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The Illyna League: Gym Leader Markus

by PentheWonderful

Poke Markus.png
PentheWonderful After defeating Dante Young and leaving Calchester, you find yourself trekking through the mountains of the southernmost isles skirting Illyna's eastern coast. The trails get narrower, the caves get deeper, the towering mountain spires grow higher and the crashing waves of the ocean below you grow ever more distant. But you push yourself onwards, scaling the mountains towards your final challenge before the Pokemon League; the eighth and final gym leader, the dragon-master, Markus Reiland. Eventually, you manage to reach the peak-top town of Silverspire, a city renown through the entire region for its love of extreme sports and high-octane contests of Pokemon skill, power, toughness and agility. The city itself is a series of three towns spread out amongst the triplet peaks of Dragonmount, the three spires stretching to the sky. The entrance to the city lies in the lower district, the poke-centers and marts – as well as the town Poke-Pageant Center – sit proudly in the middle peak, whilst the tallest peak of Dragonmount is dominated by the town gym.

Pokemon battles are only one of the many pastimes in Silverspire, with various different leagues, contests and competitions holding their finals there. But the biggest event by far is The Grand Poke-Prix, a yearly competition that tests athletes and trainers skills to the very brink of exhaustion and often past it, a spectacle broadcast throughout the entire region. This gruelling two-day event consists primarily of a large-scale decathlon taking place around the entirety of the small peninsula. The Poke-Prix is divided into ten major stages that vary year on year, but are generally each themed around a different Pokemon Typing. Traditionally, the Prix begins with a water-themed stage starting at the beach at the foot of Dragonmount – reached fairly easily by several hiking trails – and ends with a Flying-themed obstacle and agility race that concludes at the town gym, which holds the finish line.

The gym leader of Silverspire is Markus Reiland, the “Drake Lord of Dragonmount,” six-time consecutive – and reigning – Poke-Prix Champion and the final gym leader before Victory Road. Much like Dante, he has taken the opportunity of designing his own gym challenge to heart, but he has taken a different approach than his steely friend. Whereas Dante sought to challenge the trainer's mind, Markus firmly believes that a trainers' bond with his Pokemon can only really be tested when both Pokemon and Trainer are forced to work in tandem. To that end, Markus has designed a truly exhausting series of challenges for you.

First off, Markus only takes one challenger every month. For the weeks leading up to his gym challenge, trainers congregate in the town, sampling the local cuisine, enjoying the various attractions and sights and – ideally – taking full advantage of the various obstacle courses, training dojos and local masters to hone their bonds with their team. On the first of each month, Markus opens his doors; the trainers assemble on the beach at the foot of Dragonmount, standing in the same spot that challengers for the Grand Poke-Prix must begin, and are instructed to select three Pokemon from their team to use during the challenge. You and the other trainers are then informed of the rules; you shall undergo a triathlon of sorts, using your wits and your Pokemons' abilities to defeat the other challengers and prove that you deserve a spot challenging Markus.

The starting Clawitzer goes off, and the trainers all scramble to begin. The first stage is an aquatic race, streaking along with a maximum height ceiling, ducking and weaving through the boats and other obstacles set up through Silverspire's dockyards and piers. Battling between contestants is discouraged but not outright banned, so you must evade static obstacles, moving hazards, wild Pokemon released to be a nuisance and other trainers attempting to knock you out of the competition. Upon completing that sprint, you find yourself in a vast underground maze that you must navigate your way through both carefully and quickly, where battles between trainers are common and wild pokemon often wander into. The walls of the maze often shift and change seemingly on a whim, sometimes even revealing the presence of flowing magma below sea level. Ascending through the interior of the mountain, should you be able to find your way out of the twisting mineshafts, spiralling passageways, confusing staircases and rapidly sliding walls, you come to the final hurdle; an aerial obstacle course testing not speed, but agility and control, weaving this way and that through hazards, obstacles, objects and narrow passageways on a guided racecourse to the finish. Only the top four contestants are able to enter the gym at the peak of Dragonmount, before the doors close and the other trainers are forced to try again next month.

Once your place is secure, you are led into a stadium of screaming fans, flashing cameras and bright lights, the replays of key moments in the race alighting giant monitors around the stands packed to the brim with enthusiastic spectators. Standing on a stage on the opposite side of the stadium is Markus, his gorgeous mocha skin, charming smile, fashionable coat and disarmingly brilliant golden eyes making him look every bit the star his town sees him as. He welcomes the four winners...and informs you that to face him, you must compete in a league of pokemon battles, using your tired three pokemon. Upon winning that gruelling challenge, he offers you the use of a poke-center, and your choice of three extra Pokemon to add to your team.

And then, the real gym battle begins.

His team is, in order of appearance:

1: Siera, his powerful, vicious, unrelenting Salamence.
2: Dartmor, his evasive, cunning Dragapult.
3: Bracken, his patient and cautious Dragalge
4: Stryker, his overwhelming, aggressive Garchomp
5: Ace, his reliable, lightning-fast, unpredictable Noivern, his oldest friend and his resident Mega-Evolver.

Markus is possibly one of the most difficult trainers to read in the entire league. He seems laid back and casual, content to let his Pokemon do the fighting for him, but a closer look reveals the truth; a single word is enough to communicate an entire train of thought between him and his friends, their bond being so deep, so complete that they know what the other is thinking with barely a glance. He will often offer casual encouragement to you, offering advice and sympathy in a way that is genuine, but almost feels like it's passive-aggressive at the same time. He likes to play subtle mind games with trainer and Pokemon alike, to try and disrupt and test and strain the bond between them, throwing you off of your game long enough to take advantage. Be it Siera's furious attack, Dartmor's cunning stealth, Stryker's unyielding defence or Ace's blinding speed and commitment to guerilla tactics and constant evasion, he will test your patience to its limits until you overextend yourself in your desperation to catch him and win.

And if you don't? If you resist his mind games and his team's ability to duck and weave and evade? He'll simply win the war of attrition, swooping in to deliver devastating attacks at speed before streaking off into the sky or fading into the shadows to wait for the right moment to strike again. Dragons are difficult to face at the best of times, but when they don't stay still long enough for you to face them properly? They're almost impossible to beat. Especially Ace; the Noivern's Mega-Evolution was only discovered recently, but there exists no faster Pokemon known to man, and Ace is a champion of the Poke-Prix. He alone has ended dozens of trainers' dreams of being the next Champion of Illyna.

If you should somehow manage to come out on top, he heartily congratulates you, lifts your hand in triumph and announces your feat to the screaming crowd. He rewards you with The Ruin Badge and – instead of a TM – offers to teach any of your Pokemon the move Draco Meteor. He claps you on the shoulder, inviting you to the celebratory post-gym banquet held in the streets of Silverspire, where you are also told in no uncertain terms that Markus expects you to compete in the next Grand Poke-Prix! Markus proves to be a genuinely friendly and charming young man, who – despite every woman in the city, trainer and civilian alike, throwing themselves at him – seems utterly uninterested in taking advantage. Which makes sense, when you learn that he is dating a certain national popstar and Illynan icon!

The next morning, having slept off the frankly absurd amount of good food and drink you consumed the previous evening, you set off to descend the mountain to catch a ferry back to the mainland. Your next stop? The frozen northern peaks of Mt. Wintershard...and the Victory Road that lies beneath...
  1. roanyael
    @PentheWonderful @Vergil Tanner Bc I do all the drawing and writing myself I had actually thought this was the same kind of thing lmao. But I think its really cool that you two decided to work together on a project like this. And you two also work together really well.
    Jun 14, 2021
  2. PentheWonderful
    @roanyael Yup, as @Vergil Tanner said, he did the writing and I only really did the art for this one. So if you want to praise the story and gym challenge, it's him you want!
    Jun 8, 2021
    roanyael and Vergil Tanner like this.
  3. Vergil Tanner
    Vergil Tanner
    @roanyael Hey there! We're super glad you like him, and thank you so much for the kind words! This was a collaborative effort between me and Pen. ^_^ Pen did the art for all of the gym leaders, as well as the story for Cassie, Eve and Kira. Meanwhile, I did the story for Markus, Elias and Dante, who are all my OCs and who @PentheWonderful did a wonderful job of bringing them to life. ^_^ They're part of our fictional region that we're slowly working away on, and we hope to have more to show people soon! ♥
    Jun 5, 2021
    roanyael likes this.
  4. roanyael
    I love that you are also doing this challenge. And this man looks incredibly sexy hahaha. Plus your art style is REALLY gorgeous!
    The gym is really good, and I love that you put so much effort in it. You especially put so much effort in the gym design and the events leading up to the battle, which I most of the time don't do. I really like writing the story about the character themselves. I also really enjoy the story behind the challenge and the town, it's really intriguing since I most of the time do not go in debt with that.

    I was a bit scared since I am currently also working on a dark type gym leader. luckily they are very different, and I love that. There are so many ways to look at the dragon type and I think that's so cool.

    Lastly I wanna thank you for making your team not pumped full with psudo-legends. Since that is what I see a lot and its really unoriginal. so yeah, your team is also amazing. I love it. Also its funny that there are not that many dragon types and we still managed to overlap only 2 pokemon, being Garchomp and Dragaput, the res is totally different.

    Anyway, I'm gonna check out and react to your other designs. I also really hope you check out my designs and react to those. It would be amazing to get a little insight.

    Jun 4, 2021
    Vergil Tanner likes this.
  5. Willow Tree
    Willow Tree
    Handsome fella!!!!
    May 15, 2021
    Vergil Tanner likes this.
  6. PentheWonderful
    May 15, 2021
    Vergil Tanner likes this.
  7. Vergil Tanner
    Vergil Tanner
    There's my Dragon Boi!!! Your work is amazing as always, Pen ♥
    May 15, 2021
    PentheWonderful likes this.