Eloy and Lauren walked down the tree-lined route at a casual pace. By an unspoken agreement, it had been decided that there would be neither rushing nor battling on the way to their destination. Or rather, where they would part ways on route to their own separate destinations. They had both had enough rushing about and fighting tooth and nail for a while and were giving themselves and their Pokemon a reprieve.
Not that you’d think Deacon was in much need of one. As per usual, he was cheerfully bounding ahead as far as he could get away with before stopping and calling after Eloy impatiently. This had prompted sighs and grin’s from the trainer in equal measure. At the least, Lauren seemed to find it amusing.
“Ni!” the Nidoran called out, thumping his foot against the dirt path, causing Lauren to chuckle quietly.
“You could be forgiven for not knowing he’d just been in a life-or-death situation,” Eloy said to her, shaking his head.
“I have to admit, he could even give Marion a run for her money in the energy department. It’s good you keep him out of his ball mostly, since he likes running around so much,” Lauren replied.
“Yeah, well, wouldn’t be right to try and squash his personality. It’s not that unusual to keep your Pokemon out and about though is it?” Eloy was surprised to hear her talking like it wasn’t particular common. Then again, her partners were all in their own balls at that time.
“It’s not exactly uncommon,” Lauren said, “Although, it’s not as common as I’d like to be. I understand that sometimes it’s a Pokemon preference thing. All three of my Pokemon are more nocturnally oriented by nature so I don’t over-expose them to the sun, especially on warmer days like today. Then there’s matters of practicality; you can’t easily have your Onix or Wailord roaming freely most of the time. If you have a lot of Pokemon it can be hard to manage having them all out too. A lot of trainers though are just kind of slack or don’t pay enough attention to their team’s needs.”
Eloy hadn’t really thought that much about it, to him it seemed pretty natural to have Deacon out of his ball and travelling alongside him. Afterall, Deacon spent most of his time outside of his ball back home so it would have been weird to confine him all the time while travelling. It was true that he didn’t have Maestro out of his ball quite as much, but that was largely due to Maestro’s shyness. He didn’t want to overwhelm the little Bug.
“I’d never really thought that much into it,” admitted Eloy, “I suppose I probably should have though. You’re sound really knowledgeable about all of this though. Have you been travelling long?”
“I’m far from being an expert or anything.” Lauren scratched at her arm and looked awkwardly off to the side. It was becoming steadily apparent that being bathed in praise wasn’t exactly her comfort zone. “I’ve not been travelling that long either, really. I’m from Kanto originally and started my journey there but some unfortunate stuff happened early on and I had to call it off. So, I resumed my journey here when my family moved soon after.”
“Sorry to hear you had a rough start. I thought my first day was a tough one but nothing that would make me have to postpone starting my journey.”
“It happens, I guess.” Lauren shrugged uncomfortably. Eloy decided it was a good time to change the subject.
“Kanto though? That’s miles away and I’d never have picked it. Until you mentioned it, I didn’t even realise you had even a hint of an accent.” Lauren seemed to relax somewhat at that.
“My parents are from Unova originally, which is much closer to here. They moved to Kanto when they were younger because the company my dad works for opened a branch over there and needed to move some people across. I wasn’t even born yet so it wasn’t much of a problem for them. Being around them is probably why I never developed much of a Kantonese accent.”
“Makes sense to me,” Eloy said, the pair of them slipping into a comfortable silence again as they finally caught up to Deacon, who happily hopped about at their feet for a while before bounding of ahead again.
The sun was starting to hang lower in the sky now, and Eloy realised that they’d soon enough be reaching the point where they’d have to split off. He was heading to Erythie City as planned, but it had turned out that Lauren had already obtained her badge there and was heading straight past to go to Techniti City instead.
It was strange, given the short time they’d been in each others’ company, but he’d grown used to having Lauren as a travelling companion. It was kind of melancholic to realise that he wasn’t going to have her to talk to once they parted. It wasn’t like he was going to be lonely since he’d have Deacon and Maestro with him, but he was going to miss having someone around who spoke his language.
He turned his head and was surprised to see that she was looking at him with an expression of concern. At least, he was pretty confident that was what it was. She hadn’t said anything about it though. He supposed that she wasn’t the type to go prodding into other people’s affairs anymore than she was comfortable with people poking their noses into hers. After all, she’d been visibly uncomfortable when he’d started talking about her journey prior to arriving in Sigia.
“I’m all good,” Eloy ventured “Just lost in thought, pondering how I’ll battle Hansel. Don’t go giving me any tips though, it doesn’t count for anything if I don’t win on my own.”
“Don’t worry, wouldn’t dream of it,” Lauren grinned “Try not to think too hard though, you’ll end up missing a curve in the road and walking into the forest and apparently that can get you in trouble in this neck of the woods. Nora’s not around to save our skin this time.”
Eloy had to laugh at that one. It really was an absurd turn of events. Just days into his first ever journey as a trainer and he’d caught a new Pokemon, obtained his first badge, nearly got murdered by a pack of Pokemon known for being friendly, met a member of the Elite Four and then battled that same pack alongside her. If anyone had told him they’d had the same experience he might not have believed them.
“That’s a fair call,” Eloy said, stifling his laughter, “It’s still crazy to think we met a member of the Elite Four.”
“Is it really?” Lauren asked, and again Eloy was struck by a bolt of bemusement at the fact she was being completely serious.
“How is that a trainer, such as yourself, could not even be a tiny little bit starstruck after meeting one of the five best trainers in Sigia? It boggles the mind.”
“I suppose I’ve just never been one for celebrity culture,” Lauren said, her tone almost questioning.
“You’re certainly unique, I have to give you that one,” Eloy said, his exasperation sending the pair of them into another bout of laughter.
“Ni!” Deacon called from ahead, as though suggesting they stop giggling and put that energy into moving faster.
“Alright, alright. Calm down before your ears fall off,” Eloy said, still chuckling.
Their walk continued on much the same, alternating between peaceful silence and bouts of laughter while Deacon trotted along well ahead of them, not content to walk at their snails pace - which was in fact a pretty normal walking speed to most.
By the time they reached the split in the road, the sky was painted in shades of vivid pinks and oranges by the sun beginning to set. Towards the east, Eloy could just barely make out Erythie and the sparkling ocean beyond, the coastal city at a slightly lower vantage point than where they were. To the north, a series of hills popped up around the Great Sigia River that the River Avent flowed into. Eloy knew from talking to Lauren that you could pass over the river and hills or below depending on if you wanted to explore Tunnel Pass or not. She would be taking the Tunnel Pass route since it was an environment she knew Echo would like being in.
“I suppose this is it then,” Eloy said at last, after they had come to a halt.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Lauren answered.
“Well, it’s been nice travelling with you for this short time,” Eloy said “Honestly, I’m a bit disappointed we have to split up. It’s been fun.”
“Ni ni!” Deacon agreed enthusiastically from where he was seated at Eloy’s feet.
“Yeah, all things considered, it was good to have someone to have a person to travel with again for a while.” Lauren smiled at him.
“All things considered,” Eloy echoed “I supposed almost dying is something we could have done without.” The pair found themselves laughing again at that one.
“You heard Nora though, she’s heading to Techniti to help host a tournament,” Lauren said through her laughter, making herself stop, “So if I decide to stick around to watch or participate and you get there in time to join it, we can probably meet up again there.”
“I’ll be looking forward to it then.”
The two said their goodbyes and split off in their separate directions, Lauren releasing Mortimer for company as they did so.