Chapter 3: Dark Matter
Two hundred armed Pokemon villagers set out for the forest. Karnos was fading in the sky, leaving only the torches of the marching Pokemon to light the sky - clouds were blocking the stars, it was one of those pitch-black Stygian nights. The rambling sound of the footsteps of the villagers scared the wild Pokemon of the forest away. Chantalai walked of them all, ignoring their looks of jealousy and whispering to Raskalov next to him.
'We will strike, and we will vanish in the shadows as fast as we can,' stated Raskalov, repeating their main plan.
'How many are we dealing with, again?' inquired Chantalai. He was looking up at the dark night sky, listening carefully to the sound the wind made blowing through the leaves. His ears were perked up, searching for any sound that would give their opponent's position away.
'Five hundred,' said the Weavile with a grimace onto his face. The Zoroark suddenly stopped and looked at somewhere between the trees. He sprinted up a tree log and stuck his claws inside it, pulling himself up quickly. Chantalai was sitting on his ankles in an 'owling' position on top of a branch, staring at the darkness like a predator. Meanwhile, the small army of villagers had stopped. They're silent, thankfully...
Chantalai jumped from tree to tree, using his claws to maintain his balance. He stopped again at some point, hearing sounds from up ahead. With his hand on his mouth, he mimicked a strange sound of a bird to signal the others. He heard them moving to the left and hiding in the bushes. The Zoroark kept sitting on his ankles, waiting for the forces of the Dark Cult to pass under him. From the sounds, he figured they were multiple squads of fifty Pokemon or so, while the Stygians were one big group. They were able to ambush and kill those fifty in seconds. Voices were heard, echoing from far away.
'We shouldn't have come here,' moaned a voice in a childish tone.
'Everything's going to be fine, the Pope surely knows what he's doing,' replied somebody in an annoyed tone.
'I don't trust this place... I think I'm hearing voices... I'm telling you Vanir is cursed, the whole area reeks with the dead...'
'Snap out of it! These are just rumours to scare off the cowards like you!'
The voices were getting closer now. The Pokemon stopped talking and walked past the tree Chantalai was hiding, approaching the Stygian army. Screams teared the night sky apart; in a moment, more than one hundred of the Stygians had fallen onto the Dark Cult's squad and forced it to back off towards Chantalai's tree.
Chantalai leaped down the branch, landing on a Medicham and sliding his claws through its back; the others in front of him didn't even notice him - he formed a dark wave of energy in his hands, a night daze, and shot it towards them. It went through them, blowing them onto their allies; fifty Pokemon were slain within seconds, just as Chantalai had predicted.
More screams were heard from afar, Chantalai figured the other half of the Stygians were ambushing another squad. Raskalov wasn't with this one hundred, but they seemed to have orders; they started hiding in the bushes. Nobody in Stygia could deny the Vanir residents' ability in swift combat, that's why the forest was a deathtrap for their enemies; some of them wondered why the Dark Cult made the mistake of sending forces into their forest. Some didn't.
Chantalai ambushed another squad with the Stygians, taking more lives than he ever had altogether, and he was starting to like it. Adalbert had implemented the philosophy of the fragile body onto him: everybody can die, with thousands of different ways. You just gotta pick one of them and do the job.
After half an hour, two hundred enemy Pokemon were 'polluting Vanir forest' with their dead bodies. Four more squads begun to retreat from the forest; Chantalai immediately caught up with Raskalov, who had bloodied claws like himself (his armour was somehow clean) and instructed him that they were able to chase them to their camp.
'I don't know, Chantalai... they were only four hundred. Where is the rest?'
'It doesn't matter, we'll just have to destroy their camp, and they'll lose this!'
'I'll take one hundred Pokemon with me, including you. Rest go back,' Raskalov shouted in a determined tone. He patted Chantalai on the shoulder, saying 'Well done, your father has taught you well. He would be proud of you.'
'This isn't over,' said the Zoroark and pointed to the southwest. 'Let's go and finish this.'
The Dead Clearing seemed like the Wastelands, 'dunes' of some kind of grey dust were forming on the eternal rocks of the area. Not a single plant could grow there, it was like a curse had fallen on this land to keep it in this state forever; fifty miles of death. Chantalai used to go there with his dad and play hide and seek, or train away from the curious eyes of the villagers.
Raskalov's army of one hundred marched on the dust, chasing the fleeing forces of the Cult through those 'dunes', which looked like small hills. Their camp was normally visible during the day, if a massive cloud wasn't in the way, but during a night like this - it was extremely difficult to navigate. The darkness was getting thick and the army lost its way three times. Chantalai could not see their enemies anymore. Raskalovmurmured something angrily.
'I hadn't thought of this bad weather. The clouds are blocking the stars! We can't proceed, and we certainly can't walk twenty miles into this wasteland!'
Chantalai slowly nodded, and the villagers behind them agreed with upset looks.
'We must go back!' somebody shouted and the others shouted in agreement with him.
Raskalov turned to them and they stayed put. One hundred Pokemon before him were making rustling sounds as they whispered; Chantalai folded his arms and eyeballed them. He knew they'd rather go home.
'People, they've had enough for today! Let us return back victorious and rest! They will be scared for the rest of their life after this wound we opened!'
Some of them clapped and cheered and started moving backwards. It took them a good twenty minutes to reach Vanir forest and they crossed it. The darkness ahead was now as close to black as it could be - but it was broken by the torches of the villagers. Chantalai's ears caught whispers from the forest and for a moment he thought their truly existed. But after a moment, they vanished. He thought of the Dark Cult's attack and wondered, why would they attack like that? In squads? A terrifying hunch veiled his mind and the realization that came right after struck him like a thunder, dazing him. Screams could be heard from far inside the forest; the Stygians started to run towards their village in fear, as did Chantalai. The night sky was lighted up by a huge menacing fire.
The Zoroark's eyes were reflecting the fire. They opened wide just for a moment; he then charged down the hill, leaving the others behind him. He ran through the burning houses at full speed, ignoring the screams of the villagers. The small army of the Dark Cult was moving up the hill towards the Ancelotti mansion. Chantalai chased after them even though he was already exhausted. Fear had gripped his heart, an emotion unknown to him as of until now. The possibility of his father being dead tortured his mind as he ran up the hill.
When he reached the top, he hid in the trees and proceeded towards the mansion. Flames had engulfed the house, sparks flying everywhere and voices mixing with the sounds of the fire. Chantalai approached silently and climbed up a tree, full knowing he was unable to confront one hundred Pokemon by himself.
The Dark Cult had surrounded the house; Chantalai saw his father exiting the burning house, holding something in his tightened fist.
'Ah, there he is!' a rough voice spoke from the crowd of warriors, 'Our rebel, Adalbert Ancelotti!'
Chantalai heard the last words twisted through the sound of the burning wood. The warriors laughed, but Adalbert was standing firm in front of them, with his flaming eyes fixed onto somewhere in the crowd.
'You have no business here,' he said in a calm voice. The wooden doorstep under him cracked slightly, more laughs from the crowd.
'You're holding the answer to this war. Give it to us, and we will leave you unscathed,' the same voice. Chantalai could finally recognize the Pokemon; it was a Mienshao wearing a dark, flexible armour.
'I can vaporize the lot of you with a single thought. Knowing this, you came here, asking for what I possess. You fools,' Adalbert exclaimed and shut his eyes. A black thunder was shot from the sky, but something else happened at the same moment. The house collapsed from the fire, and the wooden door hit the Zoroark on the head, knocking him out.
Chantalai watched the Mienshao from the tree, who was pacing towards Adalbert. He stopped andkneeled, with his eyes fixed on something that laid on the ground; Chantalai couldn't see clearly. The Pokemon got up to his feet and looked at Adalbert again.
'Looks like you weren't able to do anything. I'll leave you to die in the hands of fate, as a punishment for the trouble you have caused to us,' he said and spat on the Zoroark, who was still laying on the ground. The little army begun moving out, disappearing in the woods.
Chantalai leaped down from the tree and ran next to his father. The morning Karnos had dawned, spreading the red light all around Vanir forest. The burning ruins of the house were painted red as if they were spilled with blood. A great chunk of wood from the roof had collapsed onto Adalbert; Chantalai tried moving it aside, but it wouldn't budge. As his rage peaked, mixing with the rest of his emotions, he threw a wave of darkness at the wooden chunk, knocking it away.
'Father!' He shouted, kneeling over him. A massive wound on his chest let Chantalai know all of his ribs were broken and the wounds were bleeding non-stop. Adalbert raised his head, tilting it slightly as he looked at his son with almost a puzzled look. Chantalai instantly thought his father had no idea what had happened.
Adalbert looked around, his puzzled look replaced by an expression of terror.
'They took it!' He blurted out and coughed blood. Chantalai glanced around, but he already knew he couldn't do anything. It was all a blur for him, a symphony of sounds and a carnival of visions.
'They took what?! You have to tell me,' he shouted and grabbed his father's shoulders. The older Zoroark's eyes turned white; Chantalai felt his dark soul leaving his body.
'Head south, son, get it back. Avenge me. Have faith in the dark, but also in the light.'
Adalbert passed away in Chantalai's hands. A dark aura was released into the air, weighing the atmosphere extremely as if it was a thick cloud. Chantalai was blown back onto the grass; he stayed there, watching the dark cloud veiling his father's body. It dispersed into pure energy and was immediately covered by the cloud; the next moment, it was all gone, the cloud had vanished and the air was clear again.
The younger Zoroark remained there for two minutes, unable to believe what had happened. He slowly got up after he got over the shock and tightened his fists. They may have gotten rid of my father, but they'll NEVER get rid of me... I'll kill them all.
Chantalai walked away, with his mind on the verge of cracking under the pressure of the emotions. He ran down the hill in search for Raskalov and the rest of the army; but they were nowhere to be found. The flames on the village had subsided, along with the screams. The silence of the dead was unbearable for Chantalai. The dawn found Vanir forest to light up the blood on the ground, but the Zoroark had already left for the south, where Raskalov would have gone.