Pyrite Town/Late Morning
P-65 (Count from last post in Under) / D-28 (Count from last post in old Pyrite)
One month. One. Whole. Month.
Seemed like forever, didn't it? A month in this world now was like a whole year in the life she had before. Fighting death every day, struggling to find your next meal, your next shelter, anything to keep you alive and going. But what kept her going? Precious few things, actually. It had taken almost a week for her to get out of the Under, wandering into its murky depths with the aid of a bright yellow Salamence and a frightful Houndoom mother, but Asche had not been there. Asche had not been anywhere. She scraped and searched the fallen ruins of the Colosseum and patrolled the Under for days but had seen neither hide nor hair of her blue companion. And while that thought worried her, it also gave her some measure of hope. If she had found any trace of Asche it could have meant he was hurt, or dead, but the fact that she had seen nothing meant that wherever he was he was intact. And despite his extraordinarily bad luck the kid was a survivor. He was fine.
He had to be.
Phoenix stretched out under the morning sun, fur a shimmering reflection of the bright yellow orb as it hung in the sky. She dragged herself lazily off of her stony perch atop Erebos's monument and made her way to where Dean awaited her return. One month... One month and not only had she not found Asche, but she had lost everyone in their group from when the arena fell. The strange cat, Rukh, Kothar, she hadn't seen Kylie since the Mandibuzz, none of them where around anymore. The only one she had recovered was Dean, who himself had taken a fall in an effort to follow her down the cliff into the Under as she chased after Asche. Ardere had come back with Phoenix but after a few days had gone off in search of a green Jolteon named Salama, so Dean had been her only companion for weeks now. Her only solace besides her new morning ritual. She came to the same spot every morning, the Rock Tomb formation left by Rukh as he had tried to imprison her mate, and watched the horizon for any sign of him. Erebos had fled after that battle and she hadn't seen him since, but refused to believe that her mate was dead. He was too strong for that.
Coming upon a small ramshackle house she stopped and listened, sniffing the air carefully for any sign of a follower. She was alone. Satisfied she crept carefully into a small wedge in the door before removing a block of wood with her tail, allowing the door to close fully. Dean was hunched over a shoddy table as he focused intently on a map they had discovered in the old mayor's house. A frown marred her face as she thought about the last time she was in that house, with Kylie, and a stab of pain gripped her heart as she thought of the young Vibrava. Was she okay? Was she safe? Phoenix had no way of knowing but still the questions burned at her as much as they did with Asche and Nikkolai. But the thought of her son soon made the pain too real and she whimpered softly causing Dean to look up from his map and look at her sadly.
Dean knelt to the ground and opened his arms, allowing Phoenix to curl against him fully as she let her fears overwhelm her for a short while. The human whispered and cooed to soothe her pains, rubbing his hands gently across her neck and shoulders as she cuddled in closer. Through the thin fabric of his shirt Phoenix could feel the scar left by his bullet wound and the jagged cut across his abdomen from being pinned under the beam when the arena fell. She had allowed her fear for Asche to override her duty to Dean and his injury healed badly because she had not helped him sooner. She had left him there for a week before coming back to him. Dean was near death from infection and weak from thirst, and it had taken these last three weeks to get him even back to his feet this much. He still wasn't strong enough to fight on his own so if he ever had to leave the small house they found Phoenix insisted he take Cira with him, to which Dean readily agreed.
"Are you alright, sweetheart?" Dean asked softly, feeling her shudders slowing. Phoenix nodded quietly against his chest and raised her head up to rest on his shoulder, the human wrapping his arms around her to give her a hug. "I know it's rough, but we'll find them. All of them. And we are going to bring them home, I promise." Phoenix smiled softly and gave Dean an affectionate lick on the cheek to thank him before pulling herself away from his warm embrace to look over the human scribbles on his paper. "Any ideas on where to search next?" She asked. Dean nodded and stood up, arm braced carefully around his middle to keep from overstretching his crude self-stitching. "A couple. Our best bet is the ONBS building though, as you haven't been in there since a few days after Pyrite fell. And they might have some clues on Cipher there too." Phoenix nodded. At this point she would be willing to cross the gateway to hell if it meant getting her family back. Her whole family.