needed all the help he could get.
Not that this was a bad thing. Alone now, with only his thoughts to keep him company, Alex was able to view things frankly. He hadn’t been slow to add pokegirls to his harem because he had such high standards (or, at least, that wasn’t his main reason, and he could admit his False Superiority was to blame for that); it was because he was afraid. The bigger of a harem he had, the more pokegirls he was responsible for, and if he failed again, the more that would suffer for it. When he had finally been able to attempt being a tamer again, a full year after his failure, he had changed. Before, his motto had been “I’m the best, I’ve just gotta show it!” (not that he literally had a motto; that was just what drove him). When he had left on his second journey, he had had one rule, which had taken precedence over all others:
“A good tamer doesn’t let his harem get hurt”.
And that was that. He’d only taken in pokegirls if he’d known they were strong, that they were capable, that they could protect themselves, and above all, that they wanted to come. For one, if a pokegirl didn’t want to come with him, he had thought, then they weren’t smart enough to be a member of his harem. But, also…if he had tamed a feral pokegirl against her will and made her a member of his team, then even if she came to love him, if she was glad to be with him…if she was hurt, or killed, then he had forced a creature to die through no choice of its own.
He wouldn’t have been able to handle that, if it happened again. His still-healing psyche would’ve shattered.
*                      *                      *
About twenty minutes later, Alex had run out of puttering to do. So, with a sigh, he had sat down before the would-be campfire and idly played with the Swiss army knife he had. Because it was always a good idea to play with sharp objects when you’re bored.
His mind wandering once more, he came to realize something…odd. During their entire time traveling, they hadn’t encountered a single feral. They had heard noises, deeper into the forest, but nothing had crossed their path. This would be strange on one of the major Routes, which were often maintained by the League to keep the more dangerous pokegirls away. Here, on a smaller, unnamed path leading from a tiny town to another? It was downright strange.
What had kept them safe that entire time, he wondered? Were there just so few Ferals in the area, or was it something else? Alex wasn’t sure. Unable to make head nor tails of it, he just decided to roll with it; he was just that lucky! 
After a minute or two, Alex felt…something. It was like a shiver, running down his spine. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, and he felt himself being watched. Slowly, ever so slowly, he raised his head, looking into the forest across the path, where he felt the gaze coming from.
And there, he saw a single eye.
Not a pair, like you would expect. He wasn’t sure if the other one was just closed, or if there was literally only one eye looking at him. He couldn’t tell if it was a left or right eye. He sincerely hoped he wasn’t looking at a Cyclops- a one-eyed creature he’d read about from pre-Sukebe times. He certainly hoped it hadn’t survived!
Alex shivered, but he didn’t look away. He stared into the bright, violet-colored orb, and it stared back. As they held each other’s gaze, he was reminded of a saying- also from before the Revenge War. He believed it went:
“Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you”.
Well, sayings be damned. Alex continued to stare into the eye- the abyss- interested in seeing who’d be the first to suffer vertigo.
Finally, after what seemed like a millennia of silence, the eye narrowed to a slit. Suddenly, a high, piercing giggle echoed around Alex, and he heard a voice whisper, as if they were just behind him:
“Hi there~”
Alex nearly leapt out of his skin and spun around, seeing Kazuko and Jade returning. Jade carried a bundle of sticks under her arm, while Kazuko hefted a bucket of water. “You’s okay?” Kazuko asked. “You’s look pale as ice, you’s do!”
“You…you didn’t hear it?” Alex asked slowly, his voice calm despite the situation. Kazuko shook her head in response.
Jade, however, tilted her head to the side and said “I think…I heard a voice…whispering? But it sounded from so far away, that I couldn’t make out its words…”
Alex shook his head; they couldn’t do anything about whispering voices, so they decided to forget About it- though, of course, still be on guard.
Taking the pot of water from Kazuko, he set it on the ground next to the campfire-to-be. Then, taking the sticks and twigs from Jade, he made a set of two tepee shapes out of them, one on top and the other inside of it. With the aid of a match and a minute of careful stoking, they had a roaring fire.
Dinner came and went in a flash; stew for Jade and himself, boiled kelp, as requested, for Kazuko. They talked, joked, and teased as they ate, generally having a good time. Then, full and tired from their long trek, they each retired to their tents. Alex climbed into his sleeping bag, the night air quickly cooling around them, and was out in a minute.
*                      *                      *
Alex awoke in the middle of the night, his tent all but invisible above and around him. He could hear soft steps on the grass outside, and with a start, realized it might be a hungry pokegirl. Maybe it was that purple-eye thing from earlier. He would have to get out, wake Jade, and hope she could handle whatever it was.
The steps were coming from the left, and Alex thought what if whatever it is got Kazuko? That’s where her tent is! The steps were drawing closer, and they stopped right outside his tent. It was silent for a moment, before he saw the tent flap draw slowly back to slowly to reveal its face…
Oh, right. It’s her tent on the left, not Kazuko’s; I’m facing the opposite direction now, so they’re switched.
Before he could ask what was up, she raised a finger to her lips. He thought for a second she was doing a spell, before he realized, feeling foolish, that she was saying “be quiet”.
Then, she slowly got on all fours and crawled into his tent. Alex wanted to protest that it was too small, but he didn’t want to wake Kazuko. So he let her come in.
Finally, the tent flap closed, shutting out the bright moonlight and closing the two of them in.
But Jade continued moving forward. She was on top of him before he heard her whisper in his ear “Hi there…” He flinched, but her voice was nothing like the one he’d heard before. Her’s was soft and silky, while the other was rough and powerful.
Puzzled, Alex replied “Umm…hello”. Slowly, he felt a pressure running up his body, and he realized she was lying down on top of him. “I thought you might be lonely…” she said.
“How very nice of you” he muttered. “B-but really, I’m fine”.
He felt her teeth gently nipped his ear. “I’m not”.
“I-is that so? Is it a pokegirl problem? M-maybe Kazuko could-”
“No, I think you’d be better at helping…” Her hands slowly ran through his hair, tangling lightly in it.
“A-are you sure? I really think-” She cut him off, then, by blocking his lips with her own, more commonly known as a kiss.
“You really are naive” she giggled. Kissing him again, with more force, she whispered, her voice laced with lust, “I…I need you to tame me…please Alex?”
Alex hesitated, before nodding, kissing her back and wrapping his arms around her waist, pulling her tight against him. He slid his tongue into her hot, moist mouth and felt her wrap hers around his, pressing against his.
He could feel himself growing hard, pressing against her stomach. He slid his hands down her back and grabbed her firm ass through her skirt, causing her to moan into his mouth, arching her back and pressing her breasts against his chest. He ran his hands down her stocking clad-legs, the patterns feeling rough to the touch, before he ran one hand up the inside of her thighs, into her skirt, her panties damp against his fingers.
Jade broke their kiss and panted into his ear, her voice high and tight, “Oh Mother, Alex, oh Mother…tame me…I need it so badly, please!” Alex blinked. This Jade was so much different from the calm, cheerful one he was used to.
Then, from their right came a muffled “Oi, if you’s is gunna fuck, fuck quietly, will yeh? I’s tryin’ to sleep, I am!”
Alex could almost literally feel the mood dying. Through the darkness, he could see Jade pouting. Leaning down, she gently nipped his ear and whispered “Ah well…maybe some other time, hmm…? Scoot over”. He moved to the left, and she crawled into his sleeping bag, wrapping her arms around him. She gave him a deep, soft kiss on the lips before snuggling up against him, her right leg slipping over and between his legs as she closed her eyes.
Alex wrapped his arms around her in turn, gently stroking her back. After a minute, he whispered “Umm…’Oh Mother’?”
She opened her eyes, blinking rapidly, before slowly replying “Uhh…mysterious reasons you’re not ready to know?” It became a question at the end, and she looked at him expectantly.
“Yeaaaaaah…not buying it” Alex replied.
Jade pouted again before saying “Well…well too bad then! You really aren’t supposed to know!”
Closing his eyes, Alex sighed and muttered “Figures…” as he pulled her closer, drifting off to sleep.