• Want to support a good cause? Visit https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/ to see how you can help the Black Lives Matter movement, even without donating.
  • No paparazzi clickbait here! Just a good old fashioned feature with exactly zero gossip about celebrities' love lives. Honest.Check out our spotlight of Rhema's storylocke, As Above, So Below.
  • One of our new features includes receiving a message on Discord when you have alerts. Find out how, here!
  • Have you seen our Stream tab? It let's you peek in and chat with our forum streamers on-site, from both Twitch AND Picarto! You can even view multiple streams at once. You can submit your own channel via Streams > Submit Channel.
  • If you're a fan of giving and recieving constructive criticism check out this resource about Critique Level Tags!
  • The results are in for the Nuzlocke Forums Extravaganza! Congratulations to everyone that placed this year!

  • Episode Six of The Writer's Locke podcast is now available for stream or download! This episode continues our exploration of the new stories, and in our discussion segment we tackle more of the planning process!
  • New here and still figuring out the site? Check out the New User Guide and FAQ for some help!
  • Trying to figure out how the different forums have changed? This thread is the place for you.
Thread Description
A HeartGold nuzlocke twisted into a fantasy setting. Updates sporadically.

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #61
Xita - Haha, nope, sorry, no miraculous resurrections of the dead here. (I kinda wish I'd managed to get that chapter posted on Halloween now lol.)

cyndakip - Thanks! I didn't want to keep Petrel disguising himself as Giovanni, primarily because Ethan wouldn't recognise him (and in-game Ethan absolutely thrashed Petrel single-handedly, which was why he was alone in the story.) Glad you liked how it turned out!


Consciousness returns slowly.

There's a strange feeling of weightlessness, and it takes me a long few moments to realise that I'm floating in the air, my lights forming a spherical web of energy around me. It feels like I'm in one of those fairground inflatable balls.

I didn't even know I could do something like this.

"Ethan!"

The sudden shout jolts me back to wakefulness, and my lights vanish, dumping me unceremoniously on the ground. Water begins to fall on me. Rain. How am I outside now?

Magni gets to me first, a few moments ahead of Gaius. "What in all the hells happened?"

She offers me a hand up, as much lifting me as I'm standing up under my own power. As she does, I look around.

We're in what can only really be described as a crater. The manor, the labyrinth...it's all gone, nothing more than rubble. I can only assume that the ruins at the edge of the crater are packed tightly enough that...whatever the fuck just happened...hasn't left us underwater, though there's a slow trickle of water around my feet.

Magni's looking at me. It takes me a while to remember she asked me a question. "I don't -"

Carlei.

Instinctively I reach out with my powers, trying to find her. But all I can find is...darkness. Like the blaze of Silver's Champion powers, but...wrong.

Chaos.

Not just like my Chaos, or even the Chaos of Eusine. Something far more primal, far more potent.

Carlei was right next to me when...this...happened. My defensive barrier of light didn't spring up until after I was unconscious. The blast itself might have been powerful enough to knock me out, but though I ache all over, it hasn't done any severe damage. And Carlei's tougher than I am. She'll be fine. She has to be.

That doesn't stop me screaming her name into the echoes of the rubble.

I can't lose her.

My cry gets a response, but not the one I wanted - or even one I expected. I don't sense the movement with my powers, but I hear it. And when I turn I find Silver standing there.

He looks like shit. His clothes are ripped and tattered, he has one eye closed, and a massive wound that looks like a burn mark down one side. He's holding his side with his hand, and I'm not sure if it's out of pain or an attempt to hide the injury from us.

And his powers are so...weak. I can feel the Champion power, the shard given to him by the Divines back in Enju, still buried deep within his soul, already beginning to restore his strength - but his power is far, far diminished from the whirling maelstrom of water I'm used to feeling from him.

I could beat him, now.

We could leave, go back to Kirameki, and he wouldn't know where we went. I'm sure he'd find us eventually, but for the first time in God knows how long, we could genuinely be free of him.

Silver sees the look on my face, and his silvery claws appear on his free hand. I can feel my motes of light dancing around mine.

And then Gaius steps in between us, so sudden and unexpected that we both pause.

"You both have people you care about here," he says, quietly. The last time I heard him speak like that was just after Shayne died, when he was comforting Haneka.

I want to tell him he's an idiot. Of course I want to find Carlei, more than anything. The others too. But it's not like Silver's just going to give us a pass just because the place exploded.

Wait, both?

Water swirls around Silver, wrapping his lower legs in a miniature whirlpool for a few moments. It reminds me a lot of how any fire in the vicinity had always responded to Carlei, before she got better control of her powers.

"Fine," he spits, after a long, tense few seconds. Then he steps - staggers, really - sideways, so he can lock eyes with me. For all his vulnerability right now, that fierce chill in his gaze still scares me. "Goban says you can find people with your magic. Find them."

I don't want to tell him I can't - not like I normally can, anyway. The Chaos of this place is overwhelming. I can sense people if I'm close and concentrating, but I can't do any kind of long-range searching right now. But when my ability seems to be the only thing stopping him from flying at me, I close my eyes and focus, trying as hard as I can to pierce through the swirling darkness for the pinpricks of light that I know - pray - are there.

We find Shukie and Silas first. For a moment I think it's Carlei - a bright, strong power like a beacon - but it's nothing like her aura. When we get closer, the glowing red light gives away where they are, buried under piles of rubble. They're in a bubble of energy, Shukie hovering in the middle of it in a meditative posture, eyes closed, seemingly heedless of what's going on around her.

She'd said she could create shields. I hadn't quite realised how strong those shields were until now, seeing them in action, holding up what must be literal tons of twisted stone and metal.

Once Magni pulls off enough of the rubble that we can see them, Silver reaches out and puts the palm of his hand on the shield. After a moment, it begins to fade, and Shukie drifts back down to the ground.

"Ew, wet!" she complains, before she's even opened her eyes, as she lands in a puddle. "Oh, Lord Silver!" She tries to get back to her feet and bow to him all at once. "Sorry for...I mean, please excuse my rudeness!"

"It's fine." Silver just waves his hand vaguely as if to brush away her apology. She doesn't seem offended.

Then they notice us. Shukie gives me a rather hurt look. Silas's reaction is much more overt than his sister's - his double-ended sword springs into his hand and he flips back to his feet, glaring at me with even more anger and venom than the last time we met.

Back then he wasn't a threat to me. Not even slightly. But it's been half a dozen weeks since then. I don't think he's more powerful, particularly, but the way he has his sword angled, his half-relaxed, half-tense posture...I may not be much of a hand-to-hand fighter myself, but I've seen Carlei and the others fighting enough to know that he's obviously been training. A lot. I honestly don't know if I could beat him right now.

Thankfully it doesn't come to that. Silver just holds out a hand, and Silas stops. "No," he says, with an air of calmness that I'm sure he doesn't feel. "For the time being, we focus on finding the others."

He's a good actor. Better than Carlei, I have to admit. Not that I think she'd be that upset at that. She's too honest to feel proud about hiding what she thinks.

Silas obviously doesn't agree with Silver's judgement, but though he grits his teeth, he obeys. His sword dissolves into black smoke and snow crystals that send an uncomfortably cold breeze past me. I'm sure it's intentional. "As you wish, Highness."

Silver sends Silas out to look for the others. I don't know if it's to reduce the chance of Silas trying to attack us or because he doesn't trust me to find his companions. Either way it leaves Shukeya walking in the centre of our group.

"You didn't tell me you were a...foogitivy," she complains. It takes me a moment to realise she means 'fugitive.' I assume she's picked up the word from Silver, like her attempt at formality.

"I...kinda had other things on my mind." She looks up at me expectantly. "I'm sorry, okay?"

She beams. "Apology accepted!"

Well, that was easy.

"He protected us," she adds, much more quietly.

"Huh?"

"When...this...happened." Silver's obviously listening to us, but he doesn't tell her to be quiet. "I told you my power is...uh, 'Eegiss.'"

"Aegis?"

"Exactly. If there's one thing I know, it's magic barriers. Lord Silver used his Champion power to protect us."

So that's why he's so weak. Why something was finally able to hurt him when the best any of us have managed to do since Enju is knock him down for a few seconds.

Even if it's only temporary, sacrificing the Champion power that means such a lot in this world to protect others...for all that his stubbornness and arrogance is infuriating, I can't help but admire him. He's a lot like Carlei.

A few moments later, we find Lyra - or more accurately, she and Silas find us. I'd been sending calls into the water whenever we'd passed anything more than a puddle, but I'm not entirely sure that works when there are only tiny streams connecting the different bodies of water. I'm not entirely surprised that she seems unharmed by the explosion. She's being 'guarded' by Silas, though when she sees us she starts running towards us.

"Hey!" Silas makes the mistake of trying to stop her and gets knocked on his ass for his trouble. I don't think she even notices.

I always knew they were close friends - hell, Silver's been protecting her to greater or lesser extent ever since Carlei and I escaped from the palace - but I'm still a little caught off-guard when she virtually ignores the rest of us and hugs Silver gently, lifting him off the ground. Blue light flows from her hands, arms, head and even her hair, flowing around the rather startled Silver like streams of mist, healing his wounds where they touch.

She's not using a healing totem. Despite all the crazy stuff I've seen since coming here, I've never once seen someone - except for the priests, and their power only works in specific circumstances - cure wounds without one.

But she's not just healing Silver. I can feel power flowing from her to him, restoring the energy he lost. When Silver realises what she's doing his eyes widen and he tries half-heartedly to stop her, but what little power he can muster to block her is swept away like a leaf on a tidal wave.

I never really realised how much stronger than him Lyra is. The two Champions, to me, have always just been overwhelming. It's like trying to tell which of two volcanoes is hotter by diving into them. But seeing them like this it's obvious that the length of time they've had their powers makes a big difference.

"You didn't have to do that," Silver says quietly, when Lyra finally lets him go. I've never heard him speak so gently to anyone before.

"Yes, I did," she replies, simply.

Silver is quiet for a few moments. Then he puts the power Lyra just gave him to use, and crouches down to one of the nearby pools of water, resting one hand on the stone at its base. After a moment I notice a thin stream of water flowing out of the pool and uphill, over a lump of stone, and joining into another pool. Then two more streams flow from that, questing out further and finding more water. I watch until the streams of water disappear from view, spreading all across the crater - and then he beckons Lyra over, his free hand outstretched towards her. She seems as confused as the rest of us, but she obeys, taking his hand and allowing him to draw her in.

When he nudges her hand into the pool of water as well she seems to get the idea, because I feel a surge of power from her and the rubble around us begins to rumble. It reminds me horribly of the rumbling that I'd heard before the explosion that had left us in this state in the first place. But this time it's Lyra doing it. I'm almost surprised how reassuring that knowledge is.

And then the wall of stony rubble that had been keeping the sea out of the crater gives way, water surging in and down under the combined influence of the Champion of the Oceans and the Champion of the Open Water. By following the bright light of their Water magic I can sense bubbles - a few pockets scattered around the crater where they're controlling the water more carefully instead of letting it just crash in as it wills.

When the closest 'bubble' gets close enough to see it becomes apparent that it's more of a platform - an area of what appears to be solid water (but not ice) that's riding along the surface of the waves, with a rather drenched Zane clinging on for dear life as it deposits him on the ground just in front of Lyra and Silver.

Goban is the next to arrive, and once he realises what's going on he abandons the platform entirely, doing his Corruption-powered turn-into-smoke thing and just drifting down to land lightly.

When my still-somewhat-addled mind realises that they're finding everyone who was here with their magic, I follow his example in reverse, lifting myself up into the air, high above the crater. I still can't sense anything except the Champion magic and the Chaos, but I can still look - and after a few moments I find her.

I'm barely even surprised that Carlei's managed to find her footing on the platform of water - though she certainly doesn't protest when I swoop down and pluck her up into the sky, holding her tightly. I see more than feel flames flickering into life and flowing over us both.

We're quiet for a few moments. I don't want to discuss - don't want to dwell on - how scared I was when I thought I might have lost her. She obviously feels the same.

She breaks the silence by plucking one of her roving flames off the tip of my wing and examining it idly. "You really are getting used to me, aren't you?" she murmurs.

I answer her with a long kiss.

By the time we remember that there's anything going on back on ground level, Silver and Lyra's magic has found everyone else, and the water beneath them has coalesced into a single, massive platform that carries them to shore. There's no sign of Petrel. Or of whoever - whatever - caused this whole thing. Among the unconscious Imperials is an older man who I can only assume must be Lord Pryce.

When we land, Silver gives us an astonished look. I'm so used to everyone knowing we're dating that I didn't even pause to consider that he might not realise I'm Carlei's boyfriend now. His astonished look only stays astonished for a few moments before turning into a hateful glare, and he takes a half step towards me.

Goban puts a hand on his shoulder, and Silver clenches his fists, but he relaxes a little.

"You have until dusk tomorrow."

I watched Frozen 2 a few days ago and all the elemental-manipulation stunts are still rattling around my brain. Can you tell? 😂
Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #62
Random bonus extra!

Choji was a small town, comparatively speaking. It wasn't like Kogane, where Blessed were commonplace wherever you looked. Here, the arrival of a Blessed was still a noteworthy event. Of course, it didn't help that word was already beginning to get around that he'd had something to do with the destruction of Mahogany Manor.

All in all, it meant that there was a distinct...space...around his seat at the bar.

That suited Gaius just fine. They didn't serve anything strong enough to affect him here, but he hadn't expected them to. He'd come here to get away from the nonsense that seemed to have surrounded his life, even if only for less than a day.

Then someone sat down next to him. He glanced across, irritably, but relaxed a little when he saw who it was.

"Gaius."

"Goban." He paused, smiling slightly. "Guess that oughta be 'Lieutenant Goban,' now. Or have you managed to get yourself another promotion on top of that one by bedding the prince?"

"Har har." Goban indicated to the bartender and ordered the same as Gaius, pointedly proffering a coin when the man tried to refuse it. "How did you know?"

Gaius chuckled. "I've known you since you were a scrawny twelve-year-old with a helmet too big for him."

"Fair enough." The bartender returned with Goban's drink, and the Corruption Aspect paused to take a large swig. "Look, Gaius...about what happened back then, I never got the chance to say..." He sighed. "I'm sorry I couldn't help you. I tried, but..."

"The higher-ups wouldn't listen to the word of a raw recruit over their loyal toadies?"

"I was going to put it a little more politely."

"No doubt. But you tried, kid. More than most of my 'friends' did. So...thanks."

"If it helps, Sil knows. I didn't really need to tell him much, to be honest. He already figured out the Imperial Guard isn't what it should be."

"You mean after his right-hand man thought attacking a Shrine was a good idea?"

Goban blinked in surprise. "You were there?"

"Yeah. Was about as surprised to see you as we were to see the Prince. Guessin' you never saw me."

"I didn't know you were working with Her Highness until we ran into you outside Hiwada."

"So the Prince is 'Sil' but the Princess is still 'Her Highness'? Subtle."

Goban blushed. "He asked me to call him that," he protested. Then he saw Gaius smirking. "Some things never change." He was quiet for a few moments, and when he spoke again it was more serious. "It wasn't what I expected of you."

Gaius nodded. "Yeah. Wasn't what I expected of me either. But..." He shrugged. "Sometimes things just work out that way. If I'd known the Lord of Wishes would send you soarin' up to the heights of command, maybe I wouldn't have, but at the time...even just a chance to put things right was better'n nothing."

"You don't have to stay with them, you know."

"Pretty sure I already turned down the Prince's offer of clemency."

"He'd give you another one. I could convince him."

"Sure, 'convince.'" Gaius shook his head. "Sorry, kid. I swore an oath to the Princess."

Goban sighed. "Worth a try." He chuckled slightly. "When you told me that it wasn't unheard of for the Imperial Guard to be pitted against itself, I never thought we'd be the ones on opposite sides."

"Me neither. But...here we are."

"Here we are," Goban echoed, tapping his pitcher against Gaius's.

They were both quiet for a few moments. "Prince seemed pretty pissed when he realised his sister had a boyfriend," Gaius observed. "More pissed than an overprotective brother would be."

Goban nodded. "A few months ago - just before we received word that Princess Carlei had been captured and was being held at Usokkie Fortress, if I remember correctly - we came across some Blessed thug on the road to Kogane. He was being kept asleep by Imperial magic."

Gaius scowled. "Yeah. That was one of the bastards that killed one of ours. Ethan made him sleep instead of killing him."

Goban's expression became a little more sympathetic for a few moments. "None of the Imperial Mages in Sil's guard could break the spell. Even working together. When it wore off on its own, the victim described Her Highness and Ethan - and the rest of you - accurately enough to convince Sil that he'd seen you all. And..." He sighed. "Sil came to the conclusion that if Ethan could use powerful enough mind-affecting magic that three skilled Imperial Aspect Blessed couldn't match him, then...that was the explanation for why his sister is working with him."

"He thinks Ethan's enchanted her?" Goban nodded. "What do you think?"

Goban gave a little smile. "I realised a while ago that there was something keeping Ethan...human. Something that separated him from...what happened at Mahogany Manor. It wasn't until I saw them together that I realised what it was. A love that pure is the provinces of the Lovers alone. No Imperial magic could create it." His smile faded slightly. "I think Sil knows that too - or at least trusts me when I say it - but..."

"It's easier to see Ethan as a mind-altering maniac than to accept he's genuinely on the other side of this fight to his sister?"

Goban nodded. "He didn't have a mentor to warn him that something like this could happen," he added, with a little smile.

Gaius scoffed. "Some mentor I was." He set his empty pitcher down with a clack of wood.

"It's because of you I stayed in the Guard instead of leaving in disgust," Goban pointed out. "And now I'm the commander of the Prince of Joto's personal guard."

"Don't blame me for all your accomplishments," Gaius grinned. "Well, I'm gonna head out before your prince sees you consortin' with the enemy."

Goban nodded, raising his pitcher in somewhere between a salute and a wave. It was just as Gaius had opened the door to the tavern that he turned in his seat and called to him. "If you hadn't sworn an oath to Her Highness...would you come with us?"

Gaius stood in the doorway for a few moments, quietly. He didn't look around.

"I don't know, kid."

Much like Silver and Goban being a couple, Gaius and Goban knowing each other from their shared time in the Imperial Guard is one of those things that kinda fell by the wayside as I was writing. But I was in a writing-y sort of mood (and also poor Gaius tends to get rather neglected in the main story!) so here we are.
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
330
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
I loved this chapter! Cool use of powers, and it was great to see Shukie and Silas again. Seeing all the different sides of Silver here was so fascinating! He's such a complex character, and definitely one of my favourites.

And the extra! I loved that one too. Gaius really does kind of get neglected in the main story (to the point where this extra made me go “oh, right, I actually like Gaius!”) so it was nice that he got a moment to shine here, and it was really interesting to see how he and Goban know each other!

This story’s always been great, but lately I feel like it just keeps getting better and better, and I can't wait to see what happens next!
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #64
cyndakip - Thanks! Silver is definitely one of my favourite characters of the whole bunch too. And yeah I don't mean to neglect Gaius, it just kinda...happens. (Poor Gaius.)


We spend the next day in a strange state of impossible peace, almost like a dream. As the (official) heir to the throne of Joto, Silver's guarantee of clemency is something that only the King can countermand. Even Ariana couldn't, wherever the fuck she went after the Drake brought her to Choji. So for the first time in months, we don't have to be afraid at all.

The Drake left while we were still recovering from the explosion. Somehow I suspect that that's how Petrel got away, but they didn't take Silver with them. Nor did they take Pryce.

At first we get a pretty frosty reception from the people of Choji. When we were seen emerging from the ruins of Mahogany Manor, they naturally assumed that we were responsible. But then...someone starts spreading the truth around. I don't know who - though I'd be willing to bet Goban had a hand in it, whether through mind-affecting magic or more mundane methods. By dawn there are whispers of the labyrinth beneath Mahogany Manor. As a few of the braver citizens venture over to the now-submerged crater and return bearing tales of nefarious-looking tools and cages (or bearing the tools and cages themselves, in some instances), those whispers get louder. Some of the Blessed among the Mahogany soldiers that tried to fight against Gaius and Magni start telling their side of the story, and that ancient Jotan idea that the fighter who's in the right always wins starts the whispers multiplying.

And then when Pryce wakes up and refuses to deny any of it...after that point, they stop being whispers at all. Far from denying it, he openly admits that he was experimenting on captured Blessed to test their powers. He stops short of saying that it was on Lance's orders - but he doesn't deny it either.

I can sense the pride he feels in the pain he's inflicting on the people that trusted him as their Lord. Calling him 'bitter' is an understatement. Sadistic is more like it. It's easy to see why he got on so well with the charologists.

He evidently didn't count on Silver, though. Because while we might be immune to prosecution from the Imperial Guard, Pryce isn't. After Pryce's third round of 'confessions,' Silver and his troops show up and arrest Pryce for breaching the ancient Contract between the Imperial Crown and the Faith.

I try not to flinch as the crowd cheer Silver's observation that the punishment for his crime is death.

"So that makes three Lords of Joto you've deposed," Ampharal remarks, drily, when we manage to group back up through the crowds - well, mostly. Gaius is nowhere to be seen, as seems to be the norm whenever we arrive in a city. Rather more unexpectedly, nor is Lyra. The rest of us are crowded into one of the Temple's many side rooms. It's a bit cramped with the five of us there, though it's not like Carlei and I care about being squashed close to each other (and nor do Deanne and Magni.) "You could give the Common King of Kanto a run for his money."

The Common King, I've learned by now, is another of the epithets given to the leader of the revolutionaries from Kanto, the one who deposed Giovanni. It's more common than 'the nascent lord.' No-one seems to know his real name - or at least, those that do aren't telling. I can certainly understand why he wouldn't want to be well-known.

"I don't want to start a revolt." He - assuming he even is a guy - deliberately set out to change things in Kanto. I didn't. Granted, taking down Shijima was entirely deliberate, and God knows that the Lords (and Lady) that have fallen because of us - because of me - deserved it. "We're not...fixing anything. We're not helping. We're just tearing things down and running away."

"Better that than rule with an iron fist." Carlei's hand tightens on mine for a moment as she speaks. Somehow I don't think she's only talking about us. "Nothing grows if you chain it down."

It sounds like she's quoting something. "Who said that?"

"My mother," she says, quietly. "She would always say that to Father whenever Silver and I were getting into trouble as children."

"It's a Hoenese proverb, originally," Ampharal adds. Why am I not surprised that he's studied Hoenese culture? "An older version reads something like 'the dead growth must be burned to allow new growth to flourish.'"

"Don't let Lyra hear that one," Carlei points out, quietly.

Ampharal pauses to consider for a few moments. "Ah. Yes, that might be wise. That being said, modern misappropriations aside, it is still quite an apt turn of phrase. Shijima, Pryce and Whitney were all poor rulers. Shijima has been replaced by Nichol, who by your own account is a more honourable man if a less personable one. Whitney, while not strictly stripped of her title by Imperial law, will soon abdicate if she hasn't already after the humiliation you forced upon her, and the title of Lady of Kogane will pass back to Lady Floria."

"Wait, Floria?"

Ampharal pauses, a little caught off-guard by my interjection. "Yes, Lady Floria. Whitney's mother, exiled from the city by Whitney herself - though if the rumours I've heard are any indication, in truth she never left."

There's no way. Could the friendly little old lady with her flower-filled inn really be the woman in the ragged cloak who instigated the crowd's mass humiliation of Whitney? Maybe it's just like how there are a lot of girls called Carlei in the kingdom, and Floria's a common name in Kogane. We went back to the inn after our raid on Goldenrod Manor, but I never actually saw Floria there. I really want to ask Deanne if she saw Floria before we got back.

I realise the others are looking at me with a mixture of confusion and impatience. "Sorry, the name just sounded familiar."

"And," Ampharal continues, sounding a little irritated at my interruption, "since Pryce had no descendants, according to tradition the title will pass temporarily to a member of the closest noble house - that would be House Blackthorn, and presumably Lady Claire - as a vassal, and subsequently either retained as a vassal of that house, as Kirameki is to Asagi, or granted, along with the noble house of Mahogany itself, to a noble not of one of the noble houses - that is to say, one appointed by Divine will - as happened with the Tokiwa region in Kanto, formerly the land of the Exile King. Either option would be far preferable to Pryce for the people of Choji."

I can't help but feel like - despite his lecture on Imperial Law - Ampharal's rather missed the point. The fact that there were suitable replacements for the Lords we've gone up against was convenient, but that doesn't mean that we should drop everything and turn against them. We sure as hell wouldn't have anyone to replace Falkner if we decided to kick him out, not when his heir is Peredur, who got as close to committing treason as he was allowed to without being executed.

"Let's not think too much about the prospect of actively revolting against the Crown," Carlei suggests, quietly. She's still holding my hand tightly. I guess this whole topic of conversation is even more uncomfortable for her than it is for me - not only would we be deliberately working against Lance and not just the charologists, but in the end it would be in her name we'd be fighting.

"So...what now?" I ask, after a few moments. "I mean...the whole reason we came here was to investigate Pryce's experiments, and they all blew up. And even if we were able to talk to him I'm pretty sure he'd refuse to tell us what he knew just out of sheer sadism."

"I suspect you are correct," Ampharal agrees. He's trying very hard to maintain his calm demeanour, and only barely succeeding. "I suppose the next step would be for me to return to Tanba and try to deduce the method of preparation from the raw ingredients, and from there construct an antivenom." He doesn't exactly sound confident.

"Not necessarily." Lyra's voice from the doorway makes us jump. Her expression is pretty much exactly the opposite of Ampharal's - he's trying not to despair, she's trying not to hope too hard. "Sorry, I wasn't trying to just listen in. It's just a bit crowded here."

When she steps into the room fully and closes the door behind her, I notice she's holding a scroll in one hand. (I also notice that Magni shifts position slightly to make the only available space to sit right next to Ampharal.)

"Is that..?"

Lyra smiles. "Silver managed to get a copy of the formula of the toxin, before we ever got there. I suppose with Shijima being deposed, they didn't see much need to keep it as secret as they once did. Though I'm not sure how he was planning on giving it to us had I not spoken to him." Ampharal all but snatches the scroll from her and unrolls it. Lyra sits next to him, peering over his shoulder. Magni's conniving goes a bit to waste as they're both too focused on the scroll to notice their proximity to each other. "I have no idea what it says," Lyra admits. "Is it...the right thing?"

"Yes...yes!" I've never seen Ampharal so animated before, even as weak as he is. "This isn't just the formula for the toxin. This is the formula for the antivenom as well."

I bet that's the charologists' work. If Shijima stopped being of use to them in...whatever the fuck they wanted with him and the Grand Shrine in the first place...they wanted to be ready to start using Ampharal instead, and dangling the cure for the poison in front of him to force him to help. I wouldn't be surprised if it was Petrel that gave Silver the scroll as an attempt to win him to their side.

"So...how easy is this alchemy crap to do?" I ask, after Ampharal spends a few moments reading the scroll. "I mean, don't you need...beakers, or whatever?" I'm trying to think back to my high school chemistry lessons, though somehow I suspect that creating the antivenom is going to be a rather more complex process than anything I've done - or even seen.

"Alchemy is an art of magic as much as anything else," Ampharal answers. "It is the same art that produces the healing totems that those of noble blood can use. I will be able to acquire the materials I need, or at least passable equivalents, from the Temple, and the reagents..." Then he trails off. "Hmm."

"What?" Lyra asks.

"Some of these reagents, for both toxin and antitoxin, are rare in the extreme. They are all plant-based, thankfully, and most of them don't need to be fresh, but...namo fruit only grows natively in Hoen, I believe, and requires the work of Nature magic to sustain elsewhere. And in all honesty without access to my libraries I have no idea where some of these could be found. I only need small amounts of most of the rare ingredients, but even those small amounts will be rather difficult to come by. An issue that the Imperial Crown, of course, is far less hindered by than I."

It takes me a long few moments to realise why namo fruits sound so familiar. "Well..." I start to look around to the others to see if they've realised it too, but then remember that only Carlei was even there, and she didn't hear the conversation I had with Bradon. "We do know someone who has a hell of a lot of dried fruits."

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 
Last edited:

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #65

It's weird to think we're going almost back to where our journey started. Back to where I first began to suspect - helped in no small part by Oak - that my presence in this world was more than just a weird multiversal fluke.

We can't safely stay in Choji to wait while we gather up all the crap we need to create the antitoxin. After what happened in Mahogany Manor, we've become pretty recognisable figures, and with Silver's guarantee of clemency expiring at dusk, we pre-empt his inevitable attempt to arrest us by heading west, back towards Suribachi. Thankfully the process of creating the antitoxin is simple enough (at least, simple enough if you're Ampharal) that he can do it even out in the wilderness, and apparently the Temples don't mind Blessed walking off with alchemy equipment as long as they eventually give it back. It wouldn't be the weirdest thing in Joto by a long stretch.

In the end, we decide that only Carlei and I should travel back to Jisan's house/shrine. Despite more than a few protests that we might not know what we were looking for, Ampharal doesn't seem particularly inclined to come with us - I suspect he isn't fond of the idea of being flown at warp speed halfway across Joto. Instead he's furnished us with a shopping list written three times in increasing levels of specificity, and is himself going to hunt around for the more common - non-fruit-related - ingredients to the antitoxin. Carlei's coming with me in the hope that Jisan might be more willing to help her, and I'm basically the taxi.

At least, that's the idea. But even if I've used my wormhole-like flight ability twice now, I still have no real idea how to use it whenever I want to. It's not like my motes of light, where I can just push them around into the position I want. I practiced once or twice over the past day, when I hoped no-one was watching me too closely, but no matter how hard I pushed at the lights wrapped around my wings, how fast I tried to fling myself through the sky, I never managed to fly at the sort of speed that took me all the way to Kanto and back. To be honest, I'm glad that Carlei's the only one that'll be here to see me floundering around.

I swear I see Silver lurking on the path beneath us, watching us fly overhead.

"So how does this work?" Carlei asks, after a few minutes of flying. If I turn my head I can just about meet her gaze. "This...rapid flight."

"Honestly, I don't know," I admit. "I tried to look it up in the Temple's archives, but there was barely anything about it at all. I know I can do it, but I just...don't know how."

It's only as I say it that the full enormity of what I'm saying dawns on me. If I can't figure this out, if we can't get to Jisan...he's the closest source of most of these components. If there's even anyone else in Joto that has a supply of them, they'll be under the thumb of the Imperial Crown - which means Proton, Petrel and the others. And they sure as hell aren't going to just hand them over.

"Stop it," she murmurs, quietly.

"Huh?"

Carlei rests a burning hand on my cheek - a literally burning hand. Flames flow from her hand over me, in a feeling that's somewhere between small animals clambering around me, a warm blanket, and a tingling, almost electric sensation that makes my hair stand on end, and I lean my head against her palm.

"Whatever it is that has you so worried. Stop thinking about it."

"I can't just...stop thinking about it. What if I could only activate it because of the Divines - or worse, because of Chaos? What if -"

She kisses me on the lips. "I said, stop," she repeats, when she eventually pulls away, her tone half teasing, half gentle. "I've seen enough of your powers to know that trying to think them into life isn't going to work." She pauses for a few moments, and chuckles. "Back in Kogane, Haneka told me how you helped her Ascend, and control her powers. Maybe the same would work for you. Close your eyes."

She doesn't give me much choice in the matter, shifting position and putting her hand over my eyes. "Hey!" I protest, wriggling slightly, but the heat and the sensation of her flames is so familiar and comforting that I don't want her to let go.

I don't think this will work. My powers aren't like Haneka's - or like anyone else's that I've ever met. But...

I close my eyes, since Carlei isn't letting me see anything anyway, and my other senses grow stronger to cope. I can picture her movements almost perfectly, the slow, subtle movements of her body as she breathes in and out, and without meaning to I feel my own breathing slowing to match.

"Now, remember what it was like, back then. The way the setting sun shone over the stone, and the gardens. The scent of the tea as it brewed."

Normally, when Carlei's this close to me, I have...rather different things on my mind. But right now it's easy to just lose myself in the warmth and her soft voice. And how could I forget what it was like to be there? To speak with Oak, about everything that had happened to me? Even after all this time, he's still one of the only people I've willingly told about what happened.

Something...changes. There's no sensation of movement, not like there was the last time I did this. But I open my eyes and we're somewhere else. We're not by the coast any more. The crater that was once Mahogany Manor is gone; it's just forests below us now.

I glance around, curious to see if I've left another aurora in the air behind us. But instead of a faint shimmering of rainbow light, this time our passage has been marked by a trail of flame. Carlei follows my gaze and laughs. "Well," she remarks, "that wasn't subtle."

Her voice sounds...different, somehow, to how it sounded just a few seconds earlier. But at the same time it sounds exactly the same as I'm so used to by now. It's more like...her voice whispering to me before, after I closed my eyes, was different.

Did she even say anything at all? Or was I just imagining it? I don't want to ask her. For all that's we're open with each other, admitting that I'm hallucinating her voice probably isn't a good idea.

I let us drift down to ground level as the line of fire slowly begins to dissipate above us. It's only once we pass through the trees that I finally realise, for sure, that we're in the right place.

It looks like nothing's changed here at all.

Jisan is standing on his doorstep, waiting for us. "Ah, Princess! A pleasure to see you again."

Carlei lets me go, landing lightly on the ground before I land. "Great-Uncle. We...we need your help."

Jisan chuckles slightly. "Somehow I did, in fact, suspect you hadn't travelled here at such ferocious speed just to see a relative you barely know. Do come in. Tea?"

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
330
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Aw yeah, super-duper-ultra-hyper-flight powers properly unlocked, with the help of Carlei! I wonder what's up with that thing about her voice, though…

And I love how Jisan is so casual about the whole thing, as if people frequently teleport into his yard while lighting everything on fire, haha.
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #67
cyndakip - Yep, everyone loves super-duper-ultra-hyper-flight powers! This was my way of depicting the out-of-battle effect of Fly, because I had Ethan using it an awful lot in the game. As for the mystery of Carlei's voice, all will be revealed shortly! (This chapter, in fact!)

Call of the Divines is two years old today! And...well, I know this is going to be basically word for word what I said this time last year, but thank you so much to everyone for the support and likes and comments - and to everyone who's reading and enjoying even if you aren't being public about it. Here's to another year! 🎂


Jisan insists on making us both tea before listening to our request, but it's only when he does his spooky glowing-eyes thing that I realise something. "So how do you have this Sight thing?" I ask. "I thought only priests of the Faith were given that Blessing."

"Usually, only priests of the Faith are Blessed with the Sight," he corrects me. "I'm not the only member of a noble house to have developed this power in the past."

I was expecting the same flavour tea that Jisan made me last time, all floral and frothy. But while he still whisks up that strange layer of sweet-tasting froth to add on top of the tea, I also notice him grinding down some of the chunks of orange fruit - though they're more reddish this time - that he used in Carlei's tea last time. It's only after I watch him for a few moments that I realise that he's going through exactly the same process on both our teas.

"Here you are," he announces - as if we hadn't been watching him impatiently - setting the two bowls down. "Feel free to take either."

"I thought these were supposed to be personalised?" Carlei points out.

Jisan chuckles. "They are - personalised to the spark of Divine power within each you. But in your case, those sparks have...mingled, for want of a better word."

"Wait, so anyone with the Sight can see that we're together?" I ask. That's...a really weird ability for the Divines (except the Lovers, I suppose) to give their priests.

"This is more than just love," Jisan says, sounding almost offended. "What anyone with the Sight can see is a bond strong enough and deep enough that your very essences have taken on aspects of each other. It's...not something I've ever seen before," he admits.

I guess that's why Carlei's fire doesn't hurt me any more. Does that mean she can mimic some of my powers too? I guess our powers fused to some extent when we flew here, given the giant lines of flame we left behind, but that's not exactly the same - though it might explain why it was so easy for me to use that hyper-flight power with her there.

Every time I've used it it's been for her.

And maybe that was why her voice sounded different - it wasn't her voice. I've never tried to use telepathy much, but I know I can talk telepathically if I focus on it. And if our powers have merged together to some extent, maybe it's possible that we created a telepathic link without either of us actually trying to.

I rather like the idea of being able to talk to Carlei without anyone else being able to hear us.

After a moment I remember that the bowl of tea is still sitting there on the table. The sweet, floral taste of the foam is still there, but the tea beneath is more viscous and hotter - both in terms of taste and temperature. The autumn chill doesn't exactly bother me much, but that doesn't stop the tea being pleasantly warm.

"So, what is it you wanted my help with?" Jisan asks, once he's finished making himself a bowl of tea too.

Carlei pulls the list out of her pocket and hands it over. "Can you find us these?" She manages to keep her voice level enough, but the hope and fear bubbling under the surface in equal measure are easy to see.

Jisan takes the list and reads over it. "Hmm...yes...interesting...hmm..." After a few moments of this, he gets up and goes back to his kitchen, and starts rummaging through his cupboards.

Carlei gets impatient after a minute or so and gets up. I reach out and take her hand, gently tugging her to sit back down again. She squeezes my hand tightly, but she sits back down beside me. "You're not gonna magic more fruits into existence by looming over him," I whisper, gently.

"I know. I'm just...what if he doesn't have everything?"

"Then if anyone's gonna know where we can get anything he's missing, it's probably going to be him." Carlei releases my hand enough that I can slip it free of her grasp, and I put my arm around her shoulders instead, and she leans against me. "It's gonna be okay."

She's been so calm the whole time this has been going on, ever since we first met Ampharal. But I'm beginning to suspect that that was as much to reassure Lyra as anything else. She's obviously every bit as worried about him as Lyra is.

"Perfect!" Jisan announces, suddenly, making us both jump. "I believe everything here is accounted for."

Carlei springs up with enough sudden force that she pretty much drags me with her. "Really?!"

"Yes, really. Now, it would be best if you kept the various reagents separate. I think I have a box around here somewhere that should do the trick."

I guess he figured out we were planning on using all this stuff for alchemy, though I suppose it's not that big a deal. I'm not entirely sure why Carlei didn't tell him in the first place.

Once we have the box of supplies - a rather ornate thing a bit like a miniature chest of drawers, which Carlei wraps in her cloak for safekeeping - Carlei barely even lets me finish my bowl of tea (and I don't think she took more than a sip of hers) before thanking Jisan and hustling us back outside. I know enough about Jotan etiquette to know that it's somewhat rude not to finish food and drink given to you by a host, but now the chance to help Ampharal is so close, Carlei's obviously not thinking about much else.

My guess that it's the bond between us that lets me use my powers more easily is proved right when we next take off. I doubt she even realises she's doing it, but I can feel Carlei subconsciously trying to push me into that strange, light-speed state, and I don't even have to close my eyes this time to fling us back across Joto.

By the time we get back to Ampharal and the others, they've found a clearing for Ampharal to work in, and they're all looking up at us when we land. "I'm guessing the giant line of fire in the sky was your doing?" Magni remarks.

"Uh, yeah," I admit. "That just...sort of happens."

"At least you stopped before drawing a perfect line to our location for Silver to follow," Gaius mutters.

"Do you have everything?" Lyra, unsurprisingly, completely ignores the blazing stream of fire still burning in the air above us.

Carlei beams. It's not like I haven't seen her smile before, but she isn't normally so open with her emotions in public. "We do. Jisan had stockpiles of everything you asked for." This is directed more at Ampharal than Lyra, even though she was the one who asked the question.

Ampharal hobbles over and takes the box from Carlei, opening each little drawer in turn and examining the contents, leaving us all waiting, watching him. After a few, tense moments he breathes a sigh of relief. "Good. Now I can start." He starts to go back to his makeshift lab, but then pauses. "I would appreciate not being disturbed for the next few hours," he adds, pointedly.

I hadn't quite realised how long this thing would take.

"Oh, don't worry, I'm sure there's plenty of things to do in a thick forest while we wait," Gaius grumbles sarcastically - but he turns and heads into the forest anyway. Deanne and Magni follow suit.

"Can...can I stay?" Lyra asks Ampharal. "I won't say anything or distract you, I promise! I just...I just want to stay."

Ampharal obviously can't bring himself to reject her. "Okay," he says, after a few moments. Lyra gives a big, beaming smile that is infectious enough that even he smiles too.

I think Carlei wants to stay almost as much as Lyra does, but she doesn't protest when I gently lead her away from the clearing. We walk for a few minutes, somewhat aimlessly. "Well, now we wait," I say, more to break the silence as anything else.

"I know. But...can you watch them? So we know when it's finished?"

I nod. "I will." I'd been planning on doing that anyway. "But in the meantime...there was something I wanted to try." We sit down, leaning against a tree. "You know how Jisan said our powers had...merged, or whatever?" I feel Carlei nod more than see it. "Well, if your fire doesn't hurt me, I'm wondering if I can learn to control fire like you can."

Carlei raises an eyebrow. "That's ambitious."

"Well, we've got hours to kill." I reach over and take her hand, though to be honest I barely need the physical contact - I know her aura so well by now that touching her doesn't make much difference. "Can you create a flame?"

She obliges, conjuring a small flame with her other hand. I close my eyes, focusing on the way her aura changes as she taps into the power of her Blessing. It's different to how I manipulate my motes of light, but at the same time there are definite similarities. It's like hearing two different styles of music played on the same instrument.

I've practiced so much manipulating my lights that trying to push them into doing something else is difficult. This would probably have been easier if I'd tried it as soon as I'd got my Blessing, but after a few moments of concentration, I feel Carlei jump in surprise and open my eyes.

There's a tiny little flame, like a candle, floating in the palm of my free hand. I push more power into it, sending more of my motes of light to the base of the flame, and it grows a little. It takes a lot of energy - I certainly wouldn't be able to create a fireball or do anything more than light a campfire - but it's a start.

Carlei slips her hand out of mine and plucks the fire out of my hand, letting her own fire dissipate. "Now can you do it on your own?"

But I can still feel the fire I conjured, even if it's not trapped in her closed fist. If it was her fire, it would have snuffed out when she did that, but it's still burning strong. I reach out mentally and tug on the lights that are creating it, eliciting a surprised yelp from Carlei as the fire in her hand jolts back towards me. "That's mine," I tease.

"Oh, really?" There's that competitive spark in her eyes, so fiery and alluring, and she shifts position to brace herself properly, closes her other hand over her fist and pulls back against the fire with both hands.

Even after her second Ascension on the shores of Tanba, I've been able to match her physical strength with my powers - albeit only just ever since then. But trying to hold the fire in place is much, much harder than trying to just use my telekinesis, and she pulls the fire back away from me. Normally it feels a little uncomfortable when my powers are beaten like that, but somehow all it does is send a little jolt of adrenaline through me.

Then she smirks, that competitive fire in her aura turning more mischievous, and she closes her eyes and focuses, letting the fire I'd conjured spring back to me. What's she got planned now? "You know," she whispers, "when you open a door, anything can pass through both ways." And then I feel my motes of light moving without my directing them, a dozen of them pressing against the small of my back and pushing me into her arms. "Gotcha," she purrs, kissing me playfully on the lips.

Being alone with her in the forest, and that fiery look in her eyes, reminds me so of the first time we'd kissed. It takes a long, few distracted moments before I notice the strange fact that Carlei could use my telekinesis to move me without having to position my lights on my wings the way I do.

We spend the next few hours experimenting with our shared powers (well, mostly doing that, anyway), and it's getting dark when I finally notice a sudden change in Lyra and Ampharal's auras. Carlei, in turn, obviously notices the way my attention goes elsewhere. "Is it finished?" she asks, and the nervousness that had been driven away springs back into her aura.

"I think so." Lyra's aura may not be as blinding and overpowering as Silver's, but her Champion powers still make it very hard to read her emotions - at least from this far away. "Let's go."

I'm pretty sure the only reason Carlei doesn't all but drag me back to the clearing at a sprint is that she doesn't know where we're going. But even if we aren't running headlong, we get back in time to see Ampharal swirling a flask of golden liquid around, which slowly begins to coalesce into a half-dozen small spheres that look rather like candy.

Ampharal notices us arrive, nods in greeting - and empties the flask of little spheres into his mouth, following it up with a beaker full of water that was obviously placed there for the purpose and swallowing.

I don't need my powers to see the effect is immediate. The air fills with static electricity that makes my hair (and feathers) stand on end, and lightning begins to crackle over Ampharal's body, just like the way Carlei's flames flow over hers. His cane clatters to the ground and he clenches his fists as arcs of electricity start leaping from him and into the trees, the ground, and even his alchemy equipment. Lyra takes a step or two forward but one of the bolts catches her and she jumps back with a surprised cry. Thankfully the electricity doesn't seem to actually hurt her, despite her Water Aspect, but she thinks better of trying again.

This goes on for a few minutes, and at its height Ampharal is almost completely obscured by a whirling storm of electricity. Magni, Deanne and Gaius get back during the process, having obviously seen the lightning and heard the thunder from a distance.

And then he picks up the beaker of water, throws the water out, and puts it to his mouth - and a disgusting-looking purplish ooze dribbles out of his mouth and into the beaker, where it begins to smoke as though it's eating through the glass. Ampharal puts it down and empties the contents of another beaker into it, which seems to put a stop to it.

"Urgh," he grimaces, wiping his mouth. "Most unpleasant."

"A-Ampharal?" Lyra asks, hesitantly, beginning to get a little closer. "Are you...are you okay?"

Carlei's still holding my hand from our run back through the forest, and I feel her grip tighten as she waits for Ampharal's response.

Ampharal holds out his hand, and lightning begins to crackle in his palm, expanding out from his hand to form a cuboid shape which solidifies into...a book.

Of course his signature weapon is a fucking book. Why am I even surprised?

Ampharal opens the book - or rather, it opens itself, floating a few centimetres above his hand. He runs one finger over a page, electricity crackling up his hand, and flicks a bolt of lightning into the air, where it explodes like a firework, sparks raining down on the clearing. "Yes, Lyra," he answers, smiling. "I do believe I am."

Lyra runs across the clearing and hugs him tightly, resting her head on his shoulder. "I'm so glad," she murmurs, ever so softly.

Ampharal seems rather more aware that the rest of us are still standing there - or at least, more embarrassed by it. "Um, Lyra?" She ignores him, and there's not really a whole lot he can do to wriggle free from her grasp, and eventually he gives in and hugs her back, blushing furiously as she presses closer to him.

As embarrassed as he is by the rather public display of affection, though, I can feel the warmth and tenderness in his aura as he holds Lyra, and after a few moments he closes his eyes and just rests his head gently against hers.

So, a fun fact about HeartGold and SoulSilver I discovered - there are precisely two Pokemon lines that can learn Extrasensory as an Egg Move that couldn't learn it as an Egg Move in Diamond/Pearl/Platinum. And those two are...Togepi and Cyndaquil. Obviously Carlei didn't know Extrasensory in the game because she was my starter and they don't get Egg Moves, but yeah, the two of them have a fun little overlap there.

Also, amusingly, I totally never realised until I looked it up the other day that Ethan is actually the canon name of the male HeartGold/SoulSilver protagonist. It was just a random name I picked because it sounded cool. 😊
Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
330
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Geez, it feels like just yesterday that it was the first anniversary! Happy two years! I'm certainly excited to see what you have planned for the coming year.

And what a great chapter to celebrate! Ethan and Carlei's cool fusion of powers, the cure actually working, Amphy and Lyra being cute... also, I love that Amphy's weapon is a magic book! Reminds me of the mages from Fire Emblem.

...Oh my god, all this time the name Ethan was just a coincidence? That's the most shocking plot twist yet.
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #69
cyndakip - Thanks! I haven't actually played any of the Fire Emblem games, but I just couldn't think of a more apt weapon for him than a book (and I mean Emrys has tarot cards so it's not like he's the only one with a non-weapon weapon.) As for what's planned...well, I'm certainly hoping to get to the Elite Four + Lance in-story during this year, at a minimum, so this next year will certainly be...interesting.


Also, a general note - given that next week is Christmas Day and the week after that New Year's Day, I'm...probably not going to be posting any chapters for a couple of weeks. I might, if I find time to sit down and write in amidst all the holiday stuff and family and suchlike, but don't be too surprised if CotD takes a mini-hiatus.

"So..." Deanne says, after a little while. "What do we do? When we get back to Suribachi...what then?"

"Why not just stay in Suribachi?" Magni asks. "If what Lord Kiyo said to Carlei is any indication, I think we can be pretty confident he'd give us shelter."

We're all quiet for a long, few moments. Carlei breaks the silence. "And then what?" she asks. "We just hide in Suribachi until the end of our days? No. I will not flee from my own father for helping to prevent a travesty of justice. Whatever he may have been manipulated into doing at the behest of the charologists, if I can just see him..." She pauses, suddenly, as if she realised something. Then her expression hardens. "But more than my own personal feelings...I cannot simply hide from what's happening to Joto. To what Giovanni's legacy is doing to it." She says his name without a trace of hesitation. "This is my home. And whether I am the rightful ruler as Kiyo and Peredur say, the heir as I once was, or banished from the line of succession as the charologists wish, it is still my kingdom. I know that earlier, I didn't wish to think about what our purpose would be once we had found the antivenom, but...since then I've had time to think. And this...darkness...must be stopped. Before more people are hurt.

"I know...I know you all accompanied me - us - for very different reasons. But your reasons are your own, so I have no right to expect you to continue to follow me. I'm the one the charologists want to...remove. Each of you - any of you - could leave and be safe. Only the lords and ladies of Joto even know your identities, and they have better things to do than pursue you. So...if any of you want to leave, this would be the time to do it."

"Don't think so damn little of us."

Gaius's voice makes me - all of us, to varying extents - jump. As he speaks, his accent devolves back to its more 'common' intonations. It's been a while since I've heard him speak like that.

"Yeah, maybe each of us came with you for different reasons. But beneath it all, you know what ties us together? Every single one of us has been hurt by that 'darkness,' if you wanna call it that. Some of us tried to take a stand against it on our own. Some of us were attacked without provocation. But whether it's the corrupt elements in the Imperial Guard, the charologists themselves, or the Lords and Ladies of Joto that care about nothin' but themselves...they've hurt all of us, and people we care about. I told you I ain't made for rotting, so I ain't hiding in Suribachi for the rest of my days. And I ain't much of a one for running, neither. So if you're gonna turn and fight now...then I'm in."

"Well said," Ampharal says, quietly.

"Well, for me, like I said..." Magni shrugs, giving us one of her trademark smirks. "I'm just in this for the fighting. So if there'll be more of that, then you can count me in. Besides," she adds, expression turning darker, "if there's anyone I'd like to punch in the face right now it's the charologists. I know I ain't seen half of what they've done, but what I've seen is plenty enough." Her eyes flicker to Deanne briefly.

"I...I want to fight too."

Maybe even more than Gaius's speech, Lyra's sudden interjection comes as a surprise. She pulls away from Ampharal a little (for the first time since he'd taken the antivenom) and looks around at all of us. "I know I'm...not the most typical example of a Blessed Warrior."

"Nonsense," Ampharal murmurs, quietly.

"But all of us here are. We are Blessed, Chosen by the Divines as their champions in the mortal realms, as guardians of justice and righteousness. What the charologists - and Lance, manipulated or not - are doing is very far from that." She goes quiet, and cuddles a little closer to Ampharal again, resting her head in the crook of his shoulder and peering at us - well, mostly me and Carlei - under his arm. "But more than that, for me...I've seen what happens when people don't stand up and fight back, just because they'd be fighting against their liege lord. I don't...I don't want that to happen here too. I don't want it to happen to you."

I don't need to be able to read her aura to know that whatever she's talking about - Hoen, I presume - is upsetting her just to think about. Ampharal shifts position slightly and starts stroking her head, and she closes her eyes and leans against him again.

Carlei glances at me, briefly. <Does it need saying?> I ask her. She gives me a small smile in response, and then looks back at the others.

"Then we fight."

"That doesn't answer the first question, though," Gaius points out. "What do we do after Suribachi?"

Carlei barely even pauses before answering. She's obviously thought this all out beforehand - presumably, ever since the topic came up before we left to visit Jisan. "Asagi. House Olivine is one of the eight Great Houses, and Jasmine is both an established ruler and one who we can trust will have no hidden affiliations to the charologists. That isn't her nature. If she takes a stand against them, others will listen. Maybe even Father. And just as was the case when I first suggested we shelter there, I know her well enough to know that she won't willingly be a part of something that hurts Joto. Especially not when her own brother was also a victim."

Ampharal looks rather less confident. "I wish I could agree. But...while I'm sure Jasmine will be grateful to hear of my recovery, and thankful to all of you for aiding me, we do not have a feasible alternative path for the kingdom. We are simply rebels trying to depose the kingdom's councillors - and for all their cruelty, the charologists and the lords and ladies of Joto we have faced did, for the most part, help to maintain peace in the land.

"I don't know how much any of you know of what happened three years prior." I'm pretty sure he's looking at me in particular - I've not exactly kept it hidden that I've learned a fair bit about the recent history of Kanto. "But as someone who experienced the Kantan rebellion first-hand...yes, the Exile King was a mad tyrant, and what he and the charologists wrought hurt hundreds, maybe thousands. But the rebellion hurt just as many, in large part because it was no single entity. The nascent lord meant well. Of that I'm sure. However...the people that called themselves his followers often didn't. For weeks on end my fellow students and I were kept within the academy, at times afraid to even leave our dormitories for fear of attack due to our perceived loyalty to Field-Marshal Matis or - in cases such as myself - for our status as foreign individuals who it would be diplomatically awkward for the Crown to permit to be harmed. I do not wish to have any part in bringing that fear and pain to Joto."

"You just agreed with Gaius," Magni observes.

"I did. I agree that we have an obligation to do more than just hide. But we have an equal obligation to think about what we do."

"I'm hardly suggesting we shout from the rooftops that we're committing treason," Carlei replies, archly. "Meaning no offence, Amphy, but Jasmine knows more about the political situation than any of us do. I'm sure she would be able to come up with a plan that would allow us to confront the charologists with a minimum of conflict."

"Perhaps - if she's willing to aid us in the first place. And I cannot be sure she will, even if asked by her brother and best friends. Just as it is not in her nature to be swayed by backhanded promises on the part of the charologists, it is not in her nature to put her personal opinions and feelings above the good of her people."

"Then what do you suggest we do?!" Carlei snaps. Ampharal doesn't reply. Nor does anyone else. "I think you're right," she continues, marginally more calmly, "that Jasmine will do what's right for her people, no matter who it is that asks her. But I refuse to believe that she would see allowing the charologists to continue with Giovanni's insanity as the best thing for the people of Asagi. So unless anyone else has a suggestion on where to begin preparing to bring about the downfall of Ariana and her thugs, we will begin there."

"I truly hope you are correct," Ampharal says, quietly.

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

d'angelo russell

tomorrow ain't promised to no-one
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
231
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
226
Location
ontario
Nature
Adamant
Pronouns
he - him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
Pokédex Entry
it was banished for its violence. it silently gazes upon the old world from the distortion world
so is this the endgame? ish?

I always have liked your talk heavy chapters and so that last one came off really well, as it crystallised that sense of group resolution that's developed across the last...20? 35? does the exact number really even matter? chapters and gave the group a direction to go forward. it's interesting that they're going back to olivine (or wait let me guess as soon as they arrive they just get redirected back to goldenrod to stop the charologists right), but the sense of purpose is what really strikes. also nice to see that it's carlei taking the reins again after having run shotgun for ethan for so long, their relationship really truly is the high point of everything.

also belated happy two years! its been a good run and I've enjoyed it, here's to more cotd to come oo
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
92
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
Belated Happy 2nd Anniversary! Cheers to you for still going strong with COTD 2 years later.

Looks like we’re getting pretty close to the end here, which makes me wonder if you’re ending it off after the Joto League. It looks like it, but there’s no rule specifying where the run ends so I’m not sure.

Also, amusingly, I totally never realised until I looked it up the other day that Ethan is actually the canon name of the male HeartGold/SoulSilver protagonist. It was just a random name I picked because it sounded cool. 😊
This is so shocking to me. I went through this whole run thinking you did that on purpose and thinking of Ethan as the HGSS protagonist haha.
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #72
cross_off - Well, there's a bit to go, but definitely the end of the Joto arc is in sight. And yeah it's nice to have Carlei actually taking charge again. Ethan kinda stole the show from her for longer than I'd originally planned lol.

Xita - Thanks! As for when the run ends, that would be the battle with Red.

Happy New Year!


It's odd to think that we're heading to Asagi now. That was where Carlei was planning on taking me, all those months ago when she broke me out of the palace. We've visited almost every other region in the kingdom by now, but we never made it to Asagi.

I can't help but wonder if the fact that it was our original destination was part of what made Carlei so staunchly in favour of the idea of heading there. She's changed a lot since then, but she still has that fiery pride. Even if only subconsciously, the idea of her original plan being a good one must appeal to her.

I really hope she's right about Jasmine, and not just because we need her help (or because it would be nice to see Ampharal wrong about something for once.) Carlei obviously trusts Jasmine a hell of a lot, and for all that Silver turning against her hurt...I think Jasmine siding with the King would hurt her a lot more.

We don't see any sign of Silver during our trek back to Suribachi, which surprises me a little. He must know at least that we're heading to Suribachi, even if he doesn't know where our final destination is. But either he's travelling a lot more slowly than we are, even though he has horses and we don't, or he's found something more important to do.

Or he's deliberately letting us get away.

I'd never have thought he'd do something like that back when he and Carlei fought in the tunnels under the palace, or any of the other times we've encountered him. But I'd also never have thought he'd be willing to work with us, even if it's to save his friends.

We only stop in Suribachi for a couple of days, and that only to resupply. All this trekking around the kingdom is tiring - mentally more than physically, given our Blessed endurance - but now we've finally found a purpose, no-one wants to suggest we take a break and go on holiday.

The Ryusei is still exactly where we left it, under the care of the local harbourmaster, still looking as fancy and out-of-place in comparison to all the other vessels as it has in every other port we've parked the damn thing. Unlike when we set off, though, sailing it is completely effortless - both for us and for Lyra, who's actually the one moving the ship with her powers. She's grown a lot more comfortable with her abilities since we left Choji. (One guess what's caused that change.)

There are a lot more Imperial navy vessels out in the ocean, just like we've seen more soldiers, so we hug the coastline a lot more than we ever did before - whatever nautical reason it was that meant that they could travel directly to Tanba while we had to island-hop also means that it's more difficult for them to sail close to the shore - spending our nights camped on the beach instead of in the ship. The night we set up camp near Enju, I swear I can still sense the faint remnants of the shards of the Divines that manifested to Silver inside the ruined Shrine, almost three months ago.

It's just under a week after we left the Suribachi docks that we arrive in Asagi. Given that they're both trade cities, I was expecting much the same chaos in the bay that we saw in Kirameki, but the reality is very different. I don't know whether it's because everything is getting so much tenser with the increasing military presence across the kingdom or just because Asagi is naturally more controlled - I remember Magni saying it was more exclusive than Kirameki or something - but there's a much higher proportion of larger boats here in comparison to Kirameki. (And it's only now I'm feeling rather dwarfed in comparison to the vessels around us that I'm beginning to believe what Deanne's been telling us the whole time about the Ryusei being a 'small' ship.)

The small, one-man boats manned by the harbourmasters are still in evidence, though. The fact that we weren't expected here and hadn't announced our arrival beforehand means that we get a lot of frowns and suspicious looks - evidently Deanne's influence doesn't extend quite as far here as it did in Kirameki. This lasts until Ampharal takes charge of the discussions, at which point we suddenly have a berth found for us.

Ampharal's presence doesn't just stop at greasing the wheels of bureaucracy at the docks. By the time we get off the boat, we're greeted by a welcoming committee of courtiers who greet us very formally and offer us some horses to ride to Olivine Manor.

Carlei, Lyra and Ampharal all seem used to this sort of treatment - as does Deanne, which doesn't entirely surprise me - and Magni takes it in the same bombastic stride as she does basically everything else, leaving only me and Gaius to feel rather out of place.

But Gaius can ride a horse, and I can't. Back before my Ascension I thought once or twice about trying to learn, but while the Temples provide a lot of things, riding tuition isn't one of them - and ever since my Ascension I can fly faster, and for longer, than any horse could gallop. I don't really see the point in us having to ride, especially since we aren't exactly going to be galloping through the streets of Asagi at breakneck speed. But this is evidently some formal etiquette thing that we have to go through, and the stern looks I'm getting from the courtiers (and Ampharal) make it clear that that's not optional.

Fortunately, while I evidently have to ride, it seems that I don't have to ride on my own. After a few moments of trying not to giggle too obviously at me, Carlei trots her horse over and scoops me up to ride behind her. <You're enjoying this, aren't you?> I complain.

<You looked more gormless than the horse!> Sounds and images don't convey very well across our bond, but I can imagine Carlei's mischievous smirk and her light, playful tone easily.

I still get a few sniffy looks from some of the courtiers, who obviously don't think much of me not knowing how to ride. But at least if they're all looking annoyed at me they aren't paying too much attention to the far-more-recognisable Carlei.

We trot overdramatically through the streets of Asagi. It's got a very different air to Yoshino, but it could definitely compete with that city for prettiness. And it feels like the biggest city we've been to - I'm pretty sure Kogane has more inhabitants, but there the houses are all crammed in wherever they fit, squeezing the streets tight, and people crammed into the houses. Here it's all neatly laid out, large, wide-open streets with periodic green parks carefully tended so their flowerbeds are all neatly synchronised in terms of colour. The roads are the best I've seen too, the stones shaped and levelled instead of dumped haphazardly as seems to be the norm.

Even if I didn't know beforehand, contrasting Asagi to every other region I've been to it's easy to tell that it's the most prosperous of all the regions in Joto (with the exception of Suribachi, but most of Suribachi is just carved out of a mountain and obviously wasn't designed with as much care for aesthetics.) None of the other regions could afford to maintain this kind of architecture, never mind do it in the first place.

Thankfully it seems like a consequence of Asagi's prosperity is that important people riding through the city on horses aren't that uncommon, because we don't draw nearly as much attention as I'd feared we would.

It probably takes quarter of an hour of slow horseback riding (which is uncomfortable as hell, incidentally) before we arrive at Olivine Manor. After Pryce's hellish secret laboratory, Shijima's ridiculous waterfall, Ampharal's lighthouse with all its secret passages, Falkner's scaffolding-strewn mess and Whitney's...everything...it's a refreshing change to be in a normal building again, with a normal lord (or Lady in this case) in charge.

We're led to a small waiting room while one of the courtiers goes to tell Jasmine we're here. She was in a meeting with some merchant or other I've never heard of - Ampharal nods sagely when he hears the name - but she cuts it short to see us.

Jasmine is about Carlei's age, with very long, light brown hair, wearing an elegant white-and-teal gown that can't possibly be her heraldry. But I almost completely miss her physical appearance at first. What catches my attention is her aura. It's dark - but not dark like Proton or the Imperials, or even like Silver in his more vicious moments. More like some unseen force has its claws sunk deep into her.

Whatever oddity it is, though, she doesn't seem affected by it, and none of the people that know her well seem to think there's anything odd about her, so I let it go for the time being.

Strange as it may seem, she reminds me a bit of Bugsy. Obviously they don't look anything alike physically, but just like Bugsy, she greets us in a large meeting room with just two guards attending her. Carlei told me once that the two-guard setup is the tradition in Jotan etiquette for nobles holding audiences, which I guess says a lot about the state of the kingdom when Jasmine's the first of all the Jotans to actually stick to it. (Bugsy came close, but he had Sabyl with him - and a whole lot of random crap from Proton's experiments littering the room.)

Whatever sense of etiquette and formality she might have had goes totally out the window as soon as the door is closed - Jasmine runs forward and wraps her younger brother in a hug. "I'm so glad you're okay," she says, quietly.

"Ack! Yes, I'm quite fine, thank you!" Ampharal seems rather embarrassed by his big sister's affection.

"It's good to see you, Jasmine." Carlei starts out formal, offering a hand to shake, but she doesn't protest when Jasmine hugs her too. She's obviously not surprised Jasmine recognised her, nor concerned about the prospect of her or her guards turning us in.

Jasmine greets Lyra too - not with a hug in her case - before turning her attention to me. "So, you're Etharn?"

I don't bother trying to correct her. I'm used to the mispronunciation at this point. "Uh...yeah."

"I've heard a lot about you from Silver." A small smirk flickers across her face. "You aren't quite what one would expect from his description, though I suppose that's to be expected. And...Gaius, Magni and Deanne, I believe?" She looks at each of them in turn.

"That's me," Magni agrees, cheerful as ever. Deanne offers Jasmine a small bow. Gaius, typically, just nods.

Jasmine looks back to me for a few moments, appraisingly, before returning her attention to Carlei and Ampharal. "So. What did you want to speak to me about?"

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #73

Carlei looks back at the rest of us - her gaze lingering on me briefly, just long enough for me to see the nervousness she's trying to hide - and takes a deep breath. "When last we spoke, I thought my father could do no wrong. I seem to recall frustrating you on more than one occasion for that precise reason. However...he is being deceived. By his 'councillors,' those servants of the Exile King, and by the witch who calls herself his queen. They manipulate him into believing he is doing the right thing for his kingdom when instead their goals serve no-one but themselves.

"All I want is a chance to make my father see the truth. To have it placed before him, without any misdirection or omission. To allow him to make a judgement based on actions, not words. When he sees everything the charologists have done - to the people of his kingdom, to the Faith we all hold so dear, to Amphy..." Her voice quavers at the last part. "He will see justice done to them. I know it.

"As the Lady of the Asagi region, and head of House Olivine, you have the right as his councillor to seek a private audience with Father. All I'm asking is that you bring to his attention everything the charologists have tried to hide from him."

Jasmine is quiet for a few moments. "By law," she says, gently, "you're correct that I have the right to a private audience. But that law has been ignored for months now. I already tried to speak to His Majesty, when Ampharal first fell ill, and was refused the audience I am guaranteed by ancient law. The Council itself has been dissolved in all but name - neither His Majesty nor the charologists attended the most recent meeting, leaving those of us that remained powerless to act. So what then? How now would you have me make His Majesty see what's happening to the kingdom?"

Is she testing us?

"Then just let me speak to him!" Carlei answers. "If I can just -"

Jasmine cuts her off with a laugh. I think it probably sounds more unkind than she really intended. "I may be one of His Majesty's councillors, but that does not give me leeway to step onto the grounds of the palace without permission, never mind bringing with me those not explicitly granted that same permission. Perhaps, if I were to muster my retinue and levy, and somehow gain passage through Enju, Usokkie and Kikyo, I could force your father to action." Carlei keeps her expression level, but a little spark of hope flickers in her aura. A spark that swiftly dies as Jasmine continues. "Perhaps. But you know your father better than I. Do you truly think he would give an impartial judgement if forced to make it at swordpoint? More likely he would refuse to listen at all, and retaliate with force, no matter how many of his own men were hurt in doing so.

"Not to mention," she adds, just as Carlei's about to say something else, "to move against the king with military force is sacrilege. He is appointed by the leave of the Divines and we, their Blessed Warriors, have no right to go against that will.

"More than that, however..." She sighs, and her aura goes sad and dark. "Are you so sure the charologists are hiding anything from your father?"

"What!?" Carlei snaps, angry. The air gets hot around us. It's a long time since I've seen her anger trigger her powers like this. "You can't seriously think Father approves of what they're doing!"

The darkness clawing at Jasmine's aura makes her hard to read, but I can see enough to tell that she does.

And...so do I.

This is a guy who virtually split his kingdom in half instead of acquiescing even minutely to the ultimatum the Kantan Lords gave him. Silver, or even Carlei, wouldn't have done that.

Everything I've seen and heard of Lance has told me he's proud, and spiteful. As far as he's concerned, the charologists are working to give him the Blessing he's been lacking for so long. I'm sure they've framed it with honeyed words, calling it the Blessing he deserves as King of Tojo or something, a Blessing that will allow him to unify his fractured kingdom and bring peace back to its people. He probably doesn't know exactly what the charologists are doing. But I'm sure he knows they're hurting the people of his kingdom to give him what he wants.

And Deanne and Ampharal are proof that he sees that as perfectly acceptable.

Jasmine doesn't answer Carlei's question immediately. "Silver came to see me, just under three months ago. He believed you had fled here, but he also wanted to ask for my opinion. I'm...somewhat unfamiliar with what exactly happened in the Yadon Oasis, but it is my understanding that Lord Proton...suffice to say, he committed crimes that would warrant a hundred executions."

"That's one way of putting it," I mutter. Somehow the idea of Proton being executed isn't as frightening or alien or wrong as it was when he had a noose around his neck. I want to convince myself that that's just the Chaos wrapping itself around my soul, but...I can sense it well enough by now to know that it isn't.

"Silver sent a message to your father, relating exactly what Lord Proton had done. His Majesty's response was a formal pardon, absolving Lord Proton of all his crimes."

"But there's no guarantee that Father actually saw the message," Carlei protests. "Ariana probably intercepted it and -"

"It was marked with the Imperial Seal."

Carlei goes quiet. I don't want to interrupt by asking what the hell an Imperial Seal is. Thankfully, I'm not the only one looking puzzled. "The Imperial Seal," Ampharal explains, "is an ancient artifact granted to the Kings of Tojo by the Divines centuries ago. When used, it leaves an unmistakeable sorcerous mark upon anything it is stamped upon. But it can only be used by one coronated at the sacred site Otsukimi. To anyone else it is nothing more than a misshapen lump of stone. So, if the pardon was marked with the Imperial Seal..."

"Then only Father could have written it," Carlei finishes. "But that doesn't mean he ever saw Silver's original message! Ariana could have simply fabricated the crimes Proton was accused of to convince Father to write the pardon." But even she doesn't sound convinced now.

Jasmine sighs. "You aren't going to let this go, are you?" she asks gently.

"Of course not!" Carlei retorts, hotly. "And nor should you! We both have a responsibility to our people - you as the head of House Olivine and Lady of Asagi, me as the daughter of the King."

Jasmine shakes her head. "That's precisely why I can't help you."

Carlei goes completely still. "What do you mean?" she asks, ever so quietly.

"If I can't help you, no doubt you'll ask Stephanne, or Bugsy, or Kiyo, or even try to gain audience with Lord Choro. And perhaps one of them will agree - maybe even march on Sekiei Palace, as I mentioned earlier. Should that happen, His Majesty's wrath will be great. The Sanguine Council would pale in comparison. More than that, those who act against him will be acting against the beliefs almost everyone in Joto holds dear. Even should the Divines elect not to respond to such a flagrant breach of the ancient contract, those responsible would be ostracised by everyone around them - or worse. Whether through the hands of His Majesty, the Divines and their Faithful, or you yourselves and your allies, many innocent people would be hurt. I cannot permit that to come to pass."

"You're not going to let us go, are you?" Ampharal asks, sadly.

Jasmine shakes her head, closing her eyes for a few moments. When she opens them again there's a steel there that makes it all too clear what she intends. "I had hoped I could convince you to turn aside from this. But I doubted you could be swayed from your path. You've always been like that." Even if she's answering Ampharal's question, she's still looking at Carlei, and it's obvious who she's addressing. Carlei isn't meeting her gaze, looking down at the ground. Then she takes a step back and gestures to her guards. "Please arrest Princess Carlei. As gently as possible."

Carlei clenches her fists, and flames begin to swirl around one arm. "In some respects I may not have changed," she admits. "But I am no longer the weak, untrained warrior who couldn't so much as scratch you in a duel!" The fire surges out, enveloping her entire body. The guards pause, a little caught off guard. She doesn't move, or even look at them - but the fire rockets out in two intertwined spirals which separate out and plummet into the two guards from above before they can even react, slamming them to the ground like a ton of bricks. And now Carlei looks up at Jasmine, and her sword blazes into existence. But her voice is quiet - though just as emotional as any scream. "Please don't make me fight you, Jasmine."

"I'm sorry, Carlei." Jasmine holds out one hand, and a small, silvery ball begins to coalesce there, shimmering in the golden light coming in through the windows. Then the ball expands out, flowing like water into a long spike of mithril, before finally solidifying into a glaive that's easily half again as long as Jasmine is tall. It falls a few inches and hits the ground before she grasps it, leaving a small dent in the stone floor - but as heavy as it must be to have that kind of impact, it might as well be a wooden stick for all the easy Jasmine twirls it around, holding it behind her back with one hand, her other - now sheathed in mithril as well - out in front of her to ward off any attacks. "But your rebellion ends here."

This chapter - or more specifically Jasmine's dramatic pronouncement - was...kinda the very beginnings of the idea that would eventually become CotD. At the time I was still sort of envisaging this being a comic, not a written story, and it wasn't the high fantasy setting that it turned into; it was a Mortal Engines-esque steampunk setting, where the 'Pokemon' were just people with combat skills and fancy weaponry. And at the time the idea was that Jasmine was somehow undercover or even genuinely on the heroes' side before turning on them. But some elements were there - the heroes going up against the nobility, the starter Pokemon being part of that nobility, and Jasmine being the starter's friend. At that time I hadn't ironed out quite why they were rebels or any of the wider plot - the whole 'artificial Blessing' story came about mostly because of something that happened in-game the story hasn't got to yet - but...yeah, that last paragraph was kinda the first spark of inspiration that popped into my head in the form of a comic page floating in my mind's eye.
Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

csidvuL

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
31
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
236
I think this is the first time that it’s truly clicked for me that this was planned as a comic. That striking visual of Jasmine’s glaive was something I was seeing as panels and a big ol’ splash page so clearly! Fuckin’ excellent stuff, especially as it also capped off a thrillingly tense chapter.

(also, hello again! I gave up for the moment on trying to get through the 30+ missed chapters on my end and decided to fall back in and catch on up. I know I will eventually go bacj because there are some distressing items in your team graveyard as well as the obvious chunk of story I have missed, but for the time being I’m here! I came back on board a couple of chapters ago and I really appreciated CotD and have been missing it.)
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
330
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
It's really interesting that this was originally planned as a comic! No wonder those last few paragraphs paint such a vivid picture, if that was where your idea began. Although it makes me wonder exactly what else you've planned out for this confrontation...
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #76
Flopdisc - Hello again! And yeah some...stuff...happened in the past 30 chapters or so. (Actually about 30 chapters ago was when most of it did!)

cyndakip - Honestly that kinda 'splash page' (as Flop put it) was basically the extent of my visual plotting. I got about partway through the first page that would have kinda corresponded to the beginning of the prologue before getting annoyed at my inability to draw things and changing it into a comic.


Carlei takes a step forwards, raising her hand as her sword materialises - and Magni darts past her, one long step that turns into a crouch, and springs at Jasmine with a wild punch. Jasmine shifts her glaive so Magni's fist meets the head of it, using her gauntleted hand to brace herself, and the punch only knocks her back a couple of paces.

Jasmine's strong. I'd kind of expected it, from what Carlei had said, but I know from personal experience how powerful Magni's blows can be - and she's grown a lot stronger since our battle in Kogane.

"Magni!" Carlei exclaims, surprised. "What are you -"

"You already gotta fight your brother," Magni replies, calmly. She doesn't take her eyes off Jasmine. "Ain't fair for you to have to fight your best friend too."

"I..." Carlei trails off, obviously not sure what to say - or what to do. She doesn't try to get past Magni to fight Jasmine personally, though. And I'm not sure which of the two is more relieved at Magni's intervention.

Jasmine's attack is as sudden as Magni's own blow - she steps forwards in a pirouette, letting her glaive slide through her hand so she's only holding it at the very end, and brings it around in a wide sweep towards Magni. At the last moment she twists it so it's the haft of the weapon that strikes, not the blade. Magni sees it coming and catches it, but the impact is enough to catch her off-guard, and Jasmine abandons her glaive entirely, springing at Magni in almost a mirror of the attack Magni used on her. Magni blocks the punch with both hands and retaliates with a kick, but Jasmine leaps back, out of range, and her glaive reappears before she's even landed.

Somehow I always find myself underestimating Magni's skill. Strong as she is, she very rarely has to rely on anything but brute force - but she's perfectly capable of fighting tactically when she has to. I think Magni's stronger than Jasmine in terms of raw power, but Jasmine's quicker and strong enough that the leverage her glaive gives her means Magni can't just overpower her like she does most of her opponents.

I honestly have no idea which of them is going to win.

And then the sound of a bell, deafeningly loud, resonates through the court, echoing far longer than it has any right to. I'm almost surprised the windows don't shatter.

"What...what the hell was that?"

"That..." Jasmine's the one that answers. She's totally forgotten about the fight with Magni. Actually, so has Magni - and so have all the others. "That was the sound of the Temple's bell. It is only ever sounded in situations warranting jubilant celebration - or in the case of a dire event." Her intonations are very similar to the way Carlei speaks when she's teaching me about some facet or other of Blessed life. Maybe this is where Carlei got it from.

"I've never heard it ring before," Carlei says, quietly, as the last echoes of the bell (and the ringing in my ears) fade.

"I have." Ampharal looks...haunted, almost. "Three years ago, the Temple bells of Kanto rang three times. The final time was to celebrate the birth of Divine Lord Jirachi, God of Wishes. But that was long foretold by the Faith. The only two times they rang unannounced...once was to warn of the annihilation of Guren by Divine Lord Moltres. And the second was when the Exile King committed the gravest of sacrilege, and marched upon the Grand Temple of Yamabuki."

Without a word, Jasmine walks off, out of one of the side doors to the courtroom. She doesn't protest when Carlei follows her, with the rest of us in tow. (I feel a bit bad for the two guards Carlei knocked out just being left lying on the ground, but whatever the tolling of the Temple bells means, it's obviously a big deal.)

We're not the only ones to have all but dropped everything at the sound of the bell. There's a steady stream of people heading towards the Asagi Temple - courtiers, servants, guards, Blessed, sailors...it feels like the entire city has been put on hold. A couple of people notice Jasmine and try to move out of the way for her, but for the most part she's no different to anyone else right now. Carlei and the rest of us go totally unnoticed.

And while most people here - like us - haven't ever heard the Temple bells toll before, it's obviously well-known enough that they can herald a terrible catastrophe. I can feel the fear in the crowd - not particularly strong from any one person, but like a rising tide slowly consuming the people around us. Whispered rumours flurry past us as the citizens of Asagi speculate on what might have caused the priests to sound the bell. I have to resist the urge to lash out when I heard one woman telling anyone willing to listen (which, thankfully, is not many people at all) that it 'simply must' be because the Divines are angry that the 'terrible fugitive,' Princess Carlei, still hasn't been recaptured.

Olivine Manor is a fair distance away from the Temple, so by the time we get there there's a pretty big crowd there before us, and we have to stop about half a block down. But as I look at the marble Temple towering over the buildings around it...it feels like I start to hear the bell again.

It's not the Temple bell - that much is immediately obvious. For one thing, it's not coming from the Temple, but instead off in a different direction. And it's not so much that I'm hearing it as I am...I would say 'imagining' it, but I know it's not my imagination. It's almost like I'm hearing the echo of a bell that isn't there.

No-one else can hear it.

If it wasn't for Jasmine we wouldn't get anywhere near the Temple itself. But people slowly realise she's there and move out of the way for her as best they can, and we follow in her wake - we don't have much choice in the matter, since everyone around us has the same idea.

The closer I get to the Temple, the stronger the strange feeling grows. I can feel my wings twitching without any kind of conscious direction on my part.

The Temple is closed. I've never seen those great doors closed before, in any of the Temples we've been to. But the four priests who normally just stand placidly and occasionally give directions are arrayed in a line in front of the door - though God knows how they'd stop anyone who actually tried to go in.

We get pretty close to the front of the crowd before someone who I assume must be the head priest of the Temple starts to speak. The crowd fall quiet within the first couple of words.

"A short time ago, the Grand Temple of Kogane was attacked. Imperial forces, at the behest of King Lance -" she omits the 'His Imperial Majesty' bit, which would probably be a terrible breach of etiquette if anyone cared about that right now "- violently forced their way into the sanctity of the Temple, without properly attiring themselves, and have refused access to all, in stark defiance of the ancient contract between the Faith and the Crown." She almost sounds more offended that the soldiers entered the Temple without putting robes on rather than the whole 'blockading the Temple and attacking priests' thing. "Moreover, in further violation of that same contract, they have entered into the holiest spaces of the Grand Temple, where only ordained priests are permitted to tread, and vandalised the relics found within."

By the time she finishes talking, the crowd is furious. I'm not quite sure how she manages to be heard over the shouting and cursing directed at the Imperials without raising her voice even slightly - more priestly magic, I guess.

"Still think stopping us is the right move?" I ask Jasmine. It's spiteful, I know - but after Carlei trusted her and she turned around and tried to arrest us, I can't help but be angry with her. She doesn't reply. She's one of the only people in the crowd not saying anything.

As petty as my quip is, though...this really does change things. Maybe Jasmine was right that marching soldiers towards the palace would have made everything worse and put a lot more innocent people in danger.

But if this same speech is happening all over Joto, then Lance just started a war.

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
330
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Geez, I was all worried about the fight with Jasmine, but suddenly WAR. Yikes. I wonder how all this is going to unfold...
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #78
cyndakip - In game Jasmine was no threat whatsoever, but since I'd kinda had that confrontation in my head since the whole idea came to me I figured I wanted to at least put it in to some extent. And yep things are starting to go down now...


"You sure this is going to work?" Gaius asks. Again.

It was Carlei's idea to use my flight power to take us all back to Kogane to stop the Imperials (or at least try to.) In truth I think that - as much as she's as furious about what the Imperials are doing as everyone else - she wants answers more than anything. And if the attack on Kogane Temple was ordered by Lance himself, as the priest had said, then maybe she'll finally have a chance to get some.

"It'll work," I tell him. I wish I could say I knew why it would work - I've never tried to move this many people with my powers, and even just carrying Carlei to and from Jisan's place was a struggle.

But that strange, phantom echoing of the Temple bells is still ringing in my ears - and with it a pull, in some unconscious, almost primal sense that's hard to describe.

We've moved a little way out of Asagi to try this, if for no other reason than the atmosphere in the town has turned a bit ugly. Jasmine hasn't yet publicly denounced the Imperials for their actions, and while she's hardly alone in that regard (magical messages have been flying back and forth from assorted minor nobility, plus the magic of the priests themselves, and last I heard the only two nobles who'd overtly turned against Lance were Bugsy and Nichol) the delay is...not sitting very well with the people of Asagi. I'm pretty sure all she's trying to do is actually get confirmation that this whole thing really is Lance's fault, and not just the charologists using his name, but not everyone is quite as willing to assume the best as me.

We form a circle holding hands - me, Carlei, Gaius, Magni, Deanne, Ampharal, and then back to Lyra holding my other hand - since it's not like I can physically carry everyone like I did with Carlei. And then I close my eyes and reach out towards the tolling of the Kogane bell.

The effect is even more drastic than I'd expected. My lights spiral out around the seven of us, lifting our little circle into the air, as that pulling sensation gets a hundred times stronger, almost like a dam breaking, sweeping us into an unseen current. I doubt I could've have stopped it even if I wanted to, now.

There's no great blaze of fire or rainbow light heralding our appearance this time. We just...arrive, without even the slightest sensation of movement, as quietly and subtly as if we'd never moved at all.

We're in the destroyed block in Kogane, the same place I duelled Gaius. I don't know if my powers brought us here because it's one of the places I remember best in the city, or just because there's no-one around to see us pop into existence.

The others stumble slightly as gravity takes hold of us again, looking around. To various extents they all seem rather surprised I actually managed to pull this off - even Carlei, despite the fact that it was her idea in the first place.

"So now what?" Magni asks. "Punch some Imperial bastards?"

"Not yet," Carlei answers, a little sharply. "First we need to find out what's really going on."

Another bell toll rings out over the city - a real one this time, not some strange hallucination only I can hear. "Well, at least the Temple shouldn't be difficult to find," Ampharal remarks, drily. As much as he's trying to joke, he's a lot tenser than any of the rest of us. From what he said, it sounded like the last time he heard the Temple bells toll was when exactly this happened in Kanto. He doesn't protest when Lyra keeps hold of his hand.

Finding the Temple is easy enough. Getting to it, on the other hand, is a little more difficult. The streets around the Temple are completely packed with people - Blessed and human alike - yelling imprecations at the Imperials who must be nearer the Temple.

I flit up into the air to get a better look at what's going on, and realise two things. The first is that there are a lot of Imperials here, more than I've ever seen - and there must be even more inside the Temple itself. This is far more than the contingents that Silver or the charologists have.

The second is that the only thing stopping the Imperials from being set upon by the furious citizens of Kogane is the priests. They've formed a white-robed ring around the Temple, and kept one entire street clear to let the Imperials enter and leave the city. There's probably about five feet or so between each priest, so it wouldn't be hard to just walk past them to get at the Imperials - but no-one does, of course.

I can't help but admire the priests. They obviously aren't happy about the invasion of the Temple - some of them are quite obviously angry, and I even see one or two of the older priests openly crying - but despite it they're protecting the Imperials from the wrath of the people. Because as much as there are more Imperials than I've seen before, there's easily twice that number in Blessed who would be all too willing to kill them for their sacrilege if the priests weren't shielding them.

The idea of ignoring the priests and attacking the Imperials anyway is, unsurprisingly, instantly discarded by the others, when I return back to ground level to tell them what's going on. I don't bother even suggesting it. But...

"You were an Imperial soldier, Gaius," I point out, after a few moments of thinking.

"And obviously now's the best time to point that out," he retorts. He has a point, even if we are a fair distance away from anyone else.

"How easy do you think it would be to teach us how to fake being Imperials?" I ask, more quietly.

Gaius does a bit of a double-take. "To fake..." he repeats. "You want us to disguise ourselves as Imperials to bypass the priests' protection?" He glares at me.

"It would likely be our only chance of putting a stop to their ploy," Ampharal points out. "Either we act, or we sit back and permit them to do whatever they wish."

"If the Faith wanted us to help, their priests wouldn't be shielding the Imperials."

"Or maybe they just don't want a bloodbath in the streets," Magni interjects. "If they weren't there this whole city would be a battlefield, and a lot of innocent people would get hurt."

"It's not like we can walk up to them and ask for permission right now," I add.

"Something brought us here," Carlei says, quietly. "No offence, Ethan, but I don't think you could've pulled us all halfway across the kingdom effortlessly under normal circumstances. Something changed his Blessing to call us here. What could that be aside from the Divines themselves?"

Gaius grimaces. "This seems to happen a lot to you, kid," he points out, with suspicion plain in his eyes. Evidently he's remembering - just like I am - the last time we were in Kogane, when I Ascended with perfect timing to 'prove' that the Divines were on my side.

"Yeah." I'm probably as annoyed at it as he is. "So now can we go stop the Imperials?" I refrain from adding 'so I can stop being a puppet.' It's hardly the fault of anyone here.

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #79

Finding a small squad of Imperials to ambush is almost disconcertingly easy.

When most of our opponents are powerful Blessed like Jasmine or Silver, it's easy to forget that we're on the upper end of power among most Blessed. And the Imperials might have numbers and armour and organisation on their side, but any one of us could probably take out one of their six-man patrols without much difficulty. When it's all of us...they don't stand a chance.

Once we've removed their armour, we tuck them in an alleyway and I use my powers to make them sleep. It's the first time I've done that since I duelled Gaius the last time we were in Kogane, and it's every bit as frighteningly effortless to twist their auras into the form I want as it was to do the same to him.

Then we get a crash course in imitating Imperials. Or, at least, in trying to.

"It ain't just a matter of putting on armour and calling it good," Gaius explains, while we're sorting through the armour to try to make up sets that fix our rather varied range of heights and builds. "Real soldiers -" he's obviously still not a fan of this whole scheme - "- go through years of training - how to respond to orders, how to march, all of it. Most times it'll be a year or more before a new recruit steps foot on the training field and learns to swing a sword. And all that gets drilled into us enough that seein' someone not do it is...obvious."

"Our guise doesn't have to last long," Ampharal observes. "We merely need to get into the Temple. I suspect it will become quite obvious we aren't Imperials when we start defeating them," he adds. He probably intended it to sound like another of his little jokes, but the smile on his face is more like a smirk, vicious in a way I haven't seen from him before. He's looking forward to this.

"Yeah, and I'm guessin' making it last that long'll be a challenge."

Frustratingly, Gaius probably has a point. Aside from him, Magni's the only one even slightly used to armour, and with her boundless enthusiasm and general...Magni-ness...she's going to have a hard time acting like a regimented Imperial as it is. This is going to be a lot harder than skulking around Ampharal's lighthouse - back then we only needed to keep up our acts for a couple of minutes at a time, just enough to look innocent. But here...Gaius warns us that depending on how thorough the Imperials are being with their security, we might be stuck waiting half an hour or more.

I very quickly decide I don't like wearing armour. This isn't like the armour integrated into my heraldry - for one thing that's made of mithril, but more importantly it just feels...right. The Imperial armour doesn't. It's a bit too big for me - one downside of Blessed metabolisms is that my build hasn't changed all that much since the oasis despite all the exercise and training I've been doing - and yet simultaneously manages to feel too tight everywhere it isn't too loose. Gaius doesn't help by insisting on tying all the leather straps and cords as tight as he can, to mask the ill-fitting armour as best we can. A few months ago I'd probably have barely been able to move wearing this much heavy metal, but at least that isn't a problem any more.

"You know, if the Imperial army just made a few sizes of armour instead of tailoring each wretched set individually," Magni grumbles, "this would be a lot easier."

"The Imperial army is funded directly by the crown," Carlei replies. "Soldiers under the Imperial banner are some of the best in the land, highly-trained and well-equipped. Properly fitted armour is just one of the benefits soldiers fighting for Fa - for the King - possess." Despite everything, she almost sounds proud of the Imperial army. But I don't think I've ever heard her catch herself from referring to Lance as 'Father' before.

"Just as long as they aren't so well-trained they see through us right away," Deanne murmurs.

"If they do then we get to punch 'em in the faces," Magni replies, giving Deanne one of her signature grins and apparently having totally forgotten the whole reason we're disguising ourselves in the first place.

Deanne isn't the only one with doubts, of course. We all have them - even Magni, no matter how confident she's trying to seem. But we don't have a choice.

As a concession to the Temple rules about dressing properly, we wear as much of our respective heraldries (or robes, in the cases of Gaius, Magni and Lyra) as we can beneath the armour. The rest of it gets bundled up and stored in a supply box that I snatch from the edge of the Imperial camp. Frankly, as much as I like wearing my heraldry, the whole idea of breaking into the Temple and then stopping to dress up properly while the Imperials continue their desecration seems rather ridiculous. But the others make clear it's non-negotiable.

Once we're as thoroughly-disguised as we can be given the short time we have to do it (or, as Gaius puts it, 'well enough that you might not get found out within a couple of seconds'), we head back to the entrance to the passageway the priests are keeping open.

It's at that point that I realise we forgot something. Because not being disguised well enough to fool the Imperials is only half the issue.

The other half is being disguised too well and fooling the furious mob of Blessed surrounding the Temple.

I try to ignore the screams and insults levied at us as we march towards the Temple. Having to focus on my 'Imperial' act helps with that, but...it isn't just hearing what the people are saying. Whether I want to or not I can feel it, the venomous anger directed at us for - as far as they know - helping the charologists and the King desecrate one of holiest sites in Joto. It's not like I can blame them, but knowing that Lance and Proton and Petrel are willing to provoke such an utter hatred in the people they're supposed to be serving...how can anyone still defend them?

Without anyone saying anything - not that we could hear each other over the howling of the crowd anyway - we speed up a little bit. The one saving grace of having to walk through this ever-so-narrow passageway left for us by the priests, with Blessed who would eagerly try to kill us on either side, is that the real Imperials are just as scared as we are, and Gaius's concerns about having to wait half an hour while they check we seem genuine are unfounded - the Imperials in charge of the Temple gates open them for us to let us in and them slam them shut behind us.

Inside the Temple, the sounds from outside seem...muted, somehow. Maybe it's just a trick of the mind.

Or maybe the Temple has some kind of property to seal itself when the doors are closed, because the minute the doors opened I suddenly felt an aura that I should've been able to sense from the edge of the city.

Silver.

His Champion aura fills the entire Temple, power cascading through the corridors like the water of rapids. In this place it's an almost tangible force threatening to sweep me off my feet - and though they might not be able to sense it the way I do, the others feel it too.

"Who are you?"

Our stumbling as Silver's aura catches us doesn't go unnoticed. Another soldier's watching us - except then it isn't a soldier and his armour flows away into smoke, leaving behind Petrel.

Carlei bursts into flames.

Literally.

Fire roars from her, melting through the stolen armour in an instant and leaving it dripping off her in puddles of molten metal. "I knew it," she snarls. "You'll pay for using Father's name for your own evil."

"I am not using His Majesty's name. It is at the direct command of His Majesty that we are here!" I'm not surprised by the response - but I am surprised by the anger in Petrel's voice and in the glare he levels at her. He's genuinely offended by the idea. "And I will die before I permit you to disrupt his ambition!"

"Oh, shut up." Carlei melting her armour was a good move - we're all easily strong enough that the armour's weight doesn't slow us down, but that doesn't stop it being inconvenient to move in. But I don't need to move to use my powers. And I know full well that he's very good at leaping to attack when you don't expect it with that dagger he has concealed up his sleeve. I'm not going to let him pull the same trick twice.

It isn't hard to snatch him with my lights mid-charge and pin him to the wall of the Temple, pre-empting what was probably about to be a white-hot fireball from Carlei. The flames stay whirling around her. "Father would never countenance something like this," she hisses. The flames pulse in time with her words.

"Think what you will," Petrel retorts.

And then...something strange starts to happen - strange even by the standards of Blessings. Ever so slightly, Petrel begins to glow.

And something starts to push back against my powers.

At first I just think it's him struggling, but the force is too smooth, too uniform. And too strong. The glow gets brighter, and I find myself struggling to keep up. For every bit of power I throw at it something comes back the other way. It's almost like the feeling of the Chaos pouring out of Eusine, but it isn't. I know the power of Chaos well enough by now to know that this is something else, more like a mirror image. "I serve the King," Petrel says from inside the glow. "No-one else." The power forces my lights away, like a bubble expanding, no matter how hard I try to keep him pinned in place, and he drops to the ground as as the air begins to swirl around him, like a miniaturised tornado.

"Petrel, don't!" Gaius shouts, suddenly and loud enough that I lose focus completely and the surge of energy almost knocks me on my ass a second time.

Petrel's white glow gets bright enough that I can barely see anything at all. His own aura is getting weaker and weaker, being replaced by this impossible outpouring of power that's consuming him.

No. Not consuming. He's giving himself to it.

"So while I will die here," he continues, speaking louder over the rushing wind, "I shall die with my honour intact, knowing that I have fulfilled my duty to the very limits of the Blessing the Divines, in their infinite wisdom, saw fit to grant me."

Gaius - who I realise now had been gathering energy the whole time Petrel was talking - raises a barrier of stone around us. Cracks begin to appear in it almost at once and the white light starts to shine through.

"Now fall."

Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 
Last edited:

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
74
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #80

Also! I was super honoured to have CotD picked to be one of the three storylockes used in the pilot of the Writer's Locke. Y'all should go listen to it and support them on account of them being awesome!

If it wasn't for Gaius's barrier, I think the white wave would have crushed us all.

The wall of stone only lasts a second or two once Petrel releases...whatever insane power he tapped into, but it blunts the force enough to save us.

Lyra's the only one who manages to stay standing. The rest of us are hurled into the opposite wall like rag dolls and pinned there for a few moments before the force dissipates and we tumble down to the ground. I try to get back to my feet, but the best I can manage is to push myself up enough to be on my knees, raising my hands to ward off Petrel's next attack...which never comes.

In fact, there's no sign of him at all.

"What..." In the face of that power, I feel as helpless as I did before I ever got my Blessing, in the Kikyo Shrine. "What the fuck was that?"

"A forbidden art," Lyra answers quietly. "The user petitions the Divine that Chose them for a fragment of their boundless might, granting them momentary power leagues beyond that of any Blessed. Even a Champion. In...in Hoen it is taught to the Fire Lord's elite guard, so they may destroy any that try to strike the tyrant down. I don't know where Petrel would have learned it."

"The Exile King," Ampharal answers, as Lyra helps him up - or rather, picks him up and holds him close until the healing energy she's channelling into him lets him recover enough to stand on his own. He doesn't let go of her even after she stops healing him. "He stole the rite from the Faith and taught it to many loyal followers. Evidently Petrel was among them. Maybe the other charologists too. And...it was always suspected that Field-Marshal Matis knew the rite and taught it to those who would become the Exile King's personal guard."

Neither of them sound angry, not the way I'm used to Jotans reacting to sacrilege like this. There's got to be something more to this rite than it just being hidden away by the Faith.

"You know what it means, Princess." Gaius says, quietly. I still can't focus on any auras thanks to Silver's presence elsewhere in the Temple, but I don't need that power to realise just how hurt he is. The white energy must have hurt him through the wall of stone, somehow.

"I know what he thought it meant," Carlei replies. There's a flicker of anger in her eyes, but even she sounds...mournful, almost.

Am I the only one who doesn't know what the fuck is so important about this forbidden ritual? I glance across to Magni and Deanne, but they seem just as sombre as the rest of them.

Deanne notices my presumably-blank expression, though. "The body of a human can't withstand that level of power," she explains. "Only the priests can channel the unconstrained power of the Divines safely." I remember Erewan and the swirling power of Kyogre. Even though Lyra's a Champion of Kyogre her aura is like a candle in comparison to an inferno against the power I felt back then. "Anyone else that does so is...vaporised by the energy."

For a moment I can't say anything. Petrel sacrificed himself to try to kill us? "But..." I look at Carlei, trying to force my train of thought down a different path. "You said I channelled the power of the Divines, back in Yadon." The white energy certainly seemed the same.

"Not in the same way," she replies, while most of the others look at me with varying expressions of suspicion and bewilderment. "Even if you - any of us - wanted to use that power, we don't know how. What happened with you was, I believe, the Divines working their will directly through you, shielding you from the power as they do their priests."

"There's something else you need to know about that power," Magni interjects. "Even if you know the rite, you can't just use it whenever. The Divines would strike anyone down who dared to use their power frivolously." She manages to get back to her feet, leaning against the wall, and looks down at Carlei. "There's another requirement to unleash that power - dedication and honour. To channel the raw power of the Divines like that, you have to knowingly give your life for a cause and a person you believe in, with all your heart."

So that means... "He believed in Lance."

"He thought he did," Carlei retorts. "And I...I admire his loyalty, truly. I...I misjudged him as being like the others. That I will admit." She closes her eyes for a few moments, looking down at the ground. "But even if it dishonours his sacrifice, I will not believe that Father countenanced all this until I hear it from him myself."

"And what if you hear it from me?"

Shadows swirl in the centre of the room and Silver appears, along with the rest of his allies.

We're in no state to fight him right now. To be honest even if we were at full strength I'm not sure we could beat him - we barely beat him the last time we fought on the shores of Enju (and that only because he let Magni take him down). And now he has Silas and we...we don't have Haneka.

But he doesn't immediately attack, despite our obvious vulnerability. He doesn't even have his claws manifested - in fact, the only one with a weapon manifested is Silas.

Carlei freezes, and I don't think it's because of the threat Silver and his allies pose to us in a fight. "Silver..." she says, quietly. Almost pleading.

"First," he says, speaking over her pointedly - but his voice is soft and gentle. "I apologise."

"For...for what?"

"Everything you said. Everything you told me Father had done that I didn't believe. I thought you were lying, or manipulated by magic." His eyes flick to me briefly. "But...you were right. His alliance with Whitney, shielding her from oversight, protecting Proton from justice...all that was deliberate. So I apologise for misjudging you."

"I..." Carlei starts to say, but he interrupts her again.

"However." I still don't stand a chance of sensing his emotions, but I can see the way his expression hardens. "While on a personal level I regret my part in this complicity, and wish that Father had been open with me - with both of us - from the start...I know the truth now. I understand why Father has done everything he has. And while I cannot say I would have taken the same path as him...he is our King, and it is not our place to question his judgement.

"You wanted to be certain that this is Father's path, Carlei? And not that of Lord Proton, Lord Archer or Stepmother? Then heed me now. I swear, under the gaze of Lord Kyogre, he who chose me as his warrior and his Champion, that this is Father's decision, and that the charologists' actions in his name is for his benefit."

His voice echoes strangely off the Temple walls for a few moments, like there's a dozen Silvers all speaking at once.

Carlei sighs, and looks down at the ground. "I see," she murmurs, her voice so sad and so quiet in comparison to Silver's stentorian declaration.

"I know you don't agree with what the charologists have done, Carlei. In truth nor do I. Nor do any of us." He glances back to Goban briefly. "But they are working for Father. Not for some strange scheme to fulfil a legacy of the Exile King, or whatever other conspiracy you suspected. So...please. Even if you don't wish to be loyal to our King, at least be loyal to our Father."

Carlei is quiet for a long few moments.

I guess I knew this was going to happen eventually. That Carlei would find out that Lance wasn't just some unknowing puppet or figurehead, but the centrepiece of it all.

I just wish I knew what was going to happen next.

So, in-game, I kinda predicted Petrel's Weezing blowing up (or rather I guessed that Ethan might not be able to one-shot it like he had all the Koffings), so I switched for Gaius and got a Defence Curl in before it went kaboom. It did...like, half his health, I think? So it wasn't like a near-death experience (though obviously it would've wrecked anyone else on the team), but it did bring up the rather awkward question of how to represent that in-game when I've been running with NPC trainers being represented by their strongest 'mon. Hopefully this works okay.
Ethan - Togetic, Serene Grace, Relaxed, Scatters Things Often
Carlei - Typhlosion, Blaze, Relaxed, Likes to Thrash About
Gaius - Golem, Sturdy, Bold, Alert to Sounds
Magni aka Muscle - Machamp, Guts, Lonely, Proud of its Power
Deanne - Dragonair, Shed Skin, Careful, Impetuous and Silly
Lyra - Marill, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Stubborn
Amphy - Ampharos, Static, Timid, Often Dozes Off
Bradon - Bellsprout, Chlorophyll, Timid, Somewhat Vain
Shayne - Sandshrew, Sand Veil, Gentle, Likes to Fight
Haneka - Skiploom, Chlorophyll, Mild, Thoroughly Cunning
Micha - Magnemite, Magnet Pull, Hasty, Good Endurance
Erewan - Unown (E), Levitate, Brave, Likes to Fight
Nichol - Nidoking, Rivalry, Brave, Somewhat Vain
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top