The sun beat down brightly on Fresnel's head as he yawned widely, slumped on the front step of Mary's school. He rested his cheek in a paw, eyes half open. Bored. He had not slept very well the night before either, making his usual wait for Mary far more tedious than usual. It had occurred to him to go off and do something else to occupy his time - not to mention the numerous times Mary herself had told him so - but he honestly had nothing else he needed to get done. He did not have a job yet (he could not decide what to do there either) and Mary was really the only friend he had worth spending time with. And so, day after day, Fresnel found himself seated in this same spot, waiting for Mary to finish her classes. He glanced up at the sky blearily. Not much longer.
His eyes drifted over the open street before him, filled to bursting with other pokemon. Although this was always a rather busy avenue, it seemed even busier than usual today. There were so many shops all along the road that few could avoid coming here during their daily errands, and Jules was not the only pokemon to host a class here either. But normally, there were pokemon running back and forth, squeezing between each other as they struggled to do their work quickly and get out, and yet today almost everyone was headed in one direction. And not many were coming back. Fresnel leaned forward slightly, glancing down the street. It led to the town square, a busy commune, but without a holiday to celebrate, he saw no reason for the sudden rush of interest. He sighed, resting his chin in both paws. He was curious, certainly, but if he left now, he might miss Mary. He rubbed his neck, letting out another breath. Tired.
The door swung open, making Fresnel jump to his feet. He quickly stepped aside as a stately, brutish raichu made her way through, her eyes barely resting on him as she walked past. Fresnel wrinkled his nostrils at her back. Jules. Despite how much his mother insisted upon her good nature, she did not even seem to notice him. It was worse than dislike; it was if she did not think he was even worthy of being known. He let out a grunt, turning back to the open door as her students began to spill out the door. Several electric and steel types, all female of course, hurried out, discussing their class and clutching thick books in their hands securely. Unlike their teacher, many of them certainly saw him, smiling, waving, giggling behind their paws as they whispered to their friends. He returned all the friendly gestures with his own, but made no effort to speak with any of them. He finally gave a true smile when Mary rushed out, book bag slung over her shoulder. He waved his arm.
"Fresnel! Come on, let's go to the square!" She grabbed his paw, pulling him away the building as she rushed down the road. Fresnel was shocked, barely able to register enough to stumble after her. This was new. Normally after class they went straight to the nearest restaurant to pick up lunch. Mary was always starving, having been up early in the morning, her breakfast hours behind her. Fresnel was hungry as well, mostly because he was up so late he had not bothered to eat at all.
"Why are we going to the square?" he asked in bewilderment, trotting along at her side. Mary looked at him in surprise.
"You didn't hear? But you were right there on the road! Everyone is talking about it!"
"I don't pay attention to the crowds..." He made a face, deciding not to elaborate that he had, indeed, been curious. "C'mon, just tell me!"
Mary laughed. "Someone's come to visit, and apparently give a bit of a speech. A priest, or something! I heard he came all the way from Alomomola!"
"A priest? Why is that so exciting?" Fresnel shook his head. "You can see one at any of the churches here!"
"Oh, but..." Mary looked to him earnestly. "This is different! He came from outside the walls! No one can even come in without special permission. I want to see what he's like!" Her eyes looked forward wistfully. "Maybe their religions are different too."
Fresnel was not all that interested in seeing a priest, outsider or no, but he could tell Mary was going whether he followed or not. He decided there was no harm in tagging along. And who knew, maybe it would be very informative. Maybe he could tell Fresnel if everything he had heard was true. His ears prickled as his interest began to pique.
Up ahead, he and Mary could see the huge crowd gathered all around the town square, but unfortunately it already seemed to be dispersing. Fresnel grunted, slowing to a walk as he looked over the pokemon parting to go back to their errands. Mary let out an annoyed breath.
"Dang! We missed it." She grimaced, putting her hands on her hips. "If only I hadn't been in class."
Fresnel chuckled, about to make a joke, but then he caught sight of a strange, yet familiar, pokemon standing in the center of the square, just before an ornate sprinkling fountain. Fresnel tapped Mary's shoulder, pointing to the fellow. It was very clearly not a native of Steel City; nearly all the pokemon who lived on the upper level were electric or steel types. Certainly there were no rock types this high up in the city, as this 'mon appeared to be. Rock types tended to dwell... lower down. Where his mom forbade him from going. Not that he listened, but...
In any case, the collar the stranger wore around his neck, made of orange and black material, was not something he had ever seen anyone wear before.
"Hey, I think that's the priest guy you were talking about," Fresnel said, directing Mary's gaze to the rocky pokemon. "Let's go and see if he'll talk to us!"
Mary's eyes lit back up. "Oh! Yes, let's!" She hurried forward, scurrying between the remaining people who had yet to move on, making a beeline for the stranger. Fresnel could not help but grin as he followed right on her heels.
"Sir! Oh sir!" Mary called out as they neared the man. He turned curiously, eyes lowering to look to the two flaaffy as they skidded to a halt. He smiled to Mary warmly as she caught her breath. Fresnel swallowed hard now that he finally got a good look at him. He was huge, twice their height and width at least, and covered in jagged rocky bits. The giant drill on his nose made Fresnel simply want to turn and run away.
"What can I do for you, child?" he asked kindly. His voice shocked Fresnel, who had expected a grumbly, gravelly voice, yet his words were gentle, soft.
"Oh... Well, I know you just finished your speech, but..." She panted, holding up a paw. The man bowed his head.
"Take your time and gather yourself, child." He knelt down on his haunches, putting his head more on level with the two electric types. "My name is Thomas. I am a disciple of the Order of the Sun. What is your name?"
"I'm Mary!" she said happily, finally having regained her breath. Fresnel did not answer, still staring at the man's huge drill nose. Mary jabbed him the ribs, and he sputtered as he hurried to answer.
"Fresnel, my name is Fresnel," he said quickly. "Um, sir, can I ask what you... are?"
"Fresnel," Mary said, unimpressed, but Thomas only laughed good-naturedly.
"It is perfectly all right," he said easily, waving a massive paw. "My species are called rhydon. I have no doubt that I am the first many of your city have seen of my kind."Not to me,
Fresnel thought, recalling one of his previous excursions deep into the city. At least Thomas wasn't dull, like the other "rhydon" had been.
"So, um..." Mary pressed her paws together, bringing Thomas's attention back to her. "What is the Order of the Sun?"
"Ah, it is a church under our father Prosphora, where we strive to bring an end to darkness." Thomas clasped his hands before himself. "Although there has always been, and always will be, war and conflict, we still do not hesitate to right these wrongs, and make our world a better place."
"Who is Prosphora?" Mary asked in fascination. Fresnel felt rather amused by how interested she seemed to be by the 'rhydon's' words. He thought the man sounded ridiculous, talking about 'light and dark' like they were anything tangible. And bringing an end to war! Thomas had said it himself; there would be no end to war. So why fight against it? Why make a whole religion about it?
"Prosphora... He is our father. Unique." The expression on Thomas's face grew slightly distant, full of awe. "A great bird of shining golden plumage. Once, his feathers held every colour of the rainbow."
"Once?" Mary cocked her head. "They're different now, you mean?"
"Yes. In his current life, his feathers hold a less colourful, but still radiant, appearance."
"His current life?" Mary leaned forward, enraptured. "You mean... he lived before?" Fresnel sighed impatiently, tapping his foot. This was getting to be a bit much. Neither of the pokemon took notice of him, however, Thomas nodding in response to Mary's question.
"Yes indeed. Prosphora has been reborn many times by now. All pokemon are reborn upon death, but in no one is this more clear than my father." He held up his paws, making grand sweeping gestures to accompany his words. "Although all our lives hold a purpose, his hold a greater need than any. The colour of his plumage in his current life, in fact, show that his purpose in this cycle is even more vital." Thomas let out a long slow breath, blinking slowly, before looking down to Mary with a weary smile. "Of course, I am simplifying all of this. If you wish to know more, I would be more than happy to tell you at another time. I am very tired from my journey, you see."
"Oh!" Mary's ears perked up. "Yes, I want to hear everything!" She looked around quickly, thinking. "Um, could I come find you tomorrow? Or is that too soon?"
"Yes, that will be fine." Thomas smiled, patting her head gently. "I will be here in the square all day after I have rested properly. When you arrive, I will be happy to tell you everything of my Order, and of Prosphora."
"Wow... Thank you!" Mary took Thomas's paw in both of hers, shaking it exuberantly. "Thank you, I'll come by right after class! And you'll be here, right?"
"I promise." Thomas gave her another warm nod. "And now, with your pardon, I must take my leave." He bowed to Mary and Fresnel respectfully, retiring to a nearby carriage. Two massively muscled bouffalant hauled the rock type away with a heave and grunt, trotting out of the square and away from the two flaaffy. Mary watched him go the entire time, expression distant. Fresnel waited a few moments, looking from her to the road down which Thomas had vanished. Finally, he prodded her arm.
"Hey." He laughed as she jerked to attention, her eyes skirting to him. "If you're done giving doe eyes to Thomas, we have places to be!"
"I was not giving him doe eyes!" she retorted, following Fresnel as he led her away from the square. "But don't you find it interesting? Pokemon... reborn!" Her eyes grew distant again. "It feels so... I don't know. I want to know more. I want to know more about Prosphora."
"I don't know. I can think of a lot of pokemon I would be happy not to see in this life, let alone another." Fresnel chuckled, shrugging. "Well, as long as you find it interesting. Do you still want to hang out tomorrow?"
"Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't even think..." Mary shook her head, then smiled to Fresnel. "Of course I do, silly. I'm not sure how long I'll be with Thomas for, but I'll come to your house after we're done. Okay?"
Fresnel smirked. "Of course. I'll be waiting! Now let's go get lunch, I'm starved." He took her by the hand, and ran away from the square, hurrying down a street that he knew would bring them some excellent curried food.
Part 2 of "Fresnel's Error" by