• 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.
  • Have YOU been itching for a zine? Look no further! Arowana is hosting sign-ups for their Nuzlocke Zine until July 24th... or when slots fill up!
  • 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.
  • 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!

Written Story Kalos Critique Lv.3 Teen Gijinka Showstoppers; an X/Y Gijinka Duallocke

See this resource for details on critique levels
Extravanganza Accordian Demo
Thread Description
Two very different Trainers compete in the glamorous and dramatic Kalos League; updates weekly
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Yeah, Eurwen has her reasons for not going for the 'optimal' strategy there. Whether it will ever be revealed in-story I honestly have no idea lol, but if it does it won't be for a loooong while.

And yeah Artie is definitely a lot happier as a Vivillon, she's probably one of my favourite characters in the story tbh just because of the evolution she goes through (not just literally, that is.)

Whoops, well, this got a bit delayed while I worked on Twelve Steps to Home...which almost caught up in word count with this, holy cow.

It didn't take long for the adrenaline to wear off and the after-effects of Cyr's evolution to kick in.

"Was it this bad for you?" he groaned to Miro, awkwardly wobbling his way along the corridor.

"My shell was outside my body, not merged with me." He gave a small shrug, following Cyr along without any real idea what he could do to help. "Eurwen did say it would be worse for you." He focused briefly, and Cyr was wrapped in a shimmering psionic glow for a moment – and then it vanished and the Butterfree staggered slightly. "Sorry. Your Essence is way too strong for me to move you like that."

"Do, uh…" Cyr couldn't really turn to see the source of the unfamiliar voice. "Do you guys need a hand?"

It was the 'Masked Blaze' – although he wasn't wearing his mask any more, revealing a handsome face with slate grey eyes.

Cyr wasn't exactly sure how he planned to help, but he wasn't going to complain. "Sure, thanks. Do you know where Eurwen's gone, by the way? My Trainer."

The Fire-type chuckled slightly. "I know who she is. You're kind of well-known, you know," he pointed out, lightly. "I saw her speaking to one of the League staff, for what it's worth, but beyond that, no."

His fiery tail flicking back and forth was hypnotic. Cyr tried to keep his eyes on the man's face – which wasn't exactly an arduous task.

"Well, I'll see if I can find her," Miro said, and Cyr wasn't sure whether he wanted to thank him or ask the Butterfree to stay and help him not embarrass himself. "Maybe she'll have more of that anti-Essence stuff."

The Fire-type walked quietly along with Cyr for a few moments, and then gave a small, amused smile. "What?" Cyr asked.

"Just…this is really…you." He blushed slightly. "Sorry. I'm kind of a fan." His tail flicked back and forth even faster for a moment. "And seeing you battle in person…wow. I'm a Fire-Type and I wouldn't want to pick a fight with you."

They finally made it to a set of seats, and Cyr immediately discovered that he couldn't bend his legs enough to actually sit down. "Well…now what?" he asked.

By way of answer the Fire-type rested a hand on Cyr's upper arm – a very, very hot hand, and Cyr winced as he felt the Fire Essence breaking through his own Essence, and the Fire-type pulled his hand away. "Sorry. Too hot?"

He could already flex his arm a little. "No, just…unexpected. Can you…carry on?"

It didn't take long before he could summon his vines again, wrapping them around his legs and pulling himself down into the seat, sitting back with a sigh of relief, looking over at the Fire-type. "You're good at that." Much better than he'd been trying to help Miro.

"I'm training to be a physio," he explained with a shrug, sitting down next to Cyr. "Being able to do stuff like this is kind of the point. But…thanks." He coiled his tail around his waist rather than trying to wedge it through the back of the seat, letting it dangle off the front of the seat, very close to Cyr's leg.

"Physio to 'Masked Defender of Kalos'? That's a career switch."

That got a small laugh out of the Fire-type. "I needed the money," he answered. "And my granddad taught me to battle and control my Essence ever since I was little, so I applied for the League's…" He paused. "I'm not allowed to say what it is, but…anyway, point is, it's something that I can be paid for, not just the living stipend everyone gets."

"You're not allowed?" Cyr repeated, curiously.

"Yep. Kind of pointless when you've already seen me playing the 'Masked Defender' role, but those are the rules. Although…" He paused for a few moments to consider, looked around as though there might be anyone watching them. "If you promise not to tell anyone else before it's officially announced, I can tell you. You and Eurwen and the rest of your team will be the ones benefiting from it anyway." He didn't wait for Cyr to reply, leaning over to whisper in his ear. "They call it a 'secondary starter.' You remember how whoever gets judged the highest gets a special benefit? Well…you evolved in the middle of the Story Challenge."

It took Cyr a moment to realise what he meant. "I – we," he corrected himself quickly, "get you on our team?"

"Mm-hm. Well, only if you want me on your team," he added, with just enough delay between the two phrases to make Cyr blush even more furiously.

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Budew, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,045
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Oh, the battle against Sycamore was absolutely cracking, I loved it--and the signs of Eurwen's character development, in that she's not going for the brutal (potentially lifethreatening!) oneshot but instead something a little more showy while just as effective. You love to see it! You also love to see Cyr getting a chance to be gay at a cute Charmander, who is objectively the best choice of starter regardless of your pre-existing team comp :P
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Hehe, yeah, Charmander has always been my favourite of the Kanto starters too. I always used to go for the Fire-type starters as a preference, not sure how I ended up using Grass-type starters for almost everything. And yeah Cyr is going to have plenty of chances with 'Blaze' lol.

By the time Miro got back with Eurwen, Cyr was moving a lot more easily - and trying to ignore how much he liked having the Charmander around. The Butterfree's smirk as Miro returned definitely did not help his embarrassment.

"Not bad," Eurwen said to the Charmander, looking over Cyr briefly. She'd been trying to work out how to handle Cyr's evolution into a Quilladin since she'd read up on his species a while ago – his shell couldn't be dealt with as easily as Miro's. Having a friendly Fire-type weaken the hardened Essence would've been her preferred method to start with, but it wasn't as though she'd expected it to be possible. "Anyway, c'mon, they want us back to film some other scene with Sycamore."

"Well, Leonal!" Sycamore declared, as though there hadn't been half an hour between the end of their battle with him and now. "What do you think of our guest now?"

"She is…acceptable," the man admitted, after a long pause. "But that power is not so easily earned." He turned and gestured grandly with one hand to the table, and the holographic map of Kalos was replaced with a representation of a grand, spiralling tower. "You already hold the power of one of the great peaks. Earn the power of two more and you will be guided to your destiny."

"One more thing, Miss Brennan." Sycamore gestured to the three 'Masked Defenders' that they'd battled. "You have proved yourself a skilled Trainer. Choose an ally to aid you on your quest."

How were they going to handle this in the story if he was giving a new Pokemon to everyone? Still, she wasn't going to complain, and she knew exactly which of the three she wanted on her team. She cleared her throat, trying to sound as serious as Sycamore and 'Leonal' as she reached out and pointed at the Charmander. "Then I will choose the Masked Blaze."

He took his mask off, which she wasn't expecting, placing it in Sycamore's outstretched hand, and turned back to face her. "It's a pleasure to join you, Eurwen."

"Time out!"

Eurwen blinked as they relaxed. "I was kind of expecting to have to pick a name for you."

"Oh, you do still, just not on screen." He gave an idle shrug. "Sorry, we weren't allowed to tell you until it actually happened."

Her tablet pinged and she glanced down at it. She was getting used to the Pokemon registration form by now, at least.

As one of the League staff beckoned the Charmander away, Cyr came up to her. "Hey, um…thanks for…you know, picking him."

"We already have a Grass-type and a Water-type on our team, and my godfather is a Charizard, so of the three I'm most familiar with Charmanders anyway. He was the obvious choice." She paused for just long enough that Cyr had to start to wonder before giving him an amused smirk. "And I saw the way you two were looking at each other."

"You're mean," he grumbled, but he couldn't stop himself chuckling. "So what name are you going to give him?"

"Yeah, I'm working on that one." She brought up the form on her tablet, tapping her fingers on it for a few moments. "One thing I don't get – those three were the ones who fought all the battles, but there are a dozen groups here. How does the whole 'choose an ally' thing work?"

Cyr blinked at her for a moment. "That, uh…not everyone is getting one of them on their team. That was just us. The whole 'bonus reward for the judges' favourites' thing?"

"Wait, we won that?"

"Well, don't sound so surprised." He smiled, taking the sting out of his tone. "Any Story Challenge bonus reward like that, if someone evolves during the challenge it goes to them. On-screen evolutions are pretty rare, so it's kind of a League tradition. I thought Steph had told you about it."

Eurwen shook her head. "She wasn't allowed to tell me anything, I don't think."

It was just a few minutes later that the Charmander returned. "So, 'Einar,' huh?" he asked, as he approached. "Cool name."

Eurwen gave a small shrug. "Thanks. It's…" She trailed off as she saw the stone hanging from an ornate necklace around Einar's neck. He definitely hadn't been wearing that a few minutes ago.

"Oh, I don't know what it is," he said, holding it in one hand to examine it. "Some story thing, I guess. Feels kind of…warm."

Cyr hesitated for a moment, and reached out and put a hand on Eurwen's shoulder. It was like touching a statue. "Eurwen, are you…"

She paused, looked over at him, and that haunted look in her eyes scared him. She looked away. "Yeah, sorry, can you just…give me a minute?"

And before he could say anything else she turned and walked away.

Einar blinked. "What…what was that about?"

Cyr watched Eurwen push the door to the League building open, starting to take a step towards her and then stopping again as she almost stumbled out onto the pavement. "I don't…I don't know."

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmander, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Budew, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,045
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Eurwen's seen Mega Stones before, hmmm...? Seems like a pretty ominous addition to the League here, especially if the performers actually using them aren't being told what they are...
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Yeah, this is one of the first major hints about some of Eurwen's past. And yeah, the League are keeping it a close secret what the Mega Stones are (chiefly because I was struck when I was playing X/Y again how silly it is that you get given the Mega Stone for your Kanto starter and a random mention of Mega Evolution long before it ever gets introduced lol.)

11:26 - Eurwen: Did you know?

11:27 - Eurwen: They're using Mega Evolution.

11:27 - Eurwen: Making it out like it's some fabulous new gimmick.


11:29 - Sam: Give me a couple minutes.


Eurwen's fingers hovered over the keyboard. It had been nearly five minutes now. What could he have been doing that…

She paused, opened a browser window and brought up a timezone converter.

…oh.

11:33 - Eurwen: Sorry, I forgot it was so early for you.

But his icon showed him as offline now. Maybe he'd gone back to sleep.

No. He wouldn't do that, not after asking her to wait. A lot of people she knew back home might have.

She paused, turned, looking off to the side. A small chuckle escaped her lips.

By the time she got down to the Pokemon Centre's back door, Sam – her Sam, she still hadn't gotten used to Sam the Fennekin sharing a name with her best friend – was stumbling towards the door, leaning against the wall.

"You look like you're drunk," she pointed out, but she moved closer to him, hugging him tightly and supporting him.

"Not all of us can…handle getting teleported across the world," he retorted, but he hugged her back anyway. After a moment he put one hand through her hair, gently placing his palm on the back of her neck, and she rested her head on his shoulder for a few moments, eyes closed.

"You didn't have to do this, you know," she said, quietly. "Not that it's not great to see you," she added hastily, "but…"

"I know. But I wanted to."

They sat down on one of the benches in the Pokemon Centre's grounds.

"Sorry if I woke you," she said, after a few moments of silence.

"You didn't." He saw her sceptical look, and chuckled. "Seriously, you didn't. The Kalos League dubs are aired around now, that's why I was awake."

"You've been watching?"

"Of course! You think I'm going to ignore my best friend looking badass live on TV?"

She smiled slightly, but her expression fell after a few moments. "Did you ever see the advert for the League?"

He nodded. "The symbol?"

She didn't say anything. He put an arm around her shoulders and she leant against him slightly.

"They were meant to talk to you before they brought it up. Gramps and I had a whole speech prepped for you and everything."

"You knew?" She couldn't keep the hurt from her tone. And you didn't tell me?

She didn't have to say it aloud for him to know what she meant. "And if we'd told you you'd be using Mega Evolution, you'd have still signed up?" He sighed. "Look…I wasn't kidding when I said I was watching you on the League videos. You've been enjoying this." It wasn't a question. "This was why your mom suggested it in the first place. Moving to Kalos, convincing you to sign up, all of it. It wasn't just to get you out of Kanto." He reached over, nudged her cheek with one finger until she met his eyes. "You need this."

She shifted slightly. "The League, maybe. But…Mega Evolution?"

"It was never going to be our secret forever," he pointed out, gently. "You know how many Rockets they never caught. Even if Giovanni never shows his face again, enough of them know about it. But for the public…what better way to introduce it to the world than as part of the Kalos League? Show them that it's powerful, but not necessarily evil. Better that than let it remain Giovanni's mysterious weapon."

"You say that like you knew any more than me about the Kalos League when I moved here," Eurwen pointed out, drily.

"Well, yeah, Professor Sycamore's Kantan isn't very good. I don't think any of us knew just how crazy it was, but…even then, we knew it was going to be televised and broadcast more than ours." He paused, reached into a pocket of his coat, and pulled out a bracelet set with a prismatic stone, resting it on his lap. "Besides, it was Professor Syacmore's research as much as it was Gramps'. Maybe more. He'd been working on it since way before Giovanni, and it was only because of him we even worked out what Giovanni had done. Never mind building our own Mega Rings. We didn't exactly have the right to tell him to bench his life's work."

"I didn't know he'd done so much," she said, quietly.

"He asked us to keep it quiet. I guess because he was always planning on doing this with it."

Neither of them said anything for a few moments, before Eurwen broke the silence. "Look, I get the idea, but I...I can't use it."

He nodded. "I know. But if they hassle you about it, Gramps made Sycamore promise it wouldn't be mandatory."

"You didn't -"

"He's got his suspicions - like I said, it was thanks to him we realised Giovanni was using Mega Evolution, we sent him a lot of the data the League managed to get from battles. But we didn't tell him anything about you."

Sycamore had faced her without a hint of recognition in his eyes. Or fear. Did he know? Had he just been hiding it behind a mask, the same way he'd been pretending that he wasn't a professional Trainer?

She couldn't stop herself from turning slightly, looking up at the Pokemon Lab that towered over the Centre, where they'd been just a little earlier.

"It's gonna be okay," he said, softly. She remembered him saying that after Giovanni had fled.

She forced a smile, changed the subject. "How's Sabrina?"

Sam shrugged, letting her avoid talking about it more. "She's fine. Still enjoying doing everything with her powers, showing off."

"As if you don't like her showing off?" Eurwen retorted, smirking slightly when he blushed, a more genuine smile.

"Shuddup!" he complained, elbowing her in the stomach. He was the only person from Kanto who would ever push her around like this. The only person who trusted her enough to.

"Say thanks to her when you get back," she said, once she stopped giggling.

"I will." And then he paused. "Er…wait. How do I get back?"

She laughed. She was pretty sure he'd done that deliberately, that expression of just faint realisation dawning, but she couldn't help it. And he laughed too, and they were still laughing when Cyr and the others found them.

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmander, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Budew, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,045
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
More Eurwen backstory? Giovanni's history with Mega Evolution? I am INTRIGUE
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
I have to admit, this was a somewhat later addition to the story lol, mostly inspired by me playing Let's Go Eevee, noticing the perfect setup with the player being given access to Mega Evolution just before the Gym Battle with Giovanni and then him just kinda not having Mega Evolution, so...yeah, Giovanni is/was a Mega Evolution practitioner in this setting.

Eurwen's amusement faded slightly as she saw the looks on their faces when they found her. They'd actually been worried about her. It was a strange feeling.

"Uh, hey, this is Sam, a friend of mine from Kanto. Sam, this is…"

She'd been speaking Kalosian, but Sam obviously understood enough to get the gist of it being an introduction. "Cyr, Miro, Shaw, Kirstin, Lena, and…" He paused when he got to Einar, looking back at Eurwen.

"Einar," the Charmander introduced himself.

"He's been watching the League too," she explained, as Sam reached over to shake the Charmander's offered hand.

"Well, nice to meet you…Sam." Einar gave her a curious look.

"Yes, it's confusing for me too."

Sam was looking at Cyr's horns curiously. "This is weird. The show must be a few days behind where you really are."

"Hey, um…" There was a strange tone in Cyr's voice. "Are you…are you okay?"

She paused, looked back to Sam for a few moments before returning her attention to the Quilladin. "Yeah." She gave him a small smile. "Sorry for worrying you."

"We were just going for lunch, if you want to come?" Miro offered Sam.

"It's about 4am there," Eurwen said, but Sam nodded. "You haven't even had breakfast yet," she pointed out to him.

"Yeah, my schedule's all messed up anyway, it's fine."

Tempted as they were by the restaurant that promised 'authentic Kantan cuisine' that Cyr found on his Pokedex, they settled for a smaller lunch at a relatively quiet café.

"It's weird hearing you talk for real," Sam commented – not that anyone but Eurwen and Miro could really understand him.

Eurwen gave him a quizzical look.

"Like I said, I was watching the dubs, so…I'm used to Kantan voice actors."

"Oh? What do I sound like translated back into Kantan?"

He considered for a few moments. "…rough?" he settled on, eventually. "Deeper, more aggressive…kind of growly."

Evidently whoever was responsible for the dub had got the message that she was supposed to be following that 'rough, tough' theme that Steph had originally suggested.

Almost as if thinking about her had summoned her – if only – Steph appeared from around a corner. "So this is where you guys went for lunch, huh?"

"Oh, so now I see why you're enjoying being in Kalos so much," Sam teased, watching Eurwen blush as Steph sat next to her. "Hey, if you're allowed to tease me about Sabrina…"

"Not helping!"

It didn't take long before Sam noticed the Mega Stone hanging around Einar's neck too. "Can I…saw?" he asked, in very halting Kalosian. "Uh, see?"

Einar gave him a confused look, but shrugged, taking it off and handing it over. "Do you really not know what it is?" Eurwen asked him, as Sam held it up to the light.

The Charmander shrugged. "I was just told to keep it on me for all the challenges and if we did well enough we'll be told what it is." He paused. "Wait, do you know what it is? It isn't dangerous, is it?" He shifted his chair away from Sam – and the Mega Stone – slightly.

Eurwen didn't answer him.

"You gotta hand it to Sycamore, this is a massive improvement over the ones we made," Sam commented. "I mean, even the Mega Stones Rocket used were created from Essence-infused crystals, but this…this is totally artificial. Flawless. Perks of having a functioning economy to buy the right equipment in, I guess, but he's even managed to separate the two evolutionary strands. No-one's been able to do that, since, well…" He trailed off.

Eurwen stopped herself before she reached up to the back of her neck. "So it's safe?"

"I mean, it still won't do anything until a Charizard wear it, but even then, yeah, it's safe." He reached out to hand it back to Einar, but the Charmander didn't try to take it back. "A lot safer than the ones we used against Rocket."

"You mean the ones you used," she said, quietly, before looking back to Einar and switching back to Kalosian. "Sorry if I worried you. It's just…these things bring up bad memories for me."

Einar took the stone back, still with some reluctance. "I don't have to wear it if you don't want me to?" he offered.

"I thought the League said you had to –" Cyr fell quiet when the Charmander gave him a pointed look.

"It's okay," Eurwen repeated. "I…I'm going to have to get used to it eventually. I'd rather it be with you all than with some other group showing up on the TV and using it."

"So what is it?" Einar asked.

Eurwen considered for a few moments how to answer that. Pure rage? A demonstration of loyalty? Some people said trust, but she knew that wasn't true no matter how much nicer it would be if it was.

She sighed, looked back at the Charmander.

"It's power."

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmander, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Fennekin, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Budew, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,045
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Oh, Eurwen and Sam chatting in Kantan with nobody around them being able to understand is great... or at least, nobody around them as far as they know...

Man, their history with Mega Evolution sounds REALLY rough >_< War versus reality TV, I guess...
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Yeah, Eurwen on her own would be more careful, but she's a lot more relaxed around Blue (I'm going to call him that to avoid confusion with Fennekin Sam lol) and he's just happily nerding out over the Mega Stone. But yeah, their own experiences with Mega Evolution aren't exactly great - Eurwen more so than Blue.

The Story Challenge with Sycamore had barely finished when a new challenge popped up on Julian's Pokedex – another Boss Challenge.

"We're really doing this?" Einar asked. "Isn't this the third Boss Challenge you've done?"

"It's basically a tradition at this point," Artie quipped.

"Says the person who's not going to be fighting?"

This was a different Boss Challenge to the last two. Where they'd been able to use their full teams – or at least as much of their full teams as they wanted – before, this time Julian and Eurwen were restricted to two Pokemon apiece. According to the story, they had been ambushed by a group of hostile Pokemon, and the others would be holding off the rest of the ambushers while Eurwen and Julian, and their chosen Pokemon, faced the leaders of the ambush to reclaim the 'magic keys' that allowed them to call in a limitless number of reinforcements. Eurwen had realised with a flicker of amusement that she wasn't even questioning the nonsensical plotlines at this point.

Of course, Julian wouldn't have used Artie against the bosses anyway, since they were a pair of Electric-Types. In fact, their chosen pairs were almost a mirror – Julian had picked Sam and Sandra, while Eurwen had picked Cyr and Einar. She couldn't help but wonder if he'd selected a Grass and Fire duo deliberately to match her

Einar looked back to her. "So, um…are you sure about this? I'm…kind of lower level than everyone else."

"Not by much – and I saw you fight. You know what you're doing."

In truth it had been Steph's idea to use Einar along with Cyr, but Eurwen didn't object. For one thing, Einar and Cyr covered each other well in terms of types and capabilities, so the sooner they got used to fighting together and covering for each other, the better. And for another, Cyr's evolution made him easily the strongest Pokemon between their two teams; if not for his type disadvantage, Eurwen would've said he was equal in power to Quacklin' – but unlike the Farfetch'd, he didn't have to wear an Essence blocker. That gave Eurwen a lot of leeway.

"They're Electric-types and you've got two Grass-types on your side," Cyr pointed out. "We'll be fine."

He didn't quite have the guts to say 'I'll protect you' aloud.

The two Boss Pokemon were noticeably lower-level than the Pyroar and Pidgeot they'd fought before, even more so than Eurwen had expected. But at this point Eurwen was certain that the League would've chosen them very carefully to present a massive challenge to any team that faced them. There had to be a catch.

When the fight started, she found out what it was. Essence crackled between the two, forming a circling link of energy that whirled between them, each of their power amplifying the other's.

"Don't get between them!" Julian warned. His Essence sight might not have been quite as good as Eurwen's, but the energy was almost visible even without Essence sight at all.

Not getting between them was easier said than done. Almost before the words had left his mouth, the one in red leapt forwards, passing the crackling ring of energy over Sam and Sandra as the one in blue unleashed a debilitating pulse of Electric Essence that wrapped around the four battlers, dampening their Essence.

So their strategy was to debilitate and weaken the challengers. It made sense, and judging from the fact that Sam and Sandra could barely move with the Essence surging around them, it was working.

"Cyr, pull the blue one closer!"

The duo tried to move, circling around Sam and Sandra to stop Cyr catching them – but they underestimated how far he could stretch his vines now. He only managed to pull the powerful Electric-type closer for a moment before she broke free and leapt away, but it was enough to let Sam and Sandra escape the Essence chain, and the Budew managed to send an Absorb at the red-clad Electric-type to restore her Essence.

They abandoned the Essence chain, splitting up and engaging the two pairs of Pokemon. Einar took a swift kick from the Minun that almost sent him sprawling, but Cyr caught him in a vine and pulled him closer – and Eurwen could swear he whispered something to the Charmander.

The Minun's next attack was much, much harder, but Cyr turned and took the hit on his back, just like Eurwen had taught him, and though the impact knocked him a foot or so forward, he didn't lose his footing – and then he turned and gave Einar the opportunity to send an Ember he'd been building up while Cyr had been shielding him straight into the Minun's chest, and the blast was actually powerful enough that she stumbled back, her Essence shimmering around her briefly from the force of the attack before she let herself fall, acting defeated even before the Essence readout caught up and correctly registered her new Essence level.

That was the same trick Eurwen had had Cyr use, the very first time she'd instructed him in a battle. She was surprised he'd remembered.

Sam and Sandra weren't having quite as much luck. Their bodies were still sparking from massive surge of Essence they'd been subjected, their own Essence barriers almost invisible under the golden Electric Essence crackling around them and restricting their movements. But with the Minun down, the duo were beginning to turn the fight against the Plusle around, blasts of Fire and Grass Essence pushing the Electric-type back –

And then white light blazed around Sam, and the Electric Essence around him exploded away into sparks. "My turn," he grinned, and leapt at the Plusle with an acrobatic kick, his body coated in flames.

"Challenge complete! Time out!"

The Braixen turned around and gave Julian a high-five before looking over to Cyr. "Well, looks like you're not the only evolved starter now."

"Welcome to the club," Cyr retorted, grinning.

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmander, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Braixen, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Budew, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,045
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
That is possibly the only threatening Plusle and Minun I've ever read about XD Hell yeah, Cyr and Einar make a great team ;)
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Haha, yeah, in game Cyr and Einar beat the Plusle and Minun easily, but on the other playthrough I just had, like, the worst luck with Paralysis triggering time and again, so it legitimately ended up quite difficult. I think I went through three or four Paralyse Heals.

"Okay, I don't get it." Eurwen looked over to Julian and the others. "They could've filmed us training at any point since the League started. Why suddenly decide now that we're not allowed to do challenges all afternoon just in case they decide they want to film us training?" She realised a little too late how aggressive her tone was. The League hadn't let Sam accompany them into the building, not even as her guest. She'd almost forgotten how nice it was to relax around someone who knew her – really knew her, even if the others had still been there – and she was missing him already.

Julian offered a small shrug. "At a guess…this is probably going to be another story event, like the meeting with Professor Sycamore and Mr Davenport – er, Leonal," he corrected himself. "For everyone who won the battle with the three Masked Defenders."

"I don't know anything more than you do," Einar said, as they looked over to him. He glanced down briefly at the Mega Stone hanging around his neck before looking back up at them. "They keep everything really quiet. They didn't even tell us one of the three of us would be joining a challenger team until just before it started." He paused for a moment.

"What is it?" Cyr asked.

The Charmander sighed. "Oh, it's no big deal, and…" He trailed off briefly. "Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad you picked me." He was definitely looking at Cyr rather than Eurwen. "But…one of the other guys, 'Ocean' he was in the story…" He sighed. "I just kind of wish he could've gotten into a team too. From what he said…he could've really used it."

There was a few moments of quiet, which were broken when someone new approached. "Mind if I sit here?" He was probably about Eurwen and Julian's age, tall and muscular. He would've looked intimidating, but his expression was friendly, with warm, gentle eyes.

Julian looked around the others briefly. "Sure?"

He chuckled slightly, sitting down between Cyr and Artie. "Sorry, this is probably confusing for you. I'm Shelley. I'm gonna be filming with you in a few minutes. Well…kind of. More like I'm gonna be 'spying' on you as you train." He gave an embarrassed shrug. "It's a whole big plotline thing."

"Just as long as we don't have to battle you," Eurwen commented.

That got a laugh from him. "Nah. Well, not yet, anyway. That's only once you beat another Gym and get into the next Story phase." He leant back in the chair, smiling gently. "This is nice," he said, quietly.

"How is sitting on a cheap chair nice?" Kamon asked.

"Not the chair. Your auras." He sat back up properly, looking around at them. "I'm a Lucario," he explained, holding out a hand and letting a spike form from it in a shimmer of reddish-grey Essence briefly. "Aura sensing is kind of our thing. Yours are…warm. Happy. Most of the other people joining this are all super serious all the time."

"We know someone who's all serious," Cyr pointed out lightly, giving Eurwen a grin.

"Still a lot happier and kinder than the last group we were filming with."

"Yeah, well…" Julian paused for a moment, trying to think of how best to phrase it. "When you have all the goofy stories and overdramatic costumes –" he brushed some imaginary dust off the gilded collar of his jacket with a smirk "- it defeats the point to not care about enjoying yourself, don't you…" He trailed off, looking down the hallway as someone wheeled out into the corridor and gave them a wave. "Is…is that Korrina?!"

Shelley chuckled. "Yup."

"Aw, you a fan?" Sam teased him, seeing the look on his Trainer's face.

"Are you kidding?! She was, like, my idol! I watched everything she was in when she did the League. Even all the stuff that they didn't air on the main channels!"

"She took part a couple of years ago," Cyr explained quietly to Eurwen. "And won."

"And was one of the most popular contestants in that season," Einar added. "Both times the League's started up since then there've been people trying to get her to come back and star in some big role, but she never did." He paused and looked over to Shaw, waiting for the Bunnelby to put his tablet away before speaking again. "Didn't you do a program with her?"

Shaw nodded. "We've collaborated on a few things. My channel was just getting big as she was going through the League, and since we have a lot of the same ideas…" He shrugged slightly, giving a small smile. "She's nice. Genuine." He looked over to Eurwen. "You remind me of her, a little."

"I didn't know she was in this!" Julian gave Shelley an accusing look, and the Lucario held up his hands, defensively, but he was doing a bad job at suppressing his chuckles.

"We weren't allowed to tell anyone. The League's keeping it really quiet, but she's got one of the biggest roles in the plotline."

"Hey, quit jabbering and get over here!" Korrina called over to them.

"Oh Arc don't tell me she's going to be watching us train too?!" The look on Julian's face – a mix of horrified, awed and excited – was just too much, and they burst out laughing, and he couldn't help but laugh too.

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmander, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Braixen, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Budew, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,045
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
RIP Julian XDXDXDXD The gift Lucario arrives! I really wanna hear more about the good vibes he's getting from everyone's auras... I'm glad to hear that Eurwen's is happy, despite herself ❤️
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Yep, Gift Lucario ahoy, although with how long I've been writing this story it'll be a while before he joins the gang proper lol! And yeah, Eurwen might have her concerns about Mega Evolution and the League's safety standards but fundamentally she's still very happy with how things have turned out for her at the moment.

The filmed training was…strange.

It wasn't that they were told how to train – the League still left that up to them. But being surrounded by about two dozen League staff who were directing camera drones, making notes and…well, Eurwen wasn't really sure what a lot of them were doing…made it distinctly less private than their training normally was. And Eurwen wasn't the only one struggling to remember to not look at the camera drones as they flitted around intrusively.

It didn't help that Korrina – who, much to Julian's dismay, hadn't been available for him to ask her to autograph his Pokedex – Shelley and another man were also there, 'hiding' in between two bushes that left them very obvious to casual observation, making occasional comments about Julian and Eurwen's training techniques. They weren't negative comments, but it was still disconcerting, especially when the League staff occasionally got them all to stop what they were doing and start going through the motions of training instead so the focus could be switched to Korrina and the two Pokemon for them to run through what was obviously the scripted discussion they were supposed to have. And then there were all the requests for them to move slightly one way or another to let a camera drone get a good shot.

By the time the filming was finally done, even Eurwen was fed up of training.

The others were, if anything, even more eager to get back to the challenges – at least partly because the League had set up Essence infusers like the ones that were used in the normal challenges, and the group of a dozen Pokemon had soaked up the Essence like sponges.

"Having fun?" Cyr asked, lightly, watching flames leak from Einar's clenched fists as he tried to control his Essence. Maybe it was a bad idea teasing a Fire-type, but he couldn't resist – although he couldn't help but notice the flames got a little hotter and whiter when the Charmander looked at him.

"This is not fair," Einar complained. Even his eyes had changed from the overflow of Essence, his irises a fiery red. "How come the Essence isn't bothering you?"

"Practice," Cyr chuckled. He still remembered struggling to control the influx of Essence after the first few challenges with Eurwen. "And I'm evolved. It'll calm down after a little while."

Einar's tail whipped back and forth. It was a warm day, but Cyr could feel the heat emanating from it even from a couple of feet away. "I know that," Einar growled, rubbing at the back of his head with the knuckles of one hand. "I just wish it would calm down quicker."

What had Eurwen done when Cyr had been going through this? She'd just kept throwing him into challenge after challenge, burning through his Essence almost as quickly as he absorbed it until he was too tired to keep going.

He tried not to think too much about certain ways he could tire Einar out.

"Hey, y'all!"

He wasn't sure whether to be annoyed or grateful for Tierno's arrival providing a distraction.

"Where are Trevor and Shauna?" Eurwen asked, curiously, as the group gathered back together.

"Oh, they're doing this multi-stage riddle challenge. I failed the first stage, so…" Tierno gave an idle shrug, obviously unbothered by the loss. "Figured we'd hang out with you for a while."

"And steal a little bit of free Essence before it dissolves," Senyu added, with a smirk.

"You're welcome to some of mine," Einar grumbled.

Tierno put his hand over one eye, focusing on Einar with the other with his Essence Sight for a few moments. "We could do that," he suggested. "How'd you feel about doing a little side plot of your power making you lose control? Kind of cheesy, but it's a classic."

"No offence, dude, but I'm not exactly in the best state to act."

"Sounds like you wouldn't be acting all that much," Tierno retorted. "Anyway, here's what I figure. Senyu and…uh, Sandra, was it?" He looked over at the Budew, who nodded. "They hold you back. You can burn off all that Fire Essence against Senyu, Sandra can burn off Grass Essence against you, and Senyu can pick up all the Essence. No-one has to deal with anything other than Essence they can resist, and you two can calm your Essence down."

Einar glanced over at Sandra, realising that she was struggling with the Essence overload just as much as he was, with sharp thorns poking out from her arms. No-one was getting too close to her.

"Makes sense," Julian nodded.

It only took a couple of minutes for them to register the three-way battle and find a space to hold it, just a little distance away from the training grounds Korrina was filming in.

"Ready, you three?" They'd more or less lined up in a row, so Einar's fiery Essence would shield Senyu from Sandra's Grass attacks, and she was out of the way of Einar's fire. The Budew was bouncing on the balls of her feet, as much out of excitement at the challenge as out of the effects of her Essence supercharge, shimmering green energy already in her palms. "Go!"

Just as Tierno had observed, Einar didn't need to put on much of a show to give across the impression of barely being able to control himself. His first Ember slammed into Senyu and knocked the Corphish off-balance before Sandra sent winding, twining loops of Grass Essence around him, trying to drain his Essence – but his raging Fire Essence burned away more of her Essence then she was taking from him. Just as Tierno had planned.

Eurwen had to give him credit, his Essence Sight might have been a bit clumsy, but it was accurate, more accurate than some of the Trainers she'd run into who'd been asking her for advice.

What she wasn't sure was whether he'd realised the potential side effect of pushing the duo when they were already charged on Essence. The white light of Evolution was already beginning to build around both of them.

Senyu was ready for the next Ember, wreathing his arms in Water Essence and holding them in front of him like a shield, and he started to advance. And then it became apparent that Einar had been holding back at first, because the next Ember was bigger and hotter, and it landed with enough force to push the Corphish back a pace, and Senyu conjured claws of Water Essence from his feet to dig into the ground and brace himself.

It didn't help. Einar started throwing Embers quicker and quicker until they were less individual firebolts and more a constant stream of flame, and the Corphish was forced back, leaving deep furrows in the dirt as he summoned a shield of Essence around himself, and then white light blazed from the Charmander and the flames went from red to blue, and Senyu's Essence shattered and he was sent sprawling by the power of the fire attack.

Einar straightened up and turned to face Sandra. He was breathing heavily, but more from the excitement and the endorphin rush of evolving than from exertion, and he gave the Budew a grin. "Your turn."

None of them were entirely sure he even felt her attacks. Even the spray of paralytic spores she lashed out with hardly seemed to faze the Charmeleon – not until her own evolution sent energy surging through her and he gave a startled yelp as the winding bands of energy around him intensified, almost pulling him to the ground before she let go and stumbled back.

"Damn, you two are crazy strong!" Senyu laughed. Tierno had already healed him. "All the footwork in the world isn't going to help against that kind of power." He was thrumming with Essence himself after the massive amounts he'd drawn from the Essence Link, but he could control it easily enough. "Remind me not to be the punching bag next time." His tone was light and friendly enough that it was obvious he wasn't offended.

The others moved closer to Einar and Sandra, looking at their newly-evolved compatriots - although somehow everyone but Cyr ended up around Sandra, whose twining 'bulb' on the top of her head had unfolded into what looked almost like a shawl that was wrapped around her arm, coming down to her hands, which were coated in red-and-blue petals. Einar, by contrast, didn't look that much different to his original form, with one noticeable exception.

"Nice horn," Cyr observed. "Guess we match now." He tapped his own horn with one finger – of course, he had two horns instead of Einar's one, but it was close enough to flirt with him about.

"I guess so." His tail was a slightly deeper red, too, but it still snaked back and forth hypnotically. "You know, one of the things I was reading was that once I evolve, my tail is strong enough to pull someone off their feet." Cyr blushed as he realised that Einar had noticed him staring at his tail. And then as soon as he took his eyes off Einar's tail and met the Charmeleon's gaze, Einar whipped his tail forward and wrapped it around Cyr's ankles without looking, giving the Quilladin a cocky, playful smirk. "How'd you feel about helping me test that out?"

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmeleon, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Braixen, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Roselia, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

QuietGuardian

Johto League Champion
🌱Featurer
Screenshotter
Team Alpha
Pokédex No.
33
Caught
Jun 10, 2019
Messages
1,578
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
he/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Ground
He tried not to think too much about certain ways he could tire Einar out.
Whoa, someone's got it pretty bad! Now I kinda hope we get a scene with Cyr and Miro bonding over their crushes.
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,045
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
You could say Einar's planning to sweep Cyr off his feet ;)
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
QuietGuardian - Oh yeah Cyr is a little bit infatuated. Just a little. (I don't remember if I ever ended up including this in the story, but while it wasn't his primary goal, Cyr did join the League in part in the hopes of meeting a potential boyfriend, so, y'know.)

SayleeK - Pfft yep you could definitely say that! 😆

"Is it just me, or are there are a lot of people here?" Eurwen asked, as they got off the bus at Camphrier Town. "I thought this place was meant to be quiet."

"Normally, it is," Julian agreed.

It certainly wasn't quiet now, though. There must have been a good dozen Trainers, and twice as many Pokemon, visible just from the bus station.

"The people who live here must get annoyed at this happening every year."

"Sometimes, but…it's the League." Cyr offered a shrug. "Most people in Kalos have either done the League themselves or want to."

"Plus the League coming through means a lot of people travelling all over the country, which means a lot of custom for local businesses," Tierno added. "My dad's said sometimes the couple of weeks of the early League where everyone's still competing makes the ice cream place more profit than the rest of the year put together."

Steph had slipped ahead of the others, and was talking to someone else – Eurwen wasn't sure if it was someone she knew, or if it was just someone who she'd befriended as easily as she had them. Whatever the case, though, she soon came back to the rest of the group. "Okay, so, turns out the League have put a Gate Challenge here. That's why everyone's all stuck."

Eurwen paused. "What's a Gate Challenge? Is it like a Boss Challenge?"

"Kind of?" Einar evidently didn't quite want to tell her she was wrong to her face. "It's not an official term any more than 'Boss Challenge' is. It's basically a step up again from Boss Challenges. It's supposed to be possible to win a Boss Challenge – I mean, you've won, what, three at this point? But Gate Challenges are designed to be unwinnable unless you have a unique Token from another challenge – what people call the Key."

Eurwen raised an eyebrow. "An unwinnable challenge? That seems…harsh. What if someone uses their last Tokens to enter?"

"Well, you never lose Tokens for your first loss at a Gate Challenge. That's one of the main ways you can identify them from the League interface. Some people refuse to give up and keep trying and end up running out of Tokens, but…mostly people know how they work."

I wouldn't without being told.

"So, anyone feel like giving it a try?" Steph asked.

"I thought it was unwinnable?"

"Oh, it is. But some people figure it looks better if you try, fail, and then come back with the Key and win. That's the other reason they make the first attempt free."

"Not many people do go that route, though," Julian interjected. "Even with the Key a Gate Challenge is still difficult, so a lot of people will save the free loss for in case they do lose once they have the Key. But also Gate Challenges are unregulated, like Gym battles. For a lot of people, going up against an unwinnable challenge where they might get shoved around too is…a bit too much."

"Yeah, that seems…unnecessary." Eurwen didn't mention aloud that it wasn't her safety she was worried about. "So how do we find this…Key?"

"Well, that's why everyone's stuck here," Steph answered. "No-one knows how."

Eurwen blinked at her, half wondering if she was joking.

"It's possible it's somewhere else, or one that no-one would expect, but most likely they just haven't released the challenge that would award the Key yet."

"Seriously?"

"It happens most years. Partly it's a way of giving people a bit of a chance to catch up."

"And partly it's because the battle dodgeball finals are being held this weekend," Lola added.

"Battle…dodgeball?"

"'Battleball' for short. It's dodgeball, but the ball, the pitch, and some random obstacles can be manipulated with Essence. It's one of the biggest pro sports in Kalos, so even the League works around it." She gave a small shrug when they all looked at her. "I wanted to be a battleball star when I was a kid," she admitted. Lena put an arm around her and she leant back against the Skitty slightly.

Julian had turned on his Pokedex, scrolling through a few pages. "Yeah, that's probably it as much as anything. Gate Challenges are story events, but they're not important enough the way the Gym Challenges are to be delayed and edited, so they're broadcast live. The League wouldn't want the competition."

"So…what, we just wait?"

"I'd have thought you'd have been fine with extra time to train?" Tierno asked.

"In this chaos?" Eurwen gestured to the teams milling around in the centre of town. "There's no way we can get anything done."

"Seems like a good reason to take a couple days' break, then," Julian commented. She wasn't sure if he was meaning it to sound pointed or if she was reading too much into it.

"Sounds good to me," Steph nodded, slipping her hand into Eurwen's, interlacing their fingers, before she could protest, and Eurwen didn't want to let her go.

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmeleon, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Braixen, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Roselia, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

SayleeK

Johto League Champion
Writer
Screenshotter
Team Delta
Pokédex No.
260
Caught
Jul 1, 2019
Messages
2,045
Location
Scrivener
Nature
Careful
Pronouns
She/her
Pokémon Type
  1. Fire
  2. Fairy
Pokédex Entry
Between long periods of dormant slumber, this writer rises again for periods of activity that leave piles of dead fictional Pokemon in their wake
Eurwen let your buddies take you on a gay lil holiday around Camphrier Town while network programming bullshit is going on. Go ooooonnnnnn
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Ask and you shall receive, or something!

"We've left the others behind," Eurwen pointed out, after a couple of minutes.

Steph made a show of stopping and looking around. "What a shame!" She looked back to Eurwen mischievous look in her eyes that Eurwen was getting to know very well. "I guess it's just the two of us."

They bought a small picnic basket from a store that seemed to sell nothing but picnic baskets for tourists. Or rather, Steph did. It was the first time Eurwen had actually seen her buy anything – usually she just mooched off Eurwen or (less frequently) one of the others.

Suitably equipped for…whatever it was Steph had planned…Steph led her out of the town, past the old stone walls – she noticed Trevor giving Cyr and Einar a lecture about the history of the town that they were making a good effort at seeming interested in, but none of them noticed her or Steph – and out along the main road.

"Are we meant to be out here?" Eurwen asked, as a car zoomed past them on the other side of the barrier.

Steph shrugged in response. "It's all public land. C'mon, it gets better away from the road."

She was right. Once they were just a couple of minutes away from the main road, through a thicket of bushes, it was like they were miles away from any kind of civilisation. Even the noise of the road was muted.

"How do you know where you're going?"

Steph looked back at her as they pushed their way through waist-high grass. "What, never been exploring out in the wilderness before?" She gave a smirk and looped her free arm around Eurwen's waist. "Guess you're just going to have to trust me."

The journey probably took them the best part of a couple of hours. As they got closer to their destination, Steph got a little more impatient for them to get there, hopping up onto tree stumps and low branches as she waited for Eurwen before bouncing back down to keep pace with her. But eventually, they arrived at a hill so steep it was almost a cliff, the dirt long washed away by rain to reveal rock beneath.

"After you." Steph gestured to the rock wall.

"There's not exactly League safety systems out here," Eurwen pointed out.

Steph stepped closer to her. "Aww, are you worried?"

"You're the one carrying the basket."

"Oh, I've got a plan for that." And as Eurwen turned to look at the rock wall Steph sprang, looping her free arm around Eurwen's shoulders and clinging to her back. "See?" She shifted position slightly, resting her head on Eurwen's shoulder. Her breath was tickling Eurwen's cheek. "Now it's my turn to trust you," she purred.

"You could carry me just as easily," Eurwen pointed out, turning her head slightly so she could see Steph out of one eye.

Steph shrugged, a movement that somehow managed to bring her lips very close to Eurwen's. "This is more fun. C'mon, all this will be worth it at the top."

It was.

At the top of the rock wall was a plateau, a good few dozen feet in diameter, covered in grass and wildflowers in a riot of colour. A significant chunk of the plateau was occupied by a tree, from which a rope swing dangled. And the view was beautiful. The plateau was high enough that they could see over the trees – to one side there was Camphrier Town, with its grey stone walls, to another the beautiful blue of a river, and to another a massive, white-and-gold mansion with perfect lawns and winding trees.

"How did you know this place existed?" Eurwen asked.

Steph grinned. "You can find a lot of places if you go exploring. Centuries ago, this place used to be a watchtower. But after it started to collapse, they shored it up and covered it in dirt, left it to nature to reclaim." She gestured to the other side of the plateau to the tree, where the grass was a little patchier. "There used to be a bit of the wall still visible there, and a gap in the stone so you could explore inside, but a storm brought the wall down over the hole a few years ago." She looked a little downcast.

"What is it?"

"Oh, I just…" She sighed. "Promise you won't laugh?"

"Sure."

"I used to have a little…camp, I guess, in there when I was younger. And then the storm happened, so one day I came along and…well, couldn't get in. And I'd…" She paused, sighed. "I'd left my favourite toy in it," she admitted. After a moment she looked up at Eurwen. "You're really not going to laugh?"

"Why would I?"

"I'm twenty-two and moping about losing a kiddie toy. I know how stupid it is."

Eurwen put a hand on her shoulder. "It's not stupid," she said, quietly. After a moment, she looked back at the area Steph had indicated. "Can't you move some of the rubble?"

She shook her head. "I've tried. It came down pretty much in one piece. I'm strong, but I'm not that strong. Especially now all the grass and roots are wrapped through it." She sighed, and then made an obvious effort to push the memories away. "Anyway, sorry for bringing down the mood. Let's see what this picnic is like!"

As she opened the picnic basket and started unfurling the rug that had come with it, Eurwen crouched down by the collapsed wall, running her fingers over it. She could feel where it met the main floor of the tower, even if it wasn't easily visible.

This was a bad idea. Steph had clearly come to terms with the loss of whatever memories were down there. And letting anyone see her full power was a bad idea. Even if that 'anyone' was Steph.

Bad idea. Definitely a bad idea.

Steph paused as she heard the rustling and cracking of the grass and roots breaking and looked around, eyes wide. "How…" Eurwen had gripped the collapsed wall in both hands and lifted it up, holding it there, leaving easily enough room for someone to slip underneath it and into the tower. Steph set the rug down and moved over, tentatively, as if her proximity would somehow cause Eurwen to lose her grip. She reached out and put a hand on Eurwen's arm. "You didn't have to…" She trailed off again, didn't want to tell Eurwen not to do it in case she listened.

"Go," Eurwen said, gently, nodding to the gap she'd created, and Steph crouched down and let herself slide into the darkness.

She was gone just a few minutes, just long enough for Eurwen to start to worry about the air quality in the tower, before a threadbare bag that looked like it was almost falling apart sailed up out of the darkness. A few moments later it was followed by Steph as she jumped and grabbed the lip of the hole in the tower's roof.

Eurwen let go of the collapsed wall with one hand, leaning down and stretching out the other to help Steph up. "Show-off," Steph teased, but she let Eurwen support her anyway, swinging her legs up to the lip as well and scrambling out of the way. She could almost hear the grinding of stone as Eurwen lowered the collapsed wall back down.

After a moment, Steph looked in the bag she'd retrieved and pulled out a small, soft toy – it had been pink, once upon a time, but it was now mostly faded lilac and beige from the dust, and she didn't want to brush the dust off it for fear of damaging it, but it was still hers, and she hugged it to herself briefly and looked back to Eurwen. She wasn't even breathing hard.

"Thank you," Steph said, quietly. She knew Eurwen well enough by now to know that even if that hadn't been physically challenging for her, it would've taken a lot of confidence to do that. But now wasn't the right time for questions.

Eurwen gave her a small smile, and Steph could see the relief in her eyes, and then her expression became a little more relaxed, more playful. "You've got a cobweb in your hair."

"What? Ew!" Steph set the cuddly toy down by her feet and combed through her hair with her claws – and Eurwen reached out with one hand, running it through her hair, and Steph took advantage of the gesture to step in closer as Eurwen crouched down to wipe the offending cobweb off her hand on the grass. And when she stood back up, almost without thinking about it, she slipped her hand through Steph's hair again until the palm of her hand was resting on the back of her head –

And Steph stood on tiptoe and leant in and pressed her lips against Eurwen's, for a brief moment that felt like it lasted a lifetime and not nearly long enough all at once.

This had definitely been a good idea.

I was planning on just timeskipping past the couple days they lazed around Camphrier Town, but between general stuff going on in the real world and personal IRL stresses I decided I just wanted to write something cute and happy, and then this kinda happened.
Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmeleon, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Braixen, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Roselia, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
Just as Julian and the others had guessed, the 'Key' challenge appeared a couple of days after they'd arrived in Camphrier.

Eurwen was glad to get back to the League itself, to the training and battling she was more familiar with, but…all the same, she couldn't help but wish they'd had longer.

The first few people to discover the Key didn't mention it to anyone else, aiming for a head start, but it didn't take long for everyone to have heard about it.

"Of course it's bloody Shabboneau," Julian grumbled, as they saw where it was on the map.

Sam rolled his eyes slightly. "What, you don't want to deal with an hour of him boasting about just how awesome he is and how terrible Lord Parfum is?"

"Who's Shabboneau?" Eurwen asked.

"Lord Shabboneau The Second," Steph explained, speaking in a very haughty accent that made them all giggle before returning to her normal voice, "is Kalos nobility. There are a few noble families that hung on to their titles and wealth after Kalos became a democracy. That mansion I showed you a couple days ago belongs to another noble, Lord Parfum. And the two basically hate each others' guts."

"Well, more that Shabboneau hates Parfum," Cyr corrected her.

"Either way, every year, Shabboneau pays the League a ridiculous amount of money to get himself included in the storyline as a plot-critical character – and takes advantage of it to criticise and insult Parfum as much as possible."

"You can do that? Just…buy yourself into the League?"

"Where d'you think the Gym leaders come from?" Steph shrugged. "The League pick four Gym leaders and two of the Elite Four. The other six spots are auctioned off to the highest bidders. Sometimes the Champion seat gets auctioned off too, but they didn't do that this year. They've done that pretty much since the League started as a way of making money, and over time they started allowing wealthy sponsors to direct the story of the League as well. Pretty much exactly for people like Shabboneau, with tons of money to burn but who'd never want to be a Leader or Elite because they might lose."

"Doesn't this…Lord Parfum…get upset about it?"

"Well, nobody knows." Miro gave an idle shrug. "He's never bought himself into the League in the same way, and the few press statements he's given have basically just been 'I don't care what Shabboneau thinks of me.'"

"His children have been a bit more outspoken, though," Shaw added. "I heard they even tried to enter the League once themselves, just to show Shabboneau up, but Lord Parfum stopped them."

"Hey, have you seen this?" Lola was still looking at the challenge on her Pokedex. "It's only accessible to people who have that Story Token we got from the scene with Professor Sycamore."

"That's not gonna make people happy," Julian said, quietly.

"They do this every year." The irritation was clear in Quacklin's tone. "It's so they can reduce the risk of people who were in the first story challenge getting beaten to the next one, because they want to make things 'consistent.' It's stupid – and if it was such a big deal they could just air the challenges in a different order so the people who were 'supposed' to come first do. Not like they don't rearrange everything anyway."

"Did that happen to you last year?"

Quacklin' sighed. "Not exactly. We got the first badge in time, but our team missed out on the first story challenge. So even though we were more than good enough to make it to the next one, we just weren't allowed, for almost a week."

"So you fell behind?"

"No. We didn't. Despite their best efforts." His expression turned dark. "That was the problem." Eurwen looked around to the others, but they seemed as confused as she was. "Forget it."

"What was that about?" Kamon scoffed, as Quacklin' turned and left.

"I'll talk to him." Was there a hint of irritation in Steph's voice as she looked at Kamon? "You should probably get ready to go to the castle. We'll catch up."

It didn't take her long to find the Farfetch'd. He'd gone into one of the town's 'wild spaces,' as they were called – areas left to grow with wild flowers and branches, with only a little care from the town council to remove nettles and other dangerous plants. When she found him, he was practicing his moves, his Essence blocker dangling off a branch near him, rocking back and forth from the gusts of wind he was creating with his strikes.

He paused slightly when he heard her approach, glanced back, and then went back to his attacks.

"I looked you up, and asked around," she said, simply. "I know what happened."

He scoffed. "No, you don't."

"Let me guess – you figure I'm naïve enough to think that the oh-so-fabulous League is perfect and incorruptible?"

Quacklin' paused, slipping his shinai back into its scabbard on his back and turning back to look at her. "Your girlfriend does. The rest of them do."

Steph narrowed her eyes at him – even as she couldn't help but feel a little thrill at being called Eurwen's girlfriend openly. "Eurwen's barely lived in Kalos a month, give her a break."

She didn't defend the others.

He sighed. "What do you want, Steph?"

"What do you want?" she retorted. "You didn't join the League this year because you wanted to have some nice memories to look back on."

"You know who did? My Trainer last year. And now she's so scared she won't even talk to me – to any of her old team." Air began to swirl around him, rustling the grasses, and he tapped a button on his Pokedex. Steph glanced at the two mugshots displayed on the holographic screen before returning her attention to him. "The roster of League staff is public. They're staff this year too. And they're going to admit they threatened my Trainer last year into throwing the challenge she got kicked for."

Steph scoffed. "And I'm the naïve one?" Her expression softened slightly. "Look, I get that you're mad about what happened. And I don't blame you for it. But if those two –" she waved a hand at the holographic screen "- are the ones responsible for what happened to you and your Trainer last year, and they're still working as staff this year, then they aren't independent. When it comes to the League, there's one guy that runs it all – illegal gambling, siphoning donations…and yeah, manipulating the results. Slater Mantle. And trust me, they're going to be a lot more scared of him than they are of you throwing a few Gusts around."

"So what do you want me to do, then?" Quacklin' retorted. The winds swirling around him grew faster. "Just sit back and pretend like nothing's wrong?"

Steph sighed. "Look…if you don't do anything stupid, I'll help you." She gestured back the way they'd come. "But they're no different to your Trainer," she said quietly. "To how you were last year. They don't deserve to get caught up in something like this."

The swirling gusts fell quiet. "I know."

And in this chapter we demonstrate that Eurwen doesn't have a monopoly on dark backstories! 😆

I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before, but my original version of this was going to be a bit darker, putting the reality of peoples' lives in Kalos in contrast to the sparkly glamour of the League. In the end I abandoned that because I wanted to write something happier, which was how we ended up with Showstoppers in its current form, but by that point Quacklin's backstory had embedded itself enough in my brain that I didn't want to change it. All the same I thought about just handwaving the conversation between Steph and Quacklin', especially since it's one heck of a shift in tone from last chapter, but I figured it would make even less sense when stuff starts happening related to his old team if there was no explanation at all before then. May as well get the foreshadowing in when there's a lull in the story proper lol.
Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmeleon, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Braixen, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Roselia, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 
OP
llyarden

llyarden

Perpetual Lurker
Writer
Pokédex No.
169
Caught
Jun 30, 2019
Messages
309
Nature
Lonely
Pronouns
He/him
Pokémon Type
  1. Dark
  2. Dragon
There weren't many people at Shabboneau Castle. Most of them Eurwen recognised from the Story Event with Sycamore, but there were a couple of groups she didn't. "They probably managed to get Gold Tokens," Steph explained, when she asked.

She wasn't sure whatever discussion Steph had had with Quacklin' before they'd set off had helped. The Farfetch'd was still a little on edge, still even more clipped and professional than his normal demeanour, and now Steph was looking a little downcast too. Eurwen had tried to ask about it, but Steph had just said that she didn't want to distract Eurwen from the League. Or in other words that she thought it would upset Eurwen and didn't want to risk it – Eurwen knew her well enough by now to know that.

"What's a gold Token?"

"It's pay-to-win," Kamon answered, and for once he wasn't the only one with a scornful expression.

"It's not always – sometimes, very rarely, people can get Gold Tokens awarded within the League. But mostly, yeah. If you have a Gold Token, you can bypass any one thing in the League. So you can just automatically pass a challenge and get the Tokens or the opportunity to recruit someone to your team or whatever, or you can pick from what should be a random reward…or you can ignore story requirements and join a Story Challenge that you didn't do the first step for."

"Weren't you just saying it was a bad idea for them to lock these challenges behind other ones?"

"Even if it was," Kamon answered, "99% of the time when someone has a Gold Token it's not because they've earned it. It's because people have paid a stupid amount to sponsor them Tokens. Like Shaw's fans do for you, but way more costly."

"And it doesn't help that there've been a few instances of people using their own money to sponsor themselves Gold Tokens," Steph added. "The League doesn't allow you to sponsor yourself, but they can't always detect it quickly. A few years back someone got to the Elite Four before they realised he'd been sponsoring himself the Tokens he needed and kicked him out."

They were eventually allowed into the castle grounds, past the sign saying that the castle was closed to visitors for the week, and left to sit on the grass outside the main building– with Julian and Eurwen's teams combined, they made easily the biggest group in the area. A couple of the other contestants recognised them and waved, and Eurwen waved back almost without thinking about it.

Steph sat next to her, leaning against her with her tail wrapped around Eurwen's waist, and Eurwen couldn't help but feel a flash of irritation when they'd barely gotten comfortable before she and Julian were called up by the League staff. She tried to ignore Cyr's grin.

"This Story Event is dialogue only," the League staff member explained. "Per Lord Shabboneau's request, we will ask you to refrain from any interjections while he speaks." Even he couldn't keep a dismissive tone from his voice. "Lord Shabboneau's speech will give you the information you need to continue to the next Story Challenge, which will not be marked on your Pokedex maps. Therefore, you will need to pay attention to his speech in order to decipher your next destination. Additionally, please note that photography and recording beyond the League's camera setup is not permitted."

"If we're not allowed to actually say anything during this, why don't they just record him speaking and add us all in digitally?" Eurwen asked quietly.

"Oh, they probably will – my guess is they'll combine all the teams taking part together with him speaking, that's part of why we're not allowed to interrupt." Julian gave an idle shrug. "But Shabboneau paid to address contestants directly, so that's what he's getting."

"I'm surprised he can even afford to pay such a lot," Sandra observed, as they walked through the barren halls. "He doesn't exactly seem to be able to afford anything else." She ran a finger along the wall. "Including cleaners."

"If you believe the rumours, he can't," Lena said. "My mom works in one of the auction houses in the capital. Supposedly, once the League finishes, each year, he auctions off more of his family's heirlooms through intermediaries. Enough to get himself in the next year's League."

"Why do they let him do it?" Eurwen asked.

"He's a grown man," Kamon pointed out. "If he can't take care of his own finances because he's too obsessed with the League, that's his problem, not theirs."

They arrived in the main room, which – unlike the rest of the castle – was pristine and festooned with paintings, vases, and various other pieces of art. It was like the castle's owner had piled everything they owned into the single room for the League footage.

"So!"

From everything she'd heard about Shabboneau, she'd expected someone bedecked in jewellery and ornate fashions. Instead, the man who emerged from one of the side doors was dressed in a martial arts gi, barefoot, and wearing a headband that seemed almost completely pointless given that his hair was clipped short enough there was no way it could get in his eyes.

"You are the groups chosen by Professor Sycamore, who have struggled to overcome the warrior guarding the Riviere Walk for our nemesis! I am not surprised! Once, he was my student, but he has been corrupted by our nemesis!"

He jumped down the few stairs to stand at their level, staggering as he landed and waving at the cameras to look away as he recovered his balance. "Now, I could defeat him without any difficulty, but I long ago swore to give up my violent ways!"

Eurwen caught herself before pointing out that training someone to fight wasn't exactly non-violent.

"So instead I shall show you the power of friendship and peace! When he was my student, we would regularly practice music as part of our training! A simple tune from my flute would no doubt remind him of himself and bring him out of the enraged stupor our nemesis has left him in!" He paused, stroking his chin as though he had a goatee there. "However, there is a problem! In my kindness and generosity, I gave it to Lord Parfum to entertain his children, for he could not understand the concept of parenting without my aid! It is only my presence here that wards off my former student from attacking the town, so I cannot fetch it myself!" He whirled around and pointed dramatically towards one of the cameras. "Therefore, you must go to Parfum Palace and fetch it for me! Do this, and I shall break the spell woven over my student, allowing you passage through Riviere Walk!"

And so saying, he turned on his heel and strode back up the stairs, round the corner, and was gone.

"Time out!"

They shared a look. "He can't seriously mean Parfum Palace, can he?" Cyr asked. "No way would the challenge be there."

"Why not?"

"Parfum never gets involved in the League," Einar explained to Eurwen. "And it's private land, the League would need his permission to put a challenge there."

"But Shabboneau wouldn't be allowed to lie to us, would he?" Artie fluttered her wings slightly as she thought. "These hidden challenges have strict rules about what information they're allowed to give. It can be hard to figure out, but they can't actually send us in the wrong direction."

"I thought Shabboneau could basically say whatever he wanted? He sure managed to get some insults in there."

"Yeah, that's normal. But even he isn't allowed to break the League's rules. If he's providing a clue, it can't be misdirection."

"Well…" Julian paused for a few moments. "Nothing else he said could be any kind of hint about where to go. Maybe we just go to Parfum Palace and see what happens. We've still got a week before people who didn't do the Sycamore challenge can catch up with us anyway. We can afford to waste a few hours going the wrong way."

"Okay, then," Steph nodded. "To Parfum Palace we go!"

Cyr - Quilladin, Male, Overgrow, Naive, Capable of Taking Hits
Miro - Butterfree, Male, Compound Eyes, Naughty, Sturdy Body
Shaw - Bunnelby, Male, Pickup, Relaxed, Somewhat Vain
Kirstin - Psyduck, Female, Damp, Docile, Alert to Sounds
Lena - Skitty, Female, Cute Charm, Impish, Impetuous and Silly
Einar - Charmeleon, Male, Blaze, Hardy, A Little Quick Tempered
Sam - Braixen, Male, Blaze, Lonely, Likes to Thrash About
Artie - Vivillon, Female, Shield Dust, Modest, Sturdy Body
Kamon - Panpour, Male, Gluttony, Relaxed, Loves to Eat
Quacklin' - Farfetch'd, Male, Keen Eye, Jolly, Alert to Sounds
Lola - Azurill, Female, Thick Fat, Quiet, Somewhat Vain
Sandra - Roselia, Female, Natural Cure, Brave, Proud of its Power
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top