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Old November 18th, 2012 (07:41 AM). Edited January 22nd, 2013 by The Prince of Sweet Sorrow.
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The Prince of Sweet Sorrow The Prince of Sweet Sorrow is offline
La tristeza es mi sangre
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Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Witty
Age: 19
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Intro



Rated [T], for violence.

Maybe you have seen my other fic, Tales of the Hashashin: First Book. Maybe you haven't. Either way, this is the 'Second Book', which is not a continuation of the previous one. This fic is related to the franchise of Odyssey, a roleplay made by Supervegeta. Held in an entirely different continent, and before the events of the roleplay, those two are not affiliated in any way.


First I'd like to say that this is the first piece of novel that I am fully determined to finish. My inspiration, if not quite obvious, was the popular Assassin's Creed games, novels and comic books, as well as various MMORPGs that I have played over the years. With the Tales of the Hashashin, I attempt to bring the assassins into my own perception of the Pokemon world, which has received its good amount of influence from Odyssey. It kinda fulfills my own wishes about how Pokemon should be.

Having said that, I wish that you'll enjoy this fic as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Setting



'All these years, I have fought, and for what cause? In the end, I find myself blind to the horrible truth of our world...'

Four hundred years after Chantalai Ancelotti's death, the Dark Cult has dominated the Stygian grounds, attaching itself onto the Stygian Empire, controlling it and corrupting it to the core. The Cult is spreading its religion with force, crushing the small resistance by the rebel native Stygians. The only ones who resisted and managed to survive were the secret organization Hashashin. Being a notion of freedom, and not a solid nation, they kept their liberating activities underground. However, the Dark Cult proposed that they work for them in promise of unspeakable wealth as their reward. The last hope of the Stygian natives was vanquished when they saw the Hashashin siding with their enemies.
The brotherhood Master Chantalai Ancelotti had built was now laying in ruins - the Hashashin would take innocent lives away for gold. The native Stygians, once friends with them, were now afraid of their own shadow as they knew that inside every dark corner of this world they lived in was hiding an Hashashin, ready to slit their throat in the slightest misstep towards revolution. All of Stygia belonged to the Dark Cult, who enforced an Emperor of their choice on top of the Stygian High Command and creating the Templar Order in order to maintain their religion and ensure its growth.

The Cult, along with the massive Stygian Empire on its side, eventually turned against the neighboring Empire, Hesperia, their original target. Having built a gigantic army of mercenaries, native Stygians and fanatic members of their own Cult, they marched against Hesperia to disrupt the peace, with intentions of destroying it completely. The Prophet of the Dark Cult announced that the Ionian Verdict and the Hesperian Empire would bow to the Dark Cult. But the very same Verdict that had once driven them out of the Empire, now held them off of it, remaining faithful to its cause - protect Hesperia from the scourge of this Cult.

The Dark Cult weakened greatly after its losses in the Hesperian grounds. Peace fell amongst the Empires, the Stygian natives were silenced by the Cult, although their spirit remained, the King of Hesperia became even more abusive with his power...
a shadow even greater than that of the dark clouds of war engulfed the world. It came to be in a state of perfect order and control. But how good was this? They say that those who believe they are free when they are not are the most enslaved of us all. The leaders that openly rule this world could have their authority challenged by the people any time. What about those who ruled from the dark?

Our story follows a seemingly unimportant individual, for now... due to his legendary but unknown heritage, Shango Maverick will grow into a... 'political' figure of significant power, known as the Phantom Dancer. Inspired by the ways of the Hashashin, he will seek to free the Empires from corruption and shape a better tomorrow for the people, as well as rebuild the brotherhood. The world will come into its golden age, and the Phantom Dancer will once again be praised as a legend...


Chapter Log

#1, The Hashashin of Ionia
#2, Reconnaissance Operations Front-Line Soldier

#3 The Shadow
#4 The Darkstar


Part 1: Rise of the Phantom Dancer



Chapter 1: The Hashashin of Ionia



Night, silence. Only the distant sound of the patrolling guards' steps echoed in the dark streets of Ionia. This was the perfect time for the thieves to come out, nobody was awake to catch them on duty. The city would be calm and deserted until the morning.

The royal guards were pacing quickly, staying in the middle of the road and avoiding any narrow streets where the moonlight had no access to. They weren't afraid of any thieves or rogues; you'd be insane to attack those guards, anyway. No, the guards were afraid of the dark. There are, indeed, threats hiding in the shadowy alleys of Ionia. They come out this time of the night
to terrorize the citizens. But now, all that there is left to attack is guards and thieves, as the citizens had realized that the streets weren't safe at night.

Ionia's streets were trusted by the city's residents, until recently. A strange, unknown feeling of a higher presence appeared in every corner or straight road after the sun went down. Taking into account the brutal murders of many royal guards, the Ionians have come to the conclusion that the brotherhood of Hashashin has descended from the north. Now the menacing image of this group of assassins is haunting the whole city of Ionia. Of course, the citizens are not aware of this; this is confidential information between the aristocrats of Hesperia, the King and council, and the Ionian Verdict. The Verdict had been created with the sole purpose of banishing the Dark Cult that plagued Hesperia with its ill ways, and was now dealing with other threats inside the Empire. They were trying to uncover the motives, numbers and locations of the Hashashin, who relentlessly killed guards. Keeping the citizens in the dark about the Hashashin caused the birth of many terrifying tales and exaggerated explanations of the murders that only boosted the fear.

A member of the Ionian Verdict, a Seeker in particular, was standing firm, hiding in the shadow of the Lighthouse. That mysterious building in the middle of the town dwelled right in the middle of the Trade Square for about one hundred years. Its door was locked and nobody knew what it was used for exactly, not even the Verdict. The Seeker has gone unnoticed one more time, thanks to the darkness that surrounded him. His name is Shango Maverick, the uprising hero of the Ionian Verdict. A Zangoose known for his speed and skill, but mostly for his devotion to his duties and his noble qualities.

"The kid is a prodigy," his teachers in the Ionian Academy of War had said on his evaluation trials. "His skills are extraordinary for someone his age!"
It wasn't just the fact that Shango was a prodigy that made him so adapt at everything he did. It was that he was a voidborn, or so it had been suggested by the professionals of the Academy. He had been touched with the Nether Plane's dark powers, but no one was ever able to prove it. The voidborn are considered a threat towards the Hesperian Empire, because the Dark Cult's Prophecy is claiming that this kind of Pokemon originally belonged to their ranks. Shango had no blood connections with any family of Ionia, which was fairly suspicious; the infant Zangoose was found floating in Acheloos River by an aristocrat of Ionia, Baron Ascendio Nome and was adopted by him. Shango had developed into a promising warrior and an upcoming great hero of the Ionian Verdict, despite being only seventeen years old. And now, he was sent to deal with the Hashashin themselves; as a Seeker, his job was to spy and steal information in account of the Verdict. Although he was promoted from a Seeker to a Keeper and then a Needler, he stated that the life of a bodyguard (basically a Keeper's job) or the harsh responsibilities of the city's protector (a Needler's job) was not how he envisioned his life; he thus returned to being a Seeker.

It was quiet outside. Not even the Hoothoots on the trees were blabbing tonight as usual. The patrolling guards were approaching the square. Shango had a dark, odd hunch. The Zangoose was hidden well in the shadows, leaning againist a wall. He was wearing a dark blue cloak, a hood which allowed exit to his ears, a dark cape and leather boots; rare equipment. You could only get clothes in tailor shops, by special request.

Everything was quiet in the Square, only the lonely sound of a broken window that was gently shaken by the wind was reaching Shango's perked up ears. It was a clear night with absolutly no clouds, only the moon was sheding its light on the square, where the steps of the guards now echoed closer and closer. The breeze of the night touched Shango's face under the hood gently, as if trying to warn him. His hair was electrified from anticipation, his green eyes burning with the fire of youth and excitement. He secretly hoped that something would happen tonight, even if it meant a life would be removed.

Four guards, a Machoke, a Cacturne and two Granbulls were crossing the square now. The moonlight fell on their armours, shrouding them in a strange aura. Suddenly, unexpectedly, a circular portal of darkness was formed above the guards; Shango had frozen in fear of what he was seeing. A tri headed dragon bursted downwards right from the Nether Plane. Before they realized what was going on, before even getting the chance to scream, they were all put down to the ground. Their bodies were sizzled by the darkness and the beast then flew up the sky, disappearing from sight.

Shango fell on the pavement with his heart pounding like crazy. He tried calming his breath down. He had witnessed an Hashashin on duty with his own eyes. Four lives in one second... he thought darkly. The beast had taken four lives in one second. How did this happen?

The Zangoose still had his guard up, in case the dragon was nearby. When he gathered the courage, he approached the corpses of the dead soldiers, the sound of his boots on the cobblestone echoing. He quickly examined the bodies from a safe distance. It was as if their skin was ripped apart by thousands of needles, and the expression of fear was frozen solid on their faces. Their armor remained completly untouched. He glanced up towards the starry night. The peaceful moon seemed to be mocking the dead now. A shiny object on the ground caught his attention; he kneeled and picked it up, observing its strange light and his own reflection on the stone. He recognized it as one of the evolution stones, but he didn't know which.

"What in the world do they want?" Shango quietly questioned himself, tightening his fist around the object as he stared at the sky where the beast had disappeared. He was now convinced that the dragon-like Pokemon had dropped it.

It was now time to report back to the Ionian Verdict.


***


"So, you're telling us that a beast appeared from the Nether Plane and attacked the guards?" inquired Jericho Sandaros, an Armaldo, the Supreme Chancellor of Ionia. Next to him was a Sceptile namely Dominique Slasher, who was in the lead of the Ionian Verdict. The two of them exchanged troubled looks.

Shango was standing before them. He still had his cloak and hood on, as such were the rules of formality. Behind him was standing his step-father, Baron Ascendio Nome, a mighty looking Scizor. They were in the Ionian palace, which was far beyond grand. The walls had drawings of epic fantasy, representing some Pokemon going through some kind of Odyssey taken from an old myth. The red carpet lead to a throne-like chair decorated with crystals. Ascendio always believed the Ionians overdid it with such things, but he had still granted them access to his massive wealth, only for them to waste it on appealing palaces. Shango felt repulsed, but he had never stated his thoughts. Now he had his emerald eyes fixed on the Armaldo with a rather serious expression on. The Chancellor and the leader leaned in together and whispered something. Then they looked over at Baron, instead of Shango.

"We know what it was," stated the Sceptile. "It was Oneiro 'Nightingale', the most feared assassin in Stygia."

Silence fell into the room for a moment. Jericho's expression made him seem overly disturbed. Then Ascendio spoke in a worried tone. "But what is he doing here?"

Dominique shook his head. "We do not know, but it must be important since they sent him." He looked over at Shango. "There was nothing you could do, Maverick," he said sincerely. "The lack of action from your part is entirely justified."

The Zangoose remained silent. Even if he was in the frame of mind to challenge openly the Hashashin, he never had the time to do so. As for the shiny stone he had found, he didn't say a word about it, considering it non important. Maybe he'd sell it at a good price at the local antique shop. Shango was always resourceful like that, Ascendio had taught him to be an opportunist instead of spoiling him rotten with his riches.

"We cannot afford to lose one of our best Seekers to Nightingale. The matter will have to be handled by the Needlers," stated Dominique, looking at Shango, whose face was expressionless now. But inside, he was thinking that it was a lost chance of being promoted to a lead Seeker; he wasn't afraid to cross ways with that Hashashin, but now that the leader of the Verdict had decided otherwise, there was nothing he could do about it. There would be other opportunities of promotion, anyway. The Baron would make sure of that, although Shango never asked for his step-father's help regarding his career's matters.

Jericho and Dominique seemed skeptical. They were throwing each other glances, Shango could tell something was bothering them.

"Maverick," started the Sceptile with his hands behind his grassy back, "we are about to share information kept hidden by order of the council of the King. Can we entrust you with them, knowing you will keep the utmost secrecy?"

"Certainly."

"Good, I would have to have your head if you said no," said Dominique with a grin. Shango didn't have any doubts that he was being serious. The Verdict wasn't kidding around, and the traitors could only hope for a quaint death.

"The King has sent a recognition mission to the Contested Lands."

The Contested Lands of the west were the part of this world which was constantly blasted by war. The two Empires, Hesperian and Stygia, were laying claim on these foreign nations, turning them into battlegrounds of dominance. Their main native enemy was the Fire Clan, which is protecting its lands from the two Empires, blending in the wars between them as well. Shango nodded to make the leader of the Verdict keep talking.

"Well, the mission has been lost in the uncharted lands beyond the southwestern mountain range," said Dominique in a serious tone, having lost his grin now, "and we are now recruiting our best members of the Verdict to bring them back. We are asking you to go to the Contested Lands, locate and bring that squad back."

Shango was slightly surprised at first, but he didn't show it. He couldn't say he hadn't seen that coming. "I am honoured to take on this mission."

"Splendid!" shouted Jericho, raising his pinchers. "We are currently gathering more members for the mission. You will be informed when we are done preparing, and you should be ready to leave soon. As for the Hashashin," the Armaldo paused, looking at Shango's plain expression.

"Leave him up to me."


***


"Shango!"

Somebody was knocking on the door. Shango opened his eyelids, smirking his eyebrows in a slight disturbance. He recognized the way that particular somebody was knocking on the door; it could only be Baron Ascendio who slamming it with his steel pinchers, causing his whole hut to shake.

"Shango, open up!"

The Zangoose glanced outside the window to see dark. He got up from his cotton bed, wondering what Ascendio was thinking, knocking on his door this late.

"Shango--"

"Alright, alright!" he said, managing to hide his irritation. He quickly wore his boots, put his cloak, cape and hood on. Then, he crossed his small house and reached for the door to knock it open. The Scizor was standing on the doorstep, holding a pouch.

"Come, my boy," he said and motioned. The Zangoose closed the door with his green eyes fixed on him.

"What is going on?"

They followed the rocky path Shango himself had made to exit the small garden of his turf. There was no moon, no stars, only clouds. Yet, the lake of Acheloos, where the city of Ionia was built next to, along with the city itself, was illuminated by the moonlight that sneaked through the openings of the clouds.

The night was fairly cold, and Shango felt rain was coming. His nostrills took in the scent of the flowers of his neighborhood, probably for the last time in a long time. He would surely miss the Kecleons' shouts as they fought over who would sell the oran berries, he would miss the bunch of clowns and street performers that entertained him for a single silver coin, and he would especially miss the girls of the neighborhood.

"The team is ready."

"I see they didn't waste any time."

Small raindrops started falling slowly as they walked down a road that was surrounded by trees - Shango was already seeing pools of mud on the ground with his imagination. They reached the peaceful and dark Trade Square, where the most murders had been commited. Shango thought that it was quite possible that the Hashashin were watching them right now, but he kept on walking. The palace was on the other end of Ionia and they would have to cross all of it to reach it.

"You are leaving tomorrow," Ascendio informed him and turned to look at him. "You've become a grown up, now, Shango. I am both happy and sad that you'll have to leave on this mission. Happy that your career will be shot upwards, ensuring you a good future and sad that my son will have to leave on such a dangerous journey."

Shango looked at him. "I'll be back, father. I won't be gone forever," he said after a moment and gave it some more thought. "I'm happy I will take on something more serious than spying missions."

The rain had now become intense, but neither of them seemed to mind; Ascendio was purely made out of steel, and Shango had his own cloak to ward it off and his fur to keep him warm.

The Scizor smiled genuinely at him, but Shango had already turned his head elsewhere. His eyes were fixed on a source of light across the street; the flames of an Infernape were lighting the night. He was staring at Shango with a grin full of yellow teeth; his black eyes were menacing - he emitted something strange, something that Shango recognized, somehow, but could not define. Strangely enough, the rain did not seem to affect his flames in any way, not even visually... Shango noticed that the fire-type was dressed as a firebreather, particularly a red uniform and blue vambraces. Those people performed all over Ionia, and he had gone to see their shows multiple times, but the sight of this Infernape was something out of the ordinary.

The Infernape stood immovable as they crossed the street. Shango's eyes fell onto two red spots in the darkness behind him; eyes. He took his own eyes away to glance at Ascendio, who had a moody frown hovering over his face.

"Weird bunch," he said when they were at a safe distance away. Shango nodded, but he quickly forgot the event, thinking of the Contested Lands as they crossed the bridge over the river that flowed through Ionia, diving it into East Ionia and West Ionia. The palace was close now. They stayed silent as they reached the gates, the Ampharos that guarded them stepped forward to ask for clearance, but once they saw Ascendio, they bowed and backstepped. The Scizor and the Zangoose went through, entering the majestic garden of the Ionian palace. All kinds of plants and berries were blooming, and now the bushes were full of flowers as Spring was coming. However, they'd seen this garden so many times they ignored it completely. On the far end, figures could be seen standing by the light of the torches. Once they were closer, Shango's eyes could pierce through the night to see a group of Pokemon standing next to the fountain that continuously spew water. Chancellor Jericho was one of those figures.

"Ah, Maverick! You're here, at last," said the Chancellor, greeting him with his pinchers spread. Shango could now see the others; various species, seven Pokemon that looked tough and experienced. All of them were at least thirty years old. The Armaldo turned to them.

"This is Shango Maverick, a Seeker; he is the eighth member of your team."

They all nodded towards him, keeping strictly formal stances. Jericho turned to Ascendio and thanked him for some reason, then looked at Shango.

"This," he said, pointing at a male Furret with a helmet and goggles, "is Cena."

They both nodded at each other with a glow of recognition in their eyes. Shango knew this Furret - he was a talented Seeker that was famous for the dangerous missions he had pulled off in Stygian grounds. Fredric, as was his first name, was also known for his services to the aerial forces of the Verdict.

"Meet another Seeker, Sunny," said the Armaldo. Shango's eyes fell on a female Bayleef that was wearing the spy's blue cloak but no hood. He was surprised she was named 'Sunny', it was such a strange surname. It was known that the Keepers of the Verdict only used their surnames instead of nicknames, but what kind of name was Sunny...? Jericho solved his question right after by leaning forward and whispering, "she is the daughter of Kingfisher, but she's using this name for cover. And this Tahan," a green Bronzong was floating next to the Bayleef; their colours seemed almost identical, from what Shango could see. He had heard of the Bronzongs being skilled Keepers, but he was not aware of this particular Bronzong. They were just too many and had those weird surnames; they were usually coming from the west.

"Behold," Jericho spoke again, "our famed 'Swifty'!"

A Manectric winked at Shango, smiling. He returned the smile. This Keeper had saved Jericho himself from the Dark Cult, and that's why he was receiving some extra care that Shango's eyes caught and disapproved greatly. He liked him, however; he seemed like a relaxed Pokemon.

"And this is 'Brutalinax'," said the Armaldo, introducing a mighty Garchomp that stared at Shango with a piercing look. The Zangoose felt a true warrior was in front of him, his power seemed overwhelming even from distance. Brutalinax had served the King as a member of the Praetorian Guard during the first war of the Contested Lands; he was a veteran Needler of the Ionian Verdict.

Now, if Swifty and Brutalinax seemed like a good addition to the team, the next two would make the mission alot easier.

"The two Needlers that will be accompanying you are Chan and Lee," said Jericho and pointed at the remaining two Pokemon. A Hitmonchan and a Hitmonlee were standing next to each other. They firmly saluted Shango with serious expressions; he could clearly see that they were veterans as well.

"Now," said the Armaldo, facing the small team, "everyone's ready. Your objective is simple: cross the southwestern mountain range, where our recon mission was sent and lost. Sunny here will guide you with her maps," Shango noticed the bag the Bayleef that was hanging on her side, "the leader of this team is Brutalinax," stated Jericho. The Garchomp's face didn't even shift despite everybody glancing at him. Jericho walked over to him.

"This is the King's orders written in paper," he said and grabbed a paper with the red mark of the King from his belt and handing it to the Garchomp. Brutalinax gave it to Lee, who carefully slid it in a glass sheath and put it in his bag carefully. This paper would clarify their purpose in case they came along any other Hesperians.

Jericho was looking at the rest of the Pokemon. "Remember to keep this mission secret. Should you succeed in bringing back our lost members, you will be deemed as heroes of our Verdict by the King himself."

They all nodded. Every member of the Verdict would take on this mission, but only the best of the best were chosen for this. Shango was feeling small and inadequate compared to the rest, but he was going to give it his best. Although, the idea of crossing the southwest mountain range seemed too dangerous for all of them to risk their lives just to save a recon mission.

"Time is wasting. Off you go!" said Jericho and directed them towards the gates of the palace's garden.

Ascendio, who was silent during the introduction, grabbed Shango's hand. They looked at each other.

"Be careful, son, be careful... those lands are unforgiving," he whispered. Shango nodded quietly and followed the others, leaving the garden of the Ionian palace.

"Farewell..." muttered the Scizor, looking down.


***


As the distance between them and Ionia grew, its protective walls disappeared in the clouds that had decided to descend. The sun of the dawn was sheding a weak light that barely got through the thick leaves of the trees. Then the dawn flew away with the fog, giving its place to an extremely hot evening.

Everybody was sweating as they progressed through the forest, trying to stay in the shadow of the leaves as much as possible. Brutalinax's dragon skin was protecting him, and he was the only one who was able to endure the heat. Shango would give his cloak away for a silver coin now; but he discovered that he needed it during the night. They chose to stay next to a river, and the night there was cold.

Brutalinax and Sunny were walking in the front, and the rest of the members of the Verdict behind them. Shango had started a conversation with Cena, who proved to be an interesting Pokemon. Soon afterwards, Swifty had joined them.

Chan was whistling whilst walking and looking around the trees. Lee was throwing death stares at him for a while, until he couldn't resist telling him to shut up. They started a full-scale argument and Shango figured they were doing that alot, despite being a pair. Swifty was glancing at them with his eyebrows smirked in irritation. Two hours later, the argument had come to their battling skills, and they'd have solved it in a duel if Brutalinax hadn't separated them quite violently and with a terrifying expression.

After that took place, the group went silent for some time. They exited the forest and the intense sun hit them on their backs; they were now in open grassy hills, following a sand path that led to the distant western mountain ranges that were visible in the horizon. They could see a village amongst the hills - Sunny informed them that's where they would rest for the night.


"It's about time," said Cena with a tired look.

They headed towards it with a quicker pace. Chan and Lee got in an argument about who was able to eat the biggest amount of food, and this time Brutalinax didn't stop them; he was busy talking with the Bayleef. Shango subtly walked up closer to them so he could eavesdrop.

"Beyond this village, there is nothing - just us, the mountains and whatever lies beyond," said Sunny and Brutalinax smirked, skeptical.

"We'd better get all the supplies we can carry, then."

The Zangoose behind them lost speed and joined with Swifty and Cena, telling them the news. They all remained silent till they reached the village, where they were welcomed like the King himself; they had been informed of their arrival, apparently. There were many members of the Verdict here because of the Bastion of Bonacia. Guarding the grounds of the Empire from the Dark Cult wasn't an easy job, and the other members of the Verdict that met up with the travelling group were happy to see new faces. They invited them to an inn where they all feasted, except of Shango. The Seeker had another hunch of his; when they entered the village, he had caught a glimpse of a shadow on top of a roof that disappeared right after. He knew that nobody would believe him except his close company, but he believed they were being followed. He was assured of that when he saw a pair of red eyes glowing in the darkness across the street - and he was sure he had seen those eyes before.

Shango didn't sleep well that night. He was up before the dawn, staring at the crimson planet and the surrounding stars that were stuck on the sky. All the gold of the world wasn't worth such view! But he wasn't thinking of the view; he was thinking of the shadowy figure on the roof and the red eyes he had seen the other day.

Later, when everybody was up, he approached Brutalinax and confessed his fears. The Garchomp seemed to be thinking about it for a moment.

"I will keep that in mind, Maverick. As for you, you better relax. We're probably the most powerful team of Pokemon in this Empire!"

"I would say so too," said Shango, but he had his doubts.

They headed out of the village early morning, bidding their Verdict brothers and sisters farewell. The southwestern mountain ranges were visible in the horizon; they would reach it in about half a day. And then, they would cross that mysterious land in search of the lost explorers.
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