Caves weren’t nearly as bad as forests in Evangeline’s opinion. While it was more dangerous in terms of cave-ins and potential Pokemon encounters, it was less dangerous in terms of her mental health. Of course, she was thinking of the pictures she had seen of the inside of Mt. Moon, or even the small caverns she had walked through to get to Ambrette town or to hunt for fossils. These connecting caves (albeit lacking in a clever name) were of a completely different cut, and she was being literal.
Unlike the brown, dark stone of other caves, this was nearly blue, with more of the same crystals she’d seen on Route 11 emerging from cracks and crevices. As she walked down the path, she almost let her bike fall in shock. She grabbed it just in time, and tilted her head at what she was seeing in the glow of the crystals. Was that a mirror, in a cave…?
No, it was the wall.
In quiet disbelief, Evangeline walked over and pressed her fingertips lightly to the rock surface. It really was like a natural mirror, the inside of the stone smooth and polished. Maybe every stone in here was a proto-crystal that hadn’t had a chance to find the inner glow? She wasn’t a scientist, so she had no way of knowing. Either way, it reminded Evangeline of something she’d heard about–mirror mazes, where it was hard to know where there was a legitimate doorway and where it was just another wall.
Suddenly, she wished she was in Mt. Moon.
“Amazing, isn’t it?” a voice asked, and she turned. A backpacker, he had a huge yellow pack that was almost as big as him, and he was staring at the wall with an amazed smile. “The whole cave system is this way! I’ve traveled all over Kalos, and it still is just as inspiring as it was the first time.”
She nodded silently, letting her hand fall.
He turned to look at her, and his eyes gleamed when he noticed her gear. “How about a battle? Let you get used to the reflection in your battles now before you get so deep in the system that you can’t get back out.”
That sounded more than fair to Evangeline. Reaching for a Pokeball, she said, “Etienne, let’s give it a shot.”
The big blue dinosaur type came out with a trill. Only he also quickly got distracted. Walking over to the wall, he cooed, flipping his ear frills at his own reflection. Evangeline clapped her hands over mouth to muffle her giggles. “Etienne, focus, sweetie,” she chided once she had control over herself. Shaking her head, he gave her a sheepish smile and looked towards the backpacker, who was letting out his Linoone.
It wasn’t necessarily a hard battle, just a tricky one. Much like her own Ella, this Linoone was a fast bugger, and Etienne had trouble keeping an eye on him so he could use any attacks. Finally, though, one placed Aurora Beam attack knocked the Linoone out.
“Easy now,” she murmured to Etienne, coming to stand beside him as the backpacker checked his Pokemon. He smiled at her and recalled the Pokemon, confirming that it was just a knock-out, nothing serious. Evangeline returned the smile and recalled Etienne. He gave her the required payout, and with a wave, went to go heal up his Linoone.
The caves gave ways to levels…and wild Pokemon. It didn’t take much for her to turn up a new friend–a Fairy type mixed with rocks that reminded Evangeline of a rabbit. Due to the rock, she thought of the pun of the rabbit in the moon and decided to nickname it Usagi. It didn’t appear to have a gender–it didn’t even have a mouth, so she used the French gender-neutral pronoun of “on,” or one in reference to a person, when referring to it out of respect. It seemed thrilled at the acknowledgement.
It was the last bit of peace that they had. There were levels to the cave that had to be navigated, and sometimes the way up was actually to go down. In addition, the wild Pokemon were absolutely relentless, and the trainers were down here as a tourist attraction or for practice even more so. Evangeline tried very hard not to cry in relief when one woman offered her healing services rather than asking for another battle.
Bless her heart, she noticed. “That’s why I’ve stationed myself here,” she said sympathetically. “I wish the Elite Four would send a more official nurse station put in. The wild Pokemon and all the trainers can be overwhelming for someone who isn’t prepared for it. Even for some who are!”
“I’ll mention something to Korrina when I get to Shalour City,” she promised. “With my personal experience attached to it. I don’t know what I would have done without you to heal my team.” There was a donation box, and Evangline didn’t hesitate to put some money in it to help this kind girl replenish her Potion supplies.
She hadn’t walked too far past her (and had yet another set of battles) when a familiar voice called her name from down the hallway.
“Hey Ladybird!” Tierno called, running up. “How are you doing in the Reflection Cave?”
Evangeline made a face.
He laughed. “Yeah, I get yah. Maybe I can help you out a little.” He reached into his pocket and held out a TM. “If you use the move Flash, not as many wild Pokemon will turn up,” he explained.
She took the TM, twisting it in her fingers. “Really? That’s handy.”
He grinned, rubbing the back of his head. “I kinda depend on Flash. I’m still not very good at battling, so I keep running into trouble. I sure wish I could be as good as you.”
“Yeah, well, I needed to get some help, so don’t judge yourself too hard,” Evangeline tried to reassure him with a smile. “This cave is hard on us Trainers!”
He smiled back at her, and if she were to guess, he did look a little brighter. “You’re right, I shouldn’t beat myself up too much. Especially with all the trainers around here.”
“Exactly.” She gave a firm nod, glad she wasn’t going to have to argue with him about it. “Have you had a chance to look into the Coordinators like I told you about?” she asked, changing the subject.
“Oh yeah!” he said, and he was eager to talk to her about what he found out as they walked. He paused though when he saw a group of wild Pokemon who were in a weaker level. “Hey, I’m going to see if those Mime Jr have any dance moves I can use.”
Considering they were the baby form of the miming Pokemon, Evangeline was going to say that was a safe bet. She waved him on and decided to keep going to try and get out of these caves sometime today.
Of course, the other trainers seemed to have something else in mind. She sighed when a man in a white gi came running up, bouncing on his toes as he flexed. “Battle?” she guessed.
“Yah,” he agreed. His accent was thick, and neither French or like Evangeline’s. It made understanding him difficult, and he seemed to struggle with her accent in return, but they managed.
Or rather, she managed survival. He had only the one Pokemon, but it took her rotating out her entire team and applying potions in order to get through the fight. She recalled Kakashi as the last one, rubbing her forehead and feeling the cool sweat that had gathered there. “You did great,” she told him, speaking a little slower to help him understand. “Hard battle.”
He laughed, boisterous and loud. Not the least put out that he’d lost, probably because it used her entire team to do it. “Good battle,” he agreed and pointed at her. “Hard opponent.”
She waved her hand sheepishly, making him laugh again. Igor patted her on the back so hard that she stumbled forward to keep on her feet, and went back to his training. And left Evangeline with a dilemma. She didn’t have enough Potions to get everyone to full health, but if she backtracked through the tunnel, it would mean longer in the caves and more battles due to the distance, even with Flash.
Time and battles weren’t worth the risk to her team. She healed up one member enough to face anything she met along the way and went back to the woman from before.
“Let me guess,” she said dryly as Evangeline handed over the team’s Pokeballs. “Igor.”
“At least I won?” Evangeline said with a tentative smile.
“Well, you’re the first this week,” the woman said with a scowl, puttering about her clinic. Rei’s ears laid back and he puffed up when she slammed a box down–this was no Nurse Joy with her easy way about taking care of her patients. But Evangeline wasn’t going to argue with free care in this out of the way spot, and just ran her hand soothingly down the back of Rei’s head to help him calm down. “I swear, that man has caused more incidents than any of the wild Pokemon, and his French is so poor that I can’t tell if he understands me when I tell him to knock it off and go somewhere else for his training.”
“What is his native language?” Evangeline asked curiously.
“Russian,” the woman said blandly. Evangeline could only shake her head, since that was way out of her wheelhouse in being able to help. She took back her team, and went back into the tunnels. There was no sign of Tierno, so he must have already gotten out of the cave. With a deep breath, she tried to push through too, though she did have a pause between battles to eat her lunch and share with her team. With all of the fighting, she was sure they needed the energy!
At last, there was an opening up ahead, and it took all of Evangeline’s will not to run towards. Finally, freedom from the Reflection Cave! Inwardly, she swore that she would not be revisiting, at least in the form of using it as a path between Cyllage City and Shalour City. There had to be an easier way.