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Old December 16th, 2012, 09:12 AM
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Ray Maverick
life without liberty; body without spirit
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Age: 18
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Chapter 7: Ravenscare




Crystal Ancelotti took Shango out of the house he was located. It was on top of a hill in a green, open field; there was a single tree that shed its shadow on the roof of that house. They were now walking down the hill towards a peaceful village with stone houses that had roofs with tiny red tiles and small chimneys which were smoking.

"Where exactly are we, Crystal?" asked Shango with the same genuine interest.

"This is Podville Town. Southeast Stygia. These lands are under Hotorian command."

"Oh... what do you mean by Hotorian command?"

"The Hotori are one of the eight tribes that inhabit Stygia, but I won't list them all for you," the Zoroark said with a subtle smile; she winked at him. "Even I had trouble learning them!"

Shango felt the wind blew through his fur, the scent of flowers entering his nose. The feelings of freedom and happiness he felt were unexplainable, but fear for the future was a shadow that engulfed all of them. He felt the urge to ask more about his family, about his father, about his mother, but he felt like it was not the right time. His questions would be probably reported to command, anyway, so he chose not to risk anything.

"What are we doing here?" he incquired with an innocent expression that fit an eight year old boy. Crystal stared at him.

"You only care about what you are doing here. Don't ask too many questions. The Hashashin want you to focus on your own work."

Shango rolled his eyes. "Then what am I doing here?" Good question, he said to himself. The town was getting closer and closer now; they entered a sand path that led straight in it.

"There is a Saloon - Ravenscare - that belongs to us somewhere in the town. A part of our crew is waiting for you there to meet them."

"And you?"

"I'll stay here," she said and suddenly sat down on the grass on the side of the road. Shango started laughing, clutching his belly.

"I'm serious," she stated. Shango got serious as well, under her meaningful expression. "And don't you try to run away," she said.

"Alright, bet'cha I'll find it."

And he dashed off towards the town.


***


The town proved to be far more great than Shango had imagined. All the small houses created comb-like paths that were so narrow, only two Pokemon Shango's size could pass through them at the same time. Tristana was sitting on his left shoulder, talking non-stop.

"... and you should escape when the night arrives, if you don't, you--"

"Hey! Zip it up there, I'm trying to find my way to the main street!"

Shango had accidentally entered one of the narrow paths, and now he couldn't get out. He was slightly pissed off, but at the same happy - he had never been in Stygia, and getting to know more places was interesting. He'd always wanted to travel around the world.

"Oh, why didn't you say so?" said the Victini and giggled. "Try the roofs, Shango."

The Zangoose stared at a wall and ran towards it with great speed; he lept and kicked it, launching himself high enough to grab the end of a roof and pull himself up.

"Wall kick, impressive," Tristana said in a playful manner.

"You better learn some tricks for battle, or I'm selling you for trash in the nearest merchant," replied Shango in the same manner, but she fell silent.

Shango didn't have a good view of the town from there; the houses were not particularly tall and were about the same height. The feel of that red stone under his feet was rather strange and
he thought of geting back on the ground, but his eyes caught something moving in the next roof; he jerked his head to see a wild Starly flapping its wings. Shango would deem that as his meal if he was hungry, but the chocolate Crystal had given him kept him good, so he decided to leave the little bird alone.

The Pokemon of the area would surely know of the Ravenscare Saloon, Shango thought, so he descended from the rooftops and asked the first Pokemon he came across - a Breloom.

"Do you maybe know where the Ravenscare Saloon is?"

The Breloom looked at him in disbelief. "We don't have any Ravenscare Saloon in this town," he said and paused, examining him. "You must be new around here..." then he walked away. Shango frowned and continued his way down the main street. Not many Pokemon were walking around; as it was a relatively quiet town, Shango wondered if they knew how to party.

An enticing smell found its way into Shango's nose, and he jerked his head towards it with his eyes wide opened. "Flowers!" Tristana screamed, Shango staring at her. "No! You'll set the whole town on fire like last time!"

"You're mean, that's not true!" she shouted in his ear, but they both laughed anyway, until the Zangoose's eyes fell on what seemed to be a restaurant. A Drifblim was standing amongst the flowers of the garden outside the building; the Pokemon was staring at Shango as if he was one of his family members.

"Are you looking for the Ravenscare Saloon?"

It was a psychic voice directed towards him. The Pokemon around ignored the Drifblim as if it didn't exist. He realized no one heard the Drifblim but him, as it spoke into his mind. The Zangoose nodded and glanced at Tristana next to him that had apparently heard the voice too. She looked at him with her big blue eyes and then vanished from sight.

"Right this way, Hashashin," spoke the Drifblim with the same ominous tone. It raised one of its four yellow-tipped limbs and pointed inside the restaurant. Shango slowly walked towards that direction, eyeing the ghost Pokemon with his eyebrows slightly raised in suspicion.

Voices were suddenly heard from inside as he walked in; he felt like he entered an entirely different world. There was a room with stairs leading up, and a a wooden bar filled with all kinds of bottles. The bartender was a Metang, which was right now skilfully using its psychic powers to pour the liquid into glasses. He didn't appear to notice Shango, who looked around to see empty tables. Above the bar, there was a giant sign, 'Ravenscare'.

"How could that guy not be aware of this Saloon? He appeared to be from town," Shango whispered over to his shoulder, where the fiery spirit was sitting.

"Maybe this Saloon is only permitting access to the Hashashin!" Tristana whispered back in an excited tone.

"That explains how the Drifblim knew me," Shango replied after some thought. Suddenly, Crystal came down from the stairs on the left side of the Saloon.

"Cousin!"

He stared at her surprised. "How did you get here before me?"

She chuckled. "You're too slow, Shango. Come upstairs, I have a couple of friends I'd like you to meet."

I wonder if the rest of the Hashashin are as friendly as this girl. What reason do they have they to be friendly? They are murderers, Shango thought as he followed his Zoroark cousin upstairs, his heart beating with anticipation and curiosity. Maybe I'll meet more of my relatives...

"That Metang in the bar," Crystal started speaking, "isn't one of us, so you really keep your yap shut about our business when talking to him. Capiche?"

"Huh? Then what's he doing here?"

"Let's just say one of us knows how to control minds. And if it gets any idea of what we're planning upstairs, some one will have to erase his memory."

Shango was appaled. How could they use a Pokemon like this? Is this cruel, or what? spoke Tristana into his mind; he could feel her floating above his head now. He was ready to reply, but they reached the second floor. That's where the voices Shango heard before came from.

The room was entirely made of wood, just like the ground floor. Four tables with four chairs around each of them were spread, forming a circle around the center of the room. Four Pokemon were sitting on the nearest table; Shango didn't look at them carefully - he hadn't forgotten to act clueless. But the second he laid his eyes on one of them, he instantly recognized him. The Infernape that appeared in the streets of Ionia was staring at him, grinning in the same manner that revealed all of his yellow teeth. Shango wished he could ask him how he had disappeared when he tried to hit him back in Ionia, but that would give him away. Next to him was the familiar sinister bug Pokemon, Bart the Shadow; he was staring at the Zangoose intently, but with no apparent bad intentions. The other two Pokemon on the table, an Ambipom and a Bisharp, seemed to be observing him from eye to toe.

Shango assumed they would all know that he had lost his memory already; he wouldn't know how to react if Bart confronted him. It was possible that the guy still wanted revenge for the fiasco at the Scorching Lands. The Accelgor didn't look like he had forgotten, but at the same time, his look didn't seem hostile, and Shango was thankful. Bart had changed little in these 3 years. He remembered his last words, which hinted that the Hashashin would return. And that they have, and here he was.

"Shango!" Crystal exclaimed in a cheerful tone, "meet my friends and family, Pasqual," she said, looking over at the Infernape, "Bartholomew," the Accelgor slowly nodded as their eyes met, "Enzo," the Ambipom waved one of his tails, "and Vincenzo." The Bisharp nodded with a welcoming smile.

Enzo and Vincenzo, eh? Crystal looked at him as if she read his thoughts. "They're called the Dawson Brothers around here."

"Oh... nice to meet you all."

Vincenzo stood up with a metallic sound caused by his powerful steel feet. "A pleasure to meet you, Shango Maverick," then he proceeded to shake hands with him. As Shango looked in his black eyes, he wondered how many Pokemon that seemingly nice Hashashin had destroyed. His curious and kind stare, mixed with his tiny welcoming smile made him doubt his membership in the brotherhood; though, now he realized, the lot of them didn't seem scary at all. None of them, at least, except Nightingale. Tristana must have been thinking exactly the same, because he sensed a bit of disbelief from her part.

"Yeah! Nice to meet you, man," shouted Enzo, launching himself from his chair, landing next to his brother, in front of Shango; the Ambipom grabbed his other hand and started shaking it vigorously. When they finally let go of him, Shango glanced at the other too who were rooted to their chairs. The Infernape named Pasqual had something really odd about him, something Shango had detected back in Ionia. As if space around him was virtually... challenged. The feeling he was giving was extremely unnatural and mysterious, though his stare wasn't exactly mean, but rather... curious.

As for Bart next to him, he was probably still upset about losing the fight before. Or he just didn't believe handshakes were necessary, like Shango did.

Pasqual finally stood up as well and extended his arm. Shango reached for it, and the Infernape gripped his hand with great force, as if he was trying to break it. He shut his eyes while Shango looked at their hands - something was very wrong here; his hand didn't feel how it looked like exactly. Where there were the blue fingers of the Infernape, he felt fur. On top of that, he felt as if his mind was being messed with. Tristana's subtle thoughts transfered to his mind: was uncle Pasqual invading his brain?

"Have they told you who I am?" he asked. His voice surely hadn't been used in months. The Infernape took his eyes from Shango to look questioningly over at Crystal, who nodded her head negatively. Then, he looked back at Shango with a sense of amusement on his face. "I'm your uncle. Mentor of the junior Hashashin."

Shango raised his eyebrows in surprise. So the strange Pokemon was his uncle. He wondered if he was powerful - he looked old, yet still in shape. That's what made him mentor, probably. Uncle Pasqual turned around, his hands behind his back. He walked over to the window of Ravenscare Saloon and looked down.

"Do you know how the Hashashin work?"

"No, I do not," he replied in a pompous voice that apparently sounded rather funny to the Hashashin, who all chuckled, except his uncle. His mentor turned around and faced him, having lost his grin.

"Some call us brutal killers. Some others mercenaries. Hah! That's exactly what we want them to see. We are an absolute, independent organization which looks for its own survival, but mainly, we are the pursuers of liberty and peace. We cleanse the land from the filthy animals that take control of it by eliminating them," he paused to take a deep breath and started coughing slightly. When he stopped, he spoke again. "Clearly we cannot work in the public eye - especially our trainees, they can't. So, we disguise ourselves as street performers. Yes," he said, seeing Shango's surprise. "Our circus enterprise is far too grand for us to be suspected. Ravenscare is known all around Stygia for its shows."

Shango grabbed his chin and looked on the floor, wondering if that was just Pasqual's perception of things, or that was the reality of the brotherhood. A realization emerged from his subconcious: there were street performers in Ionia, and the scary part of it was that he had once worked with them to get the attention of the girl he had set his eyes on. Could they be the Hashashin? And what were they doing in Ionia?

Ravenscare was the name of the shop, and the name of the circus enterprises as well. "So I'll have to be a street performer?"

"Just like us," said the Infernape with his yellow teeth flashing in a grin.

"But I don't know any tricks." He could only balance on a tight rope without much effort, and that had gotten old in Ionia - too many Pokemon had great balance, as they were beings of nature.

"We'll teach you!" shouted Crystal, like they were about to go on a grand adventure in the end of the world. Enzo grabbed Shango's hand and examined it.

"You're agile! Maybe you could be an acrobat like me and Bart here!"

Shango smirked his eyebrows as he looked over at the Shadow. He didn't seem like an acrobat at all, though he had proven himself to be capable of high jumps. All those membranes attached onto his body looked like they would fall off any second.

"Hands off!" Crystal pushed the Ambipom away from Shango and clutched him. "He's gonna be a firebreather, we need one of those anyway. You can breath fire Shango, can't you?" she asked and pushed him with her elbows, winking.

"How'd you know?" he asked at first, but then realized his mistake. "I mean, can I breath fire...?"

Tristana's invisible flame next to him got more intense; he was glad nobody else was feeling her heat. The Victini was simply reminding him not to give away that she had taught him how to use flamethrower.

"Did you know, that as your Voidborn relatives, we have access to certain information of yourself, as you have in ours?" Bart finally spoke. Shango was now worried - did they also have access in his memories? Then they would be able to see that all this was an act. But how come they didn't try it? Or, maybe they did and found nothing for some odd reason.

"No, I didn't know... so what am I doing as a firebreather?"

Pasqual faced him and spoke. "You are simply a trainee right now... you'll be collecting valuable information for us. Move up our ranks, and you'll be an assassin. After the rank of the assassins... you become a Shadow Hunter."

Seeing Shango's troubled expression, his mentor continued. "The Shadow Hunters are the elite of the Hashashin - the ones our Master uses only for the most difficult of missions. Those are truly powerful Hashashin who live up to the world's reputation for us. There are currently eight Hashashin Shadow Hunters..." said the Infernape and looked over at Bart, "Bartholomew here being one of them."

Shango thought this Bart guy never seized to amaze him. How many other surprises was the Accelgor hiding? Pasqual crossed his arms and looked at Shango with his piercing eyes.

"Today, our little Saloon here will be hosting a show. We suspect the arrival of a spy; the Dark Cult is suspecting the location of the place. We simply kill the spy before they report back to the Dark Cult."

"But won't that confirm their assumptions about Ravenscare?" asked Shango. Since when the Hashashin fought the Dark Cult? The others laughed.

"You're clever, but we've got this one covered. Our man inside the Dark Cult informs us that the spy has not stated that Ravenscare could be one of our possible hideouts - meaning that if we kill him on the streets, nobody will ever know..." Shango liked the Infernape's dark tone, somehow. They had obviously thought of everything. Much as he'd like to avoid to kill, he couldn't see a way of getting himself out of this; he would have to play along for now.

"So, am I to track down the spy?"

"Yeah," said Crystal, patting him on the shoulder, "I'll help you."

"Wait, so you know who they are...?" asked Shango with a slightly disturbed expression. The Infernape chuckled.

"Of course we do... There's nothing gettin' past us, boy. You should keep that in mind."

Shango wondered if his words held an implication. That could mean his memories were in danger.
__________________

"I'm surrounded by capable Pokemon who don't need me in battle. If they get themselves bloodied, and I am clean by the end of the battle, how long before they start questioning my bravery?"
- Garland Fordring, leader of the Exathian Gold Tribe

*****


Last edited by Ray Maverick; December 21st, 2012 at 03:09 AM.