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The Renaître: At Swords' Points

by Mr.RMA

Mr.RMA Tristan and his team arrive at the historic Geosenge Town to uncover the meaning of his latest vision, only to stumble upon a grim series of murders that has plagued a corner of the village. Suspecting the incident has something to do with this reoccurring dream, Tristan proceeds to investigate further, coming face-to-face with remnants of Kalos' war-torn past.
Disclaimer: Contains instances of somewhat graphically inferred violence and death.
Geosenge Town, where “quiet stones speak volumes.” Indeed… They are the first clue to visitors that the small community has an eventful past to its name. Those who dig deeper, metaphorically speaking, will learn just how important it is to Kalos’ history. Something happened here many centuries ago that changed everything, and remnants of that event, the grim culmination of a tragic conflict, still linger, in some ways quite literally, over not only the region, but the world at large.

It was a time of conquest, bloodshed, violence and warfare. A kingdom crumbling apart as the nobility squabbled with one another over who had the right to the land and the people and Pokemon within it. They sent many a fighter off to their deaths in the name of territory, motivating them with concepts of honor and glory. Many were able to hold those concepts to heart, values that they truly believed in. Those humans and Pokemon could take comfort in dying for a cause, and their spirits found the peace and resolve to move on.

This was not the case for every soldier who fell. Among those who had little choice and merely fought to survive another day, there were also those who, while bright-eyed and eager to go to war at first, gradually felt their spirits grow weary. Among them, there were some poor souls who had everything they believed in lose almost all its meaning in one devastating swoop... in the form of a machine. A device that seemed to epitomize both life and death, like the mystical Cervid and Avian of ancient Kalos legend. To one knight in particular, whose spirit was already crushed by fatal betrayal, the misfortunate witnessing of this weapon’s great destructive power, bringing a devastating end to everything and everyone, left her broken spectral conscience with nowhere to go… and so she’s remained in this battlefield as its carnage became little more than myth to the passing generations. As the grass grew back, as life returned, as an altogether more peaceful village rose, and as a plot to bring even greater destruction to the world than before was foiled, she’s remained. Lost and alone… but not for much longer.


At Swords’ Points – As Recounted by Tristan Blanche and The Lady Dragonder

Dragonder

I can still remember the glorious and inspiring speech Commander Proulx gave at the dawn of the last battle. I do not jest when I label it as such… No matter my thoughts now on the battle or the war as a whole, at that moment what he had to say truly encouraged me, as well as those who fought beside me, human and Pokemon alike.

We do not just fight for the rightful king of our fair land, nor for ourselves. No, you all fight for those who you stand beside as well, for your fellow soldiers, for the memory of those who’ve fallen, and for those who await your glorious return back home! We go into the hell of war, time and again, but we have not let it break us, and it will not do so today! I am honored to go into one more battle with each and every one of you, and I know, with those who have sacrificed everything for our cause watching over us, none of us will ever fight alone!

Perhaps what pains me the most is how, inspiring or not, he had to go and prove himself wrong that day.

I am not one to count myself amongst the more… languid members of the aristocracy that let their money do all the talking for them. I’ve always fought alongside any soldiers under my banner, and we have always raised our swords in the name of the King of Kalos, whether he recognized our loyalties or not. Those of other territories and lineages who thought likewise formed an alliance when seeds of discord and rebellion began to tear the region asunder, and we fought tooth and nail to put such chaos to rest with every passing battle.

I say all this so that one can understand that I am not the sort to crumble easily in the face of bloodshed and death. I would have most certainly met my demise far sooner had I not had the stomach for such unpleasantness. This is what makes that fateful end to our once-seemingly-endless conflict so… disparate from the battles that preceded it… but then, that passing of time had much to do with it as well, that excruciating lead-up to things as they all came to a head. The attacks from all sides grew increasingly relentless, and I watched the once-indominable wills of my soldiers be put to the test as their colleagues and friends fell, until they either joined in their fate, or merely began to pray it would come quick when their time inevitably arrived.

Commander Proulx’s speech, however briefly, seemed to resuscitate the fighting spirit of us all. The confidence was contagious, we all saw a light at the end of the bloodstained tunnel we’d been stumbling through for far too long. The largest of the opposing military factions were amassing at Geosenge; some said the King himself had taken asylum there, and the word had gotten out to all who had clashed for the fate of our fair land. I am without doubt that they all believed victory here would be decisive, that the war would ultimately end in the favor of the battalions that won this single fight. They were all just as motivated as we were.

I wish I could have better understood that day… just how things turn out when hundreds of soldiers, beaten and weary from years of conflict, go into one more battle with the promise of that long-elusive, victorious, finale in sight. It was as if we were each a starving carnivore, and a limping Patrat was in our sights after so many agonizing days of nothing. The desperation was palpable… The thrill of victory was secondary. Deep down, though no one wanted to admit defeat, I must believe that everyone simply wanted it to end.

To some extent, much to our catastrophically rotten luck, our wishes were half-granted. By the time the sun disappeared under the horizon, the war was over… because there was no one left to fight it.

Tristan

Maybe I’m still not in the best mentality to recount all of this yet, but if I don’t get it all down now, I might never get around to it. In which case, best I start from where I left off…

After the brief stay in Coumarine, we took the next leg of our journey westward, a long trek to Shalour City. Though the walk there tired us out, the ensuing rest gave us a good excuse to admire the stunning Tower of Mastery that held a commanding presence over the entire north side. First structure I’d ever seen that managed to give the Prism Tower a run for its money where impressiveness was concerned, though from what I understand, when it comes to historical value, Mastery is basically without compare.

Much like Coumarine, we couldn’t stay long once we were rested up to continue, despite the urge to do more in-depth sight-seeing. It had taken me long enough just to work out what that dream meant, plus all the time it took to train and prepare for that battle with Clemont. I didn’t want to be the cause of any further delays when it came to… whatever it was that was beckoning us.

‘What’s a few days compared to years?’ Denis had written in an attempt to assuage my anxieties, but, really that just ended up making me feel guilty, and judging by his reaction to my reaction, that probably wasn’t his intent and he scribbled out an apology afterwards, not that I was upset with him about it. Still, it was bad enough my brother, my own family, had to drift through this new afterlife of his for so long, I prefer not to repeat the holdup for any more of these ghostly scenarios, however many there ends up being.

As Denis and Quagsire (who’s lately really started preferring to stay out of his Pokeball more often) followed me around the town as I asked for the best way to Geosenge, an older fellow finally pointed me in the direction of a large cavern up ahead.

“Just through that mountain, son. Bit of a winding path inside, but you’ll find your way out in short order. From there the path leads straight to Geosenge… Not a great time to visit though, I’m afraid.”

I’d been ready to simply thank the gentleman and hurry along, but that last comment gave me pause.

“What do you mean?” I’d asked him.

“There’s been a number of incidents there lately… Word is something’s been going about killing some of the poor folks in a corner of the town,” he said rather grimly.

I couldn’t help but briefly cast a gaze back to Denis, who seemed to be sharing a similar expression to my own. We’d both had more than our fill of murderers by then. Only one, perhaps, but, frankly? That’s one too many right there. You can probably understand why we were both not too pleased to hear talk of another one hanging out in the spot we were headed toward.

“Is anyone doing anything about it?” I remember eventually asking the man, and though he nodded, he didn’t seem too confident.

“Afraid the police force is rather light in that corner of the region, and the gym leader took herself a little sabbatical… Not her fault, she couldn’t have known, but that’s some rotten timing. Whoever they’ve got to spare, the poor fools are probably working themselves to the bone just trying to keep the people from erupting in a panic, let alone do any kind of proper investigating… Be careful if you still insist on going that way, young man,” he said before solemnly excusing himself. It was a grim sign of things to come. I remember awkwardly getting a “thanks” out as the man wandered off, and my feet felt like they were trying to stop my brain from getting them to move as we neared the cavern into the mountain, the ‘Reflection Cave’ according to the sign that stood just outside the entrance.

I’m no geologist; Rocks and minerals of the inanimate sort just don’t tend to spark any interest in me for the most part. I remember I used to think Steven Stone of all people had to have been insane for taking a liking to such things whenever his name popped up in the news regarding international affairs… which was actually quite often, considering a League affiliated region, big surprise, loves their Champion-related gossip. All this is to say that, despite my ho-hum perspective on the matter, Reflection Cave, aptly named considering the kind of crystalline materials that make up its interior, managed to actually get me interested in rocks for a very short while. The place was like one big house of mirrors, and all of it was completely natural. It got a bit disorienting at times just how clear some of the reflections were, and I’m ashamed to admit I probably ended up taking us around in circles at least a couple times because of it… It wasn’t helping of course that Quagsire would take his time to either clumsily bump into his own reflection or make a bunch of silly faces at his mirror doppelgangers.

Diversions and distractions aside, we eventually bumbled our way out and descended the short way down the corner of the mountain with Geosenge in sight over the horizon, nestled in a valley. What a haunting place… even from a distance there was just something about it that seemed terribly cryptic. It was like the town was well aware of its dark past and only minimally attempted to hide it from its visitors, while at the same time, it couldn’t help but drop hints in the form of those megalithic stones jutting out of the earth, their original purposes long forgotten, now merely serving to encompass the community in an ancient graveyard.

We were greeted at the entrance by a smattering of simple wooden houses, perhaps just a step up from log-cabins when it came to their composition. A large rock structure stood as an open gate of sorts, and we could see another, even larger one, a ways off where the southern entrance resided. Everything about the place, the stone gates, the surrounding mountains, the pillars of rocks scattered everywhere, it all just served to enforce the town’s nomenclature, or at least the ‘Geo’ part.

With the small town came a small population to go with it. Only a few people seemed to be going about their day, though a lot of them did seem to be carrying particularly… unnerved expressions. I heard that old man’s explanation replaying in my mind as I passed them by, and sure enough, as we kept walking, we noticed a couple police cars and a small crowd of people a short ways off. I’d figured this must’ve been connected to that warning we’d received, and the three of us hurried along to see for ourselves if that was truly the case.

The crowd was awash with murmurs, and from what I could pick up from my eavesdropping, despite their attempt at maintaining a hushed volume, they were all starting to get frustrated over “nothing being done about this,” and “we’re all going to either move or get slaughtered at this rate”. The three police officers on patrol were doing their best to keep everyone a proper distance from a house that was taped off… similar to a couple houses adjacent to it, I’d realized, now that I was looking around for it. Looking for someone who wasn’t caught up in an argument of fearful desperation, I eventually got the attention of a woman quietly looking on at the crime scene, asking her just what had happened.

“Another murder it seems… This is the third this month,” she said, her voice strangely calm, but then, maybe that was just on account of the shock of it all.

“Third?” I repeated, just to make sure I’d heard it right. The woman nodded, perhaps then noticing I had to have been a stranger to these parts and looking at me sympathetically.

“I’m sorry, child, I’m afraid you picked a dreadful time to pay our town a visit… You’d best continue on your way, perhaps come back when we’re not under such distress.”

That seemed to be all she wanted to say about the matter, so I didn’t press her any further on the subject. Much as I didn’t want to see more of just what might’ve happened, I knew this all had to connect to that dream somehow… I couldn’t just ignore it. That being said, the reality of the situation was that I was just some teenage kid, not a detective. No way were they going to let me snoop around a murder scene. I had to consider other courses of action, and, looking back over to Denis, an idea finally popped up.

“I can’t get in there… but you could probably slip in, look things over and come back out without anyone catching sight of you…” I said, and… boy, that sentence got tougher and tougher to finish as I spoke it out loud. Might as well have been saying ‘hey, bro, I need you to tell me what the dead body looks like.’ Still, to his credit, he seemed to only give it a moment’s thought before quietly nodding and vanishing from view as he drifted toward the house.

A few moments later, Denis reappeared right where he’d been before, and, pardon the crassness here, he looked about ready to vomit. I almost felt like I shouldn’t even have him try to explain it, but, that would’ve just made the whole thing a waste of time.

“What happened? What’d you see?” I asked, and he shakily wrote out a reply.

‘Tristan, he was cut in half. Vertically. Just one slice down the middle.’

That definitely sent a shiver down my spine just from the mental image alone. Made me feel even worse that Denis had to see the real thing.

‘I listened to the cops in there for a bit too. They were mentioning stabbings and lacerations beforehand, but the wounds all hint at the same weapon being used. It’s like a step up in grotesqueness each time though.’

Leave it to my big bro to stick around even in the midst of such a disgusting scene just to try and get as much information as possible… Now we had something similar to what the police had to go by… Judging by everything we’d collectively witnessed, there’d been three killings over the course of the month, all in roughly the same part of town, all with a weapon strong enough to cleave a human body in one slice. The big questions that remained were, of course, who the hell was sick enough in the head to commit such an act several times over, and why would they do so in the first place?

‘You think we could go somewhere a little less hectic so we can think this over?’ Denis asked.

“Yeah, sure, good idea,” I told him before escorting the group away from the crowd, bringing us towards the center of town. There, lightly barriered off from anyone who might stumble into it, was a massive hole in the ground, leading into what looked like some kind of wrecked and abandoned underground laboratory below. This was the spot where that incident had occurred some years prior… which meant it was also the spot where that superweapon had gone off eons ago and nearly wiped out all of Kalos. It seemed the people of Geosenge had chosen for one reason or another not to refill the hole, perhaps as a means of perpetually reminding themselves of what once stood here, and what catastrophes it had wrought. A memorial to the dark secrets that once made this spot their home.

As we merely observed the spot in silence for a moment, I could feel the dream that had sent us here in the first place beginning to replay itself subconsciously in my head. Of course… no doubt the memory of it would be stronger here, since we were quite close to the spot I’d seen. Without a word I began to walk off in a particular direction, feeling as if my thoughts were guiding me to the exact location. A few paces in, and I was soon coming to a stop, turning around and looking back to where the unnatural gap in the earth laid. This was the place… I was sure of it. Despite how much of Geosenge had changed from the thousands of years that had come and gone, there was no denying this was where that knight gave their last breath. It was like I could see both eras merged together with my mind’s eye.

“This is it… right here… But I guess the main question remains… what’s drawn me to this place and why?” I asked, my companions lacking much in the way of helpful responses to such questions… at least at first. As Denis was shaking his head in resignation, he seemed to suddenly pause as he looked down, drifting over to stare at a spot just in front of where I was standing. My gaze soon followed his and I noticed what it was that caught his attention… Within the pathway, there appeared to be some kind of burrow. Perhaps nothing worth paying mind to in most circumstances, a great deal of Pokemon have both the capacity and desire to dig up things, but there was more to it than that. For one, there was no real evidence that the being that did this knew how to dig in the first place. From how disjointed the small gap in the ground was, it almost looked like something had struggled to get out from their sedimentary confines, something that had perhaps been buried here, left hidden beneath the soil of commonly trod-upon ground.

“No claw-marks or anything similar…” I remember muttering as I gazed upon it some more… and then I remembered something else about the dream… the sword the fallen knight had clung to. With that in mind, suddenly the dig marks began to look a lot more like someone had indeed slashed and stabbed their way through the dirt with a durable blade to free themselves. Perhaps they themselves were the blade… Yes, that very easily could’ve been the case, but, then my thoughts shifted back to the troubling incident currently plaguing the town… Fairly recent blade-related killings, a vision of a dead soldier grasping their sword with their last breath… It was becoming less and less doubtful that the two subjects were related.

Dragonder

I am to understand that I was laying underground in the spot where I’d died for thousands of years. Thousands… How does one even begin to describe such a revelation? I can assure you I do not have any vivid recollection of multiple centuries passing me by as I sat dormant… but then, perhaps that is for the better. What few memories I have… they do tend to associate with sheer, maddening boredom. Further, I had enough time to listen as the language and dialect I was familiar with began to change and shift with passing generations, but all that time feels like little more than a blur. Could it have truly been millennia? Even now I question this, even with all the evidence that proves it so.

One thing was a certainty for me throughout… No matter how crushing the weariness of my existence became, for a long time I had little motivation to emerge from my detainment. Not from the moment I felt my consciousness take hold of the very sword that had fatally pierced me, through the years of feeling the grip of my former body loosen as it decayed and rotted, before the armor surrounding that decomposed husk began to break down and scatter into pieces, nestled into the rest of the soil fertilized by the masses of corpses that had sunken into it. What I had seen and what I had witnessed had been far too much to bear, and another chance at life felt like far more than what I deserved. To whom I had pledged loyalty and trust, I was unwanted… no, worse… I was an obstacle, a blight, something that had to be destroyed. I had always felt a sense of pride in my resolve, and yet in two swift instances that steadfast wall I’d built came crumbling to the ground.

I can still remember the shock of seeing the King… My King… the very symbol of the land I pledged to lay down my life for… standing beside that aberration of a tower. He did not say anything as our forces converged on each other, but he didn’t have to… The way he looked upon us, all of us… It was the same expression one gives at the sight of vermin burrowing into their garden - one of disgust, with a desire to exterminate. As he disappeared within the confines of that tower, that look alone… It had been shattering. After so much damage had been wrought, so many lives destroyed and disrupted, it seemed we were little better than our enemies to the very person so many of us had continued to fight for.

It had all gone downhill from that moment on.

Tristan

So there we were, suddenly having to play detective, feeling increasingly out of our depth. I could feel a real nasty pit form in my stomach at the thought of dealing with another killer, Denis didn’t look particularly thrilled at the concept either.

“Maybe it’s just as simple as telling the police about it?” I ended up suggesting, and I pretty firmly recall my voice shaking a little, if you want to know my confidence in that theory.

‘Two out-of-towners pointing to some dirt on the ground probably won’t push their investigation any… They’re probably already screening for any Pokemon with cutting abilities. Besides, you see how stretched thin they are.’

Denis made a reasonable argument there, unfortunately. The police couldn’t really do much more beyond what they were already doing, and at the pace their investigation was going, there was a good chance a lot more people would die before they’d catch their suspect. They likely knew this as much as we did, and a few strange dirt marks would seem like little more than an unneeded delay. We had to press further with our own inspections. Still, there were only so many hours left in the day. Eventually it’d get dark and we’d have to find some place to rest for the night. We debated between camping out somewhere and just heading to the nearest town. Neither seemed too ideal, but we would soon be presented a third option.

“You there! Boy!” I’d turned in the direction of the sudden shout to see that I was indeed the boy being addressed at that very moment. Denis cautiously floated in front of me at the uncertainty of this fellow approaching, all while Quagsire just looked on with the same derpy smile as always. The stranger was an older man, his grey hair carrying a few remaining strands of its original blond pigment. His denim overalls and particular tan all inferred he was a farmer of some type, and considering the sun was setting at that moment, it made sense he’d have finished tending whatever fields he worked on.

“Ah… yes sir?” I responded… As usual I had no idea how to respond when someone unexpectedly called in my direction.

“It’s getting dark out here, son. Not safe to just wander about, ‘specially not these days,” he said. As he got closer I could see the bags under his eyes, even in the dim light. Clearly the poor old man wasn’t getting much in the way of sleep.

“Yeah, I uh… heard about the incident…” I wasn’t sure how to best explain myself there. I mean, some kid from out of town taking up interest in a string of murders and paying a visit isn’t the best look, from whatever angle you view it. Seemed I’d either come across as suspicious or in the way.

“Then you ought’a know better! Look, kid, if you’re not just passing through, you’re not gonna want to stay outdoors overnight. Not with that monster about…”

Monster… Maybe he was just using the term figuratively, but, no one else had labeled this apparent killer that way. I figured at that point that maybe this old man knew even more than he was letting on…

“Monster? Beg your pardon but, what do you mean by that?” I asked.

For a moment he looked agitated, but then he gave a sigh in a sort of resignation, as if he just reminded himself he was dealing with someone who wasn’t a local. “I mean it just the way I said it. This thing, it’s no human being. Some renegade Pokemon, staking a claim… I’ve seen it before, it’s lurked around these parts for a while now, but I never thought it’d come to this…”

“You’ve seen it before? How long has this been going on?” Now that I knew my hunch was right about this elderly resident, I wasn’t intent on relenting with the questions.

“…This isn’t the time or place to discuss all this right now. If you really need to know everything right this instant, follow me, my home’s just a short walk from here,” he said, reluctantly motioning for me to follow as he hobbled his way toward a small stone cottage only a few meters off.

Normally I’d be hesitant to accept invitations such as these from strangers, but then, I was already immersing myself in something pretty dangerous, and it wasn’t like I was alone. One old man wasn’t likely to be a problem, and to be quite honest, he looked like he’d be perfectly happy with my refusal, so I couldn’t perceive any nefariousness here. Any hesitation was overshadowed by my need to know what was going on.

The cottage interior was a pretty basic affair, some red carpeting upon wooden flooring, with some old-fashioned lamps that the man had to light himself, hardly any electricity to speak of in the area, looking hardly any less historic than its exterior. Evidently he lived a simple life and had little issue with it, but judging by how there wasn’t any evidence of other life in the house, it had to have been one of isolation as well for much of it.

“So, what’s your name then, kid?” He asked, and I introduced myself, before turning to address my two accompanying Pokemon as well.

“So, you’re a trainer then?” he asked me as he took a seat at the end of a wooden table, motioning for me take the significantly dustier seat on the other side. I did so, as Denis continued to drift beside me and Quagsire plopped onto the floor beside the chair.

“Yeah, sorta…” I replied with a light shrug. “I mean, we haven’t got much in the way of badges or tournament appearances or anything… Honestly this is the first time I’ve ever been so far away from home.”

“Huh… you look a little old to be so new to the traveling thing, kid. Something hold you back?” he asked as he leaned back and lit a cigar he pulled from one of his pockets.

“Yeah, a couple things I’d say… Mostly just the family didn’t want me getting hurt,” I said, a sort of half-truth, just cut out all the tragic stuff.

“Smart folks of yours then. Honestly I don’t get the whole thing… Kids who can’t even hope to take care of themselves, wandering around on their own with such powerful beasts. Most of them too immature to really understand the teamwork needed to get anywhere in that kind of trade in the first place… So many of them just end up loafing around on the side of the road and hoping some similarly weak kid will come passing by so they can get a cheap win and feel better about themselves. But I guess that hasn’t changed any from my day…”

“You have any Pokemon of your own, sir?” I figured I’d ask, since he’d had enough interest in the subject to go on that little tangent.

“Not anymore, I’m afraid. Either I let them go or time took them away from me. Since then I’ve kept to myself. Frankly these days I prefer it… After a while this world, for all its wonders, it exhausts you. You can’t keep starting over after everything goes away, not if your heart’s just not in it anymore.”

There was a pause after that, then he seemed to realize he hadn’t introduced himself in return yet. “Name’s Isidore by the way. Sorry kid, my mind’s not so good at keeping track of conversations anymore, considering I rarely have all too many of them.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” I assured him. “Pleasure to meet you, Isidore… So, about this renegade Pokemon?”

“Ah, right right…” He took a moment to get his mind together, his fingers drumming along the table rapidly as he seemed to recollect everything.

His explanation went something like this… As far as he was aware, all of this really started a few years ago, long before any of the recent killings came to light. Apparently when he’s not tending his fields, Isidore likes to take afternoon strolls, and for a while that brought him all along the mountains that surrounded Geosenge, taking in their towering forms with a contemplative sense of wonder that never seemed to dull, no matter how many times he saw them so up-close. It certainly helped that there were plenty of Pokemon around those parts to witness as well. They were usually intriguing to watch interact, but there was one that caught Isidore’s eye, a floating sword with an eye on the hilt, a Honedge. The sword Pokemon’s a little unsettling enough, just being a floating blade with all the usual rumors that ghost-types get, but what really confounded the old man was the fact that it was in that location at all. Most of their ilk spent their time in the forest leading up to the Parfum Palace, like guards standing vigil, even with the lack of a monarch to guard over. Now, that forest could feasibly be reached from Geosenge within a day’s walk, but for a wild Pokemon to make that journey, it seemed pretty peculiar, putting it mildly.

The fact that the Honedge was outside its natural territory would prove to be only the start of the bizarre occurrences. Soon after, Isidore began seeing smatterings of dead Pokemon throughout his usual walking path. Each and every one of them had distinct slashing wounds on them, and it was rather easy to connect the dots with the misplaced sword-spirit. It was baffling, and pretty damn terrifying at that, but the old man never altered his route. “Perhaps it was just some morbid curiosity, or maybe I hoped it would just tire of the senseless violence and clear off one day.” That’s what he said was his line of thinking at the time. Thing is, it never did clear off. Oh, the Honedge eventually disappeared… and a Doublade took its place. There were fewer dead Pokemon sightings, but evidently that was because the poor creatures probably figured to stay away from the manic living weapon. Still, it had to have been finding live targets somewhere, because not long after that, Isidore said he saw a giant sword and shield floating along the mountainside, and he finally decided a change of routes was in order.

That led us to this month. Not long after the Doublade had evolved into an Aegislash, it seemed to think Pokemon hunting had run its course. It wanted a new sort of quarry. Hardly two weeks in and three people had been found dead, all in the same corner of Geosenge. Though it baffled nearly everyone else, Isidore figured he knew the culprit as soon as word got out that the first victim had suffered such severe lacerations.

“Did you tell anyone about it?” I’d asked him, and he somberly shook his head. “Seriously? No one at all? Why not?” It seemed pretty confounding that he’d not mention the murderous blade Pokemon at least once, especially after it started turning its attention to his own neighbors.

“Not something they’d be willing to believe… I’m just a quiet farmer, kid. I’ve kept to myself for decades… If I suddenly start preaching to the town that I know the killer, they’d probably just believe I’ve gone senile. I’ve got no evidence besides what I’ve seen with my own eyes. That’s not enough.” From how defeated he sounded, it felt like there was more to it than just that. Perhaps this wasn’t the first time he’d known something and tried to warn others…

I’d felt a chill against my shoulder and saw that Denis was trying to get my attention. ‘We’ve got to do something about this, it’s invading homes now. No one’s gonna be safe at this rate,’ he had written in his notepad. Maybe it was just because he’d only returned to my life relatively recently, but, it was a bit surprising seeing him so… direct like that, willing to step right back into danger. I suppose when you face death once, it loses some of its edge… All the same, I knew he was right. Limited police, gym leader out of town, the one man in the know was unwilling to say anything, and folks who seemed pretty hesitant to leave, even with such a threat right at their doorstep… It all equated to a body-count that would only keep going up if we didn’t put some kind of stop to it… and of course, that dream would likely be sticking with me too.

“Don’t get any foolish ideas in you, boy…” Isidore spoke up with a wag of an old bony finger. Evidently his eyesight hadn’t dwindled enough where he couldn’t see Denis’ scribblings from across the table. “This isn’t some good-sporting trainer battle you’d be stumbling into. That blood-soaked blade is out to kill, and kill quick. It’s not gonna toy around, it just wants to see the life ripped out of others… You’re better off just staying hidden for the night and getting out of here in the morning while you can.”

This seemed to flip a switch in me… I don’t know why, but, being told to just walk away and let this all play out on its own really lit a fire…

“Where would that leave the rest of you? Are you seriously going to just wait until enough people are dead and the gym leader or someone else that high up has to get involved just to put an end to it all? Are you that broken down and cynical?!” The fact that he didn’t bother to respond was enough of an answer in itself. “Right… Well, thanks for the story, sir, but I’m afraid we’ve got a job to do,” I said, motioning for Denis and Quagsire to follow me back out the door when we heard the sound of shouting coming from the other side.

Opening the door, we saw several cops surrounding a single floating sword… but a rather small one without any shield in sight…

“Oh joy… those idiots got the wrong Pokemon…” I heard Isidore grumble just behind me. I couldn’t necessarily blame the police for the suspicion though… Even without the old man making any sort of testimony, why on earth would a second Honedge make its way to these parts on its own?

Dragonder

One might wonder just why it took me so long to remove myself from my burial beneath Geosenge… Grief and guilt were behind many of those lost years, but even as those feelings slowly began to fade, they were replaced by another sort. Fear had crept into my soul. For what, I did not truly know at first. It was less a specific entity, and more a presence. I could feel it, lurking about the surface, constantly keeping me in place, trapped within my prison of dirt and rock.

It was horribly unbecoming of me… I, the Lady Dragonder, reduced to such a cowardly state… and for something I did not even truly comprehend. I was once a great leader of men… I had taken it upon myself to be a protector of what I perceived to be the true justice of the land. To think I was letting something so abstract affect me so thoroughly… It was embarrassing, and even now the shame has not entirely parted. This shadow loomed over me, keeping me where I was… The fear, the grief, the regret… Everything that helped bind my spirit to the living world in the first place, all contained within one single event, one moment… one person…

Then the day came when I realized something… I was done with this. Done letting fear control me, letting my grief keep me sedentary for so long. I do not know what it was that finally lit the fire within, but I found myself tearing through the ground that confined me, swinging madly until I was finally free, and for the first time in eons, I was looking at Geosenge… I was looking at Kalos, with my own eyes… or, perhaps, my own eye would be more accurate, being what I am.

It is a curious thing, living the life of a Honedge. From my perspective, I am merely gripping a sword that connects my specter to the material world, but to everyone else, I am that sword… My life is stowed away in the blade that struck me down, forever bound to it so long as I remain among the living… and indeed, as I felt my emotions overwhelm me, looking at a world, all at once familiar and alien, taking in how the passage of time had changed it in many a subtle and drastic way, I felt the blade get heavier as it sunk back down to the ground. I was hesitant, but I knew I could not return to my resting place again. I had to steel myself and explore this new Kalos; no other option remained.

The land was as rustic as it had always been, but to see so many houses sprung up in what had once been vast battlefields, it summoned conflicting feeling of comfort and unease in equal measure. The fact that life could return to the dourest of places was uplifting, but it brought a chilling feeling, knowing of the countless bodies that such a community was subsequently built over, including my own.

My perception of time was still greatly out of joint, and as I moved toward the shadows to witness the goings-on of this community in solitude, morning had transitioned to day and just as swiftly to nightfall. Much of that time was lost upon me, it seemed to pass with such haste, but I heard certain murmurs amongst the people, and even some of the Pokemon, whose voices have become just as clear to me, now that I have taken a spot amongst their kind. They spoke of death, murder, a hunter in the night… and it brought recent memories back to the forefront. I had heard such whispers within my burial grounds, evidently not so long ago… Perhaps this was what had motivated me to liberate myself in the first place, I had surmised… Some lingering desire to defend those who, in spite of being many, many years removed, remain my people, of whom I’d pledged to protect.

As the darkness of the night came about, I resolved to seek out just who this unrepentant killer could be, but I had little time to look before men and women in some peculiar uniforms had surrounded me with their Pokemon, looking my way with an… unexpected hostility.

“Stand down! No sudden movements!” they shouted. I was terribly puzzled for a time, and, unable to properly communicate with the humans, I tried to get some response out of their Pokemon, even as they seemed ready to pounce upon me.

“What is this about? What have I done to earn such an adverse greeting?”

Perhaps my genuine confusion was enough to cast doubt, as one of the Pokemon, an Absol, was at least willing to offer the decency of an explanation.

“There’s a murderer on the loose. All evidence from the injuries of the victims point to a bladed Pokemon’s doing. Being an unattended bladed Pokemon, and furthermore, not native to this area, we will have to detain you until we are certain of your innocence… or guilt.” She spoke with a sort of tone I would deem professional, even if I have not entirely adjusted to the change in speech from my era of origin. Clearly she, and her human trainer, among the rest of this uniformed band, were a part of some modern town guard.

Setting aside the surrealness of a Pokemon audibly speaking to me in a language I understand, I was terribly perplexed by what I was hearing. A cruel twist of fate that, in my desire to find this killer, I had been suspected of the deed myself! I was speechless, sorely tempted to plead that they were mistaken, but to what end could I prove my innocence in this matter? It seemed certain that I would be taken and locked away in whatever cell or prison these authorities saw fit for suspected criminals, but before the guards could advance on me, I heard someone else, someone calling in our direction, their voice steadily getting louder to signify their approach.

“That’s not it! That’s not the one!” I managed to hear as the voice grew clearer. Somehow I knew this voice belonged to a human as well, a younger one though… perhaps a boy in mid-adolescence, I’d have guessed… and I would have been correct in my presumption, as the young man arrived on the scene, a Quagsire and Phantump taking their places beside him. Not far behind them was a much elder fellow, limping his way over in turn.

The boy in his green overcoat, and the old man in what appeared to be some sort of farmer’s attire, didn’t look anything like the guards they were trying to halt, so it was hardly a surprise to hear them shout for the two civilians to stay back. Yet, while the boy did come to a stop, he continued to protest, albeit a little more calmly.

“Please… Officers, this can’t be the Pokemon that’s been doing this. It’s… well it’s far too small a blade, isn’t it?”

As the ‘officers’ debated this, I couldn’t help but wonder a few things… For one, how did this boy know for sure I wasn’t this killer? Did he have information regarding the actual culprit? He mentioned blade size… Had he seen some larger living sword committing these acts? Surely he wouldn’t have been so foolhardy as to just barge his way into such a confrontation without some idea of what he was doing.

Tristan

I had no idea what I was doing, interrupting the capture of a murder suspect, with only the anecdote of a grumpy old man and a ghostly injury report I had no permission whatsoever of obtaining as my evidence. The cops had made a good retort to my argument that the initial appearance of a Pokemon didn’t immediately denote how much damage it could do, size, shape or otherwise, and soon after, they were naturally turning the whole thing around on me once they realized I even knew anything about the latest victim’s injuries in the first place.

“That’s not civilian information. Kid, you could get in a lot of trouble, sneaking your way into a crime scene.” Yeah… I’ll admit I went a little pale in the face once I realized I’d given that bit away. Thankfully these guys didn’t seem so eager going through the trouble of actually arresting me for it or anything. “Look, seeing as we’ve got something much more severe on our hands at the moment, we’ll let you off with just a warning, but you’ve got to stay back and let us do our jobs here, understand?”

“You fellas aren’t doing your jobs… Certainly not with any kind of competence,” I heard Isidore remark as he strode up beside me… or at least, the closest attempt he could make to actually stride anywhere. “Is this what it’s come down to? Bringing in every sharp-edged Pokemon you find? It’s an embarrassment to detective work, that’s what it is!”

The cops looked like they’d had more than enough interruption for one night, and one of them motioned for his Machoke to force us back a ways, but before that could actually happen… Well… our own lack of evidence was suddenly no longer an issue.

The Absol, unsurprisingly, noticed something approaching us first, but more curiously, the Honedge seemed to react soon after. I noticed the pupil on the sword’s eye seemed to dilate in shock as it started backing away from something… That something floated onto the scene with its massive blade, the white-steeled edge stained with dark splotches of gray, brown and faint traces of red that ran up along the golden fuller, lingering evidence of its violent actions.

Everyone went quiet for a few seconds; seconds that dragged like entire minutes were passing. I glanced over at Isidore, and got the subsequent, and rather grim, nod that I was expecting in return. The Aegislash had already returned onto the scene, so soon after its last attack. Was its bloodlust becoming that unquenchable? Perhaps, but then, perhaps there was more to it… something I’d started to suspect when I realized that the massive blade, its shield held to the side, as if ready to attack at any moment, barely acknowledged any of us, with one sole exception. Its eye was quite fixated upon the Honedge.

Dragonder

The boy and the elder man had diverted the attention of the officers and their Pokemon away from me, almost entirely so. If I’d wished, I likely could’ve slipped away and covered enough ground to evade a pursuit, but I refused the temptation and stayed put. I was a soldier, I’ve had to kill, but I was not a slayer of the innocent, and I had no intention of committing an act that would lead them to believe such a notion, especially when the real perpetrator was still apparently at large. What I hadn’t expected was, not only would said perpetrator make their presence known at just that moment, but they’d bring that horrible presence that has haunted me along with them.

“After all these ages have passed… My Lady… you’ve returned…” That voice… It was distorted with what I can only describe as a spectral air, weathered further by many years of insanity, but all the same I knew… I knew that voice… and for an instant, I could see the long-dead image of a familiar soldier holding a warped and manipulated version of the blade that had fatally pierced him… by my own hands.

“Proulx… What have you done?” It was the best I could will myself to say to my former commander, and even then, the struggle to get the words out was great. Instinctively I continued to try backing away and keeping a distance between us, but as we were now both surrounded, there was precious little space.

“I have liberated myself, Catarina. Now I am free from the shackles of a woefully mistaken morality.”

Freedom from morality? As if a drive to do good was oppressive in nature? Truly his good sense had stayed dead and buried.

“You speak madness, Proulx. Liberation equates to killing innocents in your mind?”

“Innocents? My Lady, you are woefully mistaken. None of these people are ‘innocents’,” he shot back, sounding thoroughly offended that I would even think such a thing. “They are usurpers, squatters, invaders, the lot of them! They trod upon the lands their ancestors unjustly took from us! They are little more than insects crawling along the corpses of those who fought and died for this land, and they deserve to be treated like any pest that invades one’s home.”

His diatribe was terrifying to apprehend. It was little more than pure vilification of those who’d simply been lucky to survive our war from eons past, along with their descendants who never had a say regarding when and where they were born to begin with, not to mention any others who chose to live within Kalos as well, no matter their reasoning. He likened them all to vermin.

“The rest of Kalos may be inevitably corrupted by this scum, but they will not have Geosenge. We fought and died on this field; it is rightfully ours. You look upon me like I’ve become a savage beast, but I have been merciful thus far! Many nights and days passed between each purge, I’ve given these intruders plenty of time to turn and walk away with their skins intact. They refuse to take heed, so tonight I intend to make my message as clear as crystal. I would even be willing to reforge our alliance, My Lady. Take up arms with me, surely you must understand that you and I are the only ones worthy of the blessings this land provides. With your aid, Geosenge will soon be devoid of the filth that plagues it.”

All I could hear was the raving of a madman… The same one who’d let despair turn him against his own trusted allies.

“You have done well to remind me that Amis Proulx remains as dead as he has been these past millennia… Replaced by a pathetic shadow of despondence and hatred. This war you continue to fight is yours alone, I won’t have any part of it.” I could feel my fear wrestling with my anger as I spoke, one side urging me to get away while the other pled for me to strike and bring justice down upon my fallen former comrade. Neither of them could earn the advantage over the other, and so I merely floated there, watching as Proulx looked upon me with what I could only assume was disappointment, as it was utterly warped by the mania enveloping him.

“You’ll see it my way… Once you remember who let you down, once you remember you have no one to fight for any longer… None of these… things care one iota about you. They’ll turn on you for their own self-interests… You’ll see… I’m doing us both a favor.” The officers, having stood by up to now, started finally moving in, but before they could act, Proulx decided to take the initiative…

Tristan

Denis had begun furiously scribbling translation notes to me as the two sword Pokemon stared each other down and conversed in a matter otherwise unintelligible to all us humans on the scene. It seemed we were dealing with two soldiers from that legendary war. Former allies. The Aegislash was going off about how the current-day people of Kalos didn’t deserve the land they walked upon, how he was apparently out to take a small part of it back… and he claimed his killings were supposed to be merciful because he was giving others a chance to leave. It was unnerving, to say the least. A ghost of a veteran had come back to life just to continue his blood-soaked war, whether the “enemy” wanted it or not, and here we had one of his former companions, similarly resurrected and confronting him for his actions.

I hardly had any time to truly process any of this before the Aegislash suddenly took action. In a matter of seconds, he’d slashed at the nearest cop with blinding speed, just as said cop’s absol tried to push him away. The Aegislash made a break for it while the attacked officer laid there, blood seeping from the fresh gash across his chest. He’d nearly been bisected much like the unfortunate victim back at that house… and even with his insightful companion’s intervention he’d still gotten himself a serious injury. That supposed mercy seemed all but dried up now…

The remaining officers reactively went to attend to their injured cohort, but in doing so they’d left the perpetrator a clear point of escape. The honedge at least made an attempt to pursue, following the larger blade Pokemon as he fled down into the hole that led into the abandoned lab. It was so obviously a lure… There wasn’t another way out, and he could’ve gone in any other direction if he wanted to make a clean break. I realize that now, but I didn’t then… All I knew was that I couldn’t let this go. Frightened as I was, I still forced myself to jump down into that ruined underground, even as Isidore shouted for me to stop. Denis and Quagsire, for their part, didn’t miss a beat, following right after me.

It’s funny… For a long time I wouldn’t have been so reckless, would’ve just put my faith in the authorities to deal with something so dangerous… but after that incident in the woods with that psychopath… after death came so close… it’s like the fear in me just can’t take control the same way it used to, no matter how much I feel it. Can’t really explain it… not yet… but it just takes a back seat in moments like this one…

Much of the laboratory was inaccessible with the sheer amount of debris left throughout. The damage dealt by the machine when it had gone off had been astronomical. One of the mythical Pokemon of Kalos had its energy siphoned to power it one last time, though it was never reported which one specifically… and no one really knows what the responsible parties had in mind when they apparently targeted their own base. For all intents and purposes this place was supposed to just be left alone and forgotten… left as an unmarked grave for those who’d been foolish enough to toy with life and death… As I moved through the wreckage though, occasionally I thought I could hear the faintest sounds coming from the rubble. Perhaps my imagination had run wild, perhaps the sounds were merely the blade Pokemon or even one of the cops finally giving chase, but I almost thought I could hear voices… weak and indiscernible, but human… leading me to question if this was less a grave and more a prison for some.

The echoing sound of clanging metal was all I had to go by, the darkness becoming all-encompassing as I moved deeper through the underground. Several times I stumbled over the debris littering the floor, my feet making plentiful noise with every scuffing action. The ruins around us, in their continual deterioration, crumbled down, the crumbling sounds emanating in such a way that I had no clue where most of it was actually coming from. Initially, I heard the light pitter-patter of Quagsire beside me as well, but moments later, that sound abruptly faded. Not long after, Denis’ glowing red gaze had vanished without a trace.

This unexpected loss of my companions finally brought me to a stop. Anxiously I tried to piece together what had happened… Had I lost them? Had they been ambushed somewhere along the way? I wasn’t thinking about how, in my focus to be the hunter, I was just as much the hunted… I’d realized this mistake all too late, as I was suddenly shoved against a wall, completely pinned as I felt something press at my neck… something cold, and I could only assume it was something quite sharp… As my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of a purple eye emitting a dim, spectral light, it occurred to me that my mistake was just a single motion away from being the last I’d ever make.

Dragonder

As I followed Proulx into the remains of what had once been the very bowels of the machine that had brought doom on such a terrible scale, I couldn’t help but think back to the last moment I’d seen my former cohort…

As our battalions converged near the center of Geosenge, as I noticed that look of antagonism from the King… Proulx had seen it too… and the same man who’d only just moments prior had given such a rousing speech to motivate us all… was suddenly reduced to a complete blithering mess.

“The King… H-how could he… Why? After all we have done for him… He means to turn this machine on us all?” It might seem strange that he could have come to this conclusion from a look alone… but that glare was only the affirmation… We’d all sensed the great power emanating from the machine by the time we reached that point, how even before it was activated, the sheer degree of energy it emanated seemed to drain at our very souls. There was no mistaking its purpose, and once we realized our undying loyalty would not spare us the same fate as our enemies… our allies began to turn on one another.

In a moment of naivete on my part, I tried to console Proulx, even as my own despair threatened to overtake me. I’d hardly uttered a word before he drew his sword. His face was contorted… his eyes bloodshot… Despite everything we’d done together, he had every intention of striking me down in some nihilistic rage.

“Amis, please! Don’t let this be how it ends!” I’d tried to plead with him, reluctantly drawing my own sword to parry his manic strikes. He said nothing, beyond incoherent gibberish, his sanity broken beyond repair. His form was sloppier than I’d ever seen it, but I in turn was far too hesitant to capitalize. Our duel surely could not have lasted for more than a matter of seconds, but it nonetheless felt like we clashed swords for ages. It went on like this until the ground suddenly began to shake violently beneath us… The Pokemon had begun to fight amongst themselves as well, and the sheer number of them, using their power without any restraint, knocked us both prone. The battlefield of Geosenge was torn asunder, yet all we could focus on was our own skirmish in the midst of it. I reached for the nearest sword I could find before struggling to my feet, just as Proulx had done the same. I tried to shout his name one more time to snap him out of it… but I felt the sword puncture my gut before I could manage to do so. In that moment, I’d finally allowed the hopelessness and anger within me to win out, and I retaliated with a slash through his throat.

Proulx’s lifeless body crumpled to the ground, dropping the sword he’d used to inflict my own fatal wound… By some sick twist of fate, as it happened, he had grabbed my sword to commit the act, and I had likewise taken his to do the same… Stricken and slain by our own weapons. For a time I stood there, staring at nothing as the fighting continued all around me… then the pain of my injury finally brought me down to my knees. Reflexively I’d clutched at my chest, and I felt the blood dampen my hand. I pulled it away and merely stared at the droplets of red as they fell into the scarlet puddle that had gathered beneath me. I remember reaching for my sword at that moment… clutching it as I felt everything begin to fade, all while that infernal tower began its mass-annihilation. In those last moments I could feel nothing but the melancholy that everything I had pledged myself towards… everything I had worked to accomplish… had all amounted to something so utterly futile.

I’d wanted to forget that last moment. I’d wanted to remember Proulx the way he’d been before… The Proulx who’d made that rousing speech to inspire his battalion, the soldier who’d fought tooth and nail for Kalos and all those who lived there. My stalwart compatriot and friend… but that man wasn’t here, and I had to accept it. In his place was a killer without purpose; one I had to stop.

In my attempt to navigate that dark labyrinth of a place, I started to hear faint footsteps throughout. Others had joined the pursuit. I had to refrain from mindlessly swinging at whatever moving shadows passed me by, lest I strike down an innocent… Fortunately at least, my vision began to attune to my dark surroundings, as to not leave me drifting entirely in a black void. A benefit of sorts to being a ghost Pokemon, this darkness was my domain. As I concentrated, I could make out the walls and barriers around me. I could see the paths to take… and I could not have timed this discovery any better, as I soon found Proulx… with the boy from before pinned against his shield, with his blade resting against his neck.

“Drop the boy! This matter is between us!” I shouted.

“Again you express concern for these insignificant pests… I could have sliced him in two at any moment… but I wanted to be sure you were here before I ended his pitiful life…” I had to act fast. I could see he’d already faintly moved just enough to nick at the boy’s throat…

“Proulx! Stop! If there’s any shred of the man I remember in there… then you’ll hear me out at least one more time before you carry out this execution of yours. Let me make my case!”

He didn’t move away from his position… Neither continuing the grisly act nor relenting… A long pause transpired before he finally responded… “…Speak your case then, My Lady…”

“If you are so insistent on killing these humans… then I must insist that you face me first. My fate will determine theirs. Starting with that lad.”

“A duel then… You would risk death for this one? This stranger?” Again he spoke of the human with utter venom in his voice.

“I would. That stranger put his life on the line for me,” I replied, quite matter-of-factly.

“But he’s a fool, Catarina! They all are! Mindless creatures… a disgrace to what we fight for!” He shouted in ever-growing frustration.

“What we fight for? I’ve told you already that this war was one you waged on your own, Proulx… I will not support your bloodlust!” I shouted back, my resolve finally taking hold. No longer would I allow myself to be intimidated by what my former colleague had become.

“Then why shouldn’t I simply reject this pathetic challenge of yours and remove this piddling creature’s head from his shoulders?!” He retorted, his shouting growing to such volume that it seemed nearly enough to bring the entirety of these ruins down upon us.

“Then what will you do? Slaughter dozens more? Hundreds? If somehow you manage to achieve your goal here, what will you have? Only yourself… and another fresh mountain of corpses. The humans will be unwelcome and the Pokemon will be far too afraid to step foot in Geosenge ever again. You’ll be back to spending an eternity alone. Your soldiers have long since departed, Commander. It’s time you step down.”

It seemed to finally dawn on him, the fruitlessness of his endeavor, the sheer futility. For a moment, the existential dilemma had him distance his sword from the boy’s neck. Just a moment, but it was enough time for me to act. Swooping in to cover the gap between the boy and Proulx’s blade, I used as much strength as I could muster to push him further away. Eventually his shield was unable to hold firm and the boy was free. Though I could not see him, with my focus entirely on my opponent, I could nonetheless hear him scrambling further back… For the moment he was safe… Proulx may have been right, I did not know this young man whatsoever… but he in turn knew nothing of me, and yet he’d stood up for my defense when I faced a wrongful accusation. Furthermore… he’d followed me here; he’d quite literally risked his neck… on my behalf. How could Proulx see people like this as mindless vermin?

I could never think the way he did… Yes, I had seen my King turn his back on me, I had witnessed my entire sense of purpose come crashing down in mere seconds before my life expired… I allowed eons to pass without any sense of direction or motivation… but I had found another purpose… There were still people worth fighting for.

Tristan

Not since the incident in the woods near Lumiose had I felt so vulnerable… I swear I could even hear that damned singing from the Gourgeist replaying in my head as I awaited the end, but again, that seemingly inevitable fate was put off. The Honedge had apparently come to my defense, not that I could understand her words. At first it didn’t seem like the Aegislash was convinced, and I could do little but hold my breath as I felt the blade beginning to dig into my neck… but something the Honedge said finally seemed to get through, and in the slightest moment of hesitation, she managed to catch the Aegislash off guard and push him away, just enough for me to get loose. I’d clutched at my neck as I backed away, feeling the tiniest trickle of blood… Another close call, but the danger was far from over.

Though my surroundings were still pitch dark, I could see the ensuing fight transpire with the glowing light of the two combatants’ eyes, which seemed to glow all the brighter in the intensity of their clash. The Honedge was fighting valiantly, no doubt, but the Aegislash had the size and power advantage. The one thing keeping her in the game was the unhinged way the Aegislash fought. He was in such a rage that his swings were broad and clumsy, easy for her to evade. Neither of them seemed to use any of their abilities beyond blunt physical force, striking and parrying as if it truly were a swordfight between two human soldiers. Naturally, neither of them felt anything from what were essentially normal-type moves, but then I began to see a light purple aura surround them both... Their Pokemon sides seemed to instinctively begin bringing out their dark-type attacks, and with that, the fight truly began to take form.

For a while I’d merely watched this play out. I think I was still stunned by that latest near-death experience… but eventually I got a grip and realized I needed to try and get help. I began backing away… only to trip on something and fall back… but instead of colliding with the hard floor below me, I was caught… caught by something notably squishy… and as soon as I heard it make a familiar “Sire!” sound, I knew exactly who it was. Stumbling back on my feet I turned around and gave Quagsire a quick hug, just out of the joy that he was still alright. In doing so I saw a pair of floating red eyes behind him with the shadowy outline of a tree stump as the figure got closer. Denis had that look where he was half-relieved to see I wasn’t dead, and half-ready to kill me himself. It seemed I’d moved a little too quickly through the dark confines… and both my companions had managed to lose track of me until the shouting match between the two sword Pokemon caught their attention. I knew apologies for my reckless idiocy were in order later, but for now we had to do something about the continuing fight.

The Aegislash was starting to make headway, as it looked like the Honedge, though still fighting bravely, was getting thoroughly exhausted by her opponent’s ruthlessness. I had to get Quagsire and Denis in there to help while there was still time. It was then that a sudden burst of light flooded the area, and once I reopened my eyes to adjust to the unexpected illumination, I noticed Quagsire still had his arms outstretched. It left me baffled for a moment… since when did he know how to use Flash? Evidently all this recent training must’ve expanded his move set.

The sudden burst of light caused the fight to come to a brief halt as both sword Pokemon flinched in reaction, giving both Denis and Quagsire ample time to gang up on the Aegislash. Blasts of ice and a plethora of poking tree branches knocked the larger sword back, unable to raise his shield before the onslaught began. The Honedge didn’t idly stand back either, swiftly rejoining the fray until our opponent was finally overwhelmed and clattered to the ground, unresponsive.

The Honedge looked to us at that moment and said something which Denis quickly moved to translate. (By the way, I’m not sure where he keeps that notepad and pen when he’s not using it. I’m assuming ghost-type shenanigans…)

‘She says she’s thankful for our help,’ he wrote. I told her that it was no trouble at all, though… in retrospect that was something of a lie, all things considered… In any case she started saying something else, which Denis began translating, but in the midst of this conversation, none of us had noticed that the Aegislash had already started reawakening…

By the time we did notice, there was no time to react as the massive sword, despite being so thoroughly beaten down, charged directly at me in one last hate-filled attempt to cut me down. I fell back with my hands shielding my face as I expected the worst…

Then came a wooshing sort of sound… One I’d heard a number of times before… and with it, a noticeable lack of any unbearable pain that I’d have expected from a giant blade falling down upon me.

As I cautiously moved my hands away from my still intact face, I saw a Pokeball rattling on the ground where the Aegislash had once been. The rattling continued for a few moments before the momentum ceased entirely with an accompanying ding.

Once I got back up on my feet, I watched as the one who’d thrown the Pokeball came into view to pick up his new catch. Of all people, standing there with the first smile I’d seen since I met him, was Isidore.

“Gotta keep your wits about you if you’re gonna do something so stupid, kid,” he said. “Lucky I got here in time to save your skin, eh?”

For a moment I was at a loss for words, though eventually I said “I thought you wanted to stay out of all this?”

He scoffed and gave a light shrug in response. “Guess I decided to stop being so ‘broken down and cynical’ for once.”

Soon after, the police arrived, and Isidore handed them the Pokeball to make sure the Aegislash couldn’t somehow escape. They insisted I get medical help as well, despite the fact that the small nick to my neck was pretty much the only injury I’d sustained. I suppose it was a matter of making sure… In any case, once they were certain I was fine, I was cleared, and the Honedge was in turn allowed to go as well, seeing as the Aegislash had all-but-proven itself the perpetrator after the night’s events.

I’d planned to just walk out of Geosenge at that point, knowing the job was done, but both the Honedge and Isidore were waiting for me once I’d been cleared.

“This one here was waiting for you this entire time… Seems they’ve taken a shining to you, kid…” Isidore said. The Honedge merely seemed to look upon me with a stoic expression, or at least as stoic as it could manage with its lack of a real face.

“Well… I mean, I just didn’t want the wrong Pokemon getting accused like that… Just didn’t seem fair, you know?” I explained. Whether Isidore believed me or not, I couldn’t quite tell. He just gave another shrug.

“Well, look… If you’re gonna keep doing this kind of thing, for whatever bone-headed reason, try to be a little more careful next time, alright? No guarantee some old fogey’s gonna pop in at the last second to save your life a second time.”

We shared a bit of a chuckle at that, and I promised him I’d be more careful before he excused himself, giving one last wave goodbye before he headed back to his home. That left just me, my team, and the Honedge.

Dragonder

Now that Proulx was dealt with… I had little reason to stay in Geosenge any longer. There was nothing there but trauma for me. I had to leave, somewhere, anywhere, just so long as I didn’t stay in that village any longer. This boy, recklessly charging in to defend complete strangers, putting his life on the line… he was going to need someone with good sense to keep him from falling into his own early grave. I’d already helped him once… I’d made his protection my purpose. At that moment as I floated there before him, with no idea where to go, nor what to do, I realized it might well be worth keeping that oath of protection going for some time longer.

“If you would have me… I would be honored to accompany you and your companions, young lad…” I said, to which the Phantump appeared to write my words down into something he could understand.

“Well… if you’d like, then, sure, we’d be happy to have you come along with us,” he said, smiling brightly. “My name’s Tristan, by the way. Tristan Blanche. Just so you don’t have to keep calling me ‘young lad’,” he added with a chuckle.

I in turn introduced myself to this Tristan, and the next thing I knew, we were all leaving Geosenge together. We were a team… For the first time in so, so long… I had companions again… I’d forgotten how much I missed this… Being buried, alone, with only the memories of my closest friend turning on me in the face of despair… I thought I would be alone forever… and moreover… I felt that was what I deserved… But that is not true. It cannot be true… I would not still be here if there wasn’t a reason for me to keep going, and for now, I believe I’ve found that reason. Where this will take me, I cannot say, but the fact that there is a road to travel at all… I could not be more grateful for that. Proulx may have been mistaken… There are times where we truly feel we are alone, but that feeling doesn’t have to last, so long as we’re willing to find others out there…

Tristan

Just like that, our trio became a team of four with the inclusion of Lady Dragonder. Gotta admit it’s pretty cool having an ancient knight of Kalos for a new companion. Much as this incident has left me a bit shaken up at the notion of haunted blades, I’ll make an exception in this case.

Moving southward until we reached Cyllage City, I found us the nearest hotel room and immediately collapsed into the first available bed. Joyously I could not recall any vivid dreams by the time I woke up, but I sincerely doubt that means my work is done. After all, I didn’t immediately get the last dream after the incident with Denis… and the fact that it happened twice just leaves me wondering when, not if, the next vision arrives. Who knows where I’ll be headed next? I just hope I’ll be ready for it… At least I know I’ve got a helluva team backing me up.


A Voice of What’s to Come

It’s amazing how fickle that whole “life” thing is.

One instant you’re at the top of your game. You’re living large. The whole world seems like your oyster.

Then you lose it all.

In a single instant… everything’s gone, all ‘cause some scumbags saw we you had and decided they wanted to take it from you.

Well they screwed up, big time.

I’m still here, and somehow I’m gonna make them pay.

Once I find out just where the hell they went…
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