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>  For The Dancing and The Dreaming, Alola - 6 years ago
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 Lark posted at Mar 30 2018, 02:43 PM
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She hummed as she walked, confident that there were no subtle sounds she should be keeping an ear out for. If something unexpected did come up, she had Clef on her shoulder to get her attention. Her knowledge of this path was sure enough, she made it without a guide stick and stepped with certainty. Lark tucked a lock of brown hair behind her ear, even if the insistent wind would just tease it loose again, as it had done several times since she started her path along the seaside cliffs. The young woman had a basket hooked on her arm, intending on having a quiet lunch during the perfect summer weather.

As Abby would say, only her sister would consider a picnic with wild Wingull as "quiet". ("Don't you have better than average hearing? How can you stand that racket?") But the rancher enjoyed her time with the dual types--it helped that she'd known this flock for years. Her lips pulled into a smile when she heard them cawing up ahead and it didn't take the birds long to realize she was coming. To anyone watching, it would almost look like the woman was being mobbed by the wingull, but the lack of startled yelling should keep anyone from out right panicking.

After greeting them, she set her basket on the ground and pulled out a small blanket to sit on. The seagull Pokemon settled down around her while she set out lunch and some snacks for the birds. Lark resumed her humming while she took turns feeding herself, Clef, and then the wingull. They got over-excited at points and she had to gently remind them to calm so they didn't tear her clothes with their tugging beaks. Once the food was gone, she figured it was time to return to work. Lark repacked her blanket in the basket and stood. The birds flew around her, a couple landing on her unoccupied shoulder or arms and plucking playfully at her hair.

@Xiang Zhao

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 Xiang Zhao posted at Mar 31 2018, 02:00 PM
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Xiang rode lazily along the cliffs. Staying in Mei’s saddle was second nature to him, so he was free to let his attention wander while the sure-footed Mudsdale found their path. It was the movement that caught his eye first: the darting and wheeling white flashes of Wingulls centered around...something. A bit closer and he realized the figure was a young woman being swarmed. As he watched a lock of her hair was lifted in a beak, the bird fortunately startled into letting go by a bump with another. Worry rushing louder than the blood in his ears, he leaned down low over Mei’s neck and murmured to her. The powerful mare dove into a gallop, riding right for the flock.

As they reached the edge of the swirl of Pokemon Xiang closed his eyes and ducked his head to protect his face, trusting Mei to scatter the birds without hitting the girl. True to form, Mei cut nimbly around the curiously still human, noting a distinct lack of any resistance to the Wingull plucking at her. Once clear of the disrupted flock, Mei wheeled on her hind legs and launched back for a second pass, cutting behind the girl this time. By now the dual types were scattering, flying up and away with raucous cries of protest.

Mei kicked to a stop, snorting loudly, and Xiang looked down...at the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. He was struck absolutely dumb for a moment, mouth slightly opened as though to speak. Mei shifted sharply under him. ”You look like an idiot, you know.”

Clearing his throat and blushing despite this best efforts, Xiang managed to find his voice. ”Are you all right, miss? Those Wingull didn’t hurt you, did they? They can be real pests.” His voice was heavy with genuine concern. The girl seemed fine--no blood anywhere, even her clothes weren’t torn that he could see. They must have ridden up just in time.

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 Lark posted at Apr 1 2018, 01:04 AM
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The flutter of wings and caws around her drowned out most sounds outside of the cloud of wingull, so the first thing she noticed was the vibrations through the rock under her feet. The young woman paused, dropping her hand from where it was caressing one of the birds on her shoulder and turning, but she wasn't sure where she should face. "Clef...what's going on?" The taillow was already on alert, looking to find the source and spotting a man on a Mudsdale charging toward them. He gave an her their 'incoming' warning tweet before brushing a wing against the front of her shoulder to indicate where someone would be passing. Lark froze, a little alarm going through her when she was able to hear the pounding of hooves and then felt the rush of air as the equine passed.

Another brush of Clef's wing, this time on the back of shoulder, warned her the larger Pokemon was coming back, but on the other side. The wingull gave startled cries as they flew, but it didn't sound like any of them were injured during the event. The neigh of a Mudsdale had her turning in the direction of the ground type. A clearing of a throat soon followed, affirming her wandering thought if the Pokemon had a rider. She tilted her head up and toward where she heard the man speaking. She brushed her hair from her face as she calmed her beating heart. "Yes, yes I'm okay. They weren't bothering me. They're...friends." Lark knew it sounded odd, claiming to be friends with wild Pokemon since it often got her looks she didn't need to see to know they were there.

Despite the excitement of everything and her still racing pulse, she couldn't help but notice the man had a very lovely voice. She offered a soft smile. "But thank you, for your concern." Clef was eyeing the man with an edge of annoyance, not liking Lark being put in such a situation, even if she was handling it well.

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 Xiang Zhao posted at Apr 2 2018, 11:32 AM
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At the girl’s assertion that the Pokemon were her friends, Xiang felt a rush of embarrassment. Ohhhh way to go, Xiang. Way to charge in and save the day...and make a total fool of yourself in front of the most beautiful girl you have ever seen. Perfect. Her little hesitation--that moment of vulnerability--was so sweet, too, like she thought there was something odd about what she said. For Xiang, who had grown up wandering through herds of Mudsdale who eventually charged enthusiastically at the sound of his voice, it made perfect sense. He gave a self-deprecating laugh, one hand rising absently to rub the back of his neck.

”I’m sorry. Guess that’ll teach me to jump to conclusions, huh? Anything I can do to make it up to you?” He glanced out toward the flock still circling and diving just off the cliffs. ”Or them? You’d certainly know better than I.” He smiled, a rueful thing, and gave a little shrug. ”I’m afraid I’ve never been very good with flying types. Terra firma is more my speed.” He patted Mei firmly on the neck in emphasis. ”But uh, I’d like to apologize to all of you, if you can think of an appropriate way.” His eyes were hopeful as they met hers, smiling sweetly.

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 Lark posted at Apr 2 2018, 01:04 PM
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Lark's smile brightened at his laugh--doing so at himself and not at her--and gave a little dismissive wave at his offer. "It's alright, an easy mistake to make, I'm sure. Sometimes they can be bullies." Her slender shoulders lifted into a helpless shrug. At his offer to do something with for the wingull, her expression softened in a grateful one. That was so sweet of him--mostly people would have just brushed it off and not bothered. Lark chuckled at his confession. "I never would have guessed." She teased, her laughing smile never leaving her lips.

"That's very kind of you. They mostly sound offended, but if you'd like to make amends, they love fruit." She placed her unoccupied hand on the rim of her basket, fingers playing with a corner of her picnic blanket, it's handle settled into the crook of her arm. She tilted her head a little. "May I greet your Mudsdale? I've never been this close to one before." There was a reason for that, mostly that she didn't have much opportunity. But, she didn't exactly seek out an opportunity because she was a bit intimidated by the very large Pokemon. She had a natural affinity for much smaller and more delicate creatures like the bird on her shoulder.


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 Xiang Zhao posted at Apr 9 2018, 09:06 PM
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The way her face lit with her smile had him feeling a little short of breath and--yes, he was certain, he could feel it--grinning like a fool. He half wanted to jump off of Mei’s back and kiss her right then, but that would be a bit much, surely. He didn’t even know her name.

”Fruit, huh? Afraid I don’t have any. I’ll have to go into town and come back. Unless you think they’ll take some bread instead? Or jerky?” He reached back into a saddlebag and pulled out a small loaf. He tore off a piece and threw it out into the milling dual types. One snatched it from the air with astonishing precision and Xiang found himself impressed. He repeated the motion to have this piece caught by a different bird, sweeping up on it from below. ”Well they seem to like it. Though as fast as they eat it I’m not sure they taste it.” Amusement colored his tone--he could remember his aunt saying the same thing about him when he was a boy.

At Lark’s request, his attention turned back to the girl and he was quick to accommodate, climbing out of the saddle to stand beside his companion. ”Of course! How rude of me. This is Mei. Say hello, Mei.” His cheerful suggestion got him the dirtiest of looks from the mare. He could feel the annoyance and figured in that moment he was rather lucky she didn’t nip him like a badly behaved foal. He smile turned a bit sheepish as he patted her neck. Fortunately, she decided to humor him and turned back toward the girl, snorting softly. ”Hello,” she offered, tone excessively polite. ”It’s very nice to meet you. I apologize for my idiot trainer.”

Xiang’s cheeks darkened in a furious blush, which he tried to ignore as he smiled hopefully at Lark.

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 Lark posted at Apr 10 2018, 12:17 AM
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Clef tilted his head at the rider, noting the large grin and dancing in his eyes as he looked at Lark. The little bird wasn't sure how he felt about this, but decided to reserve judgement for the moment. He would be watching closely, though. Lark rocked on her a feet little, her own expression warming as they continued to talk. She could hear the smile in his voice and it was just as infectious to her as it was to people who could see it. "They'll eat pretty much anything, in all honesty." She tilted her head to listen, hearing the swooping and excited chatter as he tossed food to them. She laughed softly at his joke. "The only safe place is in their stomach, it's true."

The young woman heard him dismount, following his face the best she could until he spoke again. With permission given, and the Mudsdale's apparent agreement, Clef gave a series of chirps. "Two steps." He instructed, even though she couldn't understand the exact words, they had worked out several ways to communicate. At the mare's comment, the Taillow twittered a laugh, a sound Lark recognized for what it was. At least things seemed to be in good humor. Lark took two careful steps forward, raising her had as she did so. At the press of a fuzzy nose in her hand, her lips widened into a grin. "It's nice to meet you Mei. I'm Lark and this is Clef."

She brushed her hand up and down the Mudsdale's muzzle, fingers scratching gently, her face one of concentration. "I would say you are different than I imagined, but I'm not sure I had an idea of what you looked like." Lark admitted as she resisted the urge to explore the equine's head further. Not ever being able to see, she couldn't form any images like others could, she didn't even think to try since it wasn't a sense she was aware of. Not wishing to be rude, and not sure how long she could keep her hands from wandering further, she let it fall away from Mei. "Thank you." She said sincerely, gratitude clear in her voice and face. "So, does your rider have a name?" She asked the Mudsdale with jokingly conspiratorial tone.

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 Xiang Zhao posted at Apr 28 2018, 12:43 PM
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Mei had had her suspicions; Clef’s words confirmed that the girl was blind. She could tell Xiang so he didn’t embarrass himself...or she could wait and see if he figured out on his own. Served the brat right for passing her around as an amusement without having the grace to ask her permission first. At least Lark was polite, and her delicate fingers were clever about where to scratch. The mare wouldn’t hold it against her that the boy was completely addled by her pretty face.

Xiang watched with a broad smile--so broad a tiny voice in the back of his head suggested it was at least verging on a “dumb grin”--as Lark--such a beautiful name, perfect for her, really--stroked and scratched Mei’s face. There was a light in the girl’s face that was stunning to behold, and he felt himself firmly ensnared. Her comment to the Mudsdale didn’t quite make sense at first. Xiang kept trying to wrap his head around it when suddenly a series of small things clicked, his eyebrows jumping toward his hairline in realization. He found himself once again blushing, but at least this time he didn’t have to worry about what Lark would think--unless her little friend tattled on him. He made a mental note to make friends with Clef as soon as possible.

Mei snorted in amusement at Lark’s teasing question, and Xiang’s blush deepened. ”He does, in fact. I’m sorry he didn’t tell it to you, but in his defense he was more or less raised in a barn. Xiang, be mannerly and give the nice girl your name--also tell her she can take a better look at me if she likes.”

Xiang cleared his throat of all the humiliation he was choking on and spoke, somewhat subdued. ”I’m sorry. I really don’t know what’s gotten into me today. I”m Xiang; it’s a pleasure to meet you, Lark, truly.” Sincerity shone through his voice with perfect clarity at those words, and he couldn’t help but smile softly at the young woman. ”Oh, and she says you can take a better look if you like. I’m not quite sure what she means by that, but I have a feeling you will--Mei is often smarter than me and always more observant.” He turned his dark eyes on his partner and smiled fondly at her, one hand resting lightly on her dusty coat. Mei tried to look casual, but Xiang could tell she was pleased with--and somewhat appeased by--the compliment.

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This post has been edited by Xiang Zhao: May 13 2018, 06:23 AM

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 Lark posted at Apr 30 2018, 12:21 PM
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The little bird on Lark's shoulder tittered in amusement at Mei's words and he considered translating, but a glance to the flushed man had him holding his tongue. For now at least. The earlier misunderstanding aside, he had been more than friendly to his human and he had been trying to help her. He seemed to have his hand fulls with the mare as it was, he could give the guy a break. The woman tilted her head slightly when the man spoke again, there was an initial restriction followed by a more humbled tone. He felt foolish? Well, that was endearing and had her smile turning into a warmer one. "I'm very glad to meet you too, Xiang. And Mei, of course."

Lark's brows rose when he relayed the Mudsdale's permission and she was speaking before she thought. "You can communicate with her?" There was surprise and admiration in her tone. It was not an over-commonly occurrence and she knew it meant the pair had a strong bond. Almost as soon as she said it, she realized how rude it had been. She tucked her chin, color rising to her normally fair cheeks. "That's very kind of you, Mei." She felt a little prickle of pride that it seemed the man had yet to realize she was blind. It wasn't as important now as it was when she was younger, but she still used the skills her sister had helped her develop.

The young woman ran her hand gently up the horse's muzzle, brushing along her brow and circling her eyes carefully. Her expression softened, looking almost blissful as her fingers traced the lines of Mei's head. Lark could never tell how long she'd spent 'looking' at something, but she always felt it was awkwardly long when someone was watching or waiting on her. "Thank you." She said softly to the ground type with clear sincerity before lifting her head to face the rider and smiling. "Do you two ride around here often?" She'd heard hooves around there before and wondered how many times she'd been close to him without them meeting.

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 Xiang Zhao posted at May 13 2018, 11:15 AM
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Lark’s question brought a fond grin to Xiang’s face, expression affectionate rather than proud, and he rubbed Mei’s neck vigorously. ”Mei and I understand each other very well--we've been together a long time. She took me in hand when I was just a kid; taught me to ride...and to be less of an idiot." He smiled ruefully at many memories of well-earned scoldings, nips, and sarcastic comments--rather like the ones he had earned today. "Even she can’t keep me from putting my foot in my mouth all of the time, though.” His grin softened at Lark’s blush, words catching in his throat for a moment as the rosy shade colored her cheeks charmingly. He watched as her hands carefully felt their way over Mei’s head, meticulously exploring its shape. She had beautiful hands, he reflected. They were delicate, but moved with a quick confidence. And the soft look on her face...a small voice in the back of his head cried mournfully to have that expression directed at him. The thought occurred to ask if she’d like to take a better look at him, too, but he quickly dismissed it as juvenile and rude.

Mei held very still while the rancher’s hands brushed over her face. There was something almost tender in her expression that gave Mei pause. It was...touching. The mare didn’t bother speaking in response to the woman’s thanks, choosing to convey her “you’re welcome” instead by blowing softly and nudging the woman’s hand with her nose. This girl was rather charming, Mei decided. Perhaps Xiang’s taste in potential mates wasn’t terrible--nice to know he was finally growing into some sense.

”I’m afraid we haven’t had the pleasure,” Xiang offered in response to Lark’s latest query. If only we had, I might have met you sooner. ”We’re new here. We’re actually on our way into Paniola...if you’re headed back, maybe we could walk together?” He hoped he wasn’t being too forward; the last thing he wanted was to scare her off, but he didn’t want their time together to end just yet either.

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 Lark posted at May 19 2018, 06:32 AM
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The fondness and affection in his voice as he spoke about his bond with the Mudsdale brought a spreading warmth to chest. People could be, and were, close to their Pokemon, but she could feel that their connection was deep and meant much to the young man. She was grinning and likely looking foolish for seeming so pleased at someone else's relationship with their companion, but she didn't mind. It made her happy. Lark laughed softly at his joke. "I think you did a fine job with him, Mei." She commented with an amused smile. Even as she focused on exploring the ground type's head, she could sense his eyes on her and wandered about what he was thinking. Was it just interesting? Watching a sightless person? Or would he have done the same even if she could see? Some people got bolder in their looks when they discovered she was blind, but there was no negative feelings present, so she supposed it didn't matter much.

The woman's brows perked with interest at hearing they were new to town and her stomach gave a pleasant flutter at his request to walk with her. "Allow me to welcome you then! Actually, we were about to head back and we would love the company." She took a few steps in the direction of town, but kept her body half turned back toward Xiang and Mei, the tilt of her head inviting him to fall in step with her. "Besides, what kind of neighbor would I be if I didn't make sure you found your way okay?" Lark's smile turned a touch teasing, finding humor in suggesting a blind girl make sure he didn't get lost. Even though she did know her way very well, despite her disability.

"So, where are you coming from? Is it just you or your family as well?" Lark asked curiously as they strolled around the path back toward Paniola. She was glad he'd offered to come with her since she hadn't been ready to stop hearing his voice yet, but she really needed to head back to the store.

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 Xiang Zhao posted at Jul 18 2018, 08:34 PM
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Xiang gave a chuckle at her teasing tone. ”Indeed. Good to know the fine people of Paniola have proper manners.” He fell into step beside the girl, adjusting his stride a bit so he wouldn’t out pace her. He liked the speed they settled on--it was comfortable. Or maybe it was just her company that was comfortable. ”But truly, thank you for the warm welcome. It’s just Mei and me. I wanted to get away from home and see a little of the world. It’s even more beautiful than I thought it would be.” His eyes lingered a little on Lark’s wind-flushed face as he spoke. He wondered for a moment if he would be so bold if she could see, but decided yes, he would--he didn’t think he could help it, honestly.

Mei snorted at Xiang’s attempt at flattery, falling into step alongside her trainer. She stayed very close--not quite touching him, but close enough he could feel her warmth. Just a small lean or shift away from contact. Xiang liked physical contact, especially on the uncommon occasions that he was nervous. He wasn’t quite nervous yet, but depending on how things went with this girl he might be soon enough. If he was, Mei would be there at his side--solid and steady, permanent.

”How about you? Are you from here? Do you have family in the area?” He managed to stop himself before spilling out the dozen more questions he was suddenly far too eager to ask. He wanted to know everything about this girl, all at once. He could almost hear Mei now: Patience, you little flitter. You can’t run every gait at once. It was true; Mei--even when he was only thinking about what she was going to say--was nearly always right. So he held his tongue and waited for her lyrical voice to answer.

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 Lark posted at Jul 23 2018, 11:12 AM
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Lark listened carefully for their steps, trying to ensure that they were in sync, or at least not too off from each other, but it seemed that Xiang adjusted his stride to better match her shorter one. She appreciated not being rushed. Just because she was familiar with the area didn't mean she should go moving too quickly. The woman gave a soft hum of thought. "A man and his Pokemon companion. That sounds like the ideal way to start an adventure." It was similar to how she started on her own, plus a sister, of course. It was sort of standard, actually, but she had struck out for hers a bit later in life than most islanders. At least it sounded like Xiang had done the same.

When he watched her for too long, she could feel his eyes on her and it made her smile widen just a touch and helped keep a light pink tinge to her cheeks. She never would have fathomed the rider was referring to her when speaking of the island's beauty and nodded in agreement. "It is a lovely place, or some I'm told. The ways it's described to me certainly makes it sound appealing. Especially compared to some places on the other islands." The larger cities in particular could get out of hand with the litter. Akala Island had a large resort, so it was popular with tourists, but the people here put in more effort to keep it clean.

Lark could tell that there were more questions on the tip of his tongue, but he stayed it to give her a chance to respond. It flattered her that he was so interested in knowing more. She honestly would have been happy to let him keep questioning, since it would keep him talking and she could continue to enjoy his voice, but the point of asking things was to receive answers. If she answered his, then she could ask her own and get the same results. "Nope! I'm from Hau'oli City on Melemele Island. My sister and I moved here about a year ago to expand our family business." The young woman considered going on and telling him what that business was, but she also wanted to make him ask. She felt the smallest bit ashamed at realizing that, but not enough to remedy it. "Is there any sort of adventure in particular you are hoping to find? Or just seeing the world?"

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 Xiang Zhao posted at Aug 12 2018, 06:40 AM
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^
Somehow Xiang was unsurprised that his intended compliment missed Lark entirely. Of course she assumed he meant the island--she was as modest as she was beautiful. He could feel himself falling a bit harder with every step he took at her side. It wasn’t the first time he had talked to a pretty girl--not even the first time he had felt the tingle of infatuation--but he’d never met any girl who captured his whole attention like this one. Something about the way she stood in the midst of the swarming Wingull, completely unafraid...or the way she smiled, or the sound of her voice. She was just...lovely, and he wanted to linger in her company.

He nodded along with her story, rapt with interest. ”And what kind of family business is that? Does it involve rescuing foolish strangers who embarrass themselves in front of charming locals? Because you seem to have a talent for that.” He grinned broadly at the girl. It wasn’t until Mei’s shoulder shoved him that he realized he was about to trip over a largish rock, emphasizing his point. He shot the mare a grateful look as he stepped carefully around the obstacle. He supposed he should pay a bit more attention to his feet...but his companion’s face was a much more appealing place for his eyes to rest.

He shrugged at her question. ”I’d say I’m looking for something...though I can’t quite say what just yet. But I feel sure I’ll know it when I see it.” A small part of him--the most hopeful part--wondered if he had found it on a sunny cliffside, hair lifted by the wind of many wings.

@Lark

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