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Thread: Dimensions of Darkness Book 3: The Explorers of the Beyond

  1. #151
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    Woohoo! I'm done already! Once again, it's a little on the short side, but it's not very action-packed.


    Chapter 9
    The Rogue Smith

    “We’re almost there. It’s just around the next corner.”

    “That’s what you said at the last corner.”

    “And the one before that.”

    “And the one before that.”

    “And the twenty-three other ones before that.”

    “Will you all shut up?” Dragonite snapped. “I know what I’m talking about this time!”

    The other four trudged along wearily behind their guide. Piplup was beginning to become convinced that this refuge Dragonite had spoken of didn’t even exist. They’d been walking for hours and there was no sign of life anywhere.

    “We’ve got to be getting close,” Chimchar moaned. “Haven’t we? My feet are killing me, and if we can’t find a place to rest soon, they’ll kill you next.”

    “I’m telling you, it’s not far,” Dragonite repeated. “All of the bends in this canyon look alike, so it’s even easy for me to get lost, but I know that it’s not far from here.”

    “You! I finally found you!”

    Piplup whirled around at the familiar voice. Combusken was running along the clifftop towards him, leaping across crags and swinging from protruding ledges. Slowbro followed, but he was clearly not making any attempt to run after his young ward.

    “Oh, not you again!” Piplup sighed. “Didn’t I teach you enough of a lesson last time?”

    Combusken simply smirked. “I’m just glad to see that my sister didn’t beat me to you.”

    “Your sister?” Chimchar said. “I didn’t know you had a sister.”

    “She’s adopted, actually,” Combusken said. “But that’s not important right now. What is important is that I can save my honor from that attention hog.”

    “Still on the topic of your sister?” 88 interjected.

    Combusken nodded. “If I know Gothitelle at all, she’ll swoop in here and catch you all without a second thought. She’ll steal all of the glory that she already has, and leave me stranded like she always has.”

    “Sounds like you have some unresolved family issues to attend to,” Piplup said. Abruptly, he fired off his Aura Sphere, which exploded full on into Combusken’s chest and sent him flying backwards across the clifftops. There was a sudden scrabbling and a scream as he slipped into a tunnel and tumbled down into the cave system far below. “So I’ll just leave you to that.”

    Having finally caught up, Slowbro looked down into the crevice where Combusken had fallen. “Well, it looks like he’ll have wound up in the caves down below, and I’ll wager he’ll have gained a few bruises along the way.”

    Piplup rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. “Er, sorry about that. I didn’t mean any offense in attacking him like that.”

    “None taken,” Slowbro shrugged, floating down to the canyon floor on the power of his Psychic. “Combusken doesn’t tend to do a good job of making friends. And in your position, I would’ve done the same thing.” He turned to the nearest opening in the cliff wall and headed inside. “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d better go and find him before he starts getting into his angry mood again. You don’t want to see him in his angry mood.”

    As they turned away, Piplup elbowed Dragonite. “Um, what mood exactly has been Combusken been in the times we’ve seen him?”

    Dragonite shrugged. “Well, if that wasn’t his angry mood. . .”

    Piplup shuddered.

    As they continued walking, Chimchar suddenly stopped and lifted his hand to his ear. “Hey, does anyone else hear that?”

    The others stopped and began to listen for themselves. “I don’t hear anything,” 89 said.

    “Wait!” Piplup said suddenly. “There! I could hear it!”

    “Me too,” 88 nodded. “It sounded like clanging iron.”

    Dragonite smiled. “That’ll be the friend I told you about. We’ve finally arrived.”

    They rounded the next bend and the noise grew in its intensity. A small cavern was set into the base of the wall. “Is that it?” Piplup frowned. “It’s kind of on the small side.”

    “Trust me,” Dragonite said. “You’ll like it.”

    As they drew closer to the opening, the sound of metal on metal grew even louder. The sound of running feet could also be heard in between the thunderous claps. “Sounds like a busy place,” Chimchar commented. “Are you sure we should just barge in?”

    Dragonite didn’t respond. Instead, he stepped into the opening and hollered. “The Swanna are flying low tonight.”

    There was a pause as all noise inside ceased. Then came the reply. “Gorebyss Gorebyss Gorebyss Gorebyss.”

    “That’s the all-clear,” Dragonite explained. He continued into the cave. Piplup and Chimchar exchanged weary glances and then followed, with 88 and 89 close behind them. They were surprised to find that what they’d assumed to be a small cavern was actually and long and thin entryway. As the continued down the path, a soft orange glow began to illuminate the darkness. Finally, they emerged into an enormous cavern with a large pit in the center of the floor. In the depths of the pit, boiling lava gushed forth.

    “Well well well, look who’s here.”

    Dragonite laughed as a mole-like Pokemon approached him. “Haha, you haven’t changed a bit, you old rogue.” He put his arm around the Pokemon and spun him to face the others. “It is my pleasure to introduce to you the famous Excadrill, master blacksmith of the Beyond.”

    “Grand Master Blacksmith to you, Dragonite,” Excadrill scoffed.

    “Excadrill, these are my new buddies and our greatest hope for survival,” Dragonite introduced. “These are Piplup, Chimchar, 88, and 89.”

    Excadrill shook Piplup and Chimchar’s hands and then cast his gaze over the Shieldon and Cranidos beside them. “I don’t know about these last two. They just look like a couple o’ chowderheads to me.”

    Piplup, Chimchar, and Dragonite looked back and forth between each other for a moment, then burst into uproarious laughter. 88 and 89 sighed indignantly.

    A small red Pokemon ran up to Excadrill’s side from the other side of the cavern. “Oh my, visitors.”

    “Magby, you always were the observant one,” Excadrill smirked. “Be a good lad and go get some drinks ready.”

    “Yes sir, right away, sir.”

    They watched Magby rush away and Excadrill shook his head slowly. “There’s something wrong with that lad, I tell you.”

    “Oh, he seems like a good boy to me,” Dragonite said. “Is he your newest apprentice?”

    “Yep,” Excadrill nodded. “Last one got picked off by Raikou.”

    Dragonite shook his head sorrowfully. “I’m terribly sorry. I know how hard it is to find a good apprentice.”

    Excadrill scoffed. “You would say that, Dragonite. There’s more to a loss than just that of a helpful apprentice.”

    “Of course, of course,” Dragonite nodded. “It must hurt horribly to lose someone so close to you.”

    Excadrill made no response. He turned and strode back to the table where he’d been working. He began pounding his enormous metal claws on the anvil, pounding the molten steel flat. Carefully, he melded it into place. Then, with a flourish so fast that it could hardly be seen, he whisked away the stick of metal and dunked into a large bucket of icy water, cooling it instantly and filling the air with steam. When he pulled it back out, he held a gleaming blade of iron.

    Chimchar’s mouth fell open in awe. “Is that a –“

    “Yes, it’s a sword,” Excadrill interrupted. “And a darn good one, at that.”

    Piplup leaned over to Chimchar. “Not much on modesty, is he?” he whispered in his ear. Chimchar held his hand to his mouth to conceal his laughter.

    “I’ll be modest when I’ve got a reason to be,” Excadrill said, causing them both to jump. “And as long as you’re in this forge, I can hear every word you say, so I’d guard your tongue, if I was you.”

    Piplup and Chimchar looked at each other and gulped. 88 and 89 both cackled.

    “And as for you two.” Excadrill spun around to face 88 and tapped his claw on his gleaming forehead. “That’s quite a noggin you’ve got. You’d best not get on my bad side, or I might just choose to use that ugly mug of yours as an anvil. Arceus knows they’re hard to find these days.”

    “Excadrill, be nice,” Dragonite scolded. “Well, you can act however you want towards those chowderheads. You can toss ‘em into the lava pit, for all I care. But Piplup and Chimchar are the two greatest hopes we have of ever defeating Darkrai and Deoxys. So you owe them a little respect, I think.”

    Excadrill snorted. “I’ll decide when to owe who respect and when. But I’ll admit, they seem like a good kind.”

    “Thank you, sir,” Piplup said, bowing. “I think.”

    Magby reappeared suddenly, carrying a large tray with six teacups on it. He offered first to Piplup and Chimchar, who gladly accepted. Dragonite took the third and Excadrill the fourth. 89 quickly snatched up the fifth, but 88 declined.

    “Oh come now,” Magby said. “Surely you’re thirsty. Some tea will make you feel right at home.”

    “Sorry, I can’t,” 88 repeated. “No opposable thumbs. Drink it yourself, you look like you need it.”

    Magby flushed. “Oh, um . . . Thank you, sir.”

    “Call me 88,” he insisted.

    “Thank you, 88,” Magby said. “It’s just that . . . well, no one’s ever offered me a cup of tea before.”

    89 smiled. “Well, you can have some of mine, if you finish yours and are still thirsty.”

    Magby sniffed, tears at the corner of his eyes. “Th – thank you, ever so much. You two are so kind.”

    Dragonite smiled and turned to Excadrill. “I have to say, I didn’t know those two had it in them. They may be annoying on the outside, but they’ve got heart.”

    Excadrill nodded in understanding. “I know what you mean. Magby may be a nervous, jittery thing on the outside, but I’ve never had a better apprentice. I’ll admit that he deserves more credit than I give ‘im.”

    The two carried on about the past and what they’d been through while Piplup and Chimchar sat down with the others. “So, Magby,” Piplup asked. “What exactly do you do here?”

    “Well, the forge is exactly what you think it’d be,” Magby said. “Excadrill is the greatest blacksmith in the entire Beyond. He’ll make just about anything if he finds it fun enough, but he as of late, he mainly makes weapons for the rebels.”

    “Like the sword he made,” Piplup said.

    “Exactly,” Magby nodded. “And I’m his apprentice, so I run around doing any chores he needs done. I gather coals from the lava pit, carry his tools, fix lunch, that kind of thing.”

    “Sounds like a fun life,” 88 said.

    Magby shrugged. “Well, it could be a lot worse. Excadrill may be rough on the outside, but he has a good heart and means the best for me.”

    Excadrill smiled slightly, but hid it from Magby as he continued his conversation with Dragonite.

    “Well, we’ll be happy to help you out in any way that you need,” Piplup offered. “It’s the least we can do if Excadrill does allow us to lie low here for awhile.”

    88 nodded. “Yep, I’ll do what I can to be of service. Granted, I won’t be much use since I don’t have opposable thumbs, but I’ll think of something to do.”

    “You could always take up Excadrill’s anvil offer,” Chimchar pointed out.

    88 scowled.

    The five continued chattering away as Excadrill led Dragonite to a more private corner in the back of the cave. “I’ll allow you to stay here for however long you may need.”

    “Thank you so much, old friend,” Dragonite thanked. “It means a lot to me.”

    “I know, I know,” Excadrill said. “But I can’t help but be leery of this.”

    Dragonite frowned. “Why? I’ll be happy to offer you help in whatever way you need it.”

    “It’s not that,” Excadrill said, shaking his head. “It’s that . . . well, Pokemon around you have a tendency to get into trouble.”

    Dragonite didn’t reply, lowering his head.

    “Admit it, it’s true,” Excadrill said. “You bring trouble crashing down around you wherever you go, and while you manage to escape unscathed, those around you lose everything.”

    “That’s not – “

    “How many of the last rebels that you tried smuggling to HQ actually survived?” Excadrill snapped.

    Dragonite averted his gaze.

    “Exactly.”

    Dragonite finally managed to look into the blacksmith’s eyes. “But friend – “

    “It doesn’t change the fact that I’ll allow you to stay here,” Excadrill said. “No matter what happens, I’ll still consider you a good friend and a strong ally. Even if your means of reaching your goals have been somewhat . . . unscrupulous in the past.”

    Dragonite paled. “You know, it’s funny, but Piplup had a run-in with a Pokemon named Zoroark yesterday.”

    “Never heard of ‘im.”

    “I never had either,” Dragonite continued. “But he told Piplup to ask me about just that thing. I . . . I didn’t really . . .”

    “You didn’t have the guts to tell ‘im,” Excadrill finished. “I would’ve guessed as much.”

    Dragonite sighed. “It’s just that I don’t want him to worry . . . I want him to trust me. I need him to trust me, if we’re going to have any hope of defeating Darkrai. If he knew the truth, he might run away. He and Chimchar wouldn’t stand a chance in the Beyond alone, without a guide. They need me . . . and I need them.”

    “Well, the way to earn trust is to be honest,” Excadrill said curtly. “If you tell ‘em the truth, they’ll be more willing to trust your word later, even if they’re mad at you at first.”

    “I suppose that’s probably true,” Dragonite conceded. “But still . . .”

    “Just do what you think is right,” Excadrill said. “I’m sure things’ll turn out alright.”

    Dragonite smiled. “Thanks, old friend. I can always count on you when I need help.”

    “Glad to be here for ya,” Excadrill nodded. “Now, let’s get these kids to work.”

    *****

    “Targets located. Good work, girls.”

    “Oh, you were the one who did all the work! Don’t go giving us credit!”

    “Can we just hurry up and get this over with?”

    “Not just yet. We have to wait for the perfect moment to strike.”

    Three figures sat atop the cliff, carefully watching the entrance to the forge below them. Every now and then, the red duck-like Pokemon would run outside for some reason for another, but aside from that, there was no sign of life.

    “To think,” the leader marveled. “This whole time, the forge of Excadrill was right here.”

    “That guy must be a genius to have kept it a secret for so long,” a floating white Pokemon said, smiling sweetly. “After all, there’s not much that gets past you, Gothitelle.”

    “So true,” Gothitelle laughed. “But there is not much time yet to wait, Froslass. We shall strike the moment the opportunity arises.”

    “And just how long will that take?” the third figure, a floating purple Pokemon, interjected. “Days? Weeks? Months?”

    Froslass sighed. “Don’t be such a bring-down, Mismagius! Come on, try to be happy!”

    “I’ll be happy when I don’t have to sleep on rock,” Mismagius spat. “This place is so drab.”

    “Oh, don’t worry,” Gothitelle assured. “It may be days, it may be weeks, it may be months, but once we’ve made our move, victory will be ours, and then we’ll be living luxuriously once again.”

    Froslass moved to the cliffside and squinted at the path in the distance. “Um, it looks like somebody’s coming down the path around the bend over there.”

    Gothitelle leapt to her feet immediately. “Quickly, we must stop them.”

    “But we’re in Darkrai’s territory,” Froslass pointed out. “There aren’t going to be any more rebels coming along. This has to be an ally.”

    “Correct,” Gothitelle nodded, taking off at a run across the clifftop. “But if they find the forge, they may frighten off our targets, and then we’ll have a mess on our hands.”

    Mismagius and Froslass quickly took off after their leader. The three reached the bend in the path and looked down. The lone traveler was directly beneath them.

    Then, they struck.

    *****

    Garchomp turned his ear to the air and listened carefully. He could hear the sound of banging metal in the distance. “So, it would appear that Excadrill is near as well,” he muttered. “I guess I’ll have the honor of bringing in yet another wanted criminal.”

    Without warning, a barrage of glowing leaves whizzed through the air around him. Seconds after, he was struck by a flurry of snow. Two Pokemon dove down from the cliff at him, one purple, one white. He drew back his arms in preparation for a Stone Edge, but the purple one hit him once again with Magical Leaf. The razor-edged leaves slammed him backwards against the canyon wall and dug into his skin and the rock, holding him in place. As he struggled to free himself, the white one lunged forward and hit him with multiple light punches in rapid succession. At first he felt nothing, but was then astonished to find his muscles freezing with ice where the punches had landed. He attempted to pull his arms free, but his frozen shoulders were too limp to move.

    “What is the meaning of this?” Garchomp growled. “Release me!”

    “Not just yet.”

    His assailants stepped aside suddenly, revealing a third figure behind them. It stepped forward into the light and Garchomp gasped. “Mistress Gothitelle?”

    “Garchomp,” Gothitelle nodded. “Lead jailer, former partner of the traitor Dragonite. My father thinks quite highly of you.”

    “That means a lot to me,” Garchomp said, bowing his head.

    “He knows firsthand of Piplup and Chimchar’s power and doesn’t blame you for what happened,” Gothitelle continued. “So you’re lucky enough to be getting off clean.” Her eyes glowed blue and she pulled Garchomp away from the wall where he was stuck, allowing him to regain his footing.

    Garchomp bowed deeply to her. “Thank you ever so much, Mistress Gothitelle. But why did your accomplices attack me?”

    “We were merely trying to make sure that you didn’t spoil our plans,” Gothitelle said.

    “I’m sorry, Mistress Gothitelle,” Garchomp said. “But I don’t mean to interrupt in your business in anyway. I’m currently pursuing Dragonite and his accomplices. I believe that they have taken up residence with the infamous blacksmith Excadrill.”

    Gothitelle nodded. “You are correct in your belief. We have laid a trap for them even now. That is what you would have spoiled, had we not stopped you in time.”

    “I’m incredibly sorry,” Garchomp said once again. “How may I be of service to you in this trap?”

    “You can help by staying away,” Gothitelle began. “The fewer involved in this, the more confident I am of victory.”

    Garchomp looked up suddenly. “But ma’am, surely there is some way in which I can be of use to you.”

    Gothitelle scratched her chin and looked thoughtful. “Alright, I think I’ve got something for you.”

    “Yes, ma’am?”

    She smiled. “If my brother and Slowbro should come by, do whatever you can to keep them from progressing. Do you think you can handle that?”

    “Of course, Mistress Gothitelle,” Garchomp saluted. “I shall stay here and stop them, should they attempt to interrupt your plan.”

    “There’s a good ‘mon,” Gothitelle said. She saluted in return and leapt vertically upward. Mismagius and Froslass followed as she leapt nimbly up the cliff wall and disappeared over the top.

    Garchomp watched as they left, then sat down against the wall. He sighed. “Well, she’ll be able to handle those rebels, of that I’m sure.”

    He looked up at the black sky and sighed yet again. “If only I could catch Dragonite myself, though. To ring his scrawny neck and hear him beg for mercy!” A smile crossed his face. “Then again, if Gothitelle catches him, he might wind up sent to the jail.” His smile grew. “He could easily wind up in the prison he used to run, watched over by the partner he betrayed for strangers!” He chuckled deeply. “The irony, the delicious irony!”

    His maniacal laughter echoed throughout the canyon.

    Finally, he managed to compose himself and found a nearby cave from which he could keep watch for Combusken and Slowbro. He laid back against the wall, his hands behind his head. “Perhaps this’ll be worth the wait after all . . .”


    Hope you all enjoy it!

    Next Time: Piplup and his posse begin to work with Excadrill in the forge as a way to pass the time while they remain in hiding. Meanwhile, back in Treasure Town, a Pokemon named Shiftry arrives and offers his services to help find Piplup and Chimchar.
    Last edited by GalladeRocks; 28th March 2011 at 2:58 PM.
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  2. #152
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    I loved it, as always. It is definitely the calm before the storm, kind of like Chapter 8, but I can feel a big battle coming more so from this chapter than the last. Garchomp VS Combusken (and maybe Slowbro as well as Piplup, Chimchar, 88, 89, Excadrill & Magby (maybe) VS Gothitelle, Froslass & Mismagius.

    Also, Gothitelle is Azula. Froslass is Ty Lee and Mismagius is Mai from The Last Airbender, right?

    I'm assuming the massive battling will take place in either Chapter 10 or Chapter 11. Great way to start off the double digits.

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  3. #153
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    “Excadrill, these are my new buddies and our greatest hope for survival,” Dragonite introduced. “These are Piplup, Chimchar, 88, and 89.”
    If 88 and 89 are some of their greatest hopes for survival, then the rebels aren't very well off even now, are they?

    Magby reappeared suddenly, carrying a large tree with six teacups on it. He offered first to Piplup and Chimchar, who gladly accepted. Dragonite took the third and Excadrill the fourth. 89 quickly snatched up the fifth, but 88 declined.
    It appears you misspelled tray.

    Well, I figured I'd shake the cobwebs off and review something. This chapter, overall seemed boring and lacking like the past few chapters. It's hard to take this fic seriously anymore, and it appears to be due to the short length of the chapters (could be something else, such as the setting, the fact that they seem to always be traveling through a canyon, hardly any thing has happened despite the fact that there are 9 chapters, however).

    Perhaps you could improve chapter length and have something happen already?

    -Resident evil
    Last edited by Resident evil; 14th April 2011 at 1:25 AM.

  4. #154
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    Quote Originally Posted by Resident evil View Post
    It appears you misspelled tray.
    *facepalm* Thanks for pointing that out, I'll get it fixed.

    Well, I figured I'd shake the cobwebs off and review something. This chapter, overall seemed boring and lacking like the past few chapters. It's hard to take this fic seriously anymore, and it appears to be due to the short length of the chapters (could be something else, such as the setting, the fact that they seem to always be traveling through a canyon, hardly any thing has happened despite there 9 chapters, however).

    Perhaps you could improve chapter length and have something happen already?

    -Resident evil
    Thanks for all of that, it's nice to get an actual review every once in awhile instead of just comments. Yeah, I agree with you, I've been getting bored with the last few chapters myself. Don't worry, though, my plans have things picking up in a bit. Chapter 10 will probably be like the last few, but, without spoiling too much, an enormous battle will pick up in Chapter 11 and the gang will no longer be traveling in the canyon by Chapter 12. The chapters will probably start getting longer about that time as well, rather than just being filler chapters like before.
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    *Hits head against the wall* Two chapters in a range of two-three days? WOW! I can't even do that. I agree, it is shorter than usual with a little less action. Lemme guess, the cookies have gone stale. *Lifts a cookie off the plate and inspects it* or not. Add a few questioning events or something to mix it all up. Get us all scared that Piplup is gonna die. Idk. Just throwing out ideas.

    Although I do think it's going a little slow paced, it's still pretty well done.
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    Uh oh looks like trouble. I like Magby he's cute. Can't wait for the next chapter. ^ ^

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    Shiftry? theShiftry that was in PmD 1, or a different one? I'm actually using Excadrill on White version, having already run through black. but now Darkrai (and Deoxys)'s minions are doing some major in-fighting, so all's the better for the Chowderheads & co.
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    I keep forgeting to check the thread, so can you ad me to the PM list please? Thanks!
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    Quote Originally Posted by scizorstrike View Post
    Shiftry? theShiftry that was in PmD 1, or a different one?
    That's a good question. Hopefully we can find out soon.

    I heard Iris's Excadrill's voice in BW009 and it sounded interesting. Does the Excadrill when know and love from here in DoD sound anything like that?

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    It's been a while since I've read this; late with the read but still keeping up with the chapters.

    Shiftry, huh.... It's been a long time since we've last heard about Treasure Town or what became of it. In fact, I don't even know what happened afterwards since "Explorers of the Core". O.O
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    Ay caramba, it's been far too long. I'm getting work done on the next chapter, I plan to have it up at some point Wednesday or Thursday.

    scizorstrike-Shiftry is a different one from the original PMD games. To be brief, this one is an explorer who comes to Treasure Town with a small posse and decides to help out.

    TheDarkDragons-Alright, you're on the PM list.

    Torpoleon-Nah, Excadrill in the story doesn't quite sound like that. He sounds much more gruff and rugged, at least in my mind.
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    A small posse? $100 says it consists of Nuzleaf and/or Seedot. That isn't a problem, honestly. I'm just stating what I think the posse might be.

    Oh, OK. Good. Excadrill from BW009 sounds kind of weird.

    That's OK, take your time with Chapter 10. The real battling doesn't begin until Chapter 11 anyways.

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    Sorry for the recent delays, everybody. Chapter 10 should be up Thursday. It's 9/10 complete, it just needs some finishing touches. However, I don't have the time for that tonight and likely won't tomorrow either, as I have a baseball game. I'll give it my best though!
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    love this fic! cud i please be on the pm list?
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    Here it is at last! Sorry for the delays. Yes, biggggg5, you're on the PM list.

    Chapter 10
    Forging Friendships

    “Rise and shine, lads! Yer burnin’ daylight!”

    “Not that there’s any light to burn.”

    “Did I ask for your input, Dragonite? No, I don’t believe I did!”

    Piplup rubbed his eyes groggily and rolled over. “Just five more minutes,” he moaned.

    “Or ten,” Chimchar groaned.

    “Or even twenty,” 89 added.

    Five seconds later, the cave was filled with screaming as four hot coals were placed on four different backs. Piplup, Chimchar, 88, and 89 all leapt into the air and ran in circles. Magby watched in amusement as Piplup dropped to the floor, panting.

    “You learn quickly around here to wake up early,” he said.

    “I can only assume you’ve been through the same thing,” 88 said.

    “You bet he did!” Excadrill cackled. “He was a slow learner, too. Took him a whole week before he finally beat me.”

    Magby grimaced. “The most painful week of my life.”

    “Yet you learned from it,” Excadrill pointed out. “I ain’t so heartless as to burn you guys for no reason.”

    “Because I’m sure it doesn’t do anything for your own entertainment,” Dragonite smirked.

    Excadrill scratched his chin. “Well, maybe a little bit.”

    Piplup yawned and stretched, with Chimchar, 88, and 89 doing the same around him. “Well, we’re up now. What do you want us to do?”

    Excadrill cracked his neck sideways. “Today, your tutorship in the forge begins. Perhaps you’ll be the next great blacksmiths here in the Beyond.”

    The four stared at the blacksmith disinterestedly.

    Excadrill shrugged. “But of course, maybe you won’t.” He turned around and walked down the narrow corridor towards the main cavern. “Come along, now. Your first lesson awaits.”

    “You guys had better come on,” Dragonite said, turning to follow his friend. “Excadrill isn’t one to tolerate tardiness, as you’ve already seen.”

    Piplup, Chimchar, 88, and 89 hurried after him without a second thought. Magby trailed behind, laughing to himself.

    When they arrived in the main forge, they found Excadrill standing at an anvil. A bucket of water sat beside him and he held a hammer in one hand and tongs in another. “Come on, let’s move a bit faster! I’m old as the dirt I live in and yet I can get around faster than you young-uns!”

    “I’m starting to think we’re in over our heads,” Chimchar sighed.

    “You have no idea,” Magby laughed.

    They made their way over to the anvil where Excadrill waited. He tapped the tongs impatiently on the side of the bucket. “So, who’s ready for some hard labor?”

    Unsurprisingly, nobody raised their hand. 88 thought absently to himself that even if he had a hand to lift, he still wouldn’t have.

    “Good!” Excadrill declared. “Now let’s get hammerin’!”

    *****

    Garchomp’s eyes snapped open suddenly.

    “Uncle, I told you, we don’t have time for a tea break!”

    “Oh, there’s always time for tea! If there’s one thing you have learned from me in life, it should be that!”

    He jolted upright. The two were approaching.

    “But if we don’t hurry, Gothitelle might beat us to Piplup. I couldn’t stand it if she showed me up once again.”

    “I can’t say I completely understand why you insist on going through with all of this, but I’ll follow you.”

    Garchomp rose to his feet and waited in the shadows as Combusken and Slowbro rounded the corner. He rubbed his claws together in anticipation.

    *****

    “Time’s up!”

    There was a cumulative hiss as four swords were pulled from four buckets simultaneously, filling the air with steam. Excadrill stepped forward, looking at the works held before him. “Now, let’s see these grand artistic masterpieces.”

    He stopped in front of Piplup first. Piplup held out the sword he had made towards Excadrill. “It’s not bad,” he said. “That is, not bad for a finless Magikarp lying at the edge of a volcanic crater.” He plucked the sword from Piplup’s hand and waved it through the air. “You don’t get that smooth swish from it like you should. It’s too rough on the edges.” He jabbed it into the earth at his feet. It left an uneven slash in the dirt. “The blade isn’t honed sharply enough. You couldn’t’ cut bread with this, let alone flesh.” Excadrill spun it in his hand one last time, then jabbed it against the wall. The metal buckled instantly, then shattered entirely. “And lastly, it has no strength. This sword couldn’t penetrate bamboo armor. Just imagine how it would work against metal.”

    The bladeless hilt fell to the floor at Piplup’s feet. “So I guess that means I . . .”

    “Overall, not bad for a rookie,” Excadrill concluded. “You won’t ever be a famous blacksmith, but you could get by on it if you needed to. Just so long as your customers don’t have high standards.”

    “Oh,” Piplup gulped. “Uh, thank you.”

    Next, Excadrill turned to 88. The Shieldon held the sword in his mouth. “Thith ith the betht I coud oo,” he said.

    “Don’t try to talk, son, it just makes things worse,” Excadrill said. He delicately plucked the blade from 88’s mouth. He examined it carefully, then snapped it like a twig over his knee. “This is why quadrupeds don’t work in forges.”

    “Well pardon my anatomy!” 88 snapped. “Is it my fault I don’t have arms?”

    Excadrill ignored him and moved on to 89. 89 shuddered uncontrollably as he offered the sword to Excadrill. The blacksmith glanced at it briefly and turned it around in his hands. “It’s strong, I’ll give it that.” He ran his claws along the side of the blade all the way up to the tip. “It’s too blunt to be used for cutting or stabbing, but it’s strong and sturdy enough to be used defensively. In the most desperate of circumstances, this sword could protect you.” He handed it back to 89. “Keep this with you. It might come in handy.”

    “Th-thank you!” 89 stuttered. “I never imagined . . .”

    “Don’t get all mushy about it,” Excadrill barked. “I’ll get around to making a scabbard for it later.” He turned his gaze on Chimchar. “And now for you.”

    Chimchar gulped and stepped forward. He lifted the sword into the air, only for it to explode into a thousand pieces. He smiled sheepishly. “Um, I was having a few issues with mine.”

    Excadrill glared at him for a second, then burst out laughing. “Ha! That’s exactly how my first sword turned out! That was . . .” He paused.

    “Many years ago,” Dragonite finished.

    “Very many,” Excadrill nodded. “You should all get outta here. Yer makin’ me feel old.”

    “That’s because you are old,” Dragonite pointed out.

    Excadrill spun on Dragonite. “I don’t need your sass! You ain’t exactly the newest berry on the bush either!” He sighed. “But I see your point.”

    “I’ve got tea!” Magby re-entered the cavern, carrying a tray of cups. Piplup, Chimchar, and 89 immediately moved toward him, but were halted by a venomous glare from Excadrill.

    “These young’uns don’t need tea, they need training!” he snapped. “Back to work! You can try making shields next!”

    88 looked up at Excadrill inquisitively. “But I don’t need a shield. Just look at my face. My species name is even the ‘Shield Pokemon’.” He paused and looked at his forelegs. “And I don’t have hands. How could I even use a shield?”

    A few moments later, 88 was screaming in pain as 89’s hammer pounded on his forehead, which had been converted into an anvil. As if the hammering wasn’t bad enough, the molten steel on his face didn’t feel exceedingly comfortable either. “Hold still!” 89 hissed. “If you keep squirming like that, I’ll hit you in the eye! And then I’ll have to drag in another anvil!” 88 abruptly ceased his writhing.

    “I had to ask,” he muttered. “I just had to ask.”

    *****

    Combusken sidestepped just in time to avoid the Stone Edge bullets. He retaliated instantly, launching a fireball in the direction from which the sniper had fired. Garchomp leapt sideways, rebounding off the cliff wall, and landed directly in the middle of the path.

    “You?” Combusken growled. “What are you doing here? I’m pursuing a wanted criminal!”

    “So was I,” Garchomp said. “But I received orders from Mistress Gothitelle to wait here, and specifically, to stop you.”

    Slowbro stepped forward, placing himself in-between the two attackers. “Well, that sounds quite important. Don’t worry, we’ll leave you to it.”

    “No, we most certainly will not!” Combusken snapped. He shoved Slowbro out of the way. “This is my mission, and I’m not letting Gothitelle get in the way yet again.”

    “I hold no grudge with you, Combusken,” Garchomp said. “But I have to keep you away. It’s my orders.”

    Combusken took another step forward. “Well, I order you to back down.”

    “Sorry,” Garchomp sneered. “But I don’t take orders from you. You’re just an exile.”

    Then, Combusken jumped. Garchomp smiled and drew back his claws.

    Slowbro sighed and sat down as the battle began. He didn’t even flinch as a misfire from Combusken hit right beside him, and a pot of tea began to boil.

    *****

    Piplup held up his shield defensively as 89 stabbed at him with his sword. He yelped in surprise as the blade punched a hole through center of the shield, nearly skewering him.

    “That could’ve gone better,” he mused.

    “Ya think?” Excadrill scoffed.

    Nearby, Chimchar and 88 stood facing each other. Chimchar clutched a crude round shield, while 88 had a metal plate that one could possibly call a shield strapped to his face. They both screamed wildly and charged at each other. The sound of clashing metal echoed throughout the cave and Piplup winced at the impact.

    “And that’s why quadrupeds don’t use shields,” Excadrill said.

    “Still not my fault!” 88 yelled indignantly as he attempted to pry the bent metal of his shield from his face.

    Chimchar turned to Dragonite. “Hey, why aren’t you getting in on any of this training and forging?”

    “Yeah!” 88 said. “You’re just watching the festivities! We need to see some participation!”

    Dragonite laughed. “Trust me, I had enough of these ‘festivities’ back when I first met Excadrill. He put me through this same work.”

    Excadrill snickered. “And he looked every bit as bad at it as you young’uns have.”

    Dragonite turned away with his arms crossed, but he smiled nonetheless.

    “So now what do we do?” Piplup inquired. “I don’t suppose you have even more manual labor for us to do.”

    “Well, I was going to have you make some armor,” Excadrill said. “But I suppose that can wait.”

    Piplup exhaled loudly. “That’s a relief.”

    “I’ll just have ya get to work on some battle axes instead.”

    Piplup gulped and turned back to Excadrill. “You’re joking, right?”

    Excadrill shook his head vigorously. “Oh, I never joke.”

    “Trust me,” Dragonite cut in. “He doesn’t.”

    Piplup sighed. “Alright then. Let’s get this over with.”

    “And remember,” Excadrill said. “The sooner you get ‘em done, the sooner you can start practicin’.”

    “Practicing?” Chimchar gulped. “With battle axes?”

    Excadrill nodded. “Of course! How are you supposed to get experience without rolling a few heads in practice?”

    Piplup, Chimchar, 88, and 89 exchanged hopeless looks. They locked eyes, nodded, and prepared for the worst.

    *****

    “THREE! SMILES GO FOR MILES!”

    “Okay, Pokemon! Get to work!”

    “HOORAY!”

    Grovyle stepped aside from the ladder as Bidoof, Sunflora, and Corphish scrambled up past him. “Whoops. Guess I should know better than to stand above there after the morning cheers.”

    “Sorry about that,” Sunflora apologized. “It’s just that Chatot gets really mad if we don’t get right to our jobs.”

    “Hey, he’s back to his old self, at least,” Corphish said.

    “That’s for sure!” Bidoof nodded. “Gosh, it’s hard to believe he was a frozen statue just a couple of weeks ago.”

    Grovyle smiled. “I know what you mean. Having Celebi back feels just the same way. But to her, it’s just like nothing ever happened.”

    “You know, they say that the reason Chatot got frozen was because he pushed Piplup to safety,” Sunflora cut in. “I didn’t know the old bird had it in him.”

    “I heard the same thing about Dusknoir,” Grovyle said. “Apparently, Celebi knocked him out of the cave but was caught herself in the progress.”

    Bidoof’s eyes grew teary. “Gosh, it’s just so great to think that there are such selfless Pokemon out there! It makes me downright mushy!”

    “Hey hey, no matter how selfless he is, Chatot will still have our heads if he catches us lounging around here,” Corphish interjected.

    “That’s true,” Sunflora said. “We’d better get going.” She hurried to the other ladder and began climbing up. Bidoof and Corphish were right behind her. “See ya, Grovyle!”

    Grovyle waved to them, then slid down the ladder to the lower level. He gave a quick hello to Croagunk as he made his way towards the Guildmaster’s chamer. He knocked three times on the door.

    “Come in!” a cheery voice called. Grovyle pushed open the door and entered, finding Wigglytuff and Chatot waiting.

    “Good morning, Wigglytuff,” Grovyle greeted. “And to you, Chatot.”

    “Good morning to you too, Grovyle,” Wigglytuff said. “Care for a Perfect Apple?”

    Grovyle held up his hand. “No thank you, Celebi has me on a diet.”

    Wigglytuff shrugged. “Oh well, more for me!”

    “Where’s Dusknoir?” Chatot inquired. “Isn’t he supposed to be here too?”

    “He’ll be coming,” Grovyle said. “At least, he should be. Sometimes he has his own agenda.”

    “Like when he brought the Sableye soldiers here?” Chatot said.

    Grovyle nodded. “Exactly. I had no idea he had that planned until they were already here. It was quite a good idea, though. The Sableye are highly trained soldiers. They should come in handy when we make our move.”

    “And where might Celebi be?” Chatot continued.

    “She’s currently in the Core,” Grovyle answered. “She’s meeting with Lucario and Mew about establishing a way of communication between here and the Core, as well as a tunneling project to create an easier path between here and there.”

    “Well, anything has to be easier than that thousand foot drop we took in and the three day hike we took out,” Wigglytuff mused.

    Grovyle smiled. “How true, how true. The very idea of the project has already been bringing more traffic through Treasure Town.”

    Chatot nodded. “Yes indeed. There have been multiple new shops opening up, as well. Bellossom’s gardening shop, Leavanny’s tailoring service –“

    “Purugly’s nail salon!” Wigglytuff beamed.

    Chatot buried his face in his wing. “Guildmaster, you don’t even have nails. Why do you care?”

    Wigglytuff shrugged. “I don’t. I just find it to be a revolutionary idea.”

    “Wigglytuff, please, we have more important things to discuss,” Grovyle cut in. “But I’ll keep that nail salon in mind. Celebi might enjoy that.” He turned to Chatot. “Have you heard from Armaldo lately?”

    Chatot shook his head. “Not recently. We haven’t heard anything from him since he left to find Uxie and the others.”

    “Well, we’ll just have to wait awhile longer until we can discuss matters with Uxie,” Grovyle said. “All we can do until then is to make what preparations we can.”

    “You wouldn’t make those preparations without me, would you?”

    The three jumped in surprise as Dusknoir phased through the floor between them. “Honestly, Dusknoir!” Grovyle snapped. “Couldn’t you even attempt to take this seriously?”

    Dusknoir shrugged. “I’ll take things seriously when I’m dead.”

    “Dusknoir, you’re a Ghost-type,” Grovyle pointed out. “I think you already qualify.”

    “That’s a common misconception!” Dusknoir retorted. “Just because we’re Ghosts automatically means we’re walking dead! Such a stereotype!”

    “Will you two cut it out?” Chatot snapped. Then he stopped as another figure appeared in the doorway. “Oh? And who might you be?”

    The figure strode into the room. Its nose was long and brown and it was covered in shaggy white fur. Its most notable feature was the fan of green leaves on the end of each arm. “I’m a friend, that’s who.”

    “Oh, that’s right, you haven’t been acquainted yet,” Dusknoir said. “This is Shiftry. He’s new, and I just met him outside.”

    “Just blew into town,” Shiftry said, bowing. “I’ve always been a drifter. This place seemed like a quaint little town.”

    Wigglytuff smiled and shook his hand. “Welcome to Treasure Town, friendly friend! Pleased to meet you!”

    “The pleasure is all mine,” Shiftry said evenly.

    Chatot stepped forward to face Shiftry. “While we’re happy to meet you, I must ask you what you’re doing down here in the Guild. This is a private meeting.”

    “Allow me to explain,” Shiftry said. “After I got here, I quickly heard about your predicament from the townspeople. I’d like to offer my services in finding the legendary Piplup and Chimchar. If there’s any way in which I can help, just tell me.”

    Chatot turned away. “While we’re thankful for the offer, we’re satisfied as we are.”

    “Chatot!” Wigglytuff gasped. “How can you turn down help in this time of crisis?” He turned back to Shiftry. “Of course you can help out! Welcome to the team!”

    Chatot began to protest, but he was silenced by a warning look from Grovyle. The last thing either one of them wanted was for Wigglytuff to get mad.

    “We don’t have much that we can do right now,” Wigglytuff explained. “We’re waiting for some news from our reconnaissance man. Also, we’ve got a source coming in who might just have an idea where Piplup and Chimchar are.”

    “That sounds like you’ve got a good lead,” Shiftry nodded. “But in all my travels, I’ve found that some Pokemon live on the . . . other side. I might be able to find some sources.”

    Grovyle frowned. “Sources?”

    “There are all kinds of Pokemon in the world who flock to information,” Shiftry continued. “I know a few who will have picked up anything there is to know on Piplup and Chimchar. I could find them and ‘convince’ them to help us, if you would allow me.”

    Grovyle looked to Dusknoir, who shrugged. “I’m always game for a little ‘convincing’,” he said. “I say go for it.”

    “I’ll back it up,” Wigglytuff beamed.

    “I suppose there are worse ideas,” Chatot mused.

    All eyes turned to Grovyle. He shrugged. “I’ll go with what you all think is best.” He looked to Shiftry. “Go ahead then.”

    Shiftry turned and began to walk out. “Sounds brilliant. I’ll go now. I’ll report back once I’ve got something.”

    “See you then!” Wigglytuff waved.

    Grovyle watched as Shiftry climbed the ladder and left. He turned to Dusknoir. “Just where did you find this guy?”

    “Like I said,” Dusknoir answered. “I found him right as he was coming into town. I gave him the whole tour and he offered to help as soon as he heard about our predicament.”

    “That seems a little convenient,” Grovyle huffed. “But I’ll go with it. Any help we can get is welcome, I suppose.” He looked back to where Shiftry had exited. “I just hope his ‘convincing’ goes well . . .”

    *****

    “Hey, here he comes!”

    Three Pokemon rushed forward to greet the figure leaving the tent. “Did it go as planned?”

    “Of course it did, Pawniard!” one of the figures snapped. “Has he ever failed before?”

    “Well . . . no,” the one called Pawniard admitted. “But I just wanted to be sure.”

    The leader smiled. “Yes, Pawniard, it all went well. This place is perfect.” He turned to the other two small figures. “Hitmontop, Cacnea, go into town. Spread the word.” The two saluted and were gone in an instant. He then turned to Pawniard. “You come with me. We’ve got some ‘convincing’ to do.”

    Pawniard nodded. He turned to the exit from town, with Shiftry close behind him.


    Hope you all like it! Sorry that I don't have time to get out PMs right now. I'll do that tomorrow.

    Next Time: Gothitelle makes her move against Piplup and his friends, resulting in a battle between the opposing factions. Who will live to leave the forge and fight another day?
    Last edited by GalladeRocks; 16th May 2011 at 4:21 AM.
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    Interesting chapter. I had no idea Shiftry is a bad guy until now. I wonder who Shiftry is working for. Next chapter is all the battling, right?

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    Cool chapter. Lol poor Chimchar's sword exploded. Didn't think that was even possible.

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    Are Shiftry's gang evil? that remeains to be seen... as does the outcome for Piplup, Chimchar and the Chowderhead's crash-course in blacksmithing. i do not even want to consider how Chimchar made that sword explode. could be useful as a sneak attack though...
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    Quote Originally Posted by GalladeRocks View Post
    “That seems a little convenient,” Grovyle huffed. “But I’ll go with it. Any help we can get is welcome, I suppose.” He looked back to where Shiftry had exited. “I just hope his ‘convincing’ goes well . . .”
    You put is. Only thing I could find wrong, but I might have missed something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDarkDragons View Post
    You put is. Only thing I could find wrong, but I might have missed something.
    Thanks for pointing that out. It's been fixed.
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    Just wanted to say that I saw that this has exactly 10,000 views at the time that I'm posting this. Woohoo! Thank you all!
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    I've finally caught up after reading this, but I have one word right now: AVVVAAATTTTAAARRRRRR! SO very much. I could go on to the Guardians of Ga'Hoole and James Bond reference which no one mentioned in the last book, but I <3 this story. Keep it up and put me on the PM list, please!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ga'Hooleone View Post
    I've finally caught up after reading this, but I have one word right now: AVVVAAATTTTAAARRRRRR! SO very much. I could go on to the Guardians of Ga'Hoole and James Bond reference which no one mentioned in the last book, but I <3 this story. Keep it up and put me on the PM list, please!
    Okay, you're on the PM list. And I personally don't recall making references to Guardians of Ga'Hoole and James Bond, though it's not that hard to believe that I would reference them and forget. Would you mind pointing them out to me?
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    Here it is at last! I'm out of school now, so I should be able to get chapters up more quickly.


    Chapter 11
    The Battle of Fire and Steel

    Piplup snapped awake at the sound of flapping wings. He sprung to his feet, ready for action, with Chimchar at his side. 88 and 89 were noticeably groggier. “Wh-what’s goin’ on? Who dere?”

    Piplup held his hand to his lips. “Quiet! Something’s coming into the cave!”

    A shadow moved over them and Piplup spun to find Dragonite standing over him. “You guys would never last if we were actually ambushed.”

    “What’s happening?” Chimchar inquired. “We heard something outside.”

    “That would be Noctowl,” Dragonite said. “Come with me.”

    The group made their way into the main forge. Excadrill was deep in concentration with a wizened-looking bird Pokemon while a party of metal-feathered Pokemon watched. Magby was busy loading swords into metal bins and carrying them to the entrance of the cavern.

    As Piplup grew closer, he was able to pick up pieces of what Excadrill was saying. “. . . So this sword was so rusty, it didn’t even cast a shadow!” At this, both the blacksmith and his guest began to laugh uproariously. Spotting the others from the corner of his eye, Excadrill turned around and smiled. “Ah, the sleeping beauties are up. Allow me to introduce my good friend Noctowl.” He pointed at the Pokemon sitting next to him.

    “It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Noctowl said, bowing.

    “The pleasure is all ours,” Piplup assured, bowing in return.

    Noctowl lifted his wing towards his companions. “These are Skarmory, friends of mine. They’re here for the same thing as me.”

    “And that is?” Chimchar asked.

    It was Excadrill who answered. “Weapons.”

    Noctowl nodded. “That is correct. My friends and I come here on occasion to gather the swords, shields, and such that Excadrill makes.”

    “And where do you take them?” Piplup inquired cautiously.

    “Where else?” Noctowl laughed. “To the Resistance Headquarters!”

    “Then you fight for the Resistance!” Chimchar said.

    Noctowl shrugged. “You could say that. I’m more of a strategist, actually. I’m not much good in physical combat.” As he said this, he plucked a sword from the wall and swung it in a wide arc, bringing it down mere inches from 88’s neck. The Shieldon gulped and grew very pale. “Though you could hardly say I’m useless.”

    Piplup smiled. “Sounds great! We’re going to the headquarters soon. Maybe we’ll see you there!”

    Dragonite shifted uneasily as Piplup said this. “Well, I wouldn’t say we’re going there ‘soon’. We’re still going to lay low here for awhile, to make sure that Darkrai’s goons lose our trail.”

    “No matter,” Noctowl said. “Whenever you arrive, you will be welcomed warmly. And I shall make sure to say hello as well.”

    Magby returned from his task and gave Excadrill a quick salute. “I’ve got all of the carries loaded.”

    “Good lad,” Noctowl said warmly. He turned to the Skarmory, who nodded and moved to grab their weapon bins. He turned back to the others. “We’d best be on our way. There’s a major front at the northern mountains, and they’ll be needing these.”

    “Get on your way, then,” Excadrill said. “I’ll see ya later.”

    Noctowl smiled and gave a wave with his wing as he picked up his bin and took off. “Farewell! ‘Til the winds of fate bring us together again!” He quickly disappeared into the dark sky with the Skarmory quad behind him.

    “Nice guy,” Piplup commented. He turned to Dragonite. “Will we be staying here long enough to see him again?”

    “Quite possibly,” Dragonite answered. “I don’t know specifically how long we’ll be hiding here, but it could be awhile.”

    Excadrill turned away, hiding his scowl. Dragonite was a good ‘mon, but he was still the same fool as he’d been so many years before. . .

    *****

    From her perch on the cliff high above, a dark figure watched as Noctowl and his company flew from the forge and headed north. As soon as they had disappeared from sight, she turned to her companions and smiled.

    “We strike now.”

    *****

    “Now that was a battle.”

    Combusken smirked as he and Slowbro walked down the center of the canyon. “Oh, it was a battle alright,” Slowbro laughed. “You really gave Garchomp the what-for.”

    “I know,” Combusken said. “It’s just a good thing I managed to outwit and overpower him. Like there was any doubt from the beginning that I would win.”

    “Outwit and overpower him?” Slowbro scoffed. “He got distracted by my tea kettle whistling and you punched him in the stomach!”

    Combusken shrugged. “Whatever. A win is a win.”

    Slowbro began to say something, but his attention was drawn to a trio of figures leaping down from the cliff above. He followed the trajectory of their jump and saw a cave at the base of the cliff wall. “Uh oh.”

    “What is. . .” Combusken trailed off as he saw the figures. “No! It’s her!”

    “Indeed it is,” Slowbro nodded. “And it seems that Gothitelle has found her prize.”

    It was then that Combusken noticed the cave. “That must be where they’re hiding,” he guessed. “But I won’t let Gothitelle get in my way again!” He charged forward, despite Slowbro’s protests. As Gothitelle hit the ground, he let loose an enormous battle cry that echoed through the canyons. Then, he leapt.

    *****

    The second the cry split the air, Dragonite and Excadrill were on alert. The others looked around in confusion. “What the heck was that?” Magby asked.

    “It sounded like Combusken,” Piplup said.

    “The exile prince?” Excadrill frowned. “I didn’t know he was in these parts.”

    Dragonite shook his head. “That may very well be him, but he’s no major threat. Piplup’s taught him a lesson twice already.”

    There was another scream from outside accompanied by the sound of thunder. “Combusken may be out there,” Piplup said. “But he’s not alone. Somebody’s fighting him, and it doesn’t sound like the battle is going in his favor.”

    Dragonite paled. “The sound of thunder can only mean one thing.”

    “And that is?” 88 questioned.

    “Thunder heralds the arrival of the princess. Gothitelle is here.” He turned towards Excadrill. “Friend, I’m afraid that I’ve brought great evil upon your home.”

    Excadrill turned without a word and made his way into the tunnel leading to the cave entrance. Magby, Piplup, and Chimchar fell into step beside him, with 88, 89, and Dragonite cautiously bringing up the rear. As they rounded the bend, the entrance came into sight. Three silhouettes were visible in the opening.

    “So, this is the forge of the legendary blacksmith Excadrill.”

    It was the lead figure who spoke. Her voice was like ice: Cool and collected, but with a sharp edge.

    “And you must be Gothitelle,” Excadrill countered. “Pampered little girl of the royal chicken himself.”

    “Insults will get you nowhere,” Gothitelle said. “If you want results, you must fight for them.”

    “Sounds great to me,” Excadrill smirked. “Words are overrated anyway.”

    “Then let’s cease the small talk,” Gothitelle said. She gave a small nod to her companions, and Mismagius and Froslass leapt forward. Chimchar, 88, 89, and Dragonite charged to meet them and the battle began.

    Magby moved to the side to watch in terror as Gothitelle advanced on Piplup and Excadrill. “Hold her off,” Excadrill said. “I’ll be right back.” Before Piplup could say anything, the blacksmith spun around and rushed back into the forge.

    “Sure, I can handle this,” Piplup sighed. He got into his battle stance as Gothitelle continued forward.

    “So,” she said. “You’re Piplup. I’ve heard a lot about you. Seems that even my dad couldn’t beat you, let alone my brother.”

    Piplup frowned. “So Combusken was here. What happened?”

    Gothitelle smiled. “Oh, I just gave him a little zap. Just enough to knock him out for a day or two.” As she spoke, she moved her arms in a weaving pattern around her and sparks began to dance around her hands. “Don’t worry, you deserve much more than that.” Without any warning, her hand shot forward and a Thunderbolt shot from her fingertips. Piplup ducked just in time and the bolt whizzed over his head, striking the cave wall with a massive explosion of sound. He released a Hydro Pump at Gothitelle in retaliation, but she merely shrugged it aside with her Psychic. She continued forward and shot off another Thunderbolt, driving Piplup further back into the cavern.

    “You’re pretty good, I’ll give you that,” Piplup admitted as he dived sideways to avoid another Thunderbolt.

    “I’m the best,” Gothitelle said. “That’s why my brother’s getting some beauty sleep outside while I’m here, taking down the Beyond’s most wanted rebel.”

    Piplup turned to take in his surroundings and was surprised to find that the battle had already been carried into the main cavern of the forge. He was nowhere near the pit of lava in the center, but he could already feel the heat. “Perhaps you think you’re taking me down,” he said. “But this is just getting started.” There was a flash of silver as he fired off an Aura Sphere, but Gothitelle easily knocked it aside with a Brick Break.

    “Ah, an Aura Master,” Gothitelle said. “So the rumors are true.” She filed the information away for later. “Truly impressive. But you’ll need more than a shiny aura to defeat me.” She lunged forward with Brick Break again. Piplup responded with his own Brick Break and the two exchanged blows again and again. They continued raining down hits on the other, but neither was able to break through the other’s defenses.

    “I’ll admit it again, you’re good,” Piplup grunted, blocking another hit.

    Gothitelle smiled. “That I am. You must know that you have no hope against me. Even Excadrill knew that. Don’t you even care that he ran away?”

    “Ran away? Ha!”

    Piplup and Gothitelle looked up at the voice. Excadrill stood before them, smirking. Piplup took the opportunity to duck back away from his opponent to stand beside Excadrill. The blacksmith was a fearsome sight. A metal helmet covered his head, leaving only his eyes visible. In his right hand, he held an enormous metal hammer. In his left, the flaming tongs sizzled and glowed.

    “Now the real battle begins!”

    *****

    “So, who are you two?”

    Chimchar dived sideways to avoid a Magical Leaf. “I mean, we heard about Gothitelle, but you never came up.”

    “I’m Froslass,” the white Pokemon said. She pointed to her purple comrade who had shot the Magical Leaf. “And this is Mismagius. You’re Chimchar, right?”

    “Correct,” Chimchar said, shooting a Flamethrower back at Froslass, who flipped out of the way of the attack.

    “Like I even care,” Mismagius huffed. More leaves appeared in the air around her and she shot them down over 88 and 89, who yelped and fell backward. “I just want to end this quickly.”

    Dragonite reared up behind Mismagius. “Allow me to help you with that.”

    Chimchar gasped as Dragonite grunted in pain and fell to the dirt. Small patches of ice were visible on his shoulders and wings. He began to spasm for a moment, then fell still. He turned to face Froslass, who had moved so fast she had been nearly invisible. “Wh-what did you do to him?”

    “I just hit him in his pressure points and applied a little ice,” Froslass explained. “Enemies have a lot harder time fighting when their muscles are frozen.” She dove at Chimchar and began to punch wildly at him. He ducked and weaved back and forth to avoid the blows while simultaneously trying to land some of his own.

    “Geez!” he gasped, out of breath. “How do you do this?”

    “I dance a lot,” Froslass admitted. “And this is a lot like dancing!” She paused. “Say, you’re kind of cute.”

    “Froslass!” Mismagius snapped. “Stay focused!” She spun sideways as she was struck by 88’s Flash Cannon and 89’s Stone Edge.

    Froslass’s bottom lip stuck out. “Oh, fine.” She turned back to Chimchar just in time to take a Flamethrower to the face. “Yow! Not cool!”

    As she fell back, Chimchar jumped forward. “Oh, there’s more where that came from. You wanted to dance! Now I’ll lead!”

    *****

    The air sizzled as Excadrill stabbed forward with the tongs, missing Gothitelle’s head by inches. He swung around with the hammer next, but she slipped sideways and it smashed against the stone floor. She then fell back as an Aura Sphere hit the ground at her feet.

    “You two make a powerful team,” Gothitelle commented. As she spoke, she was blasted in the chest by Piplup’s Hydro Pump, knocking her backwards. Excadrill lunged again with the tongs. She swung her Brick Break before her defensively and sparks flew as the burning tongs struck her. “You might even be able to overpower me.”

    “That’s the idea,” Piplup said. Excadrill slammed his hammer into the ground next to Gothitelle, forcing her sideways into the path of Piplup’s Aura Sphere. “Two are better than one, that’s what I say.”

    Gothitelle smirked. “Then what would you say if you knew that I had allies coming?”

    Piplup paused. “What do you mean?”

    “Just what I said,” Gothitelle continued. “Perhaps you can overpower me, but there are reinforcements coming. Raikou, Articuno, Moltres, Garchomp, even Scrafty and his goons. They’ve all been alerted to this battle and are on their way here now.”

    Piplup and Excadrill both gasped and took a step back. “That’s bad,” Excadrill murmured.

    “Indeed,” Gothitelle smiled. “My father and Deoxys might even show up. I’d give them all ten minutes, fifteen at the most. Then you’re in royal trouble.”

    Piplup turned to Excadrill and they nodded. “Guess we’ll just have to beat you before then, won’t we?”

    “We’ll see,” Gothitelle said, firing off another Thunderbolt at Piplup. He quickly shot an Aura Sphere at it and the two collided in a violent explosion, rocking the cavern. Excadrill was on top of Gothitelle in an instant, swiping at her madly with the tongs and hammer. He dealt some light blows, but for the most part, she managed to avoid getting hit.

    Breathing heavily, Excadrill stepped back to stand by Piplup. “This is not good,” he said shortly. “Even if we manage to beat her, we won’t get out of here in time.”

    “So what do we do?” Piplup asked.

    “We? Nothing,” Excadrill said. “You go outside and get your friends, then run. Take Magby with you.” He turned back to Gothitelle. “I’ll stay here and handle this.”

    “No!” Piplup exclaimed. “I won’t abandon you here!”

    Excadrill smiled. “That’s an order. As your blacksmithing master, I order you to leave.”

    Piplup tried to find the right words. “But . . . but you can’t take them all on. You’ll - “

    “Die?” Excadrill finished. “Perhaps. Perhaps not. I’m not so easy to kill.”

    Piplup gave Gothitelle a poisonous look, his rage fueled even more by her look of amusement. He fired one final Aura Sphere at her, knocking her off balance, as he turned to go. “I’ll never forget this, Master Excadrill. I’ll make sure your story is known.”

    Excadrill waved him out. “Go on, get out of here! I’ll be fine!” As Piplup fled, he returned his gaze to Gothitelle. “Now, where were we?”

    When Piplup reached the mouth of the cave, he found Chimchar, 88, and 89 locked in battle with Froslass and Mismagius. Dragonite lay unmoving on the ground with Magby watching over him. “Let’s end this quickly,” he said to himself, shooting off two Hydro Pumps in quick succession. Both enemies were taken by surprise and spun sideways. 88 and 89 immediately blasted the canyon wall with their Ancientpower, bringing down a rock slide on top of Mismagius and Froslass, trapping them beneath a rocky fortress.

    “Thanks for the help,” Chimchar said.

    “Don’t mention it,” Piplup said. “Now we’ve got to get out of here. Gothitelle has reinforcements coming.”

    Chimchar and Magby helped Dragonite to his feet. “But where’s Excadrill?” the wobbling dragon inquired.

    “He’s staying behind to fight Gothitelle while we leave,” Piplup said mournfully. “I trust him to beat Gothitelle, but I don’t think he can handle the reinforcements.”

    “He knows that,” Dragonite said softly.

    Magby turned to look at the cave. “But we can’t just let him sacrifice himself!”

    “He said to bring you with us to the Resistance,” Piplup said. “He’s just looking out for all of us.”

    “Well I’m not leaving him behind!” Magby declared. He turned to run, but Dragonite grabbed him and flung him unceremoniously over his shoulder.

    “Sorry, but you’re coming with us,” Dragonite said. “I’m not going to deny Excadrill’s wish. I could never live with myself if that happened.”

    There was an enormous screech of metal from inside the forge. Piplup looked up at Dragonite. “We should probably get going.”

    As the group ran off through the canyon, Magby struggling every step of the way, the battle raged in the forge.

    Excadrill fought like a ‘mon possessed, swinging and jabbing in turn with the hammer and tongs. Gothitelle danced away from every blow, but was still unable to land the critical hit on Excadrill that she needed. She winced as Excadrill’s hammer nearly shattered the Reflect shield that she formed. “You’re as respectable a fighter as you are a blacksmith.”

    “Thank you,” Excadrill grunted, annunciating each word with a blow. “I practice.”

    “As do I,” Gothitelle grinned. “And I know when I’ve won.”

    Excadrill scoffed. “Please! You can’t even defeat me! Even if your friends show up and take me down, I’ll defeat you first and Piplup and the others will escape.”

    “Friends?” Gothitelle feigned confusion. “Oh, that’s right, I said I had back-up coming, didn’t I? Well, the thing about that is: I lied.”

    Excadrill’s eyes widened in horror. “You lied. Then that means – “

    “This was just a plot to split up you and Piplup,” Gothitelle finished. “Together, you were strong, perhaps strong enough to defeat me. But separate. . .” She dove forward and struck Excadrill in the wrist with Brick Break, forcing him to drop the tongs. Next, she swung upwards and hit him in the jaw, knocking his helmet off and sending it sliding across the floor. “You are no match for me at all.”

    “You were holding up,” Excadrill said in realization.

    Gothitelle shook her head. “Not holding up. Just conserving my energy.” She released the full force of her Psychic attack, knocking Excadrill backwards. He skidded to a halt near the lava pit in the center of the room. The towering inferno raged behind him, silhouetting him in orange light. Gothitelle calmly strode towards him.

    “Expect no mercy from me,” Excadrill roared. “I shall end this!” He charged, swinging the hammer in an arc over his head. He brought it down directly on top of Gothitelle . . . who caught it with ease. Excadrill jerked to a halt as Gothitelle caught his strike and held him in place. He struggled to pull the hammer free from her grasp, but she held on tightly. Her free hand glowed white.

    “Famous last words,” Gothitelle whispered in his ear. “Now I shall end this.” She drove her Brick Break into Excadrill’s stomach and focused all of her strength into the blow. Excadrill was lifted off the ground and thrown backwards. He hit the ground once, slid . . .

    And tumbled into the pit.

    Gothitelle turned and began to walk away as the unearthly scream pierced the cavern. There was an enormous roar and the blacksmith was consumed by the fires of his own forge.

    *****

    Piplup couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as they rounded the bend. “Thank goodness! No more canyon!”

    “Are you sure this is a better alternative?” 88 inquired.

    Piplup stopped to ponder the question. Sure, it was good to see something besides the tedious canyon landscape they’d been traveling through. But then again, the canyon seemed pretty safe compared to the treacherous winding path ahead. On the right side, the wall of the canyon continued into the distance. But on the left, everything dropped away into a sheer cliff face. Gris Plains began directly below, with the continuing war front visible on the horizon. “Perhaps not,” Piplup finally decided.

    “I miss the canyon already,” Magby sighed. He had finally given up struggling and was now walking beside Dragonite.

    “Don’t worry,” Dragonite said. “When we get to the Resistance headquarters, you’ll feel right at home.”

    Magby attempted a weak smile. “I just hope Excadrill’s alright.”

    “Are you kidding?” 88 laughed. “I know I haven’t known him long, but he’s a tough old bird. He’ll be absolutely fine.”

    “I wouldn’t be so sure.”

    All six heads shot up in surprise. Gothitelle stood atop the cliff on the right. She jumped down to stand in the path. She held up a gleaming silver object so that all the others could see.

    Piplup and Magby gasped simultaneously in recognition.

    “Would you like this?” Gothitelle asked sarcastically. Then, she crushed Excadrill’s helmet in her hand, allowing the pieces of crunched metal to fall to the ground. “You’d better take it. You won’t be finding much else.”

    Piplup and Magby charged as one. They didn’t stand a chance. Gothitelle swiped with a two-handed Brick Break. One smashed Piplup against the wall. The other knocked Magby sideways. He stumbled briefly, flailing his arms in an attempt to keep his balance. Chimchar dashed forward to grab him, but it was too late. The apprentice lost his footing and fell backwards over the cliff.

    For a moment, there was absolute silence. Chimchar, 88, 89, and Dragonite stared at the spot where Magby had fallen in horror while Piplup shook himself awake from the blow to the head. Gothitelle watched it all with triumphant amusement.

    Then, there was a flapping of wings and a brown shape whizzed up from beneath the cliff. Noctowl hovered for a moment and smiled sadly down on his friends, then flew away, the rescued Magby clutched in his talons.

    “Where are they going?” Chimchar asked.

    “The Resistance headquarters,” Dragonite said simply. “It’s the only safe place.” They turned back to Gothitelle and gasped.

    The silver light of Piplup’s aura flared around him. Everything he’d learned in his training with Lucario came back to him. First, knight armor formed around him, effectively sealing him in an energy shield. Then, great auric wings spread out from his back and he lifted into the air, slowly. A silver sword formed in his right hand, a shield in his left. A helmet and visor melded around his head. He did not speak, but his intentions and thoughts were clear.

    Gothitelle shook her head, still smiling. “I must give you props on that display. You truly are an intimidating figure with all of that silver sparkle and pizzazz. But it’s just tricks, foolishness.” She began to move her hands almost imperceptibly. “Didn’t your master ever teach you about the most basic properties of aura?”

    Piplup faltered, but retained control of his aura-powered state. He remained silent.

    “Aura is a field of life-energy surrounding a body,” Gothitelle explained. “But it can be easily disrupted by electromagnetic waves.” She paused and her hand stopped moving. “Under the right conditions, it can even-“

    Dragonite saw what she was doing. “Piplup! Stop!”

    “-Ignite!” Gothitelle’s hand shot forward and the concentrated Thunderbolt leapt from her fingertips. It struck Piplup directly in the chest. The aura shield held at first, protecting Piplup from the blast.

    Then, with a spark, it ignited.

    Sparks crackled in Piplup’s aura. They started in the area where the Thunderbolt had struck, then traveled out over Piplup’s chest, flowing to coat his arms, feet, and aura-formed wings. They popped and fizzed, then went silent.

    The explosion rocked the cliff, bringing down rock falls all around. Piplup, his aura depleted, was unconscious long before he hit the ground.


    Hope you all enjoy it! Sorry, but given how late it is where I live, I won't be sending out PMs tonight. I'll handle it tomorrow morning.

    Next Time: Piplup is injured and Excadrill is dead, but hope is not lost as Dragonite continues leading the gang towards the Resistance headquarters. However, Combusken has already picked up their trail, and is ready to finish what his sister started...
    Last edited by GalladeRocks; 25th June 2011 at 8:11 AM.
    Dimensions of Darkness - on hiatus l Sgt. Froakie - ongoing l Envoy - upcoming

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  25. #175
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    Awesome! It does suck that Excadrill died, but at least it is better than reinforcements coming when they would probably eventually find Piplup & Co.

    When Gothitelle shot Piplup with Thunderbolt and injured Piplup, I'm guessing that was a reference to when Azula Show Aang with lightning when he was trying to concentrate to get into a controlled Avatar State?

    It sucks that Piplup might not be ready for Combusken next chapter, but the others can definitely handle one Pokémon. Gothitelle is a good liar by the way.

    Can't wait for more!

    Ruby: LeafGreen (Nuzlocke):
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