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Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Reflecting Balance

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Chapter 42: Brought to you by DarkerShining and Santos the Delibird

Sike Saner: Thanks for your reply! Guess you like Azure and Kala, huh? I personally find those two fun to write for as well. What do you think about the story in general? I'd like to hear (well, more like read, but you get the idea) more of your thoughts!

Anyways, it's time for another new chapter!

This chapter took a bit longer than I expected, but at least it didn't take as long as some of the previous chapters that took longer than expected. I've also got a question for you guys:

If you were to pick a name for one of these chapters, what would you name it?

You've all probably noticed that I name my chapters after a line of dialogue from said chapter, which can lead to some odd chapter names. If this wasn't how I was going about it, what do you think would've been good names for some of the previous chapters?

I guess it might be a bit of a strange question, but whatever. If you happen to have any thoughts on it, or you have any other thoughts relating to the chapter/story/characters, feel free to leave a review/comment!

Thanks to everyone has been following the story so far! I hope you enjoy this chapter!

----

Chapter 42: However, I just can’t bring myself to tell him the truth…

----

Santos the Delibird was running as fast as his small feet could carry him, carrying his bag-like tail containing letters and today’s newspaper behind him. The sun only just starting to rise, but Santos had already been up and running around for a while. He was on his way to Fenix Town, with an important letter for the town oracle. He stopped for a moment to catch his breath, and glanced at his tail.

“Those two ladies sure have me going back and forth between Fenix Town and Silver Woods a lot…” Santos muttered, sighing. “It’s quite the distance for someone who can’t teleport, but I have to do my best anyways…”

Santos smiled and nodded his head slightly.

“Yes, that’s right… After all, it is my duty to deliver news and letters for everyone,” Santos said, looking up at the sky. “Keeping the Pokémon informed of what is happening and delivering the letters that bring smiles to their faces… That is what a mailmon does!”

Santos smirked, and confidently struck a pose.

“It is… my destiny!” Santos shouted proudly, before he started moving again.

Santos kept a cocky grin on his face as he kept on running.

“No matter how far away the recipient of the letter is, I will certainly get there! Obstacles in the way won’t stop me; I’ll just find a way past them! And if I run into any wild Pokémon that look interested in eating me for breakfast, I’ll run away from them as fast as I can since I am in no way strong enough to last in a fight against them, and I won’t lose a single letter in the process!”

After a few moments, Santos found himself having to stop to catch his breath once more.

“Probably… shouldn’t yell so much… while running,” Santos muttered, chuckling sheepishly. “Well, just a little further now! Let’s keep going!”

Things were getting brighter as the sun slowly rose higher into the sky, and soon, it would be another busy morning for the Pokémon of Fenix Town.

----

Blitz, Sera, Chiaki, Azure and Frederick were among the rescue teams making their preparations for today’s missions in the town plaza. Since they hadn’t actually done any missions for the past two days, they figured it was time to get some work done. Azure still couldn’t use any of her water attacks, so Frederick would be taking her place for today’s missions.

“Don’t worry, Frederick,” Azure said, patting the young Deino on the back. “You’ll do just fine.”

“I’ll do my best,” Frederick responded, nodding his head slightly. “Although… if I’m filling in for you today, do I have to act like you…?”

“No, that’s not necessary,” Azure replied, chuckling a little. “Just do things your way.”

“Oh, good,” Frederick responded, sighing in relief. “Because I don’t have that same confidence you have when it comes to fighting, exploring and stuff…”

“You just need more experience, buddy,” Azure said, grinning. “Eventually, you’ll be radiating so much confidence that even the meanest, biggest outlaws wouldn’t dare challenge you!”

“Wow… You really think I could pull that off?” Frederick asked, blushing slightly. “In that case… I’ll definitely become more confident and live up to your expectations!”

“Ooh, I like the sound of that!” Azure responded. “You and me, we’d become an unbeatable team!”

“Y-Yeah!” Frederick replied, nodding his head and trying to look more confident.

Sera walked up to Blitz, who was looking over and trying to sort the items that they currently had with them.

“So... Think we got everything we need?” Sera asked, looking at the bag containing their items.

“At least we have a good selection of items for missions in general,” Blitz responded, nodding to Sera. “However, we may need to swap a few things out depending on what type of mission we take…”

“I see,” Sera replied, nodding her head slightly.

“Hey, look!” Chiaki said, pointing to a familiar Gothitelle walking into the town plaza. “It’s Stella!”

“May I have everyone’s attention?” Stella asked.

The Pokémon of the rescue teams present in the town plaza exchanged a few curious glances, before gathering around Stella. They hoped that their town oracle had good news for them.

“I have received a letter from Samara,” Stella said, smiling. “She has prepared some spells that can reverse the effects of the spells Erebos cast on some of the Pokémon living in our town.”

A few of the Pokémon in the crowd could be heard cheering loudly, while others just started excitedly chatting amongst themselves.

“Yes, I’ll be able to use my water attacks again!” Azure said, grinning.

“Hercules is going to be okay now…” Blitz said, sighing in relief.

Stella cleared her throat, motioning to the crowd that she wasn’t finished. The other Pokémon stopped talking and listened to Stella as she continued talking.

“A rescue team needs to head to Silver Woods,” Stella explained. “She believes it might be risky for her to make the journey here herself, so she wishes for a rescue team to bring her here via rescue team badge.”

“I see,” Mirage commented, rubbing her chin. “Unfortunately, Cordyceps is still not in much of a condition for missions, so my team can’t go.”

A few of the rescue teams began discussing amongst themselves whether to accept the mission or not. However, to everyone’s surprise, Blitz suddenly took a step forward.

“My team will accept the mission,” Blitz said, bowing in front of Stella. “Please, let us take this mission.”

Stella seemed surprised at this, but just smiled and nodded her head.

“Very well,” Stella responded. “I’ll leave it to you.”

“Thanks, Stella,” Blitz replied, smiling back at her. “We will leave for Silver Woods once we’ve finished our preparations.”

“Good,” Stella responded, nodding her head. “You may run into some tough bug-type Pokémon in the mystery dungeon, but other than that, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting through it at your current level.”

Stella began walking back to her house, and the other rescue teams went back to what they were doing before Stella showed up. Blitz and his teammates finished up their preparations before heading to the rescue team HQ.

“You really want to help Hercules, don’t you?” Chiaki asked, smiling at Blitz.

“Well… It’s the least I can do for him, really,” Blitz responded, glancing over at Azure. “Of course, I want to help Azure, Mirage and Cordyceps as well.”

“Of course you do,” Azure replied, nodding. “Still, was kind of surprising to see you take charge like that. Not that I’m complaining!”

“I’m kind of worried about those bug Pokémon that Stella mentioned,” Frederick said. “I’m part dark type, so I may not be the best Pokémon for this mission…”

“You’ll do fine,” Azure replied, patting the Deino on the back. “Remember what we talked about earlier?”

“Uh… Confidence…?” Frederick responded, tilting his head slightly.

“Exactly,” Azure replied, grinning. “Show those bug types that you’re not scared of them!”

“Oh, I’m not scared of bug types,” Frederick responded, shaking his head. “I just don’t know how well I can fight them, is all…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Azure replied. “If you’re just confident enough, you can just march on through without a worry because the bug types would flee at the mere sight of you!”

“Huh, is that so?” Frederick responded, thinking for a few moments. “… Would that work on ghost types too?”

“Sure it would!” Azure replied, nodding. “So, get out there with Blitz and the others, and bring Samara here so that I can use my water attacks again!”

“Okay, Azure,” Frederick responded, smiling. “I’ll try my best to be confident for you!”

The five of them entered the room behind the purple curtain, and as usual had to wake up the sleeping Abra inside if they wanted to go anywhere.

“Kala, wake up,” Blitz said, shaking her lightly.

“You can’t fly either…” Kala muttered in her sleep, before opening her eyes slightly. “… Oh, it’s you guys.”

“Kala, please send us to Silver Woods,” Blitz said, as Sera, Chiaki and Frederick gathered around him.

“Silver Woods…?” Kala muttered, before nodding her head slightly. “All right, got it…”

“Good luck, guys!” Azure said, waving good-bye as Blitz, Sera, Chiaki and Frederick were teleported out of the room in a flash of light.

----

At last, Blitz, Sera and Chiaki finally got to see Silver Woods for themselves, after hearing Stella’s descriptions of it in the story about Cassandra. The silver-colored grass, bushes and leaves on the trees were shimmering brightly in the light that made it through the branches of the tallest trees. From the looks of things, the forest hadn’t changed much from the time when Cassandra used to visit it in order to see Pandora.

“Wow… No wonder this place is called “Silver Woods”,” Chiaki commented, staring in awe.

“It really does have a mystical feel to it, doesn’t it?” Sera said, looking over at Blitz.

“Yeah, it does,” Blitz responded, nodding his head. “I wonder what makes the plants like this.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” Frederick said, sniffing the air. “Hmm… For some reason, I expected this place to be chillier…”

Blitz looked around, and noticed the entrance to the mystery dungeon. He walked up to it, and his teammates soon followed.

“Samara’s house is just past this mystery dungeon, isn’t it?” Sera asked.

“Yes, I believe it is,” Blitz responded, nodding his head. “Come on, let’s go!”

Blitz and his teammates entered the maze, and found themselves on the first floor. With Blitz leading the way, they began exploring the dungeon. For the first few floors, none of them really said anything. They only exchanged a few words during the occasional fight against a wild Pokémon, or when trying to decide on which direction to go next. Blitz kept his eyes on the path in front of them, focused on getting through the dungeon as soon as possible. After all, the sooner they reached the exit, the sooner they would get to Samara’s house.

As they got to the seventh floor, Chiaki noticed something as he glanced up at the trees.

“Hey… Something is wrong with those leaves,” Chiaki said, pointing at one of the trees.

Blitz and Sera looked up, to see the leaves on one of the lower branches of a tree seemingly flickering in and out of existence.

“So, the distortions have spread to this place too…” Blitz said, staring up at the tree.

“Distortions have been appearing in more places recently,” Sera commented, looking at her teammates. “That’s what it says in the newspapers, according to Amethyst.”

“Well, there’s nothing we can do about it for now,” Blitz said. “Let’s keep moving.”

As they kept exploring, Chiaki found himself wondering just how many areas were affected by the distortions by now. Would it soon become a serious problem? He couldn’t help but worry about it. The distortions would only continue to spread and grow until all eight crystals were found and returned to Axis Tower.

“When the crystals are returned, will they restore the balance instantly, or does it take time for them to do that?” Chiaki quietly wondered.

“Are we there yet?” Frederick asked, following behind the other three Pokémon.

“No, we’re not even halfway yet,” Blitz responded, glancing behind him.

“Oh, okay,” Frederick replied, nodding his head slightly.

----

Meanwhile, back in Fenix Town, Elina was sitting by herself under a tree in a secluded part of the town. Her arms were resting on top of her short legs, and she looked to be rather conflicted. The little green Pokémon suddenly felt a familiar presence nearby, and turned to see a bigger, brown alien-like Pokémon hovering over to her. Elina’s mood lightened as she got up and approached the older Pokémon.

“Father, why are you here again?” Elina asked via telepathy.

“I miss you, and I thought I’d come check to see how you were doing over here,” Eltanin responded, hugging his daughter. “It seems you’ve learned to communicate via telepathy since the last time I was here?”

“Yes,” Elina replied, nodding her head. “I’ve been receiving lessons from one of the psychic types living in this town.”

“That is good to hear,” Eltanin responded. “I am very proud of you, my little girl.”

“Thanks, father,” Elina replied, seeming rather pleased. “I can converse with another Pokémon this way, but I need to keep improving so that I may communicate with multiple Pokémon at once.”

“I know you can do it,” Eltanin responded, nodding his head. “Now that you’ve gotten this far, you shouldn’t have much difficulty with that.”

“I see,” Elina replied, looking away.

“Elina, you seem troubled,” Eltanin said, tilting his head slightly. “Is something bothering you?”

“Chiaki…” Elina thought, still looking away from her father.

“Ah, right,” Eltanin responded, putting a hand on Elina’s shoulder. “That young Mienfoo… he still doesn’t know the truth, does he?”

“Now that I can communicate via telepathy, I am capable of answering his questions regarding his true identity,” Elina explained. “However, I just can’t bring myself to tell him the truth…”

“Well, it might be best to keep the truth from him just a little longer,” Eltanin responded, crossing his arms. “If nothing else, it’ll keep him safe for now.”

“I suppose…” Elina replied, staring down at the ground.

“So, from what I have heard, four of the crystals have been found so far, correct?” Eltanin asked.

“That is correct,” Elina responded, nodding her head slightly.

“Good to hear,” Eltanin replied, seeming pleased with this news. “That means you will be returning home soon, won’t you?”

“Well… I suppose when all crystals are gathered, then yes…” Elina responded, looking up at her father. “But… I just don’t know if I’ll be strong enough… when the time comes…”

“You’ve known all along that that day will have to come,” Eltanin replied, hugging his daughter tightly. “There’s not much more you can do about it, other than what needs to be done.”

“I know…” Elina responded, hugging back. “I… I just… I want to stay friends with Chiaki, for just a little longer…!”

----

Blitz and his teammates continued making their way through the mystery dungeon, fighting off wild Pokémon and collecting items on the ground as they went along. At the fifteenth floor, they decided to take a short break before continuing on. While Frederick was happily eating some apples, Blitz decided to look over their supplies to make sure they still had a good amount of items to help them get through the rest of the mystery dungeon. Chiaki was sitting underneath one of the trees, quietly wondering what Samara was like.

So far, he knew that she was Stella’s pen pal and good with magic. Oh, and that she was really old. Probably much older than most Pokémon he had met.

“Hmm… I wonder how old I am…” Chiaki thought to himself.

Blitz closed the lid on the treasure bag and looked over at his teammates.

“All right, everyone ready to move on?” Blitz asked.

His teammates nodded their heads in agreement and so they began exploring once more. As they made their way through the next few floors, Sera couldn’t help but wonder just how Blitz was feeling right now. Even though he had difficulty accepting his natural leadership skills, he didn’t seem to be in a bad mood at all. Then again, it was probably because he was focused on getting Samara over to Fenix Town as soon as possible so she could help Hercules, Azure, Mirage and Cordyceps. That was his main priority at the moment.

“He was like this when we went to rescue Bow as well,” Sera thought to herself. “He’s able to take the lead without hesitation because a friend needs his help.”

Sera couldn’t help but watch Blitz with admiration as he confidently led the group through the floors of the mystery dungeon. However, even if he had pushed those worries aside for now, they were still there, weren’t they?

“I wonder if there’s anything I can do for him that would make him worry less,” Sera thought to herself. “I… want to tell him that… instead of going back to Lightning Plateau and becoming the leader of the Luxray pride, he should stay in Fenix Town with me and the others!”

Sera smiled for a moment, before sighing and shaking her head.

“Nah, it’s not that simple…” Sera thought, her ears drooping down slightly. “He’d just look at me weird…”

Sera glanced at Chiaki and Frederick who were following behind her, wondering whether to ask either of them about it. However, she decided against it, figuring that they wouldn’t know what to do either. Maybe she could ask one of her older siblings for advice? Or maybe she could ask Stella? Or perhaps this was something she had to figure out on her own?

“Are we there yet?” Frederick asked.

“There’s not much longer to go,” Blitz responded, glancing back at his teammates. “Just a few more floors…”

The four of them kept making their way through the remaining floors; however, it seemed that a particularly strong wild Pokémon intended to keep them from reaching the final set of stairs. A big, purple moth-like Pokémon flitted about the room with the stairs, whipping up gusts of wind blowing powdery silver-colored scales at the rescue team as they tried getting close enough to fight back.

“Ugh… Its Silver Wind attack is making it stronger…” Blitz muttered, glancing around at his teammates. “We have to take it down quickly…”

“Do we have any items?” Chiaki asked, using Detect to try to avoid the attacks. “Like, a Sleep Seed or X-Eye Seed to make it stop attacking?”

“… Yes, there’s a Sleep Seed in here,” Blitz said, looking through the items. “However, I can’t hit the Venomoth from this angle…”

“Leave it to me!” Chiaki responded, running over and pulling the seed out from the bag.

“Hurry up…” Frederick groaned. “I’m no good against bug-types, you know… I can’t take too many more attacks like these…”

“Let’s put a stop to the attacks for a bit, then!” Chiaki said, flinging the seed at the Venomoth.

However, the Venomoth was completely unaffected by it.

“No way…” Blitz said, his eyes widening slightly. “Don’t tell me… It has the Nonsleeper IQ skill?”

“Uh… What’s that again?” Chiaki asked, quickly ducking out of the way as the Venomoth swiftly came swooping down and tried to tackle him.

“Do we have any other way of stopping its attacks?” Sera asked, looking over at Blitz while using her Helping Hand move to lend her teammates more attack power.

As Blitz searched through the bag for another item that could hopefully stop the Venomoth in its tracks, Frederick quietly listened as Chiaki and Sera kept the Venomoth distracted.

“Just be confident…” Frederick muttered to himself.

Frederick took a deep breath, before firing a purple fireball from his mouth. Luckily for Frederick, the Venomoth happened to be in just the right position to take a direct hit from the Dragon Breath attack. The Venomoth twitched slightly as it fell to the ground, trying to get back into the air.

“Ah, nicely done, Frederick!” Blitz exclaimed, grinning. “All right, let’s take it down before it can attack again!”

With the combined power of the four, the Venomoth soon went down. Together, the four of them exited the mystery dungeon.

“We made it,” Blitz said, sighing in relief.

“Samara’s house should be around here somewhere, right?” Chiaki asked, looking around.

From behind a tree, Malefica giggled softly as she glanced down at the four Pokémon. The Misdreavus then quietly floated down towards the other Pokémon, trying her best not to laugh as she moved closer to Frederick. Once she had gotten close up to the young dragon, she took a deep breath, and…

“Hey, who’s that?” Chiaki asked, having just turned around and noticed the Misdreavus.

“Aw, you ruined it!” Malefica said, pouting.

“Ah, who was that!?” Frederick exclaimed, turning around. “Whose voice was that!?”

“Oh, look at that!” Malefica said, smiling triumphantly. “I did scare him after all! Yay!”

“Um… Are you perhaps Samara’s apprentice?” Blitz asked, tilting his head slightly as he looked up at the Misdreavus.

“That’s right!” Malefica responded, giggling merrily. “I’m Malefica!”

“Ah, I see,” Blitz replied, nodding his head. “We’re here to see Samara. Can you take us to her?”

“Ooh, yes! No problem!” Malefica responded, hovering past the others. “Follow me!”

It only took a few moments before they finally spotted Samara’s house. As they followed Malefica inside, a Mismagius came to greet them.

“You must be the rescue team they sent,” Samara said, smiling warmly at her guests. “I am Samara. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you too,” Blitz responded, bowing politely. “I’m Blitz, and these are my teammates, Sera, Chiaki and Frederick.”

Samara just smiled and nodded her head, before picking up a basket full of various potions and scrolls.

“Let’s not waste any time,” Samara said, hovering over to the rescue team. “I have everything I need here. Take me to Fenix Town.”

“I’m coming along too!” Malefica exclaimed, giggling as she hovered above the heads of the rescue team members. “A town full of Pokémon to play tricks on… Malefica likes the sound of that!”

“Malefica…” Samara said, giving the younger ghost-type Pokémon a stern look. “We already talked about this, remember?”

“Nope!” Malefica responded, sticking her tongue out.

“Malefica!” Samara repeated, raising her voice a little this time.

“Oh, um… I had to promise that I’d behave myself, or something?” Malefica responded, smiling sheepishly.

“That’s right,” Samara replied, sighing. “If you can’t do that, I’m not bringing you along.”

“Well, if you don’t bring me along, then I’d be here by myself, wouldn’t I?” Malefica said, snickering. “I bet I could make this place really messy by the time you get back!”

“… Just promise you’ll behave,” Samara responded with an exasperated expression.

“All right, I promise!” Malefica replied, smiling.

“… I should probably ask Stella to help keep an eye on her, just in case,” Samara thought to herself, before turning back to the rescue team. “Sorry about that. We’re ready to go when you are.”

Blitz smiled and nodded his head, before holding up the rescue team badge. In a flash of golden light, the six of them were teleported out of the house. Upon appearing in Fenix Town, they were greeted by Stella and Bow.

“Samara, it’s been a while,” Stella said, smiling at the Mismagius.

“Yes, indeed,” Samara responded, nodding and smiling back. “It’s nice to see you again, Stella.”

“Hi, miss Samara!” Bow said, waving her hand.

“Oh, you’re Bow, aren’t you?” Samara responded, curiously looking over at the young Gothorita. “Last time I saw you, you were just a hatchling! My, you sure have grown!”

“Yeah, I guess I have!” Bow replied, smiling sweetly.

“And I assume that this is Malefica?” Stella said, pointing to the Misdreavus.

“That’s me!” Malefica responded, grinning. “Ooh, what has Samara told you about me in her letters? Tell me!”

“… Maybe later,” Stella replied, chuckling a little before looking over at Blitz and his teammates. “Blitz, everyone… Thanks for bringing Samara here.”

“No need to thank us,” Blitz responded, smiling and rubbing his forelegs together. “It’s just part of a rescue team’s job, after all.”

“And now Samara can undo Erebos’ spells, can’t she?” Chiaki asked, looking up at Samara.

“Indeed,” Samara responded, nodding her head. “I will also be putting a protective spell on the town to ensure that Erebos can’t come too close to it.”

“Ooh, a protective spell?” Chiaki asked, tilting his head slightly.

“Yes,” Samara responded, smiling. “But first, I believe there are some Pokémon that require my help.”

----

Blitz, Sera, Chiaki and Giselle watched as the faint purple glow around Hercules faded away, as Samara finished removing the curse that Erebos had cast on him. The Heracross soon opened his eyes, and glanced around at his surroundings. He blinked a few times in confusion as he realized where he was, and as he noticed the unfamiliar Mismagius.

“What… happened?” Hercules asked, looking around. “When did we get back here?”

“It worked!” Blitz said, happily jumping onto the bed and hugging Hercules.

“Yes, indeed,” Samara responded, nodding her head. “It seems the curse has been successfully removed.”

“Curse…?” Hercules inquired, petting Blitz. “I guess I’m missing something here.”

“I’m sure your apprentice can fill you in on the details,” Samara said, before looking over at Sera and Chiaki. “Where are the remaining two Pokémon requiring my assistance?”

“Ah, right,” Sera responded, looking over at Chiaki. “Come on, let’s go look for Mirage’s team.”

“Okay!” Chiaki replied, smiling and nodding his head.

Azure and Frederick had been waiting just outside Giselle’s office, the former being thrilled to be able to use her water attacks again and apparently having decided to celebrate by using her Bubble Beam attack to let a stream of bubbles float around the lobby of the rescue team HQ. As Chiaki, Sera and Samara exited Giselle’s office, Azure decided to stop for a moment in order to catch her breath.

“Hey guys,” Azure said, panting. “How’d it go?”

“He’s awake!” Chiaki responded, smiling.

“Great,” Azure replied, grinning. “And I’ve got my water attacks back, so I’m feeling pretty good!”

“I’m glad you’re back to normal, Azure,” Frederick commented, smiling.

“It’s all thanks to you guys and Samara,” Azure responded, winking. “I kind of feel I should repay you somehow!”

“That’s not necessary,” Samara replied, shaking her head. “I don’t need any reward.”

“You sure?” Azure asked. “I could probably get you some free berry juice at the café, or something.”

“No thanks,” Samara responded. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have more work to do.”

Sera, Chiaki and Samara left to look for Mirage and her teammates. Azure just shrugged and turned to Frederick.

“What about you, Frederick?” Azure said, grinning. “Wanna head over to the café with me?”

“Do I get free desserts…?” Frederick asked, with a hopeful smile.

“Sure, anything you want!” Azure responded, nodding. “I’m sure mom is okay with that, anyways!”

“Ah… Being confident really does pay off,” Frederick said, grinning.

“It certainly does!” Azure replied, chuckling. “Come on, let’s go!”

----

Elina was still sitting in the same place. Her father had been reluctant to return home so soon, but Elina insisted that she was okay on her own. She still felt conflicted, but at least she didn’t have to tell Chiaki the truth just yet. She wasn’t sure what she would say to him the next time the two of them met, though.

“Chiaki… is my friend...” Elina thought to herself, staring off into space. “But… I can’t keep thinking of him that way, can I…?”

----

End of chapter 42

----
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Hey guys! It's been a while, hasn't it? Yeah, I've been really busy with school stuff lately. But in about two week, I'll be taking on the final exam, and then I'll be pretty much done with all this school stuff. (Wish me luck, guys!)

Anyways, chapter 43! I wasn't entirely sure what was I going to do with this chapter, aside from showing how things were going after Samara had undone Erebos' curses. In the end, I guess this ended up focusing mostly on Stella, Bow, Samara and Malefica, with some focus on Chiaki for a bit. Malefica is fun to write for, at least. I hope it turned out okay!

So, as usual, I hope you're all enjoying the story so far, and if you have anything you'd like to say, whether it's your thoughts on the chapter or advice on how I can improve my writing, feel free to let me know! Here's chapter 43, hope you enjoy it!

----

Chapter 43: As I was casting my spell, I felt as if something was off…

----

The stars were shining brightly in the night sky. Together with the glow from the crystals placed in the makeshift lampposts, they provided light for the few Pokémon that were still up and about around Fenix Town at this time. Samara was floating to each of the glowing crystals, casting a spell on each of them while Stella and Bow watched. This was part of a protective charm she was putting on the town, in order to repel Erebos if he were to come close.

"Everyone in town can feel a bit safer once she finishes casting this spell," Stella commented, smiling as she observed her friend.

"I know I will!" Bow responded, giggling a little. "This town will be a no-Erebos zone!"

"Indeed," Stella replied, patting her daughter on the head.

As Samara continued working on the protective spell, Bow suddenly realized that Samara's apprentice, Malefica, was nowhere to be seen. Failing to see her anywhere around the shops that were closed for the night, she turned her gaze to the sky, hoping that the stars would show her the mischievous Misdreavus' current whereabouts. An image of a familiar wooden building briefly appeared in a vision.

"The rescue team HQ…?" Bow thought, blinking a few times. "Is that where she went?"

Bow decided to make her way over to the HQ, just to make sure that Malefica wasn't causing any mischief. However, when she got there, she noticed that the entrance was closed off.

"Oh, right…" Bow said, tilting her head slightly. "This place is closed for the night too… Malefica can probably phase right through the walls, though, so she may have been able to get inside…"

Not sure if there was any other way of getting inside, Bow decided to try something else. She closed her eyes, and the white bow-shaped feelers on her body began to glow as she tried to reach Malefica with her power.

"Malefica…? Can you hear me?" Bow tried to call out via telepathy. "You're not supposed to be in there!"

However, Bow's thoughts didn't seem to be reaching the Misdreavus, who was currently in Kala's office, curiously watching the sleeping Abra who was still in said office.

"Why are you giving me oranges…?" Kala muttered in her sleep.

"You should throw them at someone!" Malefica whispered into Kala's ear, giggling a little.

Kala made a grunting noise in her sleep, before slowly opening her eyes and glancing up at Malefica.

"… Do you have any idea what time it is?" Kala asked.

"Nope!" Malefica responded, grinning. "Do you?"

"Not really…" Kala replied, yawning. "However, I can tell that it's dark, which means that it is currently night. I can also tell that none of the rescue teams are around at the moment, meaning that no one should be around to disturb my sleep right now."

"Well, I'm here!" Malefica said, giggling. "Is that a problem?"

"Yes, yes it is," Kala responded, her half-open eyes beginning to glow green. "Get out."

----

Bow was still outside, unsure of how to get to Malefica. Suddenly, the young Misdreavus was sent flying through one of the walls, screaming as she was thrown a good distance away from the building before landing on the ground. Bow blinked a few times in confusion, before running over to where the Misdreavus landed. Malefica seemed unharmed, albeit a bit dazed from being sent flying that far.

"Whoa… That Abra is stronger than she looks," Malefica said, blinking a few times.

"Yeah, Kala is actually pretty tough," Bow responded, nodding her head slightly. "I've never actually seen her fight, but I think she's strong enough that she could probably evolve anytime she feels like it."

"Then why hasn't she evolved yet?" Malefica asked, tilting her body to the side slightly.

"I guess she just doesn't want to," Bow responded, shrugging slightly.

"Why not?" Malefica asked, hovering closer to Bow.

"Um… I'm not sure," Bow responded, holding a hand to her chin as she tried to remember if she had ever heard anything regarding why Kala didn't want to evolve.

"Evolving makes you more powerful," Malefica said, hovering in circles around Bow. "Who wouldn't want to be more powerful?"

"Well, all Pokémon grow and get stronger at different rates," Bow responded. "I guess some take longer to decide whether to evolve or not, once they meet the requirements and all that."

"I want to evolve as soon as I get a Dusk Stone!" Malefica said, grinning. "Then I'll be stronger and can have even more fun with my magic tricks!"

"Is that the only reason why you want to evolve?" Bow asked, tilting her head slightly.

"Why would I need any other reasons?" Malefica responded.

"Evolving changes your appearance too, you know," Bow replied. "And my mother says that some Pokémon may have certain parts of their personality change when they evolve!"

"Oh, is that so?" Malefica asked, floating upside-down next to Bow.

"Apparently," Bow responded, nodding her head slightly. "Plus, some Pokémon, particularly ones that evolve via certain items like you do, might be unable to learn certain moves if they evolve too soon!"

"If you say so," Malefica replied, sighing. "I guess even if I had a Dusk Stone, Samara wouldn't let me use it…"

"You've been learning a lot from Samara, haven't you?" Bow asked.

"I suppose," Malefica responded. "She's taught me some pretty neat stuff, but I also have to learn all this boring stuff as well…"

"Even if you don't find everything that interesting, it might be important to know for your future," Bow replied, holding a hand to her chin. "At least, I'd assume so…"

"What about you?" Malefica asked. "Don't you have to sit through a bunch of boring stuff in order to learn about the whole town oracle thing?"

"I don't really find it boring, to be honest!" Bow responded, smiling.

"Huh, really?" Malefica replied, blinking a few times. "There has to be something you find boring, but still have to sit through?"

"Not really," Bow responded, shaking her head. "I find it all really fascinating! I just wish I could remember some of the details better…"

"… You're kind of strange," Malefica replied, flying ahead of Bow.

"Oh, wait up!" Bow called out, running after the Misdreavus.

Once Samara had finished her protective spell, the night went by as it usually did and the Pokémon of Fenix Town could rest with no major concerns.

----

Another new day began, and everyone in the town plaza seemed to be in good spirits. Blitz and Chiaki spotted Mirage and her rescue team in front of the item shop, discussing which items to buy. Mirage seemed unsure if she wanted to spend any more money right away, but according to Cordyceps, the mushroom was insisting they buy more Heal Seeds while they were there. Chiaki was glad to see Cordyceps back to normal. Thanks to Samara's magic, there were now a few things less to worry about.

The curses Erebos had cast had been undone, and there was now a spell on the town that would keep Erebos away. Chiaki still wondered if Samara could help him as well, and hoped to get a chance to talk to her while she was still in town.

"Blitz! Chiaki!" Sera called out, running over to her two teammates. "Good morning!"

"Good morning, Sera," Blitz responded, smiling at her as she joined him and Chiaki.

"Hi Sera!" Chiaki said, waving at her. "Nice day, isn't it?"

"Sure is!" Sera responded, nodding her head. "So, what's the plan for today?"

"We don't know yet," Blitz replied. "However, I wanted to stop by the dojo before we head to the rescue team HQ."

"And I'd kind of like to talk to Samara," Chiaki said, smiling.

"To see if she can help you get your memories back, right?" Sera asked, smiling back at Chiaki.

"Uh-huh!" Chiaki responded, nodding his head. "Regardless of whether Erebos was the one who erased my memories or not, I think she might be able to help!"

"All right, sounds like we have a few stops to make before we head to the HQ," Blitz said.

"Shouldn't take too long to do those things, right?" Azure called out, running up to her teammates with Frederick following closely behind.

"Oh, good morning, Azure," Blitz said. "I guess you heard what we were talking about?"

"Of course I did!" Azure responded, grinning. "First the dojo, then Stella's house and then we head for the HQ?"

"Yes, I think that's all," Blitz replied, nodding his head.

"Well, let's get going then, shall we?" Azure responded, winking.

It was only a short walk to the dojo. Inside, Hercules and the other Pokémon working at the dojo were helping Pokémon from various rescue teams train like they usually did.

"Oh, hey there, Blitz!" Hercules said, smiling as he noticed the young Shinx and his teammates.

"Hello," Blitz responded, smiling back at his mentor. "I see you're already back to work."

"Yeah, I'm okay now," Hercules replied, nodding his head. "I figured I might as well get back to work right away."

"I see," Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly. "I'm glad you're okay now."

"Sorry for worrying you," Hercules replied, petting Blitz's head.

"Oh, you don't have to apologize or anything," Blitz responded. "You got cursed because you were trying to protect Stella, after all."

"Ah, right," Hercules replied.

"So, looks like everything is fine here," Blitz commented, looking around at some of the other Pokémon working at the dojo.

"Yes," Hercules responded, grinning. "The others have been doing a pretty good job during my absence."

"Of course they have!" Chiaki commented, nodding his head. "Everyone is always doing their best, aren't they?"

"I suppose," Hercules responded, chuckling a little.

"Are we done here now?" Azure asked, gently prodding Blitz with one her paws. "I'm just itching to go on an adventure, you know!"

"Oh? Where?" Frederick asked, turning his head in Azure's direction. "Is it a spot you can't reach?"

"Not that kind of itch, Frederick!" Azure responded, giggling and affectionately patting the young dragon's head. "It's just a figure of speech!"

"Oh," Frederick replied. "You don't need any help reaching it, then?"

"Azure is right; we should probably get going now," Blitz said, nodding his head slightly.

"Good luck on today's missions!" Hercules said, smiling at the group.

"Thanks," Blitz responded, smiling back at his mentor. "I'll be back for more training soon."

"Stop by anytime you and your teammates want!" Hercules replied, waving good-bye as Blitz and his teammates left the dojo.

The next stop was Stella's house, where Samara and her apprentice were currently staying. After another short walk, the five of them found themselves in front of Stella and Bow's house. Blitz cautiously approached the front door and looked inside.

"Um… Hello?" Blitz said, calling out to get the attention of the occupants of the house.

"Oh, hi there, Blitz!" Bow responded, running up to the door.

"Hey there, Bow," Blitz replied. "Can we come in? Chiaki has something he needs to speak to Samara about."

"Oh, of course you can!" Bow responded, smiling. "The town oracle's house is always open for whoever needs our guidance!"

"Thank you," Blitz replied, nodding his head slightly.

"Samara is upstairs, talking to mom about stuff," Bow explained. "Wait here; I'll go get them for you!"

Blitz, Sera, Chiaki, Azure and Frederick entered the house while Bow quickly headed up to the second floor to get her mother and Samara. Malefica was also in the room upstairs, resting in a corner. The other three Pokémon decided not to wake her up, and made their way downstairs to greet their guests.

"I had a feeling you would be coming here today," Stella said, smiling at the group. "Again, thank you all for accepting my mission yesterday and bringing Samara and Malefica here."

"Oh, but we're the ones who should be thanking you!" Blitz responded, looking up at Stella and Samara. "You two are doing your best to put an end to this crisis by helping locate the missing crystals and finding a way to stop Erebos."

"Yeah, we're sort of just doing what we can to help," Sera added, giggling a little.

"Every little bit counts," Samara said, nodding her head slightly. "It is thanks to our combined efforts that we've gotten this far, haven't we?"

"You mean because we're the ones who have retrieved four of the crystals so far?" Azure asked, grinning. "Yeah, I suppose we do deserve a bit of the credit there!"

"Anyways, as for why you are here…" Samara said, hovering over to Chiaki. "Stella has told me about you."

"Do you think you can help me get my memories back?" Chiaki asked, looking up at the Mismagius.

"Stella told me that she didn't sense any signs of mind manipulation when she examined you before," Samara responded, shaking her head. "I don't know if my magic can help you, but I can give it a try, if you want me to."

"Yes, please!" Chiaki replied, nodding his head. "I'm sure you can do it with your amazing magic!"

"All right then," Samara responded, touching Chiaki's forehead with one of her sleeve-like hands. "Close your eyes and I'll try a simple spell to see if we can jog your memory."

Chiaki nodded his head slightly, and closed his eyes as told. Samara then closed her eyes as well, and began chanting a spell…

----

After a few moments, Chiaki could no longer hear Samara's voice. He waited, but couldn't tell if anything was happening. Everything was completely silent. Chiaki wasn't sure if his eyes were still closed or not. Everything was dark. He tried to move, but for some reason his body felt stiff. He couldn't move at all. With nothing else he could do, he decided to just wait for something to happen.

"Samara's spell will probably start taking effect soon," Chiaki thought to himself. "I'll just wait… It's not so bad… I can wait… I don't mind waiting…"

For what felt like an eternity, nothing seemed to be happening at all. Chiaki didn't mind, however. He just kept waiting, and waiting…

"This is fine… Yes, I can just stay like this…" Chiaki thought to himself. "I'll just… I… I…"

Suddenly, Chiaki's thoughts were disturbed by the sound of thunder and pouring rain. He opened his eyes to find himself lying in the middle of a forest, his fur wet from the rain that continued to pour down from the cloudy skies above.

"This is… the mystery dungeon in Meridian Forest!" Chiaki thought, looking around at his surroundings. "Blitz and Sera… this is where I first met them… my friends…"

Chiaki was able to move again without difficulty, and sat up. He then stared down at his own paws, briefly baring his claws before retracting them again. He continued to stare down at his paws, seemingly unaware of everything else happening around him.

"This is me… who I am now…" Chiaki thought, sighing and closing his eyes. "But… I still don't know who I was before… the real me…"

Chiaki opened his eyes, staring up at the sky.

"… The real… me?" Chiaki thought, blinking a few times. "Who I was before… who I am now… which one is the real me?"

Chiaki put his paws over his ears, attempting to block out the sound of the rain. The forest around him was starting to fade away into darkness as he closed his eyes once more…

----

When Chiaki opened his eyes again, he found himself back in Stella's house. Samara was still hovering in front of him, quietly watching him. Chiaki glanced around to see his friends giving him concerned looks. Had Samara's spell failed? Chiaki had hoped that Samara's magic could help him remember at least a few more things about himself, but no new memories had resurfaced.

"… Well?" Samara asked, curiously looking over Chiaki.

"… I don't think it worked," Chiaki responded, shaking his head.

"… I see," Samara replied, sighing. "I'm sorry I couldn't help."

"But why didn't it work?" Chiaki asked, tilting his head slightly. "You were able to help everyone else with your magic, so why didn't it work this time?"

"I do not know," Samara responded, shaking her head. "The spell I just used is a simple spell for remembering dreams or small details, for example where you left a certain small item you just can't find as you are preparing to head out. It should also be sufficient to help remember any information that may have been blocked off by small amounts of mind manipulation, should such a thing have happened."

"Then… Maybe you should try a different spell?" Chiaki asked. "A stronger spell might work!"

"I don't think that would be wise," Samara responded, shaking her head.

"Why not?" Chiaki replied, looking rather confused.

"I'm not sure why, but… I get a strange feeling from you," Samara responded, staring down at the Mienfoo. "As I was casting my spell, I felt as if something was off…"

"What do you mean?" Stella asked, looking over at her friend. "I haven't felt anything unusual from Chiaki…"

"Are you sure about that?" Samara responded, meeting Stella's gaze.

Stella blinked a few times, holding a hand to her chin as she tried to remember if she had ever noticed anything unusual at all about Chiaki. As she thought back to when she first met the young Mienfoo and looked inside his mind, she realized that there was indeed something strange about what she saw back then.

"Chiaki… didn't have any memories from before Blitz and Sera found him," Stella said, looking over at Samara. "I couldn't find anything."

"I see," Samara responded, holding one of her sleeve-like hands to her chin. "That is indeed unusual… You should've been able to find at least traces of his memories, regardless of what may have caused his amnesia."

"Well, he's gotten some memories back," Azure commented, looking over at Chiaki and the other team members. "Isn't that right?"

"Ah, right," Sera added, smiling. "We were able to learn Elina's name because Chiaki remembered her!"

"… Who is this "Elina"?" Samara asked, tilting her head slightly.

"A friend of mine," Chiaki responded, smiling at Samara. "We were friends before I lost my memories too!"

"Ah… Is that so?" Samara replied.

"Yes!" Chiaki responded, nodding his head.

"I see…" Samara replied, looking away. "If that's the case, then…"

"Ooh, what's going on down here?" a high-pitched voice asked, and the others looked up to see that Malefica had woken up and was now floating down to join them. "What have I missed? Why are there so many Pokémon in here?"

"Good morning, Malefica!" Bow said, waving at the Misdreavus.

"Yeah, good morning, or whatever," Malefica responded, glancing over at Bow for a moment before turning back to the others. "Oh, you're the ones from yesterday!"

"We were trying to see if Samara could help Chiaki get his memories back," Sera explained, looking up at the Misdreavus.

"Ooh, really?" Malefica responded, giggling merrily. "Did it work? If not, can I try?"

"No and no," Samara replied, shaking her head. "I haven't even taught you any such spells yet!"

"Teach me now!" Malefica responded, playfully hovering around in the air. "And then I'll help the Mienfoo with his memories!"

"Malefica… is kind of scary…" Frederick muttered, trying to hide behind Azure.

"Well? Are you going to let me try?" Malefica asked, grinning.

"… The answer is still no," Samara responded, sighing.

"Okay, fine," Malefica replied, rolling her eyes. "I'll go find something else to do, then!"

Malefica started floating away, only for Stella to grab hold of her with telekinesis to prevent her from leaving the house.

"What? Hey!" Malefica shouted, trying to free herself from the psychic hold.

"Thank you, Stella," Samara said, before turning back to Chiaki and the others. "Anyways… I'm sorry I couldn't help you."

"It's okay," Chiaki responded, smiling at Samara. "At least you tried!"

"You're… not upset?" Samara asked, tilting her head slightly.

"Nah, I'm fine," Chiaki replied, still smiling. "I'm sure I'll get my memories back eventually!"

"If you… say so…" Samara responded, looking away with a concerned expression.

"Well, I guess that means we're done here!" Azure said, grinning. "Let's head to the rescue team HQ!"

"All right, let's get going," Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly.

"Good luck with today's missions!" Bow said, smiling at Blitz and the others.

"Thanks, Bow," Blitz responded, smiling back at the Gothorita. "Bye for now."

After Blitz and his friends had left, Samara began to gather up her things and turned her attention back to Stella.

"Well… I suppose I've done everything I could here for now," Samara said.

"Eh? We're heading home already?" Malefica asked, looking over at Samara.

"I need to get back to working on the spell to seal Erebos away once more," Samara responded, looking up at her apprentice.

"She's right, you know," Stella added, finally letting go of Malefica. "I wish you two could stay a little longer, but this isn't the time to relax. We need to do everything we can to make sure Erebos is stopped as soon as possible."

"Aw, okay, I guess…" Malefica responded, pouting.

"Don't be upset, Malefica," Bow said, smiling at the Misdreavus. "You two can come and visit again sometime after this is all over, right?"

"Ah, right!" Malefica replied, glancing over at Samara. "We can do that, right?"

"Of course," Samara responded, smiling and nodding her head slightly. "It will be something we can all look forward to."

"Yay!" Malefica replied, happily floating around in circles. "We'll have lots of fun in Fenix Town!"

"As long as you don't get into trouble," Samara said, smirking.

"Yeah, whatever," Malefica responded, hovering over to Bow. "So, see you later, I guess?"

"I guess so," Bow replied, nodding her head. "Let's play together again next time!"

"Okay!" Malefica responded, grinning.

"Keep me updated on the situation with the crystals," Samara said, looking over at Stella.

"Of course," Stella responded, nodding her head. "And you'll let me know how the sealing spell is coming along."

"Indeed," Samara replied, nodding her head. "I hope to finish it soon, but I still can't get it right. However, when I was helping remove Erebos' curses, I managed to get a better look at the dark aura when the spells were still active."

"Ah, right," Stella responded. "All you had to go on before was the plant sample I sent for you to analyze a while back."

"Yes," Samara replied, nodding her head again. "The ancient magic in that sample was enough to confirm that Erebos was indeed the one responsible for these strange events, but I hope I can use the new information I gathered here to complete the spell."

"I know you can do it, Samara," Stella responded, smiling at her.

"I have a question!" Bow said, raising her hand.

"What is it?" Samara responded, looking over at the young Gothorita.

"Once you seal Erebos up again, what will you do with him after that?" Bow asked, tilting her head slightly.

"Ah, you don't need to be concerned about that," Samara responded. "I will not leave anything up to chance. I will make sure that Erebos can never return to cause more chaos again."

"… Okay," Bow replied, nodding her head slightly.

Samara gathered up the rest of her things, and began floating towards the door.

"Well, I suppose I'll ask Kala to send me and Malefica back to Silver Woods now," Samara said, smiling at Stella. "Bye for now, Stella."

"Bye for now," Stella responded, nodding her head slightly.

"Bye-bye!" Malefica said, cheerfully hovering around in circles around Samara as they headed out the door.

"Good luck finishing the spell!" Bow said, waving good-bye at the two ghost-type Pokémon.

And so, the two ghost-types began making their way towards the rescue team HQ. Bow quietly hoped that Malefica wouldn't get into trouble with Kala again, but figured that Kala would just send them home as fast as possible so she could resume her nap like she usually did. That's just how Kala was, after all.

----

The rest of that day was pretty much just a regular day in Fenix Town. The rescue teams returned from their missions and received their rewards, some of them stopping by the café before heading home. As other Pokémon were going to sleep, Stella and Bow were watching the stars. While Stella was trying to seek answers from the stars regarding Chiaki and the location of the remaining crystals, Bow was thinking about how Samara said she would make absolutely sure that Erebos would never return once she had sealed him away. Just what did that entail?

She didn't like how it sounded, but surely it wasn't anything bad, right?

"I see it…" Stella muttered, staring intently at the stars.

"Oh?" Bow said, looking over at Stella. "See what? Is it a crystal?"

"Yes… A crystal hidden in a mystery dungeon…" Stella responded, holding a hand to her chin with a concerned look on her face. "However… if this mystery dungeon is the one I think it is…"

"… Is it a difficult one?" Bow asked, tilting her head slightly. "Even so, I'm sure one of the high-ranked rescue teams can handle it!"

"I hope so," Stella responded. "However, this particular mystery dungeon requires more than just strength…"

Bow focused as Stella explained just which mystery dungeon she had seen in her vision, and what made it so infamous among rescue teams…

----

End of chapter 43

----
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
So it's kinda been like 20 chapters since my last review, and while I won't go into too much detail beyond things from this chapter, I will just say that I rather liked the development that has happened since then, especially the timeskip back revealing where Fenix Town's present troubles originated from, and quite liked watching your characters develop through the broader sweep of your story.

Anyhow, moving onto this last chapter...

"Not really…" Kala replied, yawning. "However, I can tell that it's dark, which means that it is currently night. I can also tell that none of the rescue teams are around at the moment, meaning that no one should be around to disturb my sleep right now."

"Well, I'm here!" Malefica said, giggling. "Is that a problem?"

"Yes, yes it is," Kala responded, her half-open eyes beginning to glow green. "Get out."

Someone is rather protective of her beauty sleep, it seems.

"This is me… who I am now…" Chiaki thought, sighing and closing his eyes. "But… I still don't know who I was before… the real me…"

Chiaki opened his eyes, staring up at the sky.

"… The real… me?" Chiaki thought, blinking a few times. "Who I was before… who I am now… which one is the real me?"

Chiaki put his paws over his ears, attempting to block out the sound of the rain. The forest around him was starting to fade away into darkness as he closed his eyes once more…

So Chiaki used to be different somehow before that fateful night at the beginning of the fic. I'm a little curious as to where this will wind up going, since there's not a lot of sources that Chiaki can piece together his past from that we presently know of.

"Chiaki… didn't have any memories from before Blitz and Sera found him," Stella said, looking over at Samara. "I couldn't find anything."

"I see," Samara responded, holding one of her sleeve-like hands to her chin. "That is indeed unusual… You should've been able to find at least traces of his memories, regardless of what may have caused his amnesia."

"Well, he's gotten some memories back," Azure commented, looking over at Chiaki and the other team members. "Isn't that right?"

"Ah, right," Sera added, smiling. "We were able to learn Elina's name because Chiaki remembered her!"

"… Who is this "Elina"?" Samara asked, tilting her head slightly.

I find it strange that Samara would not have detected the memory of Elina in the void. Is this mismatch deliberate by any chance? Since I'll not sure if it gels with the account Samara gave, assuming she's being truthful.

"Yes," Samara replied, nodding her head again. "The ancient magic in that sample was enough to confirm that Erebos was indeed the one responsible for these strange events, but I hope I can use the new information I gathered here to complete the spell."

"I know you can do it, Samara," Stella responded, smiling at her.

"I have a question!" Bow said, raising her hand.

"What is it?" Samara responded, looking over at the young Gothorita.

"Once you seal Erebos up again, what will you do with him after that?" Bow asked, tilting her head slightly.

"Ah, you don't need to be concerned about that," Samara responded. "I will not leave anything up to chance. I will make sure that Erebos can never return to cause more chaos again."

"… Okay," Bow replied, nodding her head slightly.

That evasiveness from Samara is rather ominous. Whatever that spell is, I can't imagine it must be fun to be on the receiving end of it.

"… Is it a difficult one?" Bow asked, tilting her head slightly. "Even so, I'm sure one of the high-ranked rescue teams can handle it!"

"I hope so," Stella responded. "However, this particular mystery dungeon requires more than just strength…"

Bow focused as Stella explained just which mystery dungeon she had seen in her vision, and what made it so infamous among rescue teams…

I personally would have added a blurb here, or some manner of namedrop to make the ending a bit more dramatic, but I suspect we'll be hearing about why this dungeon is so infamous soon enough in the future.

This was a bit of a slow chapter, which I suspect is being used primarily as a transition and chance to drop a couple subtle hints of things to come more than anything. You seem to have a firm grasp on your characters, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what perilous turn you send this story down next.
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Spiteful Murkrow: Thanks for your review! I'm glad you enjoyed the look into the town's backstory and that you're looking forward to seeing what happens next. The first draft of chapter 44 is coming along nicely so far, but there are some minor details I need to work out. I've been planning out certain scenes that'll be coming up in these next two or three chapters, and I really look forward to finally getting to write those. Other than that, I'm also working on something else, and I hope to have it ready sometime in the near future.

On a non-fanfic note, there's still some school stuff left, and I'll be having another wisdom tooth removed this upcoming Tuesday. I'm not too worried about those things at this point, though. I think I've already made it past the most difficult part when it comes to what's left of the school year.

So, yeah. Just a little update on the situation. I'll keep doing my best, and try to have more chapters ready soon. Hope you guys will look forward to it! :)
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
How fitting that a line of dialogue from Ch. 4 becomes a minor plot point in Ch. 44.

Hey everyone! It feels so good to finally be done with all the school stuff! Ah, I've been looking forward to that for so long! And do you know what else I've been looking forward to? Getting another chapter of Reflecting Balance done for all you guys, of course!

At this point, it has been forty chapters since Frederick's introduction. He and Azure were always intended to become parts of the main characters' rescue team very late in the story. Of course, much has changed since those initial planning stages. As mentioned before, Azure ended up joining the rescue team sooner than I originally intended because it felt like the natural progression of the Character Development she was going through. It took a while for Frederick to really start getting involved in the rescue team stuff, but things have really picked up for him in recent chapters.

As I mentioned before chapter 41, I originally had plans for Frederick to evolve at some point during the story, which were scrapped because there were already so many other plot lines to take care of. Plus, as writing for Era showed me, writing for a character with multiple heads can be complicated.

You guys can probably tell at this point that Frederick will have a bit of character focus during these next few chapters? :p

(He won't be the main focus of these chapters, though.)

Thanks to everyone who has been following the story so far, and if you have any thoughts you'd like to share, feel free to leave a comment! I hope you all enjoy this chapter!



Chapter 44: Frederick, the ghosts aren’t going to eat you!

----

Another new day had begun, and Sera was having breakfast together with her older siblings as usual. She wasn’t paying too much attention to the small talk between her older brothers and sisters as she ate, her thoughts being elsewhere. Flare glanced over at his younger sister, familiar with her usual expressions and her body language. Once they were all done eating, the young Flareon decided to approach her and find out just what was on her mind.

“Is something bothering you?” Flare asked.

“Oh, I’m just wondering what to do…” Sera responded, looking away.

“Do about what?” Flare inquired, tilting his head slightly.

“Well, Blitz has been leading our rescue team for a while now,” Sera responded. “He said it’d only be for a little while, until I was feeling better.”

“I see,” Flare replied, nodding his head slightly. “And how are you feeling now?”

“I’m fine, I guess…” Sera responded, looking down at her paws. “However, Blitz hasn’t asked me to take back the position of leader yet.”

“Have you thought about asking him about it?” Flare asked.

“I was thinking about whether I should do so, but… I’m actually okay with not being the leader,” Sera responded, looking up at Flare. “Blitz is a better leader than me, anyways, but…”

“Ah, I see,” Flare replied. “The issue is that you don’t know how he really feels about this whole thing.”

“I know he didn’t like the idea of being a leader because of the issues with the Luxray pride and all that…” Sera said, her ears drooping down just a little bit. “But… he hasn’t really complained all that much. It might just be because of everything that’s happened recently, with Bow and Hercules and all that…”

“And you’re not sure how to bring the subject up with him; because you’re worried you might upset him?” Flare asked.

“… Wow, you know me really well,” Sera commented, blinking a few times. “So, um… What do you think I should do?”

“I think that’s something you need to figure out on your own,” Flare responded, patting Sera on the head with his paw.

“I guess you’re right…” Sera replied, sighing. “I know I have to talk to him about all of this eventually, even if I’m not sure what to say…”

“Don’t worry too much about the details,” Flare said, smiling at Sera. “Just tell him how you really feel!”

“… Right,” Sera responded, nodding her head slightly. “Well, I’m heading out now.”

“Good luck!” Flare said, still smiling.

“Thanks,” Sera responded, smiling back. “See you later!”

----

As Sera made her way into the town plaza to meet up with her friends, she noticed that a few of the rescue teams standing around and talking amongst themselves. She wondered what was going on, since they had such serious expressions. She soon spotted Blitz and the others standing in the center of the town plaza, glancing around at the other rescue teams with expressions that suggested that they were just as curious as she was as to what was going on with them.

“Good morning, guys,” Sera said, walking up to the others. “Anything happen?”

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” Azure responded, her ears twitching as she tried to listen to the various conversations around them. “It’d be a bit easier if there weren’t more than one conversation to listen to, though.”

“But they’re all talking about the same thing?” Chiaki asked, looking over at Azure.

“Seems that way,” Azure replied, nodding slightly. “From some of the words I keep picking up from each of these groups, it sounds like another crystal has been located, but none of them want to head into the mystery dungeon where it is in order to retrieve it.”

“Whoa, is that what’s going on?” Chiaki asked, looking rather surprised.

“Yeah, she’s right,” another voice responded, and the five turned to see Bow walking up to them.

“Hey there, Bow!” Azure said, smirking. “So, what’s the story?”

“Well, last night, my mom had a vision showing the location of one of the missing crystals, and this morning, we informed the other rescue teams,” Bow explained.

“I see,” Azure responded, nodding slightly. “So, what’s the deal with this mystery dungeon?”

“Why doesn’t anyone want to go there and get the crystal back?” Chiaki asked, tilting his head slightly.

“Have you guys heard about Nightmirror Forest?” Bow responded.

Everyone immediately turned to Blitz.

“Uh… I may have seen the name on the map,” Blitz replied, rubbing his forelegs together. “I don’t really know anything about it, though.”

“Ah, I see,” Bow responded, nodding her head slightly. “Well, you see, this mystery dungeon is notorious for being nearly impossible to get through because of the ghost types living in it.”

“G-G-G-Ghosts?” Frederick said, nervously taking a few steps back.

“Frederick, just why are you afraid of ghosts?” Azure asked, glancing over at him. “You’re part dark type, which gives you the type advantage in a fight against them!”

“So… These ghost type Pokémon are really tough?” Blitz asked, looking over at Bow.

“I’m not sure how strong they are,” Bow responded, shaking her head. “But, it’s not their power level that makes them difficult to deal with.”

“Go on,” Blitz replied.

“These ghost types use their powers to confuse and mislead those that try to explore the mystery dungeon, making it difficult to tell whether you’re even going anywhere or if you are just going around in a circle,” Bow explained. “Most rescue teams that have attempted to explore the place would eventually give up and go home. There are also rarely any missions involving the place, so most rescue teams tend to just avoid the place.”

“But there has to be a way to get through that dungeon, right?” Azure asked, looking over at Bow. “I mean, surely there’s some trick to it, or something?”

“I don’t know too much about it,” Bow responded, holding a hand to her chin. “But… perhaps if you can convince the ghosts to help you instead, then it might be possible to reach the crystal.”

“But ghosts are scary!” Frederick exclaimed, shuddering. “H-How do we convince one to help us?”

“I’m not sure,” Bow replied, shrugging slightly. “Like I said, that’s really all I know…”

“Thank you, Bow,” Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly. “This information has been quite helpful.”

“You’re welcome!” Bow replied, before skipping off happily.

As Bow was heading home, Azure turned to her teammates with a cheerful smile on her face. Blitz had a feeling he knew what she was thinking.

“What are you guys waiting for?” Azure asked, grinning. “Let’s get ready to explore the Nightmirror Forest!”

“Y-You really want to explore a scary place like that!?” Frederick exclaimed.

“Hey, Bow did give us a useful hint!” Azure responded, still grinning. “Come on, somebody has to go get that crystal!”

“N-Not me…” Frederick said, turning around and trying to walk away. “I-I’m not going into a mystery dungeon full of scary ghosts…”

“Oh, yes you are!” Azure responded, grabbing Frederick to keep him from leaving.

“W-What!?” Frederick exclaimed, turning around so that he was facing Azure. “Azure, I… I can’t!”

“You’ve got to face your fears, buddy!” Azure cheerfully replied. “This is a chance for you to overcome your fear of ghosts!”

“It’s not as simple as that!” Frederick responded, shaking his head. “My mom says that it takes time to overcome your fears, and that you should do it carefully, one step at a time!”

“Your mom’s a smart dragon,” Azure replied, nodding slightly. “But I still think you should go.”

“What? Why?” Frederick responded.

“Consider it the first step to overcoming your fears!” Azure replied, affectionately patting Frederick on the head.

“Hey, wait a minute,” Chiaki said, holding a paw to his chin. “What about Samara? Frederick’s not scared of her!”

“Well, she’s friendly,” Frederick replied, lowering his head a little. “It’s the scary ghosts I’m afraid of…”

“… That makes no sense,” Azure responded.

“You know, like Erebos and Malefica!” Frederick said.

“Malefica’s not that scary,” Azure responded. “As for Erebos… I’m not sure if he counts as a ghost type, but I do understand why you’d be scared of him.”

“So, you’ll let me stay here?” Frederick asked with a cautious smile.

“Nope,” Azure replied, grinning. “We’ll need your dark type attacks to deal with wild ghost type Pokémon and whatever else we have to fight in there!”

“Aww…” Frederick responded, sighing.

“… I shouldn’t be going along with this, but Frederick’s dark type attacks would indeed be very useful in this situation,” Blitz commented, holding a paw to his chin. “So, it may be best to bring him along for this one.”

“And besides, it’s not like you’ll be alone in there!” Azure said, patting Frederick’s back comfortingly.

“That’s right,” Sera replied, nodding her head. “We’ll be by your side, so you won’t have to face the ghosts alone!”

“Ah, that’s right…” Frederick responded. “If you guys are with me, then… I guess it’s a little less scary…”

“It’s settled, then!” Azure said, raising her hand. “Come on; let’s go get the supplies we need!”

----

After making a few stops at the shops and the item warehouse, Blitz and his teammates made their way to the rescue team HQ. Mirage and her team, having decided against trying to retrieve the crystal, were looking at some missions on one of the bulletin boards. Blitz and his teammates instead went straight for Kala’s room, but as they got close to the purple curtain, Frederick began to take a few steps back.

“O-On second thought, maybe we should do something else instead,” Frederick said.

“Come on, Frederick,” Azure said, patting the Deino’s back. “You’re a big, brave dragon, aren’t you?”

“… No,” Frederick responded, shaking his head.

“Remember the talk we had about self-confidence?” Azure asked.

“Uh… Yes, but…” Frederick replied, turning away. “You’re better at this than me!”

“Oh, but I’m too impatient and impulsive for a mission like this!” Azure responded, smiling sheepishly. “I’d just get frustrated about not knowing how far into the dungeon we are, and I’d probably mess up our chances of getting the ghost Pokémon of the forest to co-operate with us!”

“… She’s probably right,” Blitz commented, holding a paw to his chin.

“That’s why you’re going on this mission instead of me!” Azure said, grinning. “I believe in you, Frederick! I know you can do it!”

“Even if you say that…” Frederick responded, sighing. “I’m still scared to go, you know?”

“I think all you need is a little push!” Azure replied, smirking. “Here, let me help you out, buddy!”

Azure then took a few steps away, before suddenly charging at Frederick and tackling him with enough force to send him flying into Kala’s room. The other Pokémon in the room stared blankly at the scene, especially as the sound of the young Deino landing on something inside the room was followed by a startled scream.

“AH! THE ZOMBIES ARE BACK!” the startled-awake Kala shrieked as she attempted to get out from underneath the Deino that had just crash-landed on top of her.

“Oh, hey there, Kala…” Frederick said, somewhat dazed. “Are you scared of ghosts too?”

“H-Huh? What’s this about ghosts?” Kala responded, still attempting to push the Deino off of her. “Get off me, will you?”

“Oh, okay…” Frederick replied, getting off of Kala.

“Thank you,” Kala responded, sighing. “Man, what was that all about? If you need to wake me up so I can teleport you somewhere, just shake me by the shoulder or something!”

“Ah, I’m sorry about that!” Azure said, peeking into Kala’s room with a sheepish smile on her face.

“Really, Azure, why does your solution to most problems involve brute strength or your water attacks?” Blitz asked, looking over at Azure with an annoyed look as he entered the room.

“And this is exactly why I shouldn’t go on this mission!” Azure said, chuckling nervously.

“So, where do you want to go?” Kala asked as she hovered in front of the rescue team with her arms crossed.

“Nightmirror Forest,” Chiaki said, looking up at Kala.

“Nightmirror Forest?” Kala repeated, blinking a few times. “Why do you want to go there?”

“Stella says there’s a crystal there,” Sera explained, taking a few steps forward. “We want to try to retrieve it.”

“Hmm… I see,” Kala responded, holding a hand to her chin. “However, if you intend to go there, there’s another place where you need to go first.”

“Oh?” Blitz replied, tilting his head slightly. “Do you know something about this mystery dungeon, Kala?”

Kala hovered up to the large map on the wall, and pointed a finger at one of the marked mystery dungeons on it.

“This is Nightmirror Forest,” Kala said, before moving her finger to another area not far from the forest. “And around this area here, is a Cubone tribe.”

“A… Cubone tribe?” Sera inquired, tilting her head slightly.

“The Cubone and Marowak who live there have developed a special relationship with the ghosts of Nightmirror Forest,” Kala explained, looking over at the five Pokémon. “If you wish to make it through Nightmirror Forest, you will need to ask them for help.”

“I see…” Blitz responded. “So, they know what to do…”

“Whoa, that’s amazing,” Azure said, blinking a few times. “But… if even the town oracle didn’t know about that… Kala, how do you know about this?”

“Ah, I’m glad you asked,” Kala responded, yawning and stretching her arms as she began floating back down to her pillow. “You see, sometime before I moved here, I… I was… and then… something… and…”

Kala fell back down onto her pillow and started snoring lightly, the other Pokémon in the room just standing around awkwardly for a few moments.

“… I guess she’s back to normal now,” Blitz commented, before walking up to Kala and lightly shaking her shoulder. “Um… Kala?”

Kala opened her eyes slightly, and sat up, looking around at the rescue team.

“So, um… Want me to teleport you guys to where the Cubone tribe is?” Kala asked as if nothing had happened.

“… Yes, please,” Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly.

“All right…” Kala replied, drowsily nodding her head. “Leave it to me…”

“Good luck, guys!” Azure said, cheerfully waving to her teammates.

“Thanks, Azure,” Frederick responded with a nervous smile. “I’m probably going to need that…”

In a flash of green light, Blitz, Sera, Chiaki and Frederick were teleported out of the room. As Kala went back to sleep, Azure exited the room and began making her way back to the café. She stopped for a moment, turning back.

“Was I being too hard on him?” Azure muttered, looking slightly concerned. “Ah, well… I’m sure he can handle this. After all, Blitz, Sera and Chiaki are with him… Yeah, he’ll be fine.”

----

In a flash of light, Blitz, Sera, Chiaki and Frederick arrived at their destination. Looking around, they spotted what appeared to be a small village a short distance away from where Kala’s teleport put them. It had to be the home of the Cubone tribe that Kala was talking about. As the four of them began making their way towards the village, they suddenly noticed a brown bipedal Pokémon approaching them. The Pokémon had a white skull-like head, and was carrying a bone in one hand as it approached the rescue team with his eyes closed. It then stopped in front of them, and opened his eyes.

“Visitors…?” the Marowak said, looking over the rescue team. “That’s quite the rare sight around these parts. What could possibly bring you here?”

“An Abra brought us here,” Frederick responded.

“Um… We’re here on an important mission,” Blitz explained, rubbing his forelegs together.

“An important mission…?” the Marowak responded. “Interesting… Tell me more.”

“You may already know this, but the crystals from Axis Tower were stolen a while back, and we’ve been trying to retrieve them so they can be returned to their rightful place,” Blitz explained. “One of them is apparently hidden within the deepest part of Nightmirror Forest, and a friend of ours told us that you guys knew how to navigate the forest.”

“So, please,” Sera said, looking up at the Marowak. “Please help us out!”

“I see…” the Marowak responded, holding a hand to his chin. “A rescue team on an important mission, risking everything in order to protect their loves ones…”

“Uh… I guess so,” Blitz replied, nodding his head slightly.

“… Oh, such noble Pokémon! And at such a young age too!” the Marowak exclaimed, staring wide-eyed at the rescue team. “Being in the presence of such courageous Pokémon… it fills me with admiration!”

“… Okay,” Blitz responded, glancing around and taking a step back.

“Please tell me!” the Marowak said, grabbing one of Blitz’s forelegs and gazing into his golden eyes. “Tell me how I may be of assistance, noble heroes!”

“Um… Could you take us to your leader?” Blitz responded, staring nervously at the Marowak.

“Yes, little blue one!” the Marowak replied, nodding his head. “Follow me!”

As the group made their way through the village, several young Cubone cast curious glances in their direction as they walked by. Chiaki cheerfully waved at a few of the Cubone they walked past, before they soon reached the leader of the tribe. The leader of the tribe was wearing a necklace made with dark blue gems. If they were of the type of gems that glowed in the dark, they would probably be giving off a soft glow at night.

“Leader, a rescue team from Fenix Town has come to seek our help!” the Marowak exclaimed, grinning as he pointed to the four of them with his bone.

“A rescue team…?” the tribe leader inquired, looking over at Blitz and the others. “Rescue teams don’t usually bother coming all the way out here.”

“Well, you see, we have this important mission…” Blitz explained, rubbing the yellow rings on his forelegs together. “Our friend Kala told us that the Cubone tribe here knew how to get through Nightmirror Forest.”

“I see,” the leader replied, nodding his head slightly. “And what is this mission you speak of? Did another group of explorers get themselves lost in there, perhaps?”

“No, sir,” Blitz responded, shaking his head. “We need to retrieve a crystal that was taken from Axis Tower.”

“A crystal from the Axis Tower…?” the tribe leader replied, looking surprised. “Are you telling me that some Pokémon actually stole the crystals from that place?”

“You hadn’t heard?” Blitz asked. “It’s been a while since it happened… We’ve been doing our best to retrieve the crystals.”

“We’ve managed to get four of them back so far,” Sera added.

“I see…” the tribe leader responded, holding a hand to his chin. “This does explain the strange things that have been happening in some of the other areas near here…”

“You mean… distortions in space?” Blitz inquired.

“Yes,” the tribe leader responded, nodding his head. “Some of the Cubone have reported seeing small distortions in the fabric of space in more and more places lately.”

“We need to get the rest of the crystals back,” Chiaki said, looking concerned. “Most of the distortions so far may have been small, but who knows how long it’ll stay that way?”

“Indeed,” the tribe leader responded, nodding his head again. “I’ll have someone guide you through the dungeon. With the current situation, I’m sure the ghosts won’t make it too difficult for you guys.”

“I-I hope not…” Frederick muttered, shivering a little.

“Please, give me this task!” the Marowak that had brought the rescue team here exclaimed, looking up at the tribe leader hopefully. “The thought of assisting these noble heroes fills me with determination!”

“I’m sure it does,” the tribe leader responded dryly. “If you want to help, then go find Lodestone and let him know we need his help.”

“Lodestone…?” the other Marowak replied, looking a bit disappointed.

“You will get your chance someday, but for now, leave this to him,” the tribe leader said.

“… All right!” the other Marowak responded, nodding his head. “I’ll go get him right away!”

The other Marowak quickly headed off somewhere to look for this Marowak called Lodestone.

“Lodestone has helped guide many Cubone through the ritual in the forest,” the tribe leader explained to the rescue team. “He knows the ghost-type Pokémon well, so you’ll be in good hands.”

“Ah, I see,” Blitz responded, rubbing his forelegs together. “So, um… What was that about a ritual?”

“Once a year, the Cubone that have reached a certain age are accompanied by a Marowak guide as they head into the Nightmirror Forest,” the Marowak tribe leader explained. “The ghost-types test their courage and determination as they make their way through the dungeon.”

“Aren’t they scared of t-the ghosts…?” Frederick asked.

“Why would they be?” the tribe leader responded. “The ghost-types of the forest have been our comrades for a long time.”

“I see,” Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly.

“You hear that, Frederick?” Chiaki asked, smiling as he looked over at the Deino. “The ghost Pokémon of the forest must be really good friends with the Cubone if they help out with this ceremony every year!”

“Yeah, it sounds like they’re nice Pokémon,” Sera added. “I don’t think there’s anything to be scared of!”

“This necklace was a present from the Spiritomb that lives in the deepest part of Nightmirror Forest,” the tribe leader explained, holding up part of the necklace he was wearing. “She gave it to me after I became the new leader of this tribe.”

“A Spiritomb?” Blitz inquired, tilting his head slightly. “Is she the leader of the ghosts, or something?”

“Close to it,” the tribe leader responded, nodding his head. “She is one of the oldest ghost Pokémon of the forest, looked up to by the other ghost-types.”

“I see,” Blitz replied.

“She currently goes by the name “Nereza”,” the tribe leader said. “Supposedly, she changes it every one-hundred-and-eight years.”

As the tribe leader finished his explanation, another Marowak walked over to them. The Marowak was carrying a bone with an orange gem tied to one end of it.

“You called for me?” the Marowak asked.

“Lodestone, I need you to guide this rescue team through Nightmirror Forest,” the tribe leader explained. “They need to retrieve a crystal that was taken from the Axis Tower and hidden somewhere in the forest.”

“Understood,” Lodestone responded, nodding his head slightly.

“Considering the circumstances, the ghosts shouldn’t make things too difficult for you,” the leader said.

“I-I hope you’re right…” Frederick responded nervously.

“He is right,” Lodestone replied, looking over at the young Deino. “Nereza and the other ghosts will surely assist us in the search for this crystal.”

“Thanks for helping us with this,” Blitz said, looking up at Lodestone.

“There is no need to thank me,” Lodestone responded. “Rescue teams do their best for the sake of all Pokémon in this region, don’t they?”

“I-I suppose,” Blitz replied, smiling sheepishly.

“Let’s do our best together,” Lodestone said. “I’ll meet you by the entrance to the mystery dungeon once I’ve prepared my supplies.”

“Oh, that’s not necessary,” Chiaki responded before pointing to the bag Blitz was carrying. “We brought items!”

“I can see that,” Lodestone replied, nodding his head slightly. “However, I’d still like to bring some items of my own, even if this mission should be an easy one.”

“Okay,” Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly.

“The entrance to the dungeon is over that way,” Lodestone explained, pointing his bone in the direction of the forest. “You can’t miss it.”

“Got it,” Blitz responded, nodding his head with a determined look in his eyes. “We’ll meet you there.”

----

After a short walk from the Cubone tribe’s home, Blitz and his teammates found themselves in front of the entrance to Nightmirror Forest. They just needed to wait for Lodestone to show up before they could head inside. Frederick was shivering in fright at the thought of encountering ghosts inside the forest, while Chiaki was trying to reassure him that things would be okay. Sera sat down next to Blitz, looking up at the two tall trees on each side of the entrance to the mystery dungeon.

“… Are you nervous?” Sera asked, looking over at Blitz.

“… A little,” Blitz responded, rubbing one foreleg against the other. “But I’m sure we’ll be fine. Lodestone seems to have a lot of experience with this dungeon.”

“I see,” Sera replied, nodding her head slightly. “All we have to do is follow his lead, I guess…”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Blitz responded, taking a deep breath.

“… Do you think Frederick will be okay in there?” Sera asked, glancing over at their other two teammates.

“Well, at least he knows attacks that will be super effective against the ghost-types,” Blitz responded. “If anything, Chiaki might have a more difficult time since he doesn’t know many attacks that would be effective against ghosts.”

“Oh,” Sera replied, turning back to Blitz. “I didn’t even think of that.”

“However, since Lodestone said the ghost-types would probably co-operate once we explained the situation to them, we probably won’t have to face too many battles,” Blitz said.

“Oh, right,” Sera responded, smiling at Blitz. “Guess we won’t have too big a challenge with retrieving the crystal this time around!”

“Yeah…” Blitz replied, looking away. “At least, I hope that’s the case…”

Blitz noticed an orange light in the corner of his eye, and turned to see Lodestone approaching them. A small sack was now tied to his bone club, while the orange gem on top of it was shining brightly.

“Sorry for the wait,” Lodestone said as he walked up to the rescue team. “Is everyone ready to go?”

“I-I’m not…” Frederick muttered, shaking his head.

“Frederick, the ghosts aren’t going to eat you!” Chiaki said, petting the Deino’s back. “The Marowak told us they were friendly just a few minutes ago!”

“Y-Yeah, they’re friends with the Cubone,” Frederick responded. “B-But… we’re not Cubone…”

“Don’t worry!” Chiaki replied, grinning. “I’m sure they’ll be our friends too!”

“Come on, you two!” Sera said, waving her paw at Chiaki and Frederick. “Let’s get going now that everyone’s here!”

“Yes, we shouldn’t waste any more time,” Lodestone added, looking at the entrance to the mystery dungeon. “Come, follow me.”

Lodestone vanished from sight as he stepped through the entrance to the dungeon, soon followed by Blitz and Sera.

“Come on, let’s go,” Chiaki said, smiling at Frederick. “The sooner we get there, the sooner we can leave!”

“Oh, good point…” Frederick responded, nodding his head. “All right, let’s go.”

The two quickly made their way into the dungeon and caught up with the other three Pokémon at the first floor of the mystery dungeon. Trees were forming the labyrinth around them, as Lodestone stepped up and cleared his throat.

“Ghost type Pokémon of Nightmirror Forest!” Lodestone called out. “It’s me, Lodestone.”

There was no reply. Blitz, Sera and Chiaki looked around, but couldn’t see any other Pokémon around.

“This rescue team needs your help,” Lodestone called out, looking for signs of his ghostly allies. “You may or may not already be aware of this, but an important artifact has been hidden somewhere within this forest. You need to help us look for it!”

There was still no reply. Blitz couldn’t tell what Lodestone was thinking, but could tell from the way Lodestone was now looking around that something wasn’t right.

“… Maybe they’re not here?” Frederick suggested in a half-hopeful tone.

“… The atmosphere feels different somehow,” Lodestone said, glancing around. “Let’s head deeper into the dungeon.”

“O-Okay,” Blitz responded, nodding his head.

Unbeknownst to Lodestone and the rescue team, they were being watched as they walked away to explore the rest of the floor. Even as they left, the three Pokémon in the shadows refused to leave their hiding spots.

“So… What should we do?” a female voice whispered to the other two Pokémon.

“Those Pokémon don’t look that strong,” a male voice commented.

“That’s really hard to tell, you know,” a second male voice responded. “We of all Pokémon should know that appearances can be deceiving!”

“… He has a point,” the female voice commented, sighing. “I guess we have no choice, do we?”

“I guess not,” the first male voice responded, shrugging slightly.

“Then it’s settled,” the second male said. “We must do what we can for Nereza’s sake!”

“Yes!” the other two voices replied affirmatively.

The three voices continued whispering amongst themselves in the darkness, working out a plan for how they would deal with the rescue team that had entered the forest. They knew they would have to resort to tactics they didn’t normally use, but reminded themselves that it was all for the sake of the ones they wanted to protect as they set off to put their plan into motion…

----

End of chapter 44

----
 
Last edited:

Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
Well this is a touch on the late side, but I quite enjoyed reading this chapter and felt that it was only appropriate to leave some thoughts here.

“I think all you need is a little push!” Azure replied, smirking. “Here, let me help you out, buddy!”

Azure then took a few steps away, before suddenly charging at Frederick and tackling him with enough force to send him flying into Kala’s room. The other Pokémon in the room stared blankly at the scene, especially as the sound of the young Deino landing on something inside the room was followed by a startled scream.

Azure's literal-mindedness here made me giggle, as did the aftermath with Kala.

“So, where do you want to go?” Kala asked as she hovered in front of the rescue team with her arms crossed.

“Nightmirror Forest,” Chiaki said, looking up at Kala.

“Nightmirror Forest?” Kala repeated, blinking a few times. “Why do you want to go there?”

Well with a name like that, you're bound to scare off would-be tourists!

“This is Nightmirror Forest,” Kala said, before moving her finger to another area not far from the forest. “And around this area here, is a Cubone tribe.”

“A… Cubone tribe?” Sera inquired, tilting her head slightly.

“The Cubone and Marowak who live there have developed a special relationship with the ghosts of Nightmirror Forest,” Kala explained, looking over at the five Pokémon. “If you wish to make it through Nightmirror Forest, you will need to ask them for help.”

Oh this will be fun to see, and the symbiosis between the two seems to make a lot of sense considering who they are as Pokemon.

“Please, give me this task!” the Marowak that had brought the rescue team here exclaimed, looking up at the tribe leader hopefully. “The thought of assisting these noble heroes fills me with determination!”

“I’m sure it does,” the tribe leader responded dryly. “If you want to help, then go find Lodestone and let him know we need his help.”

“Lodestone…?” the other Marowak replied, looking a bit disappointed.

“You will get your chance someday, but for now, leave this to him,” the tribe leader said.

“… All right!” the other Marowak responded, nodding his head. “I’ll go get him right away!”

I'll admit, I felt kinda sorry for the guy getting his enthusiasm punctured like that. Will he be showing up again, or is he a one-scene wonder?

“Sorry for the wait,” Lodestone said as he walked up to the rescue team. “Is everyone ready to go?”

“I-I’m not…” Frederick muttered, shaking his head.

Frederick, the ghosts aren’t going to eat you!” Chiaki said, petting the Deino’s back. “The Marowak told us they were friendly just a few minutes ago!”

“Y-Yeah, they’re friends with the Cubone,” Frederick responded. “B-But… we’re not Cubone…”

Yay, title drops! And I am curious if Frederick's fear of ghosts is the product of something childish (i.e. fear of the dark), or if he had some manner of bad experience with Ghost-Types in the past.

“So… What should we do?” a female voice whispered to the other two Pokémon.

“Those Pokémon don’t look that strong,” a male voice commented.

“That’s really hard to tell, you know,” a second male voice responded. “We of all Pokémon should know that appearances can be deceiving!”

“… He has a point,” the female voice commented, sighing. “I guess we have no choice, do we?”

“I guess not,” the first male voice responded, shrugging slightly.

“Then it’s settled,” the second male said. “We must do what we can for Nereza’s sake!”

“Yes!” the other two voices replied affirmatively.

The three voices continued whispering amongst themselves in the darkness, working out a plan for how they would deal with the rescue team that had entered the forest. They knew they would have to resort to tactics they didn’t normally use, but reminded themselves that it was all for the sake of the ones they wanted to protect as they set off to put their plan into motion…

Well, that doesn't bode well at all. I do wonder how Lodestone's gonna take finding out that things have changed with the local Ghost-Types?

Keep up the good work! I'll be looking forward to what comes next both in Nightmirror and beyond.
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
This probably would've been a good Halloween-ish chapter.

Spiteful Murkrow: Thanks for your reply! I'm glad you enjoyed chapter 44. And to answer your questions, that other Marowak might show up again in the future, I'm not entirely sure myself yet. The reason for Frederick's fear of ghosts will be hinted at in chapter 45, and as for what the ghost-types of the forest are up to... Well, you'll just have to read this next chapter to find out!

Yes, that's right. Chapter 45 is finally here! I didn't expect to take so long finishing this chapter, but at least I finally did get it done. I also recently took a look at previous chapters of this story, and wrote down a list of all the important events from each chapter so far so I could better keep track of things. In the process, I found certain details that gave me more inspiration for certain scenes in this chapter that I have really been looking forward to write. I'm really excited about sharing this chapter with you guys, and I hope you'll enjoy it!

Also, this is the first time in the story where recovering the crystal takes more than two chapters. I felt that the previous part where a crystal was retrieved may have been a bit rushed, but at the same time, considering what Sera was going through in those chapters, it probably would've been a bit much if I had made it one more chapter. For this, however, I knew that two chapters simply wouldn't be enough for what I wanted to do here.

Thanks to everyone who has been following the story so far, and I hope you're enjoying it so far! Feel free to leave a review/comment if you have any thoughts you'd like to share about my story! I'd really like to know what you guys think!

----

Chapter 45: You know you can't escape your destiny.

----

The Nightmirror Forest was said to be full of ghost-type Pokémon capable of creating illusions to mislead travelers, making it difficult to reach the depths of the forest. However, as far as Blitz could tell, this wasn't any different from any other mystery dungeons he and his teammates had explored so far. They had gotten through the first few floors without any difficulty, and that worried him. He could tell from the subtle changes in Lodestone's stoic expressions as they kept walking that something wasn't right.

Blitz listened closely and kept a look out for any signs of other Pokémon in the dungeon, but so far, there weren't any to be seen. In fact, they hadn't even seen a single wild Pokémon yet. While Frederick was relieved to not have to deal with any ghost-type Pokémon, the lack of wild Pokémon just made it all seem much weirder.

"Still no signs of anyone…" Blitz said, looking around.

"Where could they all be?" Sera asked, looking a bit concerned.

"This is unusual," Lodestone said, putting his free hand to his chin. "They should have at least given us some sort of signal by now…"

"Is it really a problem?" Frederick asked, smiling. "We'll get this done faster if we don't have to deal with any scary ghosts, right?"

"Hmm… Let's keep going," Lodestone said, looking around. "We need to find out what's going on here."

"You're worried about your ghost-type friends, aren't you?" Chiaki asked, looking up at the Marowak.

Lodestone didn't answer the question, and simply kept following the rescue team as they explored more of the mystery dungeon.

"… Could Erebos' magic have done this?" Sera wondered out loud, glancing around and moving a bit closer to Blitz. "He did something to the other dungeons we retrieved a crystal from, after all…"

"You may be onto something there," Blitz responded, glancing at Sera behind him. "I wonder what he could've done to leave this place so empty, though…"

"Did he scare the ghosts away…?" Frederick mused. "He's probably scary enough to do that, isn't he…?"

Blitz was about to say something when he suddenly spotted a shadow moving around in the distance. They moved forward to investigate, moving into another section of the floor. The room seemed to be empty, however.

"I guess it must've gotten away…" Blitz muttered, glancing around. "Wonder which way it went?"

"I wouldn't know," Frederick responded, shuddering. "It is really hard to pick up on a ghost-type's scent, meaning they could be anywhere and we wouldn't know it…"

"Hello? Is anyone here?" Chiaki called out, looking around. "We won't hurt you, or anything!"

"And w-we'd appreciate if you didn't hurt us either…" Frederick added. "Please, don't eat us… I really don't want to get eaten…"

Lodestone suddenly motioned with his free hand for the others to be quiet, and looked around. A faint whispering could be heard from somewhere.

"G-G-Ghosts!" Frederick gasped, shivering.

"What are they saying?" Chiaki whispered, looking around curiously for the source of the noise.

"I think it's coming from over there," Blitz said, pointing his paw towards one of the other paths.

"Let's go over there, then," Sera responded.

"This behavior is highly unusual," Lodestone said as the group continued making their way through the floor. "We should be careful."

The group soon entered another section of the floor, in which the stairs leading to the next floor was located.

"… They just led us to the stairs?" Sera asked, tilting her head slightly. "I thought this would be leading to something a bit more exciting."

"Like what?" Chiaki responded, curiously looking over at Sera.

All of a sudden, purple gas started leaking out from the walls of the labyrinth. Lodestone and the rescue team looked around as several dark orbs with eyes and mouths formed from the purple gas, realizing that they were surrounded by Gastly.

"Is this… a Monster House?" Blitz wondered out loud, looking around as several Gastly hovered towards him and his teammates while laughing eerily.

"Do I have beautiful eyes?" one of the Gastly asked, her big eyes glowing as she hovered towards Chiaki. "Take a good look now…"

"Don't look at their eyes!" Lodestone shouted, before noticing that Frederick was running away in the direction they had come from. "Hey, what are you doing!? Get back here!"

Lodestone sighed and looked around at the Gastly surrounding the other three members of the rescue team.

"Of all the things that could happen…" Lodestone muttered.

"Lodestone, go after him!" Blitz shouted, making his fur shine brightly in order to temporarily stun some of the Gastly surrounding him and Sera. "We can handle things here in the meantime!"

"If you say so…" Lodestone responded, heading off as fast as he could in the direction Frederick ran off in.

It didn't take long before he found the young Deino sitting by himself in the previous section of the floor, breathing rapidly. The Marowak shook his head, before walking up to and gently placing his free hand on the Deino's back.

"You shouldn't have run away like that," Lodestone said. "In situations like these, it is best to stay together."

"I-I'm sorry…" Frederick responded, starting to calm down a little. "I… I panicked…"

"You are part of their rescue team, are you not?" Lodestone asked.

"Um… I'm not sure, actually…" Frederick responded, shaking his head slightly. "I've joined them on missions before, but…"

"Well, either way they clearly think of you as a friend they can trust," Lodestone replied.

"I… I guess so…" Frederick responded, sighing. "Oh, why am I so scared of ghosts!?"

"Why, indeed," Lodestone replied, shrugging slightly. "However, we can discuss that later. For now, we'd better hurry back and help the others."

"O-Okay…" Frederick responded, nodding his head slightly.

As they began heading back to the room with the stairs, Lodestone immediately noticed that it was way too quiet over there. No sounds of a rescue team fighting off multiple Gastly to be heard.

"… No one is here," Lodestone observed, looking around at the empty room.

"T-They're gone!?" Frederick exclaimed. "Did the ghosts eat them!?"

"No, of course not," Lodestone responded, shaking his head. "I'm not sure where they all went, but chances are the ghost-types have taken your friends to another part of the dungeon."

"W-Why would they do that?" Frederick asked, staying a bit closer to Lodestone than the Marowak was comfortable with.

"Perhaps they want to test them," Lodestone responded, choosing not to make a comment about his personal space seeing as they both currently had bigger concerns. "However, since this isn't one of our rituals, I'm not sure why they'd do that…"

"S-So, what should we do, then?" Frederick asked. "Do we just keep heading deeper into the dungeon…?"

"For now, that seems to be our only option," Lodestone responded, nodding his head and looking towards the stairs. "Hopefully, we'll find your friends and get some answers about what exactly is going on."

"O-Okay…" Frederick replied, taking a deep breath. "I… I promise I won't run away again."

Lodestone and Frederick walked up the stairs to the next floor, and began their search for their missing teammates. Frederick tried not to think about how scared he was as they explored more of the dungeon, while hoping his friends were okay…

----

Chiaki opened his eyes slightly, as he found himself lying on his stomach in the grass. Looking around at the walls of trees surrounding him, he remembered where he was and quickly sat up. However, he couldn't see his teammates or the Marowak that had accompanied them into this mystery dungeon anywhere. He couldn't see any stairs nearby either, meaning this had to be another part of the dungeon.

"… What happened…?" Chiaki wondered out loud, looking around. "How'd I get here… and where are the others?"

He got onto his feet, trying to remember what had happened.

"Hmm… I remember looking into one of the Gastly's eyes," Chiaki muttered, holding a paw to his chin. "… But I have no idea what happened after that."

He sighed and shook his head. It seemed there was only one path to take out of the section of mystery dungeon he was in.

"I need to find everyone," Chiaki said as he started running down the path. "They might need my help!"

To begin with, Chiaki kept running as he looked around and called out for his friends. However, there were no signs of any of his friends. As he gradually had to start slowing down, he began to wonder how big this floor was. He hadn't seen any stairs yet, and most of the rooms seemed to be about the same size, making them a bit difficult to tell apart. Blitz was carrying their supplies, so he couldn't use any items to figure out where he was either.

"What is with this floor…?" Chiaki wondered, looking around and rubbing the back of his head.

"I don't know!" a second voice responded, much to Chiaki's surprise.

"Huh? There's somebody else in here?" Chiaki asked, as he heard the sounds of something approaching him from behind.

Chiaki quickly turned out to see who was on this floor with him, and was quite surprised to discover another Mienfoo standing behind him. The second Mienfoo just smiled and waved at him.

"Um… Hello," Chiaki said, waving back at the other Mienfoo. "Didn't expect to see another Mienfoo in here… Who are you?"

"Who, me?" the other Mienfoo responded, tilting his head slightly. "Don't you recognize me? I'm you!"

"You're… me?" Chiaki replied, blinking a few times. "But… I'm me…"

"That's right!" the other Chiaki responded, nodding his head.

"But… how can both of us be…?" Chiaki muttered, tilting his head slightly. "Is this a dream…?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," the other Chiaki replied, shrugging slightly. "I just know I want to get out of here and back to the others."

"Yeah, same here," Chiaki responded, nodding his head. "Maybe you can help me look for them?"

"Of course," the other Chiaki replied, smiling and nodding his head. "After all, I know how important they all are to you."

"Well, if you're me, I guess you would know that," Chiaki responded, giving a confused chuckle.

"Yes, that's how it is," the other Chiaki replied, still smiling. "I know everything about you."

"Really…?" Chiaki responded, holding a hand to his chin. "Then, perhaps… You know anything about who I was before I lost my memories?"

"Um… Do you really want your memories back?" the other Chiaki asked, looking away with a concerned expression. "I mean, you have new memories now, right? Isn't that enough?"

"What do you mean?" Chiaki responded, tilting his head.

"Getting your memories back means you may have to leave your friends," the other Chiaki said, staring into Chiaki's eyes. "I know you already know that."

"Ah, well… I guess so," Chiaki responded, rubbing the back of his head.

"You want to stay with them forever, don't you?" the other Chiaki asked, grinning.

"… I… I do want to stay with Blitz, Sera and everyone else in Fenix Town," Chiaki responded, staring down at the grass. "But…"

"I know," the other Chiaki said, nodding his head slightly. "Deep down, you know that there's somewhere else you should be, don't you?"

Chiaki looked away from his doppelganger, unsure how to answer his question. Before, he hadn't made any effort to regain his memories because he had no idea where to even begin. For a while, his only lead was Elina, who couldn't talk. Since she couldn't tell him anything at the time, he had figured that he could just wait. However, things were different now. Elina had learned to communicate via telepathy. She could tell him the truth now. Chiaki could finally learn who he really was.

"Who I was before…who I am now… which is the real me?"

Chiaki shuddered a bit as he thought about how he didn't really know anything about himself. Normally, it didn't bother him much. When he was spending time with his friends, he didn't really think much about it. However, when Sera and Blitz were struggling with their own problems, it had occurred to Chiaki how he couldn't really relate to what either of them was going through. He wanted to help them, but he didn't know how. Even now, he wasn't entirely sure what was going through their minds…

"Do you really think that getting your memories back will allow you to understand them better?" the other Chiaki asked, staring eerily at Chiaki.

"W-What…?" Chiaki responded, caught off-guard by how his doppelganger had seemingly read his mind. "I… I don't know?"

"We both know that you can't keep delaying the inevitable," the doppelganger said, closing his eyes and holding a paw to his chest. "Part of you already knows the truth, but doesn't want to accept it!"

Chiaki gasped and his eyes widened as he felt something inside him react to the doppelganger's statement. He shakily placed his paw on his chest, mirroring his doppelganger's movement.

"Part of me… already knows the truth…?" Chiaki muttered.

The doppelganger just nodded his head. Chiaki closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

"Perhaps you're right…" Chiaki said, faintly recalling a shadow looming over him. "A part of me… may have known all along…"

"So, what will you do?" the other Chiaki asked, crossing his arms. "Will you choose to seek out the truth? Will you accept it?"

----

In another part of the mystery dungeon, Blitz was attempting to track down his friends on one of the floors. However, he couldn't seem to pick up any of their scents, nor were there any other traces of them on this particular floor. He hadn't found any stairs leading to another floor either, so all he could do for now was keep looking around and hope he found something. He examined the rooms closely, checking for anything that might be hidden in case whoever brought him here had hidden the stairs.

"I hope the others are okay…" Blitz muttered, sighing as he continued looking around.

He also kept an eye out for anything else suspicious, in case the ghost-type Pokémon they fought before were planning another ambush. He was fairly certain that this was Erebos' doing. The way Erebos kept setting up his traps in the dungeons where he hid the crystals made it seem like the dark spirit was treating all of this like some twisted game.

"Well, if this is a game, we can't let him win," Blitz muttered under his breath as he kept walking.

Suddenly, he noticed what appeared to be a glowing orb of yellow light in the distance. It seemed to be moving down one of the paths, and Blitz quietly began following it. He slowly crept forward, trying to get closer to the mysterious light without being noticed. Blitz soon noticed that the light seemed to be attached to something, and soon he could clearly make out a familiar-looking figure.

"That's… a Luxray," Blitz thought, quietly observing the larger Pokémon. "Why is there a Luxray in here?"

Blitz wasn't entirely sure whether to approach the Luxray and ask if he knew anything about what was going on, or to try to avoid him. The already strange situation he had found himself in just seemed to be getting even stranger. Before he could give much more thought to it, however, the Luxray suddenly turned his head and looked over at where Blitz was currently hiding. Realizing that he had been spotted, Blitz quietly stepped out from his hiding spot.

"… Blitz?" the Luxray said, taking a few steps closer. "Is that you?"

Blitz gasped and his eyes widened in shock as the Luxray spoke to him. It wasn't just the fact that the Luxray knew his name without being told, but because Blitz also immediately recognized the Luxray's voice.

"D-Dad!?" Blitz exclaimed, shaking his head in disbelief. "W-What are you… why are you here…?"

"I was just about to ask you the same," the Luxray responded, seeming unusually calm about the situation. "Shouldn't you be home with your mother and Lita?"

"Oh, I… I, um… things were pretty difficult at home, so my mom sent me off to Fenix Town to train," Blitz explained, looking away from his father while rubbing the yellow rings on his forelegs together. "It's… kind of difficult to explain."

"I see," the Luxray responded, nodding his head. "So, you've been living on your own in Fenix Town, huh?"

"At first, yes…" Blitz replied, nodding his head slightly. "But I have a roommate now… his name is Chiaki. He's a Mienfoo."

"Ah, a friend of yours?" the Luxray asked.

"Well, I guess so," Blitz responded, still not looking up at his father. "We're both in the same rescue team."

"You're in a rescue team?" the Luxray asked, taking a step closer to Blitz.

"Y-Yes…" Blitz responded, nervously taking a step back. "My friend Sera was the one who came up with it. She's an Eevee."

"I see," the Luxray replied, holding a paw to his chin. "So, is Sera the leader of your rescue team, or…?"

"Uh… I guess she is," Blitz responded, looking a bit uncomfortable.

"Is that so," the Luxray replied, pointing a paw at the rescue team's badge on the bag Blitz was carrying. "Then shouldn't she be the one carrying that?"

"Oh, well… um… I've been leading the team on our missions for the past few days, while Sera has been dealing with some… uh… personal things," Blitz explained, still looking away.

"Ah, I see," the Luxray responded, smiling. "Good to hear that you've been getting the training you need. Surely your leadership skills have been a good help for the team."

"H-Huh?" Blitz replied, nervously looking up at the Luxray. "N-No… This is just a temporary thing… Sera is the leader of this team, not me…"

"Still, it's good that you're getting experience with leading this rescue team," the Luxray responded, still smiling eerily. "After all, you are going to be the leader of Lightning Plateau's Luxray pride someday."

"I… I…" Blitz stuttered, taking a few more steps backwards. "I don't want…"

"Blitz, just accept it," the Luxray said, staring down at Blitz. "You know you can't escape your destiny."

Blitz gasped and curled up on the ground, staring blankly up at the Luxray.

----

Sera groaned in frustration as she found herself in yet another empty room, and no sign of her friends anywhere. She was starting to wonder if she was even getting anywhere, or if she had just been wandering around in circles. She sat down and took a deep breath, trying to calm herself down before continuing her search for the others. She looked around at the available paths, but doubted any of them would lead her anywhere. There had to be a way out of this labyrinth somewhere, though. If only she could find it…

"It looks like you could use some help," a familiar female voice called out from somewhere behind, and Sera immediately turned around to see who it was.

"Amethyst?" Sera said, blinking a few times at the unexpected sight of the Espeon in front of her.

"Sera, how did you get yourself into this mess?" Amethyst asked, looking down at her sister curiously. "And where are your friends?"

"I wish I knew," Sera responded, sighing. "I can't find them anywhere…"

"My, that is quite the problem," Amethyst replied, looking concerned. "I hope they are unharmed."

"Yeah, me too," Sera responded, nodding her head. "Something really strange is going on here…"

"Well, I guess I'll have to help you look, then," Amethyst said, smiling at Sera.

"Uh… Thanks," Sera responded, tilting her head slightly. "But, Amethyst… Why are you here?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Amethyst asked, still smiling. "You always rely on others, because you lack confidence and the necessary skill to do anything on your own."

"… You don't have to put it so bluntly," Sera responded dryly, her ears drooping down a little. "Are you really Amethyst?"

"What do you mean?" Amethyst asked, tilting her head slightly while still smiling sweetly.

"You're acting awfully strange," Sera responded, glaring at the Espeon. "For starters, how would Amethyst even know where I am right now? I usually don't decide on what missions I'll take until after I've already left the house!"

"… Anything else?" Amethyst asked.

"I know my big sister, okay?" Sera responded, pointing a paw at the Espeon. "And you are not my sister!"

"My, I'm impressed," the Espeon said, still smiling. "It didn't take you long to figure it out! Well done!"

"Enough of that," Sera responded sternly. "Tell me where my friends are!"

"Ah, right, your friends," the Espeon replied, its voice suddenly getting deeper as it stopped trying to imitate the voice of Amethyst. "I suppose you deserve an explanation for what is going on here."

"Yeah, you better explain!" Sera responded, nodding her head before pointing her paw at the Espeon once more. "Also, it feels weird hearing some stranger's voice coming out of my sister's mouth. Show me what you really look like!"

"Oh, how rude of me!" the "Espeon" exclaimed, holding a paw to its forehead with an embarrassed smile on its face. "Just a moment…"

The "Espeon" closed its eyes, and the gem on its forehead began shining brightly with a red light. Sera held one of her paws over her face to partially shield her eyes from the bright light, as the illusion vanished and the source of the light was now the single red eye of a bipedal gray ghost-type Pokémon with two hands in a lighter shade of gray floating in front of its body. The Dusclops' eye soon stopped glowing, and it made a motion as if clearing its throat before addressing Sera once more.

"Ah… is this better?" the Dusclops asked.

"Uh… Yes," Sera responded, nodding her head.

"That's good," the Dusclops replied, holding his hands together. "I'm sorry for causing you and your friends so much trouble, Miss Serafina."

"What exactly is going on here?" Sera asked, squinting one eye slightly while tilting her head to the side.

"We needed to test your strength," the Dusclops explained, looking down at the ground. "You see, our dearest Nereza has been acting awfully strange as of late."

"Nereza?" Sera responded, her ears perking up a little. "You mean that Spiritomb who lives in the deepest part of the forest?"

"Precisely," the Dusclops replied, nodding slightly. "She just hasn't been herself in a while, and some of the others claim to have sensed some mysterious dark force from her that we believe is causing her to act this way."

"It must be Erebos' doing," Sera responded. "He must've done the same to her that he did to Blaze back at Mt. Caldera."

"I'm no expert, but I believe you are right, Miss Serafina," the Dusclops replied.

"Have you or any of the other ghost-types seen a crystal that Nereza seems to be trying to hide?" Sera asked.

"Hmm… I do not know, I'm afraid," the Dusclops responded, shrugging slightly.

"The crystal has to be with her," Sera said, holding a paw to her chin. "So, if we can make her return to normal…"

"I must warn you, Lady Nereza is quite strong," the Dusclops explained. "Being one of the oldest Pokémon in this forest, she has many, many years of experience."

"Still, you want us to help her, don't you?" Sera asked, looking up at the Dusclops. "If so, please help me get back to my friends!"

"Hmm… I suppose I could do that," the Dusclops said, shrugging slightly. "However, while you saw through my illusion, I'm afraid you haven't proven your strength to me yet."

"Oh, do we really need to do this now?" Sera asked, her ears drooping down slightly. "I don't have time for this!"

"I apologize for the inconvenience, Miss Serafina," the Dusclops responded. "But I need to make sure that you are strong enough to face Nereza in battle."

"In that case, you have to help me find my friends!" Sera replied. "On my own, I can't show you my true strength, but with my friends…"

"Hmm… I suppose you do have a point there," the Dusclops responded, holding one of his hands roughly around the area where his chin would be. "As a rescue team, you fight together."

"Yes! Exactly!" Sera replied, nodding her head. "So, please take me to where my friends are!"

"… Very well," the Dusclops responded, nodding slightly. "You have convinced me."

"Thank you," Sera replied, sighing in relief.

"However, your friends are also being tested," the Dusclops explained, his eye glowing for a brief moment. "… And from the look of things, one of them is having quite a bit of trouble facing his fears."

"Who?" Sera asked, tilting her head slightly.

"The young Shinx," the Dusclops responded.

"Blitz!" Sera exclaimed, her ears perking up.

"It seems the young Shinx is quite worried about his future," the Dusclops said. "I don't know the full story myself, but he seems quite distressed."

"I… I have to do something!" Sera said, her tail twitching slightly. "But what do I do?"

"From what I understand, Blitz is someone very important to you?" the Dusclops inquired.

"Blitz has helped me so many times," Sera responded, nodding her head slightly. "This time… I want to help him!"

"I understand," the Dusclops replied. "How do you intend to do this?"

"I don't know!" Sera responded, shaking her head. "But there has to be something I can do, right?"

"Well, if the two of you are truly the best of friends, then surely your feelings should be able to reach him?" the Dusclops asked.

"… That's right," Sera said, holding a paw to her chin. "If Blitz and I are true friends… then there's no reason for me to even hesitate to tell him how I really feel!"

"My, that is quite the bold statement," the Dusclops responded, touching his floating hands together. "Do you think he will understand?"

"I may not have been that good a friend to him before, but I've changed!" Sera replied.

"Oh, is that so?" the Dusclops responded.

"Yes," Sera replied, nodding her head. "I used to only think about myself and how to get others to start treating me like a grown-up, but then I met Blitz's younger sister, and… well, to make a long story short, I realized that I should've been paying more attention to those around me."

Sera sighed and her ears drooped down slightly.

"Blitz kept supporting me, even when he knew how bad my ideas were," Sera said, smiling wistfully. "Right now I can't say I understand why he would go along with me during those times even though I was a terrible leader, but he did."

Sera closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.

"It's about time I make things up to him," Sera said, her ears perking up a bit. "I'm ready. Take me to where Blitz is!"

"Very well, Miss Serafina," the Dusclops responded, nodding slightly. "I will open the path for you."

"Thank you," Sera replied, smiling at the Dusclops.

The Dusclops turned around, and his eye began glowing red again. A section of the wall began to shine with red light, opening a path for Sera. Sera didn't waste any time. She began running down the path that had been opened as fast as she could, determined to reach Blitz. The Dusclops then sank into the ground, and began following Sera in the form of a shadow moving across the ground. He wasn't sure what would happen next, but from what he had already seen, he was certain that Sera would be able to prove her strength.

----

End of Chapter 45

----
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
Well, it took a lot longer than I hoped to get this done, but here's a review for your last chapter.

"And w-we'd appreciate if you didn't hurt us either…" Frederick added. "Please, don't eat us… I really don't want to get eaten…"

Frederick seems rather insistent about expecting Ghost-Types to eat him, I might be going down the wrong track, but I think this is the hint you were alluding to in your pre-amble based off of Frederick's lines. So, he knows of some particularly sordid event in the past involving ghosts "eating" others somehow?

"T-They're gone!?" Frederick exclaimed. "Did the ghosts eat them!?"

"No, of course not," Lodestone responded, shaking his head. "I'm not sure where they all went, but chances are the ghost-types have taken your friends to another part of the dungeon."

"W-Why would they do that?" Frederick asked, staying a bit closer to Lodestone than the Marowak was comfortable with.

"Perhaps they want to test them," Lodestone responded, choosing not to make a comment about his personal space seeing as they both currently had bigger concerns. "However, since this isn't one of our rituals, I'm not sure why they'd do that…"

I kinda half-expected Frederick to get all paranoid about what the rituals were, but I'm pretty sure this is a pretty bad sign here.

"We both know that you can't keep delaying the inevitable," the doppelganger said, closing his eyes and holding a paw to his chest. "Part of you already knows the truth, but doesn't want to accept it!"

Chiaki gasped and his eyes widened as he felt something inside him react to the doppelganger's statement. He shakily placed his paw on his chest, mirroring his doppelganger's movement.

"Part of me… already knows the truth…?" Chiaki muttered.

The doppelganger just nodded his head. Chiaki closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

"Perhaps you're right…" Chiaki said, faintly recalling a shadow looming over him. "A part of me… may have known all along…"

"So, what will you do?" the other Chiaki asked, crossing his arms. "Will you choose to seek out the truth? Will you accept it?"

I have to wonder, how the ghosts prying into the gang's thoughts so thoroughly, and just how accurate or not are these illusions they're challenging Chiaki and his friends with?

"H-Huh?" Blitz replied, nervously looking up at the Luxray. "N-No… This is just a temporary thing… Sera is the leader of this team, not me…"

"Still, it's good that you're getting experience with leading this rescue team," the Luxray responded, still smiling eerily. "After all, you are going to be the leader of Lightning Plateau's Luxray pride someday."

"I… I…" Blitz stuttered, taking a few more steps backwards. "I don't want…"

"Blitz, just accept it," the Luxray said, staring down at Blitz. "You know you can't escape your destiny."

Blitz gasped and curled up on the ground, staring blankly up at the Luxray.

Whether that's by design or an accident on the part of the test-giver, that's ever-so-slightly cruel there. Can't help but feel bad for Blitz there.

"… You don't have to put it so bluntly," Sera responded dryly, her ears drooping down a little. "Are you really Amethyst?"

"What do you mean?" Amethyst asked, tilting her head slightly while still smiling sweetly.

"You're acting awfully strange," Sera responded, glaring at the Espeon. "For starters, how would Amethyst even know where I am right now? I usually don't decide on what missions I'll take until after I've already left the house!"

"… Anything else?" Amethyst asked.

"I know my big sister, okay?" Sera responded, pointing a paw at the Espeon. "And you are not my sister!"

"My, I'm impressed," the Espeon said, still smiling. "It didn't take you long to figure it out! Well done!"

"Enough of that," Sera responded sternly. "Tell me where my friends are!"

I will admit, I was a little disappointed to see Sera get out of her ordeal on a technicality by realizing that something was amiss, but I can understand that it simply might not be the right time in the plot for her to confront this inner hurdle of hers.

"We needed to test your strength," the Dusclops explained, looking down at the ground. "You see, our dearest Nereza has been acting awfully strange as of late."

"Nereza?" Sera responded, her ears perking up a little. "You mean that Spiritomb who lives in the deepest part of the forest?"

"Precisely," the Dusclops replied, nodding slightly. "She just hasn't been herself in a while, and some of the others claim to have sensed some mysterious dark force from her that we believe is causing her to act this way."

"It must be Erebos' doing," Sera responded. "He must've done the same to her that he did to Blaze back at Mt. Caldera."

Well that's not promising at all.

"It's about time I make things up to him," Sera said, her ears perking up a bit. "I'm ready. Take me to where Blitz is!"

"Very well, Miss Serafina," the Dusclops responded, nodding slightly. "I will open the path for you."

"Thank you," Sera replied, smiling at the Dusclops.

The Dusclops turned around, and his eye began glowing red again. A section of the wall began to shine with red light, opening a path for Sera. Sera didn't waste any time. She began running down the path that had been opened as fast as she could, determined to reach Blitz. The Dusclops then sank into the ground, and began following Sera in the form of a shadow moving across the ground. He wasn't sure what would happen next, but from what he had already seen, he was certain that Sera would be able to prove her strength.

That's for Sera's ability to think out of the box and approach her problems from another angle, I take it? Interesting that the Dusclops would be so impressed by that, even though it didn't really seem that it was expecting Sera to wrap up her trial like that.

All in all, I felt that the chapter was a little on the slower side this time, but it still seemed to do a good job setting things up for a transition. I'll be looking forward to seeing what happens to the gang, and finally seeing what's become of Nereza, so good luck, and keep up the good work.
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Thanks for your review! It's always nice hearing what my readers think!

Regarding why Sera saw through the illusion so quickly, I figured that Blitz would be too shocked at seeing his "father" again to really consider that it might not really be him, while Chiaki is the youngest of the group and while he acknowledges that meeting a copy of himself is strange, he doesn't consider it too strange, if that makes sense. Sera on the other hand, lives with and thus regularly interacts with Amethyst, knowing her well enough to tell that something isn't right. This is also meant as part of showing much Sera has grown since early chapters, which will really show in the next chapter. I hope you'll look forward to it. Comparing Sera as she is now to how she was in earlier chapters, I'm really proud of how much she has grown. :)

I don't know when the next chapter will be up, though. It's been taking much longer than I imagined it would. Although, I suppose if I can at least have it done before Halloween, then I guess the timing would work out considering that there are ghost-types in it. :p

That's all for now, I guess. Hopefully I'll have the next chapter done soon, and then we'll see how things turn out, learn why Frederick has a fear of ghosts, and we'll see if our heroes are able to get the crystal they came for! Until then, anyone else who has any thoughts on the story that they'd like to share, feel free to share them!
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Heh. What do you know? I got to put up one of these chapters on Halloween after all!

Happy Halloween, everyone! Whew, this took a lot longer than I thought it would, but it's finally done! Chapter 46 is finally done! :D

I must say, since there are ghost-types in this chapter, the timing feels pretty good. It's probably not that scary, though. Oh, well! I hope it turned out well. Also, it might be a bit long, but I didn't think I had enough more in mind for this chapter to justify splitting it.

Anyways, here's an interesting question for you all:

If Azure had been a part of this mission, what kind of test would she have faced?

Feel free to leave a comment/review/whatever! I always appreciate seeing what my readers think about my story, and if there's anything I can keep in mind in order to improve my writing.

Well, here's chapter 46! I hope you enjoy it!

----

Chapter 46: You're about one-hundred-and-eight years too early to be facing me!

----

Frederick had been following Lodestone through a few more floors of the dungeon, as they continued looking for Blitz, Sera and Chiaki. They hadn't run into anymore wild ghost-type Pokémon since they got separated from the others, and Frederick wasn't quite sure how to feel about that. They had found a few items on the way, but since they didn't have the treasure bag with them, there were limits to how many of them they could bring along as they continued their search.

"See any apples lying around?" Frederick asked, sniffing the ground. "I'm getting kind of hungry…"

"Nothing in this room," Lodestone responded, looking around. "Let's try the next one. Come on, this way."

Frederick had eaten a few berries they had found throughout their search, but they weren't enough to fill the young dragon's stomach.

"If only I hadn't run away earlier…" Frederick thought out loud, sighing. "That way, we wouldn't have gotten separated…"

They entered another room, where Lodestone spotted a piece of cloth on the ground. He picked it up and examined it.

"Hmm… Just as I thought," Lodestone said, before offering the item to Frederick. "I think this might help."

"Is it food?" Frederick asked, sniffing the item.

"It's a Stamina Band," Lodestone responded, tying it around Frederick's waist. "It should provide you with a little more energy, which should hopefully help a little."

"Oh, okay," Frederick replied, nodding his head slightly. "I still want something to eat, though."

"Well, let's keep searching for your friends," Lodestone said. "We might find something more for you to eat on the way."

"I hope so," Frederick responded. "Having to deal with scary ghosts is bad enough; I don't want to do it on an empty stomach…"

They kept walking for a bit, finding the stairs and moving on to the next floor before Lodestone spoke up once more.

"Frederick, could you explain to me why you are afraid of ghost-type Pokémon?" Lodestone asked, looking over at Frederick.

"Um… It's because they're scary?" Frederick responded.

Lodestone did not seem satisfied with this answer.

"… That wasn't the answer you were looking for," Frederick said, looking a bit embarrassed.

"Let me ask you another question, then," Lodestone responded, clearing his throat. "It is my understanding that your species are unable to see until you reach your final evolution stage, correct?"

"Yeah, that's right," Frederick replied, nodding his head. "I tend to bump into things sometimes, but it doesn't really bother me that much."

"And because you lack sight, you rely on your other senses to find out who and what is around you," Lodestone said, glancing at Frederick. "As you said earlier, it is hard to pick up on a ghost-type Pokémon's scent."

"Yes, it is," Frederick responded, nodding his head again. "I have a really good sense of smell, but most ghost-types just don't leave much of a scent for me to track them…"

"Ghost-types are also good at sneaking up on others without making any sound," Lodestone added. "Like you said before, they could be nearby without you even realizing."

"Huh… That's right," Frederick responded, shuddering a little.

"Well, it's understandable that the idea of something that could easily get close to you like that without you ever noticing would be frightening," Lodestone said, nodding his head slightly.

"Oh, I… I guess you're right," Frederick responded, thinking about it for a few moments. "I also heard certain stories when I was little…"

"Ah, ghost stories," Lodestone replied, nodding his head slightly. "You are aware that most of those are made up, right?"

"Um… Yes, but… the ghost-types are capable of doing the things from those stories, aren't they?" Frederick asked, tilting his head slightly. "Cursing young Pokémon who misbehave, eating our life forces, sneaking into our houses at night and rearranging our furniture while we sleep…"

"Yes and no," Lodestone responded, shaking his head. "Ghost-types tend to exaggerate their abilities for the sake of making the story more interesting."

"Why do they do that?" Frederick asked, looking a bit confused.

"Most of them just really like those types of stories," Lodestone responded, shrugging slightly.

"Well… I guess I just have a different taste in stories," Frederick replied, sighing. "Ugh, I bet there are Pokémon who would make fun of me right now, for being a coward who is still afraid of ghost stories and stuff…"

"You should stay away from Pokémon who say such things," Lodestone responded.

"Ah, well… I mostly hang out with Azure and the others these days," Frederick replied, smiling. "They're really nice, and don't hang out with me just because they want me to do something for them."

"Good for you," Lodestone responded, smiling and nodding his head.

"Yeah, I'm really glad I met them," Frederick replied, nodding his head. "Azure even thinks I can overcome my fear of ghost-types… I don't really want to let her down…"

"Well, if you really wish to overcome your fear, then there are a few things you can try to keep in mind," Lodestone said.

"I'm listening," Frederick replied, nodding his head.

"Frederick, you are part dragon type and part dark type," Lodestone said, glancing at the young Deino. "I know that some kinds of Pokémon might find certain species of either of those types intimidating."

"Oh?" Frederick responded, tilting his head slightly. "No one has ever called me intimidating before…"

"Well, you're still young," Lodestone commented. "However, as I'm sure you are aware of, most fully evolved dragon-type Pokémon tend to be rather big."

"Hmm, I guess you have a point there," Frederick responded, nodding his head slightly. "A bigger Pokémon would probably be scarier than a smaller one."

"Indeed," Lodestone replied, nodding his head. "It's not uncommon for Pokémon of certain types to feel nervous around Pokémon of different types, especially among wild Pokémon. It is usually because those types embody an element that can be outright harmful to them."

"Huh," Frederick responded, looking thoughtful.

"However, as you have probably seen, Pokémon of very different types can also work very well together as a team," Lodestone said, smiling at Frederick.

"Well, yeah," Frederick responded, nodding his head slightly. "Most of the rescue teams I know of have Pokémon of different types on them."

"Exactly," Lodestone replied, nodding his head. "Pokémon of different types that work together as a team can cover each other's weaknesses and can each contribute something different to their team."

"Yeah, that sounds about right," Frederick responded, nodding his head.

"So, you understand what I'm saying?" Lodestone asked, looking over at Frederick. "We all have our differences, our strengths and weaknesses, but in the end, we're all Pokémon."

"Uh… I guess," Frederick responded.

"Among the seventeen types of Pokémon, the ghost-type is rather unique," Lodestone explained, glancing around for signs of anyone else. "However, they are still just Pokémon."

"I see…" Frederick replied, nodding his head slightly. "Huh… When you put it like that, it seems kind of silly of me to be afraid of them…"

"Do you think you're a bit closer to overcoming your fears now?" Lodestone asked, glancing over at Frederick.

"… Yeah, I… I think so," Frederick responded, nodding his head again.

"Good," Lodestone replied, smiling. "Anyways, do you smell any of your friends around here?"

"No…" Frederick responded, sniffing the ground. "… I think I smell an apple nearby, though!"

Frederick quickly ran up to the apple lying on the floor and picked it up in his mouth, swallowing it whole.

"Ah, that feels much better!" Frederick said, smiling.

"… You should really chew your food," Lodestone commented.

"Oh, right…" Frederick responded sheepishly.

"Well… Let's just keep going," Lodestone said, looking around.

"Okay," Frederick responded, nodding affirmatively.

The two Pokémon continued their search for Blitz, Sera and Chiaki. Lodestone still wondered what exactly was going on, and where the ghost-types had taken the three of them. Frederick quietly resolved that he would finally overcome his fear of ghosts so that once he and his friends were reunited; he could help them fight the wild ghost-types and retrieve the crystal they had come for. He also thought about how impressed Azure would be when they got back from their mission, and kept this in mind in order to keep his motivation up as he and Lodestone continued their search.

----

Sera ran as fast as her four legs could carry her, before finally spotting a familiar blue figure curled up in the grass. Sera stopped for a moment to catch her breath, noticing that a bigger Pokémon was standing in front of Blitz, staring down at him with glowing golden eyes. The Luxray's ear twitched slightly and he turned his head to look in Sera's direction, seeming surprised to see the young Eevee approaching them. Sera simply glared at the Luxray for a moment, before running up to Blitz's side.

"Blitz, snap out of it!" Sera shouted, nudging him with her paws.

"I always knew…" Blitz whispered, not even looking up at Sera. "There's no way I can escape my destiny…"

"Why is she here…?" the Luxray said, looking around. "What is the meaning of this?"

"My apologies for interfering," the Dusclops' voice responded. "However, this was necessary in order for Miss Serafina to complete her test!"

"What?" the "Luxray" replied, looking around for the Dusclops' hiding spot. "We're not supposed to-"

"Just watch them," the Dusclops responded. "You'll understand."

"Blitz, listen to me!" Sera cried, shaking him with her paws. "That Luxray is just an illusion!"

"An illusion…?" Blitz responded, glancing over at Sera.

"Yes, an illusion!" Sera replied, nodding her head. "I mean, think about it! Isn't it awfully strange that your father would show up here of all places?"

"… You… have a point," Blitz responded, thinking more about it. "We were told that the ghost-types could create illusions to mislead travelers…"

"Yes! That's it!" Sera replied, nodding her head again.

"Still… it doesn't change anything…" Blitz said, sighing. "I still have to become the leader of the Luxray pride of Lightning Plateau someday…"

"Do you really have no choice?" Sera asked, her ears drooping down slightly.

"I wish I did," Blitz responded, looking away. "If only I could decide my own future… If only I could find something I want to do on my own…"

"Blitz…" Sera said softly, gently petting him on the head with her paw. "This… this isn't fair! If this makes you so miserable, then… then…!"

"Sera, there's nothing you can do about it," Blitz responded, still looking away.

"I… I won't accept that!" Sera exclaimed, shaking her head. "I don't know how destiny works, but it isn't right for anyone to be forced into something they don't want to do for the rest of their lives!"

Blitz didn't say anything, but he did look over at Sera. Noticing that she had his attention, Sera smiled.

"Blitz, do you know what I've learned from our missions?" Sera asked, closing her eyes for a moment. "It's not just luck that has gotten us this far. We were able to retrieve the crystals through hard work, quick thinking, and most importantly, teamwork."

Sera looked at Blitz with a determined grin.

"Hey, you remember right?" Sera asked, glancing up at the trees surrounding them. "How we worked together with the Pansage, Pansear and Panpour tribes of Harmony Forest, taking down that magical plant? Or the time in Clarion Desert, where we worked together with Sting and Mirage's rescue teams to find the Desert Spirit so she could put a stop to the sandstorms blocking off part of the desert?"

Blitz blinked a few times, lifting his head slightly as he listened to Sera.

"Or when Azure joined us underwater and that underwater rescue team helped us retrieve the crystal after we helped save the prince and princess of the underwater kingdom? And don't forget how Megara's old friends helped us get the crystal from Mt. Caldera!" Sera exclaimed, smiling at Blitz. "Do you understand?"

"Well, it's pretty obvious that teamwork is important when you're part of a rescue team," the "Luxray" commented, rolling its eyes.

"Don't be rude, Candelaria," the Dusclops responded, emerging from the shadows. "I can tell that Miss Serafina knows what she is doing, so for now let's just be quiet and watch."

Sera wasn't even paying attention to the other two Pokémon that were watching her and Blitz at this point, and they suspected that she had even forgotten that they were still there. Even so, the Dusclops gave Sera a thumbs-up to show his support as she continued making her point to Blitz.

"We may not be able to do anything about it on our own," Sera said, grinning. "But if we all work together like we always do, then I'm sure we can even change destiny!"

"Sera…" Blitz responded, staring wide-eyed at the Eevee.

"We'll find a way together, Blitz!" Sera said, smiling at him. "We'll definitely change your destiny!"

"Y-You… you really mean it?" Blitz asked, tears starting to well up in his eyes.

"Of course I do!" Sera responded, nodding her head. "I'm sure there are plenty of things you could use your leadership skills for other than leading the Luxray pride! We just need to figure out what you like best!"

"Sera…" Blitz replied, smiling as he wiped away a tear with one of his paws. "Yeah… it just might work…"

"It will definitely work!" Sera responded, grinning.

"Sera… Thank you," Blitz said, getting back onto his feet.

"Oh, it was nothing, really," Sera responded, shaking her head. "I just think you're really amazing, and I wanted you to know that… that's all."

"You're pretty amazing yourself, you know," Blitz commented, smiling at Sera.

"Huh? Me?" Sera responded, blinking a few times. "I don't know about that… I'm always depending on you."

"To be honest, I often feel much stronger when I'm with you," Blitz explained, blushing slightly. "Even when I have my doubts, you insist that we can do it if we try!"

"Wait… so you're saying that actually trust my judgment, even those times when I kept dragging us into potential danger?" Sera asked, seeming a bit surprised.

"Well, most of the time we did succeed, didn't we?" Blitz responded, chuckling a little. "And besides, I… I really love your smile!"

"Blitz…" Sera replied, blushing slightly before bursting into laughter.

"Yeah, that's the one!" Blitz cheerfully responded, before joining her in laughter.

The Dusclops and the "Luxray" quietly watched the two friends cheerfully laughing together, the "Luxray" nodding and giving an approving smile before dissolving into its true form, a ghost-type Pokémon resembling a black lantern with yellow eyes and a purple flame burning inside of its glass-like head.

"Well, it may not have been how the test was supposed to go, but I'll admit, you were right about them," the Lampent admitted, as she touched one of her black arm-like extensions to the bottom of her glass-like face. "Their true strength comes from the bond between them."

"It's quite wonderful, isn't it?" the Dusclops commented, as Blitz and Sera gently touched their foreheads together. "They have certainly passed our test, as far as I'm concerned."

"I suppose," the Lampent responded, shrugging slightly.

Blitz and Sera eventually calmed down and approached the two ghost type Pokémon, both of them beaming with determination.

"I assume you are ready to move on?" the Dusclops asked.

"Yes, we're ready," Sera responded, nodding her head. "You know where the others are, right?"

"Lodestone and the Deino are searching the main part of the dungeon," the Lampent explained. "While I believe the Mienfoo is still being tested."

"Then take us to Chiaki," Blitz responded, grinning and exchanging glances with Sera. "We'll head back to the main dungeon together."

"As you wish," the Dusclops replied, looking over at the Lampent. "Candelaria, would you like to light the way for us?"

"Leave it me," Candelaria responded, nodding slightly.

Candelaria began floating away down one of the nearby paths, leaving a trail of floating purple flames behind her for the others to follow. The wisps of fire faded away one by one as Blitz and Sera went off in the direction Candelaria went, hoping to find Chiaki.

----

Chiaki's doppelganger quietly waited as Chiaki thought about everything the doppelganger had said. Chiaki felt that his doppelganger was correct in his statement that a part of him already knew the truth, but he still couldn't find it even as he focused on this thought. His doppelganger had asked him if he would accept the truth, should he find it. However, there was also the question of what would happen once his memories returned. Chiaki didn't want to leave Blitz, Sera and the others friends he had made in Fenix Town, yet deep down, he knew there was somewhere else he needed to be.

Chiaki didn't think he would be able to reach a proper conclusion about what was right to do without his memories. However, he eventually turned back to face his doppelganger, who stared at him with crossed arms.

"Well? What is your answer?" the doppelganger asked, watching expectantly.

"… I don't think I'm ready," Chiaki responded, shaking his head. "If I were, I would've been able to find the truth that is hidden inside me."

"So… That's your answer?" the doppelganger asked.

"I guess there are still some things I need to figure out," Chiaki responded, shrugging slightly with a sheepish smile. "Once I do, I will find the truth, and I will accept it, no matter what it is."

"Hmm… And what if you are forced to face the truth before then?" the doppelganger asked.

"Uh… In that case, I'll… um…" Chiaki responded, rubbing the back of his head.

"We'll be there to support him, no matter what!" Sera called out.

"What?" the doppelganger exclaimed, turning in the direction the voice came from.

"Sera! Blitz!" Chiaki exclaimed, smiling. "You're okay!"

"Wait, what?" Chiaki's doppelganger said, blinking a few times. "What's going on?"

"They passed the test," Candelaria responded, hovering up to the doppelganger.

"Well, that's good," the "Mienfoo" replied, pointing at the two. "But why are they here?"

"Because we're a team, that's why!" Sera responded, grinning.

"Chiaki, it's okay to worry about the future," Blitz said, smiling at him. "If you need anyone to talk to about it, Sera and I are willing to listen."

"We'll do what we can to help!" Sera added, happily wagging her tail.

"Guys… Thank you!" Chiaki responded, smiling at his friends.

"Hey, this isn't how this is supposed to work!" the "Mienfoo" shouted, his disguise dissolving into purple smoke to reveal his true form, a ghost Pokémon with a body formed from purple gas, its two hands detached from the rest of his body.

"We know," Candelaria responded, looking over at the Haunter. "However, this is a rather special situation, is it not?"

"You do not need to worry," the Dusclops added, also looking over at the Haunter. "These Pokémon are definitely strong enough."

"Do you honestly think they can face Nereza?" the Haunter asked, looking skeptically at the other two ghost-types.

"Um… I don't fully understand the situation," Chiaki said, raising his paw. "But… we'll do what we can to help!"

"But…" the Haunter protested.

"Perhaps we should bring these three back to their other friend and their Marowak guide," the Dusclops suggested. "I think it is best to inform all five of them of our current situation."

"Agreed," Candelaria responded, nodding slightly.

"I don't quite understand this, but okay…" the Haunter replied, still seeming slightly confused as he and the other two ghost-types gathered around the rescue team.

----

Lodestone and Frederick had made it to the last floor of the main dungeon, and were perplexed over the fact that they still hadn't found the others anywhere. However, as they were heading towards the stairs, Lodestone suddenly noticed a blue flash of light from behind them. Lodestone turned around, and saw that the rescue team had reappeared along with the three ghost-type Pokémon. Blitz, Sera and Chiaki quickly ran over to Lodestone and Frederick upon realizing that they had returned to the main dungeon.

"You're back!" Frederick exclaimed, sniffing his teammates. "Where'd you all go?"

"Long story short, the ghosts wanted to test us," Sera explained, giggling a little.

"Is that how it is?" Lodestone asked, looking over at the ghost-types.

"I guess we owe you an explanation," the Dusclops responded, looking down at the ground.

"Yes, do explain," Lodestone replied, crossing his arms. "I hope there is a good reason for all of this."

The group decided to head up the stairs, and found themselves in an area splitting the mystery dungeon into two parts. The three ghost-types explained everything that had happened, and why they had found it necessary to test the rescue team members that Lodestone had escorted into the dungeon.

"… I see," Lodestone responded, nodding his head slightly. "So, defeating Nereza should bring her back to her senses?"

"If Erebos used the same spell on her that he used on Blaze, then yes," Blitz replied, nodding his head.

"Nereza is pretty strong," Candelaria commented. "But hopefully our combined power is enough to defeat her."

"We should come up with a strategy before we proceed," Blitz said, looking around at the ghost-types and Lodestone. "You guys have any ideas?"

"Well, she doesn't have many weaknesses, being a ghost- and dark-type," the Dusclops explained. "And she knows some attacks that can be rather devastating, so I hope you brought plenty of Reviver Seeds."

"You won't be able to attack her if she retreats into her keystone to avoid damage," the Haunter added, grinning. "However, the three of us can probably use our powers to make sure she can't do that."

"Speaking of which, make sure you don't damage the keystone," Candelaria said, crossing her arms. "It's necessary to keep her one-hundred-and-eight souls bound to this world, after all."

"I see," Blitz responded, nodding his head.

"Um… I have a question," Frederick said.

"What is it?" Lodestone asked, looking over at the young Deino.

"Do the souls that make up the Spiritomb ever disagree with each other?" Frederick asked, tilting his head slightly. "You see, I've heard that my evolved form has two heads, and sometimes… they fight and stuff. Sometimes they even argue over food, which is kind of strange since they still share the same stomach… Is it ever anything like that?"

The three ghost-types exchanged glances while Lodestone thoughtfully held his free hand to his chin.

"Um… Maybe?" the Haunter responded, blinking a few times.

"Let's keep it in mind!" Chiaki said, grinning. "What else can we do?"

"Hey, do we have any other items that might help?" Sera asked, looking over at Blitz.

Blitz opened the lid on the bag, and looked inside. The orbs were usually useless in the space in the deepest parts of a mystery dungeon, so there wasn't any real point in spending too much time looking over them. They had plenty of Reviver Seeds, but he wasn't sure if they had enough of other types of seeds that would be useful in this situation.

"… Do you know if Nereza has any IQ skills that would make her immune to sleep-inducing moves?" Blitz asked, looking up at the ghosts.

"… I don't think she has that one," the Haunter responded.

"Yeah, I don't think Spiritomb get that particular IQ skill," Candelaria added.

"Good to know," Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly.

"Frederick and I won't as much damage from her ghost-type attacks," Sera said, glancing over at the Deino. "Of course, her dark-type attacks may still be a problem for me…"

"I think I can handle the dark-type attacks," Chiaki responded. "Although, most of my attacks might not be very effective…"

"Do not worry about that," the Dusclops said, looking over at Chiaki. "There is a way to eliminate that problem."

"There is?" Chiaki responded, smiling. "What is it?"

"Just leave that to me, sir," the Dusclops responded, giving Chiaki a thumbs-up. "Anyways, perhaps we should continue our discussion as we head deeper into the forest? After all, I do believe Miss Serafina has to be home before sunset."

"Huh, really?" Candelaria responded, glancing upwards. "What time is it now?"

"I don't think anyone's listening, so it might be okay to keep moving…" the Haunter commented, glancing around.

"I still don't understand how you guys know so much about us," Sera said, looking around at the three ghost-types. "How'd you do that?"

"Ah, an excellent question," the Dusclops responded, looking over at Sera. "You see…"

----

In the deepest part of Nightmirror Forest, purple wisps of smoke were floating above the odd keystone lying in the grass. More purple smoke flowed out from the cracks in the stone, as the group consisting of the rescue team, Lodestone and the three ghost-types entered the area. Two glowing green eyes and a mouth were visible in the center of the swirling purple mass, along with several green orbs floating in circles around the Spiritomb's face.

"So that's Nereza…" Chiaki muttered, looking over at her.

"My, what a rare sight," Nereza said, her voice sounding like multiple voices blending together, with one voice just barely more prominent than the rest. "It's not often Pokémon from outside the forest dare to enter this mystery dungeon…"

"I-I'm not scared at all…" Frederick muttered, shivering a little at the sound of Nereza's voice.

"Lady Nereza, this rescue team has come to help you!" the Dusclops exclaimed. "They will free you from the spell!"

"Oh, will they?" Nereza responded, smirking as she looked over at the rescue team. "Do I look like I need help? Besides, I know what you're really after!"

"What we're really after…?" Blitz inquired. "Do you mean… the crystal…?"

"Exactly," Nereza responded, giggling. "But you can't have it! It's mine now!"

"So she does know where it is!" Chiaki exclaimed, smiling.

"Don't let your guard down," Lodestone said, glancing over at Chiaki.

Nereza snickered and sank into the shadows in the ground, disappearing from sight. The other eight Pokémon looked around, and Blitz caught a glimpse of a shadow moving towards the Dusclops.

"Hey, watch out!" Blitz called out, and the Dusclops turned around in time to see Nereza emerging from the shadows just before striking him by shaping part of her own ghostly form into a whip.

"Reginald!" Candelaria exclaimed, looking over at the Dusclops. "Are you okay!?"

"Worry not," the Dusclops responded, rubbing the spot where Nereza's Shadow Sneak attack hit as his single eye began to glow red. "I can take a hit or two, after all."

As Nereza prepared to strike once more, Blitz suddenly made his fur light up, momentarily blinding the Spiritomb and allowing Reginald to shine a peculiar light from his eye at her.

"Do it now, Chiaki!" Blitz shouted, looking over at the Mienfoo.

Chiaki nodded and quickly ran up to Nereza, managing to strike her with a Fake Out attack without much difficulty.

"Wow, it really did work!" Chiaki exclaimed, smiling. "Thanks, Reginald!"

"No problem," Reginald responded, nodding slightly. "My Foresight attack will allow the use of normal and fighting type attacks at their full power against a ghostly opponent!"

"Meaning your fighting-type attacks will now be super effective!" Blitz said, grinning.

"S-Sounds like we off to a good start…" Frederick commented, with a nervous chuckle.

"You got that right!" Sera responded, nodding her head.

The Haunter had floated over to Nereza, and stared down at her with his eyes shining with a golden glow.

"… And now, she won't be able to retreat into her keystone to avoid our attacks!" the Haunter announced, looking over at the others.

"Good, our preparations are complete," Lodestone said, nodding his head.

"Hahahaha…" Nereza's many voices laughed in unison. "Quite amusing… but now I think it is time for the real battle to begin."

Nereza began laughing maniacally as a powerful Omnious Wind began blowing through the entire room, doing massive damage to the three ghost types. Blitz, Chiaki and Lodestone also found themselves taking a lot of damage from the attack, while Sera and Frederick were able to get away with less damage thanks to their type resistance.

"Yes, yes… I feel the power!" Nereza exclaimed, cackling madly as she gained a power boost from her attack.

"Not good…" Lodestone commented, wincing. "Her Ominous Wind attack is one of her most devastating attacks..."

"Hurry, you have to use Disable to stop her attack!" Sera shouted at Reginald.

However, before any of the three ghosts had the chance to do anything about it, another Ominous Wind began to blow through the room. This time, it was even stronger, and Sera watched in horror as all three ghosts, along with Blitz and Chiaki collapsed to the ground. Only she, Frederick and Lodestone were barely able to hold on.

"Guys…!" Sera exclaimed, gasping.

"Ah, what do we do…?" Frederick said, shaking a bit.

"D-Don't panic…" Lodestone said, using his bone club to support himself.

"Hahahahahahaha!" Nereza laughed, looking around at her opponents. "You're about one-hundred-and-eight years too early to be facing me!"

"Don't underestimate the power of our teamwork…" Sera said, glaring at Nereza.

"Oh?" Nereza responded, smirking as she looked over at Sera. "You really think that'll be enough to-"

Before Nereza had the chance to finish her sentence, a purple fire ball suddenly hit her in the face.

"Nice shot, Frederick!" Sera said, grinning as she ran towards Blitz.

"T-Thanks, Sera…" Frederick responded, smiling and nodding his head slightly.

Nereza prepared to fire a Dark Pulse attack at Sera, only to spot Lodestone's bone club flying towards her. She quickly slipped into the shadows and dodged the attack, and Lodestone caught the bone as it returned to him like a boomerang. This allowed Sera to reach Blitz, and the bag containing the items they had brought with them. She quickly opened the lid, and grabbed a few Reviver Seeds with her mouth. She immediately gave one of them to Blitz, who soon opened his eyes and looked up at Sera.

"… Thank you, Sera," Blitz said, smiling up at Sera.

Sera just smiled back and was about to go help the others, when a certain Spiritomb suddenly emerged from the shadows next to her and rammed into her. Sera was knocked onto her side, and the Reviver Seeds fell onto the ground. Nereza then turned to Blitz, who glared back at her. Nereza smirked and slipped back into the shadows, as Blitz quickly moved over to Sera and picked up the Reviver Seeds she had dropped. Blitz managed to give one of the seeds to Sera, before jumping out of the way of another one of Nereza's attacks.

"Blitz…?" Sera muttered, looking over at Blitz as she regained consciousness.

"Don't worry, I've got this," Blitz responded, keeping his focus on Nereza.

"Are you going to try to dazzle me with your glowing fur again?" Nereza asked, smirking.

"Not exactly what I had in mind," Blitz responded, shaking his head while kicking the Reviver Seeds back over to Sera.

Sera quickly picked the Reviver Seeds back up, and began running towards Chiaki. Nereza quickly slid back into the shadows and began chasing after Sera once more. Blitz quickly followed after the moving shadow. Lodestone was standing prepared to use another Bonemerang attack, while Frederick was unsure of how he could be of more help.

"She sure is fast…" Frederick thought to himself, trying to listen to what was happening in the area. "I guess the others are trying to slow her down, but it's still not enough…"

As Sera used one of the Reviver Seeds on Chiaki, Nereza once more emerged from the shadows, ready to strike. Just before she could hit Sera with another Feint Attack, Chiaki suddenly got up and pulled her out of the way. Blitz took the opportunity to hit Nereza with a Spark attack, knocking Nereza's keystone over on its side. The three exchanged smiles and glances, before Sera and Chiaki ran off to help the other three ghost-types, while Nereza managed to get her keystone back into its upright position and turned to glare at Blitz.

"You do realize that even if you keep using those items, I'll just use my Ominous Wind to take you all down, don't you?" Nereza asked, smirking as she faced Blitz.

"Instead of focusing your energy on fighting us, why not try to put your energy into breaking Erebos' spell instead?" Blitz responded, staring back at Nereza. "If you're as strong as you claim, then I'm sure you can do it!"

"You're just trying to distract me in order to take the crystal, aren't you?" Nereza replied.

Blitz was about to respond, when another purple fire ball suddenly struck Nereza. The annoyed Spiritomb turned to look at Frederick, who had fired another Dragon Rage attack while she was talking.

"Will you stop doing that!?" Nereza shouted, glaring at Frederick.

"S-Sorry…" Frederick responded, shaking his head. "No, wait… I'm not sorry! Because… we're in the middle of a battle, and I have to attack while I still know where you are!"

"Hmph, aren't you a dragon?" Nereza asked, and Blitz could've sworn that Nereza's blend of voices sounded different just then. "Wait, why would I even need to ask? Of course you're a dragon."

"He's part dark-type too!" Chiaki added, while helping Candelaria.

"I don't care," Nereza responded, glancing around at the others. "I don't care at all!"

Nereza then went back into the shadows, and started moving towards the three revived ghost-types. In the meantime, Blitz walked up to Lodestone and gave him an Oran berry to restore his energy.

"Did you notice that too?" Blitz asked.

"Yes, I did," Lodestone responded, nodding his head.

"What is it?" Frederick asked, walking up to Blitz and Lodestone. "What happened?"

"We're not entirely sure, but we think that the effects of Erebos' spell may be starting to weaken," Lodestone responded.

"Oh, that's good…" Frederick responded, slowly nodding his head.

Chiaki had managed to hit Nereza with a forceful strike with his paw, pushing her backwards. Candelaria conjured up several Will-o-Wisps the same purple color as the purple flame burning inside her head, having them fly towards Nereza and burning her.

"Well done!" the Haunter said, as he charged up a Shadow Ball between his hands.

"Lady Nereza, I apologize for this," Reginald said, as his fist starting crackling with electricity.

Nereza glanced back-and-forth between the two ghost-types currently preparing attacks, before suddenly launching herself at the Haunter. The Haunter barely managed to dodge the attack, but ended up accidentally firing his Shadow Ball attack at a random tree in the process. Nereza then allowed Reginald to hit her with his Thunder Punch attack, before pushing him backwards with a Dark Pulse attack.

"You… won't take… the crystal!" Nereza said, looking somewhat tired.

"Oh, good, it looks like she's finally starting to run out of energy," Sera commented, sighing in relief.

"The battle's not over yet," Lodestone said, looking over at Sera. "Don't let your guard down just yet!"

"I'll just… knock you all out… with my Ominous Wind attack!" Nereza said, giggling. "That will teach you not to mess with me!"

"That is a strong attack," Frederick commented, tilting his head slightly. "But why didn't you just use it to finish us off earlier, you know, before Sera revived everybody?"

"Huh…?" Nereza responded, blinking a few times. "Well, I thought I'd give you a chance to… No, I just thought it'd be too simple that way. It wouldn't be as satisfying… I guess?"

Nereza's voice seemed different once again, and as Blitz was charging up electricity to increase his defense against special attacks in case Nereza did unleash the Ominous Wind once more, he suddenly had an idea.

"Why do you even want to stop us from getting the crystal?" Blitz asked, sparks of electricity rippling through his fur as he looked over at her. "What do you need it for?"

"Well… I don't need it for anything," Nereza responded, looking away from Blitz. "I just don't want you to have it."

Oddly enough, Nereza wasn't attacking anymore. She just stood there, some of the green orbs in her purple body flashing in strange patterns.

"Well… It seems the majority doesn't want to fight anymore…" Nereza said, before looking around at the others. "You guys may want to hurry up and attack before I change my mind!"

"…! She's… going to let us win?" Blitz thought, staring wide-eyed at Nereza.

"You heard her!" Lodestone said, preparing to throw his bone club once more. "Let's finish this and break the spell!"

The other Pokémon nodded in agreement, and began preparing their attacks. As Lodestone threw the bone, Nereza suddenly opened her eyes and dodged the attack. She also moved out of the way of Blitz's Spark attack, but in the process ended up landing right in the path of Frederick's Dragon Breath attack. Chiaki followed up with another Force Palm attack, knocking her keystone over on its side again.

"Ugh… I guess I'm a bit out of practice…" Nereza said, chuckling. "That was a good work-out, though…"

Nereza's ghostly form dissolved back into purple smoke and went back into the keystone. After a few seconds, Chiaki walked up and poked the keystone a few times with his paw.

"We won," Lodestone said, smiling. "The spell should be broken completely now, yes?"

"Let's find out," Blitz responded, walking up to Nereza.

Blitz quickly took out one of the remaining Reviver Seeds from his bag, and looked over the keystone. After a few moments of examining the keystone, Blitz inserted the Reviver Seed into the crack resembling a mouth on the stone. They then waited a few seconds, before the cracks in the keystone briefly flashed purple, and Nereza's ghostly form once again emerged from the cracks in the stone.

"Ah, I can't believe it took me this long to shake off the effects of that spell!" Nereza exclaimed, looking rather annoyed. "I thought I was better than that…"

"Lady Nereza, are you all right?" Reginald asked.

"… I am now," Nereza responded, smiling at the ghost-types. "Thanks for helping me out, guys!"

"No problem," Reginald replied, bowing slightly. "We are just glad you're okay."

"That's nice," Nereza responded, looking thoughtful for a moment. "… I guess I should go apologize to the other ghost-types I randomly attacked before when the spell was making me guard that crystal."

"Ah, speaking of which, we-" Blitz said, before Nereza interrupted him.

"Yes, yes, I know," Nereza responded. "Just wait a moment."

Nereza then disappeared into the shadows. After waiting a few moments, Nereza emerged from behind some trees, dropping a purple crystal onto the grass.

"Here is what you came for," Nereza said, grinning. "Take it somewhere Erebos can't find it!"

"We will," Blitz responded, nodding his head. "Thank you."

"Ah, there's no need to thank me," Nereza replied, before noticing a certain Deino walking up to her. "… Is something the matter?"

"Um… Well... This might sound strange, since I'm part dark-type…" Frederick said, taking a deep breath. "But… I kind of had this fear of ghost-types…"

"Oh, don't worry about it!" Nereza responded, grinning. "We ghost-types don't mind if other types of Pokémon are scared of us!"

"Uh… That's nice," Frederick replied, smiling sheepishly. "But you see, I… I think I might be starting to overcome that fear… I mean…"

"Good for you!" Nereza said, still smiling. "If I had hands, I'd start up a round of applause for you!"

"Ah, well… that's not necessary," Frederick responded, shaking his head.

"If you say so," Nereza replied. "Well, then, I guess I've got some explaining to do for some of the other ghost-types in this forest..."

"We'll come with you!" Candelaria said.

And so, Nereza and the other three ghost-types went off to look for the ones that Nereza had attacked while under the influence of the spell, leaving the rescue team and Lodestone behind.

"… They're not bad Pokémon," Frederick said, smiling and shaking his head. "They're not bad at all."

"You did really well today, Frederick," Blitz commented, smiling at the Deino.

"I think we're all a little stronger and a little braver now," Sera said, smiling and wagging her tail.

"I've only known you all for a few hours, but I must say I agree," Lodestone commented, smiling proudly at the rescue team. "And I believe you will get even stronger in the future."

"Thanks, Lodestone," Blitz said, as Chiaki picked up and examined the purple crystal. "We'll be heading back to Fenix Town now."

"Of course," Lodestone responded, nodding his head. "I'll be heading back home as well."

"Maybe… we'll meet again someday?" Frederick asked.

"Perhaps," Lodestone replied, shrugging slightly. "Well, good luck with the rest of your mission. I hope you and the other rescue teams of Fenix Town are able to find the remaining crystals."

Lodestone then began to walk away, while Blitz held up the rescue team badge. In a flash of golden light, he and his three teammates were transported out of the mystery dungeon, having finally retrieved another crystal.

----

Upon returning to Fenix Town, the rescue team immediately headed for Stella's house to drop off the crystal they had retrieved. As they approached the stone building, they suddenly spotted a certain Marill pacing back-and-forth in front of the front door of the house. The moment she saw the four of them approaching, she immediately ran over to Frederick with a huge grin on her face and hugged the Deino's face against her body.

"You're back!" Azure exclaimed, letting go of Frederick after a few seconds. "I'm so sorry about the way I acted earlier! I only wanted you to overcome your fears so you could feel more confident!"

"It's okay," Frederick responded, smiling at Azure. "I know you meant well."

"So, how did it go?" Azure asked, looking at Frederick with apprehension. "Were you able to overcome your fear?"

"Yeah… I think so!" Frederick replied, nodding his head.

"Really?" Azure asked, grinning and pulling Frederick in for another hug. "That's great! I knew you could do it!"

"Aw, thanks for believing in me, Azure!" Frederick responded, smiling.

The other three rescue team members exchanged smiles and glances, before stepping inside the stone building to give the purple crystal to Stella. Azure and Frederick decided to head over to the café, Azure listening intently as Frederick began telling her about how the mission in Nightmirror Forest went.

It had been a long day, although it certainly wasn't an uneventful for one for Blitz and his teammates. They had made some new friends, recovered another crystal, and most importantly, their bonds were stronger than ever.

----

End of chapter 46

----
 
Wow! I really like this story I just caught up. I can't wait for the next chapter
 

Spiteful Murkrow

Early Game Encounter
If Azure had been a part of this mission, what kind of test would she have faced?

Hrm... It's a tough question since the trials also seemed to be balanced a bit atmosphere-wise, but based off of what I recall about Azure... Potentially something dealing with her confidence causing unintended consequences such as having her teammates come to harm thanks to an action she took in a moment of certainty/confidence.

So this is just a leetle belated, but I figure that there are worse dates to review a chapter posted on a holiday than on another holiday, so let's start.

"Let me ask you another question, then," Lodestone responded, clearing his throat. "It is my understanding that your species are unable to see until you reach your final evolution stage, correct?"

"Yeah, that's right," Frederick replied, nodding his head. "I tend to bump into things sometimes, but it doesn't really bother me that much."

"And because you lack sight, you rely on your other senses to find out who and what is around you," Lodestone said, glancing at Frederick. "As you said earlier, it is hard to pick up on a ghost-type Pokémon's scent."

"Yes, it is," Frederick responded, nodding his head again. "I have a really good sense of smell, but most ghost-types just don't leave much of a scent for me to track them…"

"Ghost-types are also good at sneaking up on others without making any sound," Lodestone added. "Like you said before, they could be nearby without you even realizing."

"Huh… That's right," Frederick responded, shuddering a little.

Oh, so that's why he's afraid of Ghost-Types, but it makes sense, and it's a clever tie-in of Pokédex lore, so nice job there.

"Cursing young Pokémon who misbehave, eating our life forces, sneaking into our houses at night and rearranging our furniture while we sleep…"

The last part made me giggle a bit.

"Yes and no," Lodestone responded, shaking his head. "Ghost-types tend to exaggerate their abilities for the sake of making the story more interesting."

"And to scare you to feed off of your fear, you get numb to it after a while."

"Among the seventeen types of Pokémon, the ghost-type is rather unique," Lodestone explained, glancing around for signs of anyone else. "However, they are still just Pokémon."

No Fairy-Types in your setting? Or was this a typo?

"We may not be able to do anything about it on our own," Sera said, grinning. "But if we all work together like we always do, then I'm sure we can even change destiny!"

"Sera…" Blitz responded, staring wide-eyed at the Eevee.

"We'll find a way together, Blitz!" Sera said, smiling at him. "We'll definitely change your destiny!"

"Y-You… you really mean it?" Blitz asked, tears starting to well up in his eyes.

"Of course I do!" Sera responded, nodding her head. "I'm sure there are plenty of things you could use your leadership skills for other than leading the Luxray pride! We just need to figure out what you like best!"

"Sera…" Blitz replied, smiling as he wiped away a tear with one of his paws. "Yeah… it just might work…"

"It will definitely work!" Sera responded, grinning.

"Sera… Thank you," Blitz said, getting back onto his feet.

This bit was heartwarming to see, where Blitz's fatalism got jostled by Sera's calling back of the team's experiences so far to get him to not give in. That said, I have to wonder how the little lion cub managed to remain so entranced in his illusion when the "Luxray" was getting accosted by a sudden Dusclops from nowhere.

"Hey, this isn't how this is supposed to work!" the "Mienfoo" shouted, his disguise dissolving into purple smoke to reveal his true form, a ghost Pokémon with a body formed from purple gas, its two hands detached from the rest of his body.

"We know," Candelaria responded, looking over at the Haunter. "However, this is a rather special situation, is it not?"

"You do not need to worry," the Dusclops added, also looking over at the Haunter. "These Pokémon are definitely strong enough."

"Do you honestly think they can face Nereza?" the Haunter asked, looking skeptically at the other two ghost-types.

"Um… I don't fully understand the situation," Chiaki said, raising his paw. "But… we'll do what we can to help!"

I'll admit that this seemed a little overly convenient to me, while Blitz's felt suitably paced in comparison. Perhaps the scene would have gone down stronger if Blitz and Sera had to 'fight' more to get Chiaki out of his trial? Just my two cents, anyhow.

"Hurry, you have to use Disable to stop her attack!" Sera shouted at Reginald.

However, before any of the three ghosts had the chance to do anything about it, another Ominous Wind began to blow through the room. This time, it was even stronger, and Sera watched in horror as all three ghosts, along with Blitz and Chiaki collapsed to the ground. Only she, Frederick and Lodestone were barely able to hold on.

Ouch.

"You're just trying to distract me in order to take the crystal, aren't you?" Nereza replied.

Well, she's not totally wrong while under that spell.

Nereza glanced back-and-forth between the two ghost-types currently preparing attacks, before suddenly launching herself at the Haunter. The Haunter barely managed to dodge the attack, but ended up accidentally firing his Shadow Ball attack at a random tree in the process. Nereza then allowed Reginald to hit her with his Thunder Punch attack, before pushing him backwards with a Dark Pulse attack.

I'll admit, I lost track of when the Ghost-Types got revived in the flow of battle a bit, but you seemed to do well with depicting their moves in-battle.

"Ah, I can't believe it took me this long to shake off the effects of that spell!" Nereza exclaimed, looking rather annoyed. "I thought I was better than that…"

I'll admit that I wasn't expecting her to remember what she went through while under Erebos' spell.

The other three rescue team members exchanged smiles and glances, before stepping inside the stone building to give the purple crystal to Stella. Azure and Frederick decided to head over to the café, Azure listening intently as Frederick began telling her about how the mission in Nightmirror Forest went.

It had been a long day, although it certainly wasn't an uneventful for one for Blitz and his teammates. They had made some new friends, recovered another crystal, and most importantly, their bonds were stronger than ever.

Remind me, this is 4 of 6 crystals now? Wonder where the next one will be.

All in all, there were some rough patches this chapter, primarily with a few events seeming rushed, but I think the atmosphere and battle with Nereza made up for it. I'll certainly be looking forward to where things go from here.
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Thanks for your replies! I really appreciate it!

Spiteful Murkrow: I'm glad you enjoyed the chapter, and thanks for being honest with me about some of the flaws in the chapter. In fact, I'll address the thing about how Chiaki was broken out of the illusion in the next chapter.

As for your other questions, I began to write this story before Gen VI was a thing, so by the time the Fairy-type was revealed, I thought it'd be difficult to implement it at that point in the story, so I decided to leave out all Gen VI elements. I might eventually write another PMD fanfic which does have Gen VI elements in it. And there are eight crystals in total, and they have now retrieved five of them.

Anyways, I hope you're all having a nice holiday. I'm not sure when the next chapter will be ready. I might finish it by next Saturday, or it could take longer. These things can be unpredictable. I hope you guys will look forward to it either way!
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Arbolith X Random Tree OTP?

Hey everyone! I finally have chapter 47 ready! Really sorry it took this long, but it's done! It's finally done! First chapter of 2016.

Whew... Previously, a lot of plot related stuff happened, so I figured we'd take it a bit easier with this chapter, checking up on some other characters, including some we may not have seen in quite a while. Of course, there were also a few things left up in the air from the previous chapter, so I also wanted to bring that up in this chapter.

Also, I went back to some previous chapters and changed the names of Blitz and Lita's parents, since their old names didn't really fit in. Luckily, their names were only really brought up in two chapters, so it didn't really take that long to change.

Well, with that out of the way, let's get to the chapter! I hope you guys enjoy it! If you have any thoughts/advice/questions/whatever, feel free to tell me! I'd really appreciate it! All right, here's Chapter 47!

----

Chapter 47: What reason does he have for anything he does?

----

Chiaki was lying awake in bed, thinking about the events of the day. Blitz and Sera both seemed very happy. Frederick seemed to have overcome his fear of ghosts. Nereza had been freed from Erebos’ spell. Another crystal had been found and retrieved, leaving only three more to find. They even made some new friends in the process. Chiaki felt as if he should’ve been happy about all of this, but something was still bothering him about what happened in Nightmirror Forest. He had been told that a part of him already knew the truth about who he really was. Did that Haunter know something about him that he didn’t know, or was he just making a guess?

Blitz and Sera had told him about their own similar experiences in the forest, so apparently the ghost-types did have a way of finding out everything they needed to know about those who entered the mystery dungeon. However, thinking about it more, Chiaki was starting to realize that he was different from Blitz and Sera. They knew exactly who they were. Without any memories, Chiaki couldn’t confirm if the Haunter was telling the truth. And because they had been so busy trying to help Nereza and get the crystal back, it hadn’t occurred to him to try asking about it either.

Chiaki thought back to what he had told the Haunter. He had said that he would accept the truth, no matter what it was. The Haunter seemed skeptical of this claim, but before Chiaki could really think more about it, Sera and Blitz had shown up. He had just been glad to see that his friends were okay, and was reassured by their words that things would be okay, but…

“If they hadn’t shown up when they did, what would I have done…?” Chiaki thought to himself, sighing.

He looked over at Blitz, who was currently asleep and looking quite content. Chiaki decided not to wake him up. Chiaki crawled out of bed, and went outside. He looked up to see the stars twinkling in the night sky. He wondered if Stella and Bow were still awake, watching the stars in hopes of getting a glimpse of where the remaining crystals were.

“It sure is amazing how much the stars know…” Chiaki whispered, looking up at the sky.

He then closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to clear his mind. As he opened his eyes again, he spotted a familiar figure out of the corner of his eye.

“Elina?” Chiaki said, turning to face the young Elgyem.

Elina was just standing there, staring at him. Her fingers occasionally gave off a faint glow, flashing in random patterns.

“… You must be wondering why I haven’t told you anything,” Elina said via telepathy, briefly looking away from Chiaki. “Yet, it occurs to me that you don’t seem to have been trying to seek me out either… Why is that?”

Elina turned back to Chiaki, watching him as she awaited a response. Chiaki just stood there, looking as if he was trying to think of something to say, but just couldn’t find an answer. Elina gave a quiet sigh and closed her eyes.

“… I understand,” Elina responded, nodding her head. “You have accepted your identity as Chiaki the Mienfoo. You have grown close to some of the Pokémon of this town… I can’t blame you. The Pokémon here are quite nice. Part of me wishes I could just stay here, but… I know that’s not possible for either of us.”

“Elina…” Chiaki uttered, shuddering as he remembered another thing the Haunter had said to him. “Deep down, you know there’s somewhere else you should be, don’t you?”

“In order to protect you, I wanted to keep the truth to myself for as long as possible,” Elina explained, her hand shaking. “But… maybe if I had spoken up sooner…”

Elina shook her head, her fingers flashing brightly for a few moments.

“No, that wouldn’t have been any better…” Elina said via telepathy, staring at the glowing fingers on her own hand. “No matter what I did… I would’ve just ended up hurting you anyway…”

“… What do you mean?” Chiaki asked, taking a step towards Elina. “Protecting me from what?”

“… Chiaki, when all of this is over, I’ll be taking you back home,” Elina responded, looking at Chiaki for a moment. “Until then, I want you to enjoy the time you have left. Explore as many places with your friends as you can, make new experiences… Do this for me, okay?”

Chiaki blinked a few times, before nodding his head.

“I’ll try,” Chiaki said, giving a small smile.

Elina nodded her head in response, before floating back towards the center of town. Chiaki waved good-bye as she disappeared from sight, quietly wondering just where the young Elgyem slept at night. Of course, that wasn’t the only question on his mind.

“Home…” Chiaki muttered, absentmindedly looking up at the sky once more. “The place where Elina and I live… I wonder where that is…”

“Deep down, you know there’s somewhere else you should be!” Chiaki sighed as these words echoed through his head once more. “Part of you already knows the truth!”

Chiaki groaned and clutched his head as the voices echoing in his head were suddenly drowned out by the sound of pouring rain. He closed his eyes, envisioning the Meridian Forest. As he looked up, he could just barely make out a familiar structure in the distance.

“That is…” Chiaki muttered, stumbling a bit.

Chiaki closed his eyes as his vision began to blur, and when he opened them again, he found that he was back in front of Blitz’s house. He blinked a few times, before looking around at his surroundings. His head still hurt.

“Ugh… What just happened?” Chiaki said, rubbing his forehead.

He glanced around once more, before deciding that it was best to head back inside and try to get some sleep. He lay back down in his bed, closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind of all the questions that were floating about inside his head…

----

Sera was smiling and humming to herself as she headed towards the town plaza, excited for what today would bring. A few rescue teams were still making preparations for whatever missions awaited them, some of them discussing recent events. From what Sera could tell from parts of the conversations she happened to overhear as she walked by, it seemed that distortions were spreading to more areas. However, there was also the news of another crystal having been retrieved, which seemed to be helping the various Pokémon keep their hopes up.

Sera’s ears perked up as she noticed Blitz and Chiaki entering the town plaza, and she quickly ran over to greet her two friends.

“Hey guys!” Sera said, grinning.

“Oh, hey there, Sera,” Blitz responded, smiling back at Sera.

“Good morning…” Chiaki said, yawning.

“You look tired,” Sera commented, tilting her head slightly. “Didn’t you get enough sleep last night, or something?”

“I guess not…” Chiaki responded, shrugging slightly.

“Well, we’ll be stopping by the café anyways to pick up Azure and Frederick,” Blitz said, looking over at Chiaki. “Maybe we can ask River for something that’ll help? Something made with Chesto berries should work.”

“Sounds good to me,” Chiaki responded, nodding his head.

As the three of them walked over to the café, Chiaki briefly found himself wondering if his encounter with Elina last night had really happened, or if it was all just a dream. In his tired state, it was difficult to make sense of things. Maybe he’d be able to think clearer once he was a little more awake. When they entered the café, they were greeted by Azure and Frederick.

“Hey guys!” Azure said, grinning. “You finally showed up, huh?”

“Always ready for another mission, aren’t you?” Sera commented, chuckling.

“Of course,” Azure responded, nodding.

“I’m ready for some missions too,” Frederick said. “At least, I think I am!”

“Well, I think Chiaki needs something to help him wake up before we decide on who will be going on today’s missions,” Blitz explained, glancing over at the somewhat tired-looking Mienfoo.

“Ah, say no more!” Azure responded, winking to Blitz before running up to the counter to ask her mother to mix something together real quick.

The group waited for a few minutes, before Azure returned carrying a wooden teacup in her hands.

“Here you go!” Azure said, handing it over to Chiaki. “This Chesto berry tea ought to help!”

“Thanks, Azure,” Chiaki responded, smiling at the young Marill.

Chiaki took a sip of the hot beverage, and thought back to the vision he had. He had lost his memories on the very same night that Erebos stole the crystals from Axis Tower, hadn’t he? He was pretty sure that had to be the case. Axis Tower also had to be the home Elina spoke of. However, he still couldn’t figure out just what exactly happened to him that night…

“Elina said she wanted to protect me… Was it Erebos she wanted to protect me from?” Chiaki quietly wondered to himself, as he took another sip of his tea. “Come to think of it, back when we went to rescue Bow, Elina seemed very afraid and tried to talk me out of going to where Bow was… It must’ve been because Erebos was there…”

Chiaki finished his drink, setting the teacup down on a nearby wooden table.

“All right, you ready to go now?” Azure asked.

“Yeah, I think so,” Chiaki responded, wiping his mouth with his arm.

“Great!” Azure replied, grinning. “Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

The group left the café, and headed up to the rescue team HQ. On the way, Chiaki continued his train of thought.

“Erebos… Did he hurt Elina too?” Chiaki wondered, his eyes narrowing slightly. “I can’t forgive that…”

Chiaki wasn’t sure how many Pokémon that Erebos had harmed in some way, but the exact number didn’t really matter. What really mattered was stopping him from hurting anyone else.

“Who knows what he is doing right now…” Chiaki thought, sighing. “I hope Samara is able to do something about him soon… Until then, I should just do what I can.”

At the rescue team HQ, Blitz and his friends began looking at the missions that were posted on the bulletin boards. After picking out a few, they had to decide which four out of the five of them would be going on this mission.

“You got to go yesterday, so today is my turn, right?” Azure said, looking over at Frederick.

“Oh, um… I guess so,” Frederick responded, nodding his head. “Plus, I think you’ve got a type advantage against the Pokémon in this mystery dungeon, so it makes sense to have you go.”

“Yay!” Azure replied, hugging Frederick’s face. “Thanks buddy!”

“You’re welcome,” Frederick responded, smiling at Azure.

“Okay then, let’s go!” Blitz said, bringing his teammates into Kala’s room.

“Don’t drink your hair…” Kala muttered in her sleep, as Blitz gently shook her shoulder in order to wake her up.

Chiaki took a deep breath, trying to clear his mind so he could focus on the mission. After all, he couldn’t let his worries interfere with his work. There were Pokémon out there who needed help, and it was the rescue teams’ duty to help them.

----

The ribbon-like feelers on Bow’s body shone as Bow fired a multicolored beam of light from her eyes to knock down the targets Hercules had set up. As she took down the last target with her Psybeam attack, she closed her eyes and took a deep breath as the glow of her feelers subsided. She then opened her eyes again and looked over at her mother, who had been watching her training session.

“Well done, Bow,” Stella said, smiling at her daughter.

“Thanks,” Bow responded, smiling back.

It had been Bow’s idea to head to the dojo. Because of everything that had happened lately, it had been a while since she last had a chance to really work on her battle skills. Wisdom and kindness were good attributes for a town oracle, but in case they needed to fight in order to protect their loved ones, a town oracle also needed to be strong. And Bow wanted to become the best town oracle she could possibly become.

“Hmm… Not bad,” Hercules commented, as the Hoothoot that had been taking the time during Bow’s training session told him how long she had taken.

“I think I can do even better!” Bow shouted, looking over at Hercules with a confident smirk.

“So, you want to give it another go?” Hercules asked, smiling at Bow.

“Yep!” Bow responded, nodding her head. “I’ll try to get it done even faster this time!”

“All right,” Hercules replied, waving to Lotus. “Lotus? Can you set the targets up again real quick?”

“No problem,” the Meditite responded, nodding her head slightly.

Lotus’ eyes briefly shined, as she telekinetically moved the targets back into position. Bow took a deep breath, and waited for Hercules to give her the signal to start.

----

Mirage and her teammates were making their way through a mystery dungeon in a cave, although distortions in the area were making things much more difficult for them. Occasionally while exploring the area, they would suddenly be warped to a different section within the current room they were in without warning. The number of wild Pokémon that kept attacking them, particularly the large number of Zubat and Golbat that kept swooping down from out of nowhere didn’t help either. Even if it didn’t take too long to defeat these wild Pokémon with their attacks, it didn’t make it any less frustrating for the rescue team.

“Okay… We finally made it to the floor specified in the mission description!” Mirage exclaimed, taking a deep breath. “Now, let’s find that item and get out of here!”

“Agreed,” Megara responded, nodding her head. “I can’t take much more of this…”

“The mushroom feels dizzy from all the random teleporting,” Cordyceps stated.

“I don’t think I’ve seen any other mystery dungeons this badly affected by the distortions so far,” Mirage commented, rubbing her head. “Maybe it’d be best to just close this area off until the crisis is resolved…”

“I don’t know how well that’d work,” Megara responded, looking around at their current surroundings. “I mean, you’ve seen some of the missions we’ve taken, right? Some grass-type wandering off into an area full of poison types, or a fire-type somehow ending up stranded in a mystery dungeon that is mostly water… Some of the Pokémon we have to rescue don’t seem particularly bright, and even if they closed the area off, some of them would probably still find a way to get in there…”

“Oh come on, Meg,” Mirage replied, looking over at the Magmar. “Even if some of them make admittedly questionable choices that get them into these situations, I’m sure they’re at least smart enough to stay out of mystery dungeons if we close off the entire area around it. Besides, this particular mystery dungeon isn’t necessary to cross in order to get anywhere special, and I don’t know of anything else that would make Pokémon feel the need to go through here.”

“I suppose,” Megara responded, shrugging her shoulders. “Although, that does raise the question of what we’ll do when mystery dungeons containing important resources or mystery dungeons that are the only known routes to certain locations become affected this badly…”

“Well… Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” Mirage replied, leading the group down one of the paths. “I mean, over half of the crystals have been retrieved now, so hopefully the rest are found before this all escalates any further, right?”

“The mushroom hopes so,” Cordyceps responded, following behind Mirage.

“I see it!” Megara exclaimed, running up to and picking up a scarf from the floor, holding it up triumphantly.

“Oh, good,” Mirage said, sighing in relief. “Mission’s over, we can leave now.”

“All this trouble for a scarf…” Megara commented, hugging the scarf.

“The mushroom thinks we should inform someone about the state of this mystery dungeon when we get back,” Cordyceps said, looking up at Mirage.

“Agreed,” Mirage responded, holding up the rescue team badge. “Let’s get back to the rescue team HQ, guys!”

In a flash of golden light from the badge, the trio was teleported out of the mystery dungeon.

----

In Nectar Woods, a few trees were seemingly flickering in and out of existence. Various bug-types living in the forest had been moving away from the sections of the woods affected by the distortions. Queen Miele had allowed a few of them to seek shelter in the tree with her Combee, as long as they didn’t help themselves to too much of the honey that the Combee produced. At the moment, Sting and his teammates had come over to check on the current status of the forest, and Queen Miele was explaining the situation.

“I see,” Sting said, nodding his head slightly. “At least the honey comb is unaffected for now.”

“I must try my best to reassure my subjects that everything will be okay,” Miele said, looking over at Sting. “You say that five of the crystals have been found so far?”

“Yes, that is correct,” Sting responded, nodding his head. “We only need to find the remaining three, and then we can return them to Axis Tower. Once they’re back to where they belong, things will return to normal.”

“That is good to hear,” Miele replied.

“Well, at least it’ll fix the distortions,” Melody said, sighing. “But there’s also that evil spirit, Erebos, to worry about…”

“Yeah, who knows what that guy is up to?” Frosty added.

“I will let everyone know, and tell them to keep an eye out for anything suspicious,” Queen Miele responded, holding a hand to her chest.

“Thank you, Miele,” Sting replied. “Although, I doubt Erebos would have any reason to come here…”

“What reason does he have for anything he does?” Melody asked, looking over at Sting. “If he decided to burn down the forest on a whim or something, he’d probably do it!”

“Ah, right…” Sting responded, remembering Stella’s story of the past.

“Don’t worry about me,” Miele said, placing her hand on Sting’s upper arm. “I will do what I can to help protect this forest. In the meantime, you and your teammates must continue doing what you can do.”

“… Yes, of course,” Sting responded, nodding his head. “We’ll keep working hard. You can count on that.”

“I know you will,” Miele replied, looking at Sting fondly. “I’ll keep cheering you on from here.”

“Ah, thanks…” Sting responded, rubbing the back of his head with the side of one arm stinger.

Frosty and Melody exchanged glances, both smirking as if seemingly on the same wavelength. Sting chose not to comment on what they might’ve been thinking at the moment.

“Thanks for taking the time to come see me,” Miele said. “And it was nice to finally meet your teammates.”

“Well, I did say I’d bring them along so you could meet them next time I came here, didn’t I?” Sting responded.

“It was nice meeting you too, your majesty!” Frosty said, grinning.

“We should all meet up again sometime!” Melody added, also smiling. “I’d like to know more about what Sting was like when he was younger!”

“Can’t you just ask him yourself?” Miele asked, tilting her head slightly.

“There isn’t really that much to tell,” Sting responded, twiddling his arm stingers.

“Not that much to tell?” Melody inquired. “I don’t believe that.”

“Well, um… Okay, if you really want to know, then… I guess I can tell you sometime,” Sting responded. “Anyways… I suppose it’s time to head back to town now.”

“Good-bye for now, Sting,” Miele said, waving her hand. “I wish you all luck on your missions!”

The three of them made their way back outside, the two Beedrill guards at the entrance giving the rescue team a nod of acknowledgement as they walked past. Sting briefly glanced back at the large tree, before reaching for the rescue team badge. Moving the tip of his arm stinger through a small hole in one of the wing-decorations on the badge, he lifted the badge up and activated its magic.

----

Frederick was relaxing under a tree, waiting for Blitz and the others to return from their missions. He had heard that other rescue teams had returned from their missions, and had heard them talk about the events of their mission as they walked by, presumably either heading home or to the café. After a while, he heard someone walking through the grass, moving towards him before stopping. Frederick lifted his head slightly, sniffing the air to try to determine the identity of the Pokémon now standing next to him.

“Hmm… Interesting,” the other Pokémon said.

It didn’t seem like they were addressing Frederick, but the voice certainly seemed familiar. Frederick was pretty sure it was a member of one of the other rescue teams around town, but which one?

“Trees can grow quite tall, can’t they?” the other Pokémon commented, and Frederick thought he could hear something lightly tapping the tree bark. “As for me, it seems I’ve remained relatively the same size since evolving…”

“Trees…?” Frederick said, tilting his head slightly. “Oh, right… There’s this guy who likes to talk about trees… What was his name again…?”

Arbolith the Sudowoodo kept staring up at the tree for a few moments, before glancing over at Frederick.

“Are you talking about me?” Arbolith asked.

“… Yeah, I think so,” Frederick responded, nodding his head.

“Oh,” Arbolith replied, resuming staring at the tree. “… Trees are beautiful, aren’t they?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Frederick responded. “I don’t actually know what they look like.”

“Hmm… Interesting,” Arbolith replied, leaning the upper half of his body against the tree.

As Arbolith kept leaning against the tree while gently stroking the bark of the tree with his green orb-like “fingers”, Frederick found himself at a loss of what to talk about. Blitz and the others still hadn’t shown up yet, which brought to mind another question.

“Hey, where are your teammates?” Frederick asked, sniffing the air. “You’re on a rescue team, right?”

“Yes, you are correct,” Arbolith responded, moving away from the tree.

“Are your teammates nearby?” Frederick asked.

“Probably,” Arbolith responded, swaying from side to side. “They should be around here somewhere.”

“Ah, okay,” Frederick replied.

Things were quiet for a while, aside from Arbolith reaching out and stroking the tree once more.

“I don’t really like water,” Arbolith said, staring up at the tree. “Trees however, do like water. I’m sure that is why they are so much taller than me.”

“… That makes sense,” Frederick responded, after thinking it over for a few moments.

“What about rocks?” Arbolith asked, swaying to the side. “Do rocks like water?”

“… I really don’t know,” Frederick responded, shaking his head. “Rocks can’t talk, so…”

“Yes, that is true,” Arbolith replied, nodding slightly. “Unless they are rock-type Pokémon… Like me. I talk a lot.”

“That you do,” Frederick responded, nodding his head.

Things were quiet for a bit, before Arbolith spoke up again.

“I have seen rocks near lakes, which lie submerged in water or has waves washing over them regularly,” Arbolith said. “They don’t seem to mind it… If only I was as brave as those rocks.”

“Um… My friend Azure says you can accomplish anything if you just have enough confidence in yourself,” Frederick responded.

“Hmm… Interesting,” Arbolith replied, swaying back and forth for a bit.

Frederick sniffed the air as he heard someone approaching. It didn’t take long for him to pick up on the scent of flowers.

“There you are,” Calder the Wartortle said as he and Floretta the Bellossom walked up to the Sudowoodo. “We finished up at the HQ, and we’re just about to head over to the café for some drinks. Are you coming along, or not?”

“Hmm… Interesting,” Arbolith responded, turning around to face his teammates. “I guess I will come along.”

“All right,” Calder replied, nodding and giving a small smile. “Let’s go, then.”

Arbolith waved to Frederick, before he and his teammates went off. Once they had left, things were quiet again for a few more minutes. Finally, Frederick heard a familiar voice calling out to him.

“Hey, we’re back!” Azure shouted, grinning as she and the others approached Frederick.

“Ah, welcome back, guys!” Frederick responded, getting up and walking up to meet his teammates. “How’d things go?”

“Pretty well,” Azure replied, still smiling. “We got everything done, and just picked up our rewards!”

“Oh, that’s good,” Frederick responded, smiling at Azure.

“Admittedly, things got a bit difficult as we had to fight our way out of a monster house at one point,” Azure added, glancing over at Blitz. “But thanks to Blitz, we made it out of there just fine.”

“Once I was able to get my paws on that orb, the rest was easy,” Blitz said, smiling.

“Ooh, tell me more!” Frederick responded.

As the group headed towards the café and Azure told Frederick more about their latest mission, Sera turned to Blitz.

“You did really well today,” Sera said, smiling at Blitz.

“Oh, thanks,” Blitz responded, smiling back at her.

“If you don’t mind me saying it, I think you’re a really great leader,” Sera said, looking away for a moment.

“Uh… Is something wrong?” Blitz asked, looking over at Sera.

“Do you… want to continue being the leader of this team, or do you want me to take back the leader position?” Sera responded, her ears drooping down slightly. “I know this was only meant to be a temporary thing, but… if you’re having fun, then…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Blitz replied, smiling at Sera. “We’re in this together, aren’t we?”

“… Right,” Sera responded, nodding her head and smiling back at Blitz.

Chiaki couldn’t help but smile at his friends all getting along so well. While he still had his many questions and concerns, being with his friends was almost enough to make him forget all about those worries. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard to keep his promise with Elina after all.

“We all worry about things sometimes,” Chiaki thought to himself. “But life is much too short to let it stop you from enjoying what you like, or doing what needs to be done…”

Several other rescue teams were also gathered at the café this evening, talking about recent events and whatever else came to mind. Chiaki was quiet for the most part, just taking the time to relax and observe the other Pokémon.

----

Outside the barrier around Fenix Town, a certain someone was hovering around, looking as annoyed as it was possible for their “borrowed” body to look without a whole lot of facial features to work with.

“To think that they actually managed to get the crystal from Nightmirror Forest…” Erebos muttered to himself, the eye on top of the Sigilyph’s body flashing red. “That town oracle is quite annoying… and I bet that little brat is here too…”

However, Erebos soon seemed to calm down, snickering to himself as he floated away from the town.

“Guess I just need to make sure they can’t possibly get to the remaining two crystals that I hid away!” Erebos said, before suddenly stopping as something occurred to him. “Although… Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if someone did find them…”

His eyes flashed red once more, before he flew off into the evening sky, laughing to himself as he thought about what he would do once the Pokémon that had interfered with his plans was within his grasp…

----

End of chapter 47

----
 
Last edited:

Sike Saner

Peace to the Mountain
Santos smirked, and confidently struck a pose.

“It is… my destiny!” Santos shouted proudly, before he started moving again.

Santos kept a cocky grin on his face as he kept on running.

“No matter how far away the recipient of the letter is, I will certainly get there! Obstacles in the way won’t stop me; I’ll just find a way past them! And if I run into any wild Pokémon that look interested in eating me for breakfast, I’ll run away from them as fast as I can since I am in no way strong enough to last in a fight against them, and I won’t lose a single letter in the process!”

After a few moments, Santos found himself having to stop to catch his breath once more.

“Probably… shouldn’t yell so much… while running,” Santos muttered, chuckling sheepishly.

Lol Santos, you nerd you.

“If you’re just confident enough, you can just march on through without a worry because the bug types would flee at the mere sight of you!”

“Huh, is that so?” Frederick responded, thinking for a few moments. “… Would that work on ghost types too?”

I ain't fraid of no ghost. But apparently he is.

“Chiaki… is my friend...” Elina thought to herself, staring off into space. “But… I can’t keep thinking of him that way, can I…?”

Of course this just makes me even more curious about Chiaki's identity/backstory.

"Why not?" Malefica asked, hovering closer to Bow.

"Um… I'm not sure," Bow responded, holding a hand to her chin as she tried to remember if she had ever heard anything regarding why Kala didn't want to evolve.

Addicted to sleep, perhaps? It'd be harder to get away with sleeping so much if she weren't an abra anymore.

"I want to evolve as soon as I get a Dusk Stone!" Malefica said, grinning. "Then I'll be stronger and can have even more fun with my magic tricks!"

Uh-oh. Protags better nip those tendencies in the bud else she's liable to turn into Erebos the Sequel. 'Specially with a name like hers.

but according to Cordyceps, the mushroom was insisting they buy more Heal Seeds while they were there

Now there's a welcome reunion. :D

"Once you seal Erebos up again, what will you do with him after that?" Bow asked, tilting her head slightly.

"Ah, you don't need to be concerned about that," Samara responded. "I will not leave anything up to chance. I will make sure that Erebos can never return to cause more chaos again."

Well I can think of one possible way to make that happen. Maybe. Idk. I'm not sure Erebos is technically alive at this point. He's in kind of a gray area, far as I can tell.

“Malefica’s not that scary,” Azure responded

Not yet anyway...

“Was I being too hard on him?” Azure muttered, looking slightly concerned. “Ah, well… I’m sure he can handle this. After all, Blitz, Sera and Chiaki are with him… Yeah, he’ll be fine.”

I'd say "famous last words" except it was her who said that, not Frederick himself.

“Being in the presence of such courageous Pokémon… it fills me with admiration!”

...Is it bad that some tiny part of me vaguely expected that sentence to end with "determination"? XD

“The thought of assisting these noble heroes fills me with determination!”

OH MY GOD

But. Marowak. You're a monster. That can't be safe for--yeah okay, I'll get off that subject now. :p

(Maybe.)

“She currently goes by the name “Nereza”,” the tribe leader said. “Supposedly, she changes it every one-hundred-and-eight years.”

And I'm guessing every 11, 664 years she cycles back around to the first name she ever used?

“However, since Lodestone said the ghost-types would probably co-operate once we explained the situation to them, we probably won’t have to face too many battles,” Blitz said.

“Oh, right,” Sera responded, smiling at Blitz. “Guess we won’t have too big a challenge with retrieving the crystal this time around!”

Jinxed it; calling it now.

"My, what a rare sight," Nereza said, her voice sounding like multiple voices blending together, with one voice just barely more prominent than the rest.

That's a neat detail. :D

“The mushroom feels dizzy from all the random teleporting,” Cordyceps stated.

Well I guess that answers the "do sapient mushrooms have vestibular systems" question.
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Sike Saner: Thanks for your reply! Glad you're enjoying the story! :)

Anyways...

Hey guys! Whew, it's been quite a while, hasn't it? I am so glad to finally have a new chapter done!

So, it's been a little over four years since I posted the original version of the first chapter here. Time sure flies, huh? I wonder how long it'll be before I eventually manage to finish this. I'm also working on some other writing projects of mine, so maybe I'll have something else for you guys soon.

I have some ideas for the next two chapters, which I guess this chapter has helped me figure out and set up. Hopefully it won't take me as long to get another chapter done, but we'll see. The next chapter will be rather different from the usual stuff. I hope I can write it well.

On another note, I've been playing Super Mystery Dungeon, and I'm rather amused by how many characters in it remind me of characters from this fanfic here.

But for now, here's chapter 48! I hope you're all enjoying the story so far, and that you'll enjoy this chapter!

----

Chapter 48: I wonder what returning home will be like…

----

The sunset was giving the evening sky a red hue, as a young Shinx accompanied by a Luxio made her way over to a nearby field. She peeked out from some bushes, quietly observing the field. Parts of the field were visibly distorted, flickering and sparking. The grass near those spots appeared to have wilted, and it didn't look like anyone else was in the area. The Luxio limped his way over to the young Shinx, and looked out on the field. The Luxio gave a displeased snarl upon seeing the current state of the field, while the young Shinx merely looked concerned.

"Doesn't seem like any Zebstrika have been here in a while…" Lita commented, looking over at a distorted section of the ground. "Not that I would want to come here either in these conditions…"

"And yet the fact that we eat them never seemed to deter them," Charge said, tilting his head slightly. "Is the grass here just really tasty, or something?"

"I wouldn't know," Lita responded, smiling and shaking her head. "I've never tried it."

"Why would you?" Charge replied, giving Lita a look. "Anyways… Let's just head back."

"Okay," Lita responded, nodding her head.

"You lead the way," Charge said.

The two began making their way back to their territory within the Lightning Plateau, Lita taking it slow to make sure that Charge could keep up.

"Is this the only one this is happening to?" Charge asked, looking over at Lita.

"As far as I know, yes," Lita responded, nodding her head. "My mom hasn't said anything about any of our other regular hunting spots being affected by this yet…"

"Well, it's only a matter of time, isn't it?" Charge replied, sighing. "But I guess we won't starve just yet…"

"Don't worry, I'm sure somebody will get those crystals back and return them to Axis Tower soon!" Lita responded, smiling up at Charge. "And then everything will go back to normal, and the Zebstrika will return to that area!"

"Well, let's hope you're right," Charge replied, glancing around.

"The rescue teams in Fenix Town are working really hard!" Lita said, still smiling.

"Yeah, yeah… I know," Charge responded, nodding his head. "So, your older brother… he's with a rescue team, isn't he?"

"Uh, yes," Lita replied, nodding her head. "I already told you that."

"Right," Charge responded, looking away. "Um… How is he doing?"

"I'm not sure," Lita replied, shaking her head. "I hope he's doing okay, though."

"Hmm… Well, Fenix Town sounds like a pretty cool place," Charge responded, looking at Lita. "Although, I doubt I'd be okay with just living off of berries and fruit all the time."

"Me neither," Lita replied, smiling. "Blitz seems to have gotten used to it, though."

The two electric-type Pokémon kept walking, making small-talk as the sun went down. By the time they reached the cave where Lita and her mother lived, it was already dark.

"All right, we're here," Charge said, looking towards the cave. "Bye for now, I guess."

"Bye-bye!" Lita responded, smiling up at Charge.

Lita waited until Charge was no longer within her eyeshot, before heading inside where her mother was waiting for her.

"Ah, there you are," Leandra said, walking up to greet her daughter. "How was your day?"

"It was okay," Lita responded, looking up at her mother.

"Good to hear!" Leandra replied, smiling. "Oh, by the way, some of us are making plans for the next hunting trip away from the plateau."

"Already?" Lita asked, tilting her head slightly. "Is it because of the distortions?"

"Don't worry about that, Lita," Leandra responded, patting Lita on the head with her paw.

"I'm not worried," Lita replied, shaking her head. "But I'm right, aren't I? Have more hunting spots near our territory been affected?"

Lita knew how things usually worked. There were a few hunting spots close to Lightning Plateau, but occasionally they would send a team to an area further away from their territory to hunt. The reasons for this could vary, but it usually had something to do with something affecting the population of wild Pokémon in the usual hunting spots.

"Our pride has been able to survive worse things than this," Leandra said, grinning. "So, whatever happens, we'll be able to handle it!"

"You didn't answer my question," Lita responded, pouting. "If I'm going to be the leader of this pride someday, shouldn't I know what's going on around here?"

"Hmm? You want to become the next leader of the pride?" Leandra inquired, looking a bit surprised.

"Well, why not?" Lita responded, looking up at her mother. "I'm sure I could be a good leader."

"Being the leader of the Luxray pride is a lot of responsibility," Leandra said.

"I know that," Lita responded, nodding her head. "But I'm willing to learn everything I need to know!"

Leandra blinked a few times, before smiling warmly at her daughter.

"You're serious about this, aren't you?" Leandra said, affectionately nuzzling Lita. "My little princess…"

Lita smiled and rubbed her forehead against her mother's forehead. Since it was getting late, she decided to stop pushing the subject about the current state of the areas around Lightning Plateau for now. Besides, she figured that if the situation had changed drastically in some way, she would've already have found out about it.

----

Chiaki was lying awake in bed again, staring at a wall. For some reason, he just couldn't seem to fall asleep. He hoped this wasn't going to be a recurring problem. How was he supposed to have enough energy to deal with rescue team missions if he couldn't sleep at night? Suddenly, he felt a paw tap on his shoulder. Chiaki turned over so that he was facing Blitz, who had apparently noticed that he was having trouble sleeping.

"Is something wrong?" Blitz whispered, his golden eyes shining in the dark.

"It's nothing…" Chiaki responded, staring up at the ceiling.

"Are you sure?" Blitz asked, still looking at Chiaki.

Chiaki didn't answer, continuing to stare up at the ceiling.

"You know you can talk to us if something is bothering you, right?" Blitz said, tilting his head slightly. "Come on, talk to me."

"Well… I guess there is something I wanted to talk about…" Chiaki responded, looking over at Blitz.

"Go on, I'm listening," Blitz replied.

Chiaki gave Blitz a brief explanation of what he thought he had figured out about where he originally came from and the visions he kept having of the Meridian Forest.

"I see," Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly. "So, you think you used to live in the Axis Tower?"

"Yeah, I'm pretty sure," Chiaki replied.

"I suppose that makes sense…" Blitz responded, holding a paw to his chin. "Wild Mienfoo supposedly live in the areas around Axis Tower and Meridian Forest, and I believe there was a Mienshao among the guards from the tower…"

"So, at least that's one more mystery solved," Chiaki commented, smiling.

"But I don't understand… why can't Elina take you back home?" Blitz wondered, sitting up in his bed.

"I'm wondering the same thing," Chiaki responded, shrugging slightly. "But, there's no real point in worrying about that now, is there?"

"I don't know…" Blitz replied, shaking his head. "Something doesn't seem right here…"

"Are you saying you don't trust Elina?" Chiaki asked, looking away.

"I didn't say that," Blitz responded.

"... Blitz, I… I know there's somewhere else I need to be," Chiaki said, sighing. "But… I also want to stay with you, Sera and everyone else here in Fenix Town…"

"I see," Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly. "I understand that you feel conflicted…"

"… Do you ever miss your old home?" Chiaki asked, looking over at Blitz. "Do you… ever think about going back there?"

"I… have thought about it," Blitz said, rubbing his forelegs together. "But things are… complicated, you know?"

"Yeah… You had all these expectations to deal with…" Chiaki responded, remembering what Hercules had told him and Sera. "I can't really imagine how difficult it must've been for you…"

"It was awful…" Blitz whispered, staring at a wall. "I don't ever want to go back to that…"

Chiaki wasn't sure how to answer, but just reached out and touched Blitz's paw. The two were quiet for a few moments, before Blitz spoke up again.

"If I can really do it, then I want to find my own destiny," Blitz said, looking down at his own paws. "Somehow, I think it might be possible if you're all by my side…"

"… I'll do what I can to help," Chiaki responded, giving a small smile. "But I… I don't know how much longer I will be able to stay here in Fenix Town…"

"... We're glad to have you around," Blitz replied, smiling back at Chiaki. "It'll be sad to see you go whenever you have to return home. It's been nice having a roommate."

"I like living here," Chiaki responded, his smile widening a little. "Your house is really nice, and I'm glad you let me stay here."

"I understand if you have to go back to your old home, though," Blitz said.

"There's still a lot I don't know about myself," Chiaki said, yawning. "I wonder what returning home will be like…"

"Well, I guess for now, we'd better get some sleep," Blitz responded, lying back down on his bed. "Think you'll be able to sleep now?"

"I'll try…" Chiaki replied, nodding his head slightly. "Good night, Blitz."

"Good night," Blitz responded, closing his eyes.

Chiaki took a deep breath and closed his eyes, hoping to finally get some sleep. Tomorrow would be another day of missions, another day he could spend time with his friends.

----

Another day had begun, and Sera was having breakfast with her family as usual. Even her parents, Summer and Olivier, were present this morning. While some of the siblings had questioned whether it was okay for their parents to be late for work, Summer and Olivier had assured them that it would be fine. The siblings were glad to be able to spend this time with them, though. After finishing her breakfast, Sera prepared to head out to meet with Blitz and Chiaki.

"You seem happy," Flare commented, smiling at Sera.

"Yeah, I suppose I'm feeling pretty great," Sera responded, smiling back.

"That's good," Flare replied, nodding his head slightly. "Well, do your best out there!"

"Thanks, I will!" Sera responded, grinning. "See you later!"

Once outside, Sera quickly made her way to the town plaza.

"Hmm… Where are they?" Sera muttered to herself, looking around for her friends. "Maybe they're not here yet…"

A few other rescue teams were going about their usual business, getting ready for another day of work. Mirage had just finished buying some items at the shop, and was on her way to the bank to deposit the remainder of the money she had with her at the moment. Regina once again needed a particular item that she had been storing at the item warehouse for a mission, and was waiting for Lionel to bring it to her. Sting and his teammates were waiting for Regina to finish her errand, so they could deposit an item they'd just gotten from a treasure box that Bijou had opened for them.

A few other Pokémon were just standing around, talking about recent events and such.

"Good morning, Sera!" Azure called out, as she and Frederick walked up to her.

"Oh, hey you guys!" Sera responded, smiling.

"Aren't Blitz and Chiaki here yet?" Frederick asked, sniffing the air.

"Hold on, I think I hear them…" Azure said, her ears twitching slightly. "Yeah, they're right there!"

Sera turned around and looked over in the direction Azure was pointing, and saw Blitz and Chiaki heading towards them.

"Ah, you're right!" Sera responded, waving to Blitz and Chiaki. "Hi Blitz! Hi Chiaki!"

"Hi Sera!" Chiaki shouted, waving back at Sera.

"Good morning, everyone," Blitz said, smiling at Sera and the others.

"All right, everyone's here!" Azure commented, grinning. "Let's go check out some missions!"

The group headed up to the rescue team HQ, and went to look up at the recently pinned up missions on the bulletin boards. Looking through the requests from various Pokémon, they eventually managed to pick out a few.

"Since I went on the last mission, I guess this one's yours, Frederick!" Azure said, smiling.

"Oh, is that okay?" Frederick asked.

"Sure!" Azure responded, nodding. "Besides, that mystery dungeon supposedly has a lot of grass types in it… Not a type good match-up for me, you know?"

"Ah, okay," Frederick replied, nodding his head.

"So, don't worry about me!" Azure said, winking. "There'll be more adventures, and since we're a team of five, we've got to share!"

"Chiaki or I could stay behind on some missions too," Sera added. "That way, both of you could go on a mission."

"True," Blitz commented, nodding his head. "Depending on the situation, there could be times where it'd be best for me to stay behind, having one of you act as leader for the mission."

"And if we get even more members, we'd have even more options!" Chiaki added, smiling cheerfully.

"Are we just going to stand here and talk all day, or are you guys going to go help these Pokémon?" Azure asked, smirking.

"Right, we should probably get started," Blitz responded.

The team went inside Kala's room. Kala was asleep, snuggling her worn pillow as usual. Blitz noticed that a list of some sort had been pinned up next to the large map.

"Hmm? What's that?" Chiaki asked, also noticing the list.

"Let me see…" Blitz responded, walking up to take a closer look. "… Looks like a list of mystery dungeons that are currently closed off due to distortions."

"Eh?" Azure replied, frowning.

Azure, Sera and Chiaki walked up to look at the list, while Frederick decided to try to wake Kala.

"Hmm… It's not too many mystery dungeons…" Chiaki commented.

"Still, distortions are continuing to spread, so that list is only going to get longer!" Azure said, pouting. "The stars better tell Stella where those remaining crystals are soon!"

"Why'd you take daddy's comb…?" Kala muttered in her sleep, as Frederick kept nudging her arm. "You don't even have a mustache…"

"Huh? I didn't do anything…" Frederick said, tilting his head slightly.

"Mm…?" Kala groaned, opening an eye slightly. "Oh, it's you guys."

"Hi Kala!" Chiaki said, cheerfully waving at the Abra.

"Yeah, good to see you too…" Kala responded, yawning and stretching her arms. "So, where do you want to go?"

----

Meanwhile, a Luxray was slowly, but surely making his way towards Lightning Plateau. He occasionally paused, stopping to take a breath. Then glanced around, spotting a few distortions in the fabric of space. He shook his head, and continued his walk. He had to get back home, and take responsibility for his actions. He wasn't sure how he would make things up to the other Luxray, but if he could at least do something to help out in these strange times, that'd be a start. He stopped and took another deep breath, looking at the path ahead of him. If he continued at this pace, he probably wouldn't reach his destination until the evening. On the plus time, it gave him time to think about what to say to the others once he arrived, but he knew words wouldn't be enough. He continued to walk, trying to mentally prepare himself for what awaited him…

----

Blitz led his teammates through a mystery dungeon located in a jungle, picking up any extra items they could carry along the way. As they reached the first of the floors on their list of missions, they began looking for the Pokémon they needed to rescue. Frederick attempted to pick up the scent of the one they needed to rescue, but the sweet scent being spread by some of the grass types on the floor was throwing him off. They continued to move through the labyrinth-like place, and after a while, Blitz finally spotted the Pokémon they had been asked to find.

A somewhat distressed looking Teddiursa was stuck next to a wild Pokémon resembling a large mass of blue vines with long arms. The Tangrowth had wrapped one of its long arms around the little light brown bear Pokémon, holding it close while it slept.

"Oh, someone finally came," the Teddiursa whispered, smiling sheepishly. "As you can probably see, I could use a little help here…"

Blitz and his teammates tried not to make too much noise as they moved closer.

"How'd you end up like this?" Sera asked, tilting her head slightly.

"I, uh… I'm not entirely sure myself," the Teddiursa responded, glancing at the Tangrowth to make sure it was still fast asleep. "Any chance you can get me out of this without waking this guy?"

"Hmm… Hold still..." Blitz said, picking up the rescue team badge. "I'll just move this over to you, and…"

The Teddiursa moved slightly, reaching for the rescue team badge. However, before her paw could touch the badge, a blue vine suddenly shot out from the Tangrowth's body and knocked the badge out of Blitz's paw.

"Ah…!" the Teddiursa cried, as the now-awake Tangrowth got up on its gray, stumpy legs. Two eyes were barely visible somewhere in the mass of blue vines, glaring at the four rescue team members.

"Well… That didn't go so well…" Sera commented.

"So, we have to fight it now?" Frederick asked, getting into a fighting stance.

"Be careful not to hit the Teddiursa!" Chiaki said.

"Y-Yeah! Don't hit me!" the Teddiursa responded, trying to wiggle out of the grass type's grip.

The Tangrowth swung its free arm like a whip, trying to strike Blitz. Blitz quickly jumped out of the way, barely avoiding the Tangrowth's attack.

"I suppose I could use my fire or ice fang attacks to make that Tangrowth release the Teddiursa…" Blitz mused, before glancing over at Chiaki. "Or…"

"… Oh! Of course!" Chiaki exclaimed, before rushing forward and striking the Tangrowth with a Fake Out attack. "Take this!"

The Tangrowth made angry plant noises as it flinched from Chiaki's attack, losing its grip on the Teddiursa.

"You okay?" Sera asked, running up to check on the Teddiursa as she landed on the grass.

"Um… Yeah, I think so…" the Teddiursa responded, getting back on her feet. "Whew…"

"Look out!" Chiaki called out, giving Sera just enough time to dodge out of the way of another strike from the Tangrowth's long arms.

"I'll, uh… just wait for you guys over there…" the Teddiursa said, backing away slowly, before turning around and running out of the room.

Frederick followed the sound of the vines rustling from the Tangrowth's movements, and fired off a few balls of purple fire at the large grass type. The Tangrowth made a disgruntled noise, before releasing a cloud of green dust. Blitz held his breath, and covered his nose with his paw in order to avoid the effects of the sleep powder.

"Don't worry, guys! I know we can do it!" Sera shouted, using her Helping Hand move to power up her teammates' attacks.

"Thanks, Sera!" Chiaki said, firing a stream of golden stars from his glowing paw at the Tangrowth.

The Tangrowth tried to block the star-shaped rays of light with one of its arms, leaving an opening for Blitz to attack. Blitz considered his options for a moment, before going for an electrified tackle. The attack didn't seem to have much of an effect, but he still managed to inflict a little bit of damage on the Tangrowth.

"Hmm… Not quite what I was hoping for…" Blitz muttered, before moving out of the way of another vine whip attack. "I suppose it'd be okay to use my fire or ice fang attacks here, but…"

"It's time to finish this!" Chiaki shouted, running towards the Tangrowth.

The Tangrowth put both arms in front of itself to try to block Chiaki's path, only for the Mienfoo to jump right over them. Before the Tangrowth had the chance to react, Chiaki managed to deliver a powerful kick to the Tangrowth's body, knocking it out. Chiaki gave a startled yell as he went flying backwards from the impact, before falling down onto the ground.

"Chiaki! Are you okay?" Sera asked, running up to him.

"Ow… I guess I need to practice that attack a bit more…" Chiaki said, smiling sheepishly as he looked around at his teammates. "Ah, don't worry! I'm fine!"

"Are you sure?" Sera asked.

"Yeah, I'm okay!" Chiaki responded, getting back on to his feet. "Guess we'd better go catch up to that Teddiursa, huh?"

"Yes, let's go," Blitz replied, nodding his head.

Blitz picked up the rescue team badge that had been dropped when the Tangrowth attacked, and placed it back on the bag before heading off in the direction the Teddiursa ran off in, hoping that she hadn't managed to get herself into more trouble while they had been busy.

----

While the others were busy with their missions, Azure spent the day helping out at the café. There weren't that many customers this particular day, but there was still plenty to do while she waited for her teammates to return. When her friends returned, she happily ran up to greet them and began asking about the missions they had been on. The five of them sat down at one of the tables, and talked about how the missions went.

"Sounds like you guys had a great adventure!" Azure commented, grinning.

"Yeah, but we used up most of our heal seeds…" Blitz responded, sighing. "Luckily, we don't actually end up needing them all that often, but still…"

"Don't worry about it, Blitz!" Chiaki said, smiling. "I'm sure we'll have a decent supply of heal seeds built up again in no time!"

"… You're probably right," Blitz responded, nodding his head slightly.

"Hey, what time is it?" Sera asked, glancing at the nearest window. "I think I should head home now…"

"Ah, right," Azure responded, looking out through the same window. "Time sure flies when you're having fun…"

"I guess we should get going too," Blitz said, looking over at Chiaki.

"Hmm… I think I'll stay a little longer," Frederick said. "Good bye for now, though."

"Yeah, see you guys tomorrow!" Azure said, smiling.

"Bye-bye!" Chiaki said, waving to Azure and Frederick.

Blitz and Chiaki decided to accompany Sera on her way home. Sera seemed to appreciate their company, gazing warmly at Blitz as they walked side by side. It didn't take long before they reached Sera's family's house.

"Good night, you two," Sera said, smiling at Blitz and Chiaki.

"Good night, Sera," Blitz responded, smiling back at Sera.

"See you tomorrow!" Chiaki said, also smiling.

Sera hurried inside, while Blitz and Chiaki lingered outside for a few moments before turning to begin making their way back to their own house.

"Hey, Blitz?" Chiaki said, looking over at Blitz.

"What is it?" Blitz asked, glancing over at Chiaki.

"Um… Never mind," Chiaki responded, shaking his head.

"Hmm…?" Blitz replied, tilting his head slightly. "Was there something you wanted to talk about?"

"Ah… It can wait," Chiaki responded, looking away.

"Remember, you can talk to me or the others if there's something on your mind," Blitz said, looking at Chiaki.

"I know," Chiaki responded, smiling at Blitz.

"So, if there's something you want to talk about, let me know," Blitz replied, smiling back.

"I will, don't worry," Chiaki responded, nodding his head.

The two returned home, getting ready to get some sleep. In Fenix Town, the rest of the night would be an uneventful one. But perhaps elsewhere, something major had happened…

----

End of Chapter 48

----
 

Umbramatic

The Ghost Lord
Hey, DS, sorry for not really reviewing this thing in a long while, but first, congrats on this fic getting second in Best PMD Fic with steep competition! Second, here's that doodle you requested! It was so much fun to do! Keep up the good work!
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Umbramatic: Thank you, Umbra! I really appreciate that you did this for me. It's pretty cute. Kind of makes me wonder if I should consider writing a one-shot with the characters going to a beach, that is, sometime after finishing the main story.

Speaking of the story, I'm... well, I'm not making much progress on chapter 49. I know what I intended to do with it, but figuring out just how to go about it is a bit difficult. The lack of progress with writing the next chapter, as well as some other things I've been working on, is admittedly bothering me... I'll hopefully figure something out sooner or later, so I'll keep trying until I have a new chapter ready for you guys. Until then, feel free to comment on previous chapters if you have not yet done so. Knowing you guys enjoy my story makes me really happy, and I'm open to advice if there's any part of my writing you guys think I could work on improving. :)
 

DarkerShining

Well-Known Member
Hey everyone! It has been a while, hasn't it? It's taken a while to get this new chapter done. but I finally did it! :)

This chapter is a bit different from most of the others, as none of the main characters appear in it. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it took so long to complete. Hopefully the next few chapters won't take as long as this one did... Anyways, I hope you guys will think the wait was worth it.

So, as usual, if you guys have any thoughts on the chapter or the story in general, feel free to leave a review/comment! I hope you're all enjoying the story so far!

----

Chapter 49: You really did come back…

----

The sun was going down in distance. Leandra was making her towards the crowd of Luxray that had gathered, and were currently discussing amongst themselves how to deal with this unexpected development. Soon, Leandra spotted him, a Luxray standing meekly before the others. Her eyes narrowed, as she walked up towards him. The Luxray lifted his head slightly, his eyes widening slightly as he saw Leandra approach him.

"So… It is true," Leandra said, sternly gazing at the Luxray in front of her. "You really did come back…"

"Leandra…" the Luxray responded, looking away in shame. "I… You have every right to be mad…"

"You don't need to tell me that, Tirell!" Leandra snarled, glaring at the former leader of the pride. "You just leave without a word, running away from your responsibilities and even your own family… Do you have any idea what we went through!?"

Tirell just stood there, looking down at the ground in shame. Some of the other Luxray nervously muttered amongst themselves, unsure of what to do. It was clear that Tirell couldn't just resume his old duties as the leader of the pride, so… exactly what would happen from here?

"… I know… I… I am a coward…" Tirell said, sighing. "I've failed you all, and… and I know simply apologizing won't make things right…"

"And how exactly do you intend to make things right?" Leandra asked through gritted teeth, still glaring at him.

"I… I don't know…" Tirell responded, shaking his head. "But… I want to do whatever I can to help the pride."

Leandra kept glaring at Tirell, while most of the other Luxray seemed too intimidated to approach them. Eventually, one Luxray did approach.

"Very well," the Luxray said, looking over at Tirell. "With the current situation being what it is, we might need all the help we can get…"

The Luxray glanced over at some of the other Luxray, before looking back over at Leandra and Tirell.

"We'll sort out the rest later," the Luxray said, walking away.

The other Luxray that had been watching the scene began to walk away. Leandra glared at Tirell for a few more moments, before turning around.

"Well, then… I'll be heading home now," Leandra said, before glancing over at Tirell one more time before leaving. "Do not follow me."

Tirell solemnly nodded his head, watching silently as Leandra walked away.

----

Lita awoke to the sound of a low growling, having fallen asleep while waiting for her mother to return home. She opened her eyes slightly and lifted her head, looking over at her mother, who had just returned. Lita wasn't sure what was going on, but she could tell from just a glance that something was bothering her mother. Leandra was breathing through gritted teeth, staring down at the ground as she lingered near the cave entrance. She soon looked up slightly and noticed Lita's concerned gaze.

"… There's nothing to worry about," Leandra said curtly.

"… Are you sure?" Lita responded, blinking a few times.

"Yes, I'm sure," Leandra replied hastily. "You don't have to worry about anything. Go back to sleep."

"… Okay," Lita responded, lying back down. "… Good night, mom."

"Good night, my little princess," Leandra replied, sighing.

Lita continued to stare up at her mother with golden eyes for a few more moments, before falling asleep. Leandra sat down and quietly thought about how to handle the situation. She knew she couldn't keep Tirell's return a secret from Lita for too long, and she knew it wouldn't take long for Tirell to discover that Blitz wasn't around and start asking about his son's whereabouts. Leandra wasn't looking forward to dealing with it all, but she knew there wasn't any way out of it.

Eventually, Leandra lay down, and after a few more minutes of inner turmoil, she was able to fall asleep.

----

The warm, bright rays of sun shone through the entrance of the cave, partially illuminating the inside. Lita wasn't in a hurry to get up, but after a while, she felt she'd be wasting too much of the day if she remained in bed. As she got up onto her feet, yawned and stretched, she realized that her mother wasn't there in the cave with her. Lita walked over to the cave entrance and peeked outside, wondering exactly what time it was. She was surprised to see a certain Luxio waiting for her outside the cave.

"Hey, you're up," Charge said, looking over at Lita.

"Oh, good morning, Charge," Lita replied, walking over to the Luxio. "How are you today?"

Charge looked away, seeming as if he was contemplating something.

"… Is something the matter?" Lita asked, tilting her head slightly.

"Ah… Your mother hasn't told you yet?" Charge responded, still not making eye contact with Lita.

"Told me what?" Lita inquired, looking up at Charge.

"… Come, let's go for a walk," Charge said, turning his head to face Lita. "I'll explain it as we go."

"Um… Okay," Lita responded, nodding her head.

The two electric-type Pokémon slowly walked together with no particular destination in mind, and Lita listened as Charge began to explain what had happened. As she listened to what Charge had to tell her, Lita's expression turned pensive.

"… I… see," Lita said, staring into space. "Dad… finally came back…"

"Yeah, pretty much," Charge responded, nodding his head. "Don't expect things to return to how they were before, though."

Lita quietly nodded her head, knowing perfectly well that Charge was right. A lot had happened since her father left, after all.

"… You want to go see him?" Charge asked, looking at Lita. "I mean, I doubt your mother would like that, but if you want, we could probably sneak over and-"

"No, it's okay," Lita responded, shaking her head.

"Ah, all right," Charge replied, seeming a bit startled that Lita cut him off.

After a few moments, the two electric types resumed their walk in silence. Charge couldn't help but watch Lita with a concerned look. He had a feeling that he wasn't the only member of the pride currently unsure of how to deal with this situation. If there was one thing Charge had learned over the course of the last few months or so, it was how quickly things could just suddenly change.

"… That mystery dungeon…" Lita muttered.

"Hmm?" Charge responded, looking at Lita.

"… Take me there again," Lita said, looking up at Charge. "Take me to that mystery dungeon."

"Huh?" Charge replied, blinking a few times. "You mean… the one we explored together a while back?"

"Yes, that one," Lita responded, nodding her head. "Let's go back there."

"Um… Why?" Charge asked, still confused. "Where is this coming from all of a sudden?"

"Please…" Lita responded, looking up at Charge pleadingly.

"… All right," Charge replied, sighing. "We'll go."

----

It didn't take long before Charge and Lita reached the entrance to the mystery dungeon. It was only a few floors long, and was best known within the Lightning Plateau for being a place young Shinx tried to test their strength and courage by making it to the end of the dungeon and bringing back one of the berries that grew on the trees at the end of the dungeon. It was the dungeon Charge had taken Lita to so she could try to help her build up her confidence.

"So, we're back here again, huh?" Charge commented, looking around. "Hmm… I don't see any distortions in this area…"

"Me neither," Lita responded, also looking around. "That's good…"

The wild Pokémon living within the mystery dungeon weren't all that tough, making it a good spot to train for young Shinx seeking to test out their powers. Charge had also explored the dungeon back when he was a Shinx, just to show the other Shinx that he could. He had always been confident in his fighting abilities, and wasn't afraid to show it. Of course, that was before he made the mistake of pushing Blitz too far…

Charge glanced down at the damaged electricity glands on his left foreleg. He had accepted that it would probably never completely heal. Lita had offered to try teaching him how to use the Fire Fang and Ice Fang attacks that both she and her older brother had learned from their father, so maybe that could make up for his reduced ability to generate electricity. So far, he hadn't really been able to get either attack to work, though.

"So… If everything is fine here, should we go in?" Lita asked, looking up at Charge.

"Yeah, let's go," Charge responded, nodding his head.

The two stepped through the entrance to the dungeon, entering the labyrinth within. Since there wasn't anyone else in there at the moment besides them and the wild Pokémon, it was the perfect place to go to avoid everyone else for a while. Plus, Charge figured they could possibly get some training done while they were in there.

"Whoa…" Lita said, looking around as she and Charge explored the mystery dungeon. "This is completely different from how it looked the last time!"

"Of course it is," Charge commented, looking at Lita. "The mazes never look the same as when you last explored them."

"I know that," Lita responded, nodding her head slightly. "But this is the first time I'm actually seeing it."

"Oh, right," Charge replied, quickly nodding his head.

There were simply some things one had to see in order to fully comprehend it, even if one was familiar with the concept. The way the mystery dungeons worked was common knowledge, but it could still catch some off-guard to see it in action for the very first time. Mystery dungeons weren't like any other places, after all.

The two of them had begun slowly making their way through the maze, trying to locate the stairs leading to the next floor. The first floor's maze was a fairly small one, so it didn't take too long for them to actually find the stairs. Charge made sure to pick up an Oran berry lying on the ground a short distance away from the stairs before he and Lita moved on to the next floor. They hadn't come across any wild Pokémon on the previous floor, but upon reaching the second floor, they immediately came across one.

It was a small bipedal Pokémon with pale yellow fur and long red ears. Its tail was red and shaped like a plus-sign, and there were also plus-shaped markings on its red cheeks. The wild Plusle didn't seem at all perturbed as Charge and Lita appeared near it.

"So… Do you want to make the first move?" Charge asked, glancing down at Lita. "Or should I go first?"

"It doesn't really matter," Lita responded, not even looking up.

"Ah… Okay, then," Charge replied, nodding his head slightly.

Without warning, the Plusle dashed forward and hit Charge in the face. Charge quickly shook off the small rabbit-like electric type, before unleashing a powerful roar, sending the Plusle flying into a wall.

"You okay?" Lita asked, looking up at Charge.

"Y-Yeah, I'm fine," Charge responded, rapidly shaking his head in annoyance.

The Plusle got back onto its feet, seeming a bit dazed. Lita took the opportunity to tackle the smaller electric type. The Plusle let out an angry squeak, before making its next move as the battle continued.

----

Meanwhile, Leandra was sitting by herself near a river, sparks of electricity occasionally rippling through her fur. She wondered if Lita had found out about Tirell's return yet. She must've had by now. Leandra sighed, not quite knowing what to do. She had gone back to the cave earlier to check if Lita had woken up, only to find that she had already gone off somewhere with her friend. Leandra wondered if she'd have enough time to figure out what to say about the situation before they got back…

One of her ears rose slightly as she heard the sound of rustling from behind her, but she didn't even need to turn to realize who it was that was approaching.

"… Tirell," Leandra said curtly.

Tirell stopped as Leandra said his name, pausing for a few seconds to consider what to say to her.

"… How are they?" Tirell asked, keeping some distance from the other Luxray.

"... "They"?" Leandra responded, feigning ignorance. "Who are you referring to?"

"Blitz and Lita," Tirell replied, looking away. "I… I know you don't want me to see them right now, but I wanted to at least know how they're doing…"

Leandra didn't answer him. After a few moments of tense silence, Tirell wondered whether or not to speak up again, but decided against it. Leandra glanced at the other Luxray behind her, sighing before finally breaking the silence once more.

"… You let everyone down, Tirell," Leandra said, her ears drooping down slightly.

"… I know," Tirell responded, looking down at the ground.

"How could you just run away like that?" Leandra asked, turning to face Tirell. "From the pride, from us… Were we not important to you?"

Tirell froze, staring wide-eyed at Leandra.

"You're horrible, Tirell," Leandra said, turning away.

Tirell wanted to say something, but he couldn't think of anything to say.

"… Why bother now, Tirell?" Leandra asked, her voice wavering just a little. "I don't understand you…"

"Leandra…" Tirell said, looking down in shame. "… I'm sorry."

Leandra did not respond.

"… I know apologizing isn't enough," Tirell said, sighing. "I know you'll… probably never trust me the same way again…"

"Just go away," Leandra muttered, not turning to look at Tirell.

"… I'll talk to you later, then," Tirell responded, nodding his head solemnly.

Tirell slowly walked away, leaving Leandra by herself. Leandra sighed and lied down on the ground. Everything that was happening now was weighing heavily on her mind, but she didn't want to think about it all right now. It was certainly going to take a while for things to get better…

----

Lita and Charge stood back to back as they faced off against two wild Pokémon in the mystery dungeon. One was another Plusle, while the other was a similar-looking Pokémon with light blue ears, cheeks and tail, as well as minus-symbols instead of plus-symbols. Both seemed quite excited, blue sparks occasionally shooting from their bodies. When together in the same place like this, the Plusle and the Minun gained an extra power boost. However, Charge and Lita didn't seem too worried about this.

"Which one of them should we try to take down first?" Lita asked, glancing at Charge.

"Well, I think the Plusle might hit a little harder," Charge responded, quietly looking over at the Plusle. "Although I wouldn't take my eyes off of the Minun either… They're both pretty fast, you know."

"Got it," Lita replied, nodding her head. "Let's do this, then."

"Watch out!" Charge called out, as both the Plusle and the Minun came rushing towards them.

Lita quickly dodged the Plusle, while Charge tried to push the Minun away with a headbutt, knocking it down to the ground. Lita then lunged at the Plusle, managing to hit with a tackle. She was about to attack again before the Plusle could get back up, when the Minun suddenly rushed in from the side and struck before Lita had the chance to react.

"Lita!" Charge called out, having trouble keeping up with the faster Pokémon.

"I-I'm all right…" Lita responded, shaking it off.

The Minun had helped the Plusle back onto its feet, and the two of them seemed quite cheerful.

"What are you two so excited about?" Lita muttered under her breath, glaring at the two wild Pokémon.

Sparks flew from the Plusle and the Minun's bodies as they ran towards Lita once more, but she made her fur shine brightly, blinding them both. Lita then took the opportunity to attack the Plusle once more, before quickly moving aside as the Minun came rushing towards her. Charge took the opportunity to attack as Lita led the Minun to him, biting down on the rabbit-like Pokémon's tail. The Minun managed to shake free, but was starting to look visibly worn out from the battle.

"Just a little more…" Charge muttered, observing his opponents.

Charge approached the Minun, only for the Plusle to suddenly run over and jump onto his head. He attempted to shake the Plusle off as the smaller Pokémon clung to his mane. The Minun cheerfully jumped up and down, cheering for the Plusle, only to find itself getting tackled from behind by Lita.

The Plusle gave a surprised squeak and lost its grip on Charge's mane as Lita knocked the Minun down to the ground.

"Let's get this over with!" Lita shouted, leaping at the Plusle and biting down with glowing blue fangs.

Charge watched as Lita's attack left the wild Plusle encased in ice.

"Wow…" Charge said, blinking a few times. "That was… pretty cool."

"Thanks," Lita responded, panting. "I've been practicing…"

The two electric lion Pokémon decided to leave the room they had been in and find the stairs leading outside. The Minun got up onto its feet, and looked around, before turning to the frozen Plusle next to it. The Minun curiously examined the ice that the Plusle was currently stuck inside, before breathing its warm breath onto the ice. The Minun tilted its head slightly, glancing around, before resuming trying to thaw the other Pokémon out from the ice with its breath.

----

After exiting the mystery dungeon, Lita and Charge laid down underneath a large berry tree. Things were quiet for a few minutes, neither of them speaking. They occasionally looked at each other, appreciating the other's company. Warm rays of sunlight shined down on the two through the branches of the tree. A soft breeze blew through the area, rustling the leaves on the branches of the trees.

"… I don't really feel any braver…" Lita said softly, absentmindedly staring at the sky.

"Hmm?" Charge responded, looking over at Lita next to him.

"The young Shinx go here to prove their courage, right?" Lita asked, looking over at Charge.

"Yeah…" Charge responded, nodding his head.

"I don't feel any braver, though," Lita said, sighing. "I know I can't avoid what is happening now… and I don't want to run from it…"

Lita's eyes narrowed slightly.

"I don't want to be a coward," Lita said decisively. "I want to be strong enough to face whatever happens, no matter how difficult it may get."

"Lita…" Charge responded, staring at the younger Pokémon.

"I know," Lita replied, closing her eyes. "As I am now, I lack that kind of strength…"

"I-I don't think anyone expects you to have that kind of strength right now!" Charge exclaimed. "I mean, you're still just a cub!"

"But I won't always be," Lita replied, still keeping her eyes closed. "In fact, I'm pretty sure it won't be long before I'm the same height as my big brother…"

"Well… I suppose…" Charge responded, glancing around.

"And besides, with things being the way they are now, I doubt I'll just be able to play and have fun all day," Lita said, opening her eyes.

"Yeah… I guess that's true," Charge responded.

There were a few seconds of silence, before Lita spoke up again.

"… I'll have to tell my big brother about this," Lita said, sighing. "I wonder how he might feel about all of this…"

"I wouldn't know," Charge responded, shaking his head.

"... Do you think… Blitz would be angry?" Lita asked, looking over at Charge. "Do you think he might be mad at father…?"

"It wouldn't be unreasonable," Charge responded, looking away. "I can't really speak for Blitz, though…"

"Right…" Lita replied, nodding her head slightly.

"What about you?" Charge asked, looking over at Lita. "Are you mad at your father?"

Lita thought it over for a few moments before answering.

"I'm not really sure…" Lita said, blinking a few times. "My feelings… are kind of complicated right now…"

"I see," Charge responded, nodding his head slightly.

"My dad's actions caused a lot of trouble for everyone," Lita said, sighing. "Especially for my big brother…"

Charge just nodded his head in response.

"I don't want to hate him, though," Lita said, resting her head on her paws. "In fact, I don't think I'm capable of doing so… I'm still pretty upset about all of this, though."

"So, you'll forgive him?" Charge asked, looking over at Lita.

"Not right away," Lita responded, shaking her head. "But I'm sure I will eventually. Things will get better, right?"

"I guess so," Charge responded, tilting his head slightly. "Things are going to be a little tense now, but it can't possibly stay that way forever."

"Yeah… You're right," Lita replied, leaning against Charge with a small smile.

Charge looked a bit surprised as Lita leaned against him, but didn't say anything. He hoped for Lita's sake that things would get better soon. However, in a way, he could also sympathize with what Tirell had to be going through. Tirell had made mistakes, and was now going to be trying to make up for them. Tirell's actions had caused a lot of grief for Blitz, and Charge knew that his own actions had only made things worse.

Charge hadn't had the chance to apologize to Blitz yet. He wasn't sure when he would get that chance, since it didn't seem like Blitz would be returning home to Lightning Plateau anytime soon. Charge wasn't sure if spending time with and looking after Lita was helping make up for what he had done, but he had grown to care about her. Charge wondered if Lita too had grown to consider him something like a second older brother. Of course, it wouldn't be quite the same…

"Charge…?" Lita said, still leaning against the Luxio.

"What is it?" Charge asked, looking over at Lita.

"Maybe we should head back now?" Lita responded, looking up at Charge. "I… I should really talk to my mom about this, and… I have to let Blitz know what's happened too…"

"Right," Charge replied, nodding his head. "Let's go, then."

The two got up, and began heading back. The two slowly walked side by side, not saying much as they walked together. Charge wondered how the conversation between Lita and her mother would go, or what would happen from here. There wasn't much he could do, though, aside from continuing to look after Lita.

"Lita is a lot braver than she thinks she is," Charge thought to himself, glancing down at the smaller Pokémon by his side. "I can't help but admire her a little…"

Things were always changing, sometimes gradually, other times almost instantly. The situation was rather tense now, but Charge knew that he was right and that things would eventually be sorted out. It'd probably take a bit longer for Leandra and Tirell to patch things up, but Charge didn't doubt that they too would eventually figure something out.

A lot could happen in Lighting Plateau in the next few days, but at this point, no one could know exactly what to expect. Charge, Lita and the other Pokémon living there would just have to wait and see how things would play out…

----

That night, in Fenix Town, Stella and Bow were watching the stars as usual, seeking answers about the whereabouts of the remainder of the Axis Tower crystals. After looking up at the stars for a while, a glimpse of another place appeared in a vision.

"It's… snowing…" Bow said, closing her eyes for a moment.

"Oh, you see it too?" Stella asked, looking over at her daughter.

"Yes…" Bow responded, nodding her head. "A place full of snow and ice…"

"And somewhere in that place, a crystal is hidden…" Stella added, smiling.

"Do you know where this place is?" Bow asked, looking over at her mother.

"I think so," Stella responded, nodding her head. "We'll inform the rescue teams tomorrow."

Bow smiled, and decided to call it a night and get some sleep, now that the stars had revealed the location of another one of the crystals. Stella decided to stay awake a little longer, and see if the stars had anything else to show her.

----

End of Chapter 49

----
 

Griff4815

No. 1 Grovyle Fan
Hey, I've just started reading this. I'm on Chapter 1 right now, which I recognize was posted four years ago and you're on Chapter 49, so I'm not really sure if I should bother with constructive criticism or not. :p I might just touch on a few points.

That opening scene was good. I'm a fan of enigmatic prologue scenes that hint towards the wider plot and give off an aura of mystery. It's good to be introduced to the villain (I assume) of the piece, and there's a sense of mystery about who that Pokemon is and what the crystal it has is. Some of the sentences were a bit long, which broke the flow a little, but I know from experience that it's easy to do that.

We're introduced to Fenix Town and some of its inhabitants. I like the idea of solar-powered gemstone street lamps.

I have to say, I quite like Sting. It's nice to see a heroic Beedrill for a chance, and I like his calm, selfless personality. I hope there's more of him in the future. Mirage and the Umbreon also seem like they could be amusing characters.

Blitz and Sera could be interesting protagonists. Blitz doesn't seem to have a whole lot of confidence.

Overall, it was a good first chapter. I'm interested in continuing as, 49 chapters in, there's obviously a lot to cover, so I'm curious to know where it goes.
 
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