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Old June 29th, 2013 (2:28 AM). Edited June 29th, 2013 by Cutlerine.
Cutlerine Cutlerine is offline
Gone. May or may not return.
    Join Date: Mar 2010
    Location: The Misspelled Cyrpt
    Age: 24
    Nature: Impish
    Posts: 1,030
    > I dont know if this was already a thing, but apparently Vesta can sense the Quilava? Was that previously established?
    Secondly, I would suggest having either Vesta or Jasmine attack the Gate and enter the Bell Tower. It appears that normally intelligent Pokemon, such as Ghosts/Legendaries/etc. become self aware during the Dreaming. And, since the Tower is supposedly home to Ho-oh and a passing place for the Legendary Trio of Johto, I'd say its worth checking out.

    Jasmine smashes the lock on the door to the Bellchime Trail with one blow of her open palm – reminding you indirectly of Tom Buchanan – and you pass through into the gatehouse where a few old monks live. There's nothing here (no one since Henry VIII has ever got much out of looting monasteries) but you're able to get onto the Bellchime Trail without much incident.

    The place is... different, to be sure. It looks normal enough – locked in perpetual autumn by means unknown – but only half as long as normal due to the great black wall of the Gengar cutting it in two. You've all passed through the Gengar's side before by now, though, and you only have to persuade Jasmine a little bit before she follows you and Elm through.

    On the other side, the Bell Tower rises straight and tall, a colossal monument to human endeavour; as always, you can feel a faint mellifluous hum in the air, as if the bell had just finished ringing when you arrived, and the last strains of its voice murmur among the orange leaves.

    Oh yeah, and there's a dead Ho-Oh on the ground in front of it.

    “OH MY GOD!” cries Jasmine, staring at the gigantic carcase. “HO-OH'S DEAD!

    “Yes,” says Elm. “I had noticed.” He walks a little closer and scratches absently at the coral spreading across his cheek. “It fell from the Tower,” he says, looking puzzled. “And it isn't Eldritch...”

    That's what seems so strange about it: Ho-Oh is the same as ever, resplendent in its rainbow-hued feathers. Red and gold mingle in the scabbed blood around its head, not green, and it smells of honey and rot, not petrol. There is a savage twist in its neck where it broke it in the fall from the roof; that shouldn't have killed an Eldritch Pokémon – or at least, not for long.

    “What the hell happened here?” you say at length. It's the first thing you've been able to see since you arrived; Ho-Oh is too big, too colourful, too alive and yet too dead, and it fills your eye and your mind to capacity.

    “I think it fell off the roof,” says Elm. His voice is toneless; he is as stricken as you are. “It fell off the roof...

    “We can't leave it here,” you say immediately. “We have to – bury it, or something—”


    Elm sighs.

    “She's right,” he says. “We can't spare the time.”

    “And we can't leave it here!” you insist. “It's Ho-oh!”

    “I know!” he snaps. “I'm thinking, damn it—”

    I have an idea
    , says Vesta, and the instant she says it, you realise what it is.

    “Good girl,” you tell her. “That's it.” You turn to Elm and Jasmine. “We can't bury it,” you say. “But we can cremate it.”

    “IT'S... HOW IT SHOULD BE,” replies Jasmine. Her voice is shaking; is that the light glinting on her cheeks, or are those more mercury tears? “HO-OH IS FIRE AND AIR. WE SHOULD RETURN IT TO THAT.”

    Elm nods, his aggression spent.

    “Fine,” he says. “Good idea.” He takes Jasmine's arm. “We should step back,” he says. “Ho-Oh's flame sacs are probably still full – if they'd burst in the fall, it would already have burnt up. The blaze will be, uh, potent.”

    They take a few hurried steps away. You unwind the Tangle of Fireproof Webbing and hold up Vesta to the light.

    “Burn it with respect, OK?” you tell her quietly. “This is like – this thing was a national icon. It's like a god of fire.”

    A god of fire... Vesta sounds captivated by the idea. We will burn together, she decides. With respect!

    “Good girl. Now!”

    You swing the Webbing like a sling and hurl it at Ho-Oh's side; in an instant, the flesh and feathers seem to have disappeared, leaving a skeleton dimly visible at the core of a twisting inferno that climbs up, up and up, higher than the trees, higher even than the Bell Tower, belching black and gold smoke like a great primeval dragon.

    And in among Vesta's green flames are golden ones, Ho-Oh's flames; and blue-purple ones, the sacred fire unleashed in the myths against the enemies of the Johtonians; and in the kaleidoscope of fire and light a massive heat is born, stripping the leaves from the trees in a wave of redly pulsing air, sending them spiralling around the blaze like nymphs dancing wild in some flaming Bacchanalia.

    Then it is done.

    The flames die down, the smoke vanishes; sparks wink out and of Ho-oh there is nothing left at all, not even ash – except for the Tangle of Fireproof Webbing, smoking gently but still intact, and a little dark object on the scorched ground.

    Othodox found one Flattened Unown! Othodox put the Flattened Unown in the Pouch.

    What a way to go: crushed to death beneath a falling legendary Pokémon. Makes you think, doesn't it? No, I guess it doesn't.

    “Whoa,” you breathe.

    “Yeah,” agrees Elm.

    “IT'S AT PEACE,” says Jasmine. “AT LAST.”

    “More than that,” Elm says. “Ho-Oh doesn't die – not permanently. It's a species of phoenix, after all.” He stares up at the now-smokeless sky. “Wherever that smoke went, Ho-Oh will be reborn,” he says. “It's not gone. We just moved it along a little.”

    “Will it be reborn Eldritch?”

    He shrugs.

    “I have no idea,” he says honestly. “I hope not. It wasn't Eldritch when it died, so maybe...” He shrugs again. “I don't know.”

    There is a long silence.

    “Well,” you say, “we should go and look in the Bell Tower. See what we can find.”

    “What about Vesta?” asks Elm, pointing.

    You look. The Webbing is still smoking; it's probably not a good idea to touch it just yet.

    “I'll get her on the way out,” you decide. “Just wait there, Vesta.”

    You enter the Bell Tower, and split up to search the various floors. An hour later, you meet up again to pool your findings.

    Othodox found one Ceremonial Sword! Othodox put the Ceremonial Sword in the Pouch.

    Othodox found one Pot of Incense! Othodox put the Pot of Incense in the Pouch.

    Elm found one Blessed Staff! Elm put the Blessed Staff in the Priestly Paraphernalia Pocket of Elm's Bag.
    Jasmine found one Grimoire! Jasmine put the Grimoire in Othodox's Pouch.

    Jasmine found one Sacred Ash! Jasmine put the Sacred Ash in Othodox's Pouch.

    You go outside again and collect Vesta – but as soon as you pick her up, you notice that her experience in the funerary pyre has changed her.

    Congratulations! Your Vesta evolved into NEW SPECIES [PLEASE ENTER NAME DATA MANUALLY]!

    > Do we have time to wander around? I guess we do, since, maybe, just maybe, that the Gengar dome/sky/whatever can protect us from other Eldritch creatures entering the city.
    After checking the Bell Tower, I guess we should plan how to get to the Ruins of Alph. Prepare necessary weaponry for protection as well.

    You stare.


    “Yeah?” she answers, and you start. That is not her usual half-voice, buried in crackles and spits. That is a distinctly human voice – and recognisably female, as well.

    “You've evolved.”

    “Is that what it's called? I wasn't sure. I've definitely changed, if that's what you mean.”

    “Oh yeah,” you manage, nodding. “You've definitely changed.”

    Within the Tangle of Fireproof Webbing is a ball of golden flame in continual motion, endlessly extruding tentacles and half-formed limbs of liquid fire; Vesta resembles a baby shoggoth made of napalm, or something like that, and she can obviously move far more quickly than she used to.

    “I don't think you need to carry me any more,” she says, diffidently – with a hint, you think, of the embryonic rebelliousness of a fledgeling teenager.

    “Oh, OK,” you reply, putting her down. “Do you still need the—”

    The Webbing boils and shudders, glowing gold from within as flames force their way through it, expanding, reshaping themselves, pushing the silk into new shapes the Spinarak never thought it might assume; it rises like a lumpish column, rounding at the top and forking in the middle, and grows in great juddering shocks with a sound like melting rock (we shall assume you know what that sounds like) – and then, all at once, the shape uncurls and straightens up and you can see what it is that Vesta has done.

    Before you stands a statue of a woman (a little oddly-shaped, perhaps, but a pretty good likeness for someone without anyone to model it on): a woman whose skin is indestructible white-grey spider-silk, and whose eyes are formed of the rosy gold fire that makes up her core.

    You and Vesta stare at each other for a moment. Looking into her burning eyes hurts, as if you were looking at the sun, but you can't quite tear yourself away: this is Vesta, your Vesta, your wonderful, clever little Vesta, and she...

    Vesta hugs you. It's a bit like being hugged by a baby nuclear reactor, but you don't mind: you hug her back, uncertain why exactly you are crying but not caring, and going on anyway.

    “I understand it now,” she whispers, and you can tell from the sound of her voice that she is crying too, or something like it. “There's a word for someone like you, isn't there? Someone who looks after me like you do...”

    You close your eyes.

    “Thank you for everything,” she says. “Dad.”


    When your gloriously (and, it must be said, slightly sickeningly) sentimental tête-á-tête is over, you turn back to Elm and Jasmine feeling slightly embarrassed, but not nearly as embarrassed as they look. They also look stupefied; this has been rather an unusual event even by the standards of the Dreaming.

    “Er... What did I just see?” asks Elm.

    “Vesta evolved,” you say simply.

    “I'm smarter,” she adds. “I'm older.”

    Not just physically, you imagine, although you can't deny that she has now been in existence longer than before – but mentally and emotionally; she's still a child, yes, but not as young a child as she was before. You imagine she must be twelve or thirteen in human terms – which is rather confusing, since she seems to have built herself a body based on Jasmine's, and Jasmine is in her early twenties – but it's not the most confusing thing that's happened, so you imagine you can probably deal with it.


    “Vesta's acquired some new abilities with her evolution,” you reply. “Or... well, Vesta can probably explain it best.”

    “I can change my shape,” she said. “I'm fluid, and stronger than before. And I used the webbing because through the webbing I can touch things without destroying them.”


    “I think Jasmine means that we're both, er, startled,” says Elm. “Neither of us were expecting this... actually, you two probably weren't, either.”

    “No,” you agree. “I wasn't.”

    “Nor was I,” says Vesta. “Something in Ho-Oh changed me.”

    “Most Fire-types have organically-generated flintstones inside them to ignite the gas from the flame sacs,” Elm explains. “It's been theorised that Ho-Oh, since it actively generates elemental radiation, must have Fire Stones rather than ordinary flintstones. Perhaps that acted upon you.”

    There's nothing quite like empirical scientific interest to quash shock, is there? Elm seems to be taking it all in his stride now, and happily pontificates on theories of Pokémon evolution (more properly termed, he explains, Andrian phase metamorphosis, after the scientist who conducted the first major researches into it) all the way back to the gate of the Bellchime Trail. This helps normalise the mood a little, and soon enough the four of you feel almost normal again – though you, naturally, feel more than normal; Vesta is holding your hand, excited at being able to actually touch you, and as well as the heat from her flaming core you feel a warm glow in your chest. Pride? Happiness? Love? You're not sure any one of those does it justice; it's none of them and all of them at once, and it buoys you up even in the gloomy twilight of Ecruteak City.

    Once safely back within the dome of night, you hold a discussion about how to get to the Ruins of Alph, and decide that there isn't anything you can do except walk.

    As for weapons, well. You have the Highly Persuasive Handgun, the Hideously Dangerous Stabby Thing, a sword, a big stick, Jasmine, and Vesta. You are better armed than some countries.

    Othodox's Devotion has improved!

    Othodox is the Son Tabiti Never Had!

    For information about A Grand Day Out, a bizarre short story in video game form, click here.