Lillie and I quickly departed the berry farm and headed towards Verdant Cavern on the heels of the Tauros riding, Buck, Team Skull, and even Hau. Eventually we made it up Route 2 and found a Pokémon Center right outside Verdant Cavern.
“Maybe we should heal up before taking on Ilima’s challenge,” I said.
“Yeah that’s a great idea! Plus I’m sure Hau is around here somewhere,” Lillie nodded.
We turned to open the doors to the Pokémon Center and they opened up for themselves. A boy emerged and ran into us knocking all three of us onto the ground.
“Well nice running into, literally,” Hau sat their laughing.
“Yeah you too,” I laughed.
We all got back to our feet in the doorway of the Pokémon Center. We dusted off our clothes although there wasn’t much dirt or dust.
“Howzit going guys? Are your Pokémon doing all right?” Hau asked.
“Well we actually just fended off some Team Skull Grunts who wanted to rob a berry farmer,” I said.
“Really? Maybe they were the same ones we ran into in Hau’Oli City.”
“Yeah it is possible,” I said.
“You didn’t see them pass by or a man riding a Tauros, did you?” Lillie asked.
“Ummm… no I didn’t,” Hau said. “I didn’t catch up to Grandpa, er, Kahuan Hala either.”
“Well maybe they circled back or something like that,” Lillie suggested.
“Yeah maybe,” I said. “I guess I should focus on the upcoming trial.”
Lillie agreed and all three of us walked into the Pokémon Center to get our Pokémon healed. I let my Pokémon out of their Pokéballs.
Hau nodded at me and let out his Pokémon too.
We walked out all ready for the upcoming challenge. Lillie stopped at the door. “Hey guys, I think I’ll just stay here during the trial. I am not really huge into the Pokémon battles and the whole ordeal with Team Skull has left me a little…ummm….rattled.”
“Oh ok,” I said resting a hand on her shoulder. “It shouldn’t be too long before Hau and I are back.”
“See ya around, Lillie,” Hau said as Hau and I made our way towards Verdant Cavern.
Storm and Hau’s Pikachu were talking back and forth and Smokey and Hau’s Rowlet were having their own conversation.
“I learned some stuff about Verdant Cavern while I was waiting for you and Lillie. The man at the café said that Verdant Cavern is kinda, like, sacred to Tapu Koko,” Hau said.
“Yeah it’s actually off-limits to the public. Only people who are on the island challenge may enter,” Hau continued.
I was about to respond but a new voice emerged from in front of us, “Hello Alexis and Hau!”
Ilima emerged from the front of the cave.
“Hello Ilima, how are you doing?” I asked.
“Wonderful! I was thinking that you guys were never going to show up!” Ilima laughed.
“We got a little distracted by a Tauros in Hau’Oli City,” Hau said.
“That and I ran into Team Skull again,” I continued.
“Hmmm… I thought we took care of that. Hopefully we won’t see them again,” Ilima said.
“Yeah I have a feeling they won’t stay away for long,” I said.
“We will deal with them in time, but for now let’s focus on the trial! This is Verdant Cavern, the location of my trial. Only through attempting the trials during the island challenge, one can exceed his or her own limits. That is what the Alolan people believe,” Ilima explained. “Now the very basic premise of the trial is that you must travel through Verdant Cavern defeating the Pokémon that lurk here. Then you’ll reach the pedestal deep within the cave and collect the Z-crystal.”
Ilima continued, “You’ll need to be completely in sync with your Pokémon to succeed. Also I should mention that there are many strong Pokémon make their home her in this cave, but one stronger and more fearsome than the rest, known as a ‘Totem Pokémon’, also resides here. It will be the greatest obstacle you face as you attempt my trial.”
“Now if you are ready, the trial of Captain Ilima starts now!” Ilima ended showing us the inside of the Verdant Cavern.
I walked in and I was almost blown away at how beautiful it was inside. I thought it would be a dull, dirty cave but instead it was just as verdant as the name would imply. It was green as green could be and full of growing plants. Small cracks in the ceiling above let little slits of light come down which allowed plants to grow on the cave floor and up the cave walls. There seemed to be a few different worn down paths going forward.
“Pretty amazing, isn’t it?” Hau stepped forward. His eyes were as wide as mine.
“Yeah pretty amazing,” I said. “I see why they don’t allow many people to see this.”
“Yeah,” Hau said without his usual prep.
I turned to him and I saw a single tear run down his face, “Hau? You ok?”
He wiped his face quickly and flashed a smile, “Yeah Alexis, I’m cool! It just really real for a second. You know? I used to dream of the island challenge and now here I am with Rowlet and Pikachu by my side. I’m really here.”
I thought back to me in Kanto dreaming of the Pokémon League and I understood where Hau was coming from. I didn’t know I’d be in Alola doing this island challenge, but I’m now glad I’m here.
I placed my hand on his shoulder, “I know you mean. We’re here now ready for our first trial. We better win!”
“Right!” Hau said.
We nodded in agreement and stepped forward deeper in the cavern. There seemed to be one large path that zig-zagged through the cavern with deep drop offs on both sides. I peered down trying not to get too close to the edge. Nothing but greenery growing down the sides down into darkness.
Hau gulped. “Well we don’t want to fall down there.”
Looking up ahead there was a small, black Pokémon sitting in the middle of the path. I reached down into my bag to grab my Pokédex but then stopped myself as we got closer. I recognized the Pokémon as an Alolan Rattata.
“Just a Rattata?” Hau said. “I thought when Ilima said that there were strong Pokémon, we’d see something special. Not just a Rattata.”
The Rattata popped its head up.
“Do you want it or should I?” I asked.
“Ladies first,” Hau gestured from me to the Rattata.
“Storm! Use Thundershock!”
Pichu jumped forward a bit and closed its eyes. It stood there for a second as static electricity built up in its cheeks and then opened its eyes unleashing a lightning bolt at the Rattata. It was hit directly and then scurried off with a high pitch squeak.
“Not too hard,” I laughed.
“Good job, Storm!”
“Yeah maybe these island trials aren’t really that challenging,” Hau said as we made our way forward.
After only a few seconds we heard this loud noise echoing through the cavern.
“Uh…Hau, what was that?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” Hau said.
Suddenly there were several loud squeaks echoing from all directions and eyes emerged from the greenery above us. There were several vines and roots growing down from the holes in the cavern ceiling. On these were several hundred Alolan Rattatas by the look of it.
“Hau…Hau…” I tugged on his shirt and pointed upwards. His gaze met where I was pointing.
Hau’s mouth hung wide open
“I think this one is yours, Hau,” I said.
Several different Rattatas landed on the land bridge on both sides of us.
“Rattata! Rattata! Rattata!”
They were on their four paws with their large teeth showing. Each of them growling as many others looked down from above us. Hau and I were back to back looking back and forth. My Pokémon to my right and his Pokémon to my left.
“Maybe it be best if have some powerful combos,” I said.
“You’re the idea person, right? What’s your plan?” Hau asked.
“Electric mice on one side and maybe a mix of fire and leaves on the other,” I said.
Pikachu and Pichu teamed up on the land bridge on the side closer to the Verdant Cavern entrance while Rowlett and Torracat on the side closer to the deeper part of the cavern.
“Storm use Thundershock!”
“Pikachu use Thundershock!”
“Smokey use Ember!”
“Rowlett use Leafage!”
As the hordes of Rattatas ran forward towards us, Pichu and Pikachu both unleashed large bolts of lightning that mixed together and hit several Rattatas at once. Torracat shot balls of fire out of its necklace making tingling sounds as Leafage unleashed leaves from its wings. Both of these hit the Rattatas knocking them back. This battle went on for several minutes as we kept knocking back more and more Rattatas. Unfortunately the horde kept getting closer and closer. They got close enough that Torracat switched over to using Fire Fang sending Rattatas flying back and they hit other Rattatas.
“Pikachu, use Quick Attack!”
Pikachu used its speed and slammed into Rattatas knocking them back and then seemed to flash with speed before hitting another Rattata.
“Rowlet use peck!”
As the Rattatas got closer, Rowlett used its beak and attacked at the eyes of the Rattatas. Pichu continued to use its Thundershock attack knocking back some Rattatas and paralyzing others. Eventually the Rattatas seemed to stall. They all squealed out at us giving us a little bit of space on each side. Many of them were damaged by electricity, fire, leaves, or physical damage.
Our Pokémon looked worn down and tired and the Rattatas weren’t looking any better.
“Alexis, we need to think of something,” Hau said huffing and puffing. The battle and giving out commands had winded him.
“Yeah I know,” I said also breathing hard. I didn’t know Pokémon battles could be so physically demanding and I’m guessing it is many times worse to our Pokémon.
I took a deep breath. “HEY RATTATAS!” I yelled out. “WE DON’T MEAN YOU ANY HARM! WE SEEK SAFE PASSAGE. THEN WE’LL BE ON OUR WAY!”
The Rattatas seem to be confused. They looked at each other and spoke softly to one another. They continued to look around and eventually they started retreating. They climbed back up the vines into the nests above some of them helping others climb. Eventually they were all away from the land bridge and up into the vines above.
“I….I…can’t believe that worked,” Hau said.
“Yeah me neither,” I said.
I reached into my bag and pulled out a couple of potions and sprayed both of them with the purple mist they produced which made them look more refreshed. Hau did the same for his Pokémon.
“We’re looking a lot better,” Hau said a small smile returning to his face.
We continued forward and there seemed to be several different eyes watching us from above, but the Rattatas seemed to stay at bay. We made it through the rest of the path and we eventually stumbled upon an exit out into a large valley area.
I covered my eyes a little bit as the brighter area came into focus. It kind of looked like it was a crater caused by a meteorite or by a volcano collapsing in. There were large rock faces on each end but a nice large grassy patch in the middle. Out in the middle of this valley area stood a large stone pedestal.
“That must be the pedestal we’re looking for,” Hau said taking a step forward.
“Hold on,” I said throwing an arm in front of Hau. “Didn’t Ilima say something about a Totem Pokémon?”
“Oh yeah,” Hau said stopping his movement forward.
We looked around and didn’t see any Pokémon around. Just grass below us and blue sky and sunshine above us.
“Maybe the Rattatas were the Totem Pokémon,” Hau suggested.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “Let’s move towards the pedestal while keeping our eyes peeled.”
“Sounds good,” Hau said. Our Pokémon nodded in agreement.
We moved forward cautiously with our Pokémon on edge. I was expecting something to jump out at us, but we made it all the way to the podium without any type of Pokémon jumping out at us.
“Maybe we got lucky,” Hau said with a nervous smile. He didn’t sound convinced.
I reached out for the small, white crystal that was imbedded in the podium. It seemed stuck. I grabbed it with both hands and yanked. It didn’t move.
“It’s stuck,” I said.
Then with an instant the podium flashed in a burst of light. A dull, orange light covered the entire podium and I took a step back.
“Woah what’s that?” Hau asked.
There was a loud bellowing sound that filled the entire valley.
“What was –“ Before I could finish my question a large form landed in front of us with a loud thud.
It seemed to emerge from the cliffs above the podium. It was a large black mass of fur about the size of Torracat. It turned around revealing a large rodent with large puffy cheeks and large teeth.
Hau decided to explain quickly, “That’s Alolan Rattcate, the evolution of Rattata.”
“That must be our Totem Pokémon!” I said.
As the Raticate stared us down and growled, it flared with the same orange light that the podium was covered in.
“Well are we going to take this thing on?” I asked turning to Hau.
“Yeah, let’s do it!” Hau stepped forward now in stride with me.
The two electric mice Pokémon jumped forward ready to take on this new enemy.
“Storm use Nasty Plot!”
“Pikachu, use Quick Attack as a distraction!”
Pikachu took off with its speed circling the Raticate. It tried to lash out with its teeth but Pikachu was too fast. Pichu stood there staring down the Raticate trying to figure out a plan of attack. Static electricity built up on its cheek pouches. Pikachu returned to Pichu’s side and the Raticate looked confused.
“RATICATE!!” It yelled out with a growl that filled the valley.
Down from the cliff side above jumped another black shape that we recognized as an Alolan Rattata.
“Yeah I’ve seen this before,” I said. “Pokémon can call for assistance in battle.”
“Just like we’re doing!”
“Well that just means we’ll get to defeat two Pokémon in order to win our first trial!” Hau said.
“Storm, use Thundershock!”
“Pikachu, use Thundershock!”
They both unleashed a blast of electric energy striking both Rattata and Raticate. There was an explosion and the Rattata was knocked back unmoving. The Raticate fared a little better but still looked badly hurt.
“I think one more hit will take it out!” Hau said.
“Agreed!” I said.
“USE THUNDERSHOCK!” We both yelled.
Our electric mice unleashed another burst of electricity, but this time Raticate dodged out of the way. It used its large teeth to clamp on Pikachu’s tail and flung it. It smacked right into Pichu sending both of them back with their eyes spinning.
“They took out Pikachu and Pichu with one hit!” Hau exclaimed.
“That’s one powerful Pokémon,” I said. “But we can’t give up! It’s time for our starter Pokémon to come out and battle!”
Rowlet flew out hovering above the battleground and Smokey jumped out from behind me with a snarl.
“Rowlet, use Leafage!”
“Smokey, use Ember!”
Rowlet opened up its wings unleashing a barrage of leaves from above striking Raticate. Torracat readied itself and unleashed a giant fireball from its necklace which hit the Raticate directly as it was distracted by Rowlet’s attacks. It was knocked back a few feet and laid there for a second. It struggled to get to its feet and tried to step forward and almost face planted. It struggled to its feet again and the orange energy faded. It hobbled over to the Rattata and picked it up in its teeth. It then expended the last of its energy and leaped back up onto the cliff side and disappeared into one of the small caves that dotted the cliff side.
“We did it!” Rowlet returned to Hau who gave it a huge hug.
I walked over to Smokey and petted its head and behind its ears. “Yay we did.”
Hau and I opened our Pokéballs and our Pokémon returned so they could rest up.
“That was crazy,” Hau laughed.
“Yeah, you can say that again,” I said.
“That was wonderful!” A new voice filled the valley and we both looked to see Ilima standing near the entrance to Verdant Cavern. “You two were incredible. What powerful trainers you two are. You two managed to defeat the Totem Pokémon that I had trained to such a powerful state. I just don’t know what to say. Working in harmony with your Pokémon, you two have cleared the trial of Ilima!”
“Thank…thank you,” I said.
“Yeah thanks,” Hau said.
“Now it’s time that your efforts should be rewarded,” Ilima said. He reached into his bag and pulled two white crystals like the one in the podium. “This is the Normal Z-Crystal also known as Normalium Z. Now if you let a Pokémon that can use a Normal-type move hold that, then you will be able to strengthen a Normal-type move by unleashing Z-Power.”
“That’s what that orange light was, right?” I asked.
Ilima nodded to me, “Very good, Alexis. The Totem Pokémon have the ability to unleash their Z-Power without the instruction of a trainer. Z-Power is used to help boost the Pokémon’s attack strength, their defense, or their speed. Totem Pokémon are also inclined to call for allies in battles like you just saw although this is also a tactic other Pokémon use from time to time. It’s not a tactic often seen in other regions. Perhaps Pokémon in Alola are simply more inclined to help one another.”
Ilima continued, “Now that you two have cleared your first trial, I think that we should all head back towards the Pokémon Center to heal up and then there’s something I want to show you on Route 3.
“Ok sounds great,” I said. “My Pokémon could use some healing.”
“Yeah and I could use some dinner,” Hau said grabbing his stomach.
“Not so fast, yo!”
“Yeah stop right there!”
All three of us turned to see that the Team Skull Grunts were hanging out in the cave’s entrance.