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Astral Genealogy [Pokémon Fanfiction]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by SGMijumaru, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. SGMijumaru

    SGMijumaru Competitive Mijumaru

    Apologies for the extremely long wait! I'm a judge for the Pokémon Watty Awards over on Wattpad, which means I'm having to dedicate this month to reading a ton of adventure fics so I can rank them and other things. I only finished this chapter because I was in the middle of writing it when the month rolled over, so I had to finish it.
    We're on the border of the final arc too, I promise. In fact, that's the very next chapter. For now, we get past the final important stuff. I will attempt to return to normal weekly posting when my judging is over, which will be December 1st at the latest! Apologies for the inconvenience again!


    Episode 26: A painful truth


    “So despite everything I told you, you went there anyway,” Shaymin said, shaking her head. She sounded heavily disheartened, depressed even, unable to look at Leos’ party at all.

    “Well unlike what you said about me, the Heaven Seal worked. I’m now a Constellar Lord,” Leos replied, arms folded. “I believe you owe us some info and how we get out of here.”

    Behind him, Prem, Griselle, and her parents watched with bothered faces. Night had fallen when they all got back to the tents, so they were all gathered inside Shaymin’s spacious tent to keep out of the way of others.

    As he told his story to Shaymin and the others, Leos couldn’t get the experience out of his mind. From Mirror’s inexplainable appearance and departure, to his activation of the Heaven Seal, he couldn’t forget how miraculous the whole thing was. As far as he knew, Constellars could only become Constellars when granted the title through their priests, since it was a strict religion and all. But here, a mere magical seal was all it took for him to be granted a title that put him beside Master Lin in terms of rank.

    His appearance didn’t even change. Dark energy resembling space had swallowed him and then sunk into him, as if he had absorbed a great power. Yet he looked and felt the same, even ran out of breath in his attempts to sprint back here. It was as if the seal hadn’t worked at all, but it did work, and he was beyond excited to test out its new capabilities.

    “Follow me,” Shaymin said, slowly turning to leave. They followed her through an unfamiliar route to the hospital tent where Blossom had been resting, gasping upon entry. The Mime Jr. was awake, snacking on bowl of sliced fruit.

    “Blossom, you’re alive!” Leos said, kneeling by her.

    “Master Leos,” she replied, breathing a sigh of relief. “Prem and Griselle, too. I’m so glad you’re all okay!”

    You’re glad we’re okay? You’ve been mortally wounded!” Leos cried. “And by throwing us off that airship, too.”

    “So you know. I apologise. It was an act of desperation after I saw you all get defeated by Charle’s attack,” she recalled, looking at her feet. “Had I been stronger, I should’ve been able to protect you, even teleported you all to safety. I’ve done a poor job so far.”

    “Stop that, now,” Leos replied, shaking his head. “I’ve been stiff so far, but that’s changing. Blossom, when I think about what you’ve done for us so far, even despite the way I treated you… I want to change that. So I’m sorry, Blossom. I’m sorry for getting you so involved in this, and letting you get hurt.”

    “I told you before. I’m in this for my own personal reasons. Me getting hurt doing that just means that I wasn’t strong enough. Master, you needn’t concern yourself with my well-being,” she said.

    “Well thanks for accepting my apology. I’ll make sure to remember that,” he spat. “And that just means I’ll have to do my part to be stronger. Strong enough for you to not need to get hurt or do much to help me.”

    “Master Leos, I’m your retainer. That’s my job!” she said.

    “Why do I get the feeling this convo isn’t gonna go anywhere?” Griselle giggled, stepping in between them. “Just say you’re sorry already and get to it!”

    “She has a point,” Blossom agreed, standing up. She flinched twice, laying a hand on her bandages. “I-I’ve been incapacitated for days. It is likely that the battle we sought to prevent has already started.”

    “And you want to go in that condition? I couldn’t. You’d definitely get killed,” Leos raised his voice.

    “Master Leos, if I would die protecting someone who would prevent war, then I couldn’t ask for a more honourable death,” she replied. “And like I said, I’m going regardless. This is for my own gain, at the very least.”

    Leos growled and shut his eyes, retracting his words just before they came out. “I really appreciate it, Blossom. But please, for the love of the gods, don’t push yourself.”

    “Shall I begin?” Shaymin asked.

    “Yes, please. Tell us everything we need to know,” Leos said with a nod. The others gathered around him, some sitting down to listen.

    “Etheria… I’m sure you’re aware that Etheria was originally a whole planet, split into two to create Eris and Faernia,” she began, speaking softly. She looked like she was forcing herself to look up at Leos. “The truth is, this is a feral world. Etheria was wracked by conflicts, however petty. Pokémon fought each other all across the planet, tirelessly searching for habitats, food, and mates. Etheria’s Pokémon were primitive for generations, and showed not a single sign of ever advancing further.”

    “Sounds like Eris,” Nier groaned. Vincent pinched her.

    “Eventually, we gods and goddesses were appointed to different places across the planet in hopes of creating law and order. To make Pokémon intelligent creatures worth keeping alive. However, we were to do so without touching Pokémon themselves – we were to remain legendary, to only ever influence nature,” Shaymin explained. As she spoke, she began to glow, releasing a magical projection of imagery. Everyone gasped as their surroundings transformed into the world she was talking about, a sunny, colourful field of varying plants and woodland. “For example, I brought plants to life. I travelled the lands, allowing nature to flourish where I could. I never met a single mortal. Some saw me, but never got the chance to share a word. Pokémon would discover the miracles of nature I gifted them, learn their importance, and in turn, protect and generate more. Pokémon learnt to grow flowers and trees and more, how to build their habitats out of nature, and the nourishment it could give them. Society was created and began to advance.”

    The world around them rapidly transformed right before their eyes, going from the primitive world of fields to a utopia bursting with nature. Villages sprouted up. Rivers were redirected. Large groups of Pokémon, even those differing in species, looked like they were all having fun as they worked together to make buildings, play together, and more.

    “There are Swirlix and Shelgon! You’d never see those two playing together!” Nier pointed out.

    “It’s incredible,” Leos whispered, unable to help but smile at it all. The smiles on the Pokémon’s faces, their efforts, and the results of their coexistence – it was true peace in the form of a dream. That was what he felt until a dark shadow took over the sky, and a huge crack split the ground in two. The once smiling Pokémon transformed into a disorganized crowd of Pokémon scrambling and fighting each other to escape the chaos, many failing and falling into the fissure splitting the ground.

    “But the reality is, the gifts of us legendaries can only be temporary. Just like mortals, gods and goddesses can grow old. When we grow old, our minds and our directions can become warped and twisted. If we are not put in our place, the order of the world can fall out of control,” Shaymin continued, her tone changing to match the imagery. After the fissure split, dragon types were left on one side, whilst fairy types were left on the other. The two sides stared at each other with bloodlust and hatred in their eyes. “The most intelligent Pokémon that had taken the form of leaders within this new world had begun to take sides with their beliefs. Many of these leaders were aware of the primitive world Etheria once was. They believed that order and the world would revert and fall apart without the leadership and blessings of the gods. Hearing that, the gods, the Tapu, took advantage. The Pokémon followed every order their gods gave without protest. In time, the order of the Tapu became a religion. They turned their half of the world into an ark, a split planet that flourished in with the blessings of the gods. Only select Pokémon that the Tapu chose would be allowed on this planet.”

    “Faernia,” Prem whispered.

    “The other half of the Pokémon felt that the gods were not to be blindly obeyed, that they remained out of reach of the mortals so that they could maintain a sense of freedom. When their gods began to grow old and their intentions changed, these Pokémon fought the gods, killing them so that they could continue to live in coexistence with the nature that they had been gifted,” Shaymin continued, evoking gasps from a few. “When killed, the gods temporarily transform into the very part of nature whence they gifted. They are eventually reborn, where they judge the current world as they see it. If they foresee destruction, they awaken and guide the Pokémon once again, as I am now. If they foresee peace as it should be, then they sleep, remaining out of mortal reach until the forces of nature awaken them.”

    “Eris is that second world. So what you’re saying is that the Tapu are guiding Pokémon?” Leos summarised.

    “The Tapu are guiding Pokémon, yes, but their guidance has grown beyond what they should be doing. Pokémon have grown so attached to the Tapu that their guidance has turned into religion, the very law of the world. Faernians are spoilt by the gifts of the Tapu, unable to fend for themselves should the nature of their world ever change. The reality is, the Tapu are old now, old and mad. The mad gods and goddesses are destroying their own world by keeping them as separate planets, disjointed from the Second Country, the core of Etheria’s natural planetary energy. They seek nothing but conflict with the Erinians. Faernians won’t see reason,” Shaymin explained. “Likewise, the Pokémon of Eris grew to be driven by conflict and aggression. They grew hardened as they thought that they failed to control nature. Their planet lacked planetary energy and without the gifts of gods and goddesses, died, forcing Pokémon to resort to eating each other, pilfering from one another to survive. In time, they grew to live with their natural disasters, creating an infrastructure that relied on forced mass breeding and slaughter.”

    “But then how do we stop this? If both planets are bad, what can we do?” Prem cried.

    “Kill the Tapu,” Shaymin answered. “Remember that the gods return to the part of nature that they gift when they die. The Tapu’s bodies would restore nature to both Eris and Faernia, enabling peace to return to both planets.”

    Leos had been in deep thought the whole time, slowly coming out. “No. That won’t work.”

    “You don’t think so?” Nier asked.

    “No, wait. That will work, but it won’t be substantial. On top of that, how do we kill gods? The entirety of Faernian society is built around that religion. We kill the Tapu, we declare war on the whole planet,” he said.

    “He’s got a point. Technology, the weather, and the growth of Faernia’s crops – everyone looks to the Tapu for that. We can’t just expect everyone to be fine with killing them,” Vincent said, scratching his chin. “Not even I have any idea of how to do this. On top of that, the Tapu are remarkably powerful.”

    “The Heaven Seal. It gave you, and only you, the power to kill the gods,” Shaymin said. Leos’ eyes widened. “You must kill them in one strike using a Zenryoku arte.”

    “A Zenryoku arte?” he replied.

    “Zenryoku means ‘one’s full power’. It is attained through your bond with another,” she clarified.

    “In this case, Prem,” he muttered, glancing at the Pikachu. Prem shyly stepped forward.

    “Leos, what’s your star sign? You and your friend will need to draw that sign with your bodies as you give your incantation,” Shaymin instructed. “Your thoughts and feelings will combine, and you will power up to max for the duration of your attack.”

    “Oh, I know about this. It’s like this,” Blossom said, perking up. She crossed both arms to make an ‘x’ shape, then unfurled and stretched them straight forward, again crossing them. “Er, then you would move into the position that draws your star sign.”

    “Let’s give it a try, then. Prem, with me now, please,” Leos said. He nodded enthusiastically and hopped behind the Oshawott, and the two of them began to move in sync, crossing their arms.

    “I call upon the stars to grant me your blessing,” Leos began, slowly unfurling his arms. As Prem copied, light energy burst from them, surrounding them both in auras of fiery energy. They both crouched, spun as they rose, and then flicked their arms up and curled them, drawing the same shape as the Aries star sign.

    “Provide me an attack to make ease of this conflict!” Leos finished. The energy around him and Prem spiked, expanding greatly. Pulses of wind came from them both, but then the auras burst harmlessly, disappearing into nothing. Leos and Prem were left dumbfounded in their poses, confused as to what should have happened.

    “It failed,” Griselle said, disappointed.

    “What was supposed to happen? I suppose we’re not really fighting anything right now, so,” Leos mumbled, turning back to the others.

    Shaymin’s eyes were closed and she shook her head, sighing deeply. “As I suspected. You can’t do it yet, even with the Heaven Seal.”

    “You mean it actually failed?” Prem cried.

    “Zenryoku artes don’t work unless the two Pokémon doing them are totally in sync. They don’t have to be perfect, but the line between their intentions has to be clear enough for them to share energy,” Shaymin explained, glaring at the duo. “One of you has doubts about the other.”

    Leos and Prem glanced at each other, and then shook their heads. “That’s preposterous!”

    “Preposterous or not, you can’t use the arte. That’s fact. Despite that, will you still attempt to return to Eris?” Shaymin said, glaring at them.

    “You saw the energy appear, though. The Heaven Seal worked,” Leos argued.

    “I never said the Heaven Seal didn’t work. Your Zenryoku arte didn’t work,” she repeated. Leos gulped and stepped backwards. “I can still send you back to Eris, but until you learn to perform your Zenryoku arte, you have no chance of defeating the Tapu. Will you still go?”

    “U-um, sorry for asking but,” Prem squeaked, sticking a hand in between them. “I noticed that attack was similar to the one Charle did on us. He drew his star sign with that Primarina knight he had with him. But was their bond really that strong?”

    “It’s a type of arte that only high ranking Constellars can do as well. What’s a knight of Faernia doing knowing a Zenryoku arte?” Blossom added. “In case you’re wondering, I was briefed on them years ago while I was still a Constellar myself. These artes were… very elite, though. They were intended to be used as absolute last resorts. I had never seen one get used until then.”

    “I won’t have the answer to that question. You will have to ask this ‘Charle’ Pokémon yourself,” Shaymin replied.

    “You know, I’ve been thinking about that since they came here, too,” Nier spoke up, putting her paws on her hips. “The last time I saw Charle was when he showed up at that battle. That one where Princess Diantha fell… do you think Master Lin did something when we left him there?”

    “I’d safely gamble on it. I still can’t figure out exactly what that monster’s up to,” Vincent said.

    “You two know Master Lin? And Charle?” Leos asked.

    “It’s a long story, but yeah, we’ve got history with ‘em,” Nier said.

    I’ve got history with them. You just can’t seem to tell the guy to buzz off,” Vincent corrected.

    “Hey I was there too, okay? Don’t count me out just ‘cos you got that fantasy tale with ‘em,” she pouted. “Listen, Leos. If you’re heading back up there, I wanna come with you. I’ve gotta make sure that everything’s alright.”

    “M-Mum? And Dad, too?” Griselle cried. “Really? It’s hard enough trying to be in public without you guys around.”

    “This is important. Regardless, it has been a long while. It’ll be good to be beside Her Highness again,” Vincent said, patting his daughter’s head. She grumbled at him.

    “I’ll go back. Whether or not we can do the Zenryoku arte, we can’t sit around here and do nothing now. We’ll find a way to stop the Tapu, somehow,” Leos answered Shaymin at last, turning back to her.

    “I can’t give any predictions about the current state of the planets. I can only transport you to one location on either planet, too. Where would you like to go?” Shaymin replied.

    “Eris. That’s where Tapu Bulu was headed.”

    “You’ll land in the Terrihstoric Wasteland. Make sure you are prepared for that travel,” she warned.

    “Oh- right, yeah! I’ll go get packed and stuff real quick. Gimme a little bit!” Nier squeaked, hopping up and running off.

    “Me too, actually! There’s some stuff I can grab from our tent now that I’m back here. Be back in a sec, my prince!” Griselle giggled, skipping away.

    “What could you have? You seemed prepared enough when I met you on Faernia,” Leos asked.

    “A new armour set. Gotta dress properly if we’re going to a proper war, right?” she said, waving to him playfully.

    “That’s a good point, actually,” He muttered to himself, putting his hands on his hips. “I doubt I could wear a convenient armour set, but I could at least get myself a decent shield or something down here.”

    “You’ve got your scalchop, and my Reflect and Light Screen moves. That should be enough, right?” Blossom said, giving him a cheeky look. Leos glanced at her and then at his scalchop, groaning in bother.

    “Prince Leos,” Vincent spoke up, sounding far more serious than before. “Do you mind if I talk to you for a minute? Dewott to Oshawott.”

    Leos didn’t reply, raising a hand to his party that told them he was okay with it. Vincent directed him out and around the tent, where he went in between a thin corridor of treehouses. The night sky made it all difficult to see, so Leos had to walk slowly and feel his way through for most of it. His main concern was accidentally tapping on one of the treehouses in case he bothered any sleeping inhabitants, all until he realised just how far Vincent was taking him. They ended up in a clearing a good few minutes from the tents, surrounded by nothing but twilit fields of short grass.

    “Is there something wrong? We’re far out,” Leos said, glancing back. Vincent didn’t look at him for a moment, waving his tail irritably.

    “You and my daughter went to the Ruins of Origin. You found the Lock Ball there, didn’t you?” he asked.

    Leos’ eyes thinned. “That peculiar piece of tech that can seal Pokémon. That’s what you’re worried about?”

    “Return it to the ruins. Now,” he ordered, turning around. His face was stern and intimidating. “The power that this ball has is the greatest sin we have as Pokémon. It isn’t to be handled by anyone.”

    “I see. So that answers an obvious question: it can seal any Pokémon without fail, can’t it?” Leos asked. Vincent didn’t reply. “I still want to do a few observations with it in my spare time, if you don’t mind.”

    “No! No one is to know of its existence or its power. If there is even the slightest chance that a weapon like this could fall into the wrong hands, I must do everything in my power to prevent that,” Vincent begged, stepping closer.

    “You don’t need to worry. Only me and Griselle know about it. I won’t even tell Prem,” he assured.

    “Leos, please. I was sealed in that ball for over a thousand years!” Vincent shouted. “Its potential isn’t to be underestimated. Nothing good can come of anyone having knowledge of it. It can’t be destroyed, so it is best left down here, in the ruins where no one goes.”

    Leos shut his eyes and looked down, taking in a deep breath. “You know, my Mother and Father complicated a lot of my journey by not explaining everything Shaymin just told me. I could’ve had a goal if I knew what they were working towards, staying away from society the way they are. You could prevent that, as well.”

    Vincent breathed out and trembled, shuffling backward a few paces. “I lived in Etheria, a thousand years ago. I was just a fighter in training, practicing to become the guardian of my village. My life was set until the one day where I was supposed to take over.”

    Leos folded his arms, listening intently.

    “My teacher was… Master Lin. A Samurott with that name, and my surrogate Father. He taught me everything I know about the world and fighting. We set out to have an exam at our village’s shrine, a shrine of the Tapu,” he recalled, beginning to growl. “I haven’t even told Her Highness this part. But he attacked me head on, instead of doing what we planned. I was defeated with ease, and when I came to, I was being operated on.”

    “Operated on?” Leos replied, widening his eyes.

    “Master Lin tried to turn me into the thing you are. The hero of Etheria. He wanted that power for himself, and I was his pawn in the experiment. But I broke free and fought back, and we both succumbed to the effects of that accursed experiment. I became this hybrid, incapable of using any Pokémon attacks. It’s a miracle I’m even still alive, as is with him. But he sealed me in the Lock Ball as a last resort,” he explained. Leos glanced at the Lock Ball in disbelief. “Think about it. Not only was I sealed perfectly within the ball, but it maintained my form for over a thousand years. Even now, I’m as alive as I was back then.”

    “It’s astounding. To seal and maintain a form for that long with no form of decay whatsoever, that’s quite the technology,” Leos remarked. “I don’t blame you for being fearful of its potential, but if Master Lin created this, then there is little stopping him from creating more.”

    “Regardless, no other Lock Balls or technology similar has surfaced. When I discovered that Lin was still alive, I dedicated all the time I could to trying to stop him from doing whatever he is planning. But as the head of a religious cult of his own, there was only so far I could get. I can’t attack him without reason,” he replied, holding his hand out. “Just keep the ball here, Leos. It’s for the best of the world.”

    “Yes, Master Lin is the head of the Constellars. I doubt he’s held onto the same plan for one thousand years, but that does give me more of a lead. One thing’s for sure, he’s definitely after some kind of sacred power. Between a legendary hero and the high priest of a religion, the two are connected,” Leos rambled, looking away.

    “Don’t try to distract me. Return the Lock Ball to the ruins!” Vincent said, raising his voice again. Leos grumbled and shook his head.

    “I’m thinking about the task at hand. If I could replicate this technology somehow, we could seal the Tapu. If my Zenryoku arte isn’t working, then that’s a solu-”

    “That isn’t a solution. I can’t allow anyone to replicate this kind of technology. It’s too powerful for the world!” Vincent shouted.

    “Don’t underestimate me as a prince. I promise you that it won’t leave my possession,” Leos said.

    “I see. You’re just like all the other royalty,” Vincent said with a sigh, calming down. “You weren’t going to return it, even with the weight of my story told to you. The only way to make you truly understand is to pry it from your dead body.”

    “What?” Leos whispered. He flinched when Vincent stretched his feet apart and revealed a naginata, a long staff with a curved blade on the end. “What do you think you’re doing?”

    “You leave me no choice but to kill you. I know this is high treason, but if it is to protect this world from the Lock Ball’s might, then that’s the sin I have to commit,” he replied. “Don’t get the wrong idea. You being prince of both planet’s royalty doesn’t mean anything to me when it comes to this. Besides, you’re in the Second Country, now… you don’t have any political power here. No one does.”

    “You’re actually going to attack me? Right after proposing we team up for a common cause?” Leos gasped.

    “Do you understand why, hybrid?” Vincent shouted. “I am only protecting you and the world from a big mistake that you’re making. I can’t afford to sit here and watch it happen, not when I’m partially to blame for it!”

    Vincent gave a battle cry as he sprinted forward, forcing Leos to act fast. The Oshawott barely managed to form a Razor Shell before he was in front of him, thrusting his naginata with wicked speed and force. He missed the first two attacks and then resorted to wide swings, spinning the weapon around with expert skill.

    Leos attempted to retaliate by swinging his weapon in the opposite direction, but wound up getting smacked silly by the force he was up against. He coughed and cried out, concentrating on making sure he was facing forward. The first two strikes span him around even though he blocked them, and his arms felt like they were punching a brick wall. A third strike finally hit Leos directly, causing him to lose his balance and fall on his backside.

    “Is that the best you can do? Even with the power of the Heaven Seal?” Vincent shouted, pointing his weapon at Leos’ face.

    Leos growled and spat out a Water Gun, catching Vincent by surprise. The attack only brought him enough time to stand up and jump backwards, where he could charge a Water Pulse attack. He threw it with all the force he could, but Vincent slashed it in half, sprinting forwards to engage in close combat again.

    “St-stop!” Leos gasped, clashing a Razor Shell against the naginata again. Just like before, every hit knocked him around so hard that his body spun, even though he was blocking each attack. He was eventually kicked to the floor again, where he lost his breath.

    “And you want to stop the Tapu. I couldn’t possibly leave the fate of Etheria in the hands of someone so weak!” Vincent said, raising his weapon. Leos flinched when he thrust it one final time, expecting to take a fatal, painful stab. A high-pitched squeal sounded out instead, and Vincent was knocked backwards.

    “What?” Leos whispered, daring to open his eyes. Griselle was standing over him with her scalchop out, struggling to pull her lance from her back. She was wearing armour similar to the armour set he first met her in, silver, heavy, and clearly unsuited for her figure. Her lance was strapped to her back, and her paws couldn’t reach it.

    “Leos, are you alright?” she squealed, glancing back at him. He couldn’t reply, gawking at her as he got to his feet. “Oh thank the gods I don’t take long to get dressed. Dad, what the heck’re you doing?”

    “Griselle,” Vincent breathed out, shaking his head. “Move. This is a duel between us.”

    “Forget that! We were just getting ready to fight a war. Why’re you trying to clobber the prince?” she said, finally managing to retrieve her weapon.

    “This is between us. A battle of ideals and responsibility,” he replied, resuming a battle pose.

    “I won’t let you hurt him. Y-you wanna hurt Leos, you have to go through me, first!” she said, gritting her teeth.

    There was a long pause. The father and daughter stared at each other with rage in their eyes, neither redirecting their eyes one bit for an unsettling length of time. Leos shuddered as he watched them, but a wave of relief washed over him when Vincent returned his weapon to its folded state on his back. He stood tall and stepped back. “Tsk. If that’s how this is going to go, then we’ll settle this another time.”

    “No, you won’t. I’m not letting you hurt my prince,” Griselle assured.

    “Griselle,” Leos whispered.

    “Griselle. I’ll talk to you later,” Vincent said, shaking his head. He walked off after that, walking around the two hybrids as if what he had just done to them didn’t leave them on edge. They watched him until he disappeared into the night, loosing their stances when they were certain they were alone.

    “Whoa okay, I can’t believe I just did that,” Griselle said with a sigh, stretching her arms. “The heck actually happened? I-I can’t beat Dad in a fight you know, so if he’d actually attacked me, we’d be in trouble, I think?”

    “And you challenged him anyway?” Leos said.

    “Well yeah, he was attacking you! With his spear thingy and everything. I had to step in!” she cried.

    Leos gawked at her again, making a sound. He shook his head and groaned. “He wanted me to return the Lock Ball to the ruins. But I might be able to use it, so I want to hold on to it.”

    “That all? How’d he even find out we took it?” she replied, looking back at where Vincent went. “He takes it way more seriously than I thought. Sorry about that.”

    “Griselle. Thank you, seriously. That’s twice I owe you for saving me, now. And this time, you did it even though you knew you couldn’t beat your foe,” Leos said, growling. He scrunched up his face. “The things you Pokémon are doing for me, the things you’re about to do… how could I even make up for all this? Just saying ‘thanks’ clearly isn’t enough.”

    “I know how you can make it up to me! You don’t even have to think about it,” she sung, skipping around him. She stopped in front of him and put her hands on his cheeks, lifting his face so that they were eye-to-eye. “Kiss me.”

    “Wha-what?” he stuttered.

    “Yeah. Let’s kiss. That’d make me really happy!”

    “Wa-wa-wait, Griselle, I-” he stuttered again, stiffening. “I appreciate it, really, but a kiss is a bit much?”

    “Just as a reward for someone who saved you life, twice?” she teased, batting her eyelids. He groaned nervously. “You know how much I really like you, too.”

    “Okay, hold on. I had this talk with Prem, too,” he replied, stiffening again. “I don’t mind your affection, really. I’m pretty surprised you like me this much as well, to be honest. And unlike the exploiters in story books, you’ve shown me you do really care about me, you’re not just doing this because I’m royalty. It’s impressive, and it means a lot.”

    She blushed and giggled, twiddling her feet and hands. “But I just can’t do that sort of thing. I do have some feelings, but I have to be absolutely sure because of who I am. And I definitely couldn’t kiss with someone I’ve known for as short a time as you.”

    “Aww, Leos! It doesn’t have to be a confession or anythin’. Just the chance to make out once would make my year!” she laughed.

    “That’s not what a kiss is to me, though. And… ‘making out’ is another level. It’s also not what you said the first time,” he said, folding his arms.

    “Okay okay, so maybe I have the hots for ya a little too much for your liking,” she moaned, looking away.

    “It’s not that, I honestly don’t mind. I actually like how you’re-” he said, cutting himself off to go into a thought pose. She blushed again, trying not to look at him. “Just think. If I were to kiss or show that much affection to another and it’s not part of a full relationship, that’s what represents me to both planets. I just have to be absolutely certain that that’s what I want before I do it.”

    “It’s okay, I get it,” she groaned.

    “Sorry about that, Griselle. But thanks for understanding. I can make it up to you another way, so just think of something, okay?” he said, smiling at her. She looked up at him and nodded, keeping a paw on her chin.

    “Yeah,” she mouthed, staring at him for a moment. “Hold still a moment, you’ve got something on your face. Let me get it off.”

    “Oh?” he replied, rubbing a cheek to try and feel it.

    She skipped right up to him, lightly held both cheeks, and then dove forwards to kiss him on the lips, making a ‘mwa’ sound as she savoured the moment by keeping them connected. He was so shocked that he froze completely, left with the goofiest expression when she backed away. She laughed cheekily, blowing him a kiss afterwards.

    “That was all I wanted, and that’s all! No one else has to know, ‘kay? I’ll see you back at the tents, my prince!” she laughed, skipping away.

    He remained frozen to the spot for a few moments, unable to believe what he’d just felt. It took until a chilly wind made him shiver that he finally closed his mouth and shook himself off, unable to stop himself from blushing. “So that’s why they say your first kiss is the most special.”
  2. SGMijumaru

    SGMijumaru Competitive Mijumaru

    Wooo, page 3. Just fitting for the final arc of the story. Also fitting is that this part is about twice as long as the others, since it tells a pivotal part in the story. You've waited long enough, so I hope you enjoy it!


    Episode 27: The Heavenly Execution


    “What are you, nuts?” Nier squealed, pulling her head fur up.

    “No? I made a perfectly sane and sound decision,” Vincent replied. He barely moved, keeping his arms folded while he leaned against the back wall of the treehouse.

    “You attacked the fricking prince! With a spear!” Nier cried. “You should be hanged for that!”

    “I told you why, I told you what happened, and you yourself can see the result-”

    It’s perfectly sane and sound, huh? It is, isn’t it?” Nier cried, prodding him with her rapier.

    “Ow- hey- quit it, okay- stop, I get it!”

    “It’s sound! It’s sane! Hold up a sec, lemme try and kill ya ‘cos you don’t agree with me!”

    Leos groaned as he watched the two Meowstic dance around the treehouse, not knowing what to say at all. The others exchanged awkward glances with him or shrugged, all until the couple went crashing to the ground. They resorted to playfully slapping each other, though they clearly put in enough intent to actually hurt one another.

    Besides that, everyone was ready. Mentally ready to return to the world above and deal with the war that was inevitably happening. Griselle had a heavy metal costume that hid most of her appearance, Blossom had been given a leather shield, and Leos and Prem had their Zenryoku arte. There was some uncertainty about whether it would work in the face of Tapu Bulu or not, but either way, the duo was prepared to set off and try it. If it didn’t work, Leos knew he had the Lock Ball.

    Shaymin finally showed up, causing the room to go quiet and focused. She set down some sort of mat with some puzzle piece shaped cards in it, three filling a space on top of the mat.

    “Prince Leos. Take this,” she said, giving him another mat. His one had the cards separated from it. “They’re called Entercards. They’re ancient tools to summon Magnagates, portals that can lead anywhere in the world. This one is pre-set to return you to the Second Country, should you ever need it.”

    “Shaymin,” he replied, not knowing what to say.

    “This one I’m about to use will send you to the Terrihstoric Wasteland. From there, the show is yours,” she said, turning her back. “I suggest you seek out a library or something. Learn how to make Magnagates on your own. I won’t be around to make them for you after this.”

    “What do you mean? Couldn’t we just come back here and ask you?” Griselle asked. Shaymin turned back around, looking solemn about something. She giggled, dismissing that mood with a shake of her head.

    “Either way, you’ve dropped a blast seed, there. Being able to make portals that go anywhere, of course I’d research how to do something like that,” Leos agreed. He looked over everyone and gulped. “Our army is small, but we have to do something. Let’s go.”

    At his call, Shaymin inserted the last Entercard into her mat, and then stamped on it with a shout. Psychic power surrounded her with her cry, appearing as an intimidating blue emanation of energy. This colour took over Shaymin’s body completely, followed by the cards, and then some markings on the ground. The markings were all circular, growing wider and wider until the energy finally burst, almost blowing everyone away.

    “Whoa,” Leos whispered, taken aback by the glowing portal before him. It was flat on the ground, like a swirling puddle of varying blues. The light from it stretched up through the roof of the treehouse in a perfect cylinder, while heavy wind blew away from the portal constantly.

    “Grandma!” Griselle cried, drawing their attentions to Shaymin. The tiny hedgehog was still surrounded by blue energy, and she was panting heavily.

    “That’s it for me, I’m afraid. That’s the last thing I can do for the time being,” she huffed.

    “Wait what, you don’t mean- you’re not gonna die, are you?” Griselle cried, rushing over to her.

    “In your mortal eyes, yes, I am going to die. But that’s what fate chose. Don’t mourn for me. It was bound to happen, and it’s not without great cause,” Shaymin said. Her voice sounded positive for the first time, despite how tired and weak her posture showed. Her voice was echoing as well, like she was getting physically further and further away from them.

    “You helped us raise our child. You aided me to no end when I first showed up here, even though I was a hybrid that no one trusted. And now, you’re giving your life to help us all the more,” Vincent said, stepping forward. “Don’t tell us not to mourn for you. That’s impossible for someone who’s done so much for us all.”

    “You’re like, basically my mother! You can’t just do this suddenly,” Nier gasped.

    “Your mother?” Shaymin replied. There was a pause. “That’s a wonderful thought. I knew Griselle called me ‘grandma’, but I just saw that as a cute gesture from a child. I never considered that I could be called a mother. I’m not even allowed to be one.”

    Despite being made of the blue energy, it looked like she changed form right there. The shape of flowers bloomed on her back, like many Gracidea sprouting in season. It almost looked like Shaymin was blushing and smiling as well, and she lifted her head high. “But it means a lot. Thank you, Nier! But remember everything I told you. We legends don’t really die. I’m simply returning to my slumber.”

    “Shaymin!” Nier cried, stepping forward. In a flash, Shaymin disappeared completely, leaving nothing but a brief sparkle of blue glitter.

    “I’ve told you my story and given you all the information I can. Now you can return to the realm. With that, I have given you everything I can. Don’t let me down, now. When I come back, I’ll be able to look upon Etheria and smile!”

    And those were her last words, echoing from beyond reality into their minds. No one said anything for a while, letting the futuristic sound of the Magnagate and its swirling wind take over the scene. It wasn’t until the portal started letting out a new noise, like an alarm of some sort, that everyone realised their time was short. Leos swiped his hand to get everyone moving, and they all jumped into the portal.

    Just like that, the full group were whisked away almost too fast for their liking. The colours of the portal took over their surroundings completely, rolling past like a never-ending backdrop that they were travelling through at light speed. They were still able to stand still while they travelled like this however, so after a short moment of rubbing their eyes, they got used to the light.

    “She must’ve known that this would happen. That’s why she was so mad at me for failing her,” Leos said, curling his hands. “Why didn’t she just stay strict and keep us down here?”

    “Because you were so intent on getting back and fighting Tapu Bulu. She must’ve also known that she couldn’t hold you back,” Nier replied, paws on her hips. Leos gawked at her. “I know Shaymin. She was always doing things for the benefit of other Pokémon. She was definitely harsher with you, but I suppose that’s only because of the legend thing.”

    “… So it’s my fault again, huh?” Leos sighed, gritting his teeth.

    “Don’t see it that way, my lord. She wouldn’t have done this if she knew you weren’t determined to see this through,” Blossom replied, rubbing his back. He spared her a little smile.

    “That was so sudden, though. She didn’t really just die, did she? She couldn’t have killed herself just opening the portal for us,” Prem cried.

    “She’s gone, that’s for sure. But like she told us in her story, legendary Pokémon don’t really die. They return to the part of nature from whence they came,” Vincent replied. “Chances are, we’ll go back there and they’ll be a bed of Gracidea and flowers.”

    “And if we don’t win, she’ll have to revive, right? So she can tell another group of Pokémon what she told us,” Griselle said.
    “That’s right. It’s just like her to leave us guessing if that was her intent,” Nier said, rubbing her daughter’s head fur. “Except that this time, I’m certain that’s what she wants. So nothing to do but to do our best, right?”

    Leos didn’t reply, looking down. He stared at the Entercards he’d been given, squinting in frustration. “No, wait. It’s not going to happen overnight. All I can do from here on is learn. Keep paying attention to other Pokémon, and learn all I can about them. She saved Blossom’s life, taught me a Zenryoku arte… Shaymin. Thank you for everything.

    He put the Entercards away and scanned his party, locking eyes with Griselle. “You okay, Griselle? If you need a moment-”

    “No way, I’m fine, Leos! Really!” she cried, standing straight. “Let’s focus.”

    “A-are you sure? You don’t need to push yourself or anything,” he assured, sweating a little.

    She slowly shook her head. “When I decided to devote myself to you, I knew I’d have to face things like this. Pokémon risking their lives and Pokémon I care about getting hurt… I couldn’t do anything about it this time, but when it comes to battle, I’ll do everything I can to protect them. I’ll die before you do, if it comes to it.”

    He couldn’t reply with anything more than a slight shudder. His eyes were wide and he was almost gawking, keeping his fangs together.

    “That’s our girl! Tougher than the metal on her shoulder. Us too, Prince Leos! We’re part of your army for the time being. So hang back and let us do the heavy lifting!” Nier said, getting his attention. He only managed to glance at her before they reached their destination, signified by the background fading back out into reality.

    A cold wind had everyone cringing while they got used to their new surroundings, but that was just the start of it. Leos immediately gasped, looking through the group at the dead area they had landed in. Grey clouds buried the sky as far as the eye could see, while fragile, cakey earth covered the rest. Cracks, fissures, and other uneven edges dotted the scenery, which if it wasn’t for the land going uphill, had no form of cover whatsoever. Not a tree or a dune or a shadow was in sight, letting the land stretch on like an endless void that led to nothing.

    “Wait,” Leos whispered, slowly turning around. He took in a sharp breath, silenced by the emptiness that sat before him. But a conflict of nature had settled here, as trees, thorny bushes, and patches of tall grass seemed to grow amongst the cracked ground. It was all green and healthy, and it wasn’t coming out of the cracks, but the planet itself. Everything downhill was fighting against the various vegetation, ignoring the obvious scientific laws to grow to unrealistic size.

    “What is all this? How is grass and stuff growing here?” Blossom asked, stepping forward.

    Leos shook his head and growled. “Grass isn’t growing here. Tapu Bulu was here.”

    “Oh, right. If we follow the stuff, we’ll reach him and the army, right?” Nier said, glancing at the group. “Not that I had any doubt, but this at least proves your story, though.”

    “We don’t have time to lose. Let’s go,” Leos ordered, but Vincent stopped him before he could move an inch.

    “A moment. This also means that the battle is already under way, and gods know how far it has progressed,” he warned, readying his naginata. “We’ll be jumping into the war mid-battle. We should take advantage and plan a proper strategy. There aren’t many of us, so if we can jump Tapu Bulu right from the start, we’ll save a lot of trouble.”

    “That’s true. I’ll be thinking,” Leos said, setting off.

    It didn’t take long for the party to lose their cool. As they trekked through the forested wasteland, the vegetation grew more and more mutated and disfigured. The further they walked, the more the trees gradually towered higher than mountains, leaning in various directions from their uneven weight. Oversized vines sprouted from the ground, swirling and weaving in a congested tangle that almost made a natural maze. The stench of pollen mixed with a ripe, damp smell to irritate their noses, like an excessive amount of perfume had been sprayed everywhere.

    They couldn’t even walk quickly, as every few moments or so, a step that someone took would generate a nasty vibration or crumbling echo. It felt like they were walking on layers of paper - parts of the ground were chipping away or falling into the planet with every heavy step, particularly around the spots where the larger plant life was growing. No wind blew, so every sound was enough to make someone yelp or freeze up, expecting an ambush or something. Nothing came.

    It felt like hours passed in their trip, and barely a word was shared during that time. So when Blossom suddenly skipped off the obvious path the plants made to investigate a spot, Leos cheered inside. She carefully dug around a bush, eventually using Psychic to retrieve whatever she spotted in there.

    “Good gods!” she hissed, dropping her move in fright. She had pulled a dead body from the bush, a body so mangled and burnt up that its original species couldn’t be recognised.

    Leos was the first to calm down and realise that the Pokémon was dead, deciding to approach. He felt his body grow colder and colder as he identified the countless methods of damage the poor Pokémon had suffered, all until he spotted the main cause of death: dark type damage. The Pokémon’s wounds were recent, and its body actually still bled in places – the Pokémon had died before taking the stabs, burns and such, likely due to the mental damage dark and psychic type moves deal. Its eyes were even still open, but lifeless.

    “Wait, if he’s still bleeding, then-” he whispered to himself, leaving the body behind. He climbed a nearby arching stem to get a good look at the horizon, and almost choked on his own breath.

    They were on the border of the no man’s land that the war had created. The mutant vegetation stopped growing past this bundle of giant vines and bushes, making way for a great clearing of wasteland. This clearing was littered with groaning corpses, from Pokémon on the verge of death to those already passed, lying lifeless with weapons piercing their vitals or parts of their bodies missing.

    Leos shuddered, standing tall as he looked over the suffering combatants. Hakamo-o, Goodra, Charizard, Tsareena, Azumarill, Froslass, Mawile, and more littered the battlefield, all stinking of rot and stained with blood and burns from the heavy impact of Pokémon attacks. Neither side was at a clear advantage, sharing equal amounts of saddening casualties.

    “But why?” he whispered, unable to believe what he was seeing. “Just because the Tapu are mad? Is that truly why all this has to happen?”

    “Leos, get down,” Vincent said, pulling him flat onto the stem. He could barely balance on its rounded surface by lying on his belly like this, but it presumably did a decent job of hiding him from sight. “Look to the left and right. Both armies are taking stalemate.”

    Leos let out a trembling breath, slowly gazing at both ends. The dragons had created a trench that looked like a fissure, despite the fragile ground they had to work with. Meanwhile, the fairies had a combination of damaged airships and well-constructed forts on their side. The forts were mostly made from the vegetation that Tapu Bulu presumably grew, since he was stood on top of it all with his hooves pressed together.

    “There he is. Right at the top of that big castle thing made of veggies,” Nier said, looking through binoculars. “Is that Charle, next to him?”

    “Give me those. How can you not recognise him?” Vincent groaned, snatching to get a look himself. He let out a growl of wonder. “Wait, why is he?”

    “See? He looks different. Like, darker or something,” she said, folding her arms.

    “We just won’t be able to reach him with all the fairies protecting his perch. And no matter what we do, the terrain is disadvantageous. Out in the open like this, and with height advantage, we won’t be able to flank them, either,” Leos said, rubbing his chin.

    “So no easy plans. If they were fighting, maybe we could sneak by or something,” Nier suggested.

    Leos shook his head. “They have height advantage. That means they have scouts. Sneaking is impossible.”

    “Leos, look!” Prem squeaked, pointing. He was already floating with his orb, hugging it tightly.

    “Father,” Leos muttered, spotting Rune amongst a huddle of dragon types. He was leading a group across the clearing. “Wait, what? What is he doing?”

    Rune was focused straight forward, concentrating on the weak ground in front of him, seemingly not caring at all about the fact that he was stepping out into the open. Many of the dragon types followed him from a distance, appearing a lot more aware. Even with them all of them put together, they were a small group, an easy target for the cannons on the airships. Surely enough, some callouts soon came from the Faernian side of the field, followed by cannons taking aim.

    “No! They’re sitting Ducklett!” Leos cried.

    “What does he think he’s doing?” Griselle cried.

    None of the airships took off, but the way their cannons were moving, it was obvious that they were taking aim. A few moments later, white energy began to gather at the front of the cannon, as if it was charging a Moonblast attack.

    “Griselle, put your shield up!” Nier shouted.

    “Why? We’re so far-”

    “Don’t question, just do it!” she gasped. Griselle obeyed, hiding as much of herself behind her scalchop as she could. The moment she did, Nier lifted her up using her psychic powers and flung her like a ball. Griselle was screaming of course, but with her trajectory, she would have no trouble intercepting the cannon shot to block it.

    A second later, gasps sounded out from both Leos’ and Rune’s parties. The cannon fired, sending the huge Moonblast up into the air. It arched quickly and fell down straight towards them, big enough to engulf Rune’s group entirely.

    “Ooh boy, that’s not good!” Griselle cried, landing in front of Rune. She maintained her balance, but skidded to stop in place. “D-don’t worry, your highness!”

    “Get behind me!” the Dewott snapped, skidding in front of her at the last moment. He held the Sword of Earthly Elements tightly, one hand firmly on the hilt while the other pushed against the flat side of the blade. This stance surrounded the duo in a magical barrier, but that didn’t stop the wicked force from the attack from blowing everything around them away. The dragons behind Rune were all overwhelmed and sent back into their trench, defeated by the single attack, while Rune and Griselle escaped unscathed.

    “Whoa, how did you do that?” Griselle asked excitedly. Rune slowly glanced at her, and then faced forward.

    “You were with Leos. What’re you doing here?” he replied.

    “Father!” Leos called, sprinting over with the others.

    “I should’ve guessed,” he sighed, shaking his head. “All of you. Stay clear. I will take care of this.”

    “No. What’re you doing here? I thought you were trying to stop war? That’s what you told me!” Leos raised his voice. Rune sighed again.

    “I just got here. The Faernians attacked so suddenly that they got a lot of casualties in. If it weren’t for Erinians being such savages, they could’ve taken a town or two of ours,” he replied, becoming stern. “Once I learnt that Tapu Bulu was involved, I went out of my way to come here. They haven’t gotten anywhere, and won’t. Not with the sword on my side. And he knows that.”

    “Let me help you. If you’re really going to stop this war like you say, then you have no reason to refuse us,” Leos said, facing forward. “With me, Prem!”

    “You can’t do anything here. Get to safety,” Rune ordered.

    “We’re both on the same side, aren’t we? Let me fight.”

    “This isn’t a game. You’ll die here, Leos. You and your friends need to leave. Now.”

    “We’re not children. Don’t treat me like one!”

    “Guys,” Prem shuddered, watching the water types bicker. Rune silenced them both however, putting his arm in front of Leos’ face. He fidgeted out of the way but saw why, as Tapu Bulu had jumped from his perch to land on the battlefield.

    “He came to us? What?” Vincent said. No one else questioned it, beginning to shake as the grass type legendary approached. He was slow and barely moved out of his initial pose, keeping his hooves pressed together.

    “This sword protects its user. It allows me to confront an enemy directly, challenging them to a duel,” Rune explained. Tapu Bulu stopped a good few metres in front, staring at their party. “Tapu Bulu knows that. Me coming here and using this is a declaration of battle. If I should fall here, then our army forfeits. If I win, the Faernians leave.”

    “Just like the battles written in history,” Leos muttered. He stared right into Tapu Bulu’s motionless, empty eyes. The legendary stared back in complete silence, unnerving the others into fidgeting. Leos himself couldn’t help but wipe his forehead of sweat he couldn’t feel.

    “Well what do you know, you survived that fall!” Charle laughed, stepping around Tapu Bulu.

    “You! Charle, what in the world do you think you’re doing?” Nier cried.

    “Is that- Lady Nier?” he gasped. “Fortune smiles upon me today. I should get what I want now. Wanna make this quick? Come here, honey.”

    “Answer the question, Charle,” Vincent said firmly.

    “Shut up, hybrid. Come here, Nier honey. We have a lot of catching up to do,” the Meowth snickered, holding a palm forward.

    “Heck yeah we do! Like where you disappeared off to when we left you back there all those years ago. Or why you’re here fighting with the Faernian army? We were supposed to be stopping war from happening, not starting one!” she replied, paws on her hips.

    “Don’t worry about any of that. Come with me, and you won’t have to worry about any of that ever again. Or any difficult things, for that matter,” he proposed, holding his paws up. “I’ve seen the way. The powers I have now, the control over everything that I have – I always get what I want, so I could make you a queen! All you have to do is return my love. The pleasures of your dreams would only be the start of it!”

    Everyone turned to Nier, who let out an exasperated groan. “Oh. My. Gods. You’re still on about that? Don’t you have a wife now or something?”

    “A mate. That’s what I have. A dignified mate. And I want you to be my primary mate. That’s all you have to do for me,” he clarified. Nier raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps you’re worried. Don’t be. I know how to make both of us come together every time, if you know what I mean.”

    “Urgh, knock it off!” she shuddered. “Listen, Charle. I have a husband, and a kid. And although I find you funny, I’ve never been romantically attracted to you. So please, just knock it off. We have more important stuff to deal with.”

    “Looks like you don’t understand exactly what I’m talking about here,” Charle said, getting cross. He stepped forward, and Leos and the others stepped back the same distance. “I always get what I want now. And what I want now is for you to be my primary mate. I decided that. With these powers, you don’t have the strength to resist me. But you’ll like it in the end, anyway. I know you will. That’s just the kind of quality I have. No one listens until I show them what I can do. Once they see it for themselves, once they feel it… you will want more. You will never want me to leave your side.”

    “Okay, I’ve heard enough of that. I underestimated you last time, but you won’t defeat me again,” Blossom interrupted, daring to step forward. “The lady said no. That’s that.”

    “I said shut up!” he raised his voice, shrieking at them.

    “Well this is getting noisy,” Rune groaned, standing straight up. Charle snapped to silence, suddenly smiling maniacally at them.

    “Fine then. If you want it to be that way, then fine! It’s already setup, anyway. You fools will fall to my might. Meanwhile, Tapu Koko’s plan will reach stage one,” he snickered.

    “Tapu Koko’s plan?” Leos whispered.

    “Boy,” Tapu Bulu spoke up, surprising everyone. His eyes were locked on Leos, who flinched at the tone of his rough, deep, and powerful voice. “You have it, don’t you? The Zenryoku arte.”

    Leos gulped and nodded, to which Prem shifted to his side.

    “Then your opponent is me! While our lord Tapu Bulu deals with the main issue, I’ll deal with your rabble,” Charle cheered, still showing his teeth.

    Vincent was about to make a snide comment, but choked on the first word when Charle appeared right in front of Rune and slammed his sword into the Dewott’s chest. Rune blocked it, but not without coughing and growling at the surprising speed of it. The attack was so quick and forceful that Charle pushed them both backward for a second, and then Rune started to push forward to stop them.

    “Wait, what?” Nier gasped. She struggled to watch them exchange slashes, hitting their blades against one another so hard that the sounds of their battle echoed far. They eventually hopped a good few paces from each other, but Rune was focused and furious, now.

    “Leave my son out of this! The duel is between you and me, Tapu Bulu!” Rune shouted.

    “But it isn’t. It isn’t even a duel involving you, prince,” Charle laughed. Everyone’s eyes widened when he began to levitate off the ground slightly, releasing light shockwaves of darkness from his feet. “Come at me! I’ll take you all on at once. You’ll see just how worthless you all are before me!”

    “Oh pipe down already,” Vincent replied, jumping towards him first. Charle only moved at the last moment, but he was fast enough to block Vincent’s attack completely. Vincent kept at it however, spinning, kicking, stabbing, and swiping with his naginata to try and land a hit. Charle avoided or blocked it all, fluently floating around to keep Vincent moving across the battlefield. He eventually tripped over a body, giving Charle an easy hit with his claws.

    “Vincent!” Nier cried, raising her ears to use Psychic. The hybrid had only been hit by Slash, but it sent him staggering away to make room for the others. Nier’s Psychic blast came in not a second later, but Charle didn’t so much as blink from the impact. “What?”

    “He’s showing characteristics of a dark type. Psychic type moves are having no effect!” Blossom warned, trying the same attack to no avail.

    Rune was next, shooting a Water Pulse with just one hand. He chased it before it hit Charle, who blocked both the Water Pulse and Rune’s sword. The two ended up face to face, grinding their blades against one another.

    “Killing you is going to be especially fun, prince,” Charle snickered.

    “Don’t get your hopes up,” he retorted, growling with effort.

    They pushed against each other for a moment, until Charle revealed a free paw. Not only was he not putting as much effort into the fight as Rune, but he held a Dark Pulse around that paw, threatening to fire it at point blank range. Seeing the impending danger, Rune Kicked back and surrounded himself in water, using Aqua Jet to escape.

    The next moment had the others in states of shock. Rune and Charle zipped around the battlefield so fast that they couldn’t be followed, smashing against each other periodically with mighty hits. Each collision created a burst of energy somewhere in the space, half water and half darkness. This carried on until Rune finally got the upper hand, catching Charle by the neck and smashing him into the ground. Charle jumped right back to his feet, but not without snarling at his predicament.

    “So you do have some fight in you. I expected a lazy royal like you to rely on your weapon,” he said, stretching his neck. It clicked loudly.

    Meanwhile, Leos, Prem, and Tapu Bulu were still staring at each other. Leos was waiting for the legendary to speak or act, to give some sign to say that their duel had begun. He didn’t move at all, keeping his empty eyes on the Oshawott. The reason why soon became apparent, as the Faernian army began to gather behind him.

    “Wait, is this an ambush?” Leos whispered, turning around. The Erinian army had done the same for his side, and their presence had halted Charle’s fight against the others.

    “I must admit, I’m impressed, boy. You survived Charle’s attack, and a fall from a great height. If you should truly be capable of a Zenryoku arte, then you might entertain me with a good battle,” Tapu Bulu finally spoke. Leos lost his tension. “You are aware of how duels work, correct? You will be the deciding factor in the outcome of this battle.”

    Strange. He sounds sane. Does he know that the arte will kill him?” Leos asked himself. He shook his head. “No. We’ve thought about this already. We’ve seen the casualties and the damage. This god needs to be put down, and this is my chance to do it.

    “I accept your challenge. I’ll stop whatever crazed reign you intend to have,” Leos announced, stepping forward.

    “Good. But do not misunderstand my intentions. I simply wish to have an engaging battle,” he replied. Leos and Prem loosened. “The Pokémon of Eris are said to be more savage in combat, raised in harsh conditions. This has proven true by the prowess they’ve shown in combat thus far. But none of them compare to me.”

    “You’re really doing this just so you can have a good fight?” Leos asked.

    “Their power pales in comparison to mine. There is nowhere or no excuse for me to unleash my full strength, and I have grown bored. I wish to fully engage in combat, but there is no satisfaction to be had if the opponent falls at my simplest action,” he said.

    “That- that’s so wrong,” Prem whimpered.

    “You’re literally killing hundreds of Pokémon,” Leos cried, shuddering. “Are you really doing this just because you’re bored and want a good fight?”

    “You spout similar nonsense to the fallen kings of ages past. But don’t you Erinians kill simply for nourishment? What difference lies between yours and mine wishes that deems me morally wrong?” he replied. Leos looked down, shaking uncontrollably. “Perhaps it is time to put Erinians in their place. To right the wrong ways of your citizens by punishing you all with death. The least you could do is make it entertaining, however. You, the boy capable of a Zenryoku arte.”

    “For a moment there, I thought you weren’t insane. A small part of me thought that there was some remarkable reason that sparked your travel to Eris, gave you a valid reason for all this death,” Leos said, slowly looking up right into Tapu Bulu’s eyes. “Now I know Shaymin wasn’t lying. You’re just a god gone mad that’s lost his heart. The Pokémon of Eris don’t eat each other because they want to – they have no choice! Your blessings don’t reach them, and so nothing on their planet grows!”

    “Spare me the details, boy. I am done with pity. If that was so much of a problem, then why do the Pokémon not do anything about it? Instead they prepare themselves for battle, hardening each other before they kill themselves from the inside. Killing them for enjoyment is a kindness,” he replied.

    Leos’ glare intensified, and he crossed his arms. “I’ve heard enough. You think killing them for circumstances beyond their control – circumstances you yourself could help – is acceptable? And for your own sick enjoyment, no more? I won’t let you go any further, Tapu Bulu! This ends now!”

    “Good, you do know it! Hit me with it. Show me the true extent of your power. Hit me with the power only true gods can achieve!” Tapu Bulu laughed with rising excitement.

    “I call upon the stars to grant me your blessing!” Leos began, glowing with aura. Prem copied in perfect sync, besides the worried expression on his face. A heavy wind blew from them both as golden light surrounded them, both Pikachu and Oshawott posing in the shape of the Aries star sign. “Provide me an attack to make ease of this conflict!”

    Just like last time, the energy around them spiked to an all time high, and then burst harmlessly, all the light and energy dispersing into a single burst of wind that only ruffled fur. Seeing that, Prem panicked, glancing left and right and whimpering aloud. “Oh no, it still didn’t work!”

    But Leos ignored that. He was too angry to care if it looked like it worked or not. With the gamble in his mind that he had absorbed the aura or something, he swiped his scalchop aside, formed a Razor Shell, and threw himself at Tapu Bulu with a loud, angry cry. He impacted with all his strength, so much force behind his swing that he winded himself on hit. But Tapu Bulu didn’t so much as blink or shift, staring down at the Razor Shell harmlessly laying on his chest.

    “What?” Leos choked.

    “I’m disappointed, boy. Perhaps it was all a fluke. You are mortal, however. It was to be expected that you couldn’t do any better than that,” he said, his tone of voice telling of that genuine disappointment.

    Leos vaulted away from him the moment his hooves moved, avoiding a Wood Hammer attack that was executed so fast he didn’t even see it. That wasn’t the end of Tapu Bulu’s attack however, as he rose his decorated hooves with a triumphant cheer. At his call, several vines and roots magically sprouted from the earth below their feet, all from random spots that shifted everyone into full focus.

    “Stop!” Leos hissed, almost tripping over one that sprouted near him. Many came from afar, growing without cease to stretch across the air, threatening to pierce him like thrown daggers.

    “Leos!” Rune roared at the top of his voice, caught in the middle of his own battle with the vines. In fact everyone was, even the Faernian soldiers behind the god were having to hop, shield, or attack their way out of the onslaught of plants. There were so many that no one could even do a job of looking out for each other, and countless Pokémon were getting pierced right through by the second.

    It didn’t take long before Leos joined them. He jumped, spun, and even managed to cut one in twain before he was overwhelmed by three stems at once. If it wasn’t for him tripping over as he stumbled backwards, the stem might have hit him through his chest, but instead it hit him just above his left arm, going right through his bubble collar and back out the other side.

    He let out an agonizing scream at a higher pitch than he himself knew he could let out. All seemed to recognise it was him, as the plants suddenly retracted at Tapu Bulu’s command – even the one that went through Leos. It forced its way back through him, unplugging his wound to bring a gush of blood and flesh with it, as well as another scream from the Oshawott.

    “Leos!” everyone screamed. He did his best to stay standing, but the sight of a puddle of blood forming at his feet made him lose his strength and confidence in an instant. He fell forward onto all fours, breathing desperately and trembling as the blood stained his hands and feet. He couldn’t believe how much he was losing, nor the pain that drank his strength by the bucketload. He couldn’t even hear or feel anything anymore, aware that he was likely going to die at any moment.

    It’s all my fault… it’s my fault… all my fault!” Prem whimpered, staring in just as much shock.

    No one moved as Tapu Bulu let out a taunting laugh, bashing his hooves together. Charle made an effort to look threatening as well, keeping everyone away with his sword and an evil smile.

    I failed. After everything, I still failed,” Leos whimpered in his head as well. “I can’t hurt him. I can barely move from this spot. He’s going to kill me!

    The world blacked out for them both. Time slowed to almost a complete standstill, too. Leos couldn’t even feel himself breathing as all of his surroundings turned to complete darkness. Only his pathetic, fallen figure, Tapu Bulu’s mocking laughter, and Prem’s terrified noises could be heard, whilst his blood spread across the ruined ground.

    For Prem, the very same thought stormed through his mind. His memories with Leos played through on repeat, running through his head at blinding speed. Over and over and over, every last day he spent with the Oshawott hybrid, right down to the words they shared together repeated in his mind ceaselessly.

    I don’t want you to die… I really don’t want you to die. You can’t die now,” he told himself.

    I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die! I want to live!” Leos begged to himself, scrunching up his face. “But it didn’t work! My body isn’t working! My Zenryoku arte, after everything…

    All of a sudden, Prem let out a scream louder than any of the sound in the area, silencing everyone. He twirled his head around at the same time, stomping both feet into the ground while cupping his hands into fists. Gasps sounded out before silence fell besides him, all eyes drawn to the Pikachu’s feral outburst. The wings of his Mega Charizard hoodie spread wide, the tail lit up with real flames, and the eyes on the hood glowed a bright blue.

    “Leos, stand up! Do your best and stand up, Leos! It’s not over yet!” he shrieked, straining his voice to its limit.

    The Oshawott couldn’t believe he was hearing his friend at such a volume, but it sparked just as much shock in him as it did everyone else. He stared straight forward while Prem continued to scream orders of support to him, eying Tapu Bulu in expectation. The legendary didn’t move, watching with widened eyes.

    “We’ve got one shot and I know we can do it. We can bring out our fully powered strength, I know we can!” Prem cried, sweating and breathing from exhaustion.

    The Zenryoku arte… he’s r-right. I’m not dead yet, and if I really don’t want to die, then it has to work. I have to try,” Leos shuddered from a sting of pain.

    His vision went blurry for a moment and he growled from pain as another spurt of blood leaked from his wound. Surely enough, with a growl of maximum effort and a stumble backwards from weakness, he got to his feet. His body felt like fire was burning everything inside of it, and his feet were ready to melt and bring him to the floor, but he ignored it. His face was fierce and focused, despite his eyesight blurring from fatigue.

    “Do it, Prem!” he shouted, crossing his arms.

    “We have to win this. We can’t lose!” Prem replied, still shouting.

    The duo crossed their arms at the same time, causing the surrounding area to darken as their bodies glowed with golden aura. The aura grew over Prem as they unfurled their arms and stretched them forward, keeping them crossed. Leos didn’t voice his incantation this time, moving into a crouch. The duo spun as they rose back up, spread their arms out in a curl to pose in the same shape as the Aries star sign.

    The moment they struck this pose together, the golden aura around them spiked, raging around each of them with continuous pulses. This time however, the aura shot out of Prem and arched through the air to slam onto Leos, strengthening his aura to the point that it was blinding. It stayed around him as well, transforming the Oshawott hybrid into a golden form overflowing with energy.

    “Is this it?” Rune whispered, his jaw hanging open.

    “Yes, yes! This is what I’ve been waiting for!” Tapu Bulu said, smacking his hooves together. “The Zenryoku arte, one’s full power! Hit me with it. Show me everything you’ve got!”

    Leos heard him, but was too busy shuddering in awe. He had just been basked in more pain than he’d ever felt in his entire life, and now he was the opposite; overflowing with so much energy, confidence, motivation, and every other uplifting notion that he could barely keep still. He stared at his hands, trying to control his body’s irritable trembling.

    “Finish it, Leos! Hit ‘em with everything you’ve got!” Prem ordered, throwing his fists forward.

    Leos heard him loud and clear, and with this much power in his hands, he was more then ready to try again. He stomped one foot as he swiped his scalchop aside, the action magically generating countless copies of himself.

    “Double Team?” Blossom mumbled.

    “No, look in his hands! His Razor Shell!” Rune shouted.

    The clones of Leos all looked identical to him in his normal form, complete with normal Razor Shell attacks. Each of them rushed forward, diving into Tapu Bulu to stab him with their blades. He pushed his chest forward in a cocky attempt to block them, but the very first one that hit him had enough power to make him flinch and grunt. A second one hit and he cursed, followed by a third that instinctively made him guard his body with his hooves. Either way, dozens of Leos kept hitting him with Razor Shell, pinning him to the spot with strong pricks of pain that damaged him seemingly without end.

    Meanwhile, Leos concentrated on his target with full focus. He held his scalchop tightly with both hands, and when he finally tensed, a Razor Shell formed from it. Unlike the double-sided sword he normally formed however, his attack turned into a scythe over three times the Oshawott’s size. He spun the weapon around into a comfortable position and then burst forward at wicked speed, hacking into Tapu Bulu without mercy. His last hit pierced the very bottom of the deity, lodging the blade of the scythe with a mighty boom that dispersed all of the Leos clones in a beautiful explosion of glowing blue particles.

    “Wha-what?” Tapu Bulu cried, stretching up to try and resist the pain. “H-how is this- possible?”

    Leos didn’t answer him, stalling for just a moment. Tapu Bulu glared down at him, meeting his livid stare with a surprised snort. He then closed his eyes and relaxed, letting his hooves fall limp at his sides. “Well done.”

    At that, Leos roared out loud, pulling his scythe up as hard as he could. It sliced right through Tapu Bulu in a clean, straight cut that split the legendary in two, both halves separating briefly before exploding into enormous blasts of wind and glowing particles. It was all harmless, and the others only had to shield their faces as their fur ruffled from the wind.

    Leos was left behind in the centre of the glowing specks, which quickly slowed to fall like glittering snow. His aura lingered for a short while afterwards too, but soon faded in another harmless burst of wind. He struggled to turn around, losing his balance just as suddenly as he had gained it, and fell straight back to the floor.

    “Leos!” Prem cried, being the first to trip and scramble over to his friend. Leos’ wound had returned, though it was no longer leaking blood. His eyes were shut tight, and his body shuddered from cold and a struggle to move. “Are you alright?”

    He responded by raising his right arm straight up, as if calling Prem closer to help him stand. Seeing that, Prem wasted no time in reaching out, but to his surprise, Leos snatched his grip and pulled him to the ground. He pulled Prem into an embrace, breathing lightly with a big smile on his face.

    “L-Leos?” Prem gasped as quiet as a whisper. Leos’ face was so close to his that he could feel his breath on his cheeks, and their bellies and feet were touching. He refused to move however, not understanding or knowing what to do.

    “Stay here,” Leos said after a short while, moving his other hand to Prem’s back. His right hand continued to clench Prem’s left, his relaxed affection finally causing the Pikachu to go bright red all over his face. “You’re warm.”

    Prem couldn’t even reply with anything better than near to silent stuttering, squeaking. His friend let out a weak giggle at that, patting him on the back. “Thanks. I mean it.”
  3. SGMijumaru

    SGMijumaru Competitive Mijumaru


    Episode 28: Love versus duty

    “It’s truly remarkable. Whoever invented this is a genius,” Leos said, setting the Lock Ball down on a makeshift desk made of rock. “This technology could allow us to perform all kinds of feats. I just need to somehow port the technology, then I can alter it.”

    A knock came from the other side of the room. There was no door, but the candlelight in the hallway told him someone was waiting. “You can come in,” he called out after sliding the Lock Ball into the hay bed beside the desk. Rune came in alongside Prem, the latter looking pale with nervousness.

    “You’re awake. You didn’t sleep at all, did you?” his Father asked. He shook his head. “Well, good morning, anyway. I wish you had told me that you had learnt the Zenryoku arte when you jumped into the battle yesterday.”

    “You still would’ve fought against me, anyway,” Leos replied, looking away.

    “No. The Zenryoku arte is the very attack I wanted you to learn. It appears you’re aware of more important things now, like the choices you have to make as this world’s new leader. You’ve already acted on that path, but I have much to tell you,” he began. Rune looked away, giving a huge sigh. “The Heavenly Execution… that’s your Zenryoku arte. The power to execute even a god with the onslaught of a thousand Oshawott clones. With this power, you have the potential to kill the Tapu. But why-”

    “But why would I want to kill the Tapu? Because they’ve grown mad with age, and their dictation of civilisation has grown twisted. I already know, Shaymin told me everything,” Leos said, folding his arms. “I know everything. About how I’m a hybrid and how I have to uphold the legend of Etheria.”

    Rune took a while to respond, scratching his chin. He eventually folded his arms as well, and cleared his throat. “If this Shaymin is the one I’m thinking of, then that means you obeyed a god despite being aware that the gods are coming of age in our time.”

    Leos tensed up, but Rune ignored him. “Regardless, you’ve started what you need to start. I’ve spoken to your allies already, and we’ve gathered an army.”

    “This isn’t a sustainable solution, though. The Tapu will just be reborn, and the same thing that’s been happening will happen again, thousands of years later. We need to find a real, sustainable solution the planets and their energy crisis!” Leos replied, raising a hand. “I’m not going to just play into this, ‘legend’ or not. I’m going to find a way for us to live without relying on the gods.”

    “Oh? Do you think that’s possible?” Rune said, surprised.

    “Of course it is. It has to be. We just need to change our scientific approach,” he replied, beginning to pace. “I believe Faernian research at the moment goes into the development of new technologies that make use of the Tapu terrains and their blessings. But if we change the direction of that research, to figure out how to actually grow plants and things, for example…”

    “You’ve already killed Tapu Bulu, though. We don’t have time for that,” Rune replied.

    “What do you mean? I executed him because he attempted to start a war. We don’t have to feed into that,” he said, looking up.

    “The other Tapu are undoubtedly aware of his death. If Eris doesn’t act, they will come to us, seeking revenge. That’s why I gathered an army. We’re to set off this afternoon,” Rune explained. Leos let out a small gasp. “This is the path you chose when you decided to kill Tapu Bulu. If it’s not the one you wanted, then you should have thought about it sooner. There’s no going back, now.”

    Leos looked away. “The Pokémon won’t stand for this, though. You’re talking about starting a full-on war, here. Is that really what we’re going to do?”

    “It’s the only thing we can do. There’s no debating this now, Leos,” he said, turning his back. “I suggest you prepare yourself. Rested or not, an even bigger battle will soon be upon us.”

    The poor Oshawott could only sigh in frustration as his father walked out, leaving him and Prem alone. He was well rested, despite barely sleeping and spending all his time examining the Lock Ball. His mind stirred so quickly that he felt drained from just that conversation, trying to find solutions or excuses that could prevent a battle. Here and now it all felt hopeless, as he knew that he was now the cause of the war he wanted to prevent.

    “Leos. Do you mind if we talk for a bit, please?” Prem spoke up, getting an angry glare. “It’s not about- well it’s sorta about Tapu Bulu, but-”

    “What is it? You don’t want to drill me for this too, do you?”

    “No, not at all. I wanted to talk about us. Us and, well, you know,” he said, playing with his hands and going quiet. It took Leos a moment to realise what he was on about.

    “Is now really the time?”

    “Yes. Yes it is. We have to make time. This is important,” Prem said, closing his hands into fists.

    “Go on, then,” Leos said, hand on a hip.

    “I felt it when the Zenryoku arte wasn’t working. Do you remember what Shaymin said? She said our thoughts and intentions needed to be in sync. At first, I worried that you wouldn’t like me after all that stuff that happened down in the Second Country… then I was worried that you didn’t feel the same way I do about you when the arte wasn’t working,” he admitted, becoming stern. “But when I saw Tapu Bulu hurt you that badly, where he could have killed you, I knew what I really felt. I realised what I had to do. Right there, in that moment, I knew I didn’t want you to die. No matter what, I have to give it my all to make sure you don’t die.”

    “So our success was a bit of a fluke. I desperately didn’t want to fail, either. It only worked because in that moment, I didn’t want to die a failure,” Leos said.

    “I don’t think it’s a fluke. I know just how fragile life is now. Seeing Shaymin just suddenly disappear like that, and then almost losing you not even a day later,” he said, speaking softly. He clenched his hands together and looked Leos in the eyes, becoming stern. “I have to be honest with my feelings. Something I want to say could never be said.”


    “Leos, I was worried about how you’d react, but I can’t hold back anymore. I l-love you. You’re closer to me than anyone I’ve ever known. I want us to be able to live together,” Prem said, leaning forward.

    Leos breathed out quietly, shutting his eyes and shaking his head. “This is a bad time. I’m sorry Prem, but my response remains the same. I can’t make a choice like that, especially not right now.”

    “Maybe you can’t publicly. But as my closest friend, you can let me know how you really feel. And if it’s still a no, will you at least let me harbour these feelings about you?” he asked.

    “Prem, listen-” Leos began, pausing. He blinked a few times, his heart growing heavy at the Pikachu’s desperate tone. However, Prem’s confident and rigid look told him just how serious and honest the Pikachu was being, and he was brought back to what Shaymin told him. He gave it another round of thought, choosing his words carefully. “No. You know what, you’re right. That’s fine. Pokémon feel like that about other Pokémon all the time. Especially the famous ones, right? It shouldn’t be a problem for you.”

    Prem loosened up a little.

    “No, wait, that’s wrong. I don’t want to give a solid yes or no because I don’t know what’s going to happen. But I’m not saying no, either. Because I really do want you around me. You made growing up bearable for me, you know,” he said, looking down.

    “Hold my hands,” Prem said. Leos glanced at him in surprise, surprised at the fact that he wasn’t blushing. Leos obeyed though, slowly moving both hands to wrap them in Prem’s fingers.

    “You just want things to go back to how they were before, don’t you? When we were younger and life was simpler. Back when we’d spend hours sneaking away from Mother to explore Faernia, reading and learning to fight in secret. Those times when we didn’t have to stress over what we’re doing and how it affects other Pokémon,” he said, struggling to look Prem in the eyes.

    “There’s no point in harbouring the past. I’m happy working with you to try and save Etheria. It’s not easy, but it’s because you’re working so hard that I look up to you so much,” Prem replied, clenching tighter. “I just want to know how you honestly feel about me.”

    “I’m fine with how you feel. And I do want you in my life. I couldn’t live without you. So I guess I’m saying yes? But also no, because I couldn’t-”

    A rhythmic knock on the side of the room’s entrance silenced them both, and they both glanced at the hallway. Nier came in a moment later, waving happily.

    “Oh good, you’re awake. Mornin’, you two!” she greeted. They glanced at each other and then quickly withdrew their hands, turning away from one another. Prem’s face went bright red, while Leos laughed awkwardly, trying to look away to hide a small blush of his own.

    “N-Nier, what br-brings you here so early?” Leos asked at a high pitch.

    “Huh? What’s with that look? What were you two up to?” she asked, tilting her head.

    “Nothing! We clearly weren’t up to anything,” Prem cried, still bright red. Nier giggled and gave him a half-lidded look.

    “Fine then. Your little secret’s safe with me, boys. I came in to tell you breakfast is ready, anyway. I’m not big on Erinian food, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t look like a feast. So you two better hurry or we’ll eat your share,” she said, skipping out. The duo shared a glance with one another again, snickering at each other when their stomachs growled.

    “Oops! Guess I was so nervous I forgot about food. I haven’t eaten in ages!” Prem giggled. “Let’s go, Leos! Let’s go see what everyone made for us.”

    Leos was left behind, but stopped in the doorway to watch his friend run off. “… Thanks, Prem. If anyone’s going to help me change, it’s you.

    He turned back to his room and retrieved the Lock Ball, slipping into an organized pack of necessities. “So this is my path… killing the Tapu, regardless of what the Pokémon say. This might generate more trouble than it prevents, but if I can get the Pokémon to listen and work together, we might just figure this out. If the Second Country can survive without the god’s blessings, so can we. There just HAS to be a way. That’s the priority: to find a way for us to survive without the mad gods.

    Hours passed in the blink of eye after that. There were some disagreements over the meat dishes served at breakfast, but aside from that, nothing eventful happened even though Leos and his group were heading towards the next biggest battle of their lives. Routine supply checks, a run through of their plan to get to Faernia, a speech to the commoners around the castle, and then they were off in a swarm of manually operated airships.

    It was only when they were in the airspace between the two planets that Leos started to feel his fear and nervousness kick in. Their army was bigger than any army he had ever seen, with countless airships not nearly in the condition of the Faernian ones he was used to seeing. Each one was overcrowded with generic soldiers like the ones he’d seen in yesterday’s battle, and each and every one of them did their best to hide their fear behind a soulless stare and pose.

    The idea was to hit Faernia hard to draw out Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele. This meant attacking their capital with this oversized army, even though Ariala was there. She was obviously just as aware of what was going on as the Tapu were, and that was what scared Leos the most.

    How would she react after learning what Leos had done? What were her thoughts on the Tapu’s behaviour in general? If she agreed with them like the priestess she was, then would that mean she would fight to protect them, putting Leos against her?

    That last thought made him physically shiver hard enough for Prem to notice. Leos’ personal group were all stood around him at the front of their airship, with their army in formation behind him. The way they were positioned, they could dash right off the airship and go into battle at a moment’s notice.

    “The Tower of the Tapu should be coming into view in about three minutes, now. Descend through the clouds,” Rune ordered, using his hands to signal to the soldiers in the back. Leos gulped.

    “Well, this is it, everyone,” Leos said, trying not to look at them all.

    “Remember, our aim is just either Tapu Koko or Lele. The less damage we deal, the better,” Vincent replied, glancing at him. “We don’t have to do this violently.”

    “I know that, but still,” he sighed. His attention was taken by the city coming into view beneath the clouds. Even from their height, everything looked different. “It looks like they’ve been expecting us.”

    The city was devoid of the upbeat life that made the planet’s capital. Instead of crowds of harmless Pokémon going about their business, fairies equipped with armour or lances were positioned in clever formations throughout the city. It would be impossible for the Erinian airships to land without getting attacked.

    Leos let out a growl of slight frustration. Amongst the groups of enemies, he spotted Charle with his two elite Primarina guards, Tapu Koko at the foot of the castle, and about a hundred metres in front of him, Ariala. She had her own platoon of soldiers lined out in front of her, making a perfect wall to block the walkway to the castle. They weren’t getting to Tapu Koko without dealing with the priestess.

    “Stop descending, we need a strategy,” Leos called out.
    “Erinians don’t go by ‘strategy’, Leos. They go by cold, raw power. That’s how we’ve survived for so long,” Rune replied. He turned to the soldiers waiting in the back. “To arms! Show no mercy. Tear those fairies to shreds!”

    “What the- your wife is in that group!” Vincent snapped.

    Before any arguing could start, the airship shook with force, and then a blast echoed through the sky. Explosions were occurring in the distance, and a brief look at the windows showed many of the airships already under attack. Feeling the quakes caused by the fairies’ special attacks, the dragon type soldiers cheered, raised their weapons, and leapt off into the city. Others charged up Flamethrower attacks and set the world below alight, aiming for the buildings and other burnable targets.

    “Wait, stop!” Leos cried.

    “There’s no time to wait. This is war, Leos!” Rune shouted, leaping off. Leos could only stick his arm out as his father disappeared into the flames below, followed by a group of chanting soldiers. Another Moonblast rocked the airship and he almost fell out, helped by Blossom.

    “The ship’s gonna come crashing down. We’re gonna have to jump, too!” Nier warned, coming from somewhere in the back. Bursts of fire ate away at the airship’s wings and roof, causing it to begin tilting into a nosedive.

    “Aah, this is worse than when we had to jump!” Griselle moaned, hugging Leos tightly.

    “Griselle- gah, let go, focus,” he complained.

    “I’ve got this. Everyone around me, now!” Blossom shouted, pulling everyone close to her. As soon as they got into a huddle, she erected a large green barrier around them all, concentrating to keep it up.

    “I didn’t know you could use Protect,” Prem remarked, looking impressed with her work. His orb appeared in his arms and he used Protect as well, strengthening their barrier.

    Even with all of that, the crash land into the city below shook them all hard enough to bring them to the floor. The destructive noise of the crumbling airship deafened their ears as it skidded across the paved streets, quaking the floor around them until it came to a sharp stop by crashing into a building. Thankfully their Protect barrier kept them safe, and they only felt pain from bumping into each other and the floor.

    Once everything settled and all he could hear were flames, the barriers were dropped and Leos sprinted out of the wreckage. He came to an immediate stop at the magnitude of the battle around him, unable to do anything but gawk at the way the Pokémon fought each other.

    The dragons were savage. They gave no care to the city around them, tearing into anything and everything in sight. Charizard bathed Shops in flames, Salamence snapped streetlights and apparatus like twigs, and the Faernian soldiers were spared none of it – even though the dragon type attacks should have had no affect on their divine bodies, Dragon Claw and Outrage attacks from Dragonite were being used with such physical force that the fairies were being physically crushed or even pierced. For those that had them, Iron Tail or Steel wing sliced whole bodies in half, painting the streets in blood and organs.

    The fairies were no better in the ordeal, however. Their half of the city was difficult to look at thanks to continual use of Dazzling Gleam and Moonblast from several Sylveon and Aromatisse, while Mawile and Granbull took the front lines with their lengthy lances. Those weapons combined with Play Rough attacks, resulting in the dragons being grinded to nothing but indescribable mounds of shredded flesh and blood. Barely a scream could come from the targets of these Play Rough attacks, silenced the moment a lance connected.

    Leos slowly spun around. No matter where he looked, this level of extreme violence was all around him. Screams, flames, weapons clashing, roars of aggression, and splashes of red. The heat and pressure of the great battle all around him made him feel dizzy and lifeless, like he was falling into a void that would soon kill him. He had almost lost his mind when he saw the amount of death the battle on Eris caused, but now that he was here seeing how all the death came to be, he felt like he was being tortured.

    He wanted to scream, but the thought that nobody would hear him in this chaos frightened him. He felt sick enough to throw up, looking at all the stabbing and fatality suddenly thrust amongst him. He grabbed his ears amongst his head fur and pulled at them, shivering and whimpering, instinctively curling himself up into a ball. His head hurt like explosions were going off inside it. He could feel his chest squeezing up, tightening as the contents of his stomach forced their way up his throat.

    “Leos!” Prem squealed, diving into him. The duo rolled along the cold ground, Prem’s body squashing against Leos’ so closely that it muffled the sound of a blast somewhere to the left. Leos snapped back to reality after that, spotting several Moonblast attacks the size Snorlax soaring through the air. The fairies were using their Moonblast cannons, eradicating whole groups of dragons with each shot.

    Although aware, Leos scrambled to sit up and then crawled backwards, heaving desperate breaths. The others stared at him in surprise, and he stared back, slowly shaking his head side to side. “T-take me away. Please, get it all away from me!”

    “Leos?” Vincent said, trying to keep his eye on the surrounding battle as well as the prince.

    “I-I’m a scholar, not a fighter! Get me outta here!” he shrieked, curling up again.

    “Leos, get a hold of yourself!” Vincent shouted. He glanced to his right and spun to kick away a Mawile that had approached him, using his naginata to push against a Slurpuff that came a second later. “You’re the only one that can stop this. So get a hold of yourself and get a move on!”

    “I know it’s gruesome and hard to look at. But this battle can’t be won unless you reach Tapu Koko,” Nier said, impatiently forming a Light Screen to block a Dazzling Gleam. A Hyper Beam came through it a moment later, shattering her shield and hitting her head on.

    Leos barely had time to fret for her as several more conflicts took over the spot where she just was, followed by another blast from the Moonblast cannon that swallowed all the combatants, fairies and dragons alike. Vincent and Nier weren’t hit but disappeared into the battle, leaving Prem, Griselle, and Blossom as his only allies for the time being.

    “I’m the only one?” he whispered, still breathing heavily. He was struggling to keep his breath, and stumbled from light-headedness.

    “Let everyone else do the fighting. That’s what we decided, remember?” Blossom said, bowing to him. “We’ll cut a path straight through. Me and Griselle can hit the enemies in front, then as we run past, Prem, you shock them with Thunder Wave to stop them from following us. Leos, you just stay in the centre of our group.”

    “U-uh, yes,” his nodded, barely managing a whisper.

    Their plan was immediately put into practice. Still nervous, Leos prodded his hands together as he warily followed his allies, paying more attention to the stray attacks going off than what they were doing. Even though Blossom and Griselle were doing good with moving enemies out of the way, he had to stumble and trip side to side to avoid Flamethrower and Hyper Beam alike, often hesitating to move due to the smoke and rubble that rained after each attack.

    As they weaved through the war in the streets, Leos began to focus a bit more. The way Blossom was screaming with each use of Psychic, bringing enemies to the ground groups at a time, told of just how much effort and desperation she was putting into this. Griselle was the same, bashing enemies with her shield and tackles, her voice echoing full effort and emotion. Prem was apologising with each Thunder Wave, and was soon puffing and panting even though he was following by floating with his orb.

    They’re all doing this together. Not for me, but for their own goals. All of them, even the soldiers fighting. Because the only way to put a stop to this is to kill Tapu Koko,” Leos told himself, breathing even heavier than Prem. He could barely keep his eyes open. “The effort everyone is putting in… I can’t be selfish anymore. I can’t just think about myself anymore. The only way to save all these Pokémon is to do what only I can do, with their help!

    Before he knew it, he was approaching a grand, wide staircase. This area was pristine and quiet, somehow devoid of the war going on in the rest of the city. The group had stopped to catch their breath, so Leos glanced back in disbelief – they had indeed reached the foot of the road leading to the castle, and the battle was at least fifty metres behind them.

    “We’re almost there. My lord, Prem, prepare yourselves,” Blossom said, nodding at them. She and Griselle took the lead, where Leos’ senses finally spiked, and he foresaw the danger they were running into.

    “Girls!” he shouted, getting them to stop just in time. A blast of dark energy struck the white stairs right in front of them, sending them both tumbling back to Leos’ side. Neither psychic type was hit, thankfully.

    “Ah. For a second there, I was about to complain that you were going to make this too easy,” Charle laughed, floating from beyond the top of the stairs. He was posed as if he was sitting down, scratching his chin with a nail. His sword floated beside him at an arm’s reach, while his elite Primarina guards slithered to his left and right. An empty expression filled their gazes, causing Leos to shiver with fear again.

    “St-step aside, Charle!” Leos ordered.

    “Ha! Please. Telling the big baddie to step aside? When has that ever worked? Especially when you sound so unsure of yourself?” he said, laughing under his breath. “Listen to me, prince. The Tapu know what’s best for our world. What they want, we give them. In turn, they give us what we want. Is that so difficult a world to live by?”

    “Do you think Pokémon should accept being killed for the sake of entertainment? Because that’s what Tapu Bulu was doing on Eris!” Prem cried.

    “Who the heck cares? Erinians eat each other anyway. He was just making their job easier, and looking for enjoyment at the same time. When you have overwhelming prowess over peasants, you tend to feel good about doing that kind of thing,” he snickered.

    Leos’ glare intensified. “We’ve been through this. There’s no use reasoning with someone who thinks like that.”

    “Finally, you’re getting’ on my wavelength. Skip the bull and let’s get to the fight,” Charle praised. He spun, stopping in a pose where he pointed at Leos. “I always get what I want.”

    He spun again, posing by pointing at himself. “And what I want, is your head hung up on my wall.”

    He spun again, this time not stopping. “And when I get that,”

    He stopped, holding both arms out to his sides. They were surrounded by black flames, which pulled his sword into his right paw. “I’ll be crowned champion. From paladin to champion of Faernia, that is to be my tale! And an anticlimactic one, since even the lot of you stand no chance against me.”

    Leos and his party didn’t even reply. They just readied themselves, stretching their feet apart and tightening their grips on their weapons. Leos’ heart raced and he was still breathing through his mouth, but he was able to conjure a Razor Shell, so he had some hope of doing well.

    “You’re still going to fight back? Maybe you think you stand a chance after forcing us to retreat on Eris. But this is our home ground, this time. We can’t afford not to put full effort into killing you. But think about it. Have you ever beaten me?” Charle snickered, crossing his arms. A golden aura appeared around him, and the Primarina copied his pose. “I call upon the stars to grant me your blessing!”

    “No, not this attack again,” Leos gasped.

    “Not gonna stand around and let you do it again!” Griselle cried, rushing forward. She pulled back and thrust her lance with a roar of effort, finding herself stuck at the fiery aura surrounding Charle and his guards. Her lance poked through, but not nearly far enough or with enough force to harm the Meowth. He smiled at her snidely, and she hopped back with a gasp.

    “Psychic still doesn’t work. It’s like he’s a dark type!” Blossom cried, continuously trying to blast him with the move.

    Seeing their failure to stop Charle’s attack, Leos’ panic came right back. He stood there staring right at the posing Meowth, shuddering and struggling to breathe. His eyesight blurred with the growth of the aura, and when the wind started to blow against him, he started crying out and covering his face.

    “Your defeat is at hand. Black Hole Eclipse!” Charle shouted, thrusting a palm forward. Just as the black hole formed at the tip of his paw, a huge shuriken lodged itself into his head from above, causing him to stumble and fall to the ground. Although the shuriken visibly pierced him, it disintegrated and left no stab wound where it was. “Who dares?”

    “S-someone… stopped him?” Leos whispered, daring to look up. One of the Faernian airships was floating high above their battle, and a few sparkles from Pokémon attacks flew off its surface. Prem was quick to use Protect and defend the party from the moves, leaving Charle to dart about to avoid them. Leos recognised the attacks as more Water Shuriken, coupled with Fairy Wind and a ring of electricity, Zing Zap.

    Charle defended against each one, growling at the airship where they all came from. Once the attacks ceased, the attackers made their move, popping up behind him in a puff of smoke. The main attacker, a Greninja, didn’t waste time in thrusting both arms forward to hit Charle with Water Pulse from point blank, sending him flying. He rolled across the ground for a bit before flipping back to his feet, landing behind Leos and the others.

    “What?” Charle shrieked, glaring up at the new faces. Leos was reluctant to look back at them too, but flinched when he realised who they were.

    “Wait, you’re- I can’t believe it, you survived?” Leos gasped. There were four Pokémon: a Greninja, Sylveon, Togedemaru, and Purrloin.

    “Of course we did. I’d ask what the heck you’ve been doing all this time, but it can wait. We’re clearly in the right spot, anyway,” Tundra replied, ready for battle. Shouta and Kelsith did the same, standing beside him.

    “Long story short: I ran into these guys a little while ago,” Ida said, taking centre stage. Charle kissed his teeth and shifted back, so she glanced back. “We’ll take care of this oaf. You kids hurry up and do your thing with Tapu Koko!”

    “Wait… Ida?” Leos gasped.

    “Didn’t you hear me? Hurry up and kill Tapu Koko and end this mess. Me and the Deliverance have got this covered!” she raised her voice.

    “I know you want to talk to them, but she’s right. Let’s hurry, Master Leos,” Blossom added. He nodded at her, exchanged one final unsure glance with the new arrivals, and then jogged up the stairs.

    “No, wait, stop!” Charle begged, pointing at them. The Deliverance closed the gap between them to stand in his way, making him tremble with fury. “Get outta the way! I can’t afford to let ‘em fight Tapu Koko!”

    “What’s gotten into you? You leave me for a few months and suddenly you seem like a whole different Pokémon. How could you come back and not say hi to me?” Ida began, paws on her hips.

    “You have nothing to do with this. And as you know, I’ve been busy! Forgive me for letting war take priority. I planned to come back as soon as I was free,” he said, folding his arms and looking away.

    “Seriously?” Ida sighed. “Anyway, you’re fighting for the wrong side. Let’s not actually do this and go calm down the battle, alright?”

    “Uh uh, can’t do that. My whole life is on the line!” he cried.

    “I can already tell that you’ve changed. Dunno if it’s for the worse or better, but so far it’s looking bad,” she said. “The Charle I married took pride in being a paladin that put his all into everything he did, even if he was doing something stupid. The Charle in front of me now just seems to be brainwashed or something.”

    “No no, you don’t understand! If the Tapu die, I’m gonna lose my powers, my powers that let me get anything I want. The powers that will make me a champion! Don’t you want a champion for a husband?” he cried.

    “You big oaf. I’m fine with you being you,” she giggled, putting away her lance. She casually strode toward him, holding out her paws. “Paladin, champion, or even just a Meowth that knows how to put up a fight. I don’t care what you are, Charle. I’m happy to say I love you either way. But you must understand that what the Tapu have been doing is wrong.”

    “Bah, what do you understand, woman? You don’t know what it’s like getting what you want. Once you have that power, losing it is not worth it!” he shouted, slapping her aside. She stopped him from storming off, grabbing his arm.

    “I’ve seen it all for myself, Charle. I’ve seen what Tapu Bulu has done on Eris. And I’ve seen what Leos’ army is fighting for,” she said, a desperate tone taking over her voice. “Please, fight with us. We can’t rely on the Tapu’s blessings when they act in these unjust ways.”

    “The Tapu do what they do for a reason. That’s why they’ve given me these powers! I won’t turn my back on smart gods like them,” he said.

    “Hate to interrupt the passionate love troubles, but can we wrap this up? Pokémon are dying,” Tundra interrupted, holding onto a Water Shuriken. Ida nodded at him.

    “If your almighty ‘powers’ are more important to you than the peace that the Tapu are disturbing, then our marriage means nothing. I will fight you,” Ida said, readying her lance again. “Pick wisely for once. ‘Cos it’s clear which side has the favourable odds, here.”

    “Really? The lot of you are gonna get in my way? Even my own wife?” Charle said, readying his sword. His Primarina guards moved as well. “Well, you know what they say. True heroes must go through the biggest of hardships.”

    “I don’t think that includes fighting your wife,” Kelsith replied.

    “Like you’d ever know, you oversized Sylveon!” he cried. “I’ll push you all aside and save Tapu Koko. Then you’ll see just how wrong you all are for ever disagreeing with them. You’ll rue the day you challenged paladin Charle!”

    “Sheesh. Do you ever not go on about yourself?” Shouta growled, sparkling with electricity. “We’ll see about that, though. I tend to not regret things.”
  4. SGMijumaru

    SGMijumaru Competitive Mijumaru

    Episode 29: Vengeance is Mine


    The bridge leading to Faernia Castle was quite high up, but it didn’t overlook any river, moat, or even cliff. The distant below was just filled with woodland and cityscape, more interconnected than the main city. Leos couldn’t help diverting his gaze aside, wondering whether Pokémon lived there or not. Given the untouched state of the land, it wouldn’t be surprising if the public had been evacuated there.

    In the centre of the bridge, Ariala waited, unmoving. Leos’ group slowed down as they got closer, although they were surprised to find that Rune had somehow passed them during their battle and had already confronted her. The two stared at each other a few paces away, their weapons out and eyes completely fixated on each other.

    “Father!” Leos shouted, trying to push the Dewott aside. Rune almost retaliated, realising it was Leos. “What’s happening? You haven’t hurt her, have you?”

    “It’s what it looks like,” Ariala answered him. She was unharmed, but the dark storm clouds blanketing the sky and strong wind ruffling everyone’s fur said otherwise. It was like curses were being whispered along the wind, curses that warned of a disastrous end to the battle. “We’ve said our words. And now, every action is beyond consequence. Whether it’s karma from the gods that have transcended our mortal realm, or judgement from the gods still amongst us, we will see hardship for our actions. I only wish to stop those hardships from getting any worse.”

    “How can they get any worse than they are now? Have you seen the way the Pokémon are killing each other? I’ve never seen anythin’ like it!” Griselle cried.

    Ariala looked down and moaned. “The Pokémon aren’t fighting this way because they can. They’re doing it because they have to, for their survival. With the Tapu gone, we can’t sustain ourselves, Leos!”

    “But they can. The Pokémon on Eris are able to do it. And they don’t even have all that technology,” Prem replied.

    “Don’t bother bringing Eris into this. We don’t live that way because we want to,” Rune growled, looking back at him.

    “No. It’s not that. The Pokémon are afraid. I’m afraid. We could resort to eating meat and sustaining ourselves as the Erinians do, but what would become of our world if we did? Pokémon can’t just suddenly adapt to that kind of life. It’s too unjust!” Ariala said, struggling to speak.

    “They don’t have to,” Leos spoke up, looking down as well. “I wouldn’t need to kill them if they weren’t disturbing the peace treaty. This war wouldn’t even be happening if Tapu Bulu didn’t go to Eris to kill so meaninglessly.”

    “We can atone for the mistakes they have made-”

    “No we can’t! We have to take their position as the leaders of our own civilisation. They grow our food, they energise our electronics, they control our weather, and our healthcare. But these are all things that we can do as Pokémon. We can control them, maintain them without their help. I know we can!” Leos said, looking up. “This isn’t a battle for conquest. It’s a battle for freedom from their ever-growing madness. When we stop being lazy and learn to survive on our own, a way that is just for all, there will be no need for the gods to govern our world. They’ll never return!”

    “Leos, where did this come from?” Ariala asked, sounding desperate.

    “I’ve seen a place. A legendary place called the Second Country. Your retainers had been there since you dismissed them and went into hiding,” he said, widening her eyes. “They survive. There’s nature there. The weather is fine. They don’t need electrical technology to entertain themselves. And there are no gods or goddesses there. We just have to come together and work together to figure out how this place sustains itself. If we worked together, we can find it, I’m sure of it!”

    Ariala stared for a moment, her eyes wavering slightly. “Vincent and Nier… even they’re here?”

    “And they’ve seen everything. They’re out there fighting the Faernian army just so that I could get here,” Leos added, leaning forward.

    “Possibly already dead, given the chaos that was going on back there,” Blossom said, stepping forward as well.

    “My friends, no!” Ariala cried.

    “It seems you finally understand what’s at stake here,” Rune spoke up at last, approaching her. She faced the floor in angst, not looking up at him, but he helped her up with a calm hand. “You also have the power to stop this battle. You tried to instigate it before when you learnt of Tapu Koko’s sin, but they didn’t react. They hid from you.”

    Ariala was still looking at her hands. As he spoke, dark flames wavered over them, and she clenched her fingers to dispel them.

    “Listen to your heart and do what’s best. That’s why you travelled on your personal pilgrimage and hid Leos from the world, right? So that you could see the truth for yourself. Now’s the time to finally put that into practice and do what needs to be done to lead your Pokémon to salvation,” he said, walking around her. Ariala’s platoon of soldiers moved in his way, threatening him with their weapons. “It’s what we both have to do. I need you to be with me on this, though. If we don’t cooperate like we originally intended, this will only lead to more ruin.”

    “I know you’re right, but I still find this so difficult to-” she said, shaking her head. She stood up and slowly looked around, mostly staring at the flashes and blasts going off where the main battle was taking place. “Rune, Leos. I want you both to fully understand what you’re proposing with these actions. We may be crucified by whole world, and have our positions stripped down to the level of fugitives. We may even be wrong, and plunge our world into complete ruin. Even knowing that, are you still willing to go through with this?”

    “You say that like I haven’t spent half my life struggling to survive,” Rune replied.

    “Like Father says, that’s why you went into hiding when I was born, didn’t you? Either way, I’ve come too far to back down. I’ll see my actions through to the end,” Leos replied.

    Ariala nodded at them both and took a deep breath. She regained a confident appearance and waved to her soldiers, silently commanding them to put their weapons down. They all exchanged glances and obeyed, clearly unhappy with the instruction. “Go to the city and issue the command to surrender. Spare all remaining Pokémon, and get medical help for those who need it.”

    “Your highness,” one of the soldiers said.

    “That’s an order,” she said, lowering her tone.

    They saluted her and marched away, leaving the royals alone. Once they were out of sight, Tapu Koko floated forward, staring silently at the group. Ariala shuddered, trying not to lock eyes with him, but his heavy presence demanded it, forcing her to face her decision in the flesh. She felt sick enough to throw up right there, but a nervous swallow kept it all down.

    “My lord Tapu Koko, I am sorry. But I can no longer let your murder go without justice,” was all she could say, holding her chest. The electric god didn’t respond.

    “So what do you have to say? I’m right here. And an army is in support of our opposition,” Rune said, holding his arms out to his sides. “Now’s the time to explain everything. Why did you kill my sister? Why did you keep Ariala from me after you did?”

    Tapu Koko didn’t respond. He just floated there, staring at him. Leos shuffled back a bit, half expecting it to lash out at them and strike them all down at once, but not a single other movement came.

    “That’s it?” Rune continued. He drew the Sword of Earthly Elements and pointed it forward. The blade was glowing, releasing a bright flash as it came free. “Don’t you get it? I’m going to execute you for what you’ve put me through. If you can’t appeal through words, then I’m not going to hold back.”

    “L-Leos, he’s going to-” Prem whimpered. Rune heard him somehow and held an arm out. “B-but only the Zenryoku arte can kill him.”

    “So can this sword. But this fight is personal, so let me do it,” he replied. “Tapu Koko, speak to me! Tell me why you killed her!”

    Tapu Koko finally made a move, but it was a sluggish action, as if tired or expecting something. He floated back a bit and then screeched like a bird, releasing several pulses of electricity. Electric Terrain took over the bridge, giving everything a bright yellow hue in the darkness.

    “That is your choice as mortals. If you’ve made it this far, then show me how much further you are prepared to go,” he spoke, shifting one arm forward. “If you are prepared to learn the reason and deal with the consequence, then strike me down. Only then do I know that you have the strength to lead this world in our stead.”

    “Are you testing me?” Rune replied.

    “Examining. Judging. The path you’re following will lead to no better than that of your sister. You’re both fools guided by no better than your duty. If you carry on the way you are now, you will lead this world to destruction,” he said, squinting.

    “Damn you Tapu Koko. Damn you!” Rune shouted, stretching his sword forward. “Don’t you get it? You took everything from me! My sister, my fatherhood, even my wife! I’ll kill you!”

    “Then come. Attack me if you dare,” Tapu Koko replied in his aged, deep voice.

    The Dewott roared at the top of his voice and came charging, dragging the blade of his sword across the stone ground as he approached in an arc. He jumped high into the air to slam his weapon straight down onto the mythical electric type. Tapu Koko used his right mask as a shield, shoving it forwards to push Rune away.

    “Rune!” Ariala cried. The duo ignored her, going at each other with deadly intent in each of their attacks. Rune was stabbing and slashing with roars of effort, whilst Tapu Koko evaded or shielded every hit, darting around the battlefield. While they fought, many soldiers from both armies began to gather behind both parties, locking them into a duel zone.

    After one more clash, Rune hopped back to catch his breath and make distance between them. Tapu Koko didn’t chase him, staring him down with the same judgemental look he had earlier. Annoyed of that, Rune fired a Water Pulse at him and came charging again, relentlessly trying to cleave the legendary in two. Time and time again, Tapu Koko only blocked the attacks, and even when one of Rune’s attacks missed, he did nothing more than shift away to gain space.

    “What the hell is this?” Rune eventually screamed, stabbing his sword into the ground. “Is this some kind of joke?”

    Tapu Koko didn’t respond, only stared. Rune growled, pointing his sword forward again. “I did not struggle for all these years just to have you mock me in my time of revenge. Fight back!”

    “It’s… it’s true. Why isn’t Tapu Koko retaliating?” Ariala whispered, realising. Her eyes watered a bit, and she shook them clear to focus. Tapu Koko was tired. She could hear him breathing heavily but silently. He sounded like he couldn’t fight back or even speak, but hid it behind that heavy presence that intimidated them all. He looked like an old man staring at a tsunami of flames, helpless but accepting of their destructive path. “He’s old…”

    “You damn devil. If that’s how you want to be, then curse you. I’ll send you to hell where you belong!” Rune shouted, performing another jumping slash. Tapu Koko blocked it, but the sheer force behind the attack could be felt by everyone around. Tapu Koko’s shields were about to break.

    But he still didn’t fight back. The surrounding soldiers began to mutter amongst themselves in grief, but Ariala could hear exactly why he couldn’t fight back. The electric type god whined, grunted, and huffed in ever-growing desperation, now failing to dodge Rune’s onslaught of offence. She shuddered, skipping forwards.

    “Rune, wait, stop!” she cried.

    But she was too late. Rune was already charging in for another attack, and that turned out to be the last. He had his sword held with both hands, pulled back in his sprint, and thrust it with all his strength. It pierced right through Tapu Koko’s right mask and through to the legendary’s body, stabbing right into it. As soon as he hit, the Electric Terrain shattered like glass, along with an ear-piercing choke from Tapu Koko. The choke turned into a painful groan as Rune pushed the sword deeper and deeper, all until the blade was pointing through the other side.

    “No,” Ariala whimpered, looking away.

    “He did it. He actually did it,” Leos said. Prem moaned and gripped his arm, half hugging him.

    “Is that it? Is that really it? After everything you put me through, you let me kill you?” Rune said, ignoring Tapu Koko’s struggled breaths and coughs. “Don’t you have anything to say for yourself?”

    It took a while, but the legendary responded after getting control of his breathing. “You have done well, prince of Eris. You wield that sword… with great conviction and emotion.”

    “I don’t need your praise,” Rune replied. Tapu Koko looked up at him.

    “You and Ariala… stay on your chosen path. But do not let duty stand in the way of your love or your feelings. Let your emotions define the world you want to create and protect it until your dying breath,” he said, shivering and speaking slowly. Rune’s eyes thinned.

    “So you fully relinquish the world to us,” Rune said. Tapu Koko didn’t answer, slowly shutting his eyes instead. A few seconds later, his body took on a glowing texture and began to fade away into countless glowing particles. They flew away with the breeze, leaving Rune to pull his sword back. He held out a hand as if to feel the particles, surprised at the beauty he was now surrounded by. The particles spread out like seeds, spiralling around everyone until the whole area was filled with them.

    “Tapu Koko… his dust is spreading, just like Tapu Bulu’s,” Leos said, looking around. “We did it, though. Three down, one to go.”

    “Leos!” Ariala cried.

    “Sorry for saying it that way, but this feels overwhelming, now,” he admitted, holding his chest. “I-I was frightened, but we actually managed to stop this battle. It’s like, this could actually happen, now.”

    “A Faernia not led by the Tapu,” Prem muttered.

    “We can do it! You just gotta tell everyone what to do, Leos,” Griselle cheered.

    “And work out a way to sustain ourselves. There’s no doubt that with three of the Tapu gone, we’ll start seeing some detrimental effects on the planet,” Blossom said, folding her arms. “But that’s why we’re here. Like you said back in the Second Country, we’ll figure this out. I’m sure there’s a way.”

    “Thanks, you guys,” Leos replied, glancing at them all. Before they could respond, Charle came sprinting past them so hard he brought a gush of wind with him.

    “You idiots… you idiots, you idiots, you idiots! Do you have any idea what you’ve just done?” he screamed, pushing past Rune. No one replied, but he stuttered at their unbothered appearances until Vincent and Nier joined them. “You’ve all just doomed yourselves, that’s what. You had your chance with me, but now you’ve got to settle for true hell. True chaos, true pain! The likes of which only the true god of this world can create!”

    “We’ve been puttin’ up with this guy going nuts ever since we faced him earlier. Anyone have any clue what he’s on about?” Nier complained.

    “You’ve lost, Charle. It’s over. We’re making our way to the castle,” Rune replied, shaking his head.

    “No you ain’t. That’s not what I want. And what I want, I get,” he snickered, beginning to float with his dark energy. Leos’ party prepared to fight again.

    “What he means is me,” a childish, girlish voice announced, getting everyone’s attention. High above the bridge, Tapu Lele descended to their height. She was surrounded by a blue aura as if she was using Psychic, and her face was furious.

    “This one’s on you, Leos. Use your Zenryoku arte,” Rune said, glancing back. Leos nodded, gulping.

    “I didn’t expect we’d have to face both of them right now, though,” he shuddered.

    “Don’t be dumb. Of course I’m here. Why wouldn’t I be here? You sinful mortals stood up against my brother, and he pitied you, yet still you killed him. I won’t forgive you for that,” she said. “But I’m smart, unlike you or my family. You think I’m going to fight you, knowing that you have some fancy weapons and moves that ignore my godly position? You want to fight me, you play by my game.”

    “This isn’t a game. We can spare you if you would prefer to settle this diplomatically,” Rune replied. She laughed at him.

    “Politics! Tell me, when has that ever worked?” she sung, returning to fury. “No, sinful prince. I’m going to pummel you all. I’m going to pummel you all until your spirits beg for mercy. Then I’ll shred your bodies until there’s nothing left.”

    She flicked her hands, swinging one down to control whatever she was carrying with her Psychic. A wave of gasps, conversations, and widened eyes took over everyone as that came into view. Diantha’s body, the corpse of Rune’s sister, was held in her grasp. Oddly, Diantha’s body was intact and healthy, retaining its colour and shape as if it hadn’t been in a grave for sixteen years.

    “Diantha. What the hell are you planning to do with my sister’s body?” Rune asked, pointing his sword at her.

    “So Tapu Lele did steal it. What does this mean?” Leos gasped.

    “Tapu Lele,” Ariala muttered, staring in disbelief. The sight had turned her body pale.

    Tapu Lele laughed at them all, teasing Rune by floating the body in front of him, just outside of his reach, and then yanking back. “Follow me. If you want this body back, come and find me. Rune, Leos, and Ariala only. If anyone else interrupts,” she said, pointing upwards. Thunder boomed. “I will destroy the world with the weather. And don’t even try some fancy trick to defend yourselves, because you know that I can.”

    “Tapu Lele, no!” Ariala cried, skipping to the front. “What do you think you’re doing?”

    “Preparing to set you mortals straight. If you really want to lead your world to your so called ‘salvation’, then you know you have to obey. You have to try and kill me. And don’t keep me waiting either, or I’ll destroy everything anyway. So come. I’m waiting in Tapu Fini’s chamber,” she replied. She spun around and soared away at high speed, heading back into the city. A trail of glittering scales rained from her path, pointing directly to where Tapu Fini’s temple was.

    “So what’re you going to do, fools?” Charle snickered. “If I were you, I wouldn’t keep an angry Tapu Lele waiting. She could strike the world with a tsunami at any moment! And you’d have nothing of it. Better go and stop it while she’s giving you the chance!”

    “Tsk. Leos, Ariala, we’re going,” Rune announced, turning sharply.

    “Wait, but it’s obviously a trap! Plus we’re not allowed to fight with you? Leos won’t be able to use his Zenryoku arte!” Griselle cried.

    “Hmpf. And what? Got any better ideas?” he replied.

    “I don’t understand it. Tapu Lele, why,” Ariala said, clenching her hands. She shook her head. “We don’t have time to dawdle. I will speak with her. If that fails, then Rune, and Leos, I will do my best to help you stop her.”

    “You as well, Ariala?” Nier cried.

    “I don’t want to do it either. But we have no choice. Like she says, we have to go and stop her, anyway. If we can prevent her from rampaging, then it is better,” she said. “It is my duty as princess of Faernia to stand strong at times like this. On top of that, I am a priestess to the Tapu. I have to face them.”

    “That’s true but,” Vincent said, growling. He looked like he didn’t know what to say.

    “Vincent, Nier. It has been too long. But I’m afraid our reunion will have to wait. I have orders for you,” Ariala said, becoming stern.

    “Of course! Oh geez Ari, we know what we’re in the middle of here. But this is a whole different thing. You guys are about to destroy like, our whole planet’s tradition! If we’ve not got your back, then it just feels wrong. So just this once, let us keep watch outside the temple or something,” Nier argued.

    “Outside the temple? What can we do from there?” Vincent cried.

    “It’s the best we can do. If things go sour, we’ll jump in and make her play by our rules, not hers,” she said. “Plus, we’ve got Leos’ group. These kids can pack a real Mega Punch, you know.”

    “My friends… I owe you all deeply,” Ariala said, clutching her chest.

    “Alright, enough fluff. Let’s move,” Rune ordered.

    “Leos!” Prem and Griselle cried just as the were about to sprint away. Leos stopped and glanced back and forth at both parties.

    “I know I can’t use my Zenryoku arte if you’re not there, but I’ll be fine. You guys don’t need to fret,” he said.

    “I-I’ll be outside like Nier said and all that, but you know,” Griselle replied.

    “It’s more like… please, for the love of the gods, be careful,” Prem added. “I know you have to do this, and I’ve told you what I wanted to tell you. But you still haven’t shown me your answer, yet. Y-you can’t let anything happen to you before you do, okay?”

    Leos didn’t answer right away, giving Prem a saddened look. “I said, okay?”

    “I-I go by facts, Prem. If I don’t die, then maybe some other day I can give you an answer. That’s all I can say,” he replied. Prem moaned and threw himself into a hug with the Oshawott, surprising both parents. They held each other tightly, and when they detached, their faces were in perfect sync, staring into each other’s eyes. They nodded to each other, and then Leos turned to run with Rune and Ariala.

    “You two truly are the perfect candidates for the Zenryoku arte,” Blossom smiled. Prem didn’t reply, staring at the rest of the city. “Let’s do our best in our part.”

  5. SGMijumaru

    SGMijumaru Competitive Mijumaru


    Episode 30: The Rite of Awakening

    The temple was unguarded. It was dark inside, and a very shallow layer of murky, coloured water flowed out from within. The surrounding area was devoid of life besides the soldiers that had been hurt in the battle, but even they were a far distance from the temple. The obvious assumption was that Tapu Lele scared them all away, but it felt more like Tapu Fini’s lack of care for the temple in her absence had led to the area’s decay.

    “Weapons out. We need to be prepared for anything and everything,” Rune said, leading the way. Ariala took a deep breath and tiptoed silently behind him, but she kept glancing back to make sure that she was practically hiding Leos from view.

    It was very dark and quiet inside, and an eerie chill wafted through the air. Leos could see and hear everyone’s breath, and the only sound he had to break that chill was the light splashes him and Rune made as they walked. The black walls were barely illuminated by his Razor Shell and Rune’s sword, but it did the job until they reached the centre of the temple, where lit candles lined the walls. Tapu Fini’s stone body was still there with the sword in her head, and Tapu Lele was right at the back wall. Diantha’s body was being held up high by Psychic, hung up beside Tapu Lele like a decoration.

    “Wait. Master Lin?” Leos gasped, coming to a stop the moment he saw him. The dark monster had his back turned until he heard his name, where he smiled and waved at his audience.

    “Greetings, your highnesses. It is quite the honour to be in the presence of Etheria’s proud royalty,” he began.

    “Who or what are you?” Rune asked with widened eyes.

    “Has your wife or son never once told you about me? That’s a shame to learn. We’re both important figures, so it’s also a shame that this should be our first meeting,” he replied. A Mimikyu beside him slid forwards.

    “Wait, where’s Prem? You guys didn’t let him get hurt, did you?” she cried.

    “Rosie, it is fine. Tapu Lele requested only them, as they are the only ones we have business with,” Lin said.

    She moaned and slid back. “I really wanted to see my darling, though. It pains me to be parted from him.”

    “Don’t fret, my dear. You’ll be with him very soon.”

    “Look, we don’t have business with you. I ask that you leave this place,” Rune said, shaking him head. Leos’ heart began to race.

    “Oh but I do I’m afraid, your highness. For pledging my loyalty to Tapu Lele and becoming the new high priest of the Tapu, I was granted a meeting with the three of you. And she has kept her promise, as you can see,” Lin replied, smiling.

    “You see, I always get what I want. With my power, no one can stop me from getting what I want. That’s how it’s been for years, and yet now you want to take that away from me? That’s not what I want,” Tapu Lele snickered.

    That tone. Why does she sound like Charle all of a sudden?” Leos realised, gawking a bit.

    “You have something that I desire, and now is the time that I will have it. Give it to me,” Lin ordered, lowering his tone. The trio shifted away, tightening their poses. “To be more specific: Ariala, give it to me.”

    “I don’t know what you’re talking-”

    “The shadow partition! Give it to me!” Lin snapped.

    “Shadow partition?” Rune repeated. Ariala shuddered, but didn’t reply.

    “I won’t waste time for this. I’ve waited too long to get my hands on it. Tapu Lele, if you will,” Lin said, clasping his fingers together.

    Tapu Lele let out a grunt and a cry, and then everything of their dark surroundings turned into a glowing mess of colours and patterns. The walls vanished, replaced by an endless backdrop of these colours and irritating sounds, as if they had all been warped to an entirely different world. The next thing they knew, the trio had lost control of their bodies, floating in the air and unable to move.

    “Wha-what? Damn it, I can’t move? The hell is this?” Rune growled, struggling anyway.

    “Ps-Psychic Terrain,” Leos struggled as well, moaning. He didn’t want to, but his body being held against his will like this hurt, like his whole body was aching at once. His head especially, which felt like it was splitting in two. It hurt so much he had lost his voice and could barely let out a sound.

    “If I were you, I’d just comply. Master Lin and Tapu Lele always get what they want, and they mean it,” Rosie said, giggling.

    “Damn it, the sword should be protecting me. Why can’t I-” Rune growled, silencing when Master Lin unveiled a barbed wire whip. He stretched it out and snapped it at the ground, having the sound echo throughout the void of Psychic Terrain.

    “The Psychic Terrain prevents any strange powers that would grant you priority movement. And then, her Psychic is unstoppable. In this weird space of hers, nobody can hear or reach you. It’s just us,” Lin said, approaching Ariala. Leos’ heart picked up even more, and his anxiousness to move multiplied. “Now then. You know what I’m going to do with this. So if you value your life, you will release the shadow partition.”

    Ariala only struggled, shutting her eyes when he was right in front of her.

    “You stay away from her!” Rune shouted.

    That only made Lin snicker, and he whipped Ariala’s chest so hard that the others could feel it. The Clefable cried out, and her breathing became rapid from the lingering pain that came from it. Red marks landed on her body where the barbs of the whip hit, and more appeared when he struck her again. Her cries got louder.

    “Ariala!” Rune screamed at the top of his voice. Leos could only whimper, forced to watch the Clefable get shredded by the continued whipping, her cries and screams piercing his heart to bring him to tears. Lin eventually stopped, but by the time he did, her body was covered in red cuts and scratches, and she was breathing hoarsely.

    “Give it to me. Or do you want to know the meaning of death? Because this is barely the beginning of your suffering,” he said, stretching the whip again.

    “I’ll- never give you- what you want,” she shuddered between weak breaths.

    “Hmpf. Play heroine all you want. There is no way out of this, princess,” he said, swinging the whip. He wrapped it around her and then pulled on it, causing it to tighten right into Ariala’s skin. Her cries turned to screams at a tone and volume that made it out as though she was dying, her volume gradually weakening as her body stopped tensing against the whip and fell limp.

    “Ariala!” Rune shouted repeatedly, managing to thrash about. He was crying like a man-child, eyes shut and tone shaky, but no tears coming. Rosie watched him intently, and hung the head of her rag to hide her eyes.

    Why is this happening? Gods, please,” Leos whimpered, blinking continuously to stop his tears. Even as he could force himself to look away from it, he could mentally feel Ariala’s pain, hear her flesh getting ripped with Lin’s merciless pulling on the whip. The worst of the sight was Tapu Lele’s jovial look however, as she sat back and watched like it was a theatre scene. Her eyes showed no concern to what she was advocating whatsoever, even when Ariala’s cries fell to nothing but lifeless breaths.

    “Don’t you dare faint on me. Torture’s no fun if you’re passed out!” Lin hissed, thrusting a palm at her. A weak Swift attack came out, which hit her in different areas to the wounds and threw her back into consciousness. She jolted and her back arched, sending the tightened whip to a different position, tearing into her more. When she fell back forwards, she spat out a dollop of blood, which disappeared into the patterned terrain.

    “You will only die, your highness. Would you truly have it that way?” Lin asked, pulling the whip free. She didn’t reply, breathing weakly. He whipped her again, making her let out a scream.

    “Well? Would you? Would you? Would you?” He kept raising his voice with each hit, striking the same spots until streaks of blood were flicking away with each lash. “Nothing will come of this unless you give me what I want, the shadow partition. Give it to me!”

    “No! Stop, that’s enough, please!” Leos cried at the top of his voice. Tears were raining from his eyes uncontrollably, as well as wails amongst his words. He was even louder than Rune was earlier. “Stop it. You’ll kill her!”

    “Silence! The two of you are so noisy,” Lin finally snapped, stopping. He approached Leos, smiling snarkily. “You know, this whole ordeal was your fault.”

    “What?” Leos shuddered.

    “You’re the one that told me how all of this was going to happen. Your premonition as a Constellar. How you thought you could stop that from happening. Because of you, I was able to prepare for this,” he said.

    “Hey, this ain’t all, is it? I was enjoying seeing her look so pathetic,” Tapu Lele called out.

    “Damn it. You bastards! The lot of you are devils!” Rune shouted.

    “Oh, my lord Tapu Lele, the show is only just beginning. Let’s see how you handle the whip, shall we?” Lin snickered toward Leos, stretching it out again.

    “Leave him,” Ariala huffed on a gritty breath. There was a pause.

    “Come again?” Lin replied, half turning back.

    “Leave Leos out of this.”

    “So that’s what it is. You don’t care about yourself, but your pathetic excuse for a son,” he said, and Ariala’s eyes opened. She could barely breathe right, but everyone could see that she had regretted what she had just said. There was a slight tremble as well, as if she was trying to move. “Then I suppose you won’t mind if I perform my own Heavenly Execution.”

    With that, he swung the whip so that it wrapped around Leos’ neck, and instantly, he felt himself at his limit. Several of the barbs pierced into his neck while the whip strangled him, causing him to let out a pained choke. He cringed and arched back as the wind was strained from him, his eyesight swerving with dizziness as pain and deprived oxygen took over all of his senses. He couldn’t even beg for mercy, and his mind did nothing but yell at him in desperation for relief.

    “Leos!” Rune shouted.

    “Leave him, stop, leave him out of this, please!” Ariala begged, shutting her eyes. Lin didn’t reply, he only yanked at the whip even harder, causing Leos’ chokes to get louder. Without a doubt in a few moments he would be done for, and both parents knew it. Knowing that, Ariala finally snapped, and tensed her whole body. Before he realised what was happening, a powerful shockwave of dark hued energy burst from Ariala, knocking Master Lin to the ground.

    “What the-” he choked, scrambling to his feet.

    Ariala had freed herself from the Psychic hold, and was now gathering energy around herself. Dark energy that resembled flames and electricity. It surrounded her like a powerful aura, growing larger the more she tensed herself. She faced him and swirled her fan around, creating a Moonblast about twice the size of her usual Moonblast attack, and shouted as she thrust her arm, firing it at Master Lin.

    “No!” he shouted, crossing his arms over his face. A wicked blast of energy erupted from the hit and the heavy force pushed everyone in the room to the ground.

    Tapu Lele quickly righted herself and went back to holding Leos and Rune with Psychic, while Ariala was left out of breath, barely standing with both arms still pointing forward. Smoke lingered from the Moonblast, but Lin’s figure couldn’t be seen within.

    “Rosie, quickly!” Lin shouted after a few moments. The Mimikyu was on the move before he even ordered her, and latched herself to Ariala from behind. Ariala cried out and struggled to break free of the ghostly grip, mostly releasing more of the black aura to try and blow Rosie away.

    “What’s going on?” Leos cried.

    “I’ve won, that’s what,” Master Lin announced, drawing a rune with his hands. He cast his right arm as if commanding his magic, and then a bright light shone over Ariala. She took in a sharp breath the moment it appeared, and then was brought to the floor in agony once again as the light sucked the dark energy out of her, draining it all into a single spot in the air. It went on for a while, causing the spot of darkness to grow bigger than a Snorlax.

    “Okay, I’m with the kid on this one. What is happening?” Tapu Lele asked, finally looking like she was paying attention.

    “I’ve done it. I’ve finally done it. After generations, I’ve finally done it! My lord, the true god of this world can come to be!” Master Lin cheered, rushing back over to Tapu Lele’s side. He performed the same magic as before, but this time, the magic drained dark energy from Diantha’s dead body. Once he was done there, he rose both his arms and offered up his own energy, gathering up all of the fiery darkness into that same spot. “The Rite of Awakening is complete. The time has come, my lord! Come forth, and do unto this world as it has done unto you!”

    “Now hold on a second,” Tapu Lele said, letting her Psychic go. Rune and Leos dropped to the ground, squirming as their aches remained. Ariala was out cold on the ground. “I’m your goddess, here. There is no other god. I’m the one who gets to judge this world, now that my brothers and sisters are gone. You bow down to me, and no one else!”

    “How charmingly petty. You gods truly did go mad, childishly mad,” Lin snickered. “Come now. Did you honestly believe that I had changed my heart? To go from high priest of the Constellars to high priest of the Tapu just like that?”

    “Anyone who doesn’t bow to me feels my wrath!” Tapu Lele shouted, trying to intimidate him. In the centre of the room the dark energy was brewing, swirling into some sort of form while they spoke. Rune and Leos didn’t dare move, not knowing what was coming out of it.

    “I just needed your influence. Your power. And like the fools your royalty is made up of, they allowed me to join your ranks. But my pledge has always been to the great god of the stars: Marshadow!” Lin said, smiling with pure excitement. “Had you not been an aged, mad goddess, this might not have been possible. But that is all the more reason to overthrow you – to right this world with the power of its true god!”

    “How dare you! I’ll just punish you all for this!” Tapu Lele screamed. She was stopped by the sound of thunder, and all eyes turned to the swirling darkness in the centre of the room.

    Master Lin’s ‘god’ was emerging from within. A long, sturdy, wood textured appendage grew from the bottom of the orb, stretching out to the side in a long claw shape. Another one appeared on the opposite side, and they both moved, curling up. Several smaller claws appeared in the bottom centre, making a mouth of sorts. The upper half of the monster took on a jellyfish-like appearance, just about transparent and squishy as it took on an ovoid shape. Within the ‘jelly’, a cellular fabric of dark coloured nuclei and veins filled the space, all of it beating and pumping whatever fluid ran through its body.

    “What… what is that thing? It’s huge!” Rune gasped, gawking up at it.

    “Is that the god of the stars that the Constellars look up to?” Leos asked, frightened to the bone.

    “What? What is this? You’re not the god of the stars!” Lin coughed. “Marshadow? Where is Lord Marshadow?”

    “Looks like your plan backfired. Whatever that monstrosity is, I’ll just destroy it along with all of you. You’ll regret the day you thought you could play me!” Tapu Lele shouted, confronting the monster.

    She began the battle by thrusting both arms at it, releasing a heavy wave of Psychic that struck everyone and knocked them all back, but the monster didn’t even budge. It screeched at her, widening its claws instead. Seeing her lack of damage, Tapu Lele conjured a Moonblast with one hand and threw it, engulfing the monster in a blast of glittering energy.

    What followed after that was a blur of indescribable attacks and strikes at high speed. The monster had sped out of the smoke of the Moonblast and tackled Tapu Lele, to which she teleported in the blink of an eye. But the monster seemed to know where she would reappear and tackled that spot, and soon enough, the two were darting around the room as trails of pink and black energy, crashing into each other with mighty blasts. The others had to shield themselves and take cover from how ruthless the fighting gods were.

    And then just as suddenly as the fight had started, the battle came to an end. Gasps rang out as Tapu Lele was pinned to the ground with overwhelming force, smashed straight downwards so hard that her Psychic Terrain shattered completely. She squirmed helplessly beneath the weight of the monster, letting out a scream as she stretched her hand out towards Rune and Leos in a desperate plea for help. The latter turned away as she was getting crushed alive, so hard that cracks appeared all across her pink shell, and one even across her eyes and face.

    “What? They’re-” Rune growled, stepping backwards. Leos forced himself to look back at the gruesome spectacle, finding that the monster hadn’t crushed her, but had half consumed her instead. It spat out her lifeless body after a few moments, revealing its new state where it seemed to be infected by the dark energy.

    “No,” Leos whispered, staring up at her new form. It was familiar. It was just as Master Lin had warned. It was a Tapu Lele he had seen before, one obscured by dark colours and soulless eyes.

    “A part of me still doesn’t know what’s going on, but things keep getting worse and worse, that’s for sure,” Rune said, staring at his new foes with fury. He held his sword tightly, not wavering in the slightest. “Steel yourself, Leos! Get your Razor Shell out.”

    “Leos!” Prem cried from behind them. Leos spun around at his call, overly relieved to have the others finally run in to join him.

    “Wh-whoa, okay. I was not expectin’ an evil Tapu Lele and… whatever that thing is,” Griselle was the first to say.

    “I should’ve guessed you’d have a part in this!” Vincent said, rushing to the front.

    “Nier, Ariala’s down there. She needs you, now!” Rune said, keeping his eyes on Master Lin.

    Tapu Lele examined herself, and then faced forward with folded arms. “And then the heroes arrive just in the nick of time. Makes me wish I’d just killed her, instead.”

    “That voice,” Leos shuddered. Tapu Lele’s corrupted voice was exactly like that of a spoilt, young, rich boy, but with an overwhelming level of echo and distortion applied. It was like the voice was coming from many different places at once, many places surrounding Leos rather than the direction he was facing.

    “But alas, this is a vessel that will allow me to talk with you for the time being. You are not far off the mark, Lin,” Marshadow said, staring down at all of the Pokémon stood before her. All of them except for Blossom and Nier stared up at her, trying their best not to look intimidated. The two girls were using Heal Pulse on Ariala, and so were occupied. “There were four shadow partitions. If you should find the fourth one, my real form can return.”

    “Four. But where is the last one? We must find it at once!” he replied.

    “We will find it. Even in this form, I have a great amount of power. That’s all thanks to you. To be honest, I don’t mind this all this much. It’s the closest I’ve ever been to my true form since… oh I don’t remember when,” Marshadow answered. Her eyes twitched at the sight of everyone. “You’ve seen me take down a Pokémon considered a god. Why do you still stand before me, as if you have a chance?”

    No one answered, but Rune glanced at his sword. It was still glowing.

    “You need showing. That you can’t entertain me, that you can’t give me what I want. You can’t even provide me with a little bit of sustenance! You’re just mere practice fodder for my moves. But if you insist,” Marshadow continued, pointing a palm forward.

    “Here it comes!” Vincent shouted. “Get back. We can’t damage it!”

    “What?” Leos gasped. A dark sphere of energy formed in Marshadow’s palm, which exploded into several beams of purple light that spread off in many directions. Everyone had to shield themselves as the beams exploded against whatever they hit, filling the room with smoke and a painful temperature. Even Rosie had to squeal and jump to avoid some.

    “I don’t know what it is because I’ve never figured it out. But that monster and Master Lin are protected by the god of the stars’ power. It’s sort of like a divine protection barrier,” Vincent said, dancing on his toes.

    “Fools. I am the god of the stars, Marshadow! It is my own might that renders me and my devout subjects totally invulnerable. Are you still going to waste my time trying to stand up to me?” Marshadow corrected, snickering.

    “Nonsense. I refuse to believe that!” Rune shouted, throwing himself forwards. He jumped high into the air and swung down hard on the legendary, slamming down on its head. To everyone’s surprise, Marshadow recoiled sharply and cursed, grabbing the spot where he hit. The slash hadn’t cut her at all, but a red mark appeared on her body.

    “Blast, what?” Marshadow shrieked, shivering from pain. She scanned the party, breathing heavily. “Wait, that’s it- that sword, where did you get that damn sword?”

    Rune glanced at it again, then back at his enemy. “My Father gifted this to me. He gave it to me so that I could protect the Pokémon I love.”

    “It’s the Sword of Earthly Elements,” Ariala said, surprising everyone. She was still weak, but she was standing. Most of her bad wounds had been covered over thanks to Blossom and Nier’s healing. “It can damage you gods, can’t it? Whether you have a protective barrier or not.”

    “Ariala,” Rune whispered.

    “Mother,” Leos did the same.

    “You are to wait until I gain my full form. Until then, you are fighting me at my imperfect state! Me at reduced power. Wouldn’t you like it if the fight was fair? Me at my perfect form and strength. Wouldn’t that be an epic clash? You know you want it!” Marshadow replied.

    Ariala didn’t reply with words. Instead she stepped back, keeping her gaze fixed on Marshadow. Once she was at Tapu Fini’s side, she reached out and grabbed the sword jutting from the legendary’s head, and pulled with a grunt. Bright light sprung from the blade as it was drawn from Tapu Fini, surrounding them both until the weapon was fully released.


    The light blinded everyone until it was fully drawn, where it dulled down and was replaced by a spire of pink water. Ariala pointed the weapon at Marshadow, to which Tapu Fini gave a mighty cry and stretched her arms out wide. Pink mist took over the room in similar fashion to the Psychic Terrain, causing Marshadow and Master Lin to choke and cry out.

    “No! No one should be able to draw that sword!” Master Lin cried.

    The Sword of Divine Elements wasn’t much of a sword, despite its name. It had a hilt that was wrapped around with feathers of varying colours, while the ‘blade’ was a streak of light that flowed like flames with a steady shower of glitter coming from it. It was short and small enough for Ariala’s stubby fingers to hold it, but a little longer than a dagger.

    “You. You baited me! You had me believe you were slain so that I could be thrown off. You and your blasted powers of premonition!” Marshadow shouted, both his vessel and monstrous form shaking around the air in anger. “But the day is mine. The world is mine! Because I always get what I want. And an old fish like you isn’t going to stop me. Master Lin! We are retreating. Find that last partition!”

    “No you don’t!” Rune cried, lunging forward. Marshadow darted back to where Master Lin was, smothered him, and then the duo disappeared in flash of spiralling darkness. They teleported away, leaving just Rosie.

    “Wa-wait! Master Lin, Lord Marshadow!” the Mimikyu cried, glancing left and right. She tried to make a break for it, but Rune reacted and stood in her way, leaving her to panic on the spot.

    “I should’ve guessed that they were capable of teleportation. But to think that you predicted this event this far in advance,” Ariala remarked, turning back to Tapu Fini.

    “What happened? The Sword of Divine Elements couldn’t be drawn until now, right?” Leos gasped.

    “She spoke to me whilst I was unconscious. She told me to draw the blade. She used it to stall her death so that I could have it when Marshadow was summoned here,” Ariala explained. She turned to Rune. “She told me that she foresaw your death against Marshadow just there.”

    “I… lost?” Rune whispered. “You mean if I had fought on my own there, I would have died?”

    “You do not have much time,” Tapu Fini spoke up at last. “There is much to explain, and very little time for me to do so.”

    “Yeah, everyone’s got a lotta stuff to explain, ‘cos I’m more confused than ever. What was all that?” Griselle cried. Everyone ignored her and gathered around Tapu Fini, although they were clearly anxious to move.

    “That monster is exactly as he calls himself: Marshadow, the god of the stars, and the Pokémon that the Constellars worship. He is powerful, but those powers are split into four partitions. When those partitions gather, his power grows stronger, and the lives of others become his to manipulate,” she said, laying a hand on her chest. “We Tapu did what we could to supress him for all these years. But your time has come, mortals. Your time to take care of this world in our stead.”

    “You mean… the deaths of the Tapu,” Ariala said, gawking.

    “I have foreseen it all. Our madness in old age, our exploitation of your devoutness, and our fall from the top. All until now, where we pass the torch onto you, prince and princess of Etheria,” she said, beginning to glow a heavenly gold. Her Misty Terrain began to vanish with her, concerning everyone to look around. “For the sake of your own survival, you must stop Tapu Lele and Marshadow. This world cannot see peace until you do. Our powers will protect you, but only those who follow the swords and believe in their wielders. When the swords glow, they have the power to strike down the gods.”

    “A-and, I’m guessing my Zenryoku arte can still kill, too,” Leos shuddered. Tapu Fini nodded slowly, and then shut her eyes as she faded into glitter. Leos’ eyes watered a bit, and Ariala gasped and hopped after her as she disappeared, left with an arm hanging where the legendary just was.

    “This is as far as my premonitions have shown me. Do not let Marshadow have his way. The future is in your hands,” Tapu Fini’s final whispers echoed.

    “Rest in peace, Tapu Fini. I’ll never forget what you did for us,” Rune said, raising his left arm. A ring of light appeared around it, and the same appeared around Ariala’s right arm.

    And then silence fell. No one knew what to say, exchanging awkward glances with each other and Ariala’s saddened face. Rune took notice of their swords, which had stopped glowing and darkened the area. A few moments later, their situation kicked everyone back into focus, as the sudden shaking of the ground almost took everyone off-balance.

    “An earthquake? Now?” Prem squealed, hugging Leos. The Oshawott hugged back to keep his balance.

    “No, these are shockwaves. I can hear them. Something is happening outside!” Ariala cried.

    “Be careful, Ariala,” Rune said.

    “You don’t need to worry about me. We have bigger problems! Everyone outside!” she raised her voice. The others did their best to stumble out of the temple, but Rune grabbed her arm and gave her a stern look.

    “I mean it. Please. I almost lost you back there, and I couldn’t go on living if I did,” he said. She stared back and blinked, but took in a breath. “Just take care of yourself from here on. Please.”

    Back on Eris, a situation had begun. Upon hearing the guards and soldiers around the castle shout panicked commands at each other, King Jyararanga rushed out to see for himself what was happening. He got to the castle’s front entrance and was confronted with a giant spectre, another Kommo-o that had almost the same size and shape as he did. Surrounding that spectre was an army of Erinian soldiers, all of them spectres of dark and dragon types.

    “I recognise that face,” he muttered to himself, preparing for battle.

    “How did an army this big get this far so quickly? And without us noticing?” one of the soldiers cried. That was when it clicked in Jyararanga’s head.

    “The old king, and an army of fallen soldiers. Their spirits rise and walk the planet as enemies. There’s only one Pokémon capable of this heinous feat,” he answered. “All units prepare for battle! Maximum aggression!”

    Meanwhile, Faernia castle was facing the same crisis. The Pokémon that had lost their lives in the battle against Tapu Koko were coming back to life right before the eyes of those who survived, standing back up with the texture of spectres. Their bodies were transparent, white, and ghostly, while their eyes were red, glowing, and lifeless. At the castle, Azu gathered behind a group of guards to protect Queen Magearna, but the group of them were confronted by a Gardevoir spectre that towered over them in its mega-evolved form.

    “Reports of the dead rising and fighting against us, and the ancient queen of generations old. Why?” Azu whispered, glaring furiously at their new foe.

    Outside, sitting on the edge of a tall building to watch down on it all, Charle casually kicked his feet and snickered at the aggressive sounds echoing up to him. “So, it’s begun.”
  6. SGMijumaru

    SGMijumaru Competitive Mijumaru

    Episode 31: A forgotten history


    “There are spectres everywhere. And they’re all from the Pokémon that fell during the recent battle,” Ida gasped, huffing from fatigue. The Purrloin had to fight her way back through the city to meet the others outside the temple, where the absence of the spectres gave her a respite. “What’s going on? What did all of you do?”

    “I apologise,” Ariala said.

    “Why are you apologising? This isn’t your fault. We need to do something,” Rune replied. Ariala didn’t move.

    “No. Please, allow me to explain. It’s a long story,” she said, walking back into the temple. Everyone exchanged glances before following.

    “Does this have something to do with Charle? He ran away from me during that last fight and I haven’t seen him since. He’s been acting so weird since he came back,” Ida asked.

    “It might. But this roots back to when I first met Rune. That was twenty-six years ago, back on Eris,” Ariala began. Leos shuddered but paid attention, not expecting to hear about something from so long ago. “As many of you may know, I was kidnapped by King Jyararanga. Many thought it to be a strange act of war, but it actually wasn’t. It was Tapu Koko’s doing.”

    “Tapu Koko?” Rune repeated. Ariala opened her eyes and kept walking, but she was slow.

    “He conferred with the king at some point, and I was delivered. They said they needed my body, and my powers. But I was just a child, so I was frightened and didn’t understand anything. That was until that showed up: that shadow. Those dark powers you saw me expel when I tried to fight Master Lin,” she said, stretching an arm out. No power came. “King Jyararanga sealed a shadow partition within me. He said it gave me powers, but that I wasn’t to use those powers unless I absolutely needed to. It was the partition of a greater Pokémon, one that possessed god-like powers. Even with just a fraction of it sealed within me, it had some control over my actions, and sometimes came out beyond my will. I did training to supress it and learn to use it, but it was never fully under my control. Only now do I fully understand that.”

    “Those powers that Diantha had. Why didn’t Father ever tell me?” Rune said.

    “Yes. You and Diantha’s obstruction to the sealing caused her to take some of the power as well. From there on, the Tapu had planned to destroy any remaining hint of it. They knew they couldn’t afford to let any of the partitions get out. So when Diantha released her powers during that battle, sixteen years ago,” she continued, turning back to Rune.

    “It attracted Tapu Koko, and he destroyed the source of the partition,” Rune finished her sentence, and she nodded.

    “I never knew why, though. I never fully understood. I thought it a curse they merely deemed too powerful for Pokémon to use. But to think they would kill the princess – it was the first time my faith in the Tapu wavered. I had to test their reason, and provoked them myself. But when I released the power in the same way as Diantha, no one came. Thus, me and you were left to quickly plan our method of stalling the war,” she continued.

    “Yeah,” Rune said with a sigh, turning to Leos. The boy’s eyes widened. “This might be the only chance I get to apologise for being your missing Father for all this time. But I simply had to. You were too important to the world, and us. We agreed to ‘go missing’ from the world, so that we could stall our planets from attacking one-another while you grew up. Our parents knew of our activities and absence, but the opposing planet did not, leading to our planets’ own falsified crisis. Our armies were pretending to search for their prince and princess, so there was no time to attack one another.”

    “Why couldn’t you at least live with me still, though?” Leos challenged, stepping forward.

    “I declared I would get my revenge for my sister. But first I had to understand why it all happened,” he replied, folding his arms. “I kept in contact with Ariala through letter, but I was too busy sneaking around Faernia to ever see her. In time, I formed a group I called ‘The Deliverance’, who would work towards freeing the Pokémon from the Tapu’s increasingly questionable actions.”

    “The Deliverance?” Leos replied, spinning around. He spotted the Togedemaru, Sylveon and Greninja in the group, who waved at him.

    “Yeah, sorry we couldn’t tell ya earlier, kid. Needed to keep our activities as underground as possible,” Shota snickered. “But as smart as you are, I’m surprised you never once thought about how I suddenly showed up one day, knowin’ so much about ya.”

    “When I found out you’d snuck out to the Stardust Treasury, I was overcome with guilt and worry. I knew what I had said wouldn’t keep you from what you were doing. I had to get these guys to protect you. Thinking back then, it’s clear now why Tapu Lele stole Diantha’s body. Master Lin’s plan to gather those shadow partitions was in motion by then,” Rune said.

    “He was also the one in charge of investigating the Tapu’s strange behaviour. He was the only other religious figure that they could rely on to do so,” Ariala added, now addressing everyone. “What I’m saying now is that our world faces its greatest of danger: Marshadow. We must destroy it in its current form, and prevent it from encountering its last partition. If it wasn’t for me acting so slowly, for daring to keep faith in the Tapu after they had done such unforgivable things, we might have been able to avoid even half of our losses.”

    “Don’t beat yourself up over it. You had to do some very difficult things,” Rune replied.

    “It’s just like Lin to go after some godly power. First it was harnessing the power of the hybrid hero, now it’s the god of the stars,” Vincent spat, tapping his foot.

    “But where are we gonna find the last partition? One was in Ariala, one was in Diantha, and the third one he had himself,” Nier asked.

    “You’ve figured it out, haven’t you, Rune?” Ariala said expectantly. The duo nodded at each other.

    “Leos, you’ve read my diary, so I’m sure you know him. Mirror, the Absol responsible for provoking Diantha to release those powers in the first place,” Rune asked. “If we find him, we have the last partition.”

    “There is just one thing about this that I don’t understand,” Ariala said, rubbing her chin. “Lin tortured me to get me to release the power so that he could drain it from me. We can assume that he can only drain the shadow partition when it is leaking from the Pokémon that has it. But he drained it from Diantha now, a dead Pokémon.”

    Rune walked over to her body and inspected it, laying a hand on its side. It was cold, wet, and stiff, yet retained a healthy appearance. You couldn’t tell that she was dead until you felt her heart. “Maybe it’s just easier to get from a dead Pokémon? If the partitions can affect the Pokémon they’re sealed in, then it’s clear what drives Mirror to do what he does.”

    “But then why not just kill me, then? Why not kill all of us? He had us right where he wanted, yet resorted to torture. Tapu Lele even allowed it to happen,” Ariala said. Rune stood up and spun around, unable to come out with a response. “What possible ulterior motive could he have to keep us alive?”

    “I understand your concern, but it’s no use worrying about something like that. All we understand is that he wants to bring Marshadow to life, and the Tapu were keeping that sealed for all this time. We should focus on stopping him at all costs,” Vincent replied, stepping in. “And this time, you’ll kill him. Erase him from this world for good.”

    “That’s not how we do things, Vincent,” Ariala said, looking at him. She went quiet when she noticed his fury, and faced him properly. “I know your history with him is deep. But please, we mustn’t be rash. He can only be tried for his actions as of his time in the Tower of the Tapu.”

    “This monster literally almost killed you. He is partly to blame for all those spectres outside – how can you possibly say that?” Leos cried.

    “Leos, the Tapu taught us-”

    “Forget what the Tapu taught us, they’re not our dictators anymore!” he raised his voice. Silence fell and the Clefable stood down, gripping at her chest and belly.

    “We’ll execute him on sight. But first, finding Mirror. He told me this: ‘when the time comes to search for the final Shadow Partition, find me in the temple of the shadow’s first descent. There, we will decide this world’s fate’. So Father, where did the shadow partition first descend?” Leos said, taking charge.

    “Leos,” Rune whispered. The look of determination on his son’s face made him settle his thoughts, and he folded his arms.

    “Castle Eris. The temple at the top, where they keep the Dragon Weapon,” a girly voice spoke up before him. The royals turned to their army in surprise, finding them all to be just as clueless as to who spoke. “Over here, you big dummy.”

    “What?” Rune choked, flinching back so hard that he almost fell over. Leos and Ariala were no better, left gawking at the sight of Diantha standing, talking, in full motion. Her eyes had pupils again, but they were a bright yellow. She didn’t look as stiff as she did earlier either, and gave him a cheerful wave.

    “Surprised to see me? I woke up at the perfect time!” she said. Rune drew his sword and pointed it at her. “Whoa whoa whoa, the heck gives?”

    “What kind of witchery is this? Don’t play me for a fool!” Rune replied.

    “I’m not I’m not!” she cried, flailing her arms. “Well uh, I guess it’s sorta tough to convince ya. I’ve only been M.I.A for sixteen years.”

    Everyone stared without a word. Rune’s face only tightened, and he pushed his sword a little closer.

    “Okay okay, I get it! So like, that Marshadow guy is why Pokémon can make spectres and all that, right? He makes ‘em outta dead Pokémon. So now that he’s strong enough, he’s able to bring ‘em back with their bodies, too. So that means I’m a spectre, but I get to walk around in my body and all that?” she said. Rune loosened and lowered his sword to his side. “I-I mean it. I dunno any other way to convince you, but it’s me, sis. And I don’t need many intros, ‘cos I know that you’re big bro. You’ve got his sword.”

    He hesitantly approached her, and she stood perfectly still and stared back. She lacked her skirt and her head fur wasn’t tied into a ponytail like it used to be, but he could tell that both bothered her. She kept swiping fur out of her face and trying to throw it to the back of her head, while her other hand rubbed at her thigh, as if the skirt not being there created worries.

    Then his feelings all came rushing in at once. Her voice and tone were nostalgic, and the way she stared at him with hopeful, spoilt eyes, just waiting for him to give in to her petty wants. He dropped his sword and knelt down to her, blinking several times before hugging her tightly.

    “U-uh, erm, big bro? P-Pokémon are watching,” she squeaked, tensing up a bit. He could tell that she was still dead as she was still cold, but the response warmed him all the same. He didn’t need to see her face to know that she was blushing, so he only tightened his grip, trying to convey how he felt without saying it. He wanted to cry, but he forced himself not to. She eventually got this and hugged back, patting him on the back however she could.

    “I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect you,” he said with a tremble and a sniffle.

    “And I’m sorry I was a total ass,” she replied in similar vein.

    “I hate to interrupt the meaningful fluff, but two things. She’s still a dead body, and is only temporarily here. Two, we really need to get going if we’re going all the way to Eris. The more time we waste, the more time those spectres spend wreaking havoc,” Ida said, walking to the front.

    “Make time. This is important,” Rune said, breaking away.

    “N-no, she’s right. I know me being back means we can party and all, but we can make time for that later. For now, we’ve gotta get to that temple and protect Mirror. I don’t exactly have cool powers or anythin’, but I’m pretty good with special attacks, so let me at ‘em this time,” Diantha agreed.

    “And risk you getting hurt again? I couldn’t bear the sight, not after-”

    “Big bro,” Diantha said teasingly.

    He sighed. “Just don’t do anything stupid. You don’t have those powers anymore.”

    “I know I know! But I can still do cool stuff like Trump Card, remember?” she said, hands on her hips.

    “We’ll have to make our way to the castle. I’m sure there’s an airship there,” Ariala mumbled.

    “We can use the Entercards to warp straight to Eris, actually. I figured out how to use these, but I can only go where I’ve been before,” Leos said, searching his belongings.

    “Entercards?” Ariala replied, tilting her head.

    “Just follow my lead.”

    Their objective turned out to be as gruesome as the battle they had just endured. Leos had managed to calm himself down after being frightened by the war, but being thrown back into those conditions only put him right back to square one.

    The party emerged from the Magnagate right at the foot of Castle Eris, where spectres – the ghostly figures and animated dead bodies alike – were deep in combat with the ruthless soldiers of Eris. Being dead bodies in motion, the gory offence against them didn’t put them out of action, only making everything seem worse. Arms and legs were being cut off by swords and rampaging dragons, chests and heads pierced by claws and swords, and many Pokémon were even getting beheaded. But the spectres would keep fighting anyway, seemingly unhindered by missing body parts. The only difference was that they were silent, not letting out any death screams. It all still turned Leos’ face pale, and he hid behind his friends as they escorted him through the chaos.

    Thankfully, he was able to quickly tear himself away from it since they were right by the castle’s entrance. The castle itself had gone into a defensive mode, so many guards were well positioned and the hallways weren’t busy. None of the spectres had infiltrated yet, so it was a simple task of turning his back on the battle at hand, finding and explaining the situation to Jyararanga, and then making their way to the temple at the top of the castle.

    Everything will be so much worse if you don’t stop this now. So just focus – it’s time for action,” Leos kept telling himself as he and his army quickly paced up the castle. When they reached the very top, silence took over, as if there was no one around in the area.

    “It’s just as I remember it. No one here, and just the barrier. It’s like it’s disconnected from the rest of the castle,” Rune said, leading the way. The barrier at the end of the hallway had been renewed, but it was just as basic. A few planks of wood that could be jumped or climbed over. In Rune’s case, he drew his Razor Shells and smashed it to pieces with little effort.

    “Did you have to?” Jyararanga said.

    “Saves time,” he replied, walking off.

    Leos and Ariala followed behind them, the former growing nervous again even with his inner chanting. He felt that ‘disconnection’ from the world once the aged, ruined temple came into sight, along with the scenery faded by distance. There weren’t even any insects or Pidgey here, just the ruined temple, the large green hexagon, and of course, Mirror. The Absol was at the far end of the temple, staring at its weathered murals.

    “So you came,” he began, not turning around.

    “You invited me. You foresaw all this, didn’t you? Absol can do that, after all,” Leos said, walking ahead towards him. He stopped when Mirror swiped his front paws aside, summoning three spectres in front of him. They were all Kingler. “Wait what? What’re you doing?”

    “The only thing that is to be done, now. To see whether you have what it takes. After all, you’re only about to deal with the most powerful being in existence,” Mirror replied, turning around.

    “Listen. I hate you more than anyone else in the world. Just the sight of you makes me want to kill you a thousand times over, right here and now,” Rune said, drawing the Sword of Earthly Elements. It was glowing.

    “Rune,” Ariala muttered.

    “But what’s at stake here is more important than my personal agenda. It’s the same for all of us. So we’re here now to take you someplace safer, and protect you. There’s no need for us to fight right now,” he said.

    “And what will you do when I am in this safe place?” Mirror asked.

    “Destroy Marshadow’s incomplete form. Ensuring he can’t get to you is the priority now,” he answered. There was a pause.

    “You are as pitiful as ever, Prince,” Mirror sighed, widening their eyes. “Even after everything I did to you, you never once learnt what it really takes to protect someone.”

    “The hell do you know you psychopathic murderer?”

    “Rune, please,” Ariala interrupted, stepping forward. He allowed her to approach. “Please, our planets face a dire situation right now and there is little time to lose. We must put our differences aside and cooperate for the time being.”

    There was another pause, but Mirror never moved at all. “Tell me, princess. What drives your desire to protect? What need have you to prevent Marshadow’s birth?”

    “As crown princess of Faernia, and the mother of Leos, our world’s unifying person, it is my duty to protect our world from every crisis. The birth of Marshadow and the Pokémon involved threaten Etheria’s already delicate peace,” she answered.

    “Why should she even have to answer to you? Look we’re just here to protect you. Cooperate with us or else,” Leos said.

    “None of you have learnt a thing,” Mirror said, slamming a paw on his mask. Everyone flinched and readied themselves for the worst, but when he removed the mask from his face, his spectres vanished.

    “Have they become invisible?” Rune said, guarding himself.

    But nothing came. Mirror crushed the mask in his paw, stumbled a bit, and then thrashed it aside. It clanged against the stone wall in the only standing corner of the room, maintaining an odd feature even though it had been crushed. The single eye visible through the mask turned out to be part of the mask itself, an eye that wasn’t visible on the other side of the mask.

    Mirror’s face was as normal as an Absol’s could be, but he kept his eyes clenched tightly shut. His eyelashes were long and stood out the most, whilst a long curl of fur burst out to the side of his face. And then he collapsed, falling right over onto his side as if totally lacking energy.

    “Mirror!” Rune shouted, rushing over to him. He shook the Absol and held up his head, trying to feel for a pulse. His heart was fine. “Hey, hang in there! Get up, what’s wrong?”

    It took a moment, but eventually Mirror’s eyes twitched and he moved to stand up, but his eyes never opened. He made a few sounds that were the total opposite of his usual stern, dark voice, and turned his head to look around in confusion.

    “Wait, what? I’m… awake? Why am I- oh gods, is anyone there?” he cried, falling into a panic. He sounded like a little girl, lost and frantically huffing to try and calm themselves. “Hello? Please, someone, anyone, who’s around?”

    “Open your eyes. What’s wrong with you?” Rune said, folding his arms.

    “Th-there is someone there! Please, you’ve got to help me. I’m begging you, there’s no time to lose,” he cried, still not opening his eyes. He dashed forward and tripped up, falling face flat.

    “Is he blind?” Ariala asked slowly, a finger on her lip.

    “I-I think so. Hey, calm down a sec,” Diantha cried, helping him up. He kept whimpering and flinched at her touch, but knew where to turn to face her.

    “You’re somebody! Please, my mask should be nearby. You’ve got to pick it up and give it to me! Please, or terrible things are going to happen, I mean it!” Mirror cried.

    Diantha giggled at him and stroked his side. “Sorry, but I can’t do that. And you know exactly why.”

    “Sis?” Rune said, watching in concern. His heart jumped when she raised an arm and channelled a huge orb of dark energy in it, making everyone flip out. They had only a second to act before she slammed that hand down to release the energy via an enormous shockwave, taking everyone off their feet. Fortunately Ariala reacted with a Light Screen, but had barely gotten the shield up to reduce the damage properly.

    “Now, drain him, Master Lin!” Diantha called out.

    “Diantha!” Rune shouted, sitting up. Lin, Tapu Lele, and the shadow partition had emerged from the broken roof, as if they had been hidden behind the temple the whole time. Lin didn’t waste time in performing his magic spell to drain the dark energy from Mirror, causing the Absol to scream in pain.

    “No!” Ariala cried, sticking a hand out.

    Leos couldn’t manage anything more than a sharp breath in, staring with watering eyes as the last of the shadow partition formed in the air, slowly merging with the rest of its monstrous form. He wasn’t speechless in awe, fear, or even worry, but that they had been so easily duped.

    He had too much to think about. His Mother and Father’s story, the death of the Tapu, and his own friends and position in the new world they were heading towards – he truly never thought to question the sudden resurrection of Diantha and what it could mean, to be wary of what Marshadow could accomplish while its form was as close to completion as it was. And now, thanks to his haste, inability to act or think clearly, it was complete. The god he so badly didn’t want to deal with.

    Marshadow’s form stabilised whilst this revelation came to light. The jellyfish-like monster shrunk greatly in size and stature, becoming just a little taller than he was. Two glowing yellow eyes surrounded by outlines of dark red poked through the head of the Pokémon, while a cleaner, more shadow-like texture took over the Pokémon’s human shaped body. A fluffy, shadowy collar flowed around its neck, a shadowy helmet with three horns flowed around its head, and its feet had flowing, shadowy trails coming from them.

    It admired its final appearance and the audience it had to witness it, curling its small hands into fists repeatedly. It jabbed the air a few times and then stretched, curling its body to get a good look at itself. Finally content, its small mouth turned into a smile, and its eyes met Leos’.

    “Ah. It’s good to be back,” he said, sounding familiarly childish.

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