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Old October 31st, 2009 (10:19 AM).
Shrike Flamestar's Avatar
Shrike Flamestar Shrike Flamestar is offline
The Invisible!
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Within the synapses of the internet and my own mind.
Age: 26
Gender: Male
Posts: 212
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Happy Halloween, people! Finally, after several months I finished this story, and just in time too. I won't waste your time by apologizing or ranting or anything and just get on with it. Know that this part is shorter than the first and doesn't contain quite as much gore or anything, but it actually has more than I had originally planned. One of the scenes I changed while writing, and I think it worked out well. Hint, without the change there probably wouldn't have been any extreme gore at all in this part. <_<

All the same warnings as from the first part apply here, so don't read if you have an aversion to death and/or blood.

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A Haunting at the Old Chateau
Part 2

Intruders. The feel of them permeated throughout the chateau, carrying in ripples through the air. The inhabitants who resided within the cursed place were alerted to the trespassers, once again encroaching on land that no outsider was meant to touch. There was no forgiveness, no redemption. Intruders could only be met with one fate, the fate that many before had themselves succumbed to. As if a machine, all the inhabitants of the Old Chateau moved as one, waiting for their chance to strike. However, it was not the inhabitants who got the first strike.

By chance, the human released it. Trapped within the electrical construct humans called a television, it had waited for the intruder whose folly would one day return it to the world. The inhabitants, feeling their leader returning, moved aside as it lay its traps. Three fell to the leader's mechanisms: one to fire, one to grass, one to wind. Before the full extent of their leader's plans could be unveiled, though, the inhabitants found their prey cornered. Moving in, they prepared to consume them, and welcome them to the fate that the three companion had already met...

Christine could feel the Gastly surrounding her as if they were reaching straight into her body, ethereal hands grasping at her very soul. Slowly, sensations became lost to her. All that remained was the feel of the unconscious Riolu's fur her face was pressed into. Even this began to lessen as she felt the bond between soul and body weaken, the Gastly slowly pulling her away from the material world. As if miles away she felt the feeling of fur all but disappear.

Suddenly, a great feeling of heat surrounded Christine, ghostly screams crying out as the Gastly let go and retreated. Like a rubber band Christine snapped back into her body, gasping as she pried her eyes open and looked up. A wall of fire encircled her, driving the Gastly back. Monferno and Buneary came running forward and vaulted over the flames, landing before Christine with worried expressions on their faces. Even Buneary no longer seemed scared, worry for her trainer overriding any sense of terror she had. The monkey held a hand out for Christine to take, which she shakily reached out for and grabbed, pulling herself to her knees. Picking up Riolu and holding the small Pokémon close to her chest, Christine looked around through the veil of fire.

The ghosts were clustered up against the flames, the mad grins on their gaseous faces unchanged. Monferno may have pushed them back for now, but the barrier wouldn't hold forever. Eventually the flames would extinguish, leaving the intruders easy pickings for the Old Chateau's ghostly inhabitants. Christine tried to collect her thoughts in an effort to come up with some plan to get her and her remaining Pokémon out of this situation, but nothing came to mind. Limply her head fell, the realization hitting her that she was quite literally at a dead end. She should never have come to the Old Chateau in the first place, especially with the stories surrounding it. Already Buizel, Staravia, and Luxio were dead and in just a few moments, she and the remaining three Pokémon would fall as well.

Defeated, Christine fell to her knees, the momentary high from being saved by Monferno all but gone with the realization that, in the end, all her Pokémon had done was delay the inevitable. She could feel tears well up in her eyes as she looked down at Riolu. She regretted getting her mixed up in all of this most of all. She wasn't more than a few weeks old, and should have been resting safely inside a computer storage box. Yet, Christine had wanted to give her the chance to journey with the rest of the team, to prepare her for what would have been in their future. Now that last minute decision to bring her along had done nothing but seal her fate, dooming her to death instead of the life she deserved to live out.

Monferno slowly approached her trainer as she noticed the tears, reaching out with a hand and grabbing onto Christine's shoulder. Deep inside, she too wanted to believe that they could still make it out alive, that they could still find some way out of this hellish place. Reality was harsh, however, and as the hoard of ghosts pressed ever closer against the wall of flames from all sides, blocking out all view of their surroundings, it was hard to see the situation ending with anything other than their deaths.

Glancing to her side, Monferno saw Buneary walk up next to her, sitting down on the ground and leaning against Christine. Like Riolu she was also young, however she did have some experience with going out on the journeys and adventures that Christine so loved. Monferno knew Christine had been hoping that bringing Buneary along on this trip would help her to overcome her fears, and as she watched the rabbit Pokémon try to comfort her trainer, she knew that may have finally happened. Only, perhaps, a little too late.

A cackling laugh broke Monferno away from her thoughts. Looking up, she saw one of the Gastly slipping through the fire, the barrier starting to fail. Leaping into action, Monferno spat a handful of fire balls at the ghost, pushing it back for the time being. It soon became evident that time was not on their side, however, as more and more Gastly began to breach the wall of fire. Working as fast as she could, Monferno tried to fight them back, however it was only a few minutes before they began to overwhelm her. Staggering back and panting, the monkey Pokémon tiredly hurled a weak fireball at a Gastly that had just barely made it through the flames. Just about at her limit, Monferno accepted the grim realization that soon, they would exist no longer.

Christine, meanwhile, wasn't aware of anything around her as she stared down at the Riolu in her lap, tears falling upon its unconscious body as she tried to make some silent, unspoken attempt to apologize. Closing her eyes, she wished that Riolu could only be awake, so that she could tell the Pokémon how sorry she was. A few more tears squeezed out from between her closed eyes, falling down onto the canine Pokemon's fur as she rested a hand upon its chest, feeling the movements beneath that told her Riolu was still alive.

Then, just as Christine was about to pull her hand away for the final time ever, a small paw reached up and grabbed onto one of her fingers. Eyes snapping open, Christine looked down and saw Riolu holding onto her, its eyes slowly opening. A moment passed where they simply stared at each other, Christine unable to bring herself to say anything. Nonetheless, the Pokémon slowly nodded as she accepted Christine's unspoken apology.

Monferno suddenly screamed as a Gastly charged through the dimming fire, knocking into the fire Pokémon as streams of white particles began to stream from Monferno only to be absorbed by the Gastly. Looking up and at the scene, Christine realized the ghost must have been trying to absorb Monferno's essence as they had tried to do with her. There was nothing she could do but watch, her first Pokémon writhing on the floor as she tried to resist. Riolu wasn't so content to sit still, however, leaping to her feet with a determined look across her face. Christine knew there was little the Riolu could do though, as the only attacks she knew would be ineffective against the ethereal Gastly.

Surprising Christine, a blue light suddenly flashed in Riolu's eyes as a visible blue aura surrounded her body, quickly rising in intensity before shooting out in a sphere that washed over the room and ghosts. As the light passed, Christine noticed the ghosts seeming to become more solid, their bodies losing the primarily gaseous composition that would prevent Riolu's physical attacks from hitting them. It wasn't something Christine had taught her, and in fact she hadn't even realized Riolu could use the Aura powers that proved the primary strength of her species' evolved form. Yelling some wordless battle cry, Riolu suddenly charged forward, leaping through the air and spinning before coming down on the Gastly, her tail hitting it with enough force to send it flying back into the failing wall of fire. The ghost screamed as it was enveloped by the fire, its now physical form having the side effect of intensifying the effect of the flames on it. In a burst of purple gas the Gastly was destroyed, dissipating in a purple mist through the air only to be absorbed by the others for later reformation.

Monferno weakly looked up, seeing Riolu run off to fight back another of the Gastly. She was glad it had saved her, happy that she didn't have to die, not just yet. She wanted to thank Riolu for saving her life, but as she watched the young Pokémon fight back more of the Gastly faster than she had been able to, her jealousy toward the Pokémon Christine was surely raising to be her replacement flared up again. It wasn't fair, why should the newcomer get so much attention causing their trainer to neglect those who had repeatedly shown their value time and time again? Monferno watched as Christine stood again, cheering Riolu on as it sprinted around destroying Gastly after Gastly. Inwardly Monferno knew that such thoughts were stupid at a time like this, that they all had to work together if they wanted any hope of surviving. She knew that she had to continue helping as well, not dwell on personal vendettas. Shaking, drained of energy and nearly of her very soul, Monferno pulled herself to her feet and gathered what little strength she had left to aid Riolu in the fight.

Unfortunately, that was when the wall of fire that had been holding back the flood of ghosts gave in, the sole barrier that had been slowing the Gastly's progress disappearing in a burst of flames.

The Gastly washed over the group like a tidal wave, the sounds of their jeering drowning out screams as they buried the girl and her three Pokémon under their sheer number. Monferno could feel the Gastly working on separating her soul and body again, the ghosts working together with the sole intent of converting the four remaining intruders to their ranks. Glancing to her side, Monferno could the same with her three companions, white particles fine as dust emanating from their bodies, freed from their mortal constraints. Monferno watched as Riolu thrashed, still trying to fight the overwhelming number of Gastly as they pinned her down. The relative newborn screamed as the Gastly began to sever the thin threads that held her soul to this world, unwilling to accept that she had lost the fight. Inwardly Monferno took pleasure in seeing her would-be usurper in such pain, although as soon as she realized it she tried to vanquish the disturbing thought.

Monferno almost missed it among the streams of particles escaping her companions. Spheres of white light began to shoot out from Buneary's body, surrounding her and remaining stationary in the air for a moment as more spheres formed. Just as Monferno noticed them they suddenly shot out in all directions, the spheres bursting into fiery explosions that rippled throughout the swarm of Gastly. Laughing shrieks turned to wailing screams as the explosions tore the Gastly swarm apart, vaporizing several of the ghosts and scattering their numbers through the dank chamber. Monferno could feel the heat of the explosions all around her, some close enough that her fur was left singed in places. Close enough that the Gastly that had been keeping her down were among those who were instantly killed in the attack. As their forms disappeared in a burst of purple particles she could feel the bond between soul and body again return to normal, her life saved for the second time within the span of merely a few minutes.

Christine scrambled to her feet as she realized what had happened, looking around at her Pokémon. Monferno and Riolu were both pulling themselves to their feet, but Buneary still lay on the ground, whimpering and panting. Whether from the strain of the powerful attack or fear for the Gastly, Christine didn't know. Bending down she scooped the rabbit into her arms, Buneary turning to look up at her trainer. She smiled at Christine with a weak yet proud expression, however in her eyes Christine could see the fear she was trying her hardest to suppress. Stroking her fur, Christine whispered that she didn't have to hold anything back, that she had done more than her share and could now let everything out. Nonetheless, Buneary refrained from crying, squirming in Christine's arm until she was set back on the ground, already able to walk on her own again.

Despite their casualties, the Gastly were not vanquished. Already they were beginning to regroup in each of the corners of the room, staring down the intruders that was taking all too long to defeat. They had lost their prime chance to do so, a fact that Christine and her remaining Pokémon were also all too aware of. A group of the Gastly continued to block the entrance to the dungeon that they had entered through, however Christine knew there had to be some other way out; the tunnel was a new excavation after all. Riolu was already searching for another exit, waves of her newfound Aura power rippling off her body as she tried to sense any hidden exits. Suddenly she perked up, turning around and running towards one of the walls excitedly.

Christine and the other two Pokémon quickly followed, the Gastly beginning to move again, attempting to cut off their path. With renewed strength Monferno unleashed a stream of fire that tore through the Gastly in their path, parting the cloud of ghosts to allow Riolu to pass through. Close to the wall she took a running leap, pulling a paw back that began to glow with blue energy. Thrusting her palm forward she hit the wall with force far greater than one would normally think a Pokémon her size could exert, shock-waves of energy radiating throughout the wall and forming cracks along its surface. Suddenly it burst inward in a shower of rocks, the wall caving into a hidden passageway. Riolu was sent flying through the hole, landing at the base of a staircase on the other side.

Christine, Monferno, and Buneary ducked through the opening as they reached it, rushing up the first few feet of stairs. When Christine realized Riolu wasn't following she stopped and looked back down, seeing her standing by the hole with a hand on the passageway's wall. Ripples emanated from the paw, shaking the wall and forming more cracks in it. Suddenly the solid wall began to cave in as well, Riolu jumping back out of the way as the wall collapsed and blocked the hole to the dungeon. A solid barrier such as the pile of rocks would slow the Gastly down greatly, and hopefully keep them from catching up. As Riolu slowly walked up the stairs to where the group had paused, Christine realized that her backpack, and with it her flashlight, had been left behind in the dungeon amid the chaos. Without either the flashlight or Luxio the group was left to climb the stairs in the dark, feeling their way upward with only the minimal, flickering light of Monferno's tail to guide them by.

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As they climbed the stairs, the party quickly lost track of time. It could have been that only ten minutes passed, but just as easily it may have been an hour. It didn't matter much to any of them though; time was meaningless to them now, their sole focus being on finding a way out of this place that had already claimed three of their own. Christine tried to keep her mind away from the deaths during the climb, but inevitably she failed. Memories of the times she had spent with Buizel, Staravia, and Luxio rushed back to her mind. Staravia had been the first Pokémon she caught, not long after leaving her home in Twinleaf Town. He had been next to only Monferno in terms of the time they had spent traveling together; she had never even imagined that he would die someday, and so soon. Buizel had been another early capture, while Luxio she had raised from an egg. Tears ran down her cheeks as memories ran through her mind, tears that went unnoticed by her remaining Pokémon in the darkness of the stairwell.

When they finally reached the top of the stairs it at first glance seemed to be a dead end, the flame on the tip of Monferno's tail lighting up a blank wall that blocked their path. Monferno waved her tail around to light up the corners, and as she did so Christine noticed a lever on the wall. She walked over to it and pulled it down, rocks grinding as some ancient mechanism started moving for the first time in centuries. The dead-end wall slowly began to swing outward, fresher air than had been in the dungeon and stairs wafting over the group as they walked through the opening. They weren't outside yet, but as Christine looked around she could tell they were at least back in the Chateau proper. Shelves lined the walls of the rooms, rotting boxes and barrels scattered about in disarray. Looters must have already been over the place, but with the encounters Christine and her Pokémon had had, there was no guarantee they had managed to escape with anything they found.

The boxes and shelves seemed to indicate that they were in a storage room of some sort, while the dankness pointed to them being in the Chateau's basement. Christine figured that if they could find a way back to the first floor, they could somehow get past the entryway collapse and escape from the place. Having Monferno lead the way so that she could provide what little light her tail gave off, the group began to follow as they looked for a way upwards. The storage room they had emerged in connected to multiple other rooms, each of which must have held something different in the days the Chateau was still inhabited. Progressively the group realized that the basement seemed to be a winding maze of passageways connecting the storage rooms, and that finding a way out might be harder than it had first seemed. Desperation and persistence drove them forward, however, no matter how lost they seemed to be.

Eventually the group reached a room which seemed to be a dead-end to the maze. As Christine looked around, she didn't see any other exits leading out of the room. About to turn around and head back the way they had come, she stopped when she noticed that Buneary had her attention on something else. Turning back around she saw that, at the far end of the room, a small refrigerator sat with its door cracked open slightly. From inside it, a single light bulb gave off a dim, flickering glow as if it would die any moment. With no power supposedly flowing to the Chateau, however, it should have already died.

The hairs on Christine's neck rose as she quickly realized this had to be another trap. Her Pokémon also seemed to realize the same thing and began to back away as well, however the ghost that had been following them and laying these traps wouldn't let them escape so easily. The door to the refrigerator suddenly swung open, a shower of ice crystals shooting out of it and quickly filling the entire room in a small-scale blizzard. Christine screeched as she tried to cover her face, the crystals flying past and tearing through her clothes and into flesh. Blood streamed down in tiny rivulets from the scratches, but that wasn't her primary concern. She could see the initial chaos and disorder of the blizzard begin to lessen as it focused itself, soon enough forming into a tornado of ice shards focused around the Pokémon farthest into the room: Buneary.

Christine screamed as she saw the sharp crystals whip around the young rabbit Pokemon's body, grouped loosely enough away at first that they merely scratched. Monferno leapt forward and tried launching some fire at the ice in the hope of melting it, but any of the crystals she managed to destroy were instantly replenished by the refrigerator they had come from. There was no hope of either Monferno or Riolu getting close enough to pull Buneary out without getting caught up in the ice tornado themselves, so all the group could do was watch in horror as the tornado slowly closed in, tightening on its victim. As the crystals began to slice deeper into Buneary's body and with more frequency, she turned to look back at Christine for one final time, wincing at the stings as she did so. Christine could see fear in her Pokemon's eyes, but before she could gather anything else one of the ice crystals suddenly tore across Buneary's face, ripping through her small button eyes and leaving them a bloody pulp.

Everyone began to scream at once as the shards of ice violently tore into Buneary's body, some digging so far in that they embedded themselves beneath her flesh. Blood flew through the air as gashes opened up all over the small Pokémon. Tufts of fur and chunks of flesh flew off and got mixed in with the tornado, turning it into a whirling vortex of blood and gore as Christine watched her Pokémon get torn to shreds. Bones began to snap and shatter as crystals ripped through Buneary's limbs, an arm flying off and promptly getting tangled up in the vortex. Christine found herself falling to the ground again as she saw an ice shard rip violently straight through Buneary's chest, emerging on the other side entangled with a strand of entrails that were pulled out of the now near nearly dead Pokémon. Christine felt her body heaving, however it had been long enough since she ate last that there was nothing in her stomach to expel.

Christine couldn't watch any more, but it wasn't long until so much gore had been caught up in the ice tornado that it was impossible to see Buneary anyway, or at least what remained of her. Almost as soon as it had started the tornado suddenly died down, the ice shards suddenly falling out of the air and clattering to the ground amid a pool of blood and Buneary's remains. The body had been mutilated to the point where few recognizable features of the Pokémon remained. The head and most of the limbs had been torn off and thrown into the corners of the room. Flesh and fur had been stripped clean from the muscle underneath, which had itself been ripped straight off the bone in places. Blood flowed freely from every part of the mutilated corpse, the exposed heart sitting in the middle of the open chest cavity pumping a spurt of blood into the air for a moment until it fell still.

Christine scrambled to her feet, turning back the way they had come as she covered her mouth and kept her eyes closed. She didn't want to see anything, she just wanted to run. Monferno and Riolu frantically followed her as she set off running down the hallway in the direction they had come, not caring about where they were going so long as they could get away. Christine couldn't stand it any longer, she wanted out of this place now and she'd be damned if anything would stop her. In her frantic rush she didn't notice the sets of eyes appearing all around as she passed through rooms, Gastly phasing into existence in every room the group ran through. Eventually she did realize they were seemingly being followed, but at the same time she also noticed a door ahead that she hadn't noticed before. It was only open a crack, but she was willing to take it if there was even the slightest possibility it could get them back to the surface and closer to escape.

Christine, Monferno, and lastly Riolu rushed into the new room, Christine throwing the door shut behind them in the hopes that it would stop any ghosts from getting through. It was odd that solid objects would block ghosts that could easily go incorporeal, but it had worked when leaving the dungeon so she counted on it here. No Gastly appeared through the door, so she took a few steps back before collapsing against a wall and sliding down it, holding her head in her hands. It was getting harder and harder for her to get a grasp on what was going on. It seemed like it hadn't been long at all since she and her team of six Pokémon ventured into the Chateau for nothing other than some exploration, and now here she was huddling in the basement with all but two of her companions dead. It seemed like it had to be some sort of bad dream, but as she looked up and saw Monferno and Riolu standing over her she knew it was all too real.

It wasn't just Christine who was having a hard time, though. Both Monferno and Riolu were also sad at the loss of their teammates. Even Riolu, who hadn't been around long enough to get to know them that well, had to hold back tears. She didn't want to look bad in front of her trainer and knew that she had to strive her hardest to help Christine through it all. She knew the whole reason Christine had brought her along was to judge and test her, and Riolu wanted to make sure her trainer realized her potential. She wasn't foolish and knew that her efforts at displaying her strength had made her some sort of rival to Monferno, but she hoped that in time they could make up.

Riolu took a look around the room, her sensitive eyes and Aura powers allowing her to see better in the dark than either Monferno or Christine. The room they had found was small, with dilapidated washing machines and dryers lining the walls. There didn't seem to be any other way out, at least not a door. However, Riolu could sense that the ceiling at the far end of the room seemed unstable and prone to failure. Perhaps she could cause it to collapse like in the dungeon, and they could then get to the floor above through the hole. Lowering her guard as there didn't seem to be anywhere in the room for something to pop out from, she walked down the space between the clothes washing machines to examine the weak ceiling closer.

Monferno was lost in her own thoughts when Riolu began walking away from the group. She turned to watch her but thought nothing of it. She couldn't see as well as the Riolu in the dark, but could see enough to tell that there wasn't really anywhere for her to go. Turning back to face Christine, she thought nothing of the sole other Pokémon that remained wandering off. By the time she realized she should have cared, it was too late.

Riolu's screams filled the small room, Monferno and Christine whipping their heads around to see one of the washing machines had its door opened, a blue-black aura surrounding it as inky shadow tentacles reached out and wrapped around Riolu's limbs. As if a beast ravenous with hunger, the tentacles pulled the resisting Riolu ever closer to the open drum, water starting to fill it already. Streams of water began to spill over the edge of the open drum, falling to the floor like drool. Stunned, Monferno just blinked and watched as Riolu shrieked, squirming within the grasp of the tentacles as they managed to lift the small Pokémon completely off the ground. Only when Riolu was literally thrown straight into the gaping drum of the washing machine did Monferno begin running over to try to save her, the door slamming shut right as she reached the end of the room.

Riolu pressed up against the windowed door, trying to push it open and screaming, the sounds muffled to Monferno outside. Something seemed to be holding the door shut, however, and Riolu could only bang against the glass in desperation that Monferno would do something. However, all the monkey Pokémon found herself able to do was stand there, watching as the water level inside the washing machine gradually rose. She didn't know if she'd have any better luck trying to open it than Riolu and merely watched for a moment as the trapped Pokemon looked around at the water rising up over her body. Monferno had placed a hand on the door's handle and had a feeling it would open if she tried it, saving Riolu from the fate that had met the four Pokémon previous to her. Slowly her hand dropped from the handle, however, as she realized to her own horror that she didn't want to save the Riolu. Taking a step backward, Monferno stared in at Riolu with cold, emotionless eyes.

Riolu fell still as she saw Monferno back off, refusing to save her. Tears began to run down her cheeks as she sobbed, struggling to keep her head in the slowly shrinking pocket of air above the water. She hadn't meant for it turn out this way, for her strives to prove her capabilities to turn Monferno so against her. She hadn't expected that when given the chance, Monferno would essentially murder her due to pride. Riolu's head slipped under the water as she lost focus on keeping above it, the water soaking her face and washing away her tears. Gasping for breath she pulled herself up again, in time to see Christine realize what was happening and run over.

Christine hadn't seen Monferno's refusal to even try to open the door, and so when she tried to pull it open only to find that it seemed to be locked, she didn't give a second thought to how Monferno was just standing there, watching. She banged on the glass as if it would break, yelling to Riolu inside that they'd get her out. Scrambling on top of the washing machine next to the one holding Riolu captive, she squeezed her way behind the machine to search for the water pipes and electrical cords. Except, when she did find them, they weren't connected to anything. Whatever ghost was possessing the machine was supplying the electricity and water itself, and without a way to fight it off there was nothing they could do.

Monferno's mind was blank as she watched Riolu get what she had been desiring in her subconscious all along. She didn't know when, but sometime after Staravia's death, she had realized deep down that none of them would be getting out of this place alive. They were all going to die, every single one of the seven who had entered. All she had been hoping for, the one thing that had driven her forward no matter how much she refused to believe it, was that Riolu would meet her end before she herself did. The water had almost filled the drum now, only the very tip of Riolu's muzzle able to fit into the small air pocket. As the water completely filled the washing machine's drum, Riolu breathing her last breath, all Monferno felt was pleasure that she was able to witness her rival's death before the ghost saw fit to take her own life.

Riolu stared back at Monferno's emotionless gaze as she sank down in the water. She knew that this was the end, but still she held her breath as long as she could. As she felt her air supplies rapidly deplete she could feel the water begin churning, the washing machine's drum beginning to spin. It quickly sped up, Riolu unable to resist the motion of the water. She found herself thrown about in the drum, hitting against the sides from the force of the spinning. Coughing and gagging she reflexively opened her mouth, the last few bubbles of air she had been holding on to drifting up and out through the small holes in the drum. Riolu could feel her lungs begin to fill with water as she coughed and sputtered, unable to do anything within her watery prison. All the while the drum kept spinning, her stilling body wildly thrown about.

Riolu was dimly aware of the sound of bones cracking as she collided with the side of the drum again, and when she looked down she could see points of white sticking through her chest. She wasn't aware of the blood flowing from those same wounds, nor of Christine who had returned to the front of the machine, unable to find a way to help. She wasn't aware of Christine's tears as she cried, weakly hitting against the glass window. She wasn't aware of how mangled her own body now was, limbs bent at odd angles and shattered bones puncturing through flesh and fur. All Riolu was aware of was Monferno's cruelty. All Riolu was aware of as she felt the life flow from her body was of Monferno's betrayal to her own ally. As Riolu sputtered one final, weak cough, her eyes closed for good as all bodily systems shut down, all she was aware of was that it wasn't the ghost responsible for her death, but rather Monferno.

The room was oddly silent, the only sound being the hum of the washing machine. If one didn't know what had happened, nothing would seem too out of the ordinary. Christine and Monferno watched, unmoving, as Riolu's lifeless and mangled body flopped around in the washing machine, the water turning red with blood. While Monferno couldn't pry her unblinking eyes away due to a sense of morbid satisfaction, Christine was stunned, her body shaking. The only Pokémon she had left now was Monferno, her very first Pokémon. Of course, she did have others safely stored in their PC boxes, but to lose five of her best, among those her newborn Riolu, it was as if the whole world was falling apart around her.

Before either of the two remaining survivors could react, a small earthquake suddenly shook the ground. The part of the ceiling Riolu had spotted before suddenly broke free of what little support had been holding it up, causing concrete and rocks to come crashing down. Christine was confident the falling ceiling would crush Monferno and her, ending everything forever, but the debris missed the two and instead fell on some of the old washing machines. It wasn't until a large rock fell down and crushed the washing machine that Riolu's corpse was still trapped in that Christine and Monferno snapped back to reality. The machine crumpled surprisingly easily, the door flying open in a flood of bloody water. Riolu's corpse was ejected out of the machine in the rush of water, landing at Christine's and Monferno's feet in a twisted mess. The small puppy was barely recognizable, the violently spinning drum seeming to have broken most of the bones in the carcass. Christine almost wanted to pick up her dead Pokémon and cradle it as if she could somehow bring it back to life, but as she looked at the mangled corpse she knew that such wishes were the realm of fantasy and not this dark, grim reality she had found herself in.

Silence passed between Christine and Monferno as they stared at Riolu's corpse. There was no running away this time, each ready for whatever horror would come next, whatever would end this grim journey. Neither had anything more to lose, Monferno having seen her dying wish while Christine had lost all she had come to hold dear. All except Monferno, who she pensively picked up and held as she had done before when she was only a Chimchar. Picking herself up from the ground, Christine turned to look at the hole in the ceiling. Their path through this place, the ghosts always seeming to be one step ahead, couldn't have been coincidence. They were being strung along, the ghastly denizens of the house leading them to their undoing. Christine knew that nothing good could await them above.

Still, straining to hold Monferno with one arm, she grabbed onto the pile of debris and began climbing up it. At the top she reached over the edge and set Monferno on the ground above before pulling herself over. The first thing that hit her was the breeze and the smell of fresh air. When Christine looked up she realized where they were: in the foyer of the chateau. At the far end, the large entrance door stood open, a silver beam of moonlight piercing through the opening and illuminating the foyer. Christine remembered how the door had closed behind them as soon as they had entered, an early sign of the trouble ahead that she should have paid more attention to. It being open now was no doubt the work of the chateau's inhabitants. Knowing that at any moment a trap would be sprung, she nonetheless began walking down the length of the foyer, Monferno beside her.

Behind them and unseen to the final two survivors, a bubbling mass of black, ink-like shadows began to spread along the ground, as of oozing up between the cracks in the tiles. Seeming to emerge from the building itself, two long tentacles formed out of the writhing mass which began to come together and take shape. Forming into a sphere with a spike coming out of both its top and bottom, the mass of darkness freed itself from the ground and began to rise up into the air. The intruders still unaware of its presence, it finally made itself known when, with a loud cackling laughter, it lashed its tentacles out at the girl walking towards the chateau's exit.

Christine was caught unaware as the shadow tentacles wrapped around her arms and barely had time to scream as they suddenly dragged her backwards and up into the air. Monferno spun around as she heard Christine screaming, seeing her handing below the black mass as she wildly kicked. Christine could feel her arms straining underneath her suspended weight but the grasp of the shadow tentacles was too strong, with it not seeming as if they'd let go anytime soon. As she screamed and tried to free herself, the black mass continued to laugh, a grinning smile appearing as a slit across its surface.

Two more gaps in the shadow mass followed, they suddenly springing open into a pair of eyes with large blue pupils, staring down at Monferno below. The air around the shadowy mass began to shimmer and spark, bolts of lightning randomly flying off to impact with the walls and ceiling of the foyer. Then, as if emerging from within the mass of black shadows, an orange ghost appeared with a body similar in shape to the one the black mass had taken, wearing the eyes and grin that had formed on the mass just before. An aura of blue electricity surrounded its body, the inner-core of which seemed to be almost liquid. The ghost didn't completely leave the black shadow mass, however, two tendril-like extensions of its blue electrical aura trailing behind and into the shadows.

Monferno didn't know what to do as she watched Christine hanging in the air. She could try to fight the ghost now that it had finally appeared, however something told her it would be a losing fight. Glancing back over her shoulder, she saw that the door was still open, and she figured that if she ran she could probably reach the exit before the ghost could retaliate. Turning back, she looked up at Christine, who she could tell knew what her Pokémon was thinking.

“Get out of here!” Christine yelled. Before she could say anymore, however, the ghost Pokémon suddenly let out a loud screech as a burst of electrical energy suddenly filled the air around it and Christine. The girl shrieked as electricity began to pour through her body, numbing her limbs and causing muscles to spasm. Unfortunately for her, it didn't stop after the initial surge, the flow of electricity continuing without pause. Christine could feel her heart beating erratically, trying to keep synched with the flow of her body despite the shocks trying to disrupt it.

Tears began to well up in Monferno's eyes as she watched her trainer thrash in pain, the ghost's grin broadening as it cackled, delighting in the pain it was causing its victim. Christine tried to fight against it but there was little she could do, her only hope being that she could get it to release its grip and send her plummeting to the ground. She would die if she fell from such a height, but it would at least save her of the torture she was going through, death inevitable no matter what happened. She didn't want to die, but after all that had happened, after all the deaths and losses she had been forced to suffer through, she didn't see the point in living either. She knew that even if she didn't, Monferno still had a chance to get away, to escape this place and go on with her life no matter how hard it would be after all this. Straining against the pain, she managed to gasp out, “Please, Monferno... Save yourself!”

Monferno was split. She could escape, or at least try to. Perhaps another trap would be waiting, but there was the chance that there wasn't. She could stay and try to fight the ghost, a fight which would likely end badly for her. Or she could stay and do nothing, wait until the ghost had finished Christine off and turned its attention to herself. She could give up her life, not for anything meaningful but simply because she had already committed herself to her own death. Tears welled up in her eyes as she watched the ghost torture Christine. She had thought that seeing Riolu and all the other of her companions die had hardened her, however Christine was different. She was the one who had raised and trained her, the one who had been with her for months now, going on a full year now since they first left Sandgem Town together. Memories rushed back, Monferno bowing her head as she remembered all the times that had long since passed. Racked with indecision, the time Monferno had to make a decision quickly began to shorten.

The shadow mass suddenly began to expand, growing large enough that it stretched across the entire foyer, covering it like a veil. From that veil of darkness, several pairs of eyes suddenly appeared, forming a seemingly solid wall of eyes that all stared down at Monferno. Unnerved by the sight, Monferno took a step back, when suddenly several loud, piercing shrieks filled the room. It was as if the spirits of every victim that had fallen prey to the Old Chateau and been reduced to ghosts were crying out at once, singing in an eery chorus of wails and screams. As Gastly began to glide out of the veil of darkness, seemingly infinite in number, a few split off from the group and drifted up to where Christine hung, eagerly clustering around her.

Monferno could only watch as the Gastly began drawing Christine's soul from her body, the girl gasping as her body heaved. The constant electrical current running through her was by now almost unnoticeable, her body numbed from the pain. When the ghost let off she didn't even notice, the remaining current from the electrical cloud discharging to the ground below in a dancing column of lightning bolts that lasted for several seconds. Those several seconds to Monferno as she watched seemed like an eternity, the endless wall of Gastly meanwhile slowly approaching her and forcing her back closer to the Chateau's exit. She could see the wisps of light emanating from Christine's body, the Gastly around her eagerly absorbing the girl's very essence as they forcibly recruited her to their own ranks.

As Christine felt the world fade away, she strained to open her eyes and tilt her head up, looking at Monferno who now stood mere feet from the door, the wall of Gastly threatening to engulf her. Gasping, she tried to stir her numb throat awake to talk one final time. With each passing second, as she felt her bond with the mortal world loosen, it only got harder to do anything. Using all of her energy and then some, she managed to work her throat and mouth one final time, whispering out the words, “I'm sorry.” She didn't know if Monferno could even hear her, or if she would forgive, but she never got the chance to find out. A white aura suddenly burst from her body, the Gastly laughing as the aura dissipated as suddenly as it had appeared, the ghosts absorbing the aura's remnants. Christine's body hung lifeless in the grasp of the shadow tentacles, an empty shell no better than a corpse.

Monferno had heard Christine, and as she watched her trainer's dead body hang in the air she made up her mind. Amid the cackling and the wailing, Monferno watched the wall of Gastly approach her. No doubt the Gastly were former visitors to the Old Chateau reduced to mindless drones, following the commands of the orange ghost that had been possessing the objects around the house. Monferno figured that Riolu along with her other companions were somewhere among the Gastly, or soon would be, and all she had to do to join them was let herself by taken. However, she had the chance to escape, to go on living. Even with the sins she had committed, even with Riolu's death heavy in her heart, she could carry on the memories of Christine and the team of Pokémon that had been lost to the Old Chateau.

Tears raining down her cheeks, Monferno turned around, putting her back to the ghosts and all that had happened inside that haunted chateau. On all fours she sprinted out through the door, bursting into the moonlit night and leaving behind that place of death, misery and despair. Behind her she heard the doors slam shut on their own, the wails of the dead cut off from the outside world as Monferno aimlessly ran down the Old Chateau's lawn and through the gate Riolu had opened hours before, although it seemed like days now. On her own, with no companions to guide or comfort her, Monferno set out for the nearby Eterna City, unsure of what she would she would now do.

Of the seven who had entered the Old Chateau that night, only one left. Five Pokémon fell to the possessed forms of the being now known as Rotom while one human fell to Rotom itself and the Gastly it commands. Only a single Pokémon escaped, but why? For the rest of her life Monferno was haunted by that night, and never could she forget a single detail. Most of all, the death of Riolu that she herself collaborated in never left her mind. Always she wondered what would have happened if she had tried to save Riolu. Would two have managed to escape, rather than just one? Or would Riolu have died anyways? Perhaps most terrifying of all was Monferno's worst fear, the possibility that the only reason Rotom had let her escape was because she had essentially committed murder herself. With blood on her hands and death in mind, Monferno lived out the rest of her life never regretting her decision to live, but always regretting the choice to kill, no matter what it may have lead to.

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I hope you see now the power of stories and the strength that lies within them. Christine ignored the stories and tales, and as a result only added yet another to the collection I now harbor. You may not believe that my stories are real; you may go on for the rest of your life, thinking of the old storyteller you met this hallowed night as being nothing more than a night's entertainment. One day you may feel tempted to visit the Old Chateau for yourself, to prove that such stories of evil ghosts are nothing more than fantasy. I will warn you one last time, and if you do not heed me than I am afraid it is only a matter of time until I learn of a new story. Stay away from the Old Chateau, or you too may find yourself witness to horrors you thought could not be real...

The End?
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