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Thread Description
A HeartGold nuzlocke twisted into a fantasy setting. Updates sporadically.

Aurea

Moderator
Moderator
🎇Contributor
Writer
Pokédex No.
25
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
79
Location
Sinnoh Region
Nature
Calm
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Grass, Steel
WHEW.

Full disclosure? I caught up on CotD earlier this week, and had been chipping away at a comment -- one that basically consisted of me lamenting that of COURSE I choose to catch up when you left us with that evil cliffhanger???? My jaw dropped, I was SO worried, and had been spoiled to being able to click 'next chapter' and was so upset when I couldn't sdlkfj;asdklj. I was so worried about the whole squad, I knew exactly what was happening, and I was so afraid you were going to lose someone here.

Imagine my surprise when I went to post that comment and saw that you'd updated again! I opened it up and tried to sneaky read it in a meeting this morning. xD SO relieved to see that everyone is ok from the blast (and I loved the worldbuilding wrt the rite of power Petrel used -- which, btw, in 94 I think you referred to him as Proton once or twice), but then Silver showed up and hhhhhh. Ok first of all I adore him, I feel like I've mentioned that nearly every time he appears, but I wasn't expecting his apology. Then I wasn't expecting him to still side with Lance, after admitting he didn't agree. That stung... and then another cliffhanger??? how dare?? The tension in this chapter was palpable, and I'm sitting on the edge of my seat eagerly anticipating what comes next.

Also, as a sidebar -- it was so great to listen to the prologues of CotD on my drive in to work today! ^^ I was so excited to see it had been chosen for the pilot of Writer's Locke, and it was so incredible to hear it -- especially after just having caught back up. Hearing about Ethan's first interactions with Lyra, and of course Carlei... it's plain to see how far this story has come, and you should be so proud. Excited to see so many noms for you in the ganza, and wishing you luck! c:
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
Congrats on making the podcast and all the noms in the ganza!

Petrel’s exit was well-done, no worries. Excited to see what happens next between Silver and Carlei!
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #83
Aurea - Haha I've definitely done some sneaky reading in the past myself. Glad you're enjoying it! (And...I would apologise for the cliffhanger, but there's probably gonna be a couple more before everything calms down again lol.) And ack yes I did call Petrel Proton. Thanks for pointing it out!

Xita - Thanks! Glad you're still enjoying it.

Also, thank you to everyone who nominated CotD for Best Overall Written Story, and for Best Supporting Character and Best Antagonist for Carlei and Silver respectively! Even if I don't get on the podium (so to speak) to just make it this far is - as probably-cheesy as this may sound - an honour, really. Thank you all for supporting my silly little idea so much. 😊


"How can you still defend him?" Carlei asks, so quietly that I barely even hear her.

Silver's eyes go wide, and he physically recoils, almost like she'd tried to hit him or something. "Carlei...I...what?"

"After everything he's done...all the people he's hurt...how can you still defend him?" Her voice shakes, but she speaks louder this time.

"He's our King," Silver repeats. "And our father." His voice is shaking nearly as much as hers.

"And there comes a time that we have a duty as Prince and Princess to make a stand for what is right. Even if that means standing against our King - and even if it means standing against our father." Carlei takes a deep breath. "Tell me something, Silver. Do you honestly believe that what Father is doing is right?"

"What I think doesn't matter."

"Yes, it does!" Carlei snaps. "You're more than just some marionette!"

Silver sighs. "I understand what Father is doing, all of this, and I understand why he's doing it. It is...logical. But I wish there was another way," he admits.

"And driving Carlei out of the palace for helping me?" I interrupt. "Lance tell you what the grand purpose of that was, or was it just so to get someone out of the way who might stand up for what's right?"

Silver glares at me. "This has nothing to do with you. You don't even understand what's going on."

"Like hell I don't! Your dad wants a manmade Blessing to try to convince people he's worthy to be King, because he doesn't have a real one. You know, because attacking the holiest place in the kingdom really screams 'just' and 'good.' I miss anything?"

Silver gives me an astonished look - then turns to look at Carlei. I'm honestly way past caring about revealing Lance's big secret, but when I see the hurt look in her eyes I do wish I could've put it a little more gently. "I didn't..." she starts to say, in response to Silver's accusatory look, but then cuts herself off, and she turns back to Silver. "Is that true? Is that the reason for all this?"

Silver grimaces. "Not quite. You were right that the goal was to create an artificial Blessing. But that goal was long past achieved. You saw Father's new power - all of us here did."

Mahogany Manor. "That wasn't a Blessing. That was Chaos."

"According to the charologists' experiments, they are two sides of the same coin. And having seen it firsthand I can assure you that Father's power is more than mere Chaos." He might be answering me, but he's still looking at Carlei. "It is a true Blessing, albeit one that leaves its user deeply vulnerable to that darkness. But the Faith refused to assist us."

"I wonder why," Magni growls.

"They have records of formulas and procedures that would stabilise Father's powers, and allow him to control the Chaos."

"Why in the world do you think the Faith would possess such vile things?" Carlei snaps.

"From Kanto." Ampharal answers before Silver can. "While the Exile King never managed to wholly synthesise a Blessing, formulae to stabilise the powers of those affected by his other experiments were created, and after his downfall the recipes and procedures were confiscated by the Faith - but not destroyed, so they could be used to put a stop to any further attempts to tamper with Divine will." He gives Silver a scornful look. "Not so they could be used to perpetuate the issue."

"Why they kept them doesn't matter," Silver snarls. "They kept them. They could help Father. But they refused. So we took the choice out of their hands."

"You're a Champion." Lyra's sudden interruption makes me jump. "Do you truly believe that you were given this gift to attack the Faithful of the Divines?"

"They should have obeyed the ancient contract."

"Some things should stay hidden," Carlei says. If there was any uncertainty in her tone earlier, it's long gone now. "Did you know we saw you at the Kikyo Shrine?" she asks, abruptly.

Silver blinks. "What..?"

"Back then you demoted your second-in-command for merely suggesting attacking a Temple. I...for all our differences, I was proud of you. Now look at you."

Silver doesn't say anything.

"You never answered my question," she continues. "Do you think this is right?"

"I..." Silver frowns. "As I said, I wish there was another way. But there isn't. This may not be right, but it is necessary. You of all people ought to know the Kantan Lords never respected Father because of his lack of a Blessing. People died for that lack of respect - very nearly including you."

"Don't you dare use me as an excuse for this," Carlei hisses, flames flickering around her hands.

"When Father can announce that the Divines have Blessed him after so long - a veritable miracle by any account - he will have the respect and loyalty of Joto and Kanto, noble and commoner alike. It will bring peace to the kingdom that we so desperately need."

"I've seen miracles," Ampharal sneers. "Everyone who was in Kanto three years ago saw what a true miracle looks like. It wasn't announced with great pomp and circumstance for political benefit. It was a young man barely older than you, unassuming yet impossible to fell in battle. Some rumoured he had been Chosen by the Great Father himself. That was a miracle." His book crackles into existence between his outstretched hands, pages ruffling and giving off sparks and bolts of lightning that leap around the room. "Do not pretend that this continuation of Giovanni's savagery can be called one."

"Even if you were right," Lyra says, quietly, "and Lance's false Blessing might have brought peace...now? After everyone in the kingdom knows that he attacked the Grand Temple?"

"What do you mean?" Goban interrupts.

Of course. They were here when the attack started, so they wouldn't know. "The Temple Bells in Asagi rang," Carlei explains. "And in every other Temple across Joto, no doubt. The priests were announcing to all who cared to listen that Imperial forces attacked this Temple on -" she catches herself before saying 'Father' again "- on Lance's behalf."

"That's not good," Zane whispers, not very quietly.

Silver actually looks pale. No doubt he's realising that everyone saw him here, and word will spread quickly that Prince Silver, the heir to the throne, was part of this. Then he looks down at the ground. "I see," he says, quietly. Then he looks back up. "And did the priests care to mention that it is their duty to assist the Crown in all matters where their aid is requested, and that they refused to do so?"

"You think anyone will care about that?" I ask.

"The people out there? No. But it makes a difference nonetheless. To me. And it should to you as well."

"The Crown does not have ultimate authority over the Faith, Silver," Carlei points out. "That is the entire purpose of the ancient contract. Their directive is to advise and assist - and in this instance they have made the decision to serve the kingdom that the Divines forged, not the King that rules it by human law. Perhaps you disagree with it, but you have no right to claim that they betrayed their duty."

Silver opens his mouth to argue back - and Goban puts a hand on his shoulder. "This is going nowhere," he says, quietly. Is he trying to protect Silver?

Silver pauses, and then nods, brow furrowing in thought. "I have a proposal for you, Carlei," he says, after a few moments. "We both have been claiming Divine blessing and Divine will is on our side. The Faith has turned against Father, and yet the Divines still respected Lord Petrel's loyalty enough to permit him to channel a fraction of their power. Why not leave it to the Divines themselves to demonstrate which of us truly has their favour?"

In case any of us hadn't figured out what he meant, he holds out his hand, fist clenched, and his claws appear.

"If the Divines will heed our call for guidance anywhere, it will be in this holy place." It's the woman who I first met with Eusine, in the Enju Shrine. I've never heard her voice before.

"Fine," Carlei snaps. Her sword appears in a swirling blaze of fire, almost white-hot.

Is this seriously happening? This stupid fucking 'the Blessed in the right wins fights' idea is going to decide what happens to all of us? "Carlei..."

"Fine," she repeats, a little more gently, turning to look directly at me. Then she looks back to Silver. "May the Divines grant victory to the righteous."

I've heard that phrase before in the old scrolls I read. I've never heard anyone actually say it before.

Silver takes this whole 'honourable combat' thing seriously, giving us the chance to get rid of our ridiculous Imperial disguises and change into our heraldry.

"So...how does this work?" I ask quietly, while we're getting ourselves equipped. I still can't believe that I'm the only one that finds this completely absurd. Even Lyra hasn't protested, although she doesn't exactly seem quite as enthused as the others - though I think that has more to do with not wanting to hurt Silver emotionally than any concern about physical injuries.

"The standard laws for formal duels are a series of single battles until one team can no longer put forwards a combatant," Carlei recites. "After a combatant is defeated, each side may change combatants. The challenged party has the luxury of choosing combatants second, unless they elect to give up that right."

"Which we aren't," Gaius interjects. "Against a Champion we're going to need all the help we can get."

"We have a Champion ourselves, remember," Ampharal points out, looking proudly over at Lyra. He realises his mistake when she shrinks away from his look. "In any case," he continues, "I suspect I should be able to defeat Silver with relative ease."

If he was just lying to cheer up Lyra it would be sweet. But he genuinely seems confident. I don't know if he just doesn't remember Silver kicking the crap out of most of us last time we fought or if he's overestimating himself just that much.

It doesn't take long for us to divest ourselves of the armour and face Silver and his allies, but I'm amazed that no-one aside from Silver has come to investigate what's going on - especially given the massive explosion Petrel unleashed. Goban was already dressed in his heraldry - perhaps to symbolise his disapproval at what was going on - but the others have changed too.

I've never seen Silver's heraldry before. It looks a lot like a pared-down version of the standard Imperial armour, though the helmet is shaped to look like some sort of reptile or dragon mouth, with sapphires inset on the dragon's eyes that perfectly match Silver's own Champion-enhanced eyes, with a long plume of red hair running the whole way down the helmet and then further down the back of his armour. His claws fit perfectly under the gauntlets.

"Oh, why me?" Zane complains, loudly, somewhat suddenly. Silver gives Zane an irritated look, and the older man grumbles but steps forwards. Almost before I realise I'm doing it I take a couple of steps forwards too.

"Well, then," Silver says, calmly. His helmet comes a long way down past his eyeline, so all we can really see of his face is the mithril dragon. I have to admit, it's a bit of an intimidating look. "Let us begin."

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
 

SilverDoe

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
37
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
96
Location
Verdanturf Town
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Ghost
Whenever I start reading this story, I just can't stop - until I run out of chapters, which is, of course, what just happened.

This is seriously such a fantastic run, and I love it a lot. I was honestly hesitant to start reading from where I last left off because I wasn't sure I remembered what had happened earlier on in the story well-enough. But as it turns out, I didn't need to worry about that so much. A lot of the memory of what happened came back to me each time an event, place or character was referenced. And just remembering how much has happened and how far everyone here has come is such an awe-inspiring feeling. I really enjoy your characters. Carlei is probably my favorite, but the others are all great too. I still love Magni (and her and Deanne are cute together) and Lyra and you know, everyone. Ampharal was a interesting addition and I think he's fun to have around (though maybe not in the most literal sense). Gaius has also held steady and I'm glad he's still reliably around (not only to have helped them briefly impersonate some Imperial Guards, as little faith as he had in them to pull it off XD).

Also, Silver's nomination for best antagonist is definitely a well-deserved one in my opinon, especially after the last couple chapters I just read. I love the complexity in his relationship to the main characters and in his goals and motives and behavior. I love how he's not evil or outright villainous (or even outright antagonistic all the time) but genuinely just... loyal, and dedicated to doing what he personally believes is right for him to do. It makes for such a great conflict when both a protagonist and antagonist believe they're the right ones (the heroes of their own stories, as it were). I also love the other antagonists we've met in this story and their variety of motivations, personalities, and behavior.

Also, if that was LANCE'S work in Mahogany... well, he just got a whole lot scarier. (I'm also SUPER eager to meet Queen Ariana and also Archer.)

I cannot wait to see what unfolds next in this story. The events with the temple in the last few chapters (from the bell ringing to well the current point) really created a bunch of excited tension in me as to what's going to happen. And a little bit of worry because I really don't want anyone to die at this point. And as much as I want Silver to lose here, I'm not sure what would happen if he does... I don't know what he'd do. And that just makes me even more eager for more.

tldr; Call of the Divines is as wonderful for me to read as ever and I'm very much looking forward to more.
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Ah, these last few chapters have been tense! I'm excited to see how the duels go, but also very worried...

Congrats on being chosen for the podcast, and also on your ganza nominations! Gotta second the appreciation for Silver, he's such a great complex antagonist.
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #86
SilverDoe - Welcome back, and thanks! And yeah, Lance is, uh...not to be trifled with. (In-game there's that double battle you have alongside him against some Team Rocket folks; he absolutely wrecked them lol.)

cyndakip - Thanks! As for the duels, read on!


Zane looks a little nervous as he approaches me, perhaps remembering what happened the last time he picked a fight with me. But that nervousness quickly fades to be replaced with a grim look.

"So. Uh..." He's conjured his trident now, but he doesn't seem very inclined to attack immediately. "I know what happened to Shayne, but..."

"Haneka's gone." Carlei says it before I can. The lights swirling around me crackle and shimmer with repressed energy, obviously enough that the others see them too for a moment.

Zane sighs. But he doesn't seem surprised. "I thought so," he says, quietly, looking down at the ground. "You know, whatever they might have told you about me, I did try to protect them, just like Shayne did. He was just...better than me." And then he looks up at me, anger in his eyes, and raises his trident. "I liked them. And thanks to you, they're dead."

He sweeps the trident through the air in a long arc. I'm watching the forked end, so a blade of coalesced air flying towards me from the other end catches me off guard, and it clips one of my wings as I roll aside. Before he can capitalise I reach out with my lights and bind him, lifting him up in the air.

Zane doesn't stop struggling, beating his wings furiously in an attempt to escape, not trying to hide his anger any more. "You got them both killed."

I'd almost forgotten. The first time we met him he tried to protect Haneka and Shayne, offering them a chance to leave us without any fear of punishment. That hadn't been Silver's idea, even if he did roll with it. At the time I was so grateful they'd stood by us. Now I wish they'd taken the offer.

"Enough," Silver snaps, glaring at us both from under his dragon helmet. "Zane is defeated."

I didn't realise that we could win without having to actually take out the other duellists, but I'm glad that that's a rule. Zane himself doesn't seem to agree with Silver's judgement, though, and when I drop him he obviously thinks about attacking again. But he doesn't. "If we weren't in this place..." he mutters, darkly, stalking back to the other side of the room.

I feel a warm hand on my shoulder. "Are you okay?" Carlei asks me.

I know she doesn't mean my wing. "I'm fine." I pause a couple of moments. I don't want to say what's on my mind, but at the same time...I want to say it. Want to hear someone tell me otherwise. "He's...he's not wrong."

"Only the Divines can see what will be and what might have been." She gently pushes me back towards the others, taking my place. We were supposed to have the second choice, not the first, but Carlei doesn't seem to care.

I'm surprised Silver doesn't face Carlei himself. For all that Carlei's probably the most powerful of all of us, I'm pretty sure Silver would beat her even without his Champion powers. But instead he gestures for the woman with the musket to face her.

It's no contest. The woman might have been able to hold off Carlei with the advantage of range, like she had in Enju, but in these close quarters she doesn't stand a chance. Before she's even drawn a bead on Carlei she gets hit by a white-hot blast of flame that propels her into the opposite wall.

Silver grimaces, realising his misstep far too late to do anything about it. He's not the only one that saw it, though. We all did, and he knows it. "Let me fight, Lord Silver!" Silas all but demands.

"Silas..." Shukie murmurs, trying to clutch at his sleeve to pull him back.

"Get off, Shukie!" he snaps, tugging his sleeve free and stepping forwards. "We're Lord Silver's squires, remember? It's our duty to fight for him." Judging from the way he's glaring at me, I don't think duty is the only thing motivating him.

Silver doesn't say anything.

"You oughta be nicer to your sister," Magni says, when Silver doesn't stop Silas volunteering himself, strolling forwards casually as though she didn't have a care in the world. "From what I hear, you two only have each other."

"Shut up!" Silas snaps at her. "Are you going to fight or just lecture me?"

Magni gives an idle shrug. "I was figuring we'd be fighting, but if you want to just keep arguing I'm good with that."

Silas grips the hilt of his double-ended sword tightly enough that I can see his knuckles turning white. "Just because I'm not eighteen yet doesn't mean you don't have to take me seriously!"

He's fast now, and he springs at Magni with a wild shriek that was probably meant to be a battlecry - and she catches the blade of his sword in one hand. A little blood runs down her palm, but she doesn't flinch, and she doesn't let go even when Silas tries to tug his sword out of her grip.

If he was thinking straight he'd just dismiss it and conjure it back again. But Magni doesn't give him the chance to come to his senses. "The Divines respect honour and righteousness. Not wild anger." Then she punches him - gently, by her standards, but he doesn't let go of his sword in time to dodge and gets hit square in the chest.

"That was reckless," Deanne says, quietly, examining the wound on Magni's hand as she strolls back over to our side.

"He was arrogant and let his anger take over," she replies, calmly. "In a real fight he'd be dead."

"And children shouldn't be in real fights." Deanne gives Silver a pointed look, and he clenches his fists in response.

But he still doesn't say a word.

Goban glances sideways at Silver, waits a moment, and then steps forward without even asking Silver first. He looks worried, and I think I can guess why - whether he meant it to or not, this whole duel started because he stopped Silver arguing with Carlei and the rest of us about the attack on the Temple. He didn't want Silver to get hurt realising just how far away he'd strayed from his own beliefs. And now Silver's having his motivation proved wrong in - as far as the Jotans are concerned - the most indisputable way possible.

He frowns when he sees me facing him. Unlike the others I think he knows he's at a disadvantage. But that doesn't stop him trying - he flies forwards, shadows swirling out like dozens of tendrils and wrapping...not around me, but around my motes of light, absorbing the energy from them. It's the same move he tried on me in Enju, but more refined and more powerful after almost three months of training.

But here in a Temple, where I've always found it easier to control my powers than anywhere else...not powerful enough. He manages to suppress me for a few seconds before his shadow bindings begin to fray and dissolve, and I tear my lights free and let the surge of released power push him away, like floodgates opening.

Silver catches him before he can hit the wall - pretty much the first time he's moved since the duel began - and gently sets him on the ground. Even the raging tempest of his Champion aura goes a little muted with tenderness.

Then he steps forwards, towards us.

"I guess..." Lyra summons her bow, slowly and reluctantly in a way that I don't think has anything to do with the threat Silver is to her in a fight - and Ampharal reaches out one arm to stop her moving forwards. "Amphy, you can't..." But the hope in her tone is painfully obvious.

"It's okay," he reassures her. "You don't have to fight. I told you, I am perfectly capable of defeating Silver."

Lyra's half-formed bow dissolves back into water and splashes on the ground between them. I don't think she's any more confident about Ampharal's chances against Silver than I am - or any of the rest of us - but when she so obviously doesn't want to have to fight Silver I can't bring myself to protest, no matter how important this is.

Ampharal's book lifts off his hand as he steps forwards, pages turning of their own accord, sparks crackling. "Come, then, Silver. Champion of Kyogre, prove that the Divines truly view you as righteous."

Silver's charge is as lightning-fast as I expected. Ampharal takes a quick step backwards and Silver makes a flicking motion with his other hand, conjuring a wall of water behind him. Ampharal dodges sideways, but another twitch of Silver's free hand turns the wall of water into a swirling spiral and sends it straight at Ampharal, knocking him to the ground. And Silver lands, spinning with that incredible speed and agility and takes a step forwards to launch himself at Ampharal again -

And lightning crackles from underneath him, coursing across his body and making him lose his balance. And then I realise why Ampharal stepped forwards while he was making his challenge - he imbued the floor with his magic, creating the magical equivalent of a landmine. I've heard of magic like that but I've never seen it before.

Silver's still standing. I don't think any normal Blessed would be. But evidently even his Champion powers can't fight off Ampharal's magic, and though he's taking slow, staggering steps towards Ampharal, and the lightning is already diminishing, for a few moments he's vulnerable, as though his joints have seized up.

Ampharal's already rolled to his feet, and he flicks his book out in front of him and closes his eyes, and sparks begin to crackle around it, faster and louder. "I researched Champions, Silver. The minute I realised that facing you would be inevitable given the different path you took to the rest of your childhood friends. And although your powers grant you immeasurable strength and resilience, they don't offer you any more protection against magic than they previously did."

Then he clicks his fingers and fires...it can hardly even be called a lightning bolt, really - it's more like a massive beam of electrical energy, powerful enough that it sends arcs of lightning crackling around all of us even though we're a good few feet away on either side.

The blast knocks Silver down, and paralyses him with even more sparks flowing across his body. Ampharal stalks over to him, raises his hand, and blows a hole in the floor just next to Silver's head with another lightning bolt. "It's over," he pronounces, calmly. Almost...sympathetically.

"Not...not yet." Shukie's voice is nervous - no, I can't pretend she's just nervous about the idea of fighting us. She's scared. Scared of us. "I...I can fight too."

"You don't have to do that, Shukie," I protest.

"Yes, I do. I...I hate what Proton and Petrel and the others are doing. It's horrible. So if this was about just that, then I wouldn't. But it isn't. Lord Silver hates what they're doing too, and he hates that he has to let it happen, but that's what we're doing. Even if I don't understand why we can't stop it...Lord Silver's been kind to us ever since you brought us to him. So if he says we're not stopping it, then we're not stopping it. And if that means I have to fight you, then I do." She closes her eyes, taking a posture much like the one Ampharal was in when he was building up to the attack that took out Silver, and her ruby barrier shimmers into existence around her. "I'm sorry," she says, quietly.

"Stop."

Silver struggles up to one knee, lightning still coursing across him - I don't know if Ampharal can't cancel it or if he just doesn't trust him to not try to keep fighting. With precise, drawn-out motions, fighting against the paralytic force of Ampharal's magic, he pulls off his helmet and lets it clatter to the ground. "Stop," he repeats. "I...I forfeit the duel."

"You win."

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
 

SilverDoe

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
37
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
96
Location
Verdanturf Town
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Ghost
Okay, well, clearly I was underestimating just how powerful everyone is because I was not expecting those duels to go the way they did. And I continue to be absolutely fascinated by Silver's actions. I want to know what's going on inside his head so badly. Especially NOW, after that ending.

You just continue to spin this story into something I can't put down, except I have to and now I can't wait for next week!
 

Xita

Moo
Writer
Team Omega
Pokédex No.
186
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
93
Location
Germany
Nature
Quirky
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Dark
Damn lol Silver’s crew got dumpster-trucked. The Divine have spoken!

Can’t be sad for him though. He got exactly what he asked for!
 

csidvuL

Conqueror of the Goldenrod Gym
Writer
Pokédex No.
31
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
238
oh man that was such an exciting little chunk of chapters to catch up on! I really really enjoyed your depictions of a city on the brink, and the ideological debate between Carlei and Silver was super interesting and enjoyable, and then the series of duels here was fantastic. I'm super glad I was able to power through that monumental cliffhanger, and consequently super mad that we're here at a cliffhanger of a different sort. You bastard. You fiend. I can't wait for the next chapter!
 

Rhema

Conqueror of the Azalea Gym
Writer
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
212
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
209
Location
Hearthome City
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers
Pokémon Type
Fire, Psychic
Pokédex Entry
She tries her best, but doesn't succeed. She gets what she wants but not what she needs.
Hi! So I am nowhere near caught up on this, as I just started reading it a few days ago, but I love it so much and wanted to leave a comment even though I'm not up to speed. I think I'll leave one big comment every 10 chapters? Yeah, sounds good.

First off, I just love this concept. I think it's a great and fresh idea for a Gijinka and very well executed. I also just love "element bending" kind of stories such as ATLAB and the like. It's super fun to see how each Pokemon is interpreted as their own person with quirks and traits of their own, and how their Aspect correlates with their typing. I especially enjoy Bradon so far; he's exactly how I would imagine a Bellsprout personified to be haha.

I think Ethan is surprisingly well-adjusted to being dropped in a completely unfamiliar place, worlds from home. I suppose it might've helped that he was in prison and could've been executed. I think after that, beyond any fear or anxiety I'd have about being in a strange world, I'd just be grateful to be alive. I'm extremely curious, naturally, about how he came to this world and how his world and this one are connected. I have a feeling that his brother's disappearance is also connected somehow, so I'm looking forward to reading more and uncovering the mystery.

Lastly, I just want to commend your worldbuilding and the way you alter HeartGold in ways that make it a unique fantasy world. It's fun to see you describe magic and what role it plays in this world, especially as it pertains to the Pokemon and their types/moves. You do a great job with immersion, in the sense that the way you have everybody talk sort of medievally with titles and formalities and such really makes me feel sucked into the story. I love how you interpret classic Pokemon characters like the Professor and the Gym Leaders, offering a unique spin on each and making them your own.

All in all, this is a new favorite run of mine! Slowly but surely, I'll catch up haha. Great work!
 

cyndakip

there goes my luck
🌱Featurer
Writer
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
23
Caught
Jun 9, 2019
Messages
335
Location
Lilycove City
Nature
Hardy
Pronouns
they/she
Pokémon Type
Fire, Water
Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Well, that was easier than I thought! Really enjoyed this chapter, and excited to see what happens next.
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #92
SilverDoe - Thanks! Silver is probably one of my favourite characters to write for with his kinda juggling act between loyalty and what he thinks is right.

Xita - Lol yeah Ethan and co kinda...steamrolled their way through like the entirety of the Team Rocket bit in game.

Flopdisc - I was looking forwards to writing the debate between Carlei and Silver, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! And don't worry there should only be...a few more cliffhangers before the end of this Goldenrod/Kogane arc lol.

Rhema - Hi to you too! Glad you're enjoying it. And yeah Ethan's whole 'what the heck is going on' moment was kinda spoiled by being thrown in a dungeon lol.

cyndakip - Thanks!


Also, according to AO3's word count, Call of the Divines is now two hundred thousand words long! Uh, sorry to anyone just now trying to get into it lol. 😛

There's a long, stunned moment of silence. Shukie breaks it, her ruby barrier shattering into glittering fragments as she stops focusing on it. "Wha -? Lord Silver? But..."

"I forfeit the duel," Silver repeats, speaking more clearly now, Ampharal's lightning beginning to fade. "It's over."

"But...but I can fight!"

"I know. But you don't want to." It doesn't sound like a question.

"I don't..." Shukie stumbles over her words for a few moments. "I don't want to fight for Proton, or Queen Ariana, or even His Majesty. But I do want to fight for you. Silas was right. It's our duty as your squires."

"I never wanted you to fight for me," Silver says, quietly. "Lady Deanne was right when she said neither of you belong in a battle. More than that...you told me when we first met that you didn't want to use your powers to hurt others. That you believed the Divines had Blessed you so you could protect. Is that no longer the case?"

"No!" Shukie replies, hotly. "I still don't want to fight. But this is more important!"

"No, it isn't." Maybe it's just the fact that Ampharal's magic is wearing off, but his voice sounds firmer, more confident, than it has ever since he appeared.

"You made it clear you don't want to be a part of this," Silver continues. Shukie's eyes go wide and she flinches away slightly. "That's not a bad thing, Shukeya," he adds, hastily, when he realises how she's interpreted his words. "Not many people have the courage to stand up for what they believe in. The fact that you do is admirable." He sighs. "I'm honoured that you're willing to fight for something you don't believe in because of me. Truly. But it's as Carlei said. We're not merely puppets dancing on the strings of loyalty. And I don't want to force you to make a choice like this."

"But what about you?"

Silver chuckles slightly. "I'll be fine. Besides..." He glances around to his defeated allies. "The duel seems...quite conclusive." He tries to hide it, and does a pretty good job, but there's an unmistakeable edge in his tone, so downcast that I can't help but feel a bit bad for him.

Then he looks back at us and waves a hand, idly, gesturing towards one of the many corridors. "Go."

Before we leave, Carlei walks over to him. For a moment she obviously thinks about trying to comfort him, or to reassure him that he's doing the right thing letting us go. But she knows him well enough to know that there's nothing she could say or do that wouldn't in all likelihood make things worse. "Thank you," she says, quietly, before turning and joining the rest of us, closing the door behind her.

When the door closes, Silver's aura gets a lot more muted. None of us want to say anything. Honestly the sheer ease with which we beat Silver and his allies is...a little unnerving. Silver losing focus and letting us pick good matchups helped, sure, but...are we really that much stronger than them? For maybe the first time it makes me begin to wonder whether that whole 'the Divines decide the outcome of fights' thing has a little truth to it. Like Suicune weaving the first fish out of grass.

We walk down the corridor for a minute or two before I start to feel...something. Like the same pull that carried us back to Kogane, but weaker, more...personal.

And more desperate.

"What is it?" Carlei asks. I don't realise until I hear her voice that I've stopped.

"I don't know," I admit. "I...think someone's calling for help."

"I can't hear anything," Deanne comments, after a few moments of us all trying to listen out for any quiet sounds.

"Where?" Ampharal asks.

"I think...down. Maybe near the cleansing pool."

"That's the wrong direction," Gaius points out.

"I know. I'll catch up with you guys."

"Are you sure?" Carlei asks. "There could be more dangerous Imperials here. You are still wanted - alive or dead," she adds, quietly.

"I'm sure." It's not so much that I'm confident I can win whatever fight I end up in - but this telepathic call isn't nearly as strong as the one that let me bring us all to Kogane. I'm going to have a hard enough time following it without trying to carry anyone else with me, even Carlei.

"Okay." She steps forwards and kisses me quickly. "Be careful."

I close my eyes, focusing in on the instinctual, mental tugging. And though it might be a lot weaker, perhaps because I'm in a Temple, it's a lot easier to tune in to. And almost immediately I feel the floor almost dissolve beneath me and I start drifting down. I open my eyes in shock and realise that the floor hasn't changed - I'm just falling through it, like a ghost. Like how Goban can phase through things, I suppose.

Once I'm in whatever strange, incorporeal state this is, it's like I'm caught in a slow, gentle current, drawing me through floor after floor of the Temple, far deeper than I've ever gone. Steady and calm as the force is, though, I don't think I could fight against the pull even if I wanted to. I angle myself towards the source of the current and feel myself speed up a little, flying straight into the cleansing pool - or rather, through it; I don't end up wet at all - and eventually emerging deep in the basements of the Temple.

I know enough about the layout of the Temple to know that down here is forbidden to anyone but priests. But I'm not the only one who's ignored that particular restriction - as soon as I appear, returning to the material world and the force of gravity with a sudden jolt that almost makes me fall flat on my face, I can see a dozen unconscious Imperial soldiers.

The telepathic call is easier to follow down here, and I lift myself up with my wings, letting it carry me through the winding paths. I wish I could stop to look at some of these scrolls, but I can feel the call...changing, like it's getting harsher. More urgent.

When I find the source, I realise that I probably shouldn't have even been surprised that it's a Warden. Not one of the Wardens I've already met, but a different one - and accompanied by a different Paladin, this one wearing light blue robes with a white shawl and a darker blue cloak that seems...strangely familiar, somehow.

I don't exactly have time to try to figure out where I've seen the cloak before, though. It's pretty obvious that the Paladin is the source of all the unconscious Imperials I've been flying past on my way to them - even as I watch, he lunges forward and hits one of the Imperials, blindingly fast and hard enough to knock down not just the soldier he hit but the two guys behind her as well. But before he can recover one of the other soldiers slashes his outstretched arm.

No matter how strong the Paladin is, he must have already fought a good few dozen of the soldiers, and there are easily dozens more crowding against him. Whatever the Imperials want down here must be real fucking important.

When I land next to the Paladin, the soldiers take a couple of steps back in surprise, but they quickly recover and try to go after me. But the Paladin's obviously already taken out the strongest Imperials down here, because the remaining soldiers are weak - some of them aren't even Blessed, I don't think. The only reason they stand a chance against the Paladin is because he's worn down. And I'm not.

After I send a few of them reeling with my lights, they obviously grow a little less confident. And then I hear a voice that's horribly familiar. "What do you mean, 'reinforced'?" The soldiers pull back (something they're obviously more than happy to do) to let their commander past. "Reinforced by who?" Proton demands.

He doesn't recognise me at first. Last time he saw me, after all, I was dressed in the dull grey of an ordinary human, not my heraldry - and, of course, I have wings now. It isn't until I push a little power into some of my motes of light to manifest them for all to see that his eyes - or rather, eye - widens. "You?!" His voice is almost a screech. "Kill him!"

He doesn't leave it to his soldiers to do the job, though, hurling a barrage of his conjured smoke bombs towards us. I take a deep breath before they explode in that horrible, purplish smog, using my powers to make up for my lack of vision - and realise that his own men are gasping and choking as the smog washes over them. Is he that scared of me that he's willing to hurt - even kill - his own people just to attack me? I can't help but be reminded of Silver's remark about puppets. This is exactly who he didn't want to become.

I can hold my breath a long time - perks of Blessed endurance - but as wounded as he is already I doubt the Paladin can. So before Proton can send out his next wave of smoke bombs I do to him what I did to Petrel, wrapping my lights around him and binding him tight. But I'm not going to give him the chance to do anything the way Petrel did (though I doubt he has any loyalty to anyone but himself.) Once I have him firmly trapped, I send another blast of light to hit him head-on. He drops to the ground and his toxic smoke starts to fade away as he loses consciousness.

The few Imperials left conscious after Proton's attack obviously don't feel like picking a fight with someone who can defeat their boss. "I'm guessing you're the one who called for help?" I ask the Warden.

She coughs, and I realise she's very pale. The smog must have affected her as badly as it affects most humans - but she obviously got attacked too, because one sleeve of her robe is stained with blood and she's trying to shield it. "I felt you enter the Temple, Chosen of the Great Father," she murmurs, blearily. "Thank you for saving us." Then she chuckles. "You really do look alike."

"Lady Kuni..." the Paladin hisses.

She ignores him. Or maybe doesn't hear him. "I never met him properly, but I witnessed his rise at the ancient peak," she continues. "One day you'll go there too, you know. They always do. Do you think we'll ever apologise?"

"Kuni!" the Paladin repeats, more sharply.

Semi-conscious as she is, Kuni's obviously forgotten that I'm supposed to be being kept out of the loop of...whatever I was brought to Joto for in the first place.

"Please." It takes me a moment to realise that the Paladin's looking at me. "Don't."

I hesitate for a moment. It would be so easy to get answers right now. Even if the Paladin tried to knock me out to stop me asking Kuni questions or something ridiculous, he's hurt enough that he wouldn't stand a chance. But...

If she was volunteering all this shit of her own volition I'd be more than happy to draw out every bit of information I could, to finally know what the fuck is going on. But when she's so woozy and dazed, it feels...unfair. Like I'm taking advantage of Proton and the Imperials hurting them.

I sigh. Fuck it. "Can you just tell me how to get back to the others?"

The Paladin sighs, and I can see his relieved expression behind his mask. "Go up the stairs behind you. There's a door on the left that will lead you back to the Temple proper, near the upper levels where the Imperials are searching." He reaches over to Kuni and gently removes a necklace that was hidden under her robes - not a necklace, I realise a moment later, but a small, golden key on a delicate chain. "This will open the doors for you.

"And...thank you."

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
238
Congratulations on passing that milestone! Can't wait for the chapter 100 party in a couple weeks. I'll bring snacks!

I really enjoyed the description of Ethan phasing through the floor here, it was a wonderful visual and well executed. I feel that one of the great strengths of Call of the Divines is Ethan's grounded view of things even as his powers and the situations he and the squad get involved in continue to escalate and escalate. I remember how thrilling the first confrontation he had with Proton! Seeing him summarily dealt with here was an immensely satisfying payoff. I enjoyed Silver at the start, too, but the highlight at the end for me was Ethan wrestling with his morals and coming out as the winner. Thanks for another excellent chapter!
 

SilverDoe

Conqueror of the Cinnabar Gym
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
37
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
96
Location
Verdanturf Town
Nature
Timid
Pronouns
She/Her
Pokémon Type
Water, Ghost
Good for Ethan not taking advantage of Kuni, though it's too bad that means we don't get any answers either. XD Still, she did drop some tantalizing hints that, honestly, I'm not quite sure what to make of, though I've got a couple of vague half-formed theories floating in the back of my head.

Silver's decision to forfeit the duel makes sense - it's nice how he treats Shukie and doesn't make her fight when he realizes she doesn't really want to, for what he wants to. His agreeing with echoing Carlei's statement about not being puppets on strings is interesting too... how much is Silver doubting himself and his logic? (Or is he at all?)

Hope Ethan meets back up with his friends without too much other trouble. And it was great to see him face Proton again and end that decisively.
 

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
75
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
Dark, Dragon
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #95
Flopdisc..? - Thanks! And yeah Ethan's changed a lot since the gang's first battle with Proton.

SilverDoe - I couldn't spoil everything, now could I? 😛 Still got all of Kanto to get through. I have to admit I'd be curious to see what your theories are though lol. And yeah Silver is...not quite sure what to think at present.

Chapter 99 on AO3
(Turns out that when you use open and close angled brackets as part of the text in AO3's HTML editor it gets super confused. Who'd have thought? 🤦‍♂️ )​

The corridor the Paladin indicated doesn't just take me to where the Imperials are searching - it takes me straight to Carlei and the others, the door leading into the same room they're in in a way that can't possibly just be coincidence.

"That didn't take long," Magni observes, wryly.

It isn't until I pause to think about it that I realise she's right. Last time I ran into Proton he and his men came close to beating Carlei, Gaius and Shayne, and we only won because I used my Chaos powers (unintentionally or not). But this time I beat them...the only real word to describe it is 'trivially.'

It's a little scary to realise how far we've come. How far I've come.

And yet I'm still just left with more questions than answers.

"Did you find...whoever was calling for help?" Carlei asks.

"Yeah. It was a Warden. Another Warden," I add, after a moment.

"What a coincidence," she remarks, with more than a hint of sarcasm. That's got to be the first time I've ever heard her sound suspicious of the Faith.

Judging from the startled looks the others - even Gaius - give her, it's the first time they've heard her talk like that as well.

"Yeah. So I guess we keep going?" I don't even know how high up we are any more. The tunnel I was led to was only lit by the small crystals, so it would've been hard enough to judge how many floors I was travelling up even if I hadn't been flying at breakneck speed.

"Wait." Lyra's voice is quiet but firm. " All we saw is that you just...dissolved, like sand blowing away in a storm. Did...did you really encounter a Warden? Was she...angry that we were here?"

"Lyra, you don't think Ethan would just make something like that up, do you?" Carlei protests.

"No! I...I just...I want to hear you say it." She might be answering Carlei, but she's still looking at me.

So are the others.

"Honestly I'm not sure she knew who I was at all," I admit. "The Imperials had attacked her before I got there and -"

Water erupts from the walls around us, swirling fast enough to foam white. Lyra has enough control that the main body of the water doesn't get too close to us, but the spray and the occasional wave that splashes out from the vortex is enough to batter us to and fro.

And then as abruptly as the vortex appears it stops, drenching the floor up to our ankles as it returns to normal and the blue light blazing in Lyra's eyes fades. She shrinks away from us. "I'm sorry! I just...I..."

Ampharal recovers from the sudden blast of magic faster than the rest of us - maybe he expected it more - and just...hugs Lyra tightly, stroking her hair. "It's okay," he murmurs, soothingly.

The others aren't quite as calm about what just happened as Ampharal, but judging from the angry spikes I felt in their auras before Lyra's vortex erupted I don't think any of them blame her for her lapse in control. Though they do take a couple of subtle steps back from her.

<Is attacking a Warden that bad?> I ask Carlei mentally. <I mean, the Imperials are already ransacking one of the holiest sites in the country.>

<The people might have forgiven them attacking the Temple itself,>
she answers. <But...not attacking a Warden. But for Lyra it's...more personal than that.>

I reach out and take Carlei's hand, letting my power flow over to her, driving off the lingering effects of Lyra's water magic. She gives me a grateful smile and squeezes my hand in return, and then after a moment answers my unasked question.

<Hoen is a...troubled place. That's why Lyra's parents sent her here. But a dozen or so years ago, just shortly after she'd left Hoen, the forces of the newly-crowned King of Hoen attacked and killed the Wardens and Paladins of Hoen, except for those that knelt and served him. All this - conflict between Crown and Faith - has already happened in Hoen, and...it turned the kingdom into a place of nightmare.>

<That's why Lyra was so much more upset than the rest of you?>
I don't really know why I bother asking the question.

<Lyra found it hard to cope with what was happening to Hoen when she was merely learning about it second-hand. You know as well as I do how empathetic she is. If the full magnitude of that horror were repeated here...>

"We're not gonna let that happen." I don't really mean to say it aloud.

"You don't have a choice in the matter."

Between Lyra's blast of power and the natural power of the Temple, I can't sense much past the walls and closed doors. So I'm as surprised as everyone else when a woman's contemptuous voice rings out.

So this is Ariana. I never met her during my stay in the palace, but judging from the way flames begin to run over Carlei's body and all the way up my arm before fizzling out, it's not hard to guess who she is. Hell, even just from the descriptions I've heard of her, the long red hair, equally-red eyes, and malicious sneer on her face would probably be enough to identify her. She's not wearing a uniform like Silver, Petrel and Proton, or armour like most of the Imperials; instead she's wearing an elegant white gown and high heels, looking more like she's going to a fancy dinner than attacking a holy site. Her weapon fits the theme too - it's some sort of mithril baton. She's accompanied by two women who look nothing like Imperials either; their armour is in a totally different style, all red with helmets with large, black adornments that look like devil's horns.

And when she sees them, Lyra's aura almost crackles with fury - though this time she doesn't unleash a blast of water, maybe because Ampharal's still holding her.

"Carlei, dear," Ariana purrs. "So, this is the little boy you've risked it all for?" She regards me with the sort of look a normal person would give a lump of bird shit before returning her attention to Carlei. "Love is a powerful thing, dear, and I can respect standing by the one you care about. But there comes a time it will hurt you. And unless -"

"Shut up," Carlei hisses. "Why are the Fire Lord's soldiers here?"

Ariana laughs, musically, though that cruel look doesn't leave her eyes. "Oh, didn't you know, dear? Joto has reestablished diplomatic relations with Hoen, and with His Highness the Fire Lord Maximillian. We even have an ambassador from Hoen, who was kind enough to lend us some of her elite troops to deal with this little inconvenience."

Carlei's grip on my hand gets painfully tight. "Breaking off relations with Hoen was our Queen's last act. Our real Queen's last act. How far have you twisted Father that he's willing to trample over Mother's memory like that?" Her whole body is consumed in flames by now, and the others - lacking my bond to her - have had to back off a few feet to avoid being burned. There's a dry circle around us now, steam boiling at its edges as water flows towards us and promptly evaporates.

"You sound just like Silver. He was every bit as offended, and so protective of dear Lyra." Ariana giggles, as though she's about to tell a joke. "You two must get that protective instinct from your mother."

"Father - Lance," Carlei corrects herself again, "doesn't deserve Silver's loyalty."

"Oh, you have no idea, dear." Ariana's cruel smirk gets far crueller, far more vicious.

And then without a word, the three of them attack, as though reacting to some unseen signal. Almost before I realise what's going on, Carlei lets me go and charges straight at one of the Hoenese soldiers. There's a momentary flash of green light as the woman throws up some sort of magical defence - and Carlei's fire aura evaporates it in the blink of an eye. She punches the woman in the chest with enough force to throw the soldier across the room into the wall and damn near break down the wall with the impact.

Ariana doesn't even blink. She comes straight for me, faster than makes any sense in her high-heeled boots. I blast her with a hail of lights, but though the impacts slow her down she keeps her balance and her baton lengthens into a whip she lashes at me, binding my arms and wings. Instinctively I take off, taking advantage of the fact that I don't actually need to move my wings to fly, but she pulls me back with far more force than I'd expected, wheeling and kicking me in the stomach before I can recover.

But with only one foot still on the ground, she can't match my telekinesis any more, and it quickly becomes my turn to pull her off-balance. Another blast, more powerful, is enough to knock her down before she can disentangle her whip to guard against my attack.

The other Hoenese soldier didn't go for me and Carlei at all; she went for Lyra, lunging forwards with a slim rapier. And Ampharal, still holding Lyra tightly, twists, bodily lifting her away from the attack - and getting stabbed in the shoulder himself. But he doesn't let go of Lyra, or let the Hoenese soldier get at her. Lightning crackles from his wound, travelling up the woman's sword and over her, pinning her in place just like he did to Silver. With his uninjured arm he lets go of Lyra and makes a sharp, slashing gesture without even looking back at the woman, and a dozen crackling bolts of energy emerge from the air around the solider, slamming into her and sending her sprawling, twitching as the electricity runs over her.

And as quickly as the battle started, it's over.

Carlei's fire aura vanishes and she runs over to him. "Amphy! Are you okay?" She pulls out one of her healing totems - though before she even reaches him, Lyra's aura changes and she uses that strange healing magic again. I'm not entirely sure she even realises she's doing it.

"I'm fine," Ampharal reassures Carlei, somewhat absently. "They aren't going to hurt you, Lyra. I won't let them."

"None of us will," Magni interjects, suddenly. "Not sure I really understand what all that was about," she adds, with an embarrassed smile, "but you're our friend, Lyra. We're not gonna let anyone hurt you."

For the first time since the vortex, Lyra pulls away enough from Ampharal that she can see the rest of us - though she puts her arms around him, holding him as close as he's holding her. She's crying - or rather, she was. "Thank you," she says, quietly. "All of you."

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
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Pokédex No.
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Jun 30, 2019
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #96

We leave Ariana and her Hoenese bodyguards unconscious on the Temple floor and move on, climbing ever higher - much higher than I've ever been before. The corridors get narrower and twistier the higher we go. If we weren't in a restricted area of the Temple before, we must be by now.

Eventually we go through another door and into another large chamber. This one is obviously being used by the Imperials as a sorting area for them to trawl through the scrolls they've confiscated from the Temple, looking for...whatever it is they're looking for.

And it looks like they've found it. There are still scrolls and parchments strewn haphazardly all across the floor, but the Imperials are trampling over them with a total lack of concern that they surely couldn't have if they were still searching.

"So, you must have defeated Her Majesty." This must be the last of the charologists. Archer. He looks a lot like Proton - right down to the turquoise hair - but he's taller, or at least he's drawing himself up to look taller. Like Ariana was, he's wearing a very formal-looking outfit, all white with half a dozen medals pinned to it.

"It's over, Archer," Carlei states, flatly. "Whatever you were looking for, you aren't going to find it."

Archer smirks. "Oh, I'm afraid you're very mistaken, Princess. We already have." He clicks his fingers, and flames erupt from behind his back like massive wings, furling around us all and forming a teardrop-shaped barrier, cutting us - and him - off from the Imperials. "And these dark flames are powered by my very essence. Destroy them and you kill me."

"You're bluffing!" Carlei snaps. But - just like the rest of us - she doesn't make any move to try to break through the fire. And I know he isn't. "You have no loyalty to Lance. You expect us to believe you'd gamble your life for his sake?"

"For your pitiful father and his lust for power? No, you're quite correct. But for Her Majesty, who saved us and King Giovanni's legacy from destruction? For her I will put my life on the line a dozen times over."

While he's talking, a couple of the Imperials leave, taking advantage of the protection the dark flames offer to go out the opposite door, carrying an ornate box between them. "You coward!" Magni snaps.

Archer just chuckles. "You'll have to forgive me for not staking the success of Her Majesty's ambition on my strength in battle against a force capable of breaking through a dozen warriors my equal already. We've been through that dance before, and we lost. I'm not going to be foolish enough to make the same mistake twice." He spreads his arms wide, dramatically. "So come, champions of destiny. My defeat may be inevitable, but King Giovanni's plans will not be thwarted. Not this time - not again."

"Like hell!" I launch a hail of lights at him, crackling with energy, but the dark flames warp and twist to block them, energy surging from the clash of light and dark. And I quickly realise he's like Goban - his Corruption Aspect is consuming my power, using it to reinforce his own defences. And unlike Goban, he's strong enough and skilled enough to hold his own against me. Maybe not forever - I'm pushing him back, slowly - but for easily long enough for the Imperials to escape with whatever was in that box.

Magni doesn't give him the chance. She charges at him outright, smashing through my light and his darkness alike, and punches him square in the face.

And either he was focusing all his power on stopping me or he can't turn into smoke like Goban, because her uppercut literally slams him into the ceiling before he tumbles back to the ground. A moment later, she all but follows him, dropping to one knee, breathing heavily. I don't think anyone else could've broken through that barrier, and even for her it obviously took a lot out of her to do it. And I know painfully well that a lot of it was because of my attack, the clash between Archer's power and mine like a drawn-out explosion that she just ran into.

But she looks back at us, as the dark flames fade away, and gives us an idle wave. "Go on," she says, gesturing towards the door. "I'll be fine."

Deanne and Lyra stay with Magni - the latter to heal her, the former because there's no way she's going to leave Magni as weak and injured as she is even if there hadn't still been a dozen Imperial soldiers there. The soldiers follow Archer's lead and try to hold us up, but they don't have the luxury of his dark flames or his strength, and they barely even slow us down.

And then suddenly we arrive on the very top of the Temple, back outside in the open air. The sun's setting now. It had barely been noon when we'd slipped into the Temple undercover. It's strange to realise just how long we've spent in there.

The wind up here is strong enough to blow our assorted heraldries around, but - unlike the last time I was up this high, back in Falkner's 'aerium,' I can stand still without risking being blown off the damn roof.

But all that means is that I don't have anything to distract me from the fact that the Imperials and their box are gone.

We run to the edge of the Temple roof, perilously close even for Blessed as strong as we are, trying to see them. Away from the muting force of the Temple interior, I stretch my aura senses out as far as I can, but all I find is a faint aura of Imperial magic that dissipates into nothingness even as I focus on it.

"They can see us," Gaius observes, nodding down at the crowds below. He's right - and there are obviously enough Blessed with keen enough eyesight that they realise we're not Imperials, because the crowd starts to...shift, becoming less overtly hostile but also less willing to obey the implied barrier formed by the priests - or maybe the priests aren't bothering with it any more - gathering around and looking up at all of us.

They're cheering. They don't know - don't know that there's very little to cheer about. For all our victories, everything we did here, everything we won, for the one thing - maybe the only thing - that mattered...

...we lost.

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
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Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Woo, chapter 100! Congrats on reaching such a big milestone.

And Magni punching Archer in the face is a perfect way to celebrate! That was great, although I hope she's okay. And it's not at all great that the Imperials got away...
 

llyarden

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #98
cyndakip: Thanks! 🎂 And lol yep it's certainly a unique way to mark the occasion!


The Grand Temple is open again before the dawn of the next day. The Imperials - including Proton, Archer and even Ariana - are rounded up and locked away by Kogane soldiers. I hadn't realised until I see their guards marching the protesting Imperials away that House Goldenrod hadn't been part of the attack. Whitney really must have been deposed. And that rule Silver invoked to protect Proton back in Hiwada has obviously been abandoned after everything they've done.

Silver himself is nowhere to be seen when we come back down from the top of the Temple. He, Goban and the rest of his allies are gone - maybe back to Sekiei, the one place in the kingdom he'd still be accepted. Enough people knew he was part of this that there are a lot of angry comments about him, though not nearly to the same extent as the charologists.

Archer and Proton are one thing, but arresting Ariana is a risky move - she is still the Queen, when all's said and done. And yet...nothing happens. The Imperial Crown has access to magical communication, so Lance could - if he chose - order Ariana and his other councillors to be released. But he doesn't. It's like he doesn't care about them at all, even after everything they've done for him.

We made it back to the public areas of the Temple before the place was reopened, and in all the confusion as Blessed return to the Temple no-one realises we were already there, or recognises us as the ones who were on top of the Temple roof. General consensus is that we did the right thing, though there's a decent chunk of staunchly religious types who think that we were as much in the wrong as the Imperials. People were talking about me (and Magni) last time I was here too, but the tone is very different. Everything seemed so much...simpler, back then.

And then just as the sun begins to rise, the priests make everything a whole lot more complicated.

The courtyard is packed, fuller than I've ever seen it, and there are a lot more Blessed dressed in their heraldry (as opposed to the simple robes) than normal - a kind of symbolic 'fuck you' to the Imperials' sacrilege, I think. A small dais has been set up at one end, with the head priest of the Temple standing at its centre - and Kuni to his left, with her paladin lurking a few steps behind. They both look okay. I'm glad we at least managed something meaningful.

"I'm sure many of you are already aware of what happened here yesterday," the old man says. Just like the priest in Asagi, his voice carries over the murmuring crowd in a way that makes no logical sense, resounding and echoing off the Temple walls. "Normally, we of the Faith keep our troubles to ourselves, for it is not our place to burden you with them. However...these events are unprecedented, and the people of Joto deserve to know the truth."

This is echoing all over Joto. I can feel it, just like I could feel the sound of the Temple bell when it rang. Everyone in the kingdom can hear this.

"On the direct orders of King Lance, Imperial soldiers, accompanied by the Queen and two members of the king's council, attacked the Temple, forced their way inside, injured my brothers and sisters and stole forbidden relics related to the Exile King of Kanto and his vile experiments."

It's a good thing his voice is magically amplified, because even though almost everyone here already knew what had happened, hearing it stated so bluntly drives it home for all the Blessed listening. I try not to listen too closely to the content of the angry shouts. I've been in Joto for about half a year now, as best I can guess, but I'm never going to get used to how casually people can talk about death - demand it, applaud it, accept it - here.

Kuni takes over the narration - her voice is projected too. "You may also be aware that Prince Silver was ordered to take part in the attack. Please do not judge him too harshly for it. Loyalty to one's father is an admirable thing, and he and his companions never turned their weapons upon the people of the Faith." I can't help but wonder who that message is intended for. If there was ever any chance of Silver hiding the fact he was part of this, Kuni just completely ruined it - and at the same time, she gave Silver an olive branch, making it clear that he wasn't like the other Imperials.

"Fortunately," she continues, "the siege of the Grand Temple was broken - due to the actions of Princess Carlei, exiled by her father for daring to stand against his cruelty but loyal to the kingdom despite that betrayal. With the aid of her companions, Ariana, Archer and Proton, and those Imperials that willingly followed them into violence against our Faith, are in the custody of Lady Floria of Kogane. Wherever the Princess might be, to her and her companions I say: thank you."

She knows exactly where we are. Her eyes even flick over to me, the faintest hint of a smile on her face.

What the fuck are the Faith playing at? They're all but setting up Carlei as the leader of a revolution without so much as a 'by your leave.'

"What now?" Gaius asks, quietly, once the crowd disperses enough that we can talk among ourselves without being overheard. "I'm guessing you can't fly us back to Asagi." He glances at me, but it isn't really a question.

"I doubt it," I admit. "Even if I could...Jasmine made it pretty clear whose side she was on."

"That was before her 'side' committed sacrilege on par with the Exile King of Kanto," Deanne points out.

"I don't think that would make much difference," Carlei says. "Jasmine's points remain as valid as they were when she made them. We are in no state to rebel against Lance." She doesn't even hesitate this time.

"So what do we do?" Magni repeats. Lyra healed her after she took that big hit from Archer and me, but she's still a little more subdued, moving a little more gingerly. Needless to say, she's trying to hide it from everyone (especially Deanne), but she's not really succeeding.

"There is only one noble house with the military and political power to openly stand against the King." It sounds as though Carlei's already thought this through. "House Blackthorn. Should we gain their aid, their protection would likely be sufficient reassurance for other sympathetic nobles to join our side - Bugsy, perhaps, and Lord Kiyo."

"You say that as if gaining House Blackthorn's aid is a simple matter," Ampharal complains. "From what I know of them it is difficult enough to merely gain an audience with Lord Choro, never mind convince him to commit treason."

"I know House Blackthorn still adheres to old traditions as far as granting audience is concerned," Carlei says, "but I suspect the only way to find out precisely what those traditions are is to ask. And we cannot do that from Kogane."

"Or..." Deanne hesitates. "Or you could ask me." She has a bit of a rabbit-in-headlights look when we turn to look at her. Magni puts a hand on her back, a gentle, small reassurance. "I, um...I suppose I should probably introduce myself properly, albeit three months overdue.

"My name is Deanne of House Blackthorn, second cousin to Lady Clair of House Blackthorn."

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
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Pokédex Entry
Part Cyndaquil, part Mudkip, entirely tired.
Good to see the Imperials have been captured! Let's hope they stay that way…

Ah, Deanne! Of course she's part of house Blackthorn! This is going to be interesting 👀
 

llyarden

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #100
cyndakip - Well, they're certainly not going to get much forgiveness from the people of Kogane! And yeah Deanne's noble connections will certainly make things...interesting.


I'm not all that surprised. The Ryusei, Deanne's general noble bearing - and her Imperial Blessing - and her knowledge of the nobility...it wasn't exactly hard to guess that she was a noble of some sort. Though admittedly I'd been assuming that she just belonged to a minor noble family, not the most powerful family in Joto besides the King's.

"That's a pretty damn big thing to forget to mention," Gaius observes (complete with synchronised religious gestures from everyone except me.)

"I know. I'm...I'm sorry. When I was taken from Enju...the thugs that abducted me made it very clear that it was my status as a member of House Blackthorn that had made me their target." She sighs. "Knowing everything I do now, I assume I was intended as a hostage to ensure Lord Choro and Lady Clair didn't move against Lance." She's stopped calling Lance by his honorific too now - most of the time, anyway. Actually, Ampharal's the only one who still consistently calls him 'His Majesty.' Deanne gives a small, mirthless chuckle. "An ill-informed plan. Lady Clair wouldn't care one whit about my safety."

"But you're family," Magni protests.

"Distant family," Deanne corrects her, gently. "And in any case Lady Clair takes her duty to her people seriously. She would be perfectly willing to sacrifice my life even were I her own sister."

"So, wait, who runs House Blackthorn?" I ask. "Is it Clair or Choro?"

Deanne chuckles. "That's not as simple an answer as you might expect. Strictly speaking, Lord Choro is the head of House Blackthorn and the Lord of the Fusube region. But when it comes to day-to-day governance, and receiving petitioners and holding court, it is his heir, Lady Clair, who is responsible. Lord Choro spends much of his time communing with the Divines and seeking their guidance in the Fusube Shrine."

I wonder if Choro has any more luck getting clear answers from the Divines than I do.

"So something as major as declaring a revolution against the King of Joto..?" Ampharal trails off, leaving the unfinished sentence an expectant question.

"Is something only Lord Choro could decree, yes. But speaking to him is all but impossible. Even I've only seen him once."

"Well, that's stupid," I point out. I'm a little surprised when I don't get a light swat on the shoulder from Carlei - that's her normal reaction to me talking shit about Jotan traditions - but I guess she agrees with me in this case. "What happens if someone needs to speak to him about something important?"

"Actually, this is an old tradition that has merely been abandoned by the other noble houses - with the exception of the royal line, I suppose," Deanne explains. "To win an audience with the Lord of a region, you had to best their warriors in ceremonious battle."

"Right, because that would've been real easy for ordinary people."

"That's why the tradition fell into disuse," Ampharal adds, archly. "Perhaps in olden times it was simpler to find a Blessed willing to champion one's cause, but such a judgement these days is unfair to all those in need of aid from their Lord or Lady. Thus why Fusube has a significantly lower proportion of non-Blessed residents in comparison to all the other regions."

"Fusube was once a holy place before people settled there," Deanne retorts. "In those days only Blessed were permitted, as is still the case with Mount Shirogane in Kanto."

"We ain't gonna change it complaining about it here," Magni interjects.

I guess she has a point. "Okay, so how does this ceremonial battle thing work, then?" I ask.

Deanne hesitates for a few moments. "As with any duel, the challenged party sets the terms. As per tradition, Lady Clair herself takes part in the duel, of course. The one time I saw a group of Blessed challenge her for the right for an audience with Lord Choro, it amounted to little more than a melee, not the structured form of the duel we had against Silver. Beyond that..."

"So we just have to beat her and a couple of guards? That doesn't sound too bad."

"I'm afraid it's not that simple," Deanne admits. "As I said, the challenged party sets the terms. Lady Clair insists upon a specific term to the duel: only members of the nobility may challenge her."

"You're kidding. That's bullshit!"

Deanne nods. "I will gladly defend the traditions of my house, but...I cannot approve of such an arbitrary restriction."

"Why does Lady Clair even care about such a rule?" Carlei asks.

"I don't know. Lady Clair has some...interesting...points of view. When she was younger, before officially being named heir to House Blackthorn and its speaker and guardian, she once proclaimed that Blessed with noble blood in their veins were inherently superior to those without. That was the only time I ever saw Choro - he scolded her publicly, before the entire House. Unfortunately it did little to sway her beliefs."

"Great. Well, even if she doesn't let Magni and me fight, that's still four of us. You're an ex-Imperial Guard, right, Gaius? Does that count?"

"Ex-Imperial is the key point, kid."

"Okay, three."

"Two," Carlei corrects me. "I can't exactly stand up and announce myself - we are still fugitives, and even if we weren't, Lance stripped me of my title."

"Who the hell cares what he said? Kuni still called you a Princess."

"He is still the king," she points out, wryly. "And we are trying to challenge Clair under Imperial Law, not the judgement of the Faith, intertwined though they may be."

"And I cannot fight against my own house," Deanne adds. "Especially not in a formal duel. And...in all honesty, I cannot say I'd be of much help even if I did. Clair is very strong."

Ampharal watches as each of our gazes turn to him in turn. "Oh, good," he remarks, drily. "Just me, then."

"No." For once, Lyra doesn't flinch when we all turn to look at her. "I can fight too."

"Are..." Ampharal stops before openly doubting her.

"No offence, but are you even a noble?" Magni asks, in what I think is an attempt to cover for him.

"I'm the ward to King Lance, and formerly the ward to Queen Niamh. It might not be as important a title as the Lord of Kirameki -" she glances over at Ampharal, with a small smile "- but it's a noble title nonetheless."

Just Lyra and Ampharal, against whoever Clair wants to throw at them. If Carlei, or Magni, or even Gaius were in there too I'd feel a lot more confident, but... "Can you win?" I ask.

Ampharal fidgets. "Without knowing Lady Clair's power and who she'll have on her side it is somewhat difficult to -"

Lyra cuts him off.

"Yes."

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
 

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