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Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Twilit Destinies

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by lucarioknight56, Oct 21, 2018.

  1. lucarioknight56

    lucarioknight56 Recorder of Tales

    [​IMG]

    Created by @canisaries

    Two brothers--Arthus Zoroark and Matheus Lucario--grow in a region dominated by outlaws and gangs, each suffering losses in the dark world. Together, they rise up and vanquish the darkness, establishing a force for good in the region. All is well…until their inevitable fall from grace. The twilight is brightest before the sun sets…

    Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Legends Awakened (TBR)

    Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Unequivocant (Complete)

    Welcome to my latest project, Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Twilit Destinies. I have spent many months making revisions and planning this story, and now I am finally going to begin posting! But first, some things to keep in mind:
    • This story is rated Teen for dark themes. There is no language, gore, or suggestive themes. Any violence will be kept appropriate to an Everyone level at most points.
    • This is classified as Adventure, Fantasy, and Tragedy.
    • This takes place in a universe of my own making. There will be no references made involving the events of the PMD games or universe.
    • This story will be updated every other Sunday with four chapters of content, constituting an act. This is subject to change based on my schedule and how many chapters are available.
    • For certain world information, see 'The Region of Equivos' worldbuilding thread for details.
    • I will gladly accept any reviews and will try my best to respond and act on them.
    With that said, enjoy my story as I post it over the next few months.
    [​IMG]

    Act 1: Early Years
    Chapter 01: Stormbreak (Oct. 21)

    Chapter 02: Longing (Jan. 22)


    [Next chapter planned for next week!]
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  2. lucarioknight56

    lucarioknight56 Recorder of Tales

    10/23/18 Adjusted description and corrected spelling and grammar errors.
    Act 1: Early Years
    Chapter 01: Stormbreak


    3000 AC (After Creation)

    The Kingdom Era

    Xilo Mountains

    In the dimming twilight over Equivos, nothing moved. Corpses of trees remained frozen in the blackened soil, and the skies remained clear of clouds. No wind, no birds, not even the pat of feet. Silence. The jagged peaks towered over all, stretching to the east and west with their rigid slopes, free of life to disturb their slumber. Boulders rested atop them, ready to move with the slightest shake. But none came.

    A worn gravel path wove around the tallest peak and crossed under a natural arch. The sun’s final rays shined through a crystal within the arch, creating a narrow beam of light. The beam landed in a depression on the wall of the mountain and revealed a narrow, snakelike passageway that crawled into the cavern at its heart.

    Crystal shards hung from the ceiling of the passage and reflected the sun’s light, granting a dim view of the scrawling, minuscule script that littered the passage’s walls. Crude images of birds, beasts, deities, and darkness broke the monotony of text at random, and farther down, the writing grew increasingly illegible, to where it was nothing but scribbles. Crumpled paper and discarded feathers littered the floor, and a musty, stale scent lingered in the air.

    A rusted lantern hung from the ceiling of the cavern and lit the room with a dimming candle. At the far side of the cavern stood an elongated stone block completely covered with runes, and to the right, a smaller wooden table; a plate and a rusted set of silverware sat on top of it, along with scant crumbs and a bowl of rancid water. To the left, a decrepit Xatu faced away from a desk scattered with rolled-up papers, spent quills and empty inkwells.

    The Xatu held it’s chipped and scarred beak with his eyes closed. He swayed left and right and shook loose several matted, pale-green feathers with some gray and white. He balanced on bruised, swollen feet and held his wings over his chest.

    The Xatu opened his eyes and revealed perfect black irises, alert and alive. He slowly turned to the paper-covered desk. A quill lifted from the scattered papers and dipped into a near-empty well of ink, then whisked over the paper, penning thin, spidery words on the scroll. The Xatu’s eyes flitted back and forth with the quill as it filled the page entirely.

    The pen dropped to the ground, and the paper floated on top of the hundreds of others on the desk. The Xatu turned toward the cavern’s exit and said in a deep, rasping voice, “It is time.” A narrow stone knife emerged from the scrolls and hovered to him. Light reflected off the smooth, polished surface of the blade, and coarse dust coated the grip. Strange engravings crawled across the blade, all in an unknown script.

    The Xatu bowed his head. The scrolls flew off from the desk and formed an amorphous, beige mass in the center of the room. A thick wooden chest slid out from underneath the desk and opened, then the scrolls bundled together and funneled it. When all had disappeared within, the chest closed and slid behind the Xatu.

    The clattering of stone echoed into the chamber; indistinct voices shouted and rose with the clatter. The blade lowered onto the stone block perpendicular to the Xatu, the light in its runes pulsing. He rested his head against the blade, and a scarlet mist emanated around it. The runes on its surface glowed a deep crimson; it hummed with newborn energy.

    The glow and hum died low, and the Xatu lifted his gaunt, weathered face. He beheld the brilliant black blade as his breaths became less and less frequent.

    Whirring and stomping filled the hallway and grew louder and louder. The chest behind the Xatu suddenly flashed white, then disappeared. A Golett wearing golden epaulets stormed into the room and jabbed a finger at him. “Target sighted!” Six more Golett gathered around it and held up their fists. They were decorated with various paints and medals—accolades from previous battles.

    The Xatu turned around and held his wings in front of him. The onyx knife hovered up from the table and against his back.

    The epauletted Golett lowered his arms and blinked his eyes. “Matriarch Magearna requests an audience with you—Gregorius Xatu.” The Golett said the name in a mechanical, muted voice.

    Gregorius narrowed his eyes, and the blade began to spin. “A request, or a summons?”

    The decorated Golett’s eyes glowed brighter. “Sensing malicious intent. Warning: the Matriarch will not tolerate a negative reply.” It lifted its fists and made them flare up with fire. “Come forward peacefully and we will escort you to the capital.”

    Gregorius fanned out his wings and made his eyes glow blue. “I listen to no god!” The blade shot away from his back and spun around him dangerously. The Golett’s eyes fixated on the blade; it stopped in front of Gregorius.

    Gregorius slowly turned it in the air. “She wishes for this: my Edge of Despair. This would be the key to her eternal kingdom—and something only I could create.” He turned the Edge toward a standard Golett point-first. “But it is meant for only one purpose. One you shall witness.” The Edge spun and shot into the glowing center of the Golett. The blade hissed as the Golett’s light faltered and darkened to crimson, rapidly flowing from its chest into the blade. Within moments, the Golett’s eyes went dark, the mist stopped, and it fell backward, depleted. The other Golett stared.

    Gregorius flicked his head to the left. The blade rushed forward and impaled another Golett and drained it instantly. The remaining four backed into the tunnel, but the Xatu caught three with rapid strikes of the blade and formed a barricade for the last, epauletted Golett.

    The Golett’s eyes flashed rapidly. “Sending distress—” The Edge of Despair rocketed forward and stabbed the final Golett. Its eyes darkened as it fell back with its fallen comrades.

    The Edge returned to Gregorius and hovered near his chest. He shuffled in front of the Golett and bowed his head. “Like you, the Automa Kingdom is only a semblance of life—and like you, it shall fall.” His breaths slowed. “You called me…a Dark Prophet…despite my truths.” He staggered to the stone block and looked up at the Edge of Despair. “This…this is the key.” He rolled on top of the block and lowered the Edge onto his chest, then folded his wings over the blade. “The future is set…for Arceus to fall…for his misdeeds…” His eyes closed. A wave of violet energy radiated from the table and shook the cavern violently. The lantern fell from its hook and shattered on the floor. The crystals in the passage shattered with it. Thunder boomed with the boulders that tumbled down the peak and in front of the entrance, making the cavern fall dark and became the tomb of Gregorius Xatu and his Edge of Despair.

    ~~~~

    3975 AC

    The Lawless Era

    Minute Plains

    Black clouds clustered in the sky above the plains in central Serenita. Strong winds blew back the trees to the east and west. Bunnelby scurried back into their burrows and Noctowl hid inside their trees to protect their young. Few dared to walk amongst the elements when it seemed that even the mighty Zapdos flew amongst them and made the sky thunder and flash.

    A leaf broke from its branch and whirled toward a dismal town in the center of the plains. Numerous worn, overgrown paths joined with the crumbling walls and creaking hovels. The few merchants that remained boarded up their shacks and locked their doors, and the rest took shelter under drafty shacks and limp cloths they dared to call tents, shivering not by the wind, but out of fear.

    The leaf fluttered through the tattered flags that flapped in the air above the castle in the center of the town. The wind surged forcing the leaf into the sole open window at the top just as a Scrafty slammed the shutters closed. The wind whistled through the gaps and pushed the leaf through dimly-lit, grimy hallways. Pokemon of all shapes and sizes lounged on the floor, sleeping, playing cards, or watching the storm grow. Crude images of a hooded, bird-like face darkened the walls.

    Several Pokemon walked swiftly through the hallways and pushed the leaf along. A Munchlax scurried down the stairs with a bag, fleeing from the raging Combusken behind it. A Shiftry fanned the flames of a fireplace and sat down on the floor with his Nuzleaf brothers. The leaf traveled on and on, crossing by the ragged Pokemon that abided in the ruined tower.

    Down and down the leaf traveled, even into the basement of the tower. Rattata scurried around the legs of Pawniard that stood at attention in the long hallway. Cages lined the walls, each filled with pitiful, wasted Pokemon. A battered Bisharp stalked the hallways, lighting torches with a snap of its metal gauntlets.

    A Mr. Mime strode down the steps with the leaf stuck to the bottom of his foot. He held up a covered platter in a dignified manner as he passed the longing looks of the prisoners inside the cells. He stepped carefully around the puddles of rancid water and grease stains that plagued the floors as he held his head almost higher than the platter.

    He came to the end of the hallway and faced a Machamp that stared forward with his arms crossed. The Mr. Mime cleared his throat, and the Machamp stepped to the side and knocked on the door. It swung outward with a loud squeak, revealing a rickety table and two chairs in the center of the room. Torches in wall sconces revealed discarded food and splintered wood on the floor. Numerous maps, posters, and other drawings decorated the dilapidated walls, all the way to the ceiling that hung stories above the table. The wind rushed from the open window broke the monotony of stone at the top. A shadowed figure stood on a creaking wooden platform near the ceiling and faced the window, covering the flickering candles on the far end.

    The Mr. Mime set the tray on the table and promptly left the room. The door slammed closed and blew the leaf off his foot and against the leg of the table, ending its journey.

    An arrow shot from the platform and impaled the leaf. Thick, sharp feathers made up the head.

    The air shimmered above one of the chairs, then darkened to form a Zoroark with a grizzled mane and stained bandages around his hands. He frowned and searched through the satchel that hung from his shoulder, sifting through wads of paper and small bags of berries that lay scattered amongst other baubles.

    He closed the bag and looked up at the figure on the wooden platform, who continued to look out the window with his cloak-like wings wrapped around him. The Zoroark hunched forward in his chair and looked side to side uncomfortably. “…Sir? I’ve been here for at least an hour. Is there something you wanted me for?”

    The figure’s head rotated halfway around his body to face the Zoroark. His round, orange eyes seemed to glow in the dim light. “You know exactly why you’re here, Sion.”

    The Zoroark cringed at the sight of the eyes. He fiddled with a bandage around one hand and said, “You’ve never summoned me before, Damon.”

    Damon’s clawed feet pried themselves from the wood of the platform and stalked toward the edge of the platform, his face still hidden by his hood. “Have you found anything?”

    Sion’s claws dug into the wood underneath the table. “Well…”

    Damon’s wings spread, then he dove to the ground and expertly landed on the floor. A feather-like arrow fell from his wing and clinked against the floor. Gaps of missing feathers peppered his chest, while stiff, sage feathers formed the cowl around his head.

    The Decidueye stepped forward; his talons clinked against the stone floor with every step. He jumped on top of the table the table with his leg and pulled off the cover of the tray with his leg in the center, revealing a loaf of stale bread with shriveled berries.

    He swept it away with his wing and crouched in front of Sion. “Even one hint is better than none.” Lightning flashed outside the window, illuminating the crude drawing of a blade on the wall behind Damon.

    The Zoroark cautiously got up from his seat and stepped away. “I’ve only had legends and to go off of, legends. I can’t find anything with just that.”

    The Decidueye stepped off the table brought his face close to the Zoroark’s; his beak nearly touched Sion’s nose. Damon’s large, orange eyes bore down on Sion’s cyan, until he languidly looked away. “I see I haven’t provided enough.” He snatched the arrow on the ground with his talons and drew it back against the vine against his shoulder with his wing. He released the arrow-feather and shot it into the wall behind Sion, right into an ‘X’-covered map with a snap. “When I clearly have determined where it isn’t.”

    Sion forced a smile and stepped back toward the door. “Yes, but there’re so many more places you haven’t been too. There’re all sorts of nooks and crannies in the desert alone, and—”

    Damon leaped on top of Sion and held a talon across his throat. He drew an arrow from under his wing and aimed it at the Zoroark’s skull. “You know something. No one goes seven years of searching for a relic like the Lifeless Blade and comes up with nothing.” Sion wheezed and struggled for breath. His eyelids fluttered.

    Damon released his hold, but kept the arrow drawn. Sion staggered upright and leaned against the table, taking in deep gulps of air. He finally composed himself and smoothed down his mane, then turned to face Damon, his eyes trained on the Decidueye’s. The arrow started to slip from Damon’s grip.

    Sion held his hands out defensively and exclaimed, “Alright, alright! I know something!” Damon lowered the arrow, but kept it drawn.

    The Zoroark pulled out a bundle of papers from his bag and flicked through them. “I’ve gone all across Serenita and even down to Cretea to find the blade; I even hired some ghosts to search the swamps. All I’ve found is—” He stopped and stared at the papers.

    Damon slunk around Sion and craned his neck to read the papers. “All you’ve found is what? A message? A clue?” He studied them closely and found that they were covered in gibberish.

    Sion furrowed his brow and turned to face Damon. “All I’ve found is that a Pokemon like you should never have it.” He clouted Damon over the head with the bag and sent him to the floor with a squawk. Sion sprinted forward and burst through the door, tossing away the surprised Machamp on the other side. He ran down the hallway and faded into invisibility.

    Damon scrambled to his feet and followed Sion, screeching and widening his eyes. A ray of orange light emanated from them and pulsed across the length of the hallway. A Zoroark shimmered back into existence as he ascended the stairs.

    Damon followed Sion up and shouted, “Capture him, you fools!” The Bisharp stalking the cages clapped his gauntlets together and pointed up the stairs. All the Pawniard among the cells nodded and scrambled up to follow Damon, their cries reverberating through the halls.

    Sion leaped over the Pokemon stirring to follow Damon’s command, each trying to grab his legs or arms. He snatched the food sack of the scurrying Munchlax and tossed it into the Damon. He ducked underneath it and flapped his wings to gain speed, allowing the bag to bowl into the thronging Pawniard and block the hallway with them.

    Damon notched an arrow into his wing and aimed at Sion. The Zoroark threw a hand back and emitted a black haze, enveloping the Decidueye in a smog. Damon coughed and slowed as he swept the gas away, while Sion turned the corner and flit past a snarling Granbull.

    Damon drove away the last of the gas and turned the corner as well, only to find no Zoroark. He grabbed the Granbull’s neck with his talons. “Where did he go?”

    “I-I-I don’t know! He was too fast!” the Granbull stammered.

    Damon screeched and threw the Granbull to the ground. “Send out the Mightyena then!” The Granbull made a shivering salute and scurried down the hallway, shouting for the Mightyena. Damon narrowed his eyes and ran back to his quarters.

    Now invisible, Sion wove through the alert guards of Damon’s horde and burst through the exit into the dark alleyways beyond. He ran through puddles and mud into the alleys of Saunte, past Trubbish gobbling piles of trash and past the dozens weathering the storms with nothing but themselves. A pair of Buizel scooted closer to the wall as he passed. Sopping wet Murkrow squawked miserably from the rooftops as he disappeared into the rain. Lightning flashed across the sky, and thunder followed in the growing storm.

    Back at the castle, Damon stood at the edge of the window, scanning the city from above. Below him, three black shapes padded out of the entrance and circled the perimeter. They all faced a single direction and howled, then ran through the streets in the same direction. Damon stepped off the edge of the window and took flight, following the Mightyena hot in pursuit of Sion Zoroark.

    Minutes later, deep within the bowels of the city, the end of an alley shimmered. A door creaked open and closed, revealing a dark room lit only by candles that lay scattered with berries on the table in the far-left corner. A desk set with a heavily marked map and books stood on the right, complete with an extinguished lantern hanging above it. A Zoroark sat on a bag of straw in the remaining corner as she read a book, holding a small, sleeping Zorua under the blanket.

    Sion reappeared from the door and wheezed, “I’ve done it.”

    The other Zoroark looked up, closed her book, stood up from the straw bed, then hurried to the pile of food on the table. She pulled a satchel from the top of the pile and began gathering food into it. “We should’ve run away after we got that summons. Now we have Damon hunting for us.”

    Sion studied the map, his eyes flitting across each location. “I agree, but I had to see if he was close to finding the blade.”

    Vaira finished and closed the bag. “Is he?”

    Sion took the map and carefully folded it, then tied it closed with a string. “No. He’ll never find it without us.” He turned to the bundle under the covers. “Is he asleep?”

    Vaira hefted the bag over her shoulder and pulled the bedding off the sleeping Zorua. She gingerly picked him up, setting him on her other shoulder. “I made sure to slip some sleep powder in his dinner.” The Zorua moaned and shifted uncomfortably. Vaira rubbed his back and said, “We really shouldn’t be going with him like this.”

    Sion took a bound, beaten book from the desk and slipped it into his bag with the map. “We’ve waited as long as we can afford. With luck, we’ll be in Quantus before—”

    Aaarrruuuu!

    Both Sion and Vaira’s faces fell. “Damon.” Vaira opened the door and waited for Sion to follow. He took a book from their research, stared at it a moment, then tossed it away. “He won’t find anything here; I made sure to cross out what’s important.” They held hands, then fell invisible and closed the door for the final time.

    They crept through the city, straining their illusionary powers to make the rain appear undisturbed. Howls erupted throughout and drew closer to the Zoroark. They came to an intersection; the growls of Mightyena came from all directions, and above, Damon’s shadow could be seen.

    Vaira held the Zorua tighter to her chest and whispered, “What now?” Sion twisted his head around, searching for some escape. He eyed the uneven wall to their right, then up to the roof.

    He pulled Vaira closer to it. “This way.” He held onto the wall and ambled up to the top. Vaira handed the Zorua up to him and followed, then reclaimed the child and joined hands with Sion as they hopped across the rows, avoiding the pitfalls in the wood and tile. The rain strengthened and made the panels slicker and slicker.

    Above, Damon searched for any sign of the Zoroark. He shook off the rain dripping from the thick feathers that made his hood. ‘Where in Saunte could they be?’ he thought. He saw the Mightyena run eastward, parallel to a row of houses in the center of Saunte. He considered it briefly, then shifted away and tilted north.

    Crack!

    His head snapped to the rows of houses; a hole appeared in a roof where none was before. Damon dove toward it. ‘Found you.’ Orange beams emanated from his eyes over the area and forced two Zoroark to shimmer into existence; one had their foot stuck in the hole. Damon screeched and made purple mist coat his wings as he dove toward them.

    Vaira took glances upward as she struggled to pull her leg free, while Sion crouched next to her and tried to help her, but to no avail. “Cursed Foresight,” he muttered. The Decidueye surged closer as Sion looked around desperately. He saw a Poliwrath stumble out from a door underneath him.

    He held Vaira’s hand and said, “Get ready.” Before she could reply, he slammed the roof and collapsed it on the few Pokemon inside the tavern. Damon soared over where they previously stood and screeched, then swerved around and perched on top. He jumped inside without a sound.

    He swiveled his head and stalked around the still Pokemon within. The Smeargle barkeeper to his right rubbed the inside of his glass nervously with a rag, while a Raichu held his tongue mid-sentence. A Buizel held a stack of coins midair as he handed them to a Vileplume, and a Spinda halted its tottering over a pint.

    Damon focused on the Smeargle. “You.” The ragged Smeargle eeped and dropped his glass, making it shatter on the floor. Damon stepped across the shards and loomed over the barkeep. “Where did the Zoroark go?”

    The Smeargle twisted his brown paint-covered tail and stammered, “I-I-I have no idea—”

    Damon hopped on top of the counter and snatched the Smeargle’s throat, then held him up to eye level and hissed, “Don’t play games with me.” The Smeargle painstakingly pointed at the open door.

    Damon narrowed his eyes and ground his beak, dropped the Smeargle and swept outside, searching for a trail. Amidst the muddy streets, rickety homes and disheveled beggars, none appeared.

    He flapped his wings powerfully into the air and swiveled his head across Saunte. The Mightyena now converged on the eastern entrance of the city. He dove toward it and saw a large Zebstrika standing outside it—and two Zoroark hopping onto its back.

    Damon screeched and drew an arrow from his wing. He fell and aimed carefully at the Zebstrika, then fired just as the second Zoroark climbed on top, sending the arrow spiraling toward the Zebstrika’s flank. The Zebstrika whinnied and shot forward in the blink of an eye, making Damon’s arrow embed itself into the ground.

    Damon fanned out his wings and swooped back into the air. The Zebstrika clopped swiftly across the stormy plains toward the East Kaena Woods, gliding left and right across the plains to adjust in the pelting wind and rain.

    Sion sat in front of Vaira on the Zebstrika and held tight to its mane as she wrapped her arms around him, keeping the bag and their Zorua on her lap. Damon shrunk as the woods grew closer and closer.

    Vaira looked back at Damon and shouted, “Doesn’t it take over a day to get to Quantus?”

    Sion looked back as well, smiling. “Not on a Zebstrika it won’t. We’ll be there in a matter of hours, and Damon will be none…the…” He trailed off as clouds funneled down from the sky and gathered behind Damon, forming a tight sphere. It surged forward and thrust Damon along a slipstream of wind. The Decidueye whistled in the wind as the gap between him and the Zebstrika closed.

    Sion grit his teeth and kicked against the Zebstrika’s side. “Faster! ” The Zebstrika snorted and tramped faster. Electricity sparked around its hooves and leaped from the ground—but Damon drew closer still.

    The Decidueye narrowed his eyes and veered upward. He soared directly over the Zebstrika and closed his wings. As he fell through the air, he drew an arrow once and aimed at the Zebstrika, now mere feet from the forest. The arrow’s head glowed violet, and Damon fired. Lightning flashed, creating distinct shadows on the ground for all outside. The arrow sunk into the Zebstrika’s shadow. It screamed as it snapped forward and broke its neck on the ground, throwing Sion and Vaira off its back. Wet soil flew into the air and covered their bodies.

    Sion groaned and stood back up, then stared at the Zebstrika’s body. He grimaced and thought, “Rorick’s going to kill me.”

    “Sion!”

    He spun around and saw Vaira with the still-sleeping Zorua up to her chest; the remains of her supplies lay scattered behind her. She held her swollen ankle with her free hand.

    Sion paled and tapped a claw against Vaira’s ankle. She winced and seethed, “I…I landed wrong. I think it’s sprained.”

    Sion looked up and saw Damon flap closer, but the wind pushed against him and slowed his glide. Sion took Vaira’s arm and helped her upright. “Can you walk?”

    She stepped forward, but immediately grunted and staggered. She fell on her side and slid down on the mud. She looked up at Sion, shaking her head. “It’s too much.”

    Sion’s throat tightened as he tried to help her to her feet once more. “You can make it, we just need to—”

    Vaira pulled away from his grip. “Sion.” He stopped, looking down at her and the Zorua. The child shivered and hugged against Vaira, the rain and mud soaking him to his skin.

    She gingerly held him out to Sion. “Go. Leave me. I can’t outrun him.”

    Sion looked back up to the Decidueye. Damon screeched and fought against a swirling funnel of wind, forcing him to stop.

    Sion crouched next to Vaira and struggled still. “I won’t leave you! We can still make it!”

    Vaira pushed the Zorua up to Sion’s chest, and he could feel his cold, clammy shivering. Sion’s eyes widened as he turned to face her. She smiled halfheartedly. “Do it for me…for him.”

    Sion paused, then hugged Vaira close, choking up. “I…I should have listened to you. This wouldn’t—”

    Vaira pecked him on the cheek and pushed him away. “What’s done is done—but I never loved you more.” Damon broke free of the swirling winds and dove toward them with his talons extended.

    Sion hastily stood up and hugged the Zorua tight. After moments of hesitation, he ran into the woods and turned invisible in the pouring rain.

    Damon landed right next to Vaira and clamped his talons across her throat. He leaned downward and seethed, “Where’s the blade? I know that Sion told you!”

    Vaira struggled to breathe, but remained calm still. “Even if he did,” she wheezed, “I’d never tell.” She slashed the side of Damon’s head, ripping out several crown feathers.

    He screeched and threw Vaira aside, then covered the wound with his wing. She fell on her back and struggled to get away, her ankle throbbing with every move.

    Damon removed his wing and stared at it; blood coated his feathers. He studied the woods, then glared at her. He plucked a feather from under his wing. “Sion will be more useful.” He drew it back against the vine. Vaira closed her eyes.

    He fired.

    Sion stopped and stared into space. Trees surrounded him in all directions, all coated in rain. The path he stood on was soaked to mud, and no light save the flashes of lightning lit his way. He held his satchel over his son to protect him from the elements as best he could.

    Tears brimmed Sion’s eyes. He held the Zorua up to his neck and heaved. “S—Sorry…”

    Damon’s call echoed, and Sion snapped up. He ran away, invisible to all.

    Hours passed.

    The rain never stopped.

    Sion’s sprint fell into a jog, then into a slow shamble as time went on. He breathed haggardly as he took glances behind him to ensure no Decidueye hunted him. Nothing but rain and thunder came into his hearing, nothing but the smell of wet earth, nothing but the biting wind. Yet in his heart, he sensed the hunter.

    Sion slipped on the mud and fell into it, coating him and the Zorua in it once more. Sion groaned and held his Zorua up as he wiped away most of the mud. The child shivered, struggling to remain in sleep.

    Sion held the Zorua against his chest, grimacing. ‘He’s in no state to travel—I have to—’

    Branches cracked overhead. Sion held his breath and turned himself invisible, then he crept underneath a tree and watched, careful to not make a sound.

    Twigs fell onto the middle of the path. A Decidueye landed on top of them with a whoosh. He stood straight and narrowed his eyes. He turned, revealing three gashes scored across the side of his head, scabbed over the rest of his feathers.

    Orange light glowed around his eyes. Sion shuffled around the trunk of the tree and held his breath as the Foresight swept the area, unable to identify him.

    After several minutes of Foresight, Damon scratched his talons across the path and growled. Sion quietly shuffled back to his previous position, trusting the rain to muffle his movements. Damon bowed his head and held his wings close, shaking.

    The Zorua’s eyes fluttered open, and he wearily looked about. “Papa—”

    Sion clamped a hand over his mouth the same time Damon snapped his head toward their position. He stamped closer and studied the wood, growing so close that his beak nearly touched Sion’s snout. Sion’s heart pounded in his chest, and the Zorua could scarcely whimper.

    Finally, Damon stepped back and turned away. He held out his wings and crouched to leap. Sion relaxed.

    Damon’s eyes flashed, then he abruptly drew an arrow and fired it at the tree. It thudded into it, its sound muffled by what seemed to be the rain—but nothing more. He screeched and leaped into the air, soaring back to Saunte in fury.

    Several minutes after, a Zoroark reappeared in front of the tree with an arrow through his left shoulder.

    He coughed weakly and fell on his side. The Zorua hopped away from his father and stared at the arrow, horrified. “…Papa?”

    Sion grimaced and said, “Son…I’m hurt bad. Real bad.”

    The Zorua looked around them, ears drooped. “Where are we? Where’s Mama?”

    Sion gasped and reached into his bag, then threw its contents onto the ground. “Son, you need to go. There’s a town along the path. If you keep heading up, you’ll reach a gate.” He sat upright and seethed, clutching his side, then took the weathered book and map from the ground and set them on his lap. “When you get there, call out for Auren. He should still be there.”

    The Zorua pushed against his father’s leg. He coughed and shivered, looking all around him. “Y-You’re coming with me…r-r-right?”

    Sion picked up a length of charcoal from his belongings and wrote in the front of the book, shaking. “…I…I can’t. I won’t make it.”

    The Zorua stepped back. His lip trembled. “B-But you said—”

    “I know what I said.” Sion coughed, harder now. He tucked the map under the cover of the book and bound it back again with the string. He tore the leather strap from the satchel and pulled the Zorua closer, then set the book on his back and tied it around his chest. “Auren and his wife will take care of you. I trust them, and they—”

    The Zorua turned around and cried out, “You can’t stay! You can’t!”

    “Listen to me!” Sion shouted. He held his son’s face up to his. “There are some very bad Pokemon wanting to find me, including that Decidueye! He’ll be back, and if they find you, they’ll kill you! And I won’t have your mother’s death be in vain!” He turned away and cough fitfully. The Zorua stood still, shocked.

    Sion calmed, and in a much weaker, hoarse voice, he said, “Give…give the book to Auren. Quantus is…a safe place for you to grow up…”

    Tears streamed down the Zorua’s face. “Papa…”

    Sion pet his son’s head and forced a smile. “Your mother always loved you…and I did too.” He weakly pointed a direction down the path. “Go…I don’t want you to see me pass.”

    The Zorua sniffed and hugged Sion a final time. “I’ll come back for you.” He ran down the path as fast as he could despite his sodden and cold state, carrying with him his father’s last work.

    Sion waved to him weakly and cried freely. He looked up at the sky, where despite the pouring rains, the sky opened, revealing the full moon. Sion’s breaths slowed and shallowed. “Arceus…save my son…please.” He let out one final, drawn-out breath.

    The Zorua ran as hard as he could on the mud-swamped path, fighting the fierce winds and rains. He thought of his father’s final exclamation, the hatred of the Decidueye, and his prevailing fear and sadness. He pushed himself beyond his limits, taxing his small frame to the point of collapse.

    After what felt like hours of traveling on his own, the Zorua struggled to stand, worn from the fierce storm. He saw a massive wooden wall stretch to the north and south, circling a large section of the forest. At the end of the path was a lantern set in the wall, next to a large gate.

    The Zorua’s vision blurred as he stumbled toward it. His paws tripped over themselves at the foot of the gate, and he slammed his head against the wood, immediately falling unconscious. His body temperature fell, and his soaked, mud-covered body did nothing to stop it.

    The gate clicked. The small panel in the center swung inward and revealed a blue, canine face wearing a hood and cloak. He held up a lantern and scrutinized the surroundings. “Who’s there?” He looked down and gasped at the sight of the Zorua.

    He closed the panel and swung the entire gate open, revealing himself to be a Lucario. “Arceus’ name, what happened to you?” He tore off his cloak and wrapped the Zorua in it, then set his paw on his back. “Frozen.” He held the Zorua tight to his chest and closed the gate, then ran swiftly down the path. He set his paw close to the Zorua’s chest and made it glow with blue light, providing what warmth he could provide.

    After half an hour of fighting the torrential rains and the Zorua’s deathly cold, houses loomed in the horizon, all dark for the night. The Lucario passed all of these and entered the one close to the center of the cluster with a blue Lucario head stamped on its door. He slammed the door and grabbed a cushion from the chair in the room—ignoring the puddles of water he made—then threw open the door into another.

    The door opposite opened and revealed another leaner Lucario with a large and swollen belly. She wore a shawl over her shoulder and held a candle in front of her.

    She hobbled over to the other Lucario. “Auren, is that you?”

    Auren crouched at the foot of an open stove in the kitchen and took a piece of flint from the floor, all while he held his other paw over the still Zorua. “Eliza, go back to bed; I don’t want anything happening to you.”

    Eliza entered the kitchen and said, “I’ll be fine; the baby isn’t supposed to come for another few—” She gasped and held a paw up to her chest, nearly dropping her candle. “What in Equivos happened to that poor Zorua?”

    Auren scraped the flint across the spike in his paw and started a fire with the wood set inside the stove. He closed the door and pulled away the sodden cloak from the Zorua, dragging away most of the mud pasted on his fur, but leaving it very damp.

    Eliza set down her candle and hurried back out the kitchen. “I’ll go get some towels. Where did you find him?”

    Auren sat down with the Zorua and enveloped the child with blue light flow from his paw. “I found him outside the gate. It’s a good thing he knocked before he fell unconscious, or I might never have found him.” He eyed the book on the Zorua’s back curiously. He slid it out from the band and carefully opened the damp pages. As he read, his expression grew darker and darker.

    Eliza returned with a bundle of towels in her paws and said, “Here, this should help.” She stopped, noticing the book. “What’s that?”

    Auren closed the book and stood up. He closed his eyes. “It’s Sion’s journal.”

    Eliza cocked her head curiously. “What? Why would—” She froze. She focused on the Zorua. “Is…is he his son?”

    Auren set down the journal and accepted the towels from Eliza. “Yes.” He wrapped one around the Zorua, then himself. “Sion was shot by Damon on the way here. Vaira died before they made it into the woods. He wanted us to raise him.”

    Eliza gasped and put her paws up to her mouth. She sat down on a chair and leaned her head against her paws. “They…they wanted to be here for so long…”

    Auren sighed and held the Zorua on his lap next to the growing fire. “Well…at least one of them made it. And Damon won’t be finding that blade any time soon.” He pointed at the journal. “Sion’s map is in there, and he said that he’d destroyed everything else that could lead to it.” He turned back around and stared at the fire. “At least he did what he said he would.”

    Eliza sniffed, wiping her eyes and snout. “I wish I could’ve seen them before…well, this.” She stood back up and came to Auren and the Zorua. She stroked the child’s headfur; warmth started to seep in from the fire.

    She smiled. “What’s his name?” Unbeknownst to them, a Riolu watched from the entryway, his blanket wrapped around him. He focused on the Zorua, who was slightly obscured by his parents.

    Auren set a paw on the Zorua’s back, which now felt warmer to the touch. The Zorua breathed easier, but he still slept with a pained expression.

    “His name is Arthus.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2018
  3. lucarioknight56

    lucarioknight56 Recorder of Tales

    Chapter 02: Longing

    Chirrup. Chirrup. Chirrup.


    A Fletchling ruffled its feathers on a tree branch and continued to sing. Dew dripped from the leaves and grass, dropping toward the soaked earth. The rising sun shone over the weary wild Pokemon emerging from their homes. Sawsbuck strode beneath ripening apples and between laden berry bushes, watching over their young Deerling, while Pachirisu hopped through the vast trees and chittered, ever watchful of the Arbok and Ekans that had yet to wake. And more Fletchling and Fletchinder sang as they flew between the branches.

    Few stirred in Quantus Village at this early hour. A pair of Gurdurr hammered nails into a house frame, chatting as the metallic clatter rung. An aged Golduck breathed peacefully at the edge of a small pond as he sat with his legs folded and arms extended. Wild Combee buzzed past berry bushes to flowers, hastily slurping the nectar within and darting to the next. The other Pokemon within Quantus slept in their homes, all silently grateful that last night’s storm had ended.

    In a cabin with a blue Lucario head painted on its door, all was quiet. The living room floors were clear of mud and rain, and the stove in the kitchen lay cold and empty. The counters and table gleamed in the sunlight shining from the open window, along with the simple cookware hanging from a rack hooked to the ceiling. Yet the corner with the stove remained dark, allowing the Pokemon sleeping in front of it more rest.

    A Zorua stirred in the towel underneath him. The Lucario slouched forward, sleeping in a sitting position. His free paw curled around the small, weathered journal.

    Chirrup.

    Auren’s ears twitched.

    Chirrup. Chirrup.

    Auren’s eyes languidly opened, then he looked about his surroundings.

    A table with a long bench and a set of three chairs stood behind him to his left, situated near a wide window with its curtains pulled away; a square basket of Pecha berries sat in the center. To his right, a large counter cropped up on the floor and had cookware hanging above it. Another room stretched out from the hallway between the counter and table. An array of cupboards and drawers appeared in the wall, all the way to a small hallway in the corner leading to a door to the outside. Two washbasins stood on stools to the right of the stove. Not speck of dirt or grime could be seen.

    Auren looked down at Arthus. The Zorua slept peacefully, only stirring and moaning occasionally.

    Auren looked down at Sion’s journal, then back at Arthus. He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. ‘What am I going to tell him?’ he thought.

    Chirrup. Chirrup.

    The Lucario’s ears twitched once more as he tried to locate the sound. He faced the window and saw a ruffled Fletchling sitting on the sill, nestling its legs under its chest.

    It pecked the glass once, seemingly toward the basket of Pecha berries. Chirrup.

    Auren smiled. “Good morning. Wasn’t a pleasant night, was it?” He stood up and groaned, stretching his back. ‘I really shouldn’t be sleeping like that…’ He looked back at Arthus and added, ‘But I had to make sure he was well.’

    Chirrup.

    He turned back to see the Fletchling fluff up its feathers and tap the glass again. Auren nodded his head and walked to the table. “Alright, you’re hungry, I get it.” He plucked a berry from the basked and flicked the latch on the window frame. He pulled it open, and the Fletchling stood up and skittered toward the berry. It chirped and snatched the berry from the Lucario’s paw, then flew off into the trees to enjoy its meal.

    The Lucario closed the window and stared at the journal. He frowned. ‘Sion discovered something evil…something that should have remained uncovered.”

    Arthus stirred in the towel. Auren set the book on the seat of a chair, under the shadow of the table. ‘Thank Arceus he kept it out of Damon’s claws.’

    The Zorua opened his eyes and yawned. He went to stretch but winced and returned to sitting. He looked about curiously, then his eyes met Auren’s. His eyes widened in alarm, then he shrank low to the ground.

    Auren approached him carefully, holding his paws out. “Don’t be afraid, Arthus. You’re safe now.”

    Arthus stood up shakily and backed away from him. “Who are you? How do you know my name?”

    The Lucario’s smile disappeared. “My name is Auren Lucario, and I was a friend of your parents, Sion and Vaira Zoroark. I learned your name from the message your father sent me.”

    Arthus stood still but studied the room in a cross of fear and wonder. “Dad told me to find you.” His eyes grew wide once more, then he exclaimed. “Is this Quantus?”

    Auren nodded and crossed his arms. “Yes. I found you last night at the gate nearly frozen to death, so I brought you to my home to take care of you.”

    Arthus looked behind him and noticed the back door. He bounded toward it and shouted, “I have to go get Dad! He’s waiting for me!”

    Auren grimaced and ran between Arthus and the door. Arthus stopped and cocked his head. “What’s wrong?”

    Auren looked up and sighed, then knelt on the floor. “Arthus…he’s dead.”

    Arthus’ face turned blank. He remembered his father’s final plea.

    The arrow through his chest.

    The Decidueye who fired it.

    Arthus closed his eyes and tried to push around the Lucario and toward the door. “He’s…he’s still there, on the path, waiting for me! I have to go back!”

    Auren held tight to Arthus legs. The Zorua kicked and struggled to come free, but the Lucario kept his grip. “Arthus, I had someone go out to find him last night, and when they did—”

    “No! No! He can’t die! He can’t!” Arthus screamed. He repeated this over and over as he clawed and bit Auren’s arms to come free, but to no avail.

    Auren grit his teeth and pinned Arthus’ front legs together. Arthus scrambled to become free from his grip, but after over a minute of fighting his escape, Auren shouted, “Arthus!” He fell silent and looked Auren in the eye, breathing heavily.

    Auren sighed, then closed his eyes. “Arthus…the last thing you father wrote to me was for me to raise you like my own son. Would he have said that if he thought he would live?”

    Arthus stared into space, silent. He thought of Sion’s last words: “Your mother always loved you…and I did too.” He fell limp in Auren’s paws and simply stared, dwelling on that final scene.

    Auren looked down at the Zorua, then left and right. He carefully stood up and lowered Arthus onto the towel he woke in; he curled up inside it, hiding his face.

    The Lucario closed his eyes and rubbed his chin, sighing sorrowfully. He looked over to the berry basket, then back to Arthus. “You traveled a long way to get here. Are you hungry?” Arthus remained still.

    Auren breathed out slowly, rubbing the back of his neck. He took the basket of berries from the table and set it in front of Arthus, then walked toward the back door. “I’ll be finding someone to take my shift at the border for a few days, so I can help you…adjust.” He held the door open and stopped. He slowly turned back toward Arthus. “My wife, Eliza, is asleep, but if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask her. She’s expecting a baby soon, but you’re our priority right now.” He turned back around and lowered his head. “…I’m sorry for what happened. Your parents were good Pokemon. They never deserved such a fate.” He closed the door behind him and soon disappeared from the window’s view.

    Arthus didn’t even glance at the berries. His mind was blank, flooded by the sudden emptiness in his heart. Despite the lilting Fletchling and morning light, his world never felt darker.

    He remained on the towel for over an hour, undisturbed, in shock. The berries sat in their basket, waiting to be eaten. But that moment never came.

    Arthus’ ear twitched. He slowly turned his head and stared at the doorway. A Riolu stood just outside it, his foot barely past the threshold.

    He looked around a moment, then weakly smiled, waving his paw. “Hi.” Arthus turned back around.

    The Riolu’s smile disappeared as his paw lowered to his side. He shuffled over to Arthus, holding his arms behind his back. “Your name’s Arthus…right?” No response.

    The Riolu stopped only several feet away. He looked up for a moment and blew his breath out slowly. “Alright…well, my name’s Matheus.” He looked around Arthus in an attempt to see his face. The Zorua buried his face in the towel.

    Matheus stood straight and rubbed the back of his neck as he looked around. “I…I heard what happened last night. I’m sorry you had to go through that storm…and about your mom and dad.” Arthus let out a shuddering sigh at the mention of his parents.

    Matheus rubbed the side of his face and cautiously stepped forward. “If there’s anything you want to talk about, you can always say stuff to me.”

    “Matheus.”

    The Riolu turned around to see Eliza standing at the doorway with her arms crossed over her pregnant belly. She stepped inside and said, “Now’s not the time.” She flicked her head to her left. “Go help your father outside. He’ll need help getting the addition made.”

    Matheus opened his mouth to object, then silently closed it and nodded his head. He brushed past her and looked back to Arthus, then exited into the hallway. The door opened and shut.

    Eliza looked over at the door, then back to Arthus. She steadily walked up behind him and held her paws in front of her. “I see you met my son, Matheus. He’s a good Riolu, but sometimes he isn’t fully aware of what’s happening.” Arthus looked back at her, his eye barely open.

    Eliza took a deep breath and sat down on a chair, then she gently rubbed around her unborn child. “Given how I am at the moment, I can’t help you with everything, and I often sleep throughout the day. Auren should be around for at least the next week, so make sure to ask him for help if you need it.” She noticed the basket of berries in front of Arthus and said, “And please, eat. You must be starving after what you had to go through.” She carefully came to her feet, then walked back toward the hallway. “I’ll be going back to my bed now; I just wanted to see if you were alright.” She paused, then slowly turned around. “Arthus.” He lifted his head expectantly.

    Eliza smiled sympathetically. “I was good friends with your parents…your mother especially. I know I can’t replace her, but just know that I want you to be part of our family. Just…take your time.” She exited, leaving the door open.

    Arthus stared at the doorway, then at the basket of berries. He plucked a bright pink one off and hesitantly chewed it. His hunger grew stronger, and he continued to eat berries one by one from the basket. All the while, he struggled to envision his life without his parents.

    ~~~~

    Pokemon all throughout Quantus began their day, each wishing for the best. Voices rang out in casual chatter throughout the settlement, whether it be in the square or the pond. Children ran amongst the adults to garner some fun before the dreaded school day began. Pokemon of various types and species worked together, whether they are aligned with the trees, the water, the night, the light, or anything else.

    Behind the Lucario home stood a wooden frame in the rough shape of a box. Three walls lay flat on the ground next to the frame, while the frame itself was pushed against the house. Farther back, tools of all types poured out from a disheveled, dusty shed.

    Dust plumed out of the open door of the shed and settled on the tools around it. Coughs hacked out from it, and a Lucario stumbled out, holding a small bucket of nails and a hammer in a paw. He wheezed and fanned the remaining dust away with his paw. “It hasn’t been that long since I’ve worked on this.” He shook his head and looked down at his pail, then at the planks of wood next to the shed. “Lovely…and I have no one to help.”

    The door closed, causing to turn back toward the other side of the house. A young Riolu shuffled out from the front of the house, frowning with his arms crossed.

    Auren smiled, exclaiming, “Matheus! Coming out to help your old ‘mon, huh?” He held up the pail and flicked his head toward the house frame. “Got to get the walls up so we can have room for—” He trailed off as Matheus sat down on a stack of planks and sighed.

    Auren sat down next to him and set the pail and hammer on the ground. “What’s wrong? You’re usually happy to be out here with me.”

    Matheus looked up at him and replied, “I was just trying to be friends with Arthus, but he didn’t say anything, and I don’t know why.” He lowered his head and whimpered, “Did I do something wrong?”

    Auren wrapped an arm around Matheus and said, “No, no, not at all. He’s just…just gone through some pretty terrible things recently. He just lost his parents last night, and if I’m right about the bruises I found on him, he got pretty hurt too.”

    “Because of that Damon guy, right?” Matheus replied.

    “Yes, and—” Auren stopped, then looked down at Matheus suspiciously. “How do you know that? And how’d you learn Arthus’ name if he’s been so quiet?”

    Matheus shrunk down and cast his eyes away. “I…heard you come in last night and maybe heard you say that.” He gave another sorry look. “Was that wrong?”

    Auren looked up for a moment, then held the Riolu closer. “Matheus...do you remember on Moon’s Day, when I asked Vivian to take care of Cael until your mother had her baby, and how I asked if you wanted to join him?” Matheus nodded.

    Auren continued, “She said she had a bunch of fun games planned for the both of you, especially in the lake. You would’ve had the time of your life, and you’d only be a few hours away from home.”

    Matheus smiled. “She is a pretty fun Floatzel.”

    “Yet when I asked, you said you wanted to stay here.” Auren massaged Matheus’ shoulder. “I wondered why you said that; you always wanted to go to her house for a trip. And when I asked, you said…” He stopped, looking down at Matheus.

    The Riolu looked up and caught his inquisitive glance. He looked away and said, “I…felt like I had to stay here. I don’t know why, but I did.” He shook his head, asking, “But, what does that have to do with Arthus?”

    Auren smiled. “If there’s one thing I know about how you work, Matheus, it’s that you are driven by instinct. You don’t stop to think through what you do, but you know what you’re doing is right.” He pointed at Matheus’ chest. “You have a good heart; you’ve always been close to what Arceus wants you to be. I think he was trying to tell you to stay here so you could help Arthus. He’s close to your age, and I think what he needs more than anything right now is not just a family, but a friend.”

    Matheus looked down at his father’s paw, then up at his face. “So…I should keep trying to talk to him?”

    Auren retracted his paw and smiled weakly. “Just…give him time. I’m hoping he’ll open up at dinner, but until then, just leave him be. Okay?” Matheus nodded.

    Auren nodded back, then stood and picked up the pail of nails and the hammer from the ground. “Well…these walls won’t raise themselves up. Best get to work.”

    Matheus pushed off the planks and hurried to Auren’s side. “Wait, Dad!”

    Auren turned toward him with a questioning look. Matheus hugged his leg and said, “Thank you.” Auren smiled and hugged him back, careful with the metal in his paws.

    ~~~~

    The sun hung low in the sky, near the horizon. Fletchling returned to their nests, Rattata to their burrows, and Sawsbuck to their glade for the coming night. The bustle of Quantus died down as many returned to their homes to enjoy the remaining hours of light with their families.

    Auren held a plank up on the frame, with many others beneath it. Matheus sat on his shoulders with the hammer in hand as he drove a nail through the end, then grabbed another from the bucket hanging on his father’s raised tail.

    Matheus strained to hit the nail as he pushed himself up to get better leverage. Auren grunted and adjusted his position. “Nearly done there?” he asked.

    Matheus grabbed two more nails and said, “Go on over!” Auren did so, and the Riolu drove the nails into the other side.

    Auren lifted Matheus from his shoulders and set him down, then slid the bucket of nails off from his tail. He patted Matheus on the back and exclaimed, “Nice work! We’ll have the outside done by tomorrow at this rate!”

    Matheus set the hammer in the bucket and grinned. “All ready for my baby brother, right?”

    Auren smiled and scratched his son’s head. “Or sister.”

    Matheus looked away and frowned. “Or sister.”

    Auren laughed and patted his head. “That’s my boy.” He began walking around the frame to the other side of the house. “Actually, I’ve been thinking we could have Arthus move into it. He’ll need somewhere else than the kitchen after all.” They reached the door, and as Auren opened it he added, “And your brother or sister can stay in my room until I can make another.”

    They stopped at the door, and before Auren opened it, Matheus said, “Can Arthus sleep in my room tonight?”

    Auren looked down at him curiously. “I don’t know, Matheus; Arthus still has to get used to us, and it might be better for him to sleep in the front room until I can get the addition finished.”

    Matheus tugged on his father’s arm. “Dad, he can sleep in Cael’s bed, and its comfier than the floor!” He stopped, then held his head low. “Besides, what if he needs something? I’d rather be right there with him instead of waiting for him to come.”

    Auren rubbed his chin in thought. “Well…it would be rather strange for me to sleep with him again.” He nodded his head back and forth. “You two are pretty close in age. He might be more willing to open up to you than me or Mom.” He smiled and tousled his son’s headfur. “What a good idea! We’ll just check to see if Arthus is alright with it, okay?”

    Matheus flattened his fur and exclaimed joyfully, “Yeah! This’ll be fun!”

    Auren grabbed the handle and added, “Just remember, he’s gone through a lot in the past day, and there’s likely more that happened that we don’t know about. Let him talk to you on his own terms.” He held out his little digit. “Promise?”

    Matheus accepted it with his own. “Promise.”

    Auren smiled. “That’s my boy.” He retracted his paw and entered the house. Matheus followed, closing the door.

    ~~~~

    Over a dinner of delicious Oran berry fry, the Lucario family discussed events occurring throughout Quantus, such as the repairs having to be made to the schoolhouse due to the storm, or about the letter they received from Vivian about her time with Cael at the pond. All the while, Arthus remained silent, eating his meal at the end of the table.

    Finally, after exhausting their discussion, Eliza and Matheus began clearing the dishes while Auren sat across from Arthus and asked, “I’ve been thinking about how we might be able to help you after what’s happened.” Arthus listened, keeping his eyes focused on his feet.

    Auren looked over to Eliza, who motioned for him to continue. He turned back rested his paws on the table. “Is there anything you’d like to know about us or the village? We don’t want you to feel alone here.”

    Arthus remained silent, studying his paws. After a moment, he quietly asked, “Are there any…bad Pokemon?”

    Auren looked up for a moment, considering his question. “No, no there isn’t. My job as gatekeeper is to make sure no one that would be a threat gets inside. I promise that you can trust anyone within the walls.”

    Arthus shrunk down in his seat. “What about Damon?”

    Auren tapped his paw against the table in thought. ‘I’m not sure. He has little incentive to come unless he thinks that Sion managed to make it here. But considering he died by one of his own arrows, I doubt it. I can always tell him if he decides to come, but I doubt that would stop him from investigating himself.’

    Auren set aside his thoughts and held Arthus’ paw under the table. The Zorua looked up, confused. Auren gave him an assuring look and said, “Damon won’t find you here. I can promise you that.” Arthus’ paw shook in Auren’s, but it soon fell still despite his wary glances.

    Matheus finished rinsing the last of the dishes in the sink, then ran over to the table and sat next to his father. Auren retracted his paw and gestured to him, facing Arthus. “Matheus’ brother, Cael, is staying with a friend for the next week or so, and Matheus was wondering if you’d like to sleep in his bed until I get the addition finished.” Matheus smiled hopefully.

    Arthus sat straighter but kept his eyes toward the floor. Auren paused for a moment, then said, “I understand if you’re unsure about us, but Matheus only wants to be close by in case you need something in the night.” He made a small smile. “Plus, Cael’s bed is stuffed with discarded down from a Swanna friend of ours. It doesn’t get better than that.” Eliza looked over to them from the sink as she hung her wash-rag to dry.

    Arthus looked up and took glances first at Auren, then at Matheus. The Riolu leaned on the table, saying, “I promise I’ll leave you alone if you want me to!” Auren crossed his arms and gave Matheus a knowing look. The Riolu sheepishly sat back down.

    Arthus studied them for a moment longer, then took a deep breath. He nodded slowly. “Okay.”

    ~~~~

    Darkness fell over Quantus. Fletchling and Fletchinder returned to their parents’ nests, and the great Arbok slithered back into their dens. No wind blew, no moon shone; only stars lit the sky by the thousands. Few dared to be out in the total blackness for fear of Darkrai, the Nightmare Monger, who once a year traveled the region on such a moonless night in search of a vile Pokemon to curse with endless nightmares. Despite his intended target, many children feared they would incur his wrath for disobeying their parents.

    Arthus stared out the window from Matheus’ room, curled up on the bottom bed of the bunk within. A lantern sat on the desk opposite to him, next to rough drawings of Lucario and Riolu with other Pokemon. Books and toys sprawled on the floor in front of the window, along with small cloaks and hats for the brothers that slept here. A portrait showing Auren, Eliza, Matheus, and another, smaller Riolu hung above the desk, all smiling in a basic white background. Next to it was a simple arc engraved on a plaque, with the words ‘Remember Arceus’ below it.

    The Zorua focused on the arc. “Arceus…”

    The door opened, and Arthus quickly shrunk close to the bed. Matheus ran into the room and hopped into the bunk above, while his parents stood outside the door.

    Auren came close to Arthus and stooped to his level. “Will you be alright sleeping here tonight? You can sleep out on the couch if you feel more comfortable.”

    Arthus considered his words for a moment, then quietly replied, “I think I’ll be fine.”

    Auren nodded, then stood up and rested an arm on the rail of Matheus’ bunk. “I want you to go straight to sleep, alright? No stories, no chats, no nothing; with the schoolhouse being repaired, you’ll be helping me finish up the addition tomorrow, and I want you well rested, alright?”

    Matheus saluted with his paw to his brow and smiled. “Yes, sir!” Auren saluted back, blew out the candle in the lantern, then rejoined his wife at the door.

    She waved her paw toward them and exited. “Sweet dreams!”

    Auren slowly closed the door, saying, “Good night, you two.” His pawsteps grew quieter as the lights in the hallway dimmed, leaving Matheus and Arthus in total darkness.

    Arthus shifted in his covers, while Matheus’ head hung upside-down from his bunk. The fur on the back of his head hung loosely as he whispered, “Hey, Arthus!” The Zorua turned toward him, seeing nothing but his outline.

    Matheus retreated slightly and continued, “I know you’re still getting used to things, but would you want me to show you around the village tomorrow? There’s lots of nice Pokemon, and there's all sorts of fun stuff to do." Before Arthus could reply, Matheus threw out his paws to stop him. “Just…think about it, okay?” He started to slip, then hurriedly pulled himself back up. “Let me know in the morning what you’d like to do. I don’t mind either way.”

    Arthus looked up toward the Riolu curiously, then shook his head. He turned back around and took a deep breath. He let it out slowly, then closed his eyes, with the only thing on his mind being his lost parents.

    ~~~~

    One Month Prior…

    Black-furred Rattata skittered through the grimy streets of Saunte in the dark alleyways, avoiding the bright evening light. Murkrow huddled on the rooftops, watching all the wretched Pokemon beneath them searching for shelter in the coming night. Merchants closed down what shops were left, and thugs began their nightly patrol for thieves and other undesirables. Down one alleyway, punches and screeches rang out as a patrol found a target, and down another, coarse laughter echoed. Murkrow cawed, Rattata chittered, Meowth yowled—all complemented with foul sewage and rotting food. None chose to stay in Saunte save for those who enforced what law remained: the rule of Damon Decidueye.

    The amber sky darkened to violet, then to black; the cries of Pokemon quieted. All seemed settled for the moonless night—until a grizzled, scrawny Hypno crashed through a stack of crates in a desperate sprint. Hoarse shouts followed, with two Pangoro charging behind him, led by a battered Bisharp with a nick on his headblade. He slashed his gauntlet through the air, creating a glowing blade that shot toward the Hypno. “There’s nowhere to run, fool!” The projectile cut into a stone wall mere inches from the Hypno, who turned the corner just after. He came face-to-face with a dead end, filled with nothing but old boards against the wall.

    The Hypno cringed and faced the Bisharp and Pangoro. He held his hands up defensively and stuttered, “N-N-Now, gentlemen, I’ve done nothing wrong! Please, let me go!” The boards shimmered, unnoticed by any of them.

    The Pangoro chuckled darkly as they cracked their knuckles. The Bisharp crossed his arms and said, “Damon sees you as a threat to his leadership.” He narrowed his eyes. “And we can’t have that.” The Hypno’s eyes went wide as he untwirled the ring around his wrist and shakily swung it.

    The Bisharp swung another glowing blade and cut the string, making the ring drop. “No teleportation to save you now.” The Hypno stood frozen with fear.

    The wind shifted. The Pangoro’s grins faded as they studied the area, their dark eyes shifting back and forth. A low moan emanated around them.

    The Bisharp scowled and shouted, “Who’s there?” The moan returned, louder. A single blue eye glowed behind the Hypno. The Dark Pokemon’s nerve wavered.

    The eye hovered higher; the Hypno dared not look back. Ethereal, wraith-like hands stretched from the eye. A cloud of white erupted from the top, and from below, a ring of crimson.

    The Pangoro shook and stepped back. “I-It can’t be! He’s just a myth!” one cried.

    As if in response, the wraith threw down his hands and roared, sending out a wave of black energy. The Pangoro screamed, “Darkrai!”, and ran back into the alley, praying to not be forced into an endless nightmare. The Bisharp reluctantly followed, knowing the Legend to be great a foe.

    The Hypno huddled and clamped his hands on his head. “P-P-Please, don’t hurt me…” he whimpered. Just as suddenly as he came, Darkrai faded away, leaving nothing.

    The Hypno blinked and looked around him. Finding no one, he quickly grabbed his ring from the ground and tied it back to his string, then shook it three times. He sighed and glowed with bright, white light, then shot into the sky in a teleport.

    Moments later, the wall shimmered, and a young Zorua appeared, smiling, but winded. “That’ll show them.”

    A gauntlet slapped the wall and caused him to freeze. The Bisharp pushed himself forward and leered at the Zorua. “It was you.” He rushed forward in a flurry of metal, and before the Zorua could react, the Bisharp grabbed his neck and held him to the ground.

    The Zorua looked up at the Bisharp in terror. The Sword Blade Pokemon looked up, then back at him. “That was a clever trick with Darkrai; you made it so the Pokemon I’ve been tracking for months was able to escape. Damon won’t be pleased.”

    Breaking through his fear, the Zorua hoarsely replied, “I’m…not…afraid of him…”

    The Bisharp brought his eyes closer to the Zorua’s. “You will be.” He punched the Zorua on his side, causing him to wheeze. The Bisharp growled and punched him in the face, then on his side again, proceeding all around him.

    The Zorua whimpered and cried, struggling to make himself free. “Mama! Papa!” The Bisharp’s beating continued until the Zorua could barely breathe, let alone cry for help. His eyes closed in defeat.

    Rushed footsteps ran across the wall, and two Zoroark appeared in the alley, with the male bearing a grizzled mane and stained bandages. The female gasped and shrieked, “Arthus!”

    The Bisharp turned, only to be clouted across the head by Sion. He fell to the ground with a grunt as Vaira snatched her broken son from the ground and held him close.

    Sion growled and bared his teeth. “How dare you attack our son, Orion!”

    The Bisharp stood up and jabbed a finger toward Arthus. “He prevented me from killing Gaelen! He deserved to be punished!”

    Sion struck down his hand and gathered a shadow ball in his claws. “You had no right! He’s just a child!” Vaira held Arthus with a dark scowl as the Zorua weakly breathed.

    Orion clenched his fist. “Need I remind you of my position in Damon’s ranks?”

    Sion narrowed his eyes as the shadow ball reached full size. “And what do you think he’d do if he found out you nearly killed the son of his top spy?” Orion paused. They stared at each other for moments longer, all while Arthus’ struggled breathing continued.

    Orion finally turned away and relaxed his grip. He turned and strode back through the alley, into the night.

    Sion breathed heavily, the shadow ball shaking in his claws. He took a deep breath, and the shadows dissipated. He came close to Vaira and ran his finger through his son’s fur. “Arthus…” He stopped and stared at Vaira. “Did you pick up more supplies yesterday?”

    She nodded and ran for the boards against the wall. “Yes, and there’s no time! Come help me!” She ran through them in a shimmer of light, and Sion followed. Before he entered, he looked up at the sky and say the vaguest shadow of a bird soaring overhead.

    He clenched his teeth. “You’ll get what you deserve soon enough.” He entered through the illusion to his home to help heal his son.

    As Arthus was laid down on his bed, his eyes fluttered open momentarily. His parents’ voices became muffled, and their actions blurred, as he fell unconscious.

    ~~~~

    After sleeping for what only felt like moments, Arthus opened his eyes, groaning. His vision focused, and he saw himself on his bed, with even his parents’ blankets around him. The room was lit only by the lantern hanging in the center of the room. His mother sat at the table cutting bread with a knife, while his father worked at his desk, striking lines from a book with lines of ink. Next to Arthus’ bed was a tray laden with bandages, bottles and berries, all nearly gone.

    He looked down at himself and saw that his chest was wrapped with bandages, along with a foreleg and back leg, even his tail. He strained to move them, but the shot of pain forced him to stop. He seethed, alerting his parents. Vaira looked up from the bread and ran to him, saying, “Thank Arceus you’re awake!” Sion looked up and turned around in his seat, keeping his claws interlocked as he studied Arthus.

    As Vaira gently hugged him, Arthus quietly asked, “How long was I asleep?”

    “Three days,” she replied, “and we were afraid you’d never wake up. Orion nearly killed you!” Arthus’ eyes closed as that realization sank in.

    Sion tapped his chin for a moment, then asked, “Orion said you helped Gaelen escape. How exactly?”

    Struggling to remember what happened that night, Arthus explained the events leading to them arriving to save him from Orion. As he finished the tale, Sion smiled slightly and said, “Darkrai was a good choice to drive them off. He is said to only appear on moonless nights like it was that night.” He grew more serious. “But that was very dangerous to do. As much as it was a good thing to save Gaelen, they might have seen through the illusion and killed him along with you, and with two Pangoro there…” He shuddered and turned back to his work. “I’m afraid that there would have been nothing we could’ve done.”

    Silence followed. They all remained quiet, with Vaira giving Arthus a meager dinner of bread and berries. After they had finished, Arthus asked in a strained manner, “Papa…Mama…” They both focused on him, the former pausing his work, and the latter halting putting away the remaining food.

    Arthus swallowed, and continued, “Why are Pokemon like Orion bad? Why do they want to hurt Pokemon like Gaelen, or…me?”

    Vaira and Sion stared at each other, each having an answer forming in their mind. Vaira sat next to Arthus and replied, “A lot of Pokemon are just…confused. They don’t know who to follow and why, and they like to blame others for their problems, even if they did nothing wrong. They don’t know any better.”

    Sion stood up and tersely said, “Bad Pokemon aren’t always confused. Some just want to stomp on weaker Pokemon to raise themselves up.” He sweeps his hand through the air. “Avoid them at all costs, and most of all, never resort to what they do.” He sat back down and rested his hand against his free hand as he continued scratching out lines in the book. “Or you might just become them…”

    Arthus stared at his father, surprised by his outburst. Vaira quickly turned his head away and hugged him close. “Your father is right; there are bad Pokemon like that. But they are always afraid of what’s around them; they do bad things because they see no other choice. There always is.”

    Arthus pressed his face into her shoulder as memories of his beating became clearer. “Orion said I’d be afraid of Damon…but he didn’t say why.” He looked up at his mother. “Should I be?”

    Vaira, wide-eyed, turned to Sion. He only stared back.

    She slowly turned back to Arthus and forced a smile. “As long as we’re here, no, you shouldn’t.”

    He closed his eyes as she hugged him again. “What if you aren’t here?”

    “By then, we’ll be far away from him and the rest of the bad Pokemon.”

    Her voice stopped, and Arthus felt her embrace release. He opened his eyes to a dark room; his parents were gone.

    He looked about, worried. “Mama? Papa?” No response.

    The door creaked open, revealing an ethereal, violet mist. A claw stepped into the room, then a feathered body. A jade, cowled head emerged, turned away. Arthus held his breath.

    The head swung towards him and revealed glowing, orange eyes. Arthus cried out for his parents once more, to no avail. He backed away from the Decidueye, who crept forward with a blank face as he covered Arthus in orange light.

    Damon drew a feather from under his wing and nocked it into the vine on his chest. He slowly drew it back, and the head glowed violet. A shriek echoed from Damon’s beak.

    He released the arrow.

    Arthus screamed.

    ~~~~

    He snapped awake, breathing heavily. The room was still dark. Matheus still lay asleep. It was only a dream.

    Arthus looked about, seeing nothing in the blackness. All he could think about was Damon Decidueye, the leader of the criminals of Saunte and the murderer of his parents—and the one that surely sought his life.

    But soon, these thoughts changed. He thought of the final part of the nightmare: his parents’ last words and their disappearance. He said under his breath, “As long…as long as they’re here, I shouldn’t be afraid.”

    ‘But they aren’t here,’ he thought. ‘And I’m alone. They were the only ones who cared for me…who loved me…”

    His throat grew tight. ‘Auren says he’ll love me…but how do I know he’s not a bad Pokemon like Damon? Papa said he trusted him, but how do I know he’s not one of them?’

    The thoughts spiraled deeper and deeper into darkness as he cringed and buried his face in the pillow. ‘I’m alone. Mama and Papa are gone…and he’s looking for me, just so he can…kill me.”

    He whimpered, trying to fight back the fear. ‘I…I shouldn’t be afraid! Auren saved me…he can’t be bad!’

    To no avail, they returned. ‘But they’re gone! Gone! And now…now…’

    He froze. ‘Nobody loves me.’ He broke into tears. ‘Nobody will help me.’ He heaved as all the sadness he had experienced over the past day-and-a-half collapsed. ‘I’m all alone.’ He wept terribly, all of his composure falling away as the sadness consumed him.

    The Riolu sleeping above him opened his eyes. The fur on the back of his head rose, and at once, he felt the sadness Arthus suffered. He sat up and looked down toward Arthus and considered his options. After only moments of thought, he quietly descended the ladder of his bunk and stood in front of Arthus. The Zorua made no effort to hide his tears or his face. He sniffed and looked at him, saying nothing.

    Matheus looked away, then took a deep breath and asked, “What’s wrong?”

    Arthus at first wanted to ignore him, as he had done before. But his emotions triumphed, and he exclaimed, “I w-w-want Mama and P-Papa back! They k-k-kept me safe, and now they’re gone!” He clamped his front paws over his head and made a deep, shuddering sigh. “No one….no one loves me…not anymore. I’m…all alone.” Tears streamed down his face as Matheus thought of what to say.

    The Riolu’s uncertainty dissolved as he said, “I will.” Arthus quickly turned in puzzlement. Matheus sat next to him and continued, “I’ll love you, like a brother! And Mom and Dad will love you like they love me and Cael!”

    Arthus looked down and wiped one side of his face. “H-How do you know that? You don’t know what I’ve been through…”

    Matheus hesitated for a moment, then, closing his eyes, he said, “I…I was adopted. Just like you.”

    Arthus stared at him in shock. “What? But—”

    “I know,” Matheus replied, “You couldn’t tell. I was found on the doorstep one night when I was a baby, and Mom and Dad promised to raise me like I was their own son.” He crossed his arms and leaned against the bedpost. “I heard them talking about it with Levas Golduck.” Unsure of what to say, Arthus remained silent.

    Matheus looked down. “I never told them I figured it out. And, honestly, I don’t need or want to.”

    “Why?” Arthus asked, his despair beginning to flee.

    Matheus smiled. “Because nothing would change. They’d treat me just the same, no matter what.” He set his paw on Arthus’ and looked him in the eye. “Arthus, you’re not alone. I’m with you now, and I always will be.”

    Arthus, astonished, echoed, “Always?”

    Matheus nodded. “Always.” The fur on the back of his head rose again, and Arthus was overcome by gratitude, astonishment, despair, and joy, all rolled into one. He sat right against Matheus and cried uncontrollably, finally feeling the love that he so desperately needed. Matheus, although surprised, simply embraced him, and allowed Arthus to relieve his great emotional burden, until, finally, he slept once more. Matheus slept with him in the same bed, both at peace for the rest of the night.

    ~~~~

    Hours later, the black sky had barely turned blue when an urgent knock came at the door. None responded to it, all still deep in sleep.

    The knock came again, and Auren woke. He got up from his bed—careful not to wake Eliza—and went to see who it was. He walked out of the hallway, past Matheus’ room and the room in progress into the front room. The front had only a set of simple couches and a table between them, along with a small fireplace in the wall. Next to it, from the window, showed Fletchling began to chirp once more to herald the morning, and the smell of fresh dew hung in the air.

    He opened the door and met with a Manectric wearing a white scarf around his neck. He breathed heavily and hung his head low, clearly exhausted.

    Auren stepped back in surprise. “Rix, what are you doing here? Aren’t you on duty?”

    The Manectric took a moment to breathe, then said, “You have to come, now.”

    Auren gave him a curious look. “What’s the matter?”

    “Damon’s at the gate, and he’s ‘requested’ to see the ‘mon on guard last night.”

    Auren scowled as he realized the reason. “You go on ahead; I’ll be there shortly.” Rix nodded and padded away as Auren closed the door. He ran to the back and grabbed his cloak from the fireplace and was about to run outside when a thought came to him. He quietly returned to the front and peeked inside Matheus’ room. There he saw the Riolu sleeping with Arthus in the same bed…like he sometimes did with Cael when he had trouble sleeping.

    Auren smiled and silently closed the door, then frowned as he exited the house and ran down the path, and by the time the sun began rising over the horizon, he reached the wall, and the Manectric stood at the top with a Gurdurr, each peering below.

    Auren calmed his breathing as he ascended the steps, and when at the top, he appeared no worse for wear to the Decidueye standing below with his three Mightyena. Damon kept his neck craned upward, showing the scabbed gashes on the right side of his head.

    He turned to Auren and exclaimed, “Are you the Pokemon who was here last night in the storm?”

    Auren nodded. “Yes, I am. What do you want, Damon?” he asked with a scowl.

    Damon held up a drawing of a grizzled Zoroark. “I am searching for a ‘mon named Sion Zoroark. He took valuable information from me and was headed this way…and I lost him in the storm.” He said the last part in a dark tone, and his Mightyena growled as if in agreement.

    Auren whispered something to the Gurdurr, who nodded and briskly descended the stairs. Auren turned back to Damon and replied, “What makes you think he would come here? There are other villages to the south that aren’t so close to Saunte.”

    Damon lowered Sion’s picture and said, “My Mightyena tracked him here, and I know he has connections to Pokemon here—such as you, Auren Lucario.” He narrowed his eyes. “I found letters from you amongst his belongings before I burned them.”

    Auren said nothing, but inwardly he cursed. “I never saw Sion come here last night; your Mightyena must have smelled something else.”

    “Impossible!” Damon exclaimed, flapping his wing. “They’ve never been wrong! You let him inside, and if you’re keeping him, I will come in for him!” The Gurdurr returned and slipped something into Auren’s paw.

    Auren sighed and looked away. “He came inside…after my friends found his body along the path.” Damon’s eyes went wide. Auren added, “We buried him and his wife, Vaira, yesterday morning.”

    A low growl escaped the Mightyena as the crouched. Damon eyed them, then furiously turned back. “How did he die? I won’t believe unless I see it!”

    Auren raised his paw high and threw down Damon’s own arrow in front of him, encrusted with Sion’s blood. Damon’s beak fell in shock. He directed the Mightyena to inspect it, and after vigorous sniffing, they whimpered and backed away, indicating a match.

    Damon pried up the arrow with a claw and inspected it himself. He looked up at Auren, who crossed his arms and said, “He was shot near the heart, by you no less. Is that proof enough?”

    The Decidueye studied the arrow, then growled and snapped it in half, throwing the remains away. “Very well,” he seethed, “In my anger, I must have somehow killed him.” He thought to himself, ‘So he was near that tree on the path. I knew I heard something!’

    Auren tapped his paw on his arm and said, “If that’s all you’re here for, then be on your leave. We don’t welcome crime lords here in Quantus.”

    Damon closed his eyes and mulled over the facts, then asked, “I will forget your insult on my position in Saunte, considering that you seem to be an honorable Pokemon otherwise, Auren.” He paced in place, stepping over the now-useless picture of Sion. “I’ve heard tales of your deeds keeping out undesirable Pokemon, and knowing the Lucario way of building trust to increase your Aura, I doubt you would lie.” He stopped and gave him a harsh look. “Look me in the eye and tell me this: did Sion have any sort of map or journal on him when you found him? Anything to indicate the location of a treasure of some kind?”

    Auren paused. His companions turned to him, having no knowledge of anything on Sion’s person. After a moment of silence, Auren said, “No. Sion held nothing like that.”

    Damon flew up to the wall and perched in front of Auren, placing his face close to the Lucario’s. Rix Manectric crouched and growled, electricity sparking his fur, while the Gurdurr held up his fists and scowled, ready to fight. Auren remained still, his heart beating rapidly.

    Damon continued to stare as he slowly repeated, “You found nothing on Sion? Nothing at all?” One of his claws hovered under his wing, where Auren knew he kept his arrows.

    Auren took a deep breath and clenched his fist. “No. I found nothing on Sion that could lead to a treasure.” Damon narrowed his eyes and slowly lowered his claw.

    Finally, he turned away and screeched, alerting the Mightyena. Damon sprung off the wall and swiftly flew over the path. The Mightyena followed, all barking and snarling as they followed their master.

    Auren sighed and leaned against the back of the wall. His companions relaxed, all while being careful of the Decidueye. Auren turned to them and said, “Well done. Now, if you excuse me, I’ll be going back.” He descended the stairs and began a slow walk back to Quantus. All the while, he thought to himself, ‘Thank Arceus Sion had the good sense to give his journal and map to Arthus.’

    As Auren returned to his home, Damon flew toward Saunte, and as he mulled over the scathing loss of the one Pokemon he couldn’t lose, he thought, ‘By the boughs of the Tree of Life, I will find the Lifeless Blade. Sion would never have destroyed all leads to the treasure, even after what he said about me.’ He looked back toward the wall surrounding Saunte. ‘Auren is hiding something. He spoke the truth, but behind it, I could sense another. I will find out what he knows, and when I do…’ He turned back around and flapped faster, leaving his Mightyena in the dust.

    ‘That blade will be mine.’

    ~~~~

    Morning fully rose over the village. The towns-Pokemon began completing their daily duties, just like the day before.

    Chirrup.

    Arthus’ ears twitched.

    Chirrup. Chirrup.

    Arthus woke and saw the bright sunlight pouring from the bedroom window. He looked next to him and saw Matheus, asleep with his paws stretched over his head and snoring loudly.

    For the first time in at least a month, Arthus smiled. He nudged Matheus, and he woke with a snort, then rubbed his eyes. He smiled back. “Morning.” He sat up and stretched, then said, “You feeling better?”

    Arthus looked down, unsure. “I’m still sad…” He looked up and smiled. “But I know everything will be alright.”

    Matheus held him close and laughed. “Me too, brother.”

    As the day went on, Arthus told Auren and Eliza about the time he was beaten in Saunte, alongside other things about his life there. They both took it in good faith and promised him a better life in their family. Arthus could sense that they meant it.

    Later that day after checking with his parents, Matheus took Arthus around the village, showing him the marketplace, the schoolhouse, the pond, the workshop—all places that Arthus had never seen in the dark alleys of Saunte. He was amazed by it all, and further by the good nature of the Pokemon that surrounded them- which was far different from the reclusive, shadowy atmosphere that enveloped his former home.

    And, finally, Arthus was introduced to the children of Quantus, ranging from a Machop and a pair of Timburr, to an Electrike and Eevee. Matheus introduced him as his adopted brother, and all were excited to meet him. And Arthus, in turn, was excited to have friends to play with—a first in his short life.

    And at the end of the day, Arthus joined with the family for dinner. Not just with his presence, but with his voice. He was so excited to have seen Quantus that he couldn’t stop talking about it, and all the while, Matheus reminded him of slight misadventures they had, such as Arthus being accidentally pushed into the pond by Matheus, who went on to be dragged in as well.

    Once again, Arthus slept in Matheus’ room, despite the additional room being repaired and outfitted with the furniture that Auren had previously ordered. It was decided that Cael would sleep there instead, while Arthus would permanently stay with Matheus, and the baby Riolu in waiting would sleep with its parents until an additional room could be made.

    As Arthus fell asleep that night, he still felt a deep sense of loss for his parents, but at the same time, he realized that he was where they wanted him to be and that he was with the Pokemon they wanted him to. So as the sliver of a moon rose in the sky that night, he silently prayed to Arceus:

    ‘Thank you for letting me be part of this family—and for being with Matheus.’

    ~~~~

    A week later, Arthus and the rest of his family stood in a plot next to a small wooden church. Auren stood behind Matheus and a smaller Riolu, Cael, who in turn stood behind Arthus. Eliza—now thin—held a baby Riolu swaddled in a blanket in her arms. Headstones rose all around them, but they focused only on two that day: Sion and Vaira Zoroark’s.

    Arthus knelt in front of them and bowed his head. “Thanks for everything you did for me. I wish you could be here now…but I know you couldn’t be around forever.” He sniffed and wiped away a tear. “But I’m glad that I’m with the Lucario now. Especially Matheus—he’s been really helpful.” Auren tousled Matheus’ headfur, making him smile.

    Arthus stood up and smiled. “I’ll see you again soon.” With that, he walked away, looking back at them as he went.

    Matheus, Cael, and Eliza followed, with the baby Riolu beginning to cry from the sudden movement. Eliza soon hushed her and said, “We’ll be home soon, Azure.” The Riolu yawned and fell back to sleep, and Eliza smiled. “That’s my girl.”

    After they were some distance away, Auren bowed his head and said, “Arthus is a good kid. I won’t let you down again.” He turned to join his family but stopped. His ear twitched.

    He held his paws together momentarily, gathering a ball of blue light. He swiftly turned and fired the aura sphere toward the church’s roof. A squawk followed, and a black lump fell from it. Auren approached the lump and found a Murkrow, knocked unconscious by the blow.

    Auren stared at it in surprise, then looked up and scowled. “Damon.” He picked up the Murkrow by the legs and carried it with him down the path.

    As he returned to the village, he thought, ‘I’ll have Levas take care of you with an Amnesia.’ He shook his head. ‘I can’t have Damon finding out about Arthus. Not while he’s this young.’ He looked farther down the path and saw his family. Arthus and Matheus chatted with one another, as they had constantly done ever since Arthus had opened up.

    Auren smiled briefly but frowned shortly after. ‘Someday soon, Sion’s work will have to be completed. Someday, that blade will have to be destroyed to make sure Damon doesn’t get his claws on it.’ He smiled once more. ‘But until then, I’ll enjoy the peace while it lasts.’ He ran to catch up with them as he thought of an explanation for his unconscious Murkrow.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2019
  4. canisaries

    canisaries sometimes i get a deadache, yeah

    (Crossposting from bulba)

    Took me a while, but I finally got around to reading the second chapter! As always, I'll give some quote commentary first and then give some more general feedback.

    I think the "Matheus" was supposed to be "Arthus" here?

    The fault is probably on my side, but I had to read it a couple of times to fully understand what it said. I somehow got the visual image that the walls were upright, even if reading it again the "on the ground" would be redundant for upright walls. I guess it's just the word "wall" that automatically made me think of it as being in the position of a wall rather than just having the shape.

    Stray apostrophe.

    ah geez auren, your phrasing

    On one hand, giving sheddings from your body to someone else is a bit creepy, but on the other, it's Swanna down and that must feel like a dream.

    Ooh, worldbuilding. Would have made sense on its own even without the tie-in later on with Arthus' illusion, which a sign of it being integrated well.

    Either the paragraph cuts off or that comma was meant to be a period.

    Hmm, I'd argue for no comma here? "Evening" isn't really an adjective rather than it is part of the noun. I don't think I'd say "bright, morning sun", for comparison.

    "don't worry dad I'll never become like that!"
    [A FEW MILLENNIA LATER]
    "oh crap"

    I believe the "His throat grew tight" was meant to be unitalicized?

    Nitpick, but the fur was never stated to lower between this and the last rising. I think the fix is as easy as just adding "again" at the end of that clause, though.

    A period seems to be missing.

    General Comments

    Okay, so you've heard this a thousand times from me already, but I'm a big fan of the setting descriptions. You really know how to make a place feel vibrant, alive and diverse. The reader feels familiar with these places in record time.

    The scenes of familial bonding and Matheus and Arthus interacting are very touching and sweet, and I think it's great how Matheus is portrayed here. He wants to help and be a friend, but he doesn't quite understand how to act in situations yet and the reactions from others confuse him. It feels very natural for a child character.

    Lastly, this is going to sound weird, but I like how Orion beats up Arthus. Not because I'm a sadist, but because there's a good balance there while it would have been easy to take the wrong route. Orion isn't beating a child to show off how evil he is, but he isn't pulling punches and therefore reducing how threatening he appears, either. He attacks the child just as he would anyone else, which is what feels most realistic of a character like him. It's not exaggeratedly evil as it may have turned out to be, and if he hadn't raised his hand against a child, it'd feel a bit like corners were being dulled.

    Also bonus points for using a less-popular mon like Hypno for a non-antagonist role.
     
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