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Reginard murmured in his sleep... a very odd sleep. Most of the time he would forget any dreams he had, but this one was so clear... yet so strange. He knew dreams were often random, that they threw all sorts of images at you, but this one was orderly. It was almost as if the dream was almost lucid... but that coudln't be right. He had never focused on learning lucid dreaming.
Regardless he slept on until his mental timer rung and his brain began to awaken. The Alakazam slowly blinked his eyes open and although he felt groggy at first, but when he glanced around at his books his eyes widened and he quickly glanced about him. Zeal... how...
He quickly stood back up and grabbed his staff. The others had to be informed-wait!
He paused right there in mid thought before he could teleport away and forced himself to take some deep breaths. He couldn't go by instinct... not now. He had to think over all of this. Alright... what did he learn? Well... Master Zhao had the fire plate... yet the stranger did at the same time.
This Zeal had managed to infiltrate his mind by some ways and told him about the plans he had. He had been there in the forest with the Stranger and he now knew how the Stranger was able to hijack his barrier, he had been locked in it as an illusion. He had killed the grandmother… with the fire plate.
This zeal had killed another because Master Zhao was now on his way with the fire plate to take the ambassador’s place.
At that he quickly paced. He could only assume that the Stranger was allied with him, it made sense. How else could he know an abundance of information? But… why tell him this?
That’s when it hit him. Zeal wanted him to act on it. What would an unintelligent pokemon do? Simple, tell his allies! Of course! It was a trap! He was being led down a false road! He was to tell the others, but why? To ensure it would happen! If you told someone something would happen, then they would work to stop it… and by that default ensure it would happen!
No, he wouldn’t tell the others… but now he knew. Why steal Celebi away? Simple! To get the fire plate! The fire in the forest made sense now! So many fire types couldn’t do so much damage! With Master Zhao having the plate now, it meant that the Stranger would grab it and then head back in time to light the forest on fire to cause Celebi to be called out and thus to capture her so that he could go forward in time to get the plate itself and thus come back in time!
He thought on this for a while. He for certain couldn’t trust this Zeal. He knew what he would have to do. He had to act out of turn… act differently than he would normally do.
Hopefully Master Zhao hadn’t come into the city yet, so Reginard grabbed his items and teleported out of the city on the road, and then he began to walk down it. He would find Master Zhao and force him to give him the fire plate so he could hide it. Whatever affected the grass plate would have to wait. He would get the fire plate by any means necessary, but he knew enough of Zhao’s reputation to know that he wouldn’t give it up without a fight.
He was going to have to kill Master Zhao.
Vash the Bullet & Vincent 'Vince' The Wanderer
The flight descending from the Sky Haven Council was a relief for Vash. Particularly annoyed from having to capture the Braixen so early in the day put him a bad mood; something that came rare to him. Although as reward for apprehending the prisoner, he was offered to dine with rest of the Council members, so at least that put him at ease. He hadn't visited Skyhaven in a week, so the Crobat was interested in seeing what could have possibly changed. To his surprise the majority of the Sky Haven residents were noticeably hostile and unwilling to even bat him an eye, that is unless they were suspicious stares. He suspected that the other prisoner that was being held for trial, apparently who killed the Cylan Ammbassador was cause for such tension. Alas, Vash found himself bored and decided to glide aimlessly over the city streets until overhead the West District. He remembered that many Pokemon trade and sell wares. Vash thought he could possibly find a new belt that could carry his float stone, as the old one has become somewhat tattered. Making his descent, he carefully lands in front of a passerby Dewott, stumbling momentarily on his tiny feet.
Vincent, completely lost in the pleasures of eating the slice of cheese pie in his hand, almost didn't notice as the Crobat landed on the ground in front of him. He came to a slightly stumbling stop, having only just taken a bit of his pie, as he took a step away again to prevent bumping into him.
The Bullet quickly nodded to the stranger. "My apologies, it's hard landing in such a crowded area." Vincent swallowed down, finishing the pie, clearing his throat a little while waving his free hand dismissively. "No no, it's alright, I can see how it would be kind of hard to land here." He offered the Crobat a smile. "My name is Vincent. A pleasure."
Vash gave nod yet keeping his normal, unreadable expression. "Likewise. My name is Vash. Vash, the Bullet as I've come to be. It's nice to see a friendly face among all of this sudden turmoil." The Crobat took a moment to wrap his larger wings around himself to keep them out of the way. "Do you know anything about the assassin that killed the ambassador?"
Vincent raised his hand to scratch his chin slightly, wondering just how much he should be telling this 'Vash' person. He had a title, so he was clearly either an important person of some kind, or just a guy who thought highly of himself. None the less, he decided to give his opinion on the matter. "Personally? I doubt the one that was caught was the one who did it. I hear he's a Lucario, and that the scene had signs of both psychic and fire being used. Doesn't make sense if you ask me, and it sounds like he was set up. But I agree, it's an awful time to come visit this beautiful city, sadly."
Vash took a moment to not only gather his thoughts, but also briefly examined the Dewott. He seemed to know a lot, as well as knowing what he was talking about. "Yes it is, unfortunately. There will be a trial..", Vash stopped himself just as he was about to go into detail about Gaius' trial. I forget I'm only talking to a commoner about critical affairs..., he thought. As if to blow what he just said under the rug, he quickly yet somewhat awkwardly gestured to a collection of traveling gear a nearby salesman was advertising at the top of his lunges. "Hmm? Hey, that pokemon might have what I'm looking for. By the way, you came here looking for an item too, no?"
Quirking his brow, Vincent raised the jug to his lips to take a little sip from it, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand as he lowered the jug again, surprised, both by the level of awareness this Pokémon had, as well as the fact that he seemed about to elaborate on the trial, but held back. I guess I was right in assuming he was important, somehow. "Actually, yes, I am. How did you know? And if I may ask, what are you exactly looking for?"
"Well it's only natural one would be here looking for something. This is the major commerce area after all. I myself am looking to replace my belt.", the bat uncloaked his wings and gestured to the black, band like belt that wrapped around his lower body. "It looks like it will fall apart soon so I'm looking for a replacement. As you can see it holds this small stone in the middle." Vash pointed this time directly at the small smooth rock in his belt. "And you?"
"Oh, is that...? Huh, a float stone! It's been quite a long time since I've seen one of those around..." Vincent commented, looking over the stone held in place by the sash. He'd heard about these rather rare items during his travels, about how they would make the wearer lighter. He'd even heard rumors that if you attached one to an item, it could float off if you weren't careful.
He stood up again, shrugging his shoulders a little, letting out a soft sigh. "I'm looking for a new weapon. The ones I was using before... well, one of them broke and another, I lost, which is a shame, because I had them since my childhood. They were sort of like heirlooms to me, but... there's not allot to do about it, other than moving on. So I'm on the lookout for new weaponry. Swords, maces... really, any type of weapon would do, I just need to find the 'right' one, if that makes sense."
The Bullet stared into space for a brief moment, pondering of the water type's plight. He then turned to his left and pointed a large wing towards the cross-section. "If I recall correctly, I think I saw what looked like a Weavile and Scyther a little ways down. Their species are usually selling sharp objects or something of the like." Vash, looked Vincent up and down. "Something light and swift seems like a good match for you."
Vincent gave Vash a wry little smile, folding his arms across his chest with the jug still in hand. "You have me pinned down pretty well, Vash. I do prefer blade-type weapons, which is why I were using my shells before. Either way, I suppose I'll have to go check it out. So far, I haven't seen that many stores selling weaponry, and the ones I've seen aren't very good. Still though, thank you for the tip." He finished, smiling as he gave a little bow of his head.
Vash gave a final nod. "No problem. Nice meeting you." Without much else, he turned and hopped toward the salesman of his interest forgetting about the Dewott completely as he examined the items for sale.
Zi-Zi's Journey - Lindsey Stirling
Roscoe the Leech
Skyhaven - Secret Inn
Whoever had made the reservations must have deep pockets. For that matter, Roscoe wondered who would had known to reserve these particular rooms. He, or she, probably found out from Pierce, as the Gengar was the one who knew who was in their group of heroes. And if it wasn't Pierce who reserved these rooms, then why would the unknown benefactor do so?
As the sun peeked over the horizon, Roscoe shifted slightly to turn his back toward it, keeping his position on the broad branch. His room had a large window and a small balcony on the north side of the inn, where a relatively small tree with Roscoe's branch grew. The floor, both inside and out, was covered with grass and some plants here and there, or very convincing lookalikes. There were also a few trees in the room as well, one of which held a bed of moss on a low branch.
Now that he was done with his hour of exercises and brief training, Roscoe soaked up the morning sunlight with eyes closed. Hm...Pierce...kinda bitter...tasted like something I can't name...Faolan...more salty...piece of meat that's been weathered or smoked...Reginard...huh. Didn't get t' taste his energy 'fore he put me out.
Nice way to ruin the morning rest, thinking about that old codger. The Sceptile blew a sigh as he pushed himself up and stretched one more time before hopping down onto the balcony. Now that the sun was up, he got a good look at the mosaic carved into the wooden sliding door that separated the balcony from his room. A moment later, Roscoe slid the door open and stepped inside; the forest-scene on the door didn't look that interesting.
His sack strapped on, Roscoe descended the stairs and walked into the front room, where the Azumarill was preparing something. "Interestin' rooms you have here. Slept like a Hoothoot durin' the day."
"Thank you," the Azumarill responded, smiling at Roscoe as he passed by. When she turned away, he swiped an apple from one table before heading out the door.
"G'morning," Roscoe called, spotting Tsulong and Ser Raleigh. "Headin' out t' see if I can't find somethin' for myself. Be back in a few." He didn't give a backward look as the Sceptile continued on down the path and back into the city.
West Wind District
Skyhaven was pretty much what Roscoe remembered it to be. Even better, now that he was alone, nobody was leering or glaring at him as he passed by. It took a while for Roscoe to find the West Wind District, where he was sure to find belts. The general crowd of Pokemon made him a little uneasy, actually, as he browsed the stalls. I'll never understand why they want t' crowd themselves into one big space so much. It's the forest for me.
Stopping to look at one stand, Roscoe shrugged and turned away. A moment later, another Pokemon bumped into him while rushing on down the street, not bothering to stop as the Sceptile stumbled back and bumped into another Pokemon. "Sorry," Roscoe said, turning to apologize to the Crobat. His eyes then blinked. Ain't that a float stone he's wearin'?
Reginard Asphos and Vincent
What had first seemed like an excellent idea soon turned sour. In practice it was amazing! Go find Zhao, talk with him, and get the fire plate! Simple! The execution was horrible. Reginard walked some ways, but there was no sign of the Master. Not only that but a little whisper in his mind had grown into a full out shout. He had missed Zhao. Zhao was already in the city; maybe coming in at night and Reginard had missed him. He had tried to keep the thought contained, but it was getting too loud for him to ignore. He paced back and forth on the road, taking deep breaths to keep his anxiety from overwhelming his logical mind.
The Alakazam had to pace around a bit before he finally realized what he had to do. He had to go back to the city, then search inch by inch for Zhao. He would have to keep an eye out for the master and be ready to act in a moment’s notice. For now though, he had to head back. Such a thought angered him greatly and before he ported he reached out and grabbed two large trees with a Psychic. He ripped them out and threw them a ways, huffing and puffing from the strain.
He sat on down and closed his eyes, having to work to calm himself down. It didn’t work. After ten minutes of trying Reginard finally gave up and ported back into the city, right in front of Emil’s house. At least he could talk with Emil and unload on him, or that was what he thought. Oddly enough Emil’s front door was open and as he opened it up he saw that the place was worse for wear. As he looked amid the chaos he caught sight of a folded up note with his name on it. He grabbed it and opened it up.
Sorry but I had to go! I know what’s coming and I know if I stayed any longer I would certainly get killed! Look, I hope you do well in this quest or whatever, but get out soon.
Reginard stared at the letter and crumpled it up. He felt his anger rising yet again. His friend had abandoned him! Didn’t even care for him! Just went off on his own way! This time he walked out and walked down the street, muttering to himself. It was true now, there was no one he could trust. Everyone was just here to cause him pain and misery! First that forest, now here! He would have been better staying with Durand! Everyone was worthless!
He made a turn and kept on walking, this time keying in on a signal he had laid before. Yes, the others. Alright, he had to be calm. He had a job to do and for Durand he would stay. He just had to be calm.
He found that the target was actually Vincent, and he quickly realized that he was in some weapon area. Calm. “Hello Vincent.” He said as he walked up to the Dewott, “Sorry for my earlier absence, just something I had to do.” He said with a curt nod. “Surely you and the others didn’t miss my presence too much.” Of course you didn’t you ungrateful slobs! He thought to himself.
The Dewott turned around, raising his brows in surprise as Reginard's voice rose above the bustling crowd of Pokémon moving back and forth between the busy stands of salesmen. The Alakazam seemed calm enough, but there was something about him that made Vince think something was just a tad bit off. He shook it off and offered him a smile.
"Oh, Reginard. We were wondering where you had gone, I'm glad to see you're alright."
He paused a moment, looking thoughtful, before glancing around himself. He then gestured for Reginard to come with him, moving into the corner of a small square with a little fountain in the middle, to an area where nobody would hear them, as Vincent lowered his voice, furrowing his brows.
"Pierce came along last night. He told us that he's partnered with Januario, but that he's still trying to help us out. More importantly, apparently the Cyalan Embassy has been attacked and everyone there was massacred, including the ambassador. They found a Lucario named 'Gaius', whom they arrested, although Pierce knows it isn't him. And from the scene of the crime, it seems like there had been a use of both Psychic and Fire-type attacks. They also found a name, written in blood. 'Zeal'."
Vincent took a moment to let everything sink in before his stern, serious expression relaxed a little. "You are by far the more knowledgeable of us, and I thought it best to keep you well-updated on the situation at hand."
Reginard wanted to really roll his eyes at this point, but held back that need. "I already know Vincent, I have many friends in this city." That of course wasn't true, but it was true that Emil had given him a bounty full of information, "Looks like Pierce isn't as smart as he wants you to believe since every single person in this city knows about that. Didn't do much research did you?" He didn't mean it as a personal jib, but given his rotten attitude now Reginard was caring less and less what he said.
"Though did he tell you that someone important is coming into town? Not sure when he'll be here or if he is already here." He frowned a bit, "Unless that is everything, then I will go around the town some more. There are people to find right now. Important people, those who I fear will be targeted."
He glanced about once more then telekinetically pulled in Vincent closer, No matter what, I can't tell you who he is. It's important Vincent that you tell no one else that I am searching for someone. The only thing I can tell you is that he is likely on the Stranger's list for targets. If I was to tell you, it would be far too easy for someone to crack open your mind and find what was needed. Yet again, Reginard hadn't meant it as hard as a jib, but his anger was now getting the best of him. Don't tell the others we have talked. I'll meet with you all later tonight. I do have a tracker on all of you, to ensure we can always find each other. I still have things to find, but once I get all of the information I need then we shall meet and I'll give you everything I have learned. Do you understand.
Vincent looked up at Reginard with his arms crossing over his chest and his brows furrowing in slight worry. Who was this person Reginard was looking for? Vincent probably wouldn't have heard of him, but it seemed that whatever Reginard had found out had greatly affected him, and so, Vincent nodded his head, continuing to speak in the low tone of voice. "I understand, Reginard. I won't tell the others, and if this person truly is on the Stranger's list, I hope you'll be able to do something about it, which is what I'm assuming you're trying to."
Picking up the jug in his hand once more, he took a little swig from it, swallowing down and wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, letting out a little sigh. "Oh, and, one other thing. Pierce also told us that this 'Gaius' apparently is another hero, sent here by Elder Durand. Don't know if you knew that, but."
Reginard nodded slowly, "I see, that changes things a bit." He paused in thought, Next time Dewott, use your inner voice! He snapped telepathically at Vincent, Not sure if any eyes or ears are looking for us! Do you want the Stranger's lackeys to know that I know their plans!? Next time, inner voice, and I will see you later.
At that Reginard turned and began to walk away, his eyes constantly moving about, on the look out. He had to hope that idiotic Dewott hadn't told half the bloody city of their plans with his voice right then and there!
As Vincent watched Reginard stomp off, Vincent let out a deep, exasperated breath of air, raising his free hand to rub over his head, to the back of it. If he continues to act like that, it'll end in disaster. Shaking his head, he then raised the jug of rum to his lips, taking in another swig before starting down the street once more, pushing the glum meeting out of his mind.
The Trade Prince
Alysanne carried him to the guest's cushion and made sure he was sitting comfortably, before sitting on the hard marble floor next to him. Bringing a courtesan with him into Lady Tanda's palace was an insult that Januario liked to repeat every time he paid her a visit. It's wasn't prince-like, but then again, he was no ordinary prince. It brought a slick grin to light his entire face with a bit of cool malice. The Lady of Skyhaven was none too pleased with him, he could tell, but she held her tongue and kept her courtesy, forcing a smile upon her delicate face. She was a lithe Gothitelle and despite being in her thirties, she was pretty, young and innocent looking. On the inside, she was far from that, as Januario had learned over all the years of having to deal with her; she had been around longer than he was, as they were about the same age.
He'd titled his head playfully with a half smile that Alysanne had convinced him was charming. "You are so beautiful today, my lady." You'd make for a perfect courtesan, indeed, the Pikachu thought nastily, his thoughts poured into his smile. He felt both Alysanne and Tanda tensing up at his statement. The former disliked when he complimented other women, the latter knew it was one of Januario's japes, tricks and traps, which she ought to completely ignore before he could set out a stingy remark on the contrast between her beauty and her intellect.
"The Trade Prince. You came this time, I see," she mused, looking at him with contempt. Januario wouldn't lie if he said he'd failed to make himself present in every audience Lady Tanda personally requested; the Lady took that as another slight against her. "You must be hard-pressed, looking for this Zeal character," she said and laughed with mischief, but Januario only kept his slick grin up, revealing none of his thoughts. He would let Alysanne handle that.
"My Prince was just bored so he went out for a walk, and we came upon your palace," the beautiful Mienshao purred, her hand stroking his back gently. Nice feeling, having a woman do that when another one was watching. Lady Tanda glanced at Alyssane briefly with a flash of jealousy in her eyes that the Trade Prince didn't miss. Of course, she could not simply accept the fact that Alysanne was one step from becoming more powerful than Lady Tanda herself. All she had to do was marry Januario.
"Indeed, boredom is my most fearsome enemy," the Pikachu agreed coolly. He helped himself on the cookies from the table, taking a handful and enjoying Lady Tanda's reaction to his intentionally bad manners. One of the cookies flew up immediately, not in his mouth, but in the air, as if possessed by an unseen energy. It floated there for a second before it got shot in the shadowy corner behind Januario, where Sigmund was floating calmly. Januario waited a bit, staring at Lady Tanda, before asking, "how was it, Sigmund?"
"Poison-free," the bodyguard declared steely, his alien, psychic voice piercing the silence of the night.
"Just the way I like my cookies," Januario laughed and fed Alysanne one of them. She threw him the look of innocence he loved about her as she ate it. He chomped down on one too, and then another one, without bothering to give his host any attention. The Gothitelle was seething, her face twisted in anger, making her features look appalling. This behavior was intentional. It was a show of power play he and his bunch had made up to make the Lady of Skyhaven look like a fool. Perhaps it was Januario compensating for Tanda's actions that caused him inconvenience through the course of years. First bribing his men to compromise the black market he had so nicely set up in Skyhaven, then accusing him of incompetence in the Court of Winds and demanding his suspension. She wanted him so badly out of the city and the Council, she had gone as far as trying to assassinating him, early on, when she thought of him as another stuck up successful entrepreneur. But Januario had proven far more than that... Tanda was the reason he hired Sigmund. Ever since then, there had been no more assassinations. One did not simply reach him with Sigmund around, and if they did, they'd be in a psychic prison cage before they knew it.
Finally, the Trade Prince decided to start a little chit chat, with his mouth full of chocolate. "On the matter at hand, If I may be so honest with you, my lady, whoever this Zeal is... I don't quite mind his work, so to speak." He did mind his work, at first, but as politics change in a flash, so too must a Trade Prince rearrange his plans for dominion. Pierce had helped him with that... that fellow, Pierce, had also advised him that he needn't worry about the Council for the time being... "Surely, if you're any bit acute as everyone claims, you'd understand my reasoning."
"Welcoming war is treason, Januario," Lady Tanda warned him hotly.
"Treason?" Januario laughed with all his heart. It was a purposefully annoying laugh that echoed all throughout the palace's walls. "Against whom? The King? Shall I apologize to that King, then? Wait, are we talking about the same King who'll be waging that particular war?" He and Alysanne burst into laughter. Seeing her expression, he decided to get a bit more serious before Sigmund had to pulverize his assassins. He cleared his throat, looking up at the tall Gothitelle. "Welcoming it or not, I had no hand in starting it, and I will have none in stopping it either. I apologize for that," he said, his voice hinting a small shard of sarcasm. Looking at her carefully, he could tell what she was thinking.
Is that an implication of me helping the King destroy the city? No, my lady, that is quite foolish of you to think. I'm as much a Lord of this city as you are a Lady. "I hear a new Ambassador will be arriving shortly," he spoke again swiftly, before she could react. "New Ambassador means new terms. Terms quell wars. These terms, at least. If you truly wish to see the city intact by the end of this madness, you would agree to whatever this Ambassador will bring us."
The Gothitelle stared at him silently, sullenly. Perhaps she was suspicious. Was the mighty Trade Prince up to something? Had he something in mind about these new terms? Did he know something she did not?
"Who is the new Ambassador, Januario?" she asked, having regained her calm. Januario rewarded her with a shameless shrug.
"How the hell should I know. But I propose you guard him better than yourself, because if he's taken out as well, holy mother, we'll be wholly destroyed. I'll survive, I know how to survive. But you... the Lords and Ladies of the Council won't die, no. He'll take you to Zalphar prison where the only form of entertainment is torture."
"Tis true, milady," someone said. He was standing still as a statue in the room all this time. It was a heavily muscled behemoth, a Conkelduur wearing spiked tristanite shoulderpads and braces, Cyalan garments that made him look fearsome and imposing. His face was rough and raw with scars, a face worn with age but with a spark of wild beauty in it still. That was Ser Tavalis, a knight of Tanda's household guard. Alysanne would often quip about Tanda seducing Ser Tavalis when privacy allowed. Sigmund had once said he could lift the Conkeldurr in the air like a sock puppet and impale and choke him with his own shoulderpads.
Ser Tavalis's red eyes brimmed with confidence as he looked at his lady, still kneeling. "I shall protect with the Ambassador as I have protected you. As for Zeal, you need not worry, for I will deal with him too."
"Ser, you are ever so gallant," Lady Tanda smiled at him, her face lit up with a spark of attraction; these things didn't escape Januario. However, they made him quietly pretend he was puking next to his pillow. Alysanne giggled quietly.
"Music to my ears," Januario chuckled, then suddenly got a formal expression going on. It was one of those 'I'm making fun of you' expressions that allowed the message to go unnoticed. "Go, then, and honor us all." He turned to Lady Tanda, "we are done, then."
Alysanne lifted him off the pillow and left the chamber, followed by the big shadow of the bodyguard.
The Court of Winds, or otherwise known as Court Square, was overrun with Skyhaven's airborne cavalry. It was a tradition of Skyhaven to be guarded by winged creatures, who had come to be known as Winged Hussars. When the city was free of King Aion's grasp, the Winged Hussars were an important factor in the city's political affairs, as they had earned significant influence through their immense power and effectiveness in combat. The King had seen to it that that effectiveness had turned against them, when the city was drowned in smoke, 50 years back. He had killed off most of the proud cavalry, so now it had become a shadow of its former self - Pierce could see it just by looking at the Archeops and Sigilyph lolling about the square around the fountain. At one time, long ago, they would be standing silent and still as statues, or flying in circles above, guarding the ancient, sacred place that was rumored to be the true entrance to the Pinnacle.
In the middle of the Court of Winds, there was a statue of a dragon that poured water on it from his tail. History taught that it was Rayquaza, the guardian of the Sky Plate, who had last been seen a hundred years ago, after the Seal. The people of Skyhaven had built him a statue to honor his supposed vigilant watch over the city, profoundly ignoring the fact that Rayquaza had failed to appear to protect the city from the King's wrath. The statue was still majestic, though, and huge. Pierce needed to break his neck, figuratively speaking, to look up at the mighty dragon's head. The Gengar was currently pacing up and down, around the fountain, listening to the crystal clear water flow, and thinking, thinking. He had a withdrawn look on his face, his smile long vanished.
"Interesting developments," he said to one of the Winged Hussars.
"Nothing. Carry on." He kept pacing up and down the fountain, now staring at the water. Many kids liked to spend the summer in it, but the summer was now gone. They usually splashed around, but now it was empty... for Pierce to do with as he pleased. He leaped inside, having a serious look on his face, ignoring the Hussars that looked at him funnily. Hmm. He stuck out his long tongue and scooped up a mouthful of water. The water just ran down, slipping through his gaseous body as if he had never taken a sip, and splashing back into the fountain.
Curious, most curious. His thoughts were coming at a peak. He walked in the shadow the massive statue created against the sun. As he did so, the thin line that was his mouth soon widened into a cunning grin with bright, sharp teeth. I see.
"Hey, mister?" a girly voice asked. He jerked around, startled, losing his smile. It was a female Timburr, standing on the white marble of the square and carrying her stick as if it was some kind of toy.
"Hello, kiddo. What are you doing in a place like this?"
"I'm lonely. Waiting for my father to come."
"Hmm? Who is your father?"
"Ser Tavalis. Best knight in the world!"
Pierce snickered. Ser Tavalis. Like in business, I like branching it out... Ser Tavalis reached inside Lady Tanda's household. It would be fun if he could pull some tricks with him. He just had to play this right.
"Now, there are many knights in this world. What makes your daddy the best?"
"Well, first off," the Timburr spoke sassily, raising her finger, "he's the personal guardian of Lady Tanda, and he's never failed in his duties... and, and he's hunting down Zeal." She braided her hands together, dropping her stick and adopting a dreamy expression. "When he catches Zeal, he'll be number one," she hoped.
Pierce did not react for a second. His eyes flashed with cunning, his smile reflecting the sunlight. Ser Tavalis is the missing piece of the puzzle, perhaps... He jumped out of the fountain and revealed his suitcase. After rummaging a bit, he grabbed a Timburr doll, which he showed the little girl.
"Dolls are stupid," she declared, "I'd rather play with my stick."
"Aw, too bad. I like playing with dolls. You can do so many things with them. Oh, and that must be your father."
The massive Conkeldurr with the tristanite shoulderpads arrived in the square from the path that was leading to Lady Tanda's palace. The little girl ran up to him and hugged his waist. "Daddy!"
"Hello," Ser Tavalis greeted her happily, patting her head with his heavy palm. That made the Gengar's smile drop slowly, until it faded. The Conkeldurr's eyes went up to Pierce holding the Timburr doll; his look was mighty suspicious. "Haven't I told you not to talk to strangers?" the knight scolded her.
"Strangers are indeed dangerous," Pierce quipped subtly.
"He was just showing me a doll." That seemed to catch Ser Tavalis's interest. The huge Pokemon walked up to Pierce, towering above him and his opened suitcase. Glancing down, he noticed the Gothitelle doll, a finely sewn doll that resembled the real Pokemon perfectly. It was a masterpiece, an artifact, a treasure to Pierce.
"Nice doll," Ser Tavalis observed. "Is it for sale? I'd like to give it to my Lady. I am sure she has never again seen such handiwork."
Pierce almost laughed out loud, out of excitement. "You wanna give it to your lady?" he repeated. "Of course, just let me wrap it up. Keheh."
Tsulong stared at the imposing Charizard in awe. He couldn't be sure who he was, and he thought it inappropriate to just ask...Ser Raleigh's mouth curved into a small, warm yet wicked smile. Everything was wicked about him, even the blue flame at the tip of his tail. Tsulong had heard that Charizards' flames on their tail would burn hot blue when they were angry. However, Ser Raleigh's flames had not changed color once any time Tsulong had come across him. Might be he is always angry, he reflected worriedly. What if I'm right...? It all makes perfect sense...
"I see noble blood in you," Ser Raleigh told him. "Are you kin of some lord?"
Tsulong was taken aback from that comment. He just stared at him like an idiot. "What? No..."
"How can you be so sure, boy? Aion spreads bastards every time he sets foot outside Hellcrown."
The Arcanine laughed bitterly. "I didn't know my parents. Elder Durand claims a pirate ship left me in the shores of Fenju, but he cannot be sure either."
Ser Raleigh gave him one of his long, searching looks. "Have you ever heard of Scorpius?"
Tsulong blinked. "The pirate? The Monster of the Twelve Seas, right?"
"The Terror of the Deep, the Watery Grave, and oodles of other nicknames of such nature. Queer thing was, he was a fire type. A ferocious one at that, too. And he was of noble blood."
Tsulong took his eyes off the Charizard, for he could not bear to look at him anymore. He poked at the grass in front of him and licked his nose briefly. "I heard he had vanished."
"Indeed. Took his ship to the west, to journey the First Sea. The last Altica saw of him was on its west shores. He raided fishing town after fishing town, seemingly gathering supplies. The First Sea is as dangerous as big, so I assume he wanted to cross it... but I have no idea what he might have hoped to gain. Foreign riches, perhaps?"
Ser Raleigh paused for a moment, then turned to face him with the same smile. "No use digging into the past. The present is what matters. I trust you will be discreet, Ser Tsulong."
"I am no ser," Tsulong said stubbornly, snapping out of his thoughts.
"You are, now. You will use 'Ser' from now on," Ser Raleigh commanded intently. His tone had something that made Tsulong feel unable to protest. Suddenly, Ser Raleigh spread his wings and took off, leaving a cloud of dust behind him, leaving Tsulong to sit in the grass, pondering on what had just went on. Was he under the service of the 'true King' now?
I'd better get to the streets. There is a carnival to celebrate the Seal, when the Days of the Storm come to an end. And I'll keep my thoughts to myself about Ser Raleigh. Having a big mouth can be fatal, when it gets you tangled into the affairs of Kings...
The Arcanine was pacing contently and confidently through the streets, the wounds from Duskwood having healed by now. But having a stroll in Skyhaven was the best medicine. It was a great feeling, seeing all these people in a celebrating mood. A great change from all the rush of battling and the rage for slaughter.
When he reached the main street, he realized it was packed with people. A huge crowd in his way, music playing; violins and trumpets. Something was going on... he jumped on a roof and looked down. It was a parade. The carnival at the end of the Days of the Storm, a celebration for the legendary Feuding Giants that fought for the fair maiden, the sky. The sky's Paragon also appeared in the form of cloth. Some Pokemon were walking in the middle of the street, dressed as Rayquaza, his tail as long as one fifth of the whole main street of Skyhaven. The Winged Hussars, Archeops and Sigilyph, soared the skies in unison and dove to the crowd occasionally, which gave cheers of excitement and shouts amazement. Some Loudreds on the streets were singing that folk song on Guardian's ghost radio station.
And speaking of Guardian, here he was, flying in the sky towards Tsulong. He landed with a thud next to him on the roof of the house, his turbines becoming hands and legs. "The Chronicler of Tales has put a tracker on us," Guardian said, "this one was able to use Reginard's ability to his advantage."
"So that's how you found me," Tsulong said absent minded, his eyes at the fuss below still. The Golurk was staring at it too. After a while of silence, he spoke in his deep, robotic voice.
"This one worries about the Sky Plate," he confessed. "Elder Durand has warned this one about the treachery of Skyhaven's Council. This one is convinced they will do anything necessary to keep the Plate in the city."
Ser Tsulong laughed. "Calm yourself. If the Council is treacherous, Januario is the most treacherous of them all, and he's on our side," he said naively. Guardian did not move or respond anyhow. "Besides, we've got more pressing matters to deal with. Personally, I want to look for this Zeal."
"This one inquires for the reason. Zeal is a murderer. What he did to the Cyalan embassy was not honorable. Not clean work."
"I guess, but lots of us work in different ways. I just want to see if he's truly our enemy... and if not he is not our enemy, whose enemy he is."
Vash the Bullet
The transaction went off smoothly. A Sableye, quiet the haggler indeed had tried to squeeze variable amounts of money from the Bullet. Not one to tricked Vash cleanly negotiated a price he decided to pay. A sturdy, gray traveling belt that had an etch that would normally display precious jewelry. Vash however, fitted his float stone into the pocket. Satisfied and about to flap off, a large passerby Sceptile topples onto him. Not quite prepared for the collision, he struggled to keep his balance on his small feet.
"Sorry," The Sceptile said, turning to apologize to the Crobat.
"Not to worry," the Bat assured brushing himself off. "I understand it was an accident. The name is Vash." He then noticed the Sceptile was staring at his his float stone. "Yes this is a float stone." As if anticipating a question, Vash went on to answer it. "No I didn't buy it from here. I've had this for a very long time. Actually I came he looking for a sturdy new belt to hold it in...", he pointed to the band around his lower mid-section. "Of which I am wearing..." The Crobat paused for a moment, scrutinizing the grass type. "Are you new around here? I ask because Pokemon of Skyhaven usually know where to find and sell their merchandise around this District like clockwork."
Zi-Zi's Journey - Lindsey Stirling
Elizabeth The Deceitful
Elizabeth let out a small sigh as she eyed over the contents on the shelf. Various bottles and knickknacks lined each one, the prices for each item varying to remarkably cheap to very expensive. However, nothing on the shelves of the shop really seemed to be catching her eye as something she absolutely needed to have. A disappointed sigh escaped her lips as she turned and looked down at a rather nauseated Meowth, who looked as if he was in a great deal of pain as he held his paws over his eyes.
"Are you sure this is all you have...? You said that there were rare treasures and the like that you could find here that were no where else..." the Roserade asked. She walked over towards the downed Meowth and prodded him gently with her foot. "Unless you had a special sale or something of the like lately, I'm afraid I just don't see it..."
The only response she received from the cat Pokemon was a small, painful sounding groan. It was slowly coming clear to Elizabeth that the shopkeeper was going to be of absolutely no help in this situation. Another sigh escaped her lips as she knelt down to the Meowth and began to rummage around some of the pouches that he had resting around his hips.
"Well... I was hoping to truly find something nice... But since that seems to not be happening, I guess I'll just have to help myself to a small fee on your behalf. Consider it a tax for telling me naughty lies, right?" Elizabeth told, not really giving him even a moment to respond... Not that the Meowth could.
A light-hearted giggle was heard in the shop from Elizabeth as she collected a rather nice amount of coin from the Meowth. She rose back to her feet and began to walk towards the back exit of the shop, but not before turning to the cat and giving him a small wink.
"Don't worry... You'll be back to your old self soon enough... Probably~" Elizabeth said with another giggle.
The Meowth only groaned in response, slowly trying to sit up before another sting of pain from the poison began to rush through the pit of his stomach. Elizabeth only smirked in response before she slipped out the back door of the shop, leaving as quietly as she had entered. The plant Pokemon gave the coin pouch a quick shake. It was not a great deal of coin, but it was enough to satisfy her... at least for the time being. Walking away, the Roserade slipped the stolen coins into a pocket on her belt. She calmly walked down the back street before casually slipping out into main road of the district.
"Well... that was a nice diversion, I suppose..." Elizabeth thought as she slowly began to blend in with the other Pokemon who happened to be walking along the street."Still... I should probably get back to work soon. Those plates aren't going to steal themselves..."
Vash the Bullet & Roscoe the Leech
"Ye could say that," Roscoe answered, readjusting the sack on his back. "Been awhile since I've last come here, so what I do know's a bit rusty." He gave a chuckle, glancing at the Crobat's belt again for a moment. "Funny thing is, a new belt's what I came for, myself."
"Quite the coincidence," Vash said simply. "A belt for what if you don't mind me asking?" The Crobat wasn't usually this actively sociable with strangers, but he felt it good to engage in some casual conversation after his time alone at the Pinnacle.
"Hm..." The Sceptile glanced over at the nearest stall, one claw rubbing his chin. "T' carry a certain tool in easy reach. A scythe hook. I don't have any real belts at the moment. You give directions this often?"
Vash shrugged. "Not really. I happened to run into someone who needed help and I accommodate." The bat turned around a few times trying to regain his sense of direction in the midst of all the commotion. Finally he lifted a wing in the same direction he referred the Dewott he met earlier. "Down that path is a shop managed by a Scyther and Weavile. Naturally I would assume they would have what you are looking for."
Roscoe nodded in reply. "All right, thanks, mate. Catch ya later, if luck runs that way." Grinning, he gave the Crobat's wing-joint a friendly pat before beginning to turn away. The Sceptile wasn't able to resist Draining a small bit of the Crobat's energy with the parting gesture.
"Oh?" The Sceptile stopped as he faced a Gardevoir that was watching him and the Crobat. "From what I hear," the Gardevoir continued, speaking in a male tenor voice, "that shop is rather pricey nowadays. Are you sure you're thinking of the right one, sir?"
"Hmm?" Vash looked puzzled. "I wouldn't know actually. I haven't been here in a week. I never had a problem with money anyway..." His eyes wander down seemingly lost. "What would be a better location to acquire a hook?"
Roscoe looked between the two other 'mons. "Ah, it--"
"Won't be a problem," the Gardevoir interjected smoothly, smirking slightly. "I merely spoke up because he--" He nodded slightly at Roscoe. "--doesn't look like the sort to have such funds." Looking him up and down, the Gardevoir's eyes widened slightly upon seeing the Leech Seed at Roscoe's neck. "Do you realize who this is?" he asked Vash, waving a hand at the Sceptile.
The Crobat straightened up, his attention piqued. "No, I don't." Vash began to scrutinize Roscoe. "Who is he?"
The Sceptile was slightly confused as well. "Name's Roscoe," he said slowly, eyes narrowed at the Gardevoir, who was now smiling as if he'd found a long-lost friend, or prey.
"Also known as the Leech," the Gardevoir added, a hint of excitement in his voice. "Granted, not really known if you haven't been around to listen, but there'd been word a few times during the last three years of the Leech doing some headhunting contracts, starting here in Skyhaven. And he was successful at all of them!"
"..Headhunting contracts..?" The Bullet looked at Roscoe with very serious, piercing eyes that were not present before. "What is he talking about??"
Now this stranger was just plain suspicious. Roscoe's friendly demeanor had vanished, leaving him to stare at the Gardevoir with narrowed eyes until the Crobat asked his question. "I only accepted a few bounties," the Sceptile explained, trying to downplay himself. "An' I made sure they were criminals or some such, that they actually deserved being hunted."
Turning his eyes back to the Gardevoir, Roscoe asked, "What of it, stranger?"
"Oh, that's right, how rude of me." The Gardevoir gave a small bow of his head. "You can call me Manley."
"Manly?" Roscoe covered his mouth with a claw, stopping a laugh from coming out.
Manley's smile disappeared. "No, Manley. Man-ley. But that's beside the point. It just so happens that I have a contract you could take. We can walk and talk."
Vash raised his wings in a silencing manner, issuing them both to halt. "I don't know what this is about, but this does not sit well with me. Skyhaven is already going through enough turmoil as it is for there to be talk of such business." The Crobat's took a small step towards the Gardevoir. "Now I demand you explain to me exactly what it is you are being so cryptic about."
Roscoe hadn't been about to just walk off even before Vash had spoken up. His arms were crossed as he waited for the Gardevoir's answer.
Manley looked down for a moment, not moving away from the Crobat's step. "Simple, really. I have a contract for a headhunter, and I just happened to run into you two, especially the Leech here. And don't worry, sir, chances are it would take him outside Skyhaven anyway. However, the details aren't meant for anyone but the contractor."
"Yeah, I get that part," Roscoe said. It was protocol, more or less, from what he remembered. Or was that some other rule he was thinking of? Either way, it was a bit surprising that the Gardevoir had brought up a contract at all when they were still in the street. His voice was colored with sarcasm as Roscoe added, "Hate t' bust your bubble, 'Manly', but I'm busy. Not takin' it."
Manley smiled slyly, ignoring the 'manly' jab. "If you say so." He waved a hand before turning and disappearing back into the crowd.
"I don't like bein' recognized by that name," Roscoe muttered, shaking his head as he turned back to the Crobat.
The bat looked in the direction the psychic type had vanished into the crowd and frowned. He then prromptly faces Roscoe again. "Well if that's the case, then there must be dark past behind such a regretable tittle."
"Eh, there isn't any one story b'hind it, if that's what you're wonderin'." Roscoe rubbed his head, frowning as he felt lightheaded for a few seconds. Should've eaten a real breakfast b'fore leaving. "By th' way, if you don't mind me askin', why confront him like that? I'm pretty sure city-folk don't usually appreciate a street fight."
Reflecting on his actions just moments ago, Vash too felt surprised he almost initiated a scene. After a moment he sighed and began to give an answer, "Well...I'm associated within the Skyhaven Council. Specifically I guard the Pinnacle of Skyhaven. I thought that such a shady character shouldn't have been ignored." He looked toward the sky and positioned his wings to take off. "Anyway, I've been within this district for too long. I must be off."
Roscoe's eyebrows rose. What a coincidence. "All right, then. Take care, sir." He waved a claw at the Crobat before turning away. "Wait up. That means you're the one who--"
Vash rose a wing interrupting him. "Please, I can't afford to waist any more time here. Take care." Without a second to spare, he rose into the air and was already on course to the Council in a flash.
"Huh. Who would've thought?" Roscoe watched the Pinnacle Guardian leave before rubbing his head again, walking in the direction of the shop run by the Scyther and Weavile. Yeah, he needed a meal soon, probably after getting a belt.
Zi-Zi's Journey - Lindsey Stirling
The Trade Prince and his associates were seated on the veranda, watching the Pokemon at the Court of Winds build up a stage. Other Pokemon had started to gather around for the show that was about to unfold, as a grand ending to the Days of the Storm and the carnival. The show would be the reenactment of the destructive event of the Seal, the cataclysm that shook Altica near ninety nine years ago.
Pierce could see the Court of Winds clearly, even if it was so far away. There were no other buildings between it and Januario's palace, only the circular water trenches that surrounded the Court of Winds. He looked at the massive, dark statue of Rayquaza briefly, thinking that's where the show would probably be set. He had already watched it though, so he quickly averted his eyes back to the letters on his desk in the veranda. I have work to do, he reminded himself, having a mischievous grin. He grabbed his quill with a theatrical move and slowly brought it upon the surface of the paper... then started writing furiously.
"Aren't you going to watch the show, Grinface?" That's what Alysanne had taken to calling him. Pierce looked behind him, to see her seated in a giant red cushion, with the Trade Prince sleeping gently on her lap. The beautiful Mienshao was growing bored of her Prince's silence, so she had to torture somebody. And Sigmund was too smart to let her. She hadn't tried her luck with Pierce, yet... Pierce almost laughed.
"I have watched it already," Pierce said cheerfully. "Besides, I have important work to do."
"What work is that? All you do is scribble stuff."
Pierce flashed her all of his teeth in a smile with an edge that cut like a knife. "Did you think raw power is what wins wars? No... sometimes, all you need is quill and papers." He winked at her slyly. And cunning. But I'd best not remind them of my title. Alysanne seemed confounded for a brief second. He put his pencil down, deciding to play a bit. "Here," Pierce said, reaching down his suitcase; he flung something at her, which she caught easily. She stared at it in wonder.
"I'm so beautiful," she declared, looking into the small mirror within the golden frame. Indeed, you are, Pierce agreed. But that thing should teach you some humility. That mirror showed the image of Pokemon as they thought they were. Alysanne thought she was beautiful, so the mirror exaggerated on her image, showing her even more beautiful. However, the results were catastrophic if the one looking into the mirror thought they had ceased to look beautiful... for the mirror exaggerated ugly looks as well.
"Consider it a gift from me," Pierce said in a friendly tone that revealed none of his intentions. In fact, he was rubbing his hands mentally. "Keh... I met Faolan this morning," he said, pretending to be busy with dipping his quill into the ink pot. He instantly felt her eyes on his back. "He seemed strange, to say the least. But I like him, and I don't want to be seeing him in such a strain. I'd hoped you'd... help him get over it?" He knew, of course, that she wouldn't help matters any. If anything, her action was bound to make matters much worse... but for whom? Faolan... or Alysanne? Pierce gritted his teeth together in a mischievous grin, trying not to laugh.
"Oh, I'll help him forget all of his problems," Alysanne giggled, oblivious to Pierce's plotting.
"Hmm?" The Trade Prince was awake. Pierce pretended to be writing.
"My Prince," Alysanne said gently. "I... umm, I just remembered something. I have to go..."
Pierce heard her get up and exit the palace's veranda. He also heard the ominous sound of Sigmund's gravitational walk as he stepped out of the shadows. The courtesan was well out of hearing range when he spoke. "Client, your courtesan has left the building."
"Where could she be going?" Januario mused, staring at the constantly darkening sky, absent minded.
"I can find out." The Reuniclus said. Pierce had a suspicion, like Sigmund. She is going to make some mistakes with Faolan, Pierce thought.
"No," Januario ordered, "you stay here. And Pierce, you dumb clown, stop writing." He seemed to have forgotten of Alysanne. "Sigmund, Pierce, get closer. I want your counsel. I have a feeling things are going from worse to hell in Skyhaven."
"You have no idea," Pierce snickered quietly, heard and understood only by Sigmund. The bodyguard frowned greatly upon him.
"I have a bad feeling," Januario repeated grimly again, "there's somebody out there who doesn't wish us to be well. About Zeal, we still haven't figured who it is and what he wants. I need to contact him, and I have found a way to do so."
Tsulong sat on his rear, warming up the street. He was watching the stage that had been set in the Court of Winds. The 'reenactment' of the Seal was about to start. Really, it was just a series of images produced some Zoruas and Zoroarks with wild imaginations. A Swanna was on the side of the stage, speaking with a soft voice that was heard all throughout the crowd that had gathered in the Court of Winds through the power of psychics. Tsulong looked at the crowd in wonder. All of Skyhaven has gathered to see this show. I've already seen it, though... they like to play it every year. Damn those people.
"... the King Varamyr the Faceless," the Swanna was speaking of. He knew of him, he knew all about this show. They would first make the setting, the situation in Altica, then jump into the events.
The images shifting; they became a golden throne room, the throne room of Cyala as it was a hundred years ago. On the throne was seated the cloaked figure of the Faceless King of the legend, the Dark Plate floating gently above him; King Varamyr had ruled both before and after the Seal, so this image had to be before the Seal, when the Plates were spread around Altica, for everyone to use. The King of Cyala had but one, the legendary Dark Plate, that "helped him wage war like no other, destroy and conquer like no other."
Varamyr the Faceless was King Aion's father, Tsulong knew. He had spent most of his teen years in Cyala, so his head was full of stories that were either legends, or defined the past... he never knew. But he knew this.
The seemingly never-aging King had ruled for a hundred years, fifty before and fifty after the Seal, before he had vanished abruptly. No one was allowed into Hellcrown at that period, not even servants, for he did not require aid or seemed wanting of luxuries. It was said the only thing Varamyr the Faceless did was sit on his throne, silently, watching the paintings of the throne room or admiring his Dark Plate. He did not eat, nor feast, he did not laugh, but he waged war on the city states of Altica with the slightest excuse. Despite that, he himself had not ever been seen to battle. So, naturally, it was said he was weak. There was a point in history when one of his lords had challenged him to a duel for the throne, accusing him of being meek and feeble, while sending people to die in his name. The King had used the power of the Dark Plate; there are many ending to this tale, from this point. Some claim the lord was seen fighting with himself until he died. Others say nothing was left of him but ash, when the Plate's power overwhelmed him. And others say King Varamyr destroyed him utterly by speaking a single word. Whatever the case was, nobody dare question his rule ever since.
He had taken no bride, and fathered no children officially. There were legends of various paramours which he gained whilst visiting other cities, though. One day, many years after the Seal, he was not alone in his castle. He had a son, a little Tepig. Varamyr had once said to his lords that Arceus had gifted him with a son to use, even though he was not planning on stepping down the throne; regardless, that was long after the Seal, and the Swanna kept talking...
The image zoomed right into the cloaked figure's face. It was a strange sight, Tsulong couldn't tell what kind of Pokemon it was beneath that cloak. He didn't seem to match any normal body type. Looks like the Stranger a bit, Tsulong reflected, but when he compared the cloaks, he knew they were different. The Stranger's was pure black, while King Varamyr's was grey, worn out and old. Plus, the Stranger was significantly taller and he did have an eye. Varamyr had none.
"The Dark Plate seemed to be growing stronger with each year of blood being shed on the fields of Altica. So much chaos, malice and evil brought the King's power to a peak, together with his lust for blood. It led him to war against the people he had already conquered, starting wars and breaking peace treaties for imagined slights, excuses for more slaughter. King Varamyr had been crazed by power, and he sought to dominate over the only people in Altica who had managed to stay free of his rule - the Fenju," the Swanna said, "The Faceless King had no luck in his conquest at first - it seemed he could not accomplish what his ancestors sought to, to dominate Fenju. But this constant war, this conflict was feeding the dark. That is what dark is made of, grief, strife, malice, chaos, evil. All the traits of a proper war. Seeing that King Varamyr was using the Dark Plate in such way, the leaders of other nations took to using the power of other Plates to protect themselves, or go as far and use them in a destructive way. Our world had gone to utter chaos, and the point of no return was near... until the Paragons of the Plates decided to act."
An immensely huge Rayquaza appeared above the crowd, coiling his body and dropping his jaws in a Hyper Beam that was shot to the skies in a show of power. "The Paragons gathered people of their element as their followers. Fifteen tribes with the Paragons as leaders were formed for every element... except the dark one. The Paragon of the Dark was the only Paragon who defended Arceus's power, claiming it had best stay in this world along with his Plates. He was fond of the growing power of his own Plate, is what we say.
After the fifteen Paragons procured every other Plate of Altica, either by sharing their conviction, or by force, they set out to Cyala for the Dark Plate. Their battle for the last Plate marked the start of the Seal, one of the most bloodied battles in the history of Altica... but the Paragons succeeded in retrieving the Plate, while the Paragon of the Dark fled.
The Paragons and their tribes, the 'heroes' as the people of Altica had started calling them, arrived in Fenju, to enter the Sanctum of the Original One, where our Lord Arceus dwelt, with the Paragon of Dark at his side, to help defend him. They would seal this destructive power, for no one else to use, ever."
The stage showed the image of the Original One, the one and true God... with the Paragon of the Dark next to him, nothing but a shady figure bathed and cast aside by His light. "It was not Arceus's will to have his power sealed, and the defiance the Paragons showed him was to be punished... by death. So, they fought. The epic battle that followed shook the very foundations of our world, for powers beyond everyone's grasp were used. The city of Fenju was ravaged by wind and thunder and torrential waters, Altica shaken whole by earthquakes. Three days and three nights it raged, when at last, our Lord succumbed to the powers of the Paragons and the heroes... the Paragon of Dark fled once again, it is said, abandoning the God to his fate. His power was sealed, eight of the Plates placed upon the altars, their rightful places in the Sanctum, providing enough power for the Seal to last. The other Plates, sent to every corner of Altica to be guarded by the heroes who had survived the Seal. Our Sky Plate was returned here in Skyhaven, where it always belonged..."
Whew, Tsulong thought. He hadn't heard of this tale in quite a while. There were some crucial details that these people did not know, though. The elements were the building blocks of matter, and without the Plates coordinating and directing them, they would soon falter... With the power of Arceus sealed, the world had started drifting apart, so Elder Durand was saying. That was why he had sent them on this quest to gather the eight missing Plates and return them to the Sanctum of the Original One. That was why they fought, to bring the Plates together once again; Durand had showed them the future, what would happen should the heroes fail to break the Seal. Every one of them would die, the world would burn and drift apart, and King Aion would still be seated in the Cyalan throne, ruling a desolate Kingdom in the ashes of a destroyed world. To protect the future of this world, this I have set out to do.
Faolan watched the reenactment of the Seal from the top of a hill. Most of it was images according to the Swanna's speech... it could have very well been without the images, in Faolan's opinion. He watched it anyways. It was amusing, but the fact that it was so wrong brought him a feeling of desperation he had only felt in his younger years, when he was lost in this massive continent with nowhere to go and no one to look up to. He felt uncomfortable, knowing how wrong and clueless these people were. They thought that with Arceus's power sealed, the world was fine, but Durand had proven otherwise with the visions of the future he had showed them. This tale is fancy, but pitifully lacking, he decided. They are not aware of the full truth... should they be judged as fools, then?
He rubbed his forehead, staring grimly at the crowd below him, when he felt hands sneaking up around his neck. That soft touch could only belong to Alysanne, though he was startled to realize she had approached him so quietly. He scolded himself for not sensing her aura sooner. "I finally found you," the courtesan purred, hugging him. Faolan found himself thinking of ways he could break her arms, but he made no move, to his utter shame, he made no move. He kept his guard up, though. If she tried anything, he would have her thrown fifteen feet away into the crowd. But that intimate contact felt too good to be stopped... somehow, he couldn't quite recall the last time he had been in a similar situation.
"Watching the show, hmm?" she cooed in his ear. He nodded slowly, feeling her hot breath on his fur. "I had other forms of entertaining in mind." What in the world does she want? Faolan was sick of this despicable worship of flesh a courtesan was offering. He would rather have a meaningful relationship with a respectable, normal person... yet his body was betraying him, as the courtesan had said. He couldn't see her as she stood behind him, but her touch was that of an expert's. He abruptly broke it.
"Do me a favor and keep your fantasies to yourself. Your hands as well." Turning to her, he expected her to pretend to be sad, but she...
Alysanne pounced on him and they rolled further downhill together, landing on a fat grass patch that cushioned their landing. Faolan gritted his teeth in anger and shot himself up from the ground. Alysanne was laid on the grass like a goddess would be seated in a cloud. It didn't look as if she'd just rolled on the ground, it looked as if she had planned to land there. She watched him in a seductive little smile that made the devilishly beautiful features of her face look innocent.
"Faolan?" she said, looking up to him. Had she planned this? Faolan couldn't help but wonder. The thought of dropping back on the ground to lay with her crossed his mind, but he snapped out of it. She sounded so young and innocent, almost a teenage girl. How old was Alysanne? It then struck him that she must have been significantly younger than him.
"Damnit, woman. Must you persist? I told you no, a hundred times no."
"Why? Don't you find me... beautiful?"
"No," Faolan lied, but he stated it steely. It didn't sound like a lie at all. "No, I don't. And stay away from me." He detected a trace of doubt in her red eyes. She threw him one of those cooing, submissive looks that made him look away instantly, for fear that he might succumb.
What does she want? Faolan wondered again. What had Pierce said about her? The Trade Prince has not set her up to this. Could it be that she wants me? If that is the case... "I'm old enough to be your father," he reminded her, though he immediately regretted doing so. He did not owe her an excuse, nor was it his place to soften his rejection.
She tensed, losing a bit of her smile. "It's alright," she said, a bit more serious this time. "You do remind me of my father. Always so uptight... always so valiant... but he was giving, you're not." She giggled.
"I do not understand."
She giggled melodically again. That sound was bound to make him go insane... for her. "Nor should you. Else I'll never get my chance at you."
"You never had a chance to begin with," he lied again, but she couldn't see through it. Her face darkened. "You're a courtesan, and I do not lay with courtesans. I am wasting my time here," he declared, and left. Her last look that he glimpsed stated she had not expect things to go this way. Faolan was trying too hard not to look back... she is the ultimate test of my discipline, he kept telling himself, shutting his eyes. Was. I will never talk to her again.
Reginard and Pierce: A... explosion of sorts
Reginard slowly made his way through the city, frowning as the various festivities went on. Although everyone was happy, he was far from feeling any sort of joy. These people have no idea what is happening out there, they have no idea what is at stake! He thought to himself angrily. Oh no, just party all day and dance around like fools. No wonder Emil left the city. With so many acting this foolish it was no wonder he had left. Emil knew what was coming, and Reginard could only hope that he stay out of any trouble.
He paused when he heard excited shouts all over the city with various mon running pass him to where they were setting up. Now that he thought about it, that was actually a good place to go to. Of course! If a new ambassador was being chosen, where else would he make his speech? In front of millions already gathered! Reginard grinned and ported over to a spot he remembered. It wasn't in the stands with the rest of the citizens, oh no, he was some distance away, a spot where he could get a good view of the crowds.
He quickly began to sweep his gaze among them, looking for Zhao or anyone else that stood out as a body guard to him. At first he was patient, looking over the various mon. Once or twice he thought he had caught sight of him... but upon a more focused inspection he would turn his gaze away. As the play went on he found himself drowning out everything around him. His whole focus was on this task here, and he was failing at it. The seconds ticked by and he felt like exploding out on something. Where was Zhao!? He should have been here... or it would be after the play!
Of course! Wait till the play was done and go on stage from the back! Ingenious! So, he waited patiently. He waited through the mountain of dialogue and images and as soon as they were finished he watched... and watched.... and then he started to get more angry. The crowds were still tightly packed as ever, yet there was no sign of Zhao! He muttered to himself as he looked about left and right, trying to catch a sight of him in the crowds and failed. Despite looking over every face, every single one, there was no Zhao! This was taking too long. He couldn't wait for the play to be finished, if he did then Zhao himself would no doubt be lost by that time!
He gripped his head, his eyes starting to glow blue as he was about to just punch out psychic energy into the air.... and then a thought hit him. The energy dissipated around him as he remembered what Vincent had told him. Pierce was with the Trade Prince at the moment! If he was in with that guy, then he would be able to get an audience with the Prince himself! Reginard rubbed his hands together as he began to think of his words and what to say. Yes... he could do this, he had to do this!
Reginard sighed as he ported once more, back to where he knew the Prince's palace was. He had never entered the palace before, but he warily made his way up the path, to the doors where he saw some guards.
"Halt!" One of the Bisharp guards snapped.
Reginard halted as he was approached. "What is your business here Alakazam? This is the Trade Prince's palace!"
Reginard nodded, "Yes I know. I must talk to the Prince immediately. I have some information that will be of importance to him... and likewise he has information I could use."
The guard frowned at that, "And what information is this?"
Reginard narrowed his eyes, "I cannot say. It's very secret."
The Bisharp turned to the other guard. The other Bisharp went into the palace, "We'll see what the Trade Prince says then." The Bisharp said. "However, if he denies your request and you attempt to go see him, know that we will take action against you."
The other Bisharp came back out a while later and whispered into the other guards ear.
Reginard coudn't help but form a smug grin as the guard nodded, "You are allowed inside Alakazam. A guard will escort you to the Prince himself."
Reginard quickly moved past the Bisharp and inside to run into yet another guard. "This way Alakazam." The guard said sternly. With that Reginard was led through the palace, though he wasn't in the mood to take in all the riches that dotted the places he was led into. Finally a door was opened and he walked out into the balcony. He spied both Pierce and the Prince there and slowly walked up. "Trade Prince... we must talk."
"Oh," the little Pikachu exclaimed, "hello, Reginard. I hope you didn't find your accomodations in Skyhaven wanting." He said it as a courtesy, which wasn't like him at all. Pierce waved his hand to greet the Alakazam; Sigmund had crept up behind him, in case Reginard was up to something.
Reginard frowned as he felt a psychic presence come up to him, but never the less he talked. "So... if you haven't heard a new ambassador is coming into town." He frowned, "I'm not sure if he is here yet, but I presume you would know, so I will ask only once, tell me where he is."
"New ambassador, yes," Januario said, nodding, "I heard the news. Don't know who he is as of yet.. nor where he'll reside. Listen, we were kind of in the middle of something here, with my associates, so how about you..." he gestured his hand towards the door two times.
Reginard was a bit surprised that Januario, the Trade Prince himself!, had no idea who the ambassador was. All the while he ground his teeth and he gripped his staff tighter. "Oh? So you don't even know who he is eh!?" He asked with a angry tone. "You mean to tell me that I know exactly who he is and you don't!? Fat chance!" He narrowed his eyes, "Now tell me, where is he!? I know you know everything! So don't f***ing lie to my face!" His eyes began to glow a blue hue as his anger rose. In fact the nearby cushion began to slowly rise up in the air.
The moment the cushion was lifted into the air, it was shoved back down and Sigmund put his arm on the Alakazam. "I suggest you be quiet," the Reuniclus said. Pierce raised both his arms.
"Gentlemen, calm yourselves," the Gengar called out, "Reginard, come with me." He took Reginard to another balcony, where they were alone. Only the fuss of the crowd and the Swanna's voice in the show sounded from afar. Pierce looked him in the eye. "You know who the new ambassador will be?" he questioned gently, having no smile on his shady face. He seemed rather interested to know.
Reginard closed his eyes, silent for a moment, "Yes... and I know that he knows where the ambassador is!" He snapped angrily. "You know too! I know you do Pierce!" He narrowed his eyes, "I am not one to fall for you tricks! I know what angle you're working for!"
Pierce regarded him carefully. "I am working for us heroes. We should be working together. As for the ambassador, trust me, nobody knows who he is. Not even Tanda. Not even Lyra, not even Zygon, none of the high lords of the Council."
At that Reginard burst into loud, very sarcastic laughter, "Oh? Oh!? Am I supposed to think that I'm the ONLY ONE who knows then!?" He snapped angrily, that blue glow returning to his eyes. "You f***ing think that I don't know what's going on!? I see it you know! I see what you're pulling here Pierce! I know all about your 'cunning'! So, trying to be cunning here now are you!?"
He just laughed bitterly, "Oh that's a good one! No one knows but me! Then how does Zeal know huh!? How come he contacted me but not you!? WHY DIDN'T HE EVEN CONTACT YOU!" He shouted over to the Trade Prince. "That's f***ing right! I talked with him! I SAW him! And you know what, you all are leading me on a trail!" He glared at the Gengar, "I am far from stupid! I am not some idiot you can lead around like a puppet! Have you forgotten I am the psychic hero!? I haven't!"
"Zeal contacted you?" Pierce asked flatly, "what did he tell you? Did he tell you who the new ambassador is?"
A blue glow began to surround Reginard, "Oh? You haven't been listening at all have you!?" He snaped. "I just f***ing told you that he told me who the ambassador was! I am not some idiot! You and that Prince there have something going on! It's just like you ghosts... misdirect everyone around you! Why leave the forest!? Cause you KNEW what was going to happen there! You KNEW that he would come, that he would try and kill us!"
Pierce raised his hands, "no, no no no..."
He crackled with laughter, "Oh... oh I see it now. I was a fool for coming here!" He pointed a finger at Pierce, "If I see you around... if I so much as CATCH your presence around me or any of the other heroes... you better be ready to die." His anger had built up so much that any widows near the two quickly began to shatter one after another. "You hear me now Pierce!? I don't misdirect at all! And you'll be hearing no half truths! F***ing ghost." With that Reginard ported away. To where exactly? He didn't care. He just had to get away from that ghost.
Pierce was left breathless, staring at the spot where Reginard had snapped. Then he rubbed his chin thoughtfully, awkwardly staring off at somewhere. "Keh."
Elizabeth The Deceitful
In the far back of an alley, where light was scarce, there was somebody leaning against the dirty wall. A feline silhouette in a black cloak with golden runes running along the lining, he stood at five feet tall; eyes red as rubies beneath the hood. He seemed to be waiting... and waiting...
Quietly rummaging through a cabinet, Elizabeth sighed. For a city that has a rich history such as this, the Roserade was not having much luck uncovering anything truly worth its price in coin. She had managed to uncover a few knick-knacks here or there, but nothing that truly jumped out and screamed for her attention.
Not even given the contents of the cabinet her time, Elizabeth closed the doors to the piece of furniture and gazed out of a nearby window, down to an alley below. A look of curiosity graced her features as she noticed a hooded figure standing below the window. It was a rather... unique place for one to be standing to just pass the time... unless of course they happened to be in a profession similar to that of her own. Quietly, the Roserade opened the window and slipped out of it, in hopes of getting a better view of this individual and perhaps learning what he was doing in a place such as this.
She carefully climbed down to the alley below, making her way towards the individual. Elizabeth stayed close to the shadows of the alley as she moved forward, just in case the being was hostile or she was forced to make quick escape. Her toxic spikes were at the ready as she approached the man.
"You seem to be a bit lost, sir?" she asked, a small grin on her face as she spoke. "An alley such as this is not the usual place one comes to for passing time..."
The cloaked man jerked his body to face her, tensing up his whole body. "I pass my time however I like," he snapped angrily at her, then stopped to examine her. "Hey... are you? You're a thief, right, I know you... I know people, I'll have you know."
"Oh, my... I wasn't aware that I had reached such levels of fame~" Elizabeth said with a small giggle.
"Fame? Not near enough," the cloaked figure laughed. "I told you I know people. Heh. Anyways... you'd be willing to do something for me, for the sufficient amount of gold, right?" The person seemed tense and in a hurry, anxious for some reason. "I know you will, don't dare deny it. I'm dangerous." He pointed a dark claw at her. "If you don't do as I say, you'll die, I guarantee it."
"Well... when one's life is suddenly put on the line, mine in particular, it seems that I've little choice in the matter," Elizabeth sighed, crossing her arms. "Though I have to admit I am curious as to what this something is, sir... You have my ear."
"Alright, listen up, and listen well. I detest repeating myself. I also detest incompetence, so you'd best be successful in this." The red eyes beneath the hood blinked one time as he stared at her. He begun explaining what she had to do.
Skyhaven - R&L's ODEs
It didn’t take that long to find the shop he was looking for, situated between two others. Roscoe pushed the door open and stepped inside, eyes darting around. To the left was a counter, behind which sat a Weavile who looked up for a moment from inspecting her claws. The store itself had some shelves and racks that formed an orderly maze, displaying a wide variety of accessories, tools, and even a rack of weapons in one corner. Roscoe was reminded again that city-folk often went to great lengths in showing off or looking pretty. He would settle for something practical.
As he walked into one aisle, looking for belts, Roscoe saw a Scyther toward the back of the store. The mantis-like Pokemon’s wings were buzzing, keeping the Scyther in the air while he seemed to be looking at something or someone out of Roscoe’s sight. These aisles were slightly taller than him. The Sceptile shrugged and moved on from the tools he was standing beside.
A minute later, while Roscoe was nearing a shelf that might hold his quarry, the Scyther came around a corner toward him. “Welcome!” the Scyther buzzed, smiling as he raised a scythe, which was covered in a leather wrapping. “You’ve found R&L’s Odds, Deals, and Ends! Name’s Reinhold, and that over there is Liliya!” The Weavile at the counter raised a hand in recognition without looking. “What can I help you with?”
“Hey, there.” Roscoe waved in reply. “Yeah, I’m lookin’ for a belt, one tha—“
“You’ve come to the right place, then!” The Scyther beamed as he gestured for Roscoe to follow him two shelves down, where he waved a scythe to indicate the variety of belts on the shelf he stood beside. “We have this nice one, made of high-quality Tauros leather and fitted with genuine rubies!”
I doubt that. It looks like a fortune.
“Then there’s this one here, perfect for—“
“Thank you,” Roscoe said, overriding the Scyther a bit too loudly, “but I’m lookin’ for a simple, practical belt, one that c’n hold a scythehook.” His eyes were still on the belts, looking for one that wasn’t so gaudy. He didn’t look up as Reinhold, taken aback for a moment, recovered and rubbed his leather-bound scythes together.
“Hm, let’s see… Oh! I got it! This way, please.” Reinhold made sure he had Roscoe’s attention before leading him toward the back more. They stopped at a rack beside the weapons in the corner, where more practical accessories were displayed. Hanging from a couple hooks were the kinds of belts that Roscoe was looking for. “Here we go.” Reinhold gently tapped each belt in line to the side as he looked through, one eye measuring the Sceptile by sight. “Right off, I know of two specific belts here that would fit you, sir. Hm, where…?”
He didn’t get to finish as voices from the front of the store drew the Scyther’s attention. “Please excuse me,” Reinhold said, giving Roscoe an apologetic look. “I recognize them, and they aren’t exactly patient customers.” The Scyther turned and left, leaving Roscoe to look through the rack himself.
A few seconds later, Roscoe found what Reinhold had mentioned: a belt made of dark-brown leather with a simple tristanite buckle, some loops, and a pouch. He pulled it off the rack and measured it against himself. “Yeah, this’ll do just fine,” he muttered to himself.
“So it will.” Roscoe turned in surprise as the Weavile from the counter stepped past him, stopping at the weapons. Her voice had a thick accent, akin to Russian in our world, but not thick enough to make herself unintelligible. “Good for the job you have, yes?” Liliya added, picking up a dirk from the rack without pause.
After a moment of staring at her back, Roscoe slowly said, “Yes, it’ll fit me. My own business, though, Miss Liliya.”
The Weavile turned back to him, somewhat jerkily, and gave him a blank stare. “So you say. Whatever it may be, don’t. Fail.” Liliya pushed the dirk into Roscoe’s claws before walking back toward the counter, leaving a confused Sceptile behind. Looking down at the dirk, which sat in its own sheath, Roscoe could tell it had some real value and actually looked battle-worthy. In the pommel was a small emerald, the only obviously gaudy thing about the dirk.
Passing the Scyther and a few other customers, Roscoe walked up to the counter, where Liliya had returned to patiently waiting, one claw tapping the countertop. “I’ll take th’ belt,” Roscoe said, laying it on the counter. Beside it, he left the dirk. “B’ not that.”
“Sixty-three silver berries for the belt.” The Weavile took the gold coin that Roscoe fished out, exchanging it for thirty-seven silver coins. She then proceeded to wrap the belt and dirk in one package. Giving him another blank stare, Liliya added quietly, “Dirk’s yours. I won’t take no.”
Roscoe opened his mouth to argue, but one of two Machokes behind him said, “Hey, mind movin’ on, mister? We don’t have time t’ wait!”
Between the Weavile and the Machoke, Roscoe relented and took the package, leaving through the front door. “What was that all about?” he muttered, ignoring for now the Pokemon that rushed past him as they headed for the big event in the square.
The Cloaked Man
He was pushed in front of the golden throne. The cold presence was right behind him, the fiery one in front of him. It was a nightmare, a freakishly real nightmare, these things did not happen to people like him... the King Aion was sitting on his throne sagging on it. The crystal crown adorned his head, often licked by tongues of the flames of his billowing fiery beard. The Dark Plate floated right above it, darkness gathering around it, only to be lit by the King's fire. The cloaked man could feel the Plate's power radiating, pulsing like a living heart, enticing him to get closer. But a voice of reason inside him told him not to go for it. The last time he had gotten so near the Plate, he was nearly beheaded.
The Emboar cast his maroon gaze upon him. He felt a cold, cold hand on his shoulder, pushing him down abruptly, forcing him to kneel with such power that he bit deep into his tongue not to scream. The taste of blood filled his mouth.
"Eheh, heheh," the man coughed, glancing around dizzily, "heh, eheh..." he jerked behind him, to look up to that hooded black dread that loomed tall over him. The single green eye was fixed on him, sparkling with an unknown power, power he could feel from down there. I've never seen him like this. This isn't the Stranger I'd known. Subtle, mild maybe... weak, maybe... "What the hell did you do to me?" he demanded to know, groggily but with a hint of his past lord-like tone. He realized he sounded as if he had grown fifty years older. Whatever the Stranger had done to him, he would pay... he would have none of this disrespect. He had a name in Cyala. These people could not forget who he was unless they killed him.
The Stranger seemed not to hear him. The shadows around him were whispering... sighing... hissing, in a manner which could make a man go insane. "The King wishes to see you. No... not only him... I do, too."
"Wh-what?" He glanced at the King. Aion was sitting on his throne, silent and still as a statue. It was as if he was fixed on his throne. He didn't speak.
"I wish you would see me..." The cloaked man jerked at the Stranger, who was raising his black, dreadful claws slowly...
"Just kill me and be done with it," the cloaked man snarled, but it almost sounded as if he was begging. The Stranger removed his hood...
He was one of those beings of the dark. A fur paler than black, furry ears and elegant, spiky facial fur... a long, dark snout with a few sharp teeth... one green eye, disturbingly circular for its socket, sparkling like an emerald. The other socket was empty, black.
"What..." the cloaked man gasped in shock, a hand grabbing his chest. "Father?"
He woke so abruptly that he knocked his head on the top of the bench he was laying under. "Whoever had the notion to make this ceiling so low?" he complained loudly, before realizing where he was. Then he remembered why he woke up. "The Stranger," he gasped. Then he started laughing shrilly, a laugh that ended up in a crisis of him coughing uncontrollably. He was sick, to be sure. "Oh no, that's so rich," he coughed, "father is as dead as he can get. What a stupid thing to dream."
He got off underneath the bench, getting up to his feet. The alley was dark and deserted, everyone had gone to see the show. He grabbed his head in panic. The show! Then another thing came to mind. Reginard. He gritted his teeth and tightened his claws into fists, his anger rising up like the fireworks that would soon be lighting up the sky. That old dumb duff refused me... he didn't even know who I am.... I knew it right from the start that he was useless. So pathetic and useless. "What a pesky, petty and insignificant little bug you are," he said out loud, as if Reginard was in front of him. He made an image of the Alakazam with his imagination, then crushed him with a sucker punch. The image faded to nothing. "And yet you're tolerated... I can't forgive that. My colleague is too stupid and kind to see you've absolutely nothing to offer, that's all. I should've never, ever let you live. No, I'm not gonna kill you. I'm gonna break you, first."
Reginard sighed as he sat on the rooftop. He was quickly to glance between the entry to the city and at the show taking place near the square. He tapped a foot against the roof and closed his eyes, letting out a deep sigh of anxiety. He hadn't seen Zhao around at all, and yet he couldn't help but fear for what would happen. Every so often the thought of letting one of the others know entered his mind, but he quickly wiped it away. They couldn't know! If they knew, everything would be over. He rubbed his forehead and looked back at the entry way again. Zhao... where were you?
Suddenly, a dark voice boomed in his mind. Reginard... is this Reginard? I know it's you. The voice had a rude tone to it, a tone that he had heard before. It belonged to those highborn, spoiled children of the lords... whoever it was, he had linked their minds into a single telepathetic channel, somehow.
Reginard frowned when he heard the voice and he closed his eyes, And WHO is this? If you must know... I am busy at the moment. Make this quick... whoever you are. He replied just as rudely.
Busy disobeying me... I told you to tell the others about your findings. You're a disgrace to the psychics.
Reginard suddenly stood up and frowned, Zeal... you found me quite easily. It doesn't surprise me. You found me before... so you must have some link on me. He smirked to himself, Sorry I didn't follow your advice and ensure whatever plan you had get started successfully. I'm not one to follow orders, especially those from enemies.
You foolish imbecile. I wasn't your enemy till you decided to play detective... listen here, I'm giving you another chance. But if you don't do as I say, I'll start killing people. Right now. Look at the stage. That stupid stage they've set in the square, yeah. What do you see from up there?
Reginard was silent for a moment. A friend wouldn't threaten those he is trying to be friendly with. Your words already betray your true agenda. He glanced over at the stage. Yes... I see... the Swanna and some of those illusion foxes. The Zoroarks. I suppose you have a bomb set or such? Blow it up if I don't swear loyalty to you?
The channel was full of emotion for a moment. It was pure anger and so much hatred that the link overloaded for a second. Something had caused Zeal's anger to peak. Could it be Reginard's words? After a moment of silence he spoke, with a sweetened voice full of malice. "No, but I can do this."
Fireworks were shot in the sky, exploding to light it in all colors. It was a majestic, captivating sight, at first... until the fireworks that came after formed one word with their flames. Zeal. The flames were constantly brimming and roaring like a wild dragon. There was a terrifying voice that seemed to reach every ear in Skyhaven... repeating the word. Zeal. Zeal. Zeal. Screams broke out in the square. The crowds started panicking and going insane, the people on the stage started jumping off. Something was hanging heavy from one of those poles that carried the Skyhaven flag, right above the spot where the Swanna had been speaking earlier.
... it was a giant Pokemon that had appeared out of nowhere, as if it was concealed from sight before. Taking a closer look, one could see it was disembodied, its limbs and torso connected with thin wires, limply waving with the wind ... the spotlight of the stage somehow fell onto it, dispersing the dusk. Now it was clear that that Pokemon was a Golurk. It was hanging from the pole like a puppet, with the strings attached right through his body, to connect its hands and arms with his torso. The spark of life Golurks showed in their body's runes had gone, it was dead.
That Golurk had three words carved onto his chest that glowed golden and red in the fireworks: Obey, Serve, Protect.
Reginard: It's the annoyances that count
See? See what happens when you defy me. Look at him! That's Guardian, your dear friend. Eheh, he coughed briefly. He died because of you. You killed him. That's what everyone will know...
Reginard was silent now, I never touched him. How...? It seemed Reginard's head was trying to wrap around what had happened. Guardian was with the others... this wasn't him. It couldn't be... Reginard was silent for a moment, and then he sat down. It was taking all of his training not to cry, but he knew how to one man him up. He gathered his mind... everything that Zeal had told him... all of that dream. Funny thing... about memories, they are easy to plant... In that moment all those memories he had bundled quickly disappeared, scattered into tiny pieces and shredded to the finest detail and swept out of his mind, And likewise easy to get rid of. No longer do I remember what you told me Zeal, all of it, every single detail is gone. So tell me... is it worth it now? Now, no matter how many people you kill... I can't remember. I never can remember what you told me in that dream now. Are you satisfied at last?
The breath of the other person on the line seemed to have ceased. He was startled. The channel was suddenly full of frustration. I told you to tell others about Zhao... didn't I?, he added reluctantly, as if he couldn't remember himself.
At that Reginard smirked from his end. Did you? Honestly, I can't remember.
Come over here then, so I can pluck those memories out and make you relive them a hundred times, Zeal screamed like a madman, his voice enhanced, distorted with anger.
Reginard stood up and brushed a tear from a cheek. I have far more important things to do Zeal than attend to you. Mayhap if you find a young pokemon, they will take pity on you and decide to come. For now, I have a friend to bury. Maybe I'll see you sometime later, maybe I won't. I really don't care at this point. My anger... my sadness... it's all so numb. I truly feel nothing right now... maybe it's for the best. He quickly ported through the confusion, onto the very palce where Guardian's body hung. He placed a hand on his friend's chest and sighed, Goodbye Zeal. With that he ported once more with the body, to attend to a dear friend's needs.
Elizabeth, The Deceitful
Elizabeth quietly crept through the garden of Januario's palace. With most of the town busy with the show, sneaking into the garden was a cakewalk. Now, it was only a matter of getting into the trade prince's palace and getting the job done. Elizabeth stayed low, taking care to check around carefully before she approached a nearby wall to the palace.
The wall itself was covered in vines of sort. Elizabeth had enough knowledge of plants, being one herself, to know that it was a poisonous ivy, one that most Pokemon would do best with avoiding contact entirely. Luckily for her however, the poisonous plants were not an issue. Grabbing hold of the ivy, she tugged on the plant to check its stability before she began to scale her way up the wall.
The view of the Trade Prince's palace from up the wall was gorgeous. The garden was full of trees that bore all kinds of fruits; some plants were trimmed in such ways that they represented Pokemon. A big tree was shaped like an Azumarill and two lesser ones her children, two Marill. They were next to a pool with a rich, white marble coating and crystal clear waters that were poured by a statue of a beautiful female Mienshao. The garden was empty but of two Bisharp guards by the entrance to the grand palace, but as the sky was quickly darkening, it would be hard for them to detect her while sneaking through. Most of the windows of the palace were shut, but one of them, up in a balcony was wide open.
"Looks like that's my way in..." Elizabeth mused as she eyed the balcony. The Roserade quickened her pace as she scaled her way up the wall towards the destination in question. A mischevious smirk graced her lips as she nimbly climbed. "Security seems pretty lax... Guess that's something that'll come to bite this guy later..."
With ease Elizabeth reached the balcony. While she had done well to not be spotted so far, this job was only just beginning. She still had quite a bit of work ahead of herself, and she quickly calmed down. After all, the inside of the trade prince's palace could be much more secured than his garden was. The Roserade slowly crept her way towards the window, eyeing around for any guards before she slipped inside.
"My... Someone sure lives comfortably..." Elizabeth mused as she took a look around. "I might have to help myself to some of this lovely selection while I work..."
The Roserade moved further inside, looking about at the well-furnished and decorated palace. It looked as if it was something ripped straight from a storybook. Ornate rugs, statues, and chandeliers decorated the various hallways of the palace. As the Roserade moved, one statue in particular caught her eye.
Although slightly grotesque in appearance, a golden Pinsir statue stood in one of the corners of a hallway. The sculpture was very detailed and life-like. In fact, there were times that Elizabeth could have sworn she saw the statue moving. She giggled lightly at the thought as she moved closer to the Pinsir statue. Her eyes resting on the true focus point of the sculpture. Sitting in between the two pincers on the creature's head, rested a shiny, blood red, rather nicely sized ruby. Elizabeth found herself drawn to the jewel, as if everything around her disappeared the moment she saw it.
"...I don't guess one little extra pickup would hurt anything," Elizabeth whispered as she reached up, pulling the jewel loose from the statue that held it. She smiled at the jewel, before slipping it into one of the pouches on her belt. "You look like you're worth a pretty penny, friend... I'll make sure to take extra good care of you."
The pouch on her belt started shaking violently, as if grasped by a phantom hand. It shot itself against the wall, drawn by a psychic power. "Look here, what a surprise," said a Pokemon, a massive shadow approaching, "stealing is wrong, little lady," his voice was heavily distorted with power, yet the sarcasm was still obvious. Before she could react, bars of dark green energy closed all around her, trapping her in an Imprison. The bars seemed to be made from solid tristanite... meaning they would not yield to no first attempt, nor second, nor third to break them.
Her assailant revealed himself from the corner. It was a bulky Reuniclus with thick dark green gel that faintly glowed; between his fat fingers, he was holding the pouch with the ruby she had picked up. There was something awry about his face, that blurred face into the thick green gel, as if he wasn't mentally alright; his eyes were glowing dark green with fire-like flares that rose outside of his gel. The glow on his eyes and gel made it obvious that this Pokemon was extremely powerful... no wonder why he was there. The Trade Prince was rich enough to hire the best of the best for his protection. It seemed like the security wasn't too tight at first, but perhaps that was because that Pokemon alone would suffice.
"I've found a hundred different ways to kill you," the Reuniclus informed her rather cheerfully, his voice overcharged with power, "and the number is constantly increasing as we speak. Most of them are messy, and honestly I would go messy, but my Client does not love clutter." The Reuniclus got closer to her, leaning forward menacingly and raising his arm. "In that case, I can't possibly bring myself to choose. So, you tell me. How do you want to die?"
"If I had my choice... It would be to not die," Elizabeth retorted. Her voice was soft, as she was not about to risk angering further one who seemed to be quite fine with killing her without so much as a second thought. "Perhaps we could talk up an arrangement where such violence would not be required?"
"Arrangement?" the Reuniclus boomed angrily, his eyes flaring. "Do you even know who I am? People like me can't get bought. Get that into your pretty little head."
"My apologies, good sir... However, I'm afraid I've yet to properly make your acquaintance..." Elizabeth replied. "I'm afraid I've met a fair share of Pokemon on my journey, sir... Keeping a name to each face would be quite taxing."
The Reuniclus stilled himself, pausing a bit. "Sigmund," he replied curtly.
"Elizabeth," the Roserade replied, giving a small smile. "Delighted, I'm sure. Now... How might my chances of living be increased when in the presence of one with power such as yours?"
He eyed her quietly. "What are you? A thief?"
"Thief is such a dirty way to put it," Elizabeth replied with a smile. "I prefer the term 'scavenger'.
"Fancy lady, aren't you?" Sigmund laughed heartily. The distortion of his psychic powers was still there, in his laugh, though. "And what were you hoping to find inside the Trade Prince's palace? Aside from unimaginable riches and a murderous bodyguard with no good intentions?"
"Very well... Given my option of living or dying, I suppose I should come out with my reason for being here," Elizabeth reasoned with a sigh. "I was more or less hired by someone to break into this fine palace. My goal was to steal the estate papers for the docks of Skyhaven, and replace them with this..."
Elizabeth paused, reaching into another pouch on her belt and pulling out an envelope of sorts. A fancy seal rested on the back of the envelope. The contents inside were unknown, even to to the Roserade.
The letter flew out of the psychic cage to float in front of the Reuniclus. He looked at it well, before the seal broke automatically and the paper spilled out. The blurred face inside the gel darkened as he read the letter. Then, he looked at Elizabeth, quietly, but intensely. "Do you know what this is?" he demanded to know, his voice turning raspy.
"Not particularly," Elizabeth replied. "After all, it's rude to read someone else's mail."
"And who graced you with such letter?"
"I'm afraid his name was not given to me," Elizabeth replied honestly. "I encoutered him in an alleyway after I had just finished... scaveging for a few things in a nearby house... He wore a cloak... A black one to be exact, with gold, rune-like markings along the cloak's lining. I'm afraid I couldn't much make out what or who was beneath it... save for his glowing, red eyes that is."
Sigmund laughed again. "You're afraid of this, you're afraid of that. Don't be afraid little girl." The prison bars around her disappeared, and the paper slipped inside the letter again, which entered her pouch. The seal was broken.
The Reuniclus eyed her intensely on last time. "Carry on, then." He turned around, as if he had never known she was there.
"...Huh...? That's it?" Elizabeth questioned. "Not that I mind, but..."
The Roserade looked around, realizing that she was the only one in the hallway once more. Reaching into her pouch, Elizabeth pulled out the letter once more, eyeing it carefully before putting it back in its pouch. She was not sure what had just happened or what was in this letter, but the contents inside must have just saved her life, and that was good enough for her.
"Well... Sigmund tells me the papers of your estates in the Skyhaven docks seem to have vanished," Pierce said as he walked out to the balcony. The Trade Prince jerked back from his feather bed to look at him; the Gengar was carrying a letter. "Instead, this was found there."
The letter was from Zeal. There was no mistaking it. It was signed, Zeal, with a red ink that looked disturbingly close to blood.
Trade Prince Januario. I speak to you directly. Let me make a few things clear before you jump into assumptions: I do not wish, nor have any need for your cooperation. I can very well do things on my own. However, I recognize your power... you are powerful in Skyhaven, yes, more powerful than Lady Tanda even. There are murders coming, I assure you... have you been watching the show? I hope you have been. It's the same every year, as I gather.
Januario looked up from the letter to see the Court of Winds, where the Swanna was still talking. What is this guy up to? It was the first time he had to deal with such an opponent. This way of battle was confusing him. Normally, he could see who was doing his political influence harm, and he could wipe them off the face of earth with Sigmund. Now, he could not even see... he could not even begin to comprehend who could be doing this and why. He had a terrible feeling, a hunch, an intuition, perhaps some instinct of survival that warned him whoever was doing this was one step above him in the food chain of Altica, and that he was about to be eaten.
He kept reading the letter.
If your power is seen interfering, I will pay you a visit. When I come knocking on your doorstep, you will know you're dead.
Januario looked at Pierce. The ghost was watching the show with a sullen expression. "What do you make of this?"
Pierce did not answer. Then, screams reached their ears, fireworks lit up the sky, forming a name. Zeal. There was a voice that seemed to whisper the name in their minds. Zeal, Zeal.
Ser Tevalis"I say hold court right away," another voice said. It was Lord Zygon, to be sure. The great Escavalier, the most dangerous in battle of the lords and ladies of the Council. An accomplished leader and tactician, he played a role in the Fall of Skyhaven by ordering the gates to be open, thus letting the enemy in. His reward from the generous King Aion was a lordship and a place in the Council. His betrayal wasn't forgiven, though nor forgotten, so that had earned him the hate of all the citizens of Skyhaven. He didn't seem to care, though. The Escavalier had that air of ruthlessness and ambition about him. He would stop at nothing to assume more power...
Chaos broke out, but the Conkeldurr pushed his way past the crowds and towards the stage. The Swanna was nowhere to be seen and the Zoroarks were jumping off the stage in mad fear, except one, who was sneaking behind the backstage.
"Hold on," he grunted, jumping onto the stage and reaching an arm. The Zoroark jerked around and hissed green fire, a tongue that transformed into an Arbok that hissed in turn and snapped in his face. He wasn't fazed though. Gripping the one who tried to run tightly, he braced his chest for the attack that was bound to come. Indeed, dark energy was blasted on his chest, but he was too big to flinch. It hurt and stung, but he was used to pain; the scars all over his body were souvenirs of tough battles, proof that he was a veteran. The big knight quickly overpowered the Zoroark and held him in place in an inescapable grip. He squirmed and choked, but he kept up.
"Let me go," the Zoroark snapped, choking.
"You're the new guy, are you not? I've been watching that show for forty years, I know all of the actors. Except you. There's something fishy about you, so you will be staying here with me." Then he widened his eyes in surprise. There was a Gothitelle doll there, in the shadows, behind the stage. The same one he had bought from that ghost in this very square, that morning. He had lost that Gothitelle doll, before he could give it to his Lady Tanda... and he'd paid a lot of money on it. That Gengar haggled so fiercely for the price that Tevalis would swear he didn't want to give it away after all.
Reaching one big arm, he grasped the doll and looked at it funnily. Queer, to see it here.
Soon, the Court of Winds was empty of citizens and full of Winged Hussars who fussed around. Apparently, the massive body that hung over in a pole had disappeared as fast as it had appeared. The Lords of the Council had arrived as well, now that the Hussars had made sure that nobody was in the square but Ser Tevalis and the Zoroark. Tevalis had told them that he was holding a suspect. A suspect who was squirming and punching was a lot more suspicious.
"What folly is this?" he heard a scream from behind. It was the Lady of Skyhaven, Tanda, a Gothitelle in her mid thirties that looked much younger. In the eyes of Ser Tevalis, she was the most beautiful lady he had ever set his eyes upon... often he dreamed of being a highborn knight, so he could be by birthright able to marry her, but the case was much different. He was nothing but the son of a farmer, who showed great skill and prowess in battle, so much that he became a knight. In fact, he was lucky enough to be in Lady Tanda's household guard, and he should be thankful for that alone.
The Gothitelle grabbed her head and looked up at the dark, cloudy sky, where the fireworks had died down. "What has happened here?" She looked at Ser Tevalis on the stage, to see him grasping the Zoroark. "Is that... Zeal?"
His grip made it impossible for the Zoroark to talk, to defend himself. "I do not yet know, my lady," Ser Tevalis replied. He knew how justice worked in Skyhaven, and he had accepted that it was far from honorable. The Council had to blame someone for the crimes committed in Skyhaven right away, else they would earn the fierce disappointment of the masses. The people of Skyhaven were known to start riots, as they loved freedom, and they hated the Council, a measure the King Aion had forced upon the city when he conquered it, thirty years ago. In short, justice here declared that whether this Zoroark was Zeal or not, he was going to prison... and that Lucario they had arrested before, would most probably rot in jail as well. The Council liked to take no chances.
Ser Tevalis detested him. They locked eyes. "I spy a suspect," Lord Zygon said with a half-grin, his yellow eyes brimming cunningly.
The other lords of the Council had arrived as well, getting up the stage. One was a Luxray, Lady Lyra. She and Ser Tevalis got along well... in fact, Lady Lyra seemed to get along well with everyone, including the Trade Prince himself. She was the only one to laugh at his jokes and quips. She was insightful, too... Ser Tevalis admired her for knowing what the city and its people needed. Perhaps she was the only one who cared of the people instead of their vaults...
Lord Archelon seemed to care for the people too. He was an aged Carracosta, said to have lived two hundred years; he had washed up in the shores of Skyhaven when the Seal's cataclysmic effects had wrought up a torrential wave which was blocked by the psychics of the city. Nobody had a single clue where he was coming from, and he himself wasn't inclined to reveal. His slurred speech made the Councils long and boring, but there was wisdom in what he said, when he wasn't tiring everyone with blabbering too much.
And Lord Januario had arrived as well, only instead of his Reuniclus bodyguard, the ghost who had sold him the Gothitelle doll was following them. I know you, Ser Tevalis thought while staring down at the Gengar, who looked at him blankly, his red eyes drifting from the doll he was holding to the Zoroark. His stare seemed to calm the Zoroark down.
"A suspect, indeed," Lady Lyra the Luxray said, "no doubt he is innocent."
"Hmmmhm," Lord Archelon agreed. The Carracosta had slowly started saying something, when Januario cut him off.
"The Hussar's incompetence has been confirmed yet again," he observed, staring up at the Zoroark with a slick grin. "I know this man. He's no Zeal."
"Zeal or not, I'll have trial here," Lord Zygon declared, turning to the Winged Hussars around him. The Archeops stood obediently, waiting for orders. "Fetch our prisoners."
The Zoroark in Ser Tevalis's arms had completely stopped squirming and trying to slip off his grasp. He noticed the Gengar's gaze was still fixed at the suspect. Why is he staring like that? And shouldn't Gengars be smiling?
Reginard silently watched the grave before him. He had dug out the grave and had slowly unwrapped the wires that held his form and laid his body in the hold and covered it. He slowly sat on down and let his head hang over. He was silent for a moment then he slowly began to move to lay on his side and he curled up into a ball. Weak sobs escaped his throat, but that just made him curl into a tighter ball. To see not only a good friend dead, but on display as a sort of puppet? He could feel his sadness overwhelm him and he didn't fight it off. He let it grip him tightly and he happily embraced it back. He sobbed for who knew how long and after a while he began to wipe the tears from his eyes. He blinked a bit and stood back up shakily. He wiped the remains of dirt from his yellow skin and stared for a while at the tomb.
He placed a psychic marker on the unmarked grave. He would make sure to not forget about this spot. If he died so what? At least he would be able to be with his friend in the afterlife now. He wiped another tear and as his sadness slowly died down he felt another stronger emotion quickly taking over. Anger. Pure and simple anger. He gripped his spoons and stick very hard as he thought of Zeal. He knew that going back would only be what that pathetic pokemon would want... but he wanted it too now.
He closed his eyes tightly as he drew upon some psychic energy. He had laid a marker on all of them and until his death Guardian would have transmitted that marker all over the place. He would in essence find a trail that only he would be able to follow. Not only that... but he had felt something else. Dark energy was all over the Golurk's body. Surely that would be yet another clue that he was following the right path! He would reach out to feel any dark energy and from there he could even track down Zeal.
"I must take an absence my friend. Rest, you've earned it." He closed his eyes and in a moment he ported away... to where he was able to sense form some time ago where he had been in contact with one of the others. Yes... as he traced the marks back in his head he could feel Tsulong's own marker here. They were together for some time, so obviously up until now Guardian was still alive or else Tsulong would have been moving very fast elsewhere if he had found Guardian was being killed here. He closed his eyes and focused. Where did Guardian's signal take him next? How did Zeal manage to get him away from the crowds? And how was he able to kill him and tie up his body so quickly as well? And why the puppet motif?
Reginard closed his eyes and focused a bit more. Hm... In an instant he ported along the path that the Guardian had left. Let's see... the West Wind district! Yes... and then... he was moving fast. Very fast, like he had seen something. Reginard moved along the psychic trail, almost like a bloodhound. He ported along here and there and finally he stopped. He was now at the sewers and had to construct a light psychic shield to protect himself from the rotten smell. Now... the trail lay dead. He was silent for a moment and thought. Yes.... the dark energy he had sensed. Zeal could have used dark energy to interfere with whatever psychic link he had laid on the Guardian. Then... Guardian must have entered this door!
Reginard took in a shaky breath and put one hand on the door. In one way he really really didn't want to see what was in there. On the other, he was just too angry to care. His eyes glowed a deep blue as he shoved the door in, collapsing it to mere pieces and he walked on in.
The Sewars were dark, but there were small lights here and there that let him see that a large body was dragged along. Among the dirt in the sewers it was relatively easy to follow the trail to a more open area. There was a large indent here, where Guardian had probably been laid. He coudl see that there had been sweeps here and there, obviously someone had been trying to hide evidence. He kneeled down and looked at a dust pile and as he looked around he caught a glint of something. Cut wires. So.. this was where Guardian's arms had been ripped off and the wires were attached. He rubbed at his chin and looked around yet agian.
He gripped his head and closed his eyes tightly. He had been alone... but not anymore. He reached out his mind to the other heroes, I know I have been distant lately... but I am on the trail of Zeal. He took Guardian... I found the spot where he killed him. Do not worry about Guardian's body, he is buried as should be done. I am on the trail of him right now. All of them would feel a tingling sensation over their skin then, Now, you can all track each other. Make sure to keep in contact! If one of us dies, our signal will disappear... I was too angry... I... I wasn't paying attention... Reginard was silent as something akin to remorse fled the channel for a bit.
I will find him... and I will need everyone's help.
He made his way along the trail in the sewers where the body was dragged. He ended up in front of another door and pushed it open to find himself in the Court of Winds. He saw the trail that led along the crowd... to where the stage was... He was quiet for a moment as he saw that the concil was there. And... he felt his spoons drop from his hands as he stared at the Zoroark. "You..."
Reginard could feel his anger, his hatred flaring up. "YOU!" He screamed out. In an instant he teleported to appear next to the Zoroark. His fists were already curled up and ready to start punching at his face, "YOU F***ER!" Ser Tevalis stood in his way, though, protecting the Zoroark with his back. There was a sob.
"Help me," Toa said.
"Someone's coming," Scorpius said cheerfully. "About time, eh? Rude boy," she laughed, hanging from the bars of her prison as if she was drunk. Gaius snorted dismissively but still pushed himself up from the floor to peer curiously down the corridor.
The corridor was soon overrun with Winged Hussars. The birds knocked open Gaius's cell and pecked him until he got up and followed them out. The Braixen threw her arms up, "what of me?"
"Your time's not yet come," one of the Archeops said.
"You stinking birds," Scorpius yelled at them, but then quickly looked at Gaius. She brushed a hand off his shoulder, smiling playfully. "Pray that your head doesn't leave your shoulders today," she said.
"I have no intention of dying here." the Lucario grunted, briefly snapping his teeth at a Hussar whose beak had flashed too close to his face. It was tempting to try and fight back but he forced himself to keep calm and allow himself to be herded along; as much pain as it had caused him, the psychic reading his mind had him confident that this would go in his favour.
He was dragged out of the dungeons, to the Court of Winds. Winged Hussars had circled the square, but they allowed the two Hussars dragging Gaius to pass. The Lords and Ladies of the Council were all waiting upon the stage, where the show had taken place. Lady Tanda, Lady Lyra, Lord Zygon, Lord Archelon and Lord Januario... with his ghost associate, a Gengar. There was a bulky Conkeldurr gripping a Zoroark tightly upon the stage. An Arcanine and a Charizard who were strangers to Gaius were in the scene as well.
The Winged Hussars came to a halt in front of the stage, presenting Gaius. Lord Zygon floated next to him, raising a pointy spear to the Lucario's chin, examining him. "Gaius, wasn't it?" He pointed another spear at the Zoroark, his brimming yellow eyes still fixed on Gaius. "Do you know this man?"
Gaius stood stock still and glared at the lord for a moment before his eyes flickered to the pinned pokemon, closing after a quick examination to let him focus on the aura of the other prisoner. "No." he said simply, "Neither his face or his aura is familiar to me." Curiosity bubbled in his mind as to who the Pokemon was and why he was pinned here but he forced it down behind a stony facade.
"Did you kill the Ambassador and his associates?" Lady Tanda asked Gaius. The Lucario couldn't help but growl a bit before answering; hadn't they even bothered to talk to their pet psychic after sending him down to visit? "Once again, No. I heard an explosion, went over to see what was happening and was attacked by your Hussars as I arrived." The insult he felt at being accused of the act was clear in his voice.
"He's lying," the Gothitelle screeched; just then, the skies growled in a thunder that was coming from far up the mountains.
"My lady," someone from the stage said. Everyone turned to look at Pierce, whose teeth reflected the lightning's light. However, he wasn't smiling. His face was difficult to read, but the cold frown and stern tone he used determined his seriousness. "I think it's safe to assume that this man before us has absolutely no connection to Zeal whatsoever."
"Release him," the Trade Prince commanded the Hussars, who let Gaius free of their grasp. He inclined his head in thanks to the Pikachu and stepped back from the Hussars, rubbing his wrists where they had been grasped. He opened his mouth and was about to say something when a loud shout off to the side caught his attention.
"This... this Zoroark..." Reginard shuddered with anger there. "He is Zeal! I know it!" He snapped angrily. "You made me bury my friend!" He screamed at Toa. "Why Toa!? Why did you leave us!?" He hissed. He gripped his head and closed his eyes tightly, "I have evidence... I know you you did it..." He said softly. "I saw it all..." He looked around a bit. "He... He is responsible for this all!"
"Is he, now?" Januario said sarcastically. "All I see is a Zoroark. I honestly expected more."
"Where's that proof you are speaking of?" Lady Lyra, the Luxray demanded. Meanwhile, Toa had started sobbing.
Reginard glanced at her with a smirk, "Here." He closed his eyes and then his eyes snapped open, glowing a blue hue. Everyone, save the one holding Toa, experienced a vision. In a flash they saw the experience he had in the library, minus hearing the words he had heard. They saw and heard the conversation he had with Zeal before Guardian had been revealed. They saw the trail he had taken in Guardian's path. The evidence he had found in the sewers was next. The dark energy on Guardian's body and the dark energy he had found in the sewers. All of it.
At that moment the vision ended and Reginard fell to a knee, gasping. "T-There." He coughed out. Tsulong howled at the vision. "Guardian!" he cried out, running over to Reginard. "Guardian... he's... is he dead?"
Pierce cried out as well, flying over to Toa. He shook his shoulders, having a distraught expression that screamed out in question. Ser Tevalis let the sobbing Zoroark go, fall to his knees in front of Pierce. "No..." Toa said, biting his snout harshly. "Please," he said to Pierce, "make them understand..."
"Well, that seems to be sufficient evidence," Lord Zygon said with a grin. "We have Zeal. He is right in front of us. This man, this Zoroark deserves to be condemned."
Pierce looked up to him. Another lightning halved the sky, flashing on his teeth. "I'm inclined to disagree." He said simply, his red gaze strangely blank, strangely cold upon the lord. Retracting his eyes, he started pacing up and down the stage. "Through observation, we have learned and accepted that Zeal uses psychic and fire-type moves to terminate his victims." He turned to face Toa, who had an equally blank expression on.
"My lords, tell me what kind of Zoroark can produce that sort of attacks."
Everyone was silent upon the stage for a moment. Pierce continued his pacing, bumping into the Hussar that was standing at the edge of the stage. "Pardon me," the shadow said, turning to the Council. "No Zoroark. The vision Reginard provided us with... is not solid enough to count as proof. I believe there were roughly a dozen Zoroarks upon this stage. The dark traces Reginard found on Guardian's body could be the aftermath of the attacks of any of those Pokemon."
"WHAT!?" Reginard screamed out. "YOU HEARD WHAT I HEARD! YOU SAW WHAT I SAW!" He pointed at Toa, "HE IS TO BLAME!" His eyes narrowed, "Mark my words Pierce... if you let him go right now...." He fell silent and closed his eyes, "Just... please.... don't let him go...." At this point, the Alakazam looked as if he was close to crying.
"Enough of this," Lady Tanda cried out. "Take this man in," she said, pointing at the Zoroark. "He tried to fight back, that has to count for something!"
"Ah... no, I'm afraid it does not," Pierce disagreed. Another lightning cracked in the sky, his teeth flashing white with the light. Then, another lightning occurred, closer in Skyhaven. A fierce wind blew and a flapping sound broke out in the Court of Winds. Everyone turned their heads towards the source... a book in the ground. A black notebook next to the stage, its pages flapping with the wind. The Hussars stepped over to lift it... "Don't touch that," Lord Januario snapped. Just then, the flapping sound became a whisper... a buzzing, distorted yet soft voice.
Ahh, what do we have here... a corrupt system and a victim deemed as the perpetrator, ready to be prosecuted. You have the wrong guy... as per usual. There was a laugh, a laugh that would sound charming in other circumstances. The silence hung heavy in the Court of Winds after the laugh died down; the Hussars were on guard, looking away, searching for the one who spoke. But there was no one. Only that notebook.
The voice came again. Forgive my misguided friend Reginard over here. He would lead you to false conclusions... of course, that is all you need to function as Council, false conclusions. You would take innocent men into prison in my name, blaming them for MY actions... why should they take the credit? What a hideous system you have. I intend to change it. Forever. Mark my words. And I am starting now. I will prove the innocence of Toa. Look to the south, my lords. And do send your Hussars. I will carve my seal upon their bodies. Au revoir.
"The docks," Lord Archelon said weakly. Some Winged Hussars took flight, but just then, explosions lit up the sky. One, two, three massive flares from the docks of Skyhaven. The sound arrived half a second late, making everyone cover their ears. Everyone's faces were painted red as they looked at the fire that licked the clouds. Dark smoke rose right after to cover that area; the Hussars had already left. They were brave and bold and strong, for sure... but who knew what Zeal was.
"Dammit," Lord Zygon cussed, staring at the sight as it died down. The notebook had stopped flapping and closed shut by itself. On the front cover was carved a word with red ink: Zeal.
"Well, then," Pierce broke the silence. "I don't think putting in jail somebody right now, while Zeal is on the other side of the city doing his business, is wise, my lady."
Lady Tanda spared Toa a glance. "Get out of my sight."
Toa grabbed Pierce's hand and kissed it. "Thank you, oh thank you," he said between sobs, but Pierce shook him off with a disgusted expression.
Reginard stared. He stared as the voice spoke out. He stared as the flying types went off. He just stared. For a second a few tears leaked out of his eyes. They moved down his cheeks and onto the ground beneath him. The second the first tear hit the ground the very very fragile strings that had held his mind together, that had kept him sane to his point, instantly snapped.
His eyes widened and then he began to chuckle softly. "S-So... you want to lie to me....?" He chuckled a bit more, "Y-you set this up... misdirection... confusion..." He whispered softly. Slowly his head looked up and the look of insanity in his eyes. "Everyone around me lies..." His eyes began to glow a deep hue of blue as he gathered up his psychic energy. "Everyone around me... leading me on a goose chase...." He closed his eyes and a few more tears leaked out. "NO MORE!" With that shout massive waves of psychic energy shout out form his body in all directions. Although Toa was safe due to his type anyone not having darkness to aid them would either be shot out or sent tumbling back.
In a split second Reginard moved his hands as various planks and boards from the stage were snapped off, their sharp ends aimed right at the Zoroark. One by one he shot them all at the beast. More and more ripped off to be stabbed deep into the dark type's body as more tears streamed down Reginard's face. "I WILL NOT LIE DOWN! NO LONGER!" He screamed out.
As he shot out the boards he could hear the cries around. He could FEEL the beings keying in on him and he closed his eyes. Just as the Hussars got close to him there was a flash of light as he ported away. People ran through the streets at the sight of what was happening as he ported onto the ground. The Hussars had been briefly caught off guard, but Reginard did not care. They had protected that beast, they would die. His psychic power surged and he grabbed a wodden beam that was next to a carpenter's shop and smacked it into a Archeops and heard the noise of its skull breaking. Two Sigilyphs shout out Psybeams at him, and Reginard took them, but that just fueled his rage even more.
He screamed out and as Psychics were shot out at them in turn. He quicky teleported again and shot out yet more Psychic bursts at the two, even gripping on Sigilyph and repeatedly slamming it against the ground until finally its body broke open. The other Sigilyph laid on the floor, barely alive as Reginard tossed the other away. That beam he had now levitated before the Sigilyph and shot forward, creating a large hole through its chest and finally distinguishing its life.
Reginard panted a bit and fell to his knees, gasping and sweating profusely. He closed his eyes as more tears fell onto the ground. It was now that he knew... he could trust no one. Even friends would turn against him. He wiped at his eyes and gripped his staff, slowly getting back off of the ground. He could trust no one...
The Alakazam quickly embraced that thought and giggled a bit crazily to himself. Yes... there were no such things as friends. He began to slowly make his way along. So many pokemon had run past that this place was deserted now. He would... he would do this alone. He was a fool to place his trust in others, even Durand had some motive for him. He truly couldn't trust anyone now. And so... he walked along, away from the terror happening near the docks, away from those that would only lie.
The ghost had grabbed Januario to hide him in the shadows when Reginard flipped out. He did nothing to help Toa, who was hit by the splinters of wood. The Pikachu turned to look at Pierce's ghastly face. His face was absolutely blank, his mouth entirely closed.
"Care to explain what just happened? Why would you give two flying Miltanks if the Duke was framed or not? You were gonna need Reginard," Januario complained. After Reginard had ported out, Pierce and Januario stepped out the shadows. Pierce caught Toa's eyes briefly. Get out of here, he thought with the slightest hint of aggravation in his mental voice. Toa didn't need to be told a second time. He turned and ran off the square, to be blocked by Vincent. Pierce watched them conversing sullenly, doing nothing but contemplate. Toa pointed towards them a couple of times.
"Toa is... valuable," Pierce said after a while, watching the Zoroark leap from roof to roof. "I cannot have him jailed, whether he killed Guardian or not. Though it is quite puzzling..." Why did Toa kill Guardian? He wondered. I will have to pry some answers.
"Hopefully, Reginard's pain will be assuaged when the real Zeal is caught."
You would think so, yes. "Insanity differs from pain."
"Whatever. This big fiasco taught us something. Zeal doesn't like the Council."
"I don't like it either," the Gengar agreed. Januario laughed.
"Can't blame him, eh? I'd rather I was the only Lord left. You think Zeal has a plot for that?"
Pierce rubbed his chin, frowning. "Surely, he must have some sort of plan. His movement cannot be as random as he'd like us to think." He took out a piece of paper from his suitcase and put it against the stage's little column, sitting down while doing so. He placed his inkpot next to him, dipped his quill in it and started drawing. First, he drew a circle in the middle.
"Let's say the murders all have a significance in a grander plan. By that logic, they revolve around something." He drew a rectangular shape inside the circle. "The Sky Plate. First, the Ambassador Franklin." He drew a fat circle outside the center. That was the Ambassador. "After talking with him, I could clearly tell he was keen on giving the Plate to the King. Zeal removed him from the play. Then comes Guardian..." he scribbled the letter G on another corner of the paper. "Why do you think Guardian died?"
The Trade Prince rubbed his entire neck thoughtfully. "He refused to yield important information. Guardian is with you heroes, surely he would know stuff about the Sky Plate other people do not."
"Not quite, this wasn't about the Sky Plate," Pierce said darkly. He drew another rectangular object, outside the circle in the center of the paper. "Last I heard, Guardian was carrying the Grass Plate, so Zeal demanded to know where it was, when he realized Guardian was not carrying it with him. From this, we safely deduce that Zeal is a Plate hunter, despite what he says about the Council."
"Amazing, you clever bastard. But how did Zeal know of Guardian and the Grass Plate?"
Pierce shrugged. "People talk, I imagine."
"... and if Zeal killed the first Ambassador, he'll kill the second one as well... he'll cause a full scale war for the damn Plate. He's stuck up, isn't he? Thinking he owns the place."
Not yet, Pierce thought, then put his paper, ink and quill back into his suitcase. "Pardon me, for a second." He flew past Ser Tevalis, who was holding Zeal's notebook in hand, examining it. On his shoulder was sitting the Gothitelle doll.
Pierce went over to Tsulong, who had joined Vincent. "That went badly. I'll see if I can contact Reginard or Toa and try to understand what is wrong with them," he assured them, then smiled faintly. It was a tricky, cunning smile. "Brace yourselves for a trip to the Pinnacle."
Then, he suddenly turned to the Council of Lords. "My lords," he shouted. "Hold up. These men have a request to make. They wish to enter the Pinnacle and retrieve the Sky Plate."