Clefable’s Clefairytale

Nettle the Cleffa read.  “The sunflower is a type of plant that grows only on planets with healthy soil and a clear view of a nearby sun.  Its physical resemblance to the pokemon “Sunflora” is no accident, for it is said that the first Sunflora was raised up from one of these tall yellow flowers by the progenitor of grass pokemon, Shaymin.  The plant can be harvested for its seeds and converted into a type of cooking oil.  In addition to the practical uses, the sunflower is a symbol of happiness and summer on planets that have seasons and have emotions.”

Nettle stared at the picture next to this description, wondering at the size and bright color of this plant.  She had never seen anything as vivid in her life, everything on her little moon being pale greys and pinks.  The longer she stared, the more her desire to see this flower, to experience these “seasons” or walk amongst flowers grew.  Eventually her one companion, a small floating creature of metal, drifted into the room.  It beeped and booped at her, reminding her that she was supposed to have finished up her biology lesson for the day several minutes ago, and that it was looking forward to teaching her about different sorts of light waves today.

With a last long look, she tore her gaze from the flower, and switched off the view screen.  She followed her companion, listening to him as he explained how he never really understood the need for biology, it was a subject that only even applied to a certain subset of creatures in the cosmos, and really it should not take up valuable time that could be spent learning about time or about how to avoid ghosts.  Normally this sort of thing would make Nettle laugh, but today, somehow it made her feel even more alone than usual.  She had only one friend, and that friend would never be able to understand what it was that she saw in that sunflower, why it had captivated her so.  She had no one to tell.

Even though she knew it was a bad idea, even though it had never brought her anything but a terrible empty feeling, she reached out with her mind, engaging the empathetic psuedo-telepathy that all members of the Cleff tribe were born with.  She reached out, feeling as far as she could in every direction, trying to feel another Cleffa or Clefairy, another creature with whom she could share her feelings.  She stretched as far as she could, and felt nothing at all.  The cold emptiness of space was all that surrounded her, no Cleff, no one.

When she had been small Nettle had tried again and again to connect to her society to join together with her clan.  Cleff are creatures of community, not equipped to live alone and so, reaching out and finding nothing was a traumatic experience.  As she grew, Nettle had tried less and less often, and become numb to the terrible, hollow feeling that would follow her attempts.  Still, it continued to hurt, and today it was too much.  She stopped in tracks, gripping her sides and rolling up into a ball.  She shivered and reached out again and again, trying to feel someone, to feel something out there.  A sort of panic filled her mind, as though she was drowning in herself, unable to communicate or express anything at all.  She lost herself in this feeling.

The thing that snapped her out of it, was a voice.  It was a Cleff voice, something she had heard only two times before.  At first she thought she had finally snapped, that her mind had simply created someone to hear, but after her small companion, the little being of metal, jabbed her a number of times, sitting her up and aiming her face at the screen, she realized that it was the “Eldest” her sole contact with her race.

“Are you awake now little thing?  Can you hear me?”  The voice came out of the small communications terminal that Nettle’s home possessed, there was a small screen as well, and on it she could see the craggy, ancient face of the Eldest, one of the Clefable rulers of her race.  Nettle nodded, still shaking, her mind jumping with excitement, but also filled with embarrassment for the way she had acted earlier.  The Oldest had said before that Nettle had to be strong, that she had to endure the loneliness and the distance if she wanted to help the Cleff, if she wanted to be useful and needed.  Instead she had broken down, she had stopped learning, stopped being useful, maybe even caused the Oldest to have to go out of her way to rouse her from her silly feelings.

“I am sorry Oldest one.  I have failed you.  I will try to be better, I will show you that I can be useful.”  The face of the ancient clefable was unreadable to Nettle, who had only seen faces in pictures her whole life excepting these short communications, but after a short period of time, the mouth turned up into what Nettle believed to be a smile.

“It is good that you are ashamed child, and I expect you to do better in the future, but we all make mistakes.  If you learn from them, then they were useful.  It was fortunate that I had chosen today to call you.  Your companion was most distressed when I appeared at the console.  You should really think of his feelings when you do things like this.”  Nettle felt a new wave of shame, having not even thought about how the only friend she had would react to her self-pity.  She had been so upset that he would not understand the sunflower she had forgotten he was there for her.

Nettle’s eyes teared up and she turned to her friend, speaking the beeps and boops of his language in order to express her apologies.  It was a difficult task, for the Beldum language does not deal with emotion well, being something of a foreign concept to the species, and there were no really apologetic words either, both grudges and forgiveness being considered unnecessary to the strange metal creatures.  Still her friend was a Beldum who lived with her, so he understood the sentiment if not entirely accepting it as being necessary.  When she was finished , she turned back to the Eldest, who’s face had lost the smile from before.

“I called today to check up on your progress, to see how well you are learning.  You seemed to be moving at an acceptable speed last time we spoke.  Have these emotional meltdowns slowed the pace of your studies?”  This question finally gave Nettle a positive feeling, for what seemed like the first time today.

“While I am sure today was not as productive as it could have been, I am happy to report I had completed all of the expectations you provided more than a month ago, and have been moving on to further studies ever since.  I am several weeks ahead in every subject, and have showed exceptional skill in the field of computers and biology.”

The Eldest turned away from the screen to check the veracity of her report, and then returned, once more with smile.  “I am proud of you little one.  You are proving to be both clever and a hard worker.  Still, you must not fall victim to hubris.  You are learning faster than average so the expectations will have to go up with you.  I am uploading new expectations now.  I am certainly hoping you can keep up with this level of workload.”

Nettle felt determined to live up to the Eldest’s hopes and began mentally preparing herself to work longer and harder.  She would not let her race down again.  She would be useful.  She would be needed.

“Still, that you have done well should not go unrewarded.  Your companion informs me that you seem to have a great deal of love for plants, and flowers in particular.  While I am afraid the environment you are in is not suited for plants, what I can give you is a story.  This is a fable that was told in the days of my youth of the hero Cleff, and his time on the planet of the tangela.  I don’t believe it is transcribed in your records, though I will try to add it to them when I finish so you can read it again later, but for now simply listen, as I tell you of the hero Cleff…”

This tale is of the early days of Cleff’s questing, when Cleff was young, before Cleff found the Moon, before Cleff piloted the great ship Arkengyr in the First War, before Cleff even heard tell of our one day home or first laid eyes upon the Moonstone.  The Hero was in those days traveling not in search of home, or with really any purpose at all, but was simply seeing what the universe had to offer, living life in those early days of marvel and wonder.  So it was that the Hero came upon the planet of the Tangela, called Forest by its people, and called Wilderness by those around.  The Hero Cleff had come through the void, flying upon star powered wings, having no destination, but simply being pulled by the cosmic winds and the tides of gravity.  The Hero blazed bright as a star as they fell down upon this world of trees and vines. 

When the Hero recovered from the fall, shaking their head and looking around, it became clear that they were no longer alone.  The forest was thick with vines, and the vines were alive, living masses of moving, twisting, writhing plant made ropes.  The Hero called out to the living vines, asking what it was that they were, and what they wanted?  The vines were confused, how could they understand this strange space being?  This creature was not speaking their language of slithering and rustling noises, and yet they could understand.  Cleff heard their confusion and so told them the tale, of the birth of the Lake Guardians high up in the celestial realms, and of the gift of Tongues these creatures had bestowed upon all of Pokemon kind.  The Hero explained that in times to come, Pokemon would be set upon by other things, things which were not Pokemon, things that were Other, and the Lake Guardians had foreseen this, providing all Pokemon the gift of Tongues so that they might stand together against this coming Other.  

The Tangela listened to Cleff’s tale and marveled.  Always they had battled against invaders to their planet, strangling and crushing all those who tread upon the surface of their Forest world.  Always before they had thought all but themselves to be Other, that none could truly think or communicate if they were not Tangula, if they had not the vines to talk.  This strange traveler was telling them of a greater community, of a greater multiverse that they might one day need to survive battle with a greater force, one they could not strangle and consume in their dark places.  This change in thinking was too much for the Tangela there.  This traveler would need to tell the story to the great elder, the leader of the planet Forest.  So it was that Cleff and the band of Tangela traveled together.  The journey took many days, for the leader of the planet was far away, in a remote temple built to honor her.  Cleff was fed by the vines of the Tangela, who would tear them off and give them away, apparently unharmed by the process.  Cleff felt strange eating bits of these creatures, but upon reflection realized that for plants, perhaps consumption was not as aggressive of an action as it seemed to those with more animalistic qualities. 

At last the group reached the edge of a great canyon, with a lush green forest and a swift flowing river visible below.  The Tangela told Cleff that from here it would be a lone journey, that none of the Tangela present were holy enough to enter into the elder’s sacred garden.  With that in mind, Cleff set off, after thanking the Tangela for their help and their sustenance.  Alone again, Cleff climbed down the canyon wall, going slowly and carefully, striving not to tread on even the smallest flower out of respect for the holiness in this place.  When the wall was scaled, Cleff journeyed to the river, drinking of it, refreshing the mind and body, then following its course towards where the Tangela had pointed.  It was three days before Cleff reached the temple of the great elder, and for those three days Cleff did not eat, unsure of what was safe after eating only of Tangela since the arrival on this planet.  Cleff drank much of the water of the river tricking the body into believing it was full.  Cleff was glad indeed when the temple became visible through the net of vines that was the forest.

At last at the goal, Cleff quickened, still avoiding flowers and plants, but eager to meet this planetary elder.  The temple was the only building that Cleff had seen which was made of stone.  The group had passed through Tangela villages on its way to the valley, but each time the Tangela lived amongst the trees, houses built in the branches, or burrowed into the ground.  Stones simply lay upon the ground, unused.  Something about the presense of this stone building in the center of this forest world made Cleff uneasy.  Still the Hero pressed on , climbing up the stone steps into the temple.  The temple was lit by a soft orange glow that seemed to be coming from the stones which made it up, and the pathway was large enough to fit a hundred Cleffs.  Smaller side passages turned off many times, but Cleff ignored them, simply walking the main one, figuring it was the most likely way to the great elder.  When a door became visible in the distance, also glowing with a brighter orange light, Cleff knew that the elder must be near.  As the Hero drew closer to the door, a heat could be felt, as though there was some great fire inside the center of the temple.  Pushing aside the unease, Cleff pushed hard upon the great door that stood glowing.  

A soft hissing sound could be heard as the door opened, and a thin bit of steam poured out of the crack in the door when it first opened.  Stepping into the chamber was like walking into a sauna, the heat a physical thing.  Steam filled the air, obscuring Cleff’s vision.  Still, one could make out the form of a great blue writhing thing at the other end of the room.  Cleff moved forward slowly, and called out to the great elder.

“I am Cleff, the first of my kind.  I have come to your planet in peace, hoping to learn and explore.  I encountered a group of the Tangela people when I first arrived, and I told them a story of the new gift all Pokemon possess, of the new unity that brings us all together.  They told me that this was a story that the great elder needed to hear, that it changed so much about the planets relationship with others.  So I have come, far across the surface of Forest, seeking you that I might tell you this story.  Will you hear it?”

The heat in the room intensified, new steam issuing forth from the twisting, writhing creature.  The creature spoke in a voice unlike that of the Tangela, not a voice of rustling and slithering, but of blasting and burning. 

“Why should I listen to one such as you Cleff?  You speak of unity and of blessed gifts, but you come alone, united with none.  You have come alone even to my home, leaving behind the Tangela that you say you spoke with.  Why should I hear from one such as you?”

Cleff was shocked by these words, not only were they paranoid and half-sensical, but this was not the voice of the creature that stood and spoke.  Something about this voice was familiar.  The words reminded Cleff of something…  The summit in the clouds, when the Lake Guardians had been called into being and the gift of Tongues bestowed.  Some had spoken out against this, calling it a trap, some sort of nefarious scheme.  Each who had spoken had a different voice, but each had sounded, a little like this.  Something was talking through the elder, something was controlling or influencing its actions.  If Cleff wanted to survive this, this influence had to be curbed.

Cleff considered the situation.  What could be done to drive away this fiery presence and return the elder to her faculties?  Cleff thought about the time spent with the Tangela, and knew what to do. 

“Great elder!  Listen to my voice.  Do you hear the slithering or the rustling of your own language?  Do you hear the blasting and the burning that is your voice now?  If I do not speak the truth then how do I speak?  How do you know what it is that I am saying?  Let us share food and speak together.  I have the gathered power of a thousand suns that you might use for you meal, if only I might eat of your arms and your vines.”

The great elder looked first with revulsion upon Cleff, then this turned to confusion.  The elder shook itself mightily, as though to cast off a heavy shroud or shake loose a determined Spinarak.  The heat that surrounded the elder lifted away, and the glow in the stones faded.  The force that had inhabited this place and inhabited the elder had been cast out. 

With the fiery presence cast away, the great elder Tangrowth was happy to talk with Clef.  The two shared food as Cleff had suggested and Cleff told tales of the other worlds, the other Pokemon, and the blessing of the Lake Guardians, the gift of Tongues that now united the Pokemon.  The elder embraced the new ways, vowing to never harm another pokemon that came in peace to the world of Forest.  The elder too vowed eternal friendship between the people of Forest and the tribe of Cleff.  So it was that Cleff brought enlightenment to the world of the Tangela and cast away the demon of fire and shimmering rock that had so affected the great elder.  Cleff spent many days upon Forest, and then set forth again into the cosmos, off to another world.

“And that is the tale I wished to tell you tonight little one.  The Hero Cleff brought unity to the Tangela and spread the word of the Lake Guardians in the early days of Tongues.  And Cleff did not do this through strength of arms or through trickery.  Cleff was able to do all of this because of understanding.  Cleff was the first of the tribe of Cleff alone in the universe.  Because of this, the Hero could think in the ways of others, learn from their culture and understand how they thought.  The Cleffa and Clefairy of today cannot do this.  They are born into a collective, thinking each others thoughts, feeling each others feelings.  Only the most ancient of Clefables, such as myself, can begin to understand the other races, other pokemon, or humans.  We need a young adventurer like Cleff.  We need someone who can think like Cleff could.  We need you to be a new Hero.”

With that the Oldest closed the connection.  Nettle was in shock.  She could be like the Hero?  She could be like Cleff?  All this suffering, all these lonely nights might let her do what the Great Hero had done all those eons ago?  If it was so, then perhaps it was not so bad.  Maybe she could do it.  After a long moment of staring at the empty terminal, she turned back to her only companion.

“Lets get to work.  Teach me about light waves.”

“Beep Boop Beep,” came the reply.

And Nettle learned, and Nettle worked, but when the time for sleep came, Nettle dreamed of sunflowers.

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One Response to “Clefable’s Clefairytale”

  1. hippolar Says:

    Clever and intriguing history tale of pokemon lore. Very engaging “characters” descriptively and believably presented by elegant dialog and action. The traditional fairy-tale “old-world” feel interlaced with more modern sci-fi/fantasy elements is a delightful and charming combination. Look forward to more tales.

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