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Old June 6th, 2009 (7:56 PM). Edited October 31st, 2009 by Shrike Flamestar.
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Shrike Flamestar Shrike Flamestar is offline
The Invisible!
    Join Date: Jun 2008
    Location: Within the synapses of the internet and my own mind.
    Age: 28
    Gender: Male
    Posts: 212
    Why hello, people! Here is my story for the very first Seven Day Seven K challenge! And it just so happens that I'm the very first person to post. Perhaps the only? That'd be interesting. Anyways, this is something I've been interested in doing for a while: a much, much darker fanfic than almost anything else you'll find for Pokemon. The initial concept was horror, but that quickly changed to splatter horror and now that it's done I won't lie, it's not that scary really. I guess I'm not really good at actual horror, but eh. It is very, very gruesome though and one specfic scene around the middle has to be probably the most gruesome scene I've ever written.

    Final word count is around 8435, well above what was needed. The story itself isn't actually completed yet, though; there's a whole 'nother part which I'll get to work on soon. Maybe. I guess that makes this a two-shot or something.

    Before we get started, I guess it's important that I put in a very big warning giving the story's contents:



    There are some tales told which are just that, stories long in age with questionable basis in reality. Meant to ingrain fear in the hearts of children, wonder in the hearts of dreamers, and pride in the hearts of the victorious, such tales are widely regarded merely as fiction. Yet, amid the sands of such tales, a few grains stand out, grains of stories rooted in none other than truth.

    I will tell you one of these tales today, a grisly tale of a young girl whose curiosity led her to pay no heed to warning. Even in such tales bound by reality and not fantasy there are lessons to be learned, if only from the folly of others. Take these lessons and learn them, they will serve you well. If, however, you too fail to heed the warnings that the story presents to you, then perhaps the next tale will be your very own.

    A Haunting at the Old Chateau
    Part 1

    Along Sinnoh's route 205, near the fringes of the Eterna Forest, there sits a dark building long abandoned by its previous inhabitants. No one knows what happened to the people who had lived there, or even who those people were. All that is known about the building now called the Old Chateau is that the boundary between our world and that of spirits is weak among the chateau's darkened halls. In the Old Chateau, spirits pass between the realms as if they were separated by nothing more than a curtain of water, such ghosts of long dead Pokémon ruling the chateau as if it were their own. Yet it is not just these common apparitions, known to humans as Gastly, that can be seen about the chateau. Rumors abound of other ghosts, such as those of humans from the distant past as well as a being more sinister, one behind all the disappearances throughout the years. Some even say that among the ghosts are the chateau's previous inhabitants, warning people who venture into the Old Chateau to leave before whatever calamity befell them was to happen to another.

    Yet, not all heed such warnings. Alone, a young girl named Christine walked down the shadowed lane that led to the towering building, a small backpack slung over her shoulder as she stared up at the Old Chateau. Stopping before the iron gates that barricaded its entrance, she removed a small ball from a bracelet about her left wrist. Enlarging the Poké Ball, Christine opened it to release the Pokémon inside before replacing the ball in its socket on the bracelet, repeating it one by one with the remaining five Poké Balls. Appearing on the ground around her, her team of Pokémon looked about, some more nervous than the others. Her Buneary instantly began to cry in terror and hid behind her leg, while her braver Luxio approached the gates and sniffed them, batting a paw at the iron bars as if trying to figure out a way through. As Christine walked over to the gates to take a look as well, her Monferno patted Buneary in support, while a Buizel jeered at the act of kindness before chasing after Luxio and his trainer. Her withdrawn Staravia also followed, perching on top of one of the gateposts and silently waiting for any orders as the girl's last and latest Pokémon, a young Riolu, jumped up to the top of the other gatepost with surprising ease.

    Spotting a lock securing the gate in place, Riolu leaped from atop the post, flipping in midair before reaching out with a paw. As she grabbed one of the bars next to the lock, a burst of energy erupted from her palm and enveloped the lock, the mechanism shattering and falling to the ground. Flipping back off the bars as they swung open, Riolu ran over to Christine and the rather jealous Monferno. While Monferno herself had impressive agility and technical skill, the newcomer's natural ability at such a young age was almost a match for her own. She feared that in time the Riolu would prove better than herself, outshining her current position as the best fighter amongst the party in the process. Monferno realized that Christine would always hold her in high regard due to being her first Pokémon but she was concerned that the new addition would eventually take the title of best fighter from her. She couldn't help but wonder, if that were to happen, whether she'd lose some of the respect most of the others gave her.

    Of course, not all looked up to Monferno; Buizel in particular was the proudest of the group of Pokémon and admittedly was second only to Monferno in his skills. Too boastful to admit otherwise, he insisted that he was her superior. To him, her jealousness of Riolu only proved his point: that she was far from the best if she was so worried about a Pokémon just out of infancy. Christine began to give the Pokémon a speech explaining the rumors that the Old Chateau was haunted, although Buizel mostly ignored her as he examined the path beyond the gate. Christine was somewhat of an adventurer and liked exploring old, mysterious ruins and the like, so it didn't surprise him that she now wanted to investigate what could potentially be a very real haunted house. Turning around, Buizel smirked at the timid Buneary who was only getting more scared with each rumor Christine explained to them. Buizel didn't mind at all if any of the rumors of ghosts were true; there was no doubt in his mind that even the incorporeal would prove him no match.

    Christine finished up her speech soon, which had done little to motivate the Pokémon other than scare Buneary out of her wits. Picking the rabbit Pokémon up, Monferno sighed as she closely followed Christine as the human started down the path, Buizel and Luxio walking ahead of them. Together, the otter and feline Pokémon had long been friends, Luxio looking up to Buizel with jealousy. In addition to being a friend, Luxio was the only Pokémon of the group other than Buizel himself who agreed that the otter was stronger than Monferno, although he wasn't willing to say it out loud.

    The group soon found themselves at the large doors that led into the chateau, Christine setting aside any fears that she herself had. Determined to see the history of the chateau firsthand, she pushed open the unlocked doors only to be assaulted by the stale smell of days long gone. One by one the Pokémon walked into the dark building, Buizel leading the way with Luxio not far behind. Staravia, ever stoic and the quietest of the group, flew up and perched atop a light fixture above the door, staring down as the rest of the party entered As Christine herself walked into the chateau behind her Pokémon, the loose doors fell closed slightly on their own, leaving only a small sliver of light piercing through the darkened foyer. Without the need for a command, Luxio's fur began to crackle with electricity, an incandescent glow emitting from his body and forming a sphere of light around him amid the shadows. Christine went ahead and grabbed a flashlight attached to a hook on her belt, turning it on and pointing the beam of light about as the group walked farther into the foyer of the Old Chateau.

    Dust seemed to cover every surface, obscuring the paintings that hung on the walls and neatly showing the footprints of the Pokémon and Christine as they disturbed the fine dust covering the floor. Statues of various Pokémon lined the foyer, most having decayed and collapsed with age, leaving them unidentifiable. Shining the light over at the far end of the foyer, Christine noticed a doorway that led farther into the chateau; however, the wall above the hallway had collapsed, broken fragments of the stone the chateau had been built from obstructing the path. Next to the doorway, however, two sets of stairs wound their way up to a balcony leading to the chateau's second floor. Motioning at them, Christine approached the stairs and hesitantly took the first step. Surprisingly it still seemed to hold under her weight and she began to ascend the stairs with her Pokémon following, Staravia leaping from from his post and soaring to the stairs, disappearing behind a bend and onto the balcony above.

    Atop the balcony Christine found a still intact doorway leading to a hall that ran the length of the chateau. Christine shined her flashlight beam down the hallway, dust motes swirling in the light. Doorway ran off from the hallway to either side, leading to various rooms including the bedrooms of the chateau's previous occupants. Waiting until her Pokémon had reached the top of the stairs, she slowly walked down the hallway in silence, turning to glance in each room she passed. Behind her, her Pokémon huddled around Luxio for the light he gave off, the unnerving silence weighing down on them all like a blanket so much it even kept Buneary, still held in Monferno's arms, from crying. So far they had seen nothing to suggest that ghosts resided in the Old Chateau; however all of the group but Buizel and possibly Staravia—who hopped from light fixture to light fixture along the hall due to the trouble of flying in such an enclosed space—couldn't help but wonder if something would appear out of the next door they approached.

    Turning to face one of the doorways, Christine noticed something that caught her attention. Sitting inside a small bedroom on top of a small stand sat a large, old-style CRT television. In its corner, a small, red light glowed; curious as nothing else in the chateau seemed to have power. Walking into the room, Christine knelt next to the television and shone her light over it as the Pokémon stopped in the doorway and watched. The television was plugged into the wall, however that still didn't explain much as Christine had been under the impression that electrical power no longer was delivered to the chateau. Hesitantly, she reached out for the television's power button, the silence seeming deafening as she held her breath. Quickly she pushed the button, unsure of how the ancient television would react.

    To the surprise of both Christine and her Pokémon, the television turned on. However, rather than displaying any actual channel a black and white static filled the screen, the harsh sound of white noise filling the previously silent room. Wincing at the noise, Christine quickly pressed the power button again to turn it off, only to find that now the button wouldn't work. Grunting as she hammered the button a few more times to no avail, she shook her head and stood up. Eager to get away from the grating noise, the Pokémon huddled around Luxio in the hall quickly took off, Christine following them to continue their exploration of the Old Chateau.

    In the otherwise empty room now filled with the sound of static and scattered light coming from the broken television, a ghostly form slowly rose up out of the device. A blue electrical aura enveloped the form, seeming to contain the almost liquid body within. As soon as it appeared out of the television, however, it disappeared into thin-air, seeming to fade out of reality. With the departure of the ghost the television slowly lost power, the static image and sound fading away as the television finally broke down after the several years it had sat in silent waiting.

    Unaware of this, the group of Christine and her Pokémon continued down the hallway, nearing its end. Set into a small nook off to the side at the end of the hallway Christine found a small dumbwaiter shaft, the platform having long since collapsed at the bottom of the shaft. Figuring that this was their key to returning to the first floor beyond the small collapse, Christine lifted herself up into the opening, shining the light down first to make sure the bottom was clear of anything dangerous before jumping down. Landing on bent knees to absorb the impact, she looked back up at the top of the shaft and gestured for her Pokémon to follow, yelling that she'd catch them. One by one they followed, Buizel going first if only to show off to the others, followed by Riolu and then Monferno who held on to Buneary as they fell. Staravia glided down the shaft using spread wings to break the fall with Luxio following last, having stayed behind in order to continue providing the second floor with light so long as someone was up there.

    Christine crawled out of the dumbwaiter shaft and dropped onto the floor next to where she had set the Pokémon, looking about to determine where they were. It seemed they were in the kitchen now: a very large one lined with counters and multiples of every appliance you could think of, all of which were old enough to be antiques. Eying a butcher block that sat off to the side and which had a row of rusty knives hanging above it, Christine went on to sweep the flashlight beam across the kitchen, its light penetrating farther than Luxio's luminescence. Passing the beam over an old toaster oven, Christine went on to look at a refrigerator before suddenly turning the light back to the toaster oven.

    As with the TV, a small light was on in its corner, indicating that it was receiving power from somewhere. Cautiously Christine began to approach the toaster oven, however before she could move more than a few feet Buizel stepped in front of her, shaking his head while flashing a proud smile. Monferno sighed; she knew that he just wanted to show off his bravery by doing something she was too scared to. It was stupid though, and she wished that he would stop trying to prove himself better at every possible chance.

    When Buizel was only a few feet from the toaster oven, the heating elements behind its glass window suddenly turned on and began to glow, causing the otter Pokémon to stop in his tracks. Resolute in his determination, however, he continued against the wishes of Christine. The girl was nervous about the situation, not feeling that it was right, and was yelling for Buizel to come back and that they should just leave the toaster oven alone. However, Buizel was too proud to retreat and pressed on, hopping up onto the counter next to the device. Reaching out for the door to pull it open, the water weasel was suddenly blown back by a fierce wave of heat as the door flew open on its own, a reddish glow suddenly surrounding the toaster oven as a ball of fire appeared within it.

    Before Buizel could recover from the shock or Christine could do anything about her Pokemon, a stream of fire suddenly shot out of the toaster oven, forming into a tornado that stretched from the kitchen's floor to its ceiling. The fire enveloped the stunned Buizel, who cried out in pain as he tried to summon up his water powers. The intense flames left him parched, however, and he was helpless to defend himself as the blaze swirled around him, burning at him unlike anything he had ever felt before.

    “Buizel!” Christine yelled out in shock, quickly ordering all her Pokémon to attack the tornado of fire in order to rescue Buizel. Four attacks lashed out at once: more flames, lightning, gusts of wind, and even small bursts of water from Buneary. Riolu, having no such special attacks, could only watch in horror as her companions efforts to save Buizel had no effect on the towering fire tornado. From its depths, Buizel's screams pierced through the air as he batted blindly at the fire, his characteristic orange fur soon burnt away. The orange float around his neck and blue fins along the back of his paws also succumbed easily to the flames, the organic rubber melting and running down his bare, charred flesh. Seemingly naked, Buizel writhed on the tiled floor amid the fire and swished his split tail back and forth as if trying to fan away the flames, having just as little impact as his companion's efforts had been.

    Panicking in worry about his friend, Luxio stopped attacking and sprinted over to the fire, fighting against the intense heat that seemed to almost be physically pushing him away from the tornado. Desperate to pull Buizel out of the fire, Luxio pushed through nonetheless, baring his fangs against the heat. Before he could reach it, however, a dark apparition appeared floating in the air above. The apparition seemed to have a round body with a small bulb below and spike coming out of its top, however black shadows as dark and fluid as ink pulsed around its body, obscuring its true form. Tendrils of the ink-like shadows reached out from the apparition, grabbing one of Luxio's legs and lifting the feline up into the air with ease.

    Luxio howled and shot off a blast of lightning at the apparition, however the attack passed through it as if it wasn't even there. A cackling sound seemed to emerge from nowhere as the apparition easily threw Luxio back at where Christine and the rest of the Pokémon stood, having halted their ineffective attacks by now. Christine dove to catch Luxio as he sailed through the air, the apparition floating back and sliding into the tornado of fire as it cackled again, seeming to disappear amid the flames.

    Buizel's screams of pain had by now quieted down, reduced to just a few meager yelps in between gasps for breath, the fire having robbed Buizel of valuable oxygen. His body was severely burnt by now, flesh peeling away in several spots to expose muscle and even bone beneath. Blood flowed out from the wounds but instantly evaporated in the intense heat, the vapors of Buizel's vital fluids drifting away slowly along with his life. Meekly he pawed at the tiles in one last effort to crawl away, however his body was by now so weak it took all his effort just to move his paws. Inwardly he couldn't help but wonder why this was happening to him, but finally he gave in and admitted the answer: his pride had finally gotten the better of him. He wasn't any better than Monferno after all, he had just always been too proud and even ashamed to admit otherwise. He had always wanted to be the strongest, the one everyone looked up to, but instead of gaining that right as he should have, he had instead resorted to belittling others. Curling up his blackened paws, pain seemed to wash away as a numbness set over his entire body, the last thought that passed through Buizel's mind being the desire to apologize to Monferno.

    The fire tornado suddenly dissipated, sparks of flame shooting off in all directions as the aura around the toaster oven vanished, the power light turning off for good. Amid the blackened tiles on the floor lay the remains of Buizel: a charred corpse which Christine and the Pokémon approached with stunned looks on their faces. She had never expected any of her Pokémon to die, especially not like this, and she couldn't even figure out how to react. Reaching a hand out she gingerly touched the corpse, quickly drawing her hand back as she found it was still burning. Monferno closed her eyes sadly as she looked away from the carcass. She may not have liked Buizel but she had never wished for him to die. He was one of Christine's companions as well, and thus one of her own; no matter how much she disliked him she never wanted to lose a companion.

    Christine stood up and backed away from the scene, shaking her head and cursing to herself. She knew they had to get out of the chateau immediately, before whatever had killed Buizel returned and did it again. She couldn't risk climbing up the dumbwaiter shaft, however, and the path back to the foyer from here was blocked due to the collapse. They had to find a way to get out to the front of the chateau from the courtyard. A door in the kitchen led out to the side of the patio on which the chateau's previous inhabitants may have had meals on, Christine quickly motioning for everyone to follow. Luxio, however, stayed behind a moment, tears falling from his eyes as he nudged the corpse sadly, ignoring how hot it still was. Buizel had been his friend and even mentor, and with him gone now he didn't know who to turn to. Seeing this, Christine turned around and gave Luxio a pat on the back, assuring him that they'd be leaving as soon as she found out how. It didn't make him feel much better, however he sadly turned away from the corpse of his dead friend and followed the group out into the courtyard.

    As Christine and her Pokémon left the kitchen, another apparition appeared above Buizel's corpse, this one composed of a purple fog. Placing two disembodied hands on the corpse, the ghost laughed as the body began to break apart into small particles, the particles flowing into the ghost's hands. It took only a moment to completely absorb the corpse, the ghost laughing again as it disappeared, leaving behind only the blackened tiles as reminder of what had happened to the Buizel.

    Unable to admit to what had happened, Christine was in a near panic as she searched around the walls that enclosed the chateau's large courtyard, looking for any gap or gate that could lead the group to safety. The Pokémon were little better, with only Staravia managing to remain calm. Buneary had begun to cry again, Monferno doing what little she could to calm the rabbit while at the same time trying to still her own nerves. Riolu and Luxio had withdrawn into themselves, the former unable to comprehend her first sight of death while the later continued to mourn the loss of his friend. Overhead Staravia circled, free to leave the chateau as he liked but unwilling to part from his companions. Instead, his eyes pierced through what little light remained, dusk having given way to night, in search for anything that could help the group below get past the enclosing wall.

    There seemed to be no such route for their escape, however. The courtyard wall appeared solid even after several years of neglect, and there didn't seem to be any sort of gate built into it. A few vines ran along its surface but easily fell loose as Christine gave them a tug, the stone walls having not allowed the vines to root themselves firmly. Only a few trees grew close to the wall, but none of them looked to have branches capable of supporting her weight. As Christine looked around the courtyard in despair she couldn't help but feel as if she was trapped, a prisoner in this house with no way to escape from whatever ghost had just killed Buizel. The hope of being able to leave from the courtyard was dashed, the only exit from it that didn't seem to lead back into the chateau disappearing into a small stone structure. Christine could see stairs leading down into the earth within the structure and assumed that it was a private crypt, housing the remains of the several generations who had lived in the chateau long before it was abandoned.

    Collapsing to her knees on the ground, Christine reflected on how quickly the night had gone from being an interesting exploration to being trapped in a house apparently haunted by some malevolent spirit. At the same time, the silence that the group had been keeping before had been shattered, Buneary's cries loud enough that Christine couldn't help but wonder if it would cause a passing stranger to investigate. Within her own head it almost seemed as if she could hear something behind the cries as well: fleeting whispers whose words she couldn't make out. As she pulled herself to her feet and supported herself against the courtyard wall, overlooking her Pokémon huddled about in the tall, unkempt grass, it almost seemed as if the voices began to grow louder. In a moment they were so loud that they filled her mind like a swarm of buzzing bees, so loud that they drowned each other out.

    A motion above her head caused Christine to look up, seeing the shape of Staravia come flying lower to the ground. At once, all the voices in her head seemed to shriek out as if in pain, Christine wincing and grabbing her ears reflexively. At the same time, large vines shot up from the tangled grass and into the sky, neatly catching the surprised bird.

    Struggling against the pain of the voices in her head, Christine looked up to see the vines wrapped around Staravia, dragging the shrieking bird down to the earth. Monferno was quick to attack, throwing a ball of fire at the vines. The flames tore through one of the vines holding Staravia, causing it to wither and fall to the ground. However, just as soon as one of the vines had been destroyed another took its places, binding the bird in tight coils that forced his wings to his side and left him unable to fight back as he thrashed about and screamed.

    From the shadows in a corner of the courtyard, a green aura suddenly appeared as a lawn mower slowly rolled forward on its own power, its front gaping open where some of the metal chassis and casing had broken away as if it were a mouth eager to feed. Inside the opening was the lawn mower's blade, spinning about fast enough that it could barely be seen as it cut through the long grass, rolling towards its target. Aghast and in disbelief, Christine realized that it was moving straight towards where Staravia now lay tied against the ground by the vines, the bird letting out a shrill cry as he tried to free himself after noticing the approaching lawn mower.

    Not wanting to see another friend die, Monferno, Luxio, and even Buneary joined together again to try to fight back the lawn mower, choosing to attack it instead of the rapidly regrowing vines. Riolu didn't want to just stand still and watch without acting again either, sprinting forward and leaping over the bound bird as she flipped through the air, sailing toward the approaching mower. Drawing a palm back, she concentrated as she approached the possessed machine, knowing that the timing had to be just right for the force palm attack to be effective.

    Before the virtually flying Riolu could reach her target, however, she was pulled out of the air by a shadowy black tendril that spun the dog-like Pokémon about as if it were a toy. The tendril suddenly let Riolu go, sending her straight at Christine. The Pokémon impacted the girl square in the chest, knocking the trainer back as she closed her arms around the small Riolu. Regaining her senses, Christine stood back up as she cradled Riolu, noticing that she had been knocked unconscious from the throw. After ensuring that her Pokémon was otherwise safe, Christine looked up to see the same inky black apparition that had prevented Luxio from saving Buizel. Its tendrils swung through the air as if they had a mind of their own, spinning about the shadowed body at the apparition's core. Another cackle as before joined the voices in Christine's head as the apparition floated backwards, fading into the shadows the lawn mower had emerged from and disappearing.

    Turning her attention back to the lawn mower, Christine cried out as she realized that none of her Pokemon's efforts to stop it had succeeded, the machine undeterred on its path towards Staravia. Desperate to save her Pokémon, she quickly grabbed Staravia's Poké Ball from her bracelet and held it out before pressing the button on its front. Instead of the beam of energy shooting out to withdraw Staravia, the Poké Ball instead began to spark as cracks formed along its side. Yelping in surprise, Christine dropped the Poké Ball and could only watch as it hit the ground and shattered into a hundred pieces. As if in response, the remaining five Poké Balls on her bracelet also began to spark, Christine quickly unclasping the leather band and letting it fall off her arm as all the Poké Balls broke apart in a burst of metal and plastic. Realizing that she couldn't do anything to save Staravia now, the lawn mower only a few feet from the constrained bird, she sank to her knees as tears began to stream down her face. Staravia turned to look Christine in the eyes as the lawn mower continued its steady pace, a look of peace in the sharp eyes of the bird of prey. He didn't want to die, no one did, but he could only hope that his trainer wouldn't give up hope. Serving her had meant everything to him, even if his inwardness had never allowed him to properly show it to her or the other Pokémon.

    Christine and all the Pokemon turned away as the lawn mower reached its target, the voices inside the girl's head suddenly silencing as well. The swirling lawn mower blade easily sliced through the vines that held the bird down, continuing on unabated as it began to cut into the Pokémon itself. A spurt of blood splattered across the grass as the blade easily cut into flesh and bone, Staravia's body proving no match for the lawn mower. The bird cried out one final pained scream as he felt the blade slice deep into his body, tearing it apart as if he were merely a piece of paper. Crimson liquid flew out over the grass and coated the blade as it tore into Staravia again and again, slicing through his ribs and into internal organs, all life snuffed from the bird in an instant. Free of the vines, Staravia's body was pulled underneath the mower and thrown about, the blade tearing off pieces from the carcass and hurling them out from under the mower and onto the grass in bloody chunks of meat and bone. It only took a moment for the body of the second victim to be torn apart and shredded beyond all recognition, not even the Staravia's head having been spared. Strewn across the grass were the remainders of the bird, various sized chunks of meat and lumps that had once been its vital internal organs. There were even small globs of gray set against the red blood that now covered the grass: the remainders of Staravia's brain.

    Christine didn't see any of it, but when she heard the lawn mower dying down she couldn't help but risk a look at the massacre. Upon seeing the blood and gore she involuntarily began to gag, turning away again and shutting the image of her Pokémon's shredded remains out of her mind. She couldn't ignore the loss though and moaned at how a second of her Pokémon had been killed by whatever spirit was possessing these devices. Her remaining Pokémon were faring little better, Buneary now not just crying but screaming as well. The rabbit was Christine's second newest Pokémon, before Riolu, and while she was actually quite a bit older than the newcomer it was impossible to tell from her behavior. She was scared by the smallest thing, and when scared she flew into a crying fit that almost nothing could calm her down from. Monferno had always been kind to Christine's Pokémon and so had naturally taken it upon herself to care for Buneary as if she were a baby from the moment she was captured. All she could do now though was try her best to calm the rabbit while preventing her from looking upon the carnage, all while trying to calm herself.

    Even if no one else was crying as much as Buneary, it was obvious that most were on the verge of it. Even Luxio, who had withdrawn into himself following Buizel's death, seemed to be impacted by the loss of Staravia as the light shining from his fur dimmed. Meanwhile, Christine's eyes had become red from tears and her skin was pale, matching her remaining Pokémon with the exception of Riolu who was fortunately still unconscious and spared from seeing the terrible act or remains. Singularly, everyone agreed that they needed to find a way out of the chateau as soon as possible. There was no telling when the ghost would strike again or who it would take next, but with both Buizel and Staravia now dead everyone was certain that it was only a matter of time unless they found their way out. On shaking legs Christine stood up, taking careful care to avoid looking at the pool of red intermingled with pink gore and even fragments of white bone. Set against the pale green grass and the gray and browns of decay that filled the courtyard, Staravia's remains seemed almost colorful. Christine quickly pushed the macabre thought out of her mind.

    “We...we've got to get out of here,” Christine muttered, pressing her head into her palm as she tried to work out a plan. “Right now.” She didn't care what the plan was. Just something, anything that would get them away from the horrible place that had already taken two of her Pokémon from her. Her three conscious Pokémon nodded in agreement, eager to get out just as much as she was. Having realized that there didn't seem to be any direct path out from the courtyard, Christine decided that their best bet would be to just try taking the collapsed hallway after all. Perhaps they could carefully clear away some of the rubble to get through to the foyer; it was certainly a better chance than just standing around waiting for the ghost to show up again.

    As Christine was turning around to return to the door that led into the kitchen, a laughing from behind her back stopped her in her tracks. Slowly turning towards it, she saw a ghostly form composed of purple fog hovering over the now defunct lawn mower. Laughing again, the Haunter spread its disembodied arms apart, palms downwards to the pool of blood and gore. Christine's eyes widened as the blood and every bit of gore that had been scattered about suddenly began to dissolve into particles which the Haunter seemed to absorb. It took less than a minute for the Haunter to absorb any and all remains of Staravia. The absorption was so complete that the only remaining sign of what had transpired was the bent and broken blades of grass leading up to and radiating from the lawn mower.

    Monferno began yelling angrily at the Haunter. They couldn't have done anything in respect of Staravia themselves, but it still seemed disrespectful on Haunter's part to just go and absorb the remains of someone's Pokémon like that. The Haunter didn't seem to be paying attention to Monferno however, instead laughing some more as its eyes began to glow red. Suddenly, from the shadows that pressed against the edges of the chateau, hundreds of pairs of red eyes appeared at once. Unblinking, the eyes stared at the human and group of Pokémon amid the yard's unkempt grass. As they glanced around at the eyes, chills ran down Christine's spine and the fur of the three Pokémon around her stood on end.

    Christine raised her flashlight and moved the beam over to one of the pairs of eyes, the light illuminating the shadows it was hiding in. However, rather than reveal anything hidden amid the darkness, all that Christine and the Pokémon saw as they looked down the beam of light was a pair of red eyes floating in midair that seemed to possess no body. Without warning a fanged mouth suddenly opened beneath the eyes, as if parting the very folds of space itself. Christine nearly dropped the flashlight in surprise as similar mouths appeared all around the wall of eyes, the Haunter howling as a loud, multi-voiced laughing filled the courtyard and gaseous bodies formed around all of the multitude of ghosts. Finding themselves faced by an army of Gastly blocking their path back to the chateau, Christine screamed in shock and fear, this time managing to drop the flashlight for real as she instantly turned around and began running away from the wall of ghosts.

    Her Pokémon were quick to follow after her, however Monferno paused to glance at the Haunter again only to notice that it had disappeared. Launching a stream of fire at some of the approaching ghosts to stun them, she quickly bent down and scooped up the dropped flashlight before turning around and running as fast as she could. Not knowing where else to escape to, Christine had fled inside the crypt at the far end of the courtyard. Noticing that Monferno had lagged behind, Christine paused in the act of pushing closed a large stone door, yelling worriedly for Monferno to hurry up. The army of ghosts were right on the monkey Pokemon's flame-tipped tail, her feet pounding the ground as she ran faster than she ever had before.

    The ghosts mere feet behind her, Monferno jumped and sailed through the air, flying between the doors of the crypt right as Christine slammed them closed behind her. The girl wasn't sure if it would stop the Gastly, however after a heart-stopping moment nothing had come through. Huddled together at the top of the stairs, everyone breathed a sigh of relief as Christine pulling the still unconscious Riolu she held in her arms close. Feeling both her own and the Pokemon's heart beat she panted heavily, relieved that they were safe for the moment. Monferno muttered an apology for lagging behind and offered up the flashlight she had retrieved, Christine gladly taking the important object. She couldn't understand what Monferno was saying, but nonetheless she knew what the Pokémon meant and reassured her that it was okay and that the important thing was finding a way out as soon as possible.

    Having nowhere else to go, the group turned around and began walking down the stairs, Christine shining the flashlight around her in the front while Luxio remained in the back with his naturally-produced light. Behind their backs and unknown to them, the ghostly form of the Haunter from before drifted through the stone door as if it wasn't even there, silently watching the group descend the stairs with an ever-present grin plastered on its face.

    The spiral stairs leading down into the crypt seemed to descend forever, twisting around and around as it penetrated deep into the Earth. Every once in a while a passage off the stairs would present itself, prompting the group to explore the burial places of several generations one by one. Caskets lined the walls of the tunnels, unnerving the group somewhat. Christine pressed on nonetheless, wanting to find a way out of the place once and for all before anything more could happen to them. Monferno admired her trainer's determination and, despite her own personal fears, she couldn't help but feel as if she owed it to Christine to continue on as well. Luxio, still heartbroken about Buizel's death, remained in a zoned-out state that made it almost impossible for Monferno to read his feelings, however. While he seemed just as determined as the rest of them to get away from the haunted chateau, Monferno couldn't help but feel as if he wasn't all there, only going through the actions because he didn't know what else to do now. Surprisingly enough Buneary had calmed down, the rabbit Pokémon seeming to have realized that this was a situation that called for them to seriously focus if they planned on getting out alive. She had even taken to walking on her own rather than relying on Monferno, the monkey giving her a small pat before moving next to Luxio.

    Despite Monferno's efforts to try to get through to the feline, nothing seemed to be working. He was simply unresponsive, not so much as batting an eye when Monferno tried to cheer him up. Luxio's sour mood worsening Monferno's, she sighed as she returned to walking alongside Christine as they returned to the stairs again. The passage they had been down had turned out to be nothing but a dead end, just as the one before it and the one after it would be. Dejected and with moods rapidly dropping, the group continued ever lower into the crypt. Eventually they managed to reach the very bottom of the stairs, Christine noticing that the stonework the stairs were made of at the bottom looked noticeably newer but less refined than at the top.

    A passage reached off from the stairs down here as well, however to Christine's surprise it seemed as if the tunnel was unfinished, the walls jagged rather than smooth. Something about the passage unnerved her almost more than the other ones had, even if she had so far not seen a single casket containing a dead body down here as they had in the higher tunnels. Indeed, this path looked to be a fairly recent addition to the crypt, perhaps even made after it was abandoned. Shining her flashlight along the ceiling Christine noticed a string of lights running along it, fans wedged in the corner where the wall met the ceiling at regular intervals. She assumed that they were remnants from when the tunnel was dug, but that they were left behind was a bit odd.

    Almost before anyone had realized it, the tunnel gave way to a large room buried far beneath the ground. Lights and fans were set up around the room as if it were the sight of some sort of expedition, the people who had been studying the place having long sense disappeared. As Christine shone the light around and took in the room she began to get a picture of why it had apparently not been connected to the crypt originally until the tunnel was dug out. Set into the walls of the room were numerous cages, the iron bars that prevented whoever had been inside from getting out long since rusted. Chains were anchored to both the ground and large pillars that rose from the tiled floor to the ceiling, and set against one wall on the far end of the room was a table on which Christine could make out a row of various knives, chains, steel spikes, leather belts, and a variety of other torture devices that she couldn't even identify. However this room had gotten below the chateau, it's purpose was obvious: it was a classic dungeon, most likely from when the chateau had first been built long, long ago. There had to be stairs running up from it to the chateau proper, which renewed Christine's hope that they'd be able to get out alive after all. The group drifted apart as they explored the room, Christine telling them of her suspicion that there were stairs leading up hidden somewhere around the dungeon.

    By the time Christine realized that they probably should have remained close to each other it was too late.

    Luxio was sniffing around one of the far corners of the room when he felt something give beneath his paw. Jumping backward, he watched in surprise as a portion of the floor slid away, only to reveal a large pit that had been hidden beneath it. Bending his head over the edge to look, Luxio yelped as he saw that far below in the depths of the pit, a blanket of rusted yet still sharp-looking spikes covered the ground. Hearing the sound of the retracting mechanism, Christine turned around to look and was walking over to Luxio when it happened. One of the fans sitting on the ground began to shudder, its blades spinning up slowly at first but then faster as a yellow aura appeared around it. The device lifted up in the air, turning to face where Luxio was still looking down into the spiked pit, the Pokémon unaware of what was about to happen.

    Christine noticed the fan though and cried out for Luxio to get away from the edge. Before he could even process what she had said, however, the fan suddenly began spinning faster than Christine thought such an old machine could possibly do. A vortex of wind seemed to erupt from the fan, surging through the air straight on its collision course with the precariously perched Luxio. The blast of wind hitting its target, Luxio could only let out a scream as he found himself losing his footing and plummeting over the edge, into the lethal spiked pit.

    Also screaming, Christine reached the pit's edge and crouched down after setting Riolu on the floor, almost scared to look below. When she did she regretted that she had: Luxio had fallen neatly into the very center of the pit, the spikes piercing through his body like a pincushion and erupting from his chest in a bloody mess. The feline Pokémon whined and twitched its paws about, tongue lolling uselessly from his muzzle as he tried to turn his head to look at Christine far above. Weakly he tried to raise a paw up towards her in the hope that she could help him, however there was nothing she could do. Christine openly cried as she stared down into the deep pit, which had to be at least five meters deep and far beyond her reach. All she could do this time was watch, unable to even order her Pokémon to help. Monferno and Buneary, having noticed Luxio fall as well, had also run over and were clustered around the edge of the pit, both crying just as Christine was as they stared down at their dying friend.

    Luxio moaned as he dropped his arm, perhaps realizing that the pit was simply too deep. Feeling his friend's tears hit him on the chest, he tried to say something to them. However for some reason he found he couldn't talk, both as if he physically couldn't, as well as if he simply didn't know how. The spike that had jammed itself in his throat and which he could see at the bottom of his vision was surely one of the reasons he couldn't talk; however, even when he tried to remember the names of the people and Pokémon he could barely see above he found himself simply pulling up blanks. Feeling his body slide down the spikes some, Luxio gave one final cough as he tried to remember something, anything about who he or the people above were, about his life and why he was here. Unable to come up with any answers, all Luxio could do was shiver uncontrollably as his body dropped down the blood-coated spikes again, the large wounds across his chest widening. Unbeknownst to Luxio as his life slowly drifted away from him, the spikes hadn't just pierced him in the chest; one had driven itself straight through his skull as well.

    Crying still, Christine backed away from the pit, picking up Riolu's limp, still unconscious body as she forced herself to her feet again. She couldn't believe this was happening; already she had lost half her Pokémon to whatever it was possessing these everyday objects. If she couldn't find a way out soon she feared that she's lose the other three as well, among those being not just her starter Pokémon and closest friend but also the unconscious Riolu who she had cared for since it had hatched from an egg. Tears falling onto Riolu's fur, Christine shakily turned away from the pit, keeping her eyes down as she stared at the Riolu cradled in her arms. She had to hurry and find the way out of this place soon; whatever was killing the Pokémon off didn't seem to be giving them a break.

    Slowly Christine looked up, only to come face to face with a Gastly floating right in front of her.

    Jumping in surprise, Riolu slipped out of Christine's arms as the girl screamed and ran off to the side. However this only led her straight into another Gastly, which she nervously backed away from. Glancing at Monferno and Buneary, she saw them looking past her. Slowly Christine turned around, only for her eyes to go wide. Filing out from the tunnel and into the dungeon, a swarm of Gastly were appearing much as in the courtyard. Pressing in on Christine and the two Pokémon from all sides, the Gastly forced them back against a wall. Looking past them, Christine saw where she had dropped Riolu accidentally, a pair of Gastly approaching the puppy.

    In a frenzy Christine broke away from where she had been backed against the wall, screaming in both pain and terror as she literally ran straight through the encroaching Gastly. With every ghost she passed through it was as if that part of her body had been plunged into ice. Disregarding her own personal comfort, Christine focused solely on Riolu, desperate to get to it before the Gastly could. Suddenly, however, a surge of the ghosts against her turned Christine's entire body to ice, every single nerve in her body crying out as the Gastly swarmed around her. Collapsing beneath the pile of ghosts as she flailed futilely to try to get them off, all that ran through Christine's mind was concern not for herself, but for her remaining Pokémon. She desired to protect more than anything else in the world, painfully dragging her paralyzed body across the ground, only a few feet from Riolu. Reaching out, she felt her arm fall on Riolu's chest. The ghosts that were swarming about her continued to scream, overwhelming her hearing as their touch froze her body. Crying out, Christine pulled Riolu's body closer to her, trying to hang onto consciousness as she shielded the small, defenseless Pokémon with her own body.

    Despite her strong will, however, the Gastly were simply too numerous. Feeling consciousness slipping away, Christine buried her face in Riolu's fur as tears dripped from her eyes.

    To Be Continued...
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