Chapter 10: Farore Aggagol

The river water fell from Bambi Hayline’s braid as she wrung it. The droplets trickled down, touched the surface, and made a soft plunking sound. A coolness swept through her body beginning at her spine, making her shiver. Through the reflection she studied her sun-touched face. Now, after washing, she looked so clean. She spun to see Makua watching her. His freshly wet hair stood on end, drew attention to the alarm in his eyes even more. He feigned disinterest and looked away.

“You kids ready to move again? We should try to make it to the bridge by nightfall.”

Bambi watched their new companion with great interest. Farore was mostly just legs underneath a tightly shaped torso and angular face. Those silky long things crossed over one another as she walked, appeared to Bambi like a strut. Her golden hair flicked specks of water in every direction. Farore bent over, rustled her mane as she dried her hair more thoroughly. Bambi wanted to dislike her for how girly and yet perfect she was, but she couldn’t. She had saved them and that meant the world right now.

“Or do you need some time?” Farore moved to the edge of the river and looked at Bambi expectantly.

She flushed. “Oh, no. I’m all finished.”

“Since none of you have any water Pokémon or Flyers we will have to do it the old-fashioned way.” Farore shrugged. “Of course that’s the way I always do it.”

“I have a water Pokémon.” Makua said.

Farore spun, took in the boy’s solemnity.

“Oh, right. I meant one that can carry us down this river.”

Bambi felt pity for Makua as he considered the Pokeball in his hand.
Farore nodded as though giving permission.

He rolled it around, then tossed it into the water, said, “Go, Pretty!”

The yellow carp emerged from the Pokeball, slithered into the water.

“Your Feebas’ name is Pretty?” Farore gave Makua a questioning look.

“Yes. I really love my Feebas. It starts off weak but can evolve into one of the strongest Pokémon . . . Milotic.”

“Do you think your . . . Feebas is . . . pretty?”

“Well, not really, but that’s the way a Feebas evolves—if its beauty levels are high.”

“So you thought by naming it that, it might feel . . .”

Bambi sensed the awkwardness between Farore and Makua, the difference between experience and being well read. Makua didn’t answer.

Feebas surfaced. “Feebas!”

She didn’t understand the beauty level thing. “How does a Pokémon get high beauty levels?”

Makua approached the river, held his hand out for Bambi to return to the bank. “There are a few different theories but having competition is one way for a Pokémon to place itself in the spectrum.”

Bambi grabbed Makua’s hand, allowed him to lead her in. “Cool. Battle experience.”

“Not just battle experience,” Makua said. “Actual beauty contests and giving it gifts and things like that.”

Bambi unrolled her jeans, covered her legs again, and slipped her feet into her boots. She adjusted her braid, grabbed from the pile of bananas Makua had picked that morning. Rays of sunlight fell on her, melting the drops of water covering her body.

Feebas continued to splash and frolic.

“Ready, now?”

“Sorry, Farore,” Makua said. He returned his Feebas to him, tucked the Pokeball back into his belt. “I wanted Feebas to get some time out of its ball.”

“No problem. Shall we?” Farore held one hand out, inclined her head. “There’s a stone bridge not far from here. We can cross that instead of swimming across. There are things deeper inside that will pull you in.”

Bambi wouldn’t have minded that path except for the banana now in her hand. She peeled away the skin, bit into it.

Farore led the way along the bank. Her shoulders swayed back and forth with childlike innocence.

“Why do we have to be careful about letting our Pokémon out anyway?” Bambi asked. “Because of the recent Pokémon attacks?”

“Pokémon attacks and poachers,” Farore said. “There are trainers out there who can steal Pokémon that already belong to other trainers.”

“That’s illegal!” Makua went red, suddenly embarrassed by his outburst.

“They don’t care. Those poachers are ruthless.”

“How is it even possible? Poketechnology should prevent something like that. The Pokémon itself won’t let that happen.”

“I haven’t seen it for myself,” Farore admitted. “But I hear there is new technology—technology that’s stronger than the old ways.” She sighed a heavy sigh. “It’s a shame really the way things are changing. My friend said she looked away one second and the next her Persian was gone, just whipped away, like putting a banana’s foster in front of my grandma. That things gonna be gone in seconds.”

“Were poachers the ones that attacked the Academy?” Makua asked.

Farore turned her head as she noticed the stone bridge on her right. “Its very possible. I hear they’re getting bigger, gaining more members.”

“Poachers?” Bambi couldn’t believe it. What were people doing stealing Pokémon. “There has to be a motive, some sort of plan. People don’t just steal other people’s Pokémon for fun.” She felt beads of sweat reach her hairline again.

“I don’t think it’s for fun,” Farore said. “But I don’t know what they’re doing it for. I imagine there is a motive, Bambi.”

Hearing her name called her back to the moment. The crispness in Farore’s voice calmed her somewhat. Farore was a safety blanket.

The river roared louder now. The more downhill they moved, the more rapid the current flowed. Ahead, the water gushed against the stone bridge.

“I think I’d rather be pulled under where the water was more calm,” Makua said. His body shook involuntarily. “What was so bad back there, anyway?”

“Its better you don’t know,” Farore said. She took a deep breath, let her shoulders well up with confidence, and then said, “you might want to use a Pokémon for support here.” Farore squared up, faced the blocks of stone that led to the other side. “Go, Scizor!”

Her red, metal, mantis-beetle Pokémon emerged with the same ferocity Bambi had first seen it display.

“Scizor!” it said, slashing its hammer-like claws in the open air.

Bambi studied it, saw the way it responded to Farore’s movements.

“Move slowly!” Farore announced. “These rocks are slick!” She took one final look back at Bambi and Makua and then began to move over the rock bridge.

“Go! Bayleef!” Bambi patted her trusted grass Pokémon, knew the stability and experience that came with the starter she’d received six months ago. Her Chikorita, the form that preceded Bayleef now, was on a fast track for evolution as soon as Bambi had battled with it the first time. This she knew. In the way that her Chikorita battled, she knew that this Pokémon was much like her—always yearning for contest.

Bambi leaned in and spoke into her Bayleef’s ear. “Walk behind me and keep me steady if I fall using your vines.” Bambi looked ahead and saw Farore and her Scizor more than halfway there. She patted Bayleef between the leaves on its head and said, “and watch out for yourself too.”

Makua stood next to Bayleef. “Go, Aipom!” he said.

The tiny purple and off-white monkey Pokémon emerged from its ball. “Aipom!” it said, standing on its three-fingered tail.

Bambi marked Aipom’s playfulness and Makua . . . a palpable fear written in his eyes. The rushing water looked like daggers behind his misty blues.

“Be careful,” Bambi said. She stilled herself and decided to let Makua take the middle spot. She knew Bayleef could help in this crossing more than Aipom probably could.

“Come on you guys!” Farore called. “The sun is going down!” Farore stood not three rocks from the other side, her body turned to face them. “Makua! Get on with it!”

Makua cringed at the words, like they were a personal attack against him. How fragile this boy is, Bambi thought. I wonder if he’s up to this sort of challenge. I wonder if he’ll make it out here, outside the tests and the homework . . .

“I’m right behind you, Makua.” Bambi flashed him a wide smile. “You can do this.”

Makua nodded and took a tentative step forward onto the first rock. The rocks were anywhere from half a foot to two feet in width and about the same in height. Bambi followed Makua closely now as he moved his way through the first third of the bridge.

Behind her, Bayleef let out a cry and Bambi spun around. The water underneath her boots erased any sort of traction and her foot slid out of place.

“Ahh! She shouted, waving her arms to regain balance. Her heart leapt but Bayleef’s vines steadied her.

“Bambi! You okay?”

Farore’s voice sounded from far away. It sounded more distant, more vague like she had left them to enter the forest again. When Bambi turned she heard the panic in Makua’s voice . . . and then . . . Farore again.

“Makua! You’re making it worse! Take bigger! More definitive steps!”

Bambi saw the problem, the sluggishness with which Makua moved. He had slowed to the speed of the slowest of snails, which seemed to be causing his Aipom great stress.

Whereas Makua was a tall . . . boy . . . who would only get his feet and legs somewhat wet, Aipom was a munchkin sized chimp thing, who, because of the slow and stagnant movement they were making, was now soaked . . . and perfectly slick as it stood on the rocks, like butter falling through pasta.

Farore had seen the disaster before anyone else.


Bambi could only watch. She didn’t think quickly enough to use Bayleef’s vine whip. Farore didn’t make a move either. Only one mind had worked quick enough and it wasn’t Makua’s either.

Aipom latched onto Makua’s shirt as he nearly dove into the river. Makua was falling now, leaning over the edge because of his minor slip-up. His Aipom pulled with his tiny limbs and used his tail-hand to anchor both of them back to a center of gravity. Aipom pulled Makua back and threw all its meager weight into one final yank.

This threw Aipom off balance so much that there was no way for it to stay on the bridge. It had compensated too much to save both of them. Makua wobbled but he had come back. And now, in some sort of lightning quick display of acrobatics, Aipom twirled in the air, using its momentum to throw itself as long and as far as it could, hoping to maybe clear the rapids and land in a pocket of calm. Makua matched this quickness and withdrew Aipom’s Pokeball. “Return!” he said, extending the beam of red light to his airborne savior.

Bambi gawked but was soon brought back to where she was by Farore’s piercing shrill.

“Keep moving!”

Bambi walked carefully now, somewhat shaken by what she’d just seen. She moved along faster as she went and put a careful hand on Makua’s back when she reached him. They moved like this together until they cleared the bridge.

Makua collapsed into the grass.

“That was some quick thinking!” Farore said. “Your Aipom has guts.” She turned to look at Bambi. “You okay, kid?”

Bambi inhaled through her nose. “Fine,” she said, although she felt a little embarrassed she had lost her footing at all. Bayleef bayed and cozied up next to her.

“Your Bayleef is solid I can tell,” Farore said. “You’ve only just become a trainer and you already have a second form? I’m impressed.”

“I got my Chikorita from my cousin,” Bambi said sheepishly. For some reason, she wanted to stop there. She didn’t want to brag around Makua or say anything that could be misinterpreted as such. “She’s an incredible breeder so I think the Chikorita must have been well trained to begin with. It was already stronger than most of my classmates starters.”

“Maybe it just picked up on your energy,” Farore said, ” and matched your strength.”

A tingling sensation moved through Bambi’s cheeks and rested in her belly. There was something genuine and inspiring in the way that Farore spoke. Bambi could tell she was the type who always looked for the good . . . in people and Pokémon.

“It’s true,” Makua said, lifting his head. “The kids called it Chika-bam-bam. Because it almost never lost a fight.” Makua sighed, and slipped into a cross-legged position on the grass. “Even though I had a fire type, I still couldn’t beat Bambi.”

That wasn’t so much about the types as it was the trainers, Bambi thought. She bit her tongue. How rude she could be . . . even when someone else was being so kind!

“Which starter did you choose, Makua?”

Makua reached into his jacket and pulled out a Pokeball. “This one.” He tapped the ball against the ground as though saying its name in the common fashion was too much effort.

Flames pulsed from that first emergence but then the Pokémon was still and there was no more fire. A yellow foxlike creature the size of a housecat sat in the grass and licked its paw. Red fur sprouted from its triangular shaped ears. It yawned.

“Oh, you have a Fennekin!”

Makua nodded solemnly.

“I think his Finn is adorable but Makua doesn’t use it much.” Bambi looked at Farore and waited for her thoughts. She felt like she needed them on this particular subject.

“Finn is a nice name,” Farore said, not giving Bambi the response she needed. “I think they will come around to each other.”

“Why are you helping us?”

Both Bambi and Farore turned to look at Makua. He stared straight ahead and still seemed to be in a trance. Had his near fall into the river done something to him—changed his outlook suddenly? He was acting strange.

“You guys were in trouble—”

“You’re Celadon’s Gym Leader.” Makua paused and Bambi could tell his nervousness was creeping back. “Aren’t there more important people you could be helping? I want to go back. I want to go back to the Academy. That’s the only place I should be!”

“I came to the Academy because I knew there was trouble,” Farore calmly replied. “It’s not safe there now. More important people?” Farore questioned. I don’t discriminate against people I think are important or not.” Farore paused and fought against this test of her patience. She said, “Bambi Hayline is important. And so are you Mr. Hess. In some ways, I have a special place for you in my heart.”

Makua swept his gaze to Farore. “How do you know my last name?”

A sprightly laugh escaped Farore’s lips. “You know, not all Gym Leaders are big jerks. We have to know who’s coming to challenge us someday. It doesn’t get much better than those coming in through the Academy.”

“You know everyone that goes through there?” Bambi asked.

“Not everyone,” Farore smirked. “But I know you two.”

Makua stood up and brushed himself off. He looked at Bambi, now again unsure of what to say. “I guess I’m not that surprised.”

The Hayline name preceded Bambi once again but was Makua somebody outside the walls of the Academy? She didn’t know and didn’t know how to feel about her own last name. The men back in the Academy had said it. They said they were looking for her. What would it mean? she wondered.

“You kids are lucky, you know,” Farore said. “You’ve got a fresh start. You’re only 10 years old and have your entire lives ahead of you. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Follow the path that you want. It doesn’t matter if everyone on this planet goes out and gets a starter and then tries to become a Pokémon Master.” Farore paused and passed a glance between them. “If it’s not what you want to do, then don’t do it. Be kids and enjoy this time.”

“I don’t care about that,” Bambi said. “I just enjoy battling. I want to make it to the top with my Pokémon.”

Makua nodded in reassurance.

Farore sighed. “You’ve made it to a prestigious academy but don’t think that puts a stamp on you. Everyone always wants to make it to the top, and let me tell you, it’s not so great up here. Not in the ways that you think.”

Bambi remembered her mother’s words: The Tauros always wants to move to the grass it hasn’t tasted yet.

She recited her mother’s lesson to Farore.

“Yes, it may seem brighter for me because I have made it to the top. It’s easy for someone like me . . . who seemingly has everything . . . to want something less. It’s noble right? It’s downright perfect!” Farore choked out a laugh. “Yeah, I’m the big Celadon Gym Leader, youngest trainer to ever join the ranks in the history of Kanto. Left the Academy early . . . at age 14 . . . to challenge the next, old, big thing there. Sure it was glorious at the time. Sure it hadn’t been done. Sure it was revolutionary, naughty, even sexy some would say!”

“What’s your problem with all of it?” Makua cut in. He was better at connecting these things than Bambi and so far he seemed to understand where Farore was heading.

“My problem is the Academy,” Farore said flatly. “The lies it tells people to make people believe they are worth something. Yeah they teach you lots and the resources and connections are great, but they’re just another splotch in the system of machine-generated human systems. Blah, blah, blah, blah-dee-freaking-da!”

Bambi wondered what system she was talking about . . .what sort of code talk this was.

“Yes, the systems. It’s no different from what Team Rocket or the Viterals are doing,” Farore said. “Those systems, man. They suck life away from you. Before you know it, you’re eighteen with no more ambitions, you’ve never had a real friend, and you’ve got nothing left to believe in.”

Bambi felt uneasy. Now, she wasn’t sure if the Academy closing down was a bad thing . . . or a good thing.