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Thread: Fleur Noir

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    Default Fleur Noir

    This is a story for Pokemon X and Y that is somewhat related to an older fic of mine, Pokemon Mage Ruby. I say 'somewhat' because there's differences, sort of like between the various editions of Dungeons and Dragons. Same basic concepts, but the rules are different. With all that happens in this generation of Pokemon games, making this story magic-based made sense.

    Content warnings: There is blood and death involved; no gory descriptions but there might be occasional points of squeamishness (I'm very squeamish, though, so it might not be so bad). There's also some religious material and extremist views.

    PM list: scizorstrike, Ga'Hooleone


    Fleur Noir

    Glitter and shine lovely Kalos,
    Show me your dark and bloody heart.
    Golden mask hides a face of fear,
    Silver words tell a tale of hate.
    Live in the moment, the past hurts,
    Life is cruel, death is instant

    A black flower blooms.



    Chapter One: Pop Quiz

    How should I begin? In most conversations, people talk only about the big event. But really, if I started with that, you wouldn't really understand how I felt or what I was doing. Or even what was going on, because so much was not what it seemed. To understand all that, events of the years before that time should be told.

    I suppose the best place to start is the day I moved into the old house in Vaniville, when I was eleven. That was the first time I had been in Kalos ever, having moved in from across the ocean. While I thought the move alone was a huge change, an even bigger disruption to my life was waiting for its change to spring at me.

    -+-

    It was not the right time of day. The sun was in the wrong place. The air wasn't right. The house wasn't right. Even the bed wasn't right. All in all, it was the feeling over being thrown totally out of place, nothing familiar, everything new... it was jet lag.

    “Tweeeeeetwitwitwitwiiiii!” a cheery Pokemon chirp came from the window.

    “Nurrggaah,” Calem replied, trying for a moment to cover his ears with the pillow. But the Pokemon kept singing away. Resigning to put off his nap, he slapped the pillow aside and sat up to look around the room. It was unnervingly empty, not even filled with boxes. There was a pink wall filled with orange shelves and drawers, a whole line of storage with nothing inside but some replacement screws. And the bed he was on had floral patterned yellow sheets that had been on when he arrived. Awfully bright and girly; he'd need to change that before anyone outside his family came to see this.

    Because this was his room and he was not going to have people think he was secretly girly.

    His room. It was something he had yet to convince himself that it was real. His room was half a world away. And this, it wasn't settled in his mind as the replacement. But he had to accept it. They'd already moved out here and there was no going back. Getting it repainted would help it feel more like his. Maybe dark blue and gray. Or white and green, just anything but this arrangement of pink, orange, and yellow.

    Something bugged him, like he was being watched. He looked over at the window and for a moment, he thought he saw a black flower sitting on his windowsill. But as soon as he blinked, it was gone. “Calem?” His father's voice boomed and echoed through the empty halls, along with many footsteps.

    “I'm up,” he said, getting to his feet. “Not that I want to be,” he added in a mutter.

    “Skkkkkzza.” A red blur zoomed through the doorway, followed by a loud clank as a Scizor landed with some boxes.

    “Thanks,” he said to his father's Pokemon.

    A moment later, his father showed up in the doorway, packing a smaller box. He was a tall lanky man in every way; even his straight black hair fit 'lanky'. “Sorry, I know it's been a rough move,” he said, putting the box on top of the others. “But there's some kids your age gathering in the center of town. Good thing; I wasn't sure how many friends you could make in a tiny town like this. Want to go see what's up and meet your neighbors?”

    Calem scratched his head. He wouldn't mind it so much if he hadn't just tried to lay down for a nap. Now he was wearing down from the constant activity and traveling for many hours. “Guess it couldn't hurt.” Unless he was imagining things with that black flower. Then it might be trouble.

    “Make sure you put on some fresh clothes and brush your hair,” his mother said as she walked by.

    “Okay Mom,” he said, getting out of bed.

    “This should be your clothes,” his father said. “Don't worry, we'll handle sorting the boxes. Mary! Where's the holocaster?” He walked out, followed by his Scizor.

    Calem stretched as he listened to his parents. “You were the one who packed it, weren't you? It should have filed under electronics. But I'd like to get the kitchen set up first.”

    “I was hoping to tune in to the local news.” Meanwhile, Calem opened up the box and grabbed the first change of clothes he could reach: dark jeans, black shirt, blue jacket. His shoes from earlier, kicked against the wall, would be fine.

    “It's early afternoon here, so it might not be on unless you get the dedicated news channel for Kalos.”

    Right, afternoon when he was used to it being early in the morning. Grumbling about jet lag, he brushed down his hair with his hands, figuring that was good enough under the a baseball cap. Maybe he should have taken a nap like his parents had during the flight (he'd been too engrossed in a video game, Ash Kicksbutt the Tyrogue in the Lost Temple of Doom) “Hope the locals are friendly,” he said to himself.

    “Oh, Calem?” His mother caught him at the bottom of the stairs. A Machoke from the moving company was working near her. “Could you pick up a newspaper while you're out? I'm not sure how much it'll be, but this should cover it.” She passed him a few bills of Poke.

    It was a bit much for just a newspaper, unless such things were absurdly expensive over here. “Sure thing,” Calem said, accepting it and tucking the money into his jacket pocket.

    “Thanks! And be sure to be nice to any cute girls you might meet. You never know.” She winked and headed off to sort things in the kitchen. Calem simply rolled his eyes as he grabbed his bag and left the house.

    So, this was Kalos. It was totally the wrong time of day, his mind complained; he didn't have enough sleep to run on. But, a quick chat with his new neighbors shouldn't take long. To be honest, he was glad that there would be other teenagers around. His first impression of Vaniville was of a pretty but old town, filled with heirloom gardens surrounded by stone fences. Classy yet low key. It took money or inheritance to be here, he would guess. Inheritance in his case, although he would rather have his great-grandmother back. On his first impression, he thought the people here would be older, without many kids.

    Not far from their new house, there was a town garden filled with all sorts of flowers. Due to it being late summer, the flowerbeds were more green than anything, although there were still many colorful flowers that he wasn't sure what to call. No black ones; he must have been imagining things. A number of teenagers and pre-teens were gathered around those gardens, talking in their various clique clusters. On watching them a few minutes, Calem had second thoughts on introducing himself; something was going on and he wasn't sure if he needed to be invited. Since he'd been asked to buy a paper, he looked around to see where he might find one.

    A short girl in pigtails came running down one of the cobblestone streets. “There you all are!” she called. “Things are getting started and you're going to be late if you don't come. Come on, come on!” The groups began heading down the path she had come from. Calem tried to pass through to find a newspaper box, but the girl spotted him and grabbed his arm. “Yeah, you too!”

    “I guess, but what's...” he wanted to know what was happening, but the pigtailed girl nodded at his second word and ran back the way she had come. Maybe this didn't need an invitation. He scratched his head, then followed after the others.

    “You don't sound like you're from around here,” another girl said, coming up from behind to walk at his side.

    “I’m not,” he said, glancing at her and immediately feeling dazzled that she would talk to him without knowing who he was. A little taller than him but probably the same age, she had thick honey blond hair down to her waist and gray eyes like an overcast sky. She wore a red and black sleeveless dress with a white silk scarf, red felt hat, and white sunglasses sitting on the hat; low-key but it managed to look amazing on her. Not wanting to be rude and stare, he glanced aside at the stone gate they were walking through. “You don't sound like the locals either.”

    She gave a charming smile to that, one that he'd expect from a movie star. “Not from this area of Kalos. I'm from elsewhere in the region, visiting family this week. But you don't sound like anybody in the region.”

    “I moved here recently,” he said, wondering if he should mention that he'd only been in Kalos a couple of hours. “I'm Calem.”

    She nodded. “Ah, then welcome Calem. I'm Serena. Good thing you got news of this.”

    They were now walking along a tree-lined lane, surrounded with flowering bushes. Since there were no patches of tall grass where Pokemon might be hiding, he guessed they were just walking on a fancy path to another part of town. Maybe Vaniville was a bigger place than it had seemed when he and his parents had arrived from the airport to the south. “Yeah, about that. What is going on?”

    “You don't know?” When he nodded, Serena tilted her head. “Hm, well... you'll want to come if you want to train Pokemon and use magic eventually.”

    Calem raised his eyebrows at that. “Licensing tests? Huh, we did those in school back in my old region. I already passed them, but I guess it couldn't hurt to take the tests for this region and make sure they're legal.”

    “Yeah!” she said, smiling again. “Oh, but there's three parts to it: the written exam, the practical exam, and a short interview.”

    “Interview?” Calem thought that was odd.

    But he didn't get long to consider it before Serena took his arm. “Hey, I can help you with the practical part. I mean, you can do it alone, but it works better with a small group. It's probably nothing like what you did before. Please?” She gave him a pleading look that was hard to resist.

    Not that he was going to try. “Uh, sure thing, thanks,” he said. “What are the exams going to be like?”

    “Don't worry about it,” she said, happy to be helping. “If you've already passed them before, this shouldn't be a big deal. Oh, you do know magic, don't you?”

    Calem nodded. “Yeah, I've been studying it early. I don't know a lot of spells, but I know some good ones.”

    “Great! Let's hurry up and get things done!” She hurried along down the lane.

    And once she was away, he saw a black flower in the bushes. Calem paused, but all it took was another blink to lose it. But it had been there, he was sure of it. And, he was sure to get left behind if he didn't hurry up. “W-wait up! Serena!” Calem ran after her.

    Past the lane, they came to a more modern-looking area. Tall brick buildings held small stores on floor level and presumably apartments overhead. There were even more kids and teens around here, taking these tests at many cafe tables gathered on either side of a stone staircase heading down. A fountain sat in the plaza below. Past that, there was a beautiful old bridge made of brick and iron standing over a serene river. Earlier he'd been too distracted to notice, but the Kalos landscape, at least what he'd seen so far, was gorgeous.

    It wasn't long before he was distracted again from his new surroundings. The adults who were supervising the exams directed the new arrivals to empty tables, then handed them a pencil and test packet. Calem ended up at a table with Serena, the pigtailed girl from earlier, one large boy, and one small boy. Also with the group was one Pokemon, a gray feline with scruffy fur and eerie wide eyes, standing on two legs next to the small boy.

    “This is a timed test, with the practical portion following immediately after,” the administrator near them said. “Go down the stairs for that portion. Someone will be along to start your time soon. For now, you can fill out the first page with your personal information. The nearby cafe is also offering free drinks to participants, so someone should be around soon with that.”

    “All right!” the pigtailed girl said, grinning and bouncing in her seat. “I wanted one anyhow.”

    “Probably because you've been running around calling people,” the larger boy teased her.

    “Well we don't want people left out, huh?”

    Opening up the packet, Calem found a registration form right on top of a pack of papers stapled together. It was a standard form: name, age, gender, address, basic information like that. It did want to know if he'd tried for a Pokemon training license before. As it didn't have the same amount of digits, he had to make some notes on his foreign license number (as well as double-check his new address). Also, it asked if he had magic training previously. Calem had to check off 'a little, not enough for a license' and 'taught by parents' for that.

    He got done with the form as the pigtailed girl put her pencil down and leaned forward. “Hey, who are you two? The three of us are friends; we came in from Lumiose City, I'm Shauna, and this is Trevor, and this is Tierno.”

    “I'm Calem,” he said, looking at the three. Maybe he'd met them again, maybe not, but it was good to set in his mind that the smaller orange-haired boy was Trevor and the large brown-haired boy was Tierno. “I just moved into Vaniville; nice to meet you three.”

    “I'm Serena, from, around.” She folded her arms neatly at the edge of the circular table. “But isn't Lumiose a bit far to come here to take the exams? You could've just taken them there in Lumiose.”

    “We came out here to make it an adventure!” Shauna said, clapping her hands together.

    “The Lumiose exams are swamped,” Trevor said, in a quiet tone. The way his shoulders were hunched, he didn't seem entirely comfortable with people he didn't know at the table.

    Tierno nodded. “Yeah, every year the building is jam-packed and it's crazy trying to get around. This is a lot less hectic. Plus, we're hoping for some extra consideration because we helped the test administrators come down here.”

    Shauna nodded much more enthusiastically. “Yup, cause this year, they're gonna give out Pokemon to the top kids that impress the staff! Sure, there'd be more chances in Lumiose, but we helped them already and we might get a better chance here.”

    “That's clever,” Serena said.

    “Hey kids, what would you like to drink?” a waitress said as she stopped by their table. In one hand, she carried a tray that had a rotating lid. “There's water, soda, or one of our cafe drinks, one free of charge for all of you.”

    “Chocolate chaud, please!” Shauna said immediately.

    “I'd like a cola,” Tierno said.

    “I'll take a water,” Serena said.

    “Me too, the water please,” Trevor said.

    “All right,” the waitress said, spinning the lid around and getting exactly the drinks they wanted, a mug for Shauna but clear glasses for the rest. “And you?”

    “Err,” Calem said, rubbing his head. He would like something to wake up better with, but if he was going to be taking a test on paper, it might be better to have water.

    “Here, I'll give you this,” she said, rotating the tray's lid to give him a mug with a steaming drink. “Looks like you could use it.”

    “Thanks,” he said, glancing at the light brown liquid inside before taking a sip to test it. Then he recognized the smell as being coffee, with some milk and sugar from the taste of it. He'd not had coffee before, but once he got used to it, it wasn't bad.

    They didn't get any longer to talk once the waitress left them, as one of the test administrators came to their table. “You have one hour to complete as many questions as you can,” he said. “Feel free to skip questions if you need to and make sure that your answers are legible. Ready?”

    Calem thought of asking for a couple more minutes to call his parents. He'd been sent out just to say hello to the kids and get a newspaper. Instead, he was over here taking some kind of test he was unprepared for. But before he could decide on speaking up, the other four nodded in agreement and the administrator set a timer on their table. Calem flipped over the registration form page to start the test with the rest of them.

    After a quick scan of the pages, he noted that the questions seemed to be all over the place in terms of subject: math, spelling, magic, grammar, history, science. Once he got going, he had to skip several questions about Kalos' history, government, and social structures. Even though they looked simple, he didn't know what answers would be right. The math questions could be explained as being able to budget adequately for a Pokemon's needs, while the magic and science could be related to their care. But the language questions weren't even related to Pokemon, as were several other questions among the others. Why was all this being asked for getting a license to train Pokemon or use magic?

    But Calem didn't have long to think over that conundrum as the test was being timed. After the initial five pages, he ran into some reading comprehension questions. Two of them were about Pokemon, but the third?

    'To Melchior Roland de Kalos, the twelfth king of the Kalos lineage, two sons were born: Aleksander Zachariah de Kalos, often referred to as AZ, and Leonidas Lysandre de Kalos. The elder son was born with several unusual traits, including incredible intelligence and an atypical case of excessive physical growth, but AZ was still deemed worthy of the divine right of inheriting his father's throne. He was given a strict and rigorous education that often kept him apart from his peers. In contrast, the younger son lacked any distinguishing physical characteristics. He did get a mind of above average intelligence and cunning, as well as a more lax education that brought him into contact with many youths of the nobility. Yet even in mental feats, Leonidas lagged behind the other men of his family and thus grew a hidden seed of jealousy, in particular towards his exceptional brother.'

    The questions weren't hard to figure out, but Calem wondered briefly if the bit of Kalos history mattered or if it was just gauging his literacy.

    Then there were short answer questions about magic. These weren't hard to answer, at least for himself. Even though his parents weren't the most accomplished of magic users, they never held back on answering Calem's questions about magic or showing him a few tricks that even a novice could use. Plus there were the many books on magic in the family's possession; a number were still too tough for him to understand, but others gave him an head start on magic studies.

    Getting to the end of the test booklet with a few minutes to spare, Calem flipped back through to see if there were any skipped ones that he could make a quick attempt to answer. He noticed that both Trevor and Serena were doing the same, while Tierno and Shauna were still working on getting to the end. Trevor was the first to put down his pencil and close the booklet, sitting back for five minutes to unwind. Not long after, Serena stopped as well, with Calem deciding to close his test a minute before the timer went off.

    The administrator was by their table not long after. “Time's up,” he said. “You five need to head down to the lower plaza for the practical exam. It will be recorded for review by the acceptance board, so don't bother those with the cameras.”

    “Acceptance board?” Calem murmured.

    But his puzzlement was blocked out by Shauna's cheering. “Wooo, come on Trevs, Tierno, let's go show 'em what we've got!”

    “Yeah!” Tierno said, getting out of his seat with the other two and hurrying down the nearby stairs.

    “Hmm, I wonder what they're up to,” Serena said, getting out of her seat in less of a hurry. “They certainly seem excited for it.”

    “Yeah,” Calem agreed, getting up as well. It seemed they were the last group to be tested, as the administrator stood there making notes on the test packets. He followed after the man to ask, “Excuse me, but do you know where I can buy a local paper?”

    He nodded and pointed to the cafe's main window. “Sure, they hold onto a stack to sell to customers. Hopefully they have some left.”

    “Right, thanks.” He went over to get one. Before long, Serena tagged along. “So, what are we doing?”

    As they got in line to wait, she shrugged. “I've got nothing planned. I figured we'd just go with a demonstration battle.”

    A battle made sense for getting a trainer's license. They'd probably do the same thing that his old school had done: give them some Pokemon to battle and show that they understood what to do. When he got the paper and headed to the stairs, he looked over what the others were doing. There were several groups involved in Pokemon battles down below, mostly pairs but there was one set of doubles between four teens and their Pokemon going on. On the far end, there was one group that seemed to be using a magic demonstration instead.

    Then the trio of Shauna, Trevor, and Tierno went up to the next free administrator for their practical test. But they weren't prepared for a battle. Trevor brought out a flute along with a few other items while Tierno explained. The distance and hubbub made him hard to pick out. “So we... a big part of... a bond with... We don't have... but... call on to show... made of!” When the administrator nodded, Tierno then put his hand to his mouth and gave a loud whistle.

    Dozens of small black and red Pokemon came to his call, twittering with an excitement that made Calem recognize them as the same as the one that had kept him from napping earlier. “What Pokemon are those?” he asked as Tierno hushed the flock (and much of the surrounding crowd in wonder of it all) with the raising of his hands.

    “Fletchlings,” Serena said. “Really common in this area. Huh, you really haven't been in Kalos for long.”

    “You got that right,” Calem said. “And, what about that feline that boy... Trevor has?”

    “It's an Espurr,” she said. “That one's uncommon to see, though you often see them with... hmm...”

    “What about it?”

    “Nothing we should worry about, I hope,” she said, right as the group began their performance. “They're of the Psychic type.”

    Considering that all those Fletchlings seemed to be wild, what happened next was remarkable. Tierno led the whole group in a song and dance number. The Espurr had the flute levitated while Trevor manipulated it through magic to create a song to go with the Fletchling chorus. That alone was impressive, but then so was Tierno being able to direct the wild Pokemon into something that was almost practiced. Meanwhile, Shauna took center stage among the Fletchlings, being the lead voice, dancer, and special effects artist as she made the air shimmer.

    “And they were worried about being crowded out in another city?” Calem asked quietly. “I'm sure they could've stolen the show with that act anywhere.”

    Serena shrugged. “Well if they're after the gift Pokemon, it was still a clever decision to come here. They'll certainly be getting those with this.”

    There were cheers and clapping when they were done. Calem didn't get a chance to hear what the administrators said to them because another one called out, “Has everyone here gone through the practical test?”

    “We haven't!” Serena called, grabbing Calem's hand and raising it with hers. Then she dropped his hand to go over; he had to walk quickly to follow her. “Sorry, but I think everyone got captivated by that.”

    “Seems so,” she said, glancing around. Not seeing any others answering her question, she nodded to them. “All right, give me your names and what you would like for the practical demonstration.”

    “I'm Calem,” he said, thinking about asking for some explanation of what they were looking for.

    “And I'm Serena,” she said, with a bow of her head. “We were thinking of just doing a battle.”

    The test administrator checked a tablet she had, then nodded. “Okay then, Calem and Serena... battles for practical demonstration are limited to three minutes and will be stopped in case of major injury. You're to fight with what Pokemon you have; anything you can do goes, just consider that we need to see you at your best capabilities. You two do have Pokemon, right?”

    “I don't,” Calem said. At one point, he had been into catching Bug types, battling them for a bit, then letting them go to catch more. It had been a popular things to do with the kids in his neighborhood.

    The administrator made a note and asked, “Any type preferences?”

    “Bug, Normal, or Water,” he said. “I'm most familiar with those.”

    “Okay, I'll let you borrow this Water-typed Froakie.” She handed him an all-white Pokeball. “Let me know when you're ready.”

    “Um, I have a large Pokemon, so we need more space,” Serena said quickly. Calem was busy looking at the status screen of the ball to figure out what this Pokemon could do.

    “Sure enough,” the woman said, then called for people to clear out of their way.

    Taking a few steps away, Calem pressed the release button. What came out was a frog Pokemon, blue-skinned with white markings. Oddly, there was a white fluff that went around her neck and down her back. Her yellow eyes watched him but were difficult to read.

    “I'm not entirely sure what's going on,” Calem said quietly. “But looks like we're battling together. Hope you're okay with that.”

    The Froakie croaked, probably fine with it. Maybe she'd even fought with others. He then indicated to the administrator that he was ready.

    Then there was a loud roar and the pounding of large feet hitting the sidewalk. Everyone's attention went to Serena, now standing alongside her Pokemon: a Rhyperior, standing on its hind feet with its stony skin almost matching the stone pavement. While he felt intimidated, he felt further amazed at this girl. Just who was she to have a strong Pokemon like that? And... how was he and the Froakie supposed to fight that? There was a type advantage, but the difference of strength could easily overcome that.

    “Okay... Serena and Calem at ready!” the test administrator said, getting him to brace himself for this. “Three minutes on the clock. And set... battle!”

    “Magnitude!” Serena called, tracing a symbol into the air. Then it really was anything goes, and he happened to get an opponent who actually knew what she was doing in a magic battle.

    Unfortunately for her, so did he. “Froakie, use Growl,” he ordered, focusing his mind to casting. With a sweep of his arms and a twirl around, he and the Froakie managed to cast their spells before the other two. The sky overhead darkened and quickly turned to rain, making it easier to see the glimmer of the Froakie's spell affecting Serena and her Rhyperior.

    At least for others, they would have an easier time seeing. Calem's awareness sharpened dramatically as usual; he focused on what Serena and the Rhyperior were doing. The latter was preparing Magnitude, something that was luck-based on how effective it was. However, the spell Serena was now casting would better the odds of luck-based spells. There wasn't a chance for himself or the Froakie to take out either the Rhyperior or Serena. Thus, their best shot was using the Rhyperior's slowness to outlast them.

    He grabbed the Froakie and jumped right at the moment Magnitude struck at its best strength. Since they weren't on the ground for that, its damage was lessened a little. His legs felt wobbly and his knees hurt when he landed. “Sorry,” he said quietly to the startled Pokemon in his hands. “Keep at Growl, we just need to last three minutes. I'll do what I can.”

    The Froakie calmed down and nodded, so he put her back down. While she worked at lessening their attack power, Calem cast Wide Guard to catch the next Magnitude. Across the way, Serena's expression was deadly serious, caught off guard. She said something to her Pokemon then cast Magnitude herself, breaking the Wide Guard. Then he saw the Rhyperior hurling rocks at them, and suddenly it was all pain and darkness.

    While the pain didn't last, the darkness did. A black flower about as big as his hands put together was floating in the air; it looked like a lily. The flower tilted back, revealing a tiny Pokemon clutching the flower's stem. Meeting his gaze, the Pokemon's flower quivered. “You weren't supposed to see me,” he said timidly.

    “You speak?”

    “Uuhhh,” the Pokemon looked down, white parts of his face turning pink. “Chi-chirp?”

    “I know I heard you speak,” Calem said, glancing around at the darkness surrounding them. He didn't even see the pavement. “Where are we?”

    “We're not really anywhere but where we were,” the Pokemon said, giving up on pretending normalcy. “You're not normally aware on this level.”

    Then there was a pop by Calem's feet and the Froakie appeared. Now she seemed fearful “Kid! Don't die!”

    “I'm not dead,” he said, scratching her head. “At least I don't think I am. And now I can understand you too.”

    “Don't worry,” the flower Pokemon said. “He's not dead. I... made sure of that.” He shifted his flower, looking ashamed. “I hope that wasn't fated. It was a terrible accident and I acted without thinking.”

    “It would have been a great shame if you had died from my fault,” the Froakie said, relieved.

    “It wouldn't have been your fault,” Calem told her. “But... you, um, flower Pokemon, thank you for saving...” Then a scream ripped through the air; it reminded him vaguely of an Aerodactyl shrieking in anger when Taunted in battle, yet it sent a feeling of terror into his bones. “Wh-what was that?”

    The odd Pokemon gripped his black flower tightly and closed his eyes. “Oh no, not him. You two, go!” He flung one of his small arms out, repelling them with unexpectedly powerful magical force. But Calem had already looked up to the source of the scream, the wings of Death incarnate.

    Next thing he knew, his heart was racing and his head was pounding as he sat up on a camping bed. He nearly hit the Froakie doing that; she was snuggled next to him, just waking up too. Before long, a man put his hands on his shoulders. “Whoa, calm down there. You need to rest for a bit more.”

    “Wha-what happened?” he asked, still feeling terrified. His mind was trying to grasp the other being that he'd seen, but all he could think of was the letter Y. It was like that.

    “You got hit in the head during the test battle,” he said. “You've got a powerful healing spell working on you, so stay there until it's done.”

    “Okay,” he said, looking down at the Froakie. “Did you see that black flower too?”

    The healer seemed puzzled, but the little frog seemed to agree and croaked. But he couldn't understand her anymore. Calem petted her, then lay back down and waited. Using a magic glass attached to a computer, the healer looked over him, then said, “There's a few of the other kids who wanted to talk with you, if you don't mind. The staff wanted to talk to you too.”

    “Uh, sure,” Calem said. “I’m not all that tired right now,” probably due to the coffee, “but I am a bit confused.”

    “That's understandable. Hopefully you can get back yourself home.” The healer then left and called for his visitors.

    It was Serena and three other kids that had tested with him. “Good to see you awaken again,” Shauna said cheerfully. “That was scary.”

    “It's a risk for battling like that,” Calem said. “But I think they assume that none of us will be skilled enough to get in a dangerous position.”

    “I'm sorry about that,” Serena said, giving a low bow. “I've been able to get by with just using the support spells to impress people. When you actually matched us, we got a little carried away.”

    “Rhhhyyyooo,” her Pokemon said, somehow taking the form of an orb of light near her.

    'I nearly died,' Calem thought in a brief anger. However, she hadn't shown any inkling that she might want him dead. Maybe she had tricked him by not fully explaining things, but he didn't think she was malicious by any means. Besides, she looked really upset and he didn't like having a girl upset about him. “I understand,” he said. “I was going by the statement that anything goes.”

    “Hey, but you did well enough to impress them,” Tierno said. “You even got picked as one of the five who got the free Pokemon, so this Froakie can go with you.”

    “What, really?” he asked, puzzled as Serena handed the white Premier Ball back to him. “I lost.”

    “I think it's because you used a pair of spells that are usually tough for novices to handle,” Trevor said. “I was certainly surprised; I've tried Rain Dance myself, but couldn't get a drop out of it.”

    “Yeah, you two made it look so easy,” Tierno said. “But since you were out cold, you ended up with the last one. She wouldn't leave your side, so we let you have her.”

    “Huh.” He looked at the blue frog beside him. “Never seen a Pokemon like you before. But good to meet you.”

    Shauna danced in place a little. “Yay, I can tell you'll be good friends. And since you were one of the top five here, you're sure to get into the Lumiose Magic Academy with all of us!”

    Academy? “Wait, what?” Calem asked.

    On top of a light post nearby, a Floette with a black lily watched the bewildered looks of the five teens as they realized that Calem had no idea that he'd been testing to join one of the most prestigious schools in Kalos. A school in a city where there'd be lots of people. Sighing, the Floette twirled his flower. “I suppose I should,” he said quietly, then waited for a moment when he could speak with the boy alone.

    -+-

    Lesson 1: Basics of Magic (1)

    What is magic? The simplest answer is that it is a force that is intertwined with life itself. Living beings create the energy of magic, called aura. In turn, aura can be manipulated to perform many tasks. It even has a function in creating new life, thus creating a vibrant cycle. Passionate debates between philosophers have long been held over whether aura or life existed first.

    How magic works can be illustrated as being similar to that of fire.

    Fire requires a fuel source to burn, matter to turn into energy. In a similar fashion, magic requires an energy fuel to manifest itself. The fuel of magic, as stated before, is aura which is, in fact, emotional energy. The intensity of the emotions increases the power of the aura produced. Those sensitive to aura will notice that the energy a person produces changes as their feelings change. A lack of emotions will produce weak aura and weak spells, while excessive emotions produce an aura that is so powerful and chaotic that any spell they use will be uncontrollable.

    Fire also requires air to burn, another kind of fuel to strengthen it. Emotions alone will not allow a person to use magic; there must also be intelligence to it. Intelligence forms aura into useable energy. While a creature that has instincts can produce aura, unless it has the intelligence to use it, it will be like a single candle in a dark cavern: noticeable, but barely lighting anything. A person who has not studied magic may be able to use the simplest of spells with some effort, albeit inefficiently. Lessons and practice will allow spells to become more efficient and allow the magic user to use higher level spells. It may seem that knowledge is always a good thing to increase, but there is still danger of excessive knowledge. Some of the most powerful spells in the world are known to drive mortals insane if they attempt to use or even study them, whether the user is human or Pokemon.

    The third ingredient needed for a fire is a spark, something to set the fuel and air to ignite together. Similarly, magic requires a spark to actually be used: that spark is willpower. But while a spark is required mostly at the start of a fire, willpower is needed to control and guide a spell; it contributes to the form as well. Willpower also keeps a magic user from using magic unwillingly when their emotions grow strong, so it is important for those who study magic to learn self-control. Without willpower, magic cannot be used at all. Without confidence, a magic user cannot develop. Yet too much restraint from willpower, even too much confidence, can hinder the effectiveness of the spell.

    Learning magic is quite often about learning the balance of emotion, intelligence, and willpower.
    Last edited by Ysavvryl; 30th May 2014 at 8:58 PM.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  2. #2
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    Ooh, a new Ysa fic. Never actually read Mage Ruby *Hides in corner* so this will be interesting. It anything like what the natives of your original region in Six Spirit could do?

    Also, AZ's floette. If this wasn't heavily AU already, so many butterflies.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  3. #3
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    Well, might as well be time to show my face on Ysavvryl's fics. Jeez, I've been meaning to for ages...

    So yeah, I've been a bit of a closet reader of yours for some time, especially on the first Clichéstorm story. I really like your very casual style of writing and head-canon reference, even if what you're referencing is a little (or really) strange. So when I saw that Clichéstorm 2 was finished and a new story was ready to go, I kinda felt like I had to respond.

    And you hooked me. Again.

    I've never really played Dungeons and Dragons, but the fact that you're even referencing magic in relation to Pokémon is a really cool concept. (It also helps that the Pokémon world seems like it runs on weird, magic-y thingies that don't make sense for us in this world, so this'll fit your style well.) The characters are very believable and likable right off the bat, which is always a plus, and the fact that magic has been completely incorporated into the world so much that people are tested on it for their licenses is flat-out awesome.

    That being said, the magic itself confuses me a little bit. Is the magic what we would see as PP in the games, or is it something else. I know you reference aura, but from the battle scenes, it seems that the magic is related to moves. Is it possible that you could clarify that a little bit?

    Also, there aren't any grammatical issues, but you misspell Tierno a couple of times. You might want to look over the chapter to catch the typos.

    Other than those nitpicks, however, I'm really looking forward to seeing more of this fic! It looks like it's going to be another crazy, almost self-referencial ride, and I couldn't be more excited.

    -Phalanx, out.
    Hi there! I have a fic! There's dimension-hopping shenanigans (thanks for that, Jax)!

    Pokémon: Convergence

    Hope you like it!

  4. #4
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    Back after a really long time of not reviewing your stories. Clichestorm 2 started in a period of inactivity for me and I never bothered to catch up, and I got through about 200 entries of Pokedex One-shots before I had to move onto other projects, but I might as well start reviewing this one since I don't have a huge amount of catch-up to do... at all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ysavvryl
    All in all, it was the feeling of being thrown totally out of place, nothing familiar, everything new... it was jet lag.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ysavvryl
    Unless he was imagining
    Only two grammatical errors I noticed. Good job on that front.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ysavvryl
    Maybe he should have taken a nap like his parents had during the flight (he'd been too engrossed in a video game, Ash Kicksbutt the Tyrogue in the Lost Temple of Doom) “Hope the locals are friendly,” he said to himself.
    Subtle One-shots references are subtle.

    It was a rather interesting start, all things considered. It introduced the world, an almost perfectly generic protagonist with an almost perfectly generic family, and an almost perfectly generic academy subplot. Almost being a key qualifier. That 'almost' being almost entirely made up of the magical elements. If anything, it seems like the start of a very standard trainer/academy fic that plays with the devices a little by adding magic, starting what seems to be an exploration as to how these journey stories and archetypes would be different with magic. I could be completely wrong on this, but that's how I am reading it at the moment.

    I do wonder how the Academy thing will play out, due to the rule that 90% of the time trainers come from an academy in Pokemon fan fiction, that academy will somehow have no relevance to anything. Or this could end up being Hogwarts WITH POKEMON. Or neither. Knowing you, probably neither.

    I will be back with another rambling review next update.
    The Flash Drive of Champions: Backgrounds

    There are many reasons to journey in the Pokemon World. It turns out that banishment, Bond Villains, unbeatable rivals and being forced to attend one dance too many are among them.

    File 2.5 is up. Gela literally puts on a show for the world to see while elsewhen her world is shattered beyond repair.

  5. #5
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    Chapter 2: Culture Shock

    I had first started learning magic from my father when I was eight. He had caught me trying to cast what I was reading about in his books and told me that I shouldn't be using magic on my own yet. He then asked if I really wanted to learn and I said yes. While many parents would have been happy to help, he was actually reluctant, taking a few hours to think about it. He wouldn't say why he was worried, just something about a family legacy. But then, at dinner time, he said that if I was already trying to study, it was better that he take over and make sure I was doing so safely.

    In the week after the day we moved in, I was to meet several others who would also be important in my life, even if they didn't seem so at the time.


    “Tweeeeeetwitwitwitwiiiii!”

    Calem hurled his pillow at the window, scaring off the Fletchling. But he was awake and very thirsty now. Rubbing his head, it took him a moment to recognize the bandage still around his head. He sat up, finding that he didn't feel that bad for having moved a quarter of the way around the globe and nearly dying in the past twenty-four hours. He didn't feel good either, just not that bad.

    “Good morning,” an unfamiliar voice said. “That is what you say, right?” Something croaked in response.

    “Yeah,” Calem said, looking over the room. A frog Pokemon was hopping towards the bed... right, the Froakie he had received yesterday. Sitting on the bedside table, there was a strange black and red lily; it had three elongated petals with smaller oval petals in between. Sitting on top of the flower, there was a white and green Pokemon that was the smallest he'd ever seen. “Good morning. Weren't you bigger yesterday?”

    “Yes,” the tiny Pokemon said. “But the situation has changed and I had to regress some. I am here to assist you.” He bowed, making the stamen of the flower bow as well.

    The Froakie croaked, jumping up on the bed and giving Calem a questioning look. Letting her stay, he petted the Froakie and nodded to the flower Pokemon. “You already helped by saving me. If it had really killed me. I'm not sure.”

    “It did,” he said. “But, well... see, I'm a servant of the gods and we're not supposed to really do that kind of thing. I was told that I should see this through as you saw and heard me. Whatever you decide to do for now, I’m going to follow you for a while.”

    Moving, taking unexpected tests, dying but not, being followed by a servant of the gods... this was clearly the strangest couple of days in Calem's life so far. However, he didn't think that having this odd Pokemon with him could be all that much trouble, especially if it had the power to bring people back to life. “Seems like I'm getting a Pokemon team together anyhow, so join the crew,” Calem said, nodding. “Do you have a name? And what are you anyhow? Sorry, but I don't know.”

    The flower Pokemon nodded. “I'm Mortan, a Flabebe; I was a Floette yesterday. Oh, and I can talk with you, but I shouldn't be talking to anyone else. Same with knowing that I'm a divine servant, although for now I'm more or less an ordinary Pokemon.”

    “Just able to speak and with a black flower, huh?” Calem asked.

    “Yeah, ordinary except for that,” Mortan said, swinging around the flower stamen. This caused the flower to float into the air. “You'll need to get a Pokeball for me, sorry.”

    “It's no big deal,” Calem said, getting out of bed to get dressed. Was he supposed to leave the bandage on? Probably safer to leave it there. “And I'll have to name you too, Froakie. Unless I did yesterday; it's kind of hazy for me to recall.”

    The Froakie croaked, causing Mortan to say, “She says that you named her Swift.”

    Swift? He paused in front of the cabinet that he thought held his clothes and looked down at her. She didn't look particularly fast, on land at least. But maybe she was. “I see.” Swift put a foot forward and seemed enthusiastic about something.

    “It will become appropriate,” Mortan said.

    “That's good to know,” he said, opening the cabinet and not finding his clothes. They seemed to still be in boxes lying around his room today. With a brief grumble, he went to the one box that was opened and picked out another set of clothes to wear today. He'd put the rest away and work on setting up his room once he had some breakfast.

    Downstairs, he found that while much had been set up around the house, like the kitchen wares and the holocaster, there were still other boxes left to unpack. That was probably today's task. His mother soon found him and hugged him. “Good morning, Calem. How do you feel?”

    “Better than I would expect,” he replied. “Do you or dad have a free Pokeball? I had another Pokemon follow me home last night, it seems.”

    “Fweee!” Mortan said, more convincingly than yesterday.

    She smiled and tried to get him to land on her hand. “Aw, it's adorable. I don't, but your father should. How about I make you an omelet, hmm? You've got some medication you need to take with food, and a doctor's visit this afternoon. And you can finally tell us what happened last night to bring you in all bandaged up like this.”

    He must have went straight to bed after walking back home. “Didn't Serena say anything? She walked me back home, I'm pretty sure of that.”

    “Well she apologized and explained a little, but she had to return home too,” she said. “She's our neighbor, you know, just over the wall.”

    At least he knew where to find her to ask questions later. His parents seemed to have eaten already, but they sat at the table with him while he explained what happened yesterday. Although not the part where he was briefly dead. He didn't want them to get the wrong idea about Serena; surely she didn't mean for the battle to end up that way.

    “It was a little foolish to go along with the magic battles without much experience,” his father said.

    “Why would they have had the kids doing that?” his mother asked, concerned and angered.

    Calem shrugged. “I went along with it since the others were. I mean, I work better in rainy conditions, I thought the Froakie might too, and since it was timed, I figured we could get through by stalling.”

    His father smiled. “Gutsy to take a risk like that. Knowing that it was for the academy, I would think they have the magic tests as an option to prove one's determination to join.”

    “To risk pain to yourself to join a school?” Calem asked, puzzled. It seemed rather extreme, even though he'd gone though it himself. “I guess, but...”

    “It's not just any school,” he said. “We're talking about Lumiose Academy, which has a history stretching back over three thousand years. It used to be only for nobility and royalty, but even when they eliminated that requirement, they only take a few students every year and have a reputation for an excellent education. Around here, it's known as one of the toughest schools, but making it through will earn you respect from anyone.”

    “Then it's the elite school of this region?” his mother asked, interested.

    He nodded. “And why so many would be trying despite the risk in those battles. I'm sure the healer was there for precisely that reason.” At that point, the doorbell rang three times. Calem's father got out of his seat. “Wonder who it is at this time of morning,” he said, going to answer it.

    “It would be nice to see you go to a place like that,” Calem's mother said. “But if it is an elite private school, then it's certainly going to have the cost to match. At least we don't have to worry about the cost of the house, but still.”

    “Maybe we can work something out with the school, if they want me,” Calem said.

    His father came back with a pair of older teenagers. They both wore uniforms of white and gray, with an emblem of a star on the left side of the jacket. “You have some visitors, Calem,” he said. “This would be Dexio and Sina from the Lumiose Magic Academy; this is my son Calem and my wife Mary.”

    “Good morning, feel free to pull up a chair,” Mary said, pointing towards some left near the wall. “And sorry about the state of the house; we're still settling in from the move.”

    “That's okay,” Sina said while Dexio got chairs for them both. “Also, this is probably your first notice, but you've been accepted as a student of the academy, Calem. Congratulations! The acceptance committee leader decided to send us over to answer any questions you have at this time, due to how your interview went. We're both seventh year students, going to graduate this upcoming spring.”

    Dexio brought out a pair of envelopes to put on the table before sitting down as well. “Oh, and there's something you should know before anyone else. You have an education sponsor who's already arranged to pay for your costs: the tuition, room and board, and school supplies, all of it.”

    “What, already?” Calem asked, pulling the envelopes over to him. The larger one was from the academy and probably had information for students inside. But the smaller one had 'L.K.' in plain neat handwriting where the return address should be.

    Sina nodded. “Yes. You know of Lysandre Labs? The group that created the holocaster network, among other technological devices? The man who runs the company and invents most of its products, Lysandre de Kalos, he offers financial support to one or two students of the academy almost every year. He sponsored me, for example; you have to meet his expectations as well as the school's requirements, but to get full support like that, it's not that hard to do.”

    “I didn't think I did that impressively,” Calem said. Then he shrugged. “But if they're going to help me out with the Pokemon from yesterday and such, I'd love to go. Are we going to have to move to Lumiose, though? We just arrived here in Vaniville yesterday.”

    “No, not all of you,” Dexio said. “You'll be moving into the school dorms in Lumiose for the school term. It's a nice area of the city too; there should be pictures of the dorms in the documents there.”

    They had a lot more questions to ask of Sina and Dexio, but with unexpected gift of a full ride scholarship, there was really no reason for Calem not to attend the Lumiose Magic Academy.

    -+-

    The newest students were expected to arrive two days early, one to settle in and one for an orientation. Calem left on Vaniville on a bus mid-morning, as he also had to meet with his sponsor. At the sidewalk station, his parents gave him a fond farewell, with hugs (a little embarrassing, but it was his parents so he could tolerate it) and a gift of some snacks for himself and his Pokemon. Then he was on board and moving yet again this week, this time on his own. Hopefully things would settle down and he could find his place here in Kalos. Strangely enough, Serena wasn't on the bus. If he had been accepted, then surely she would have been accepted too as she had defeated him. She even had a fully evolved Pokemon, an usual thing to see in young teens according to the books he had read. Perhaps she was coming later.

    To keep himself company, he released Swift and Mortan to sit with him. There weren't many people on the bus, so his Pokemon could sit in his seat. “Well guys, we're off to school.”

    “Are you nervous?” Mortan asked in a quiet voice. After looking, he twirled his flower to fly up and settle near the bottom of the window.

    “Yeah,” he said. His stomach felt queasy, although his mother had determined that it was more his nerves than being sick. Hoping it would help, he took out a peppermint candy he had stuffed into his pocket earlier. “It's like when we were moving out here, but worse. First it's all the way across an ocean, and now I’ll be on my own. It should be worth it, but, I dunno, I’m not sure how well I can manage it. After reading up on this place, the schools I was looking into before were nowhere this exclusive. Kind of hard to believe until I get there.”

    Swift patted his leg in a reassuring way. Meanwhile, Mortan said, “The academy's always gotten that kind of reaction, especially when they opened it outside the nobility.”

    Calem looked over at the fairy. “Really? But, that was a long time ago. How do you know?”

    Mortan pulled on the stamen he held, leaning back. “I... I’m a servant of the gods, I told you before. I'm older than I should be.”

    Swift pushed herself up into a more alert position with her front legs. “Crooooak,” she said.

    Since he hadn't had her for long, Calem wasn't sure how to read this. He patted her lightly. “Are you nervous too?”

    “She's not,” Mortan said after she croaked again. “She says that it is counterproductive to be nervous as it leaves you vulnerable to enemy attack.”

    “She said that?” Calem looked down a the Froakie after Mortan confirmed it. “We don't have to worry about enemies; we're just on a bus.” But as she still seemed serious about it, he asked, “What would you suggest?”

    She croaked, and Mortan continued to interpret. “It is appropriate to keep an edge to remain alert, but you should attempt to take control of your vital signs and convince your body that you are calm. That will in turn calm you.”

    “How would I go about taking control of my vital signs?” Calem asked. Swift partly closed her eyes, not saying anything now.

    “It's knowledge that comes naturally to her kind,” Mortan said. “So it's not really something she can teach you. It should be something you could learn to do yourself, though it would take longer.”

    Calem nodded. “I see. That could be nice to know. Maybe if I watch how you do things, Swift. I do feel better with you two with me; I know there'll be friendly faces around as long as you're there.” That seemed to make them happy. To help that along, he continued to talk with them. He was blessed to have Mortan, able to act as a medium to them. Although, the Flabebe was still reserved and didn't like to talk about himself.

    There were several stations in Lumiose City, but the note he had gotten from Lysandre gave him his destination. He got off at a stop at Magenta Plaza, within view of Prism Tower. Now almost noon, there were many people on the sidewalks, even waiting around the station. There had been a picture of him with the note, but even without it, Calem thought that he might have been able to pick the man out of the crowd. Sina and Dexio had spoken of him as a powerful influential man and there was only one who had an air of confidence worthy of that description there. Lysandre was a man who looked like the very definition of power, gazing down over the other pedestrians with a physique of a champion boxer. He had bright red hair flared out almost like a Pyroar's mane, yet dressed with class in a dark blue suit with a red tie. Not only that, but there was the way other people would look at him in awe and respect.

    When he stepped off the bus, Swift hopped out behind him and Mortan settled his flower on his shoulder. Lysandre's eyes looked first at Mortan, then at him. “Excuse me, but would you be Calem?”

    He nodded. “Yes sir. And you're Lysandre? Good to meet you.”

    “Good to meet you too,” Lysandre said with a nod and a handshake. His grip was powerful. “Are you ready for school?”

    “I think so,” he said. “Thank you for the scholarship; I don't know if I could have come here without the support. I'll work hard to earn it.”

    “Good,” he said, his stern voice softening. “They'll have dinner at the school for the new arrivals, but let me treat you to lunch today. I'm sure you have a lot of questions about the school and our region; I’ll answer as much as I can.”

    “Thanks, yeah, that would help,” Calem said, feeling lucky that he'd somehow gotten the attention of this generous man.

    There was a blue cab waiting at the sidewalk, which Lysandre opened the door for him and his Pokemon. “We'll be meeting up with someone who's just as responsible for you being able to come as me, as he was the one who pointed you out as someone special.” He then asked the driver to take them to a particular restaurant and they were off.

    They arrived at a restaurant that had a sense of class oozing from every portion of it, from the beautiful building to the crisp uniforms of the workers. At the front, there was a menu on chalkboard; it listed a meal in several courses, apparently with no option to choose what one ate. It was the sort of place that suited Lysandre, Calem thought, not himself. And probably not the other person dining with them, a tall lanky man with thick black hair lying in every which direction. He wore a long white coat reminiscent of a laboratory scientists, but had it over a rumpled dark olive t-shirt and faded denim jeans. Accompanying him was one Pokemon, which struck Calem as a little bizarre. The Pokemon was best described as a pink ball of feathers with a gray beak and a pretty scent. But one shouldn't judge a person solely by their Pokemon, he reminded himself.

    “Lysandre!” the man called boisterously, springing out of his seat and giving him a friendly hug. “Thanks for inviting me along,” he said cheerily, turning from his friend to Calem. “And you must be our young scholar, Calem. Wonderful to meet you!” He threw an arm around him for a quick hug too, then gestured to the other seats at the table. “Go ahead, have a seat. They'll probably have the first course out to us shortly now that you've both arrived.”

    Calem had heard that people in Kalos would be more open to friendly gestures like this, although this was still a bit shocking (and too close for his comfort). “Good to meet you too, sir,” he said, taking a refuge from culture shock in politeness. He sat down at an empty chair, while Swift hopped into another. Meanwhile, Mortan chose to remain on his shoulder. “And you are?”

    “Augustine Sycamore, Professor of Pokemon studies, director of the Lumoise Pokemon Lab, and part-time teacher at Lumiose Magic Academy,” he said. “And... well it's a bit early, but you'll find out before long, I'm going to be your homeroom teacher while you're at school.” His bird Pokemon trilled a few happy notes at that.

    “Then you are going to do the homeroom program this time around?” Lysandre asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “What, you doubt I can handle it?” he said with a playful smile. “Any of the teachers in the academy can opt to lead a homeroom, no matter which they normally teach in. I've declined to do so thus far, since I mostly work as a substitute, but I had a change of mind. See, a couple years back, I had to fill in for one of the homerooms when their teacher was out for three months and it was actually quite a refreshing change of pace. Especially in a wonderful pair of students that I promoted to being my lab assistants. I believe you've met them already, Calem.”

    “You mean Sina and Dexio?” Calem asked.

    Sycamore nodded. “Correct, them. They have a naturally strong curiosity that I’m sure will make them excellent researchers in the future, so I decided to start them off early. In fact, they've been assisting me with in a project to reassess the standard accepted categories of aura types. To put it simply, it shouldn't be long before the Fairy type is officially recognized by Pokemon and magic organizations around the world.” Then he pointed to the one on Calem's shoulder. “Speaking of which, you appear to have a rather unusual one with you.”

    “Did he have to bring that up?” Mortan said, his voice so small now that only Calem would have heard him.

    “Is he?” Calem asked, glancing down and noticing that he was flipping the petals of his flower up to hide in a bud. “I figured he was native to Kalos, but I really don't know about him.”

    Surprisingly, Sycamore looked ashamed. “Oh, I’m sorry; I didn't mean to frighten him. It's the flower he has. I don't believe I've ever seen one of that almost black color, on its own or with a Pokemon. Anyhow, the Flabebe has caused lots of confusion about what type it was. It's been listed as Normal, Psychic, Grass, and I've even seen someone try to classify it as Flying. It doesn't help that they're a rare sight outside of spring in a few areas of Kalos. But with my studies, we can finally make sense of it as a pure Fairy type. Where did you get him?”

    “Don't,” Mortan muttered in his bud.

    “Honest to goodness, he followed me home after the admission tests,” Calem said. “So somewhere on Route 1, I guess.”

    “There usually aren't any Pokemon on Route 1,” Lysandre said. “No suitable grass.”

    “I wasn't really in a state of mind to pay much attention, but he was there when I woke up,” he said.

    “Very interesting,” Sycamore said, watching as Mortan shifted the petals aside to peek out. “If you mean to use him in battle, then feel free to ask me for some information on his typing. Otherwise you'll be using him blindly, so to speak.”

    Calem nodded. “Sure, maybe later. Well, Lysandre was telling me that you were interested in having me attend. Why is that? I didn't even win that battle in the test.”

    Sycamore smiled at that. “The results of that battle didn't matter, not one bit. What mattered was how you conducted yourself and the Pokemon with you. The young lady who was your opponent, Miss Serena, she could impress right off with her powerful Pokemon. But that's really an iffy sign on if we'll accept a student. Maybe someone else trained it, maybe she did and thus would be ahead of all the other starting students. I suspect the latter is the case, given her family background. On the other hand, you were capable of using Rain Dance. Environmental effect spells like that are normally above where we expect a novice to be at. That's the kind of natural talent we like to see in our students.”

    Since Mortan was still hanging on him, Calem shrugged with only one shoulder. “I don't know if that's talent. I spent about two months trying to learn it.”

    “Why was that?” Sycamore said, showing keen interest in it.

    “Well, it's, uh,” he scratched his head. “It's hard to explain, but I'm at my best in the rain. I become really aware of things, almost to the point of matching a psychic. My father taught it to me because he's the same way; he says that it's a common trait in our family, but I'm uncommonly good at it.”

    “Seems like a limited ability,” Lysandre said. “And you're using it at a fraction of its full capacity; that weather spell can spread over a full acre with one caster of moderate ability.” Apparently he'd been in on the admissions committee too, if he could make a judgment like that.

    Sycamore didn't seem as bothered. “Well I think that's an interesting power. I've heard that some psychics are limited or assisted by the environment. Perhaps you can become a true psychic with training, it's just easier in your preferred conditions. And to go back to your question on being accepted, your interview really cinched it for me. You passed the written test with excellent marks, with only a couple of weak areas that could be explained as you not being a native of Kalos. And that's what really hit me, right in the heart, when I heard that you had just moved into our beautiful region that very day! I know how hard that can be, moving to a new location you're uncertain of, with no one around that you know aside from family. Yet you still put forth an impressive effort in the tests. I'm happy to be helping you along and seeing how you do without such handicaps on you.”

    Although initially off-putting, talking with Professor Sycamore gave Calem a better impression of him. He could be an interesting teacher; the next day would show if that was true. On the other hand, his impressions of Lysandre hadn't changed one bit. He was a powerful man, generous but stern. At least he was on his side.

    -+-

    Lesson 2: Basics of Magic (2
    )

    What kind of being can use magic? As explained, a sufficient level of emotions, intelligence, and willpower is required for true magic. Some organisms can produce aura effects as a false magic; plants, fungi, insects, and animals can be capable of these limited abilities, such as magical glows, sensing shifts in aura, and using aura to create and follow trails. These used to be thought of as true magic, but scientific studies have revealed that some of these 'abilities' are biochemical in nature. Actually manipulating aura into magical effects is impossible for such creatures.

    Instead, users of true magic can be divided into three categories: humans, Pokemon, and gods.

    Humans have great capacity for magic. They are always typeless according to recent research, so theoretically can learn and use any spell in existence. Due to their typeless nature, humans are also somewhat resilient against magic, especially with spells that manipulate the three bases of magic, such as Attract, Amnesia, or Taunt. However, the vast majority of humans do not learn spells naturally. They must study magic and put spells into forms that they can understand before they can use them.

    Pokemon also have great capacity for magic, but their limitations are different. They have auras which always align with certain magic types (two at most) according to their species. This means that their spells have much greater effect than that of humans, but they are also more affected by magic. Pokemon do learn magic naturally, but this limits what they are capable of learning overall even with assistance and study. In older systems of belief, it was thought that Pokemon were able to manipulate aura directly while humans required the blessing of spirits or gods. Rethinking of magic studies has led this to be disputed; no blessing is required.

    Gods are divine beings with the greatest capacity for magic. It is believed by many that they regulate magic; other beliefs state that they even created the world and all other beings on it. As few gods have allowed themselves to be studied, much about them remains mysterious. Some gods are believed to be immortal and unchanging while others are elevated from other beings to fulfill lesser divine tasks. It is said that their aura is pure and infinite, although the exact meaning of that claim is unclear. Many gods are worshiped all over the world and have been known to grant otherwise impossible blessings on other beings. Still, great caution is advised in dealing with gods. Very few are entirely benevolent and their blessings will nearly always come at a cost.
    Last edited by Ysavvryl; 14th March 2014 at 4:47 PM.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  6. #6
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    Scizorstrike: Watch those spoilers, hah. Although that is fairly well-known, might still get some people who don't know what you're talking about. But yes, that character made me want to write this so that the X/Y plot wasn't all crammed up like it is.

    PhalanxSigil: Hi, nice to hear from ya! I used the D&D reference on the world rules; Pokemon Mage Ruby was also a journey-fic-with-magic, with the same basic concepts (the two extra sections on magic could almost be talking about either story so far). But the system had its rules changed for Fleur Noir, since I have a better sense of what I want it to do.

    Yeah, PP could be said to be a measure of aura capacity. Although here, I see that measurement as being an overall pool of energy to use for all spells, rather than being how many times each spell can be used individually. I'm using the lesson segments at the end to relate background information that would be in Calem's classes, as I'm not going to have many classroom scenes overall. Hopefully that helps.

    Rediamond
    : I see no problem with using a standard plot, as long as effort is put into it. I write what I find fun, after all. Anyhow, this would be closer to Hogwarts WITH POKEMON than a typical journey fic. But not quite that, since I'm not restricting myself to one year of school for this story. It'll start skimming months at a time soon; the italic sections are actually Calem from well after the end of the story, after all.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  7. #7
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    Hogwarts WITH POKEMON? Definitely a different setup compared to your normal fics... And yes, the entire Kalos plot that was plot was all dumped at you within the space of an hour. Shame, considering the potential. Here's hoping that Z fixes that.

    Also, Lysandre AKA Captain Obvious* is sponsoring Calem. This cannot end well.

    Also, can you stick me on the PM list please?

        Spoiler:- *:
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  8. #8
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    Chapter 3: Five Friends

    Thirty-eight. That was how many students were in the room, Calem noted, and it was the entirety of the first year students of Lumiose Magic Academy. There were seven grades and if they had numbers like this... it really sank in that was an exclusive school thinking of that. And he'd gotten in more or less by accident? It made him feel nervous. The rest of these kids would be driven in how they competed for this, and they'd probably keep that drive through all their school years. Was he going to get left behind?

    “Finally, we have your class, homeroom, and dorm assignments to pass out,” the teacher leading this orientation meeting said. “As this is your first year, all of your classes are required ones. You will be able to choose some optional classes in coming years, but you might be able to get a head start with school clubs. There are three homerooms that have been set for your class, led by myself, Ms. Talonflame, and Professor Sycamore over there.” She pointed over to him sitting to the side; he nodded. “These are the homerooms that you will be with through all your school years. As for the dorms, there are two separate dorms, one for boys and the other for girls. Other than the common rooms on the ground floor, you'll not be allowed to visit the other dorm. Other rules will be discussed by the dorm assistants.” She then began calling them up to receive their assignments.

    Calem already knew that he would be in Sycamore's homeroom. The courses were what he would expect: language, math, history. As a small and nice surprise, science was on the list. He knew some magic schools didn't touch science due to its connection to machinists. As for dorms... the names of his roommates were familiar, but it didn't hit him until he saw them coming over to him. It was Tierno and Trevor, the two boys he'd seen at the Aquacorde tests.

    Most of the students were bunking in twos, but since there was an odd number of boys, the three of them were in a larger room. After they sorted out beds and where to put their things, they headed down to the common room to meet up with Shauna. And as it turned out, Serena was her roommate. “I don't know if this is a coincidence,” Trevor said. “Maybe they put us together like this because we all were at the Aquacorde tests.”

    “That would make sense if we were all from Aquacorde and Vaniville,” Serena said. She wasn't sitting with them, rather being at a piano where she played a simple song. “But only he really lives there; I just visit from time to time.”

    “Still, this is great!” Shauna said with a grin (which seemed to be her standard expression). “We all got in, and we're all gonna be in the same homeroom!”

    “Are we?” Calem asked. “With Professor Sycamore?”

    The others nodded. “Yeah, he's great,” Shauna said. “The three of us have known him for a while, even did some work for him this summer.”

    “It was kind of an accident that we met him,” Tierno said. “We were supposed to talk with someone else, but found him instead and he helped us out a lot more than the other person.”

    Shauna nodded. “Yeah, the professor knows lots about Pokemon, and all kinds of other things. He just doesn't always act that way.”

    “We ended up visiting his lab a lot,” Tierno continued, “and a few months ago, he told us that we should prepare to take the entrance exams. We didn't really think we stood a chance to come here. Well, maybe Trevs as he's so brilliant, but not so much for us.”

    “It wasn't certain for me either,” the younger boy said, looking down and swinging his feet nervously. “They rarely take students my age. And no matter what tests say about intelligence, there's a lot more to magic than being smart.”

    “That doesn't matter anymore, because we did it!” Shauna said, leaning forward.

    “Yeah, you were all really impressive there,” Calem said. “Like the Pokeflute? My mom can play that, but I can't even get it to make a note.”

    Trevor turned pink at that. “Y-yeah, it is tough. I'm still learning it and can only play a couple of songs, no magic songs at that. I started it to learn better aura control.”

    “You can be the best,” Shauna said enthusiastically. Then she looked at Calem. “I didn't get to ask before, but were you really never been in Kalos before? Why'd you move here?”

    “Well my parents were looking for a new start after my dad lost his job,” he said. “Although he could have just gone back into Pokemon battling without moving to a whole new region; he might still do that. But the reason we came out to Kalos was... well, it's a long story, but my great grandmother died and I inherited a house in Vaniville from her.”

    “She really left you that old house?” Serena asked, pausing in her piano practice. “It's pretty valuable, where it is and how long it's been around. But I've never known anybody to live there; I always thought it was haunted.”

    Calem shrugged. “I didn't notice any hauntings while we've been there. It was a surprise for me too. I mean, I'd heard about the house from her.” Thinking on that made him smile. “Maybe it seems kind of odd, but my old house was on top of a hill and when I was little, Gran moved to an assisted living community at the bottom of the hill. My parents would go down at least twice a week to help her out and I'd come along to listen to her. She had the best stories of adventures that she'd gone on when she was young. Like during the Great War, she had been going around Kalos as a spy, calling herself Miss Roselia.”

    “Huh, Miss Roselia?” Serena asked, surprised and surprisingly recognizing the name. “The one who was named a Defender of Kalos, as she used her talents in singing and dancing, as well as her looks and charm, to help out those fighting for freedom? She was your great-grandmother?”

    “That sounds about right,” Calem said. “There were an awful lot of her stories where she'd pause, then laugh and say that she couldn't tell me the rest until I was older. Even after I encouraged her to write a book of her stories, she made me swear not to peek at it until later. I know that in the first few months of the war, she lost her home and family, ending up living on her own with other displaced youth. She wanted to get revenge on the invaders, so she pretended to be an entertainer to get into their camp. While she didn't get the revenge she wanted, she did pick up on valuable information, as well as stealing back several properties in Vaniville and Aquacorde that had been stolen by them.”

    “How did she steal entire houses from an army?” Shauna asked, puzzled.

    “She got the land and property deeds they were using to make their ownership legal,” Calem said. “Won the papers off them in several games of pool, actually. But she went to find the proper owners to return the papers to them, as well find people who might be interested in what she'd found out from the invaders. However, three of the properties were owned by one man, and he decided to thank her by giving her the house. That way, she got a place to stay as the invaders were letting most of the people continue to stay in their homes as long as they were obedient. But she wasn't there often as she had too much fun being a spy. Even after the war ended, she arranged for the house to be taken care of while she took off on a trek through many regions until she finally settled down and married in Unova. She always thought that she might go retire in Kalos. But once her children were grown, she said that she went everywhere but Kalos, just to see places she'd never seen before. Like you know that famous mountain in Sinnoh, Mount Coronet? She climbed that for her ninetieth birthday.”

    “Wow, she sounds awesome!” Shauna said, eyes full of wonder. “I heard Coronet is hard for anybody to climb.”

    “I don't think there's anybody like her,” Calem said. But recalling the walk down to her place and her warm voice, he felt a powerful homesickness like a dark pit in his stomach. He missed his old home and old friends, and his Gran. For a moment, he couldn't recall what he was doing here, away from everything about his old life, even his parents. “Doesn't even seem all that long ago since I last spoke with her,” he said. But it had been a few months, and hundreds of miles away.

    “Are you okay Calem?” Shauna asked, thankfully managing to tone down her energy a few bars. If she'd had the same sort of energetic reply, it would have annoyed him.

    He put his hands over his face. “Sorry, I didn't mean to bring you down,” he said, trying to keep himself from crying. “It's just... been really disorienting with all this going on at once. And hard to believe what's going on when I'm not entirely sure where I am at the moment.”

    “Um, you could think of it like an adventure, like she would have probably done,” Trevor said, uncertain but he wanted to help somehow.

    “Sure, we could help you out!” Shauna said. “Lumiose is really big, but it's also really awesome and we know lots of places, some of the best! I mean, how much homework could they gonna give us over this orientation and first few days? We can show you around here after school. You too Serena!”

    “I've been in this city before,” she said, still over at the piano.

    Calem put his hands on his lap and tried to smile. “Sure, that could help... thanks guys.”

    -+-

    Their homeroom was in a bright and cheerful room, with large windows along the south and east sides. Looking down from the windows, they could see the trees and grass in the school's courtyard, then the old brick buildings of the school's dorms, library, and other buildings. Inside the class, there was a large markerboard in the front behind the teacher's podium, with other parts of the wall covered with charts and posters, mostly about Pokemon but a few about magic. There was a small office for their teacher in one corner, but it was hard to see through the office window due to a large potted plant he had there.

    “Okay, everyone looks to be here, and the bell's about to ring,” Sycamore said, immediately followed by the short melody of the bell announcing the beginning of class. “Ha-hah, nothing like being right Today is just the first year orientation, but we'll see about getting all of you settled into school life swiftly. I will be your homeroom teacher, Professor Augustine Sycamore. Welcome to your home classroom, hopefully for the next few years.

    “Although, if things work as I plan, it won't be the only place we meet. After all, it would be too ordinary, even boring, just to stick to an orthodox study. We will have class projects to work on as part of your curriculum. Sometimes you might end up helping me on some of my scientific studies, or I might ask you all what you wish to focus on. The first project won't come up for a little while, so we'll be informal for the first few days. Or longer. I've got a few official things to get through, then we'll see what you all are interested in. Feel free to ask me anything, even where to get a good cup of coffee. I know all of the cafes in Lumiose City.” He chuckled at that while some of the other students thought it was silly. Although Calem was curious about that; his first attempt to make his own cup of coffee at home hadn't turned out well.

    -+-

    What I recall of my first year at the academy was a bumpy series of transitions: adjusting to Kalos, feeling lonely and uncertain being away from my parents, trying to meet the expectations of a school of such importance. At first, I had bouts of homesickness and doubt that I wanted to be there. Or that I was wanted there. But by the end of the first semester, the severity of it had decreased dramatically. This was because of my four friends: Tierno, Trevor, Shauna, and Serena.

    One of the things that helped me was actually a time where I had to help one of them; I had been relying on them for a while, so returning the favor made it really feel like they were my friends. It was during the fall semester finals and as the first big test we were all taking, everyone was nervous. Even Trevor, who had seemed quieter that day, turned out to be really nervous too. That nearly led to trouble.


    -+-

    Calem stared at the problem for a few seconds. Okay, this definitely hadn't been discussed in class. He didn't recall it at all: not in his class notes, not in books he had to read, not from the teacher. In that case, did he have to get it right? Maybe he should write what he thought was right and hope that this wasn't something which should be common knowledge that he somehow didn't know.

    Sycamore was walking through the classroom, something that didn't stand out much. What did stand out was the small, “Mya,” that Trevor's Espurr made. Calem glanced over as Sycamore paused by Trevor and quietly asked him a question. They then went into the teacher's office, which was odd but as the test was still going (and Sycamore's Pokemon watching over all of them), Calem continued trying to answer the questions.

    At the ringing of the lunch bell, the professor said, “If you've completed your tests, place them in the white box. If you'd like to finish during today's last period, place the unfinished ones in the orange box. Tierno, Calem, would you stay here a few minutes?” He waved them to his office while the other students got up to turn in their tests and get what they needed for lunch.

    Calem wasn't sure what it was about, but once they were up at the front of the classroom, with most of the other students departing, Tierno asked, “Is this about Trevor?”

    Nodding, Sycamore let them into the office. “Yes, we might need you.”

    Inside, the lamp had been turned to a low setting while the school nurse, who had somehow gotten in without being noticed in the classroom, was watching over Trevor. He was sitting on the couch in there, looking ill with paler skin than usual. There was an odd collar on his neck now, along with matching bands on his wrists. “It's passed now,” the nurse said. “He won't be able to take the spell-casting tests today, and really should relax once the other tests for the day are completed.”

    Sycamore nodded. “All right. That test is scheduled after lunch, so we'll let you finish what you skipped this morning and find another time for your casting test.”

    “Sorry about this,” Trevor said, looking at the floor. “I tried to keep calm, but,”

    “Don't worry about it now,” Sycamore said. “Say, is anyone sticking around the classroom this time?”

    Not quite sure what was going on, Calem glanced outside the office. “No, not today.”

    “Good, then I'll call up the cafeteria and have them send us lunch over here. Come on, boys. And after class lets out, you two should take him back to your room and make sure he's okay.”

    “Sure thing,” Tierno said.

    Calem had to back out to get to their desks. “I’ll help but, what's going on with you?”

    “Oh, it's, um...” Trevor was walking slower than normal, holding his hand just above the desk as if preparing to catch his balance.

    “Well you must be improving if someone who's lived with you for a few months doesn't realize it,” Sycamore said. He watched Trevor until he sat down, continuing to talk. “He's got a rare gift for magic and could become extraordinarily powerful with it. However, it's so powerful that even a master of magic like one of the gym leaders would have trouble dealing with it. Sometimes it even uses itself, so the effort some of you put into learning new spells he has to put into not using magic. I'll put in the call for lunch, so just wait a minute.” He went back into his office.

    Trevor had his hand against the side of his head, seeming like he was checking something. “It's a, well, genetic disability, but he never talks about it that way unless explaining the medical information. I'm really glad we did end up with Sycamore; I don't know many others who would pick up on one of my attacks the instant I suspected something was wrong.”

    “Myah,” the Espurr said.

    He looked down at his Pokemon and scratched his head. “Yeah, and Merlin here helps me out too; he's like a guardian angel, even though he was trained to assist me like this. He lets me know where I should place these binders to prevent trouble.”

    “Wait, so those bracelets and collar are magic restraints?” Calem asked. They looked very plain, not something that could be a problem. Well, apparently they would be a problem for everyone but Trevor.

    “Technically they're aura sappers that force a low level of magical energy on prisoners, so they can't use spells,” Trevor said. “But yeah, I need them. I mean, when I was three, my parents were late coming home one night and I ended up blowing up our house and damaging the neighbors' homes out of anxiety. Nearly killed me and the babysitter too. Kids that age aren't supposed to be able to do anything with aura, but I’ve been capable of stuff like levitating objects since I was a baby. People used to think kids in my condition were possessed by devils, or were monsters.”

    “Hey, you're no monster,” Tierno said.

    Calem nodded. “Right, you're not. How much can you do to beat it?”

    The shy boy smiled. “Well I have been doing better the past few months, but I keep looking for something better than these restraints. If I need to use them more than a couple days in a row, it makes me feel sick. But thanks guys. Some people have been harsh to me, but I keep meeting a lot more who are nice about it.”

    -+-

    I later found out that that was how the three of them had met. Another kid had bullied Trevor enough that he lost control of his power. Later, people said that it was like facing four Earthquakes in quick succession. Several people, including Trevor, Tierno, and Shauna, had to be hospitalized for their injuries. However, Shauna had witnessed the incident and was key to keeping him from getting institutionalized by proving that he had been provoked. She even insisted on visiting him to cheer him up, then getting him to visit the other patients. There were a few that lashed out verbally, but Tierno saw that and didn't like it; he helped to defend Trevor. On exchanging addresses, they realized that they all lived on the same street in Lumiose, almost the same block. This led them to become inseparable friends.

    It did make me feel like I wasn't really a part of their group for a while, even if they were friendly and often invited me to lunch or to go explore Lumiose. I wonder if Serena felt the same way, being Shauna's roommate but not quite in their group fully; she never said anything like that. But even if she felt that way, it would have been surprising to hear her say anything about it at that time. She carried herself with confidence and pride, in a way that I always thought of as regal even before I knew that she had a truly high class background. Yet she never came across as cold or unapproachable; she rarely spoke in a negative fashion and often had a warm smile for others. This made her popular from the start, with students of many levels admiring her, even nicknaming her the academy princess. Even if she was at the edges of the group more than I was, I doubt she was lonely or lacking friends.

    On the other hand, I was clearly a foreigner in this place. From my different accent to my struggles to adapt to local customs, even my clothes, I got snubbed by a number of the other students. Some might show some curiosity in me, but those acquaintances never lasted. By the second semester, if I was noticed by those outside my homeroom, it was usually because I was one of 'that group that is with Serena sometimes'. Not that I minded. I knew that I had found great friends in Trevor, Tierno, and Shauna; the feeling that I was at the edge of their group diminished until it was completely gone by the end of the first year.

    I still had a crush on Serena, despite how it seemed I didn't stand a chance at dating her with how popular she was. While I wasn't quite sure how to express it, I kept trying to get her further involved with our group of friends, so that I was closer to her. I did so even if it was things that I wasn't quite sure about. She had a silver tongue and golden charm, so even if I got mad at her, I would end up forgiving her if she smiled. And I'm sure she knew what she was doing all along.


    -+-

    “Is something up with you, Shauna?” Calem asked. He and his friends were sitting at one of the round tables in the cafeteria eating dinner. Normally, this meant that Shauna would be chatting energetically and exchanging jokes with him and Tierno. “You've been strangely quiet all day.”

    “Huh? Oh, I'm okay, it's just,” she frowned, still thinking.

    “You sure about that?” Trevor asked. “You never act like this when things are okay.”

    “She's been like this since she got home from her weekend trip,” Serena said. “I figured you just needed some time to think about whatever it was, but if you need to talk with someone about it, go ahead.”

    Calem nodded. “Right, otherwise we'd all just keep worrying.”

    That at least made her smile. “Aw, thanks guys. Well, it's... I’m not sure how to explain it. See, one of my grandfathers died last week and I went to the funeral with my parents. But I’ve not really been sad about it. I didn't really know him. The few times I met him, he's always been a grouchy old man who lived in a house that smelled like cigarettes because he smoked so often. He didn't like kids and was rude to everybody. While we were heading out there, I thought it wasn't nice to think of him like that at his funeral, so I thought I’d listen and see what other people thought about him. But it seemed like everybody remembered him that way, though, as a grouchy rude old man.”

    “That's a rotten way to be remembered,” Calem said.

    “Right,” Shauna agreed sadly. “His Pokemon were the same way, grouchy and rude, growling at people who got to close to them. I'm even scared of his Linoone, since it bites people sometimes. Though, it is kind of his doing that made people remember him that way. He didn't really have any friends and said he didn't want any. And he never did anything exciting either. The most anybody remembered was that in the last few years, he steadily sold many things he owned in order to go on trips, but he would never leave Kalos and didn't do much other than fish and sleep when he was vacationing. I guess he enjoyed doing that, but then nobody could remember much else about him. It's scary to think about that happening.”

    “Ooo, yeah, I see what you mean,” Tierno said. “But I don't think you have to worry about that happening to you.”

    “Yeah, who would want to forget abut Shauna?” Trevor said.

    “Or could with how much her energy makes her stand out,” Serena said.

    She laughed. “I guess not.”

    Serena had one of those smiles where it was hard to tell if she was being devious or just joking around. “Certainly. Well, why don't we put aside such heavy things for now and do something fun this evening? Like go shopping for clothes, all of us.” She glanced at Tierno. “I mean, you could use some better winter clothing.”

    “Hey, I’m just fine in t-shirts and jackets, no matter how cold it gets,” he said with pride.

    “Your regular jacket does look worn compared to your school one,” Trevor said. “We do have a few more hours until curfew, so we could go look at some places nearby.”

    At that moment, Serena reminded Calem of when they'd met, right before she offered to help him. “Sure, but, why don't we do something more memorable and make a game out of it, hmm?” This got Shauna's attention. “We'll go to a big store where there's lots of clothes, and go look. But, each of us has to try on one outfit that was put together by the others without the wearer's input. We could even take pictures.”

    “I'm not sure about that,” Calem said.

    However, that was drowned out by Shauna putting her hands on the table and saying, “Yeah, that sounds like lots of fun! Let's go do that!”

    “Aah, well, um,” Trevor said, uncertain about the idea too. He scratched his head and looked at Calem as if begging for some way out of this. He didn't have a varied wardrobe, so Calem figured it was probably out of his comfort zone too.

    “Sure, I’ll have to make sure not to disappoint you then,” Serena said sweetly. And once she said that, after Shauna had been gloomy all day, it was hard for the three boys to turn down this game.

    Although Serena was obviously from a wealthy family, she directed them to a second hand clothing store that had a large variety to choose from. Shauna wanted to try the outfit game first. While she and Serena were walking ahead through the doors, Calem quietly said to the other two boys, “Let's take our time and be careful to choose something nice for them. Either we'll take up enough time that we'll need to get back to the dorms before curfew or they'll want to return the favor when our turns come up. Otherwise, this could get embarrassing.”

    “Yeah, that sounds like the smart thing to do,” Tierno said quietly, with Trevor nodding in agreement.

    Even with that plan between them, it seemed that the girls were already keeping an eye out for pieces to suggest for the rest of the outfits. For Shauna, they found glittery dark blue jeans and a cute hot pink blouse that had odd buttons: black knots that went through loops underneath black ribbon bows. Serena also found a cute pillbox hat with black lace that wasn't quite the same pink, but went with the style of the blouse. Shauna was really pleased with the outfit, strutting around for a bit like an exaggerated refined lady. But she only bought the blouse, something that eventually became one of her favorite shirts the first couple of years of school.

    Shauna also pointed out Serena to go next, which she didn't deny (something fortunate for the rest of them). She went off to look as some of the jewelry items while the four of them discussed what to give her. While Shauna was having great fun, pointing out various pieces that they could have her wear, they tried to drag it out by questioning the sizes and if they really suited Serena. But eventually Serena got bored with the jewelry and wandered back over to them, so they had to make a choice. Tierno then came up with a very colorful silk scarf, saying that his older girl cousins liked to wear such things as their fashion. Since that seemed a safe choice, Calem helped out by finding a v-neck shirt and a skirt that were like some of the dominant colors in the scarf.

    And Serena came back looking stunning in that. Although, quite frankly, Calem felt like she could make any clothes look stunning if she put her mind to it. “Not my usual thing, but pretty nice,” Serena said, twirling an end of the silk scarf around her fingers. “Do you read fashion magazines, Calem? Because this is the kind of style that's been in a lot of them recently, although more often with pants.” She turned around, seeming to be thinking on that. The skirt twirled nicely.

    “No, it just seemed like it should work together,” he said. “My dad says that fashion usually isn't a guy's worry.”

    That put that dangerous smile back on her face; she stepped closer to him. “Oh? Well I suppose it could be that way where you come from. But guess what? You're in Lumiose now, center of the fashion world. If we were to make you fashionable, I’m sure you would fit in a lot better.”

    “Hah, that could be fun too,” Shauna said in innocent delight.

    So he ended up having to try on an outfit next. And what they (mostly Serena) came up with was almost acceptable. The black slacks, black jacket, and checkered beret were actually kind of nice, but he would have liked it much better if they hadn't also given him a dusty rose pink shirt to go underneath the jacket. Not only that, but the jacket had been cut in such a way that he couldn't hide the pink shirt. “You couldn't have found something like yellow or white, huh?” Calem asked while he was wearing it.

    “The color's supposed to pop with the black,” Serena said.

    “There was a blue shirt that could've worked too,” Trevor said.

    At this point, a nicely dressed woman who worked at the store walked by. She must have noticed what they were doing. “Looking good there kid,” she said, seemingly sincere.

    “Uh, thanks,” Calem said, feeling his face get warm.

    “Yeah, you could be like the lead in a romance movie,” Shauna said, delighted and back to her usual energy now.

    Serena smiled. “I knew what I was doing.”

    And that is where I actually started taking an interest in fashion, actually. I'd still rather not have pink be part of my outfits, though.


    Lesson 3: History (Persecution of Mechanics)

    Many ancient civilizations can be divided into those who focused on magic and those who focused on machines. Sometimes the lines were blurred, but most time such civilizations came into conflict with each other. Eventually, a machine-based empire took control of much of the continent, including lands within modern Kalos and lands on other continents. It was believed for a long time to have been a very cruel government, but studies show that such views may be the bias of the magic-based group that overthrew them and set up their own empire. These events of the distant past made the foundation for the persecution of mechanics and those who followed science.

    In Kalos itself, the oldest kingdom of what makes up our region was the de Kalos monarchy, grown from one small kingdom based in Lumiose. The de Kalos line, especially in the reigns of Melchior and AZ, were trained in both magic and machinery; no favor was given to either side. However, the violent wars that occurred during that time were dominated by war machines rather than magic. When Leonidas took the throne after the fall of his brother AZ, he swore off machines and blamed that technology for much of the bloodshed and suffering.

    As a result of this, the people who studied science and built machines, known collectively as machinists, were hated and ostracized. Many believed that machines were only good for hurting people. At times, machinists were actively sought out and executed, often with metallic weapons or their own devices. One of the most infamous incidents in Kalos was the Coumarine Trials, where the discovery of a machine that was to help with farm work led to the accidental death of a young girl. Hundreds of people were accused of being in league with the machinists and nearly half of them were executed, all within a six month period.

    Things began to change around three hundred years ago with the Renaissance movement, which brought science and machines into a more favorable light. Machinists were still suspected to be troublemakers for a long time, but their works were seen less often as works of the devil. In modern times, machines are taken as commonplace and scientific methods are accepted as of equal validity to magical traditions. There are some superstitions about machines remaining, but it is very rare for people to take such things seriously.
    Last edited by Ysavvryl; 15th March 2014 at 4:50 PM.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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    Is this a series of timeskips or something? I honestly can't tell.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

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    It's kind of like a memoir, so yes, there's lots of timeskips. I added some more dividers that might help.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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    Yeah, that makes it significantly easier to see what's going on and where. Thanks!
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

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    Sorry for not replying to Chapter Two. I was rather busy and needed to deal with other things for a while. But now I'm back.

    To be entirely honest, I have not played X and Y or even B2W2. I know the basics of the Kalos region (Lysandre is a bad dude, Diantha is Champ, something about immortality in there) but not much more. So I'm kind of learning about it as I read. So far it's been okay, but I do get a little lost at points because of it so occasionally my criticism/praise may be off base.

    The set-up with the classes, machines and magic, etc. is rather intriguing. It lends itself especially well to what seems to be a somewhat modern Pokemon region graced with really mystical legends, even by Pokemon standards, and a new type that itself flies in the face of science. Kind of a weird dynamic there with Kalos, and your interpretation plays on that to a significant degree. I do wonder how Lysandre fits into that, since he seemed like the most scientific villain so far barring Cyrus, but he has one of the most magical objectives in eternal life... barring Cyrus, of course. GameFreak itself seems to play with realism and mysticism in their villains. Anyway, I am intrigued to see if he is a machinist or magician in your interpretation, as from the little I know about him he seems to fit somewhere between the two.

    The large time-skips are, for better or worse, my main comment on the rest of the story. I get that you are trying to cover large amounts of time quickly and that at some point the plot might settle down to focus more on one time frame, but it just seems kind of disjointed at the moment. "Here's this one event that happened... and then a few months later, something completely different." Once again, I understand that this is necessary to some degree. It just felt kind of jarring/strange when the gap was almost a full semester in length for characters that had been introduced a chapter or two before. I am admittedly more familiar with the mid-season montage technique of using few time skips towards the beginning, skipping most of the middle, and paying more attention to the end. But, that is more of a personal issue than any real commentary on the work's quality. And I play around with time enough that I probably shouldn't talk.

    I am also interested in seeing how reliable a narrator Calem is. And why he's talking in third person so often if this is indeed a memoir. I'm guessing that really embarrassing or sensitive stuff would get glossed over and some things would be blown out of proportion in it. Whether or not the memoir is a generic frame or actually a sign of a less than reliable narrator is something that I am also looking forward to seeing.

    With that, I will be back next chapter. The last two were really good; the time skip of an entire semester was just somewhat off-putting.
    The Flash Drive of Champions: Backgrounds

    There are many reasons to journey in the Pokemon World. It turns out that banishment, Bond Villains, unbeatable rivals and being forced to attend one dance too many are among them.

    File 2.5 is up. Gela literally puts on a show for the world to see while elsewhen her world is shattered beyond repair.

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    Chapter 4: The Wealthy Volunteer

    In order to keep my scholarship, Lysandre wanted me to do volunteer work around Lumiose. His expectations were reasonable and he encouraged me to try many places. One week I'd be cleaning at a homeless shelter, the next packing boxes for a meal-at-home assistance program, the next visiting people at a retirement home. I even participated in some holiday programs for children in one of the hospitals, which was quite fun in brightening up their days. Sometimes my friends came along too, so it was even less like work.

    Sometimes I came across Lysandre also volunteering at these places. This man had a business worth billions of dollars and he must have had a personal fortune worth even more, but he still gave his time and money to those less fortunate. It would have been very admirable in anyone else, and I know many people in Kalos felt that way about him. But, any admiration I felt for him didn't last long. At the time I never said anything against him, but my impression of him was still of a powerful but unsettling man.

    And it was through him that I first heard of Team Flare.


    It was a Saturday, early in the afternoon. Later today, Calem would be getting together with his friends for some skating around Lumiose, checking out some of the sights at the edges of the city. But for now, he was working at a soup kitchen. He had been helping to serve the free meals to people during lunch; currently, he was scrubbing the grease off a wall behind some of the kitchen equipment. The kitchen was due for a health inspection, plus it was time for their monthly thorough cleaning. Being that he was twelve and still short, he had the easiest time of the volunteers there to get to it.

    “Okay, Swift, rinse time,” he said, stepping aside.

    The Froakie, who had been drinking out of the clean water bucket, put her front legs up on the bucket and sprayed down the wall with the water. She liked doing that after he'd scrubbed the wall down with grease-eating soap. While it meant that he had to do a second scrubbing with an antibacterial soap (just in case), it actually worked out pretty good as the walls came out looking nice and clean.

    Once that was done, he squeezed under some wires and out from the narrow space, waving for Swift to follow him out. “I'm done here,” he said.

    “Got everything?” Lysandre asked. It was surprising, but he had been there since before Calem had arrived. Once Calem nodded, Lysandre pushed the heavy equipment back in place using nothing but his own strength. He didn't even seem to be using magic for assistance, yet could move it easily.

    “Great work, kid,” the kitchen supervisor said cheerfully. “I know you're scheduled for another hour, but go ahead and sign off for the day. I'll count that extra hour for your hard work.”

    “You sure about that?” Calem asked. He could feel the effort in his arms, but they weren't sore yet. “I thought I'd put in extra effort because you needed this done and you gave me that really great soup for lunch.”

    She nodded. “It's fine. I don't want to overwork a kid, but I do appreciate what you've done. We can get to the rest of the walls easier than here. Oh, and when you go to clean up, try the pink soap to get the grease off your hands. It works a lot better than the other stuff.”

    He did so; even if the soap smelled odd, it did work really well to make his hands feel cleaner. On his way out, he encountered Lysandre again. “If you have an extra hour, would you like to come with me to my cafe?” he asked. “It's not far out of the way to your school.”

    Calem still wasn't sure about his benefactor... but then it was his benefactor, so it seemed like a better idea to go along with him for a small thing like this. “Sure, thanks. You have your own cafe?”

    Lysandre gave a small laugh as they headed out of the soup kitchen. “Yes, why not? Actually, I do have more of a reason to own one. There's many cafes here in Lumiose now, but back when I bought mine, there were very few that would make coffee and espresso the way I like it, black and strong. The brew might be too bitter for you straight, but there's cream and sugar if you wish to temper it.”

    Over the past few months, he had gotten more used to coffee and the cafes around Lumiose. And true to his word, his teacher Sycamore did know a lot of really good ones. This cafe, bearing Lysandre's name, managed to stand out from all the rest from the moment one laid eyes on it, much like the man himself. It chose a brilliant and bold red color for much of its exterior, borrowing a bit of his intimidation factor. As it was late spring, the door was left open to let in fresh air; the sound of lively discussion drifted out into the street.

    But that discussion stilled for a brief moment as Lysandre and Calem stepped inside. It was all because of the man, no doubt about that. Giving a slight nod as if to say, 'Carry on', Lysandre continued to the counter without breaking stride. The discussion returned, but it was quieter than a moment before. The people there were aware of Lysandre's presence and they respected it.

    Standing by the coffee grinder on the counter, Calem could smell the sharpness and bitterness of the beans they were using. A small sign proudly noted that they used a particular blend of high quality organic coffee beans; the prices for the drinks were higher than any cafe he had visited as a result, but that didn't keep this place from being popular. Thankfully, Lysandre paid for both of them. He took an espresso while Calem decided to try the coffee, asking for a bit of cream on the side so he could test it. They gave him more cream then he thought was 'a bit', but was thankful for it when he got the drink and found the bitterness almost enough to gag at.

    Lysandre's Pyroar lay down on the floor near their table, while Swift decided to sit on the bench with Calem. Mortan was also out, resting his flower on Calem's left shoulder as usual. Although, the Flabebe was acting odd in that he had his eyes closed, murmuring something constantly that Calem could barely hear. Other Pokemon were wandering around the cafe, but surprisingly few compared to the amount of humans there. Calem even caught sight of a few people who were dressed in the exact same way, although the reason he noticed was that their suits were the exact same bold red as the cafe's exterior. But they didn't seem to be cafe workers, just people visiting and talking.

    One of the things Lysandre set on the table was a gleaming and beautiful blue stone set in a base that seemed to be some kind of magic analyzer. Calem noticed it right away, but their talk didn't start with it. “I haven't gotten the full reports, but you seem to be doing an excellent job keeping up with your first year of school and your volunteer work,” Lysandre said. “You had enough hours to match my requirements nearly a month ago, yet I find you still continuing.”

    Calem shrugged. “I like doing it. It's like my mom says: if someone helps you out unexpectedly, then you ought to help out two more to show your gratitude to the gods. Plus I’ve met a lot of interesting people. Like last weekend, I was nearly late to meet up with my friends because I got to talking to a man about Water Pokemon and some things I hadn't thought of in how I might train Swift.”

    “That's good,” he said, then took a sip of his espresso. “The world would be a lot nicer if everyone thought that way. Unfortunately, not many would be that generous with their help. It's been growing worse over the years and is deeply troubling.”

    “How so?” Calem asked, genuinely puzzled at the jump in subject. Yes it would be good if more people were helpful and nice, but how did a lack of generosity, which might even be unconscious decisions or poor circumstances, become deeply troubling? He thought he might talk with Lysandre about Pokemon, since that was usually a safe subject.

    Lysandre looked at him for a moment with an unreadable expression. But just as Calem was wondering if he'd said something dumb, the man looked away and relaxed some of his intimidation. “You're still young, so you might not have noticed it. But in the world, there are those who give and those who take. Most fall somewhere in between, but the extremes often end up guiding the world. This even includes the gods. For instance, here in Kalos, there is Xerneas, the stag who wears the rainbow crown of the heavens; he gives life to all and is a blessing to the land. But there is also Yveltal, the eagle with wings of blood and shadow; he takes life from all and is a curse when he appears. But the givers and takers don't need to be so grand to have an effect on all of those around them.”

    Although Calem was hearing them for the first time, both names cause his blood to turn cold. It was a strange recognition; images came into his mind which he felt certain that if he looked them up in a book, he'd find them to match the two gods. But how did he connect the images to the names when he'd never heard of them before?

    If Lysandre noticed Calem shivering at the names, he didn't mention it. “Now in an ideal setting, in a world of perfect beauty, most people would fall in the middle and it would all even out. Those who had something in excess would give to those who lacked, and those who lacked would only take what they needed, giving something else they had instead. But our world is far from ideal, so a number of people fall on the extremes. And a great many of those are takers who give very little, or none at all. They end up taking many resources and giving little back. Hmph, and this goes for both rich hoarders and poor bums.”

    That didn't sit well with Calem and he wanted to say so. However, he didn't want to go against someone who was supporting him like this. Lysandre volunteered in the soup kitchen and other places too, so he should know that, “Well, the supervisor in the kitchen said that a lot of people who come don't have other options to eat and they need the support until they get themselves in a better standing.”

    “I don't mind those who truly intend to do so, coming to support a need for food while they work to pull themselves out of a hole,” Lysandre said. “But there's an awful lot of them who dug their holes themselves through such ugly habits as smoking and gambling. They don't give up such things and remain in such pits, creating ugly lives that are burdens to those around them. Like I saw dozens of familiar faces in the serving line today, even as the weather is fair. I've seen them there for a long time. Their lives have grown dependent on the generosity of others and they've given up on supporting themselves. They don't even try when I know they can make good of themselves if they just put forth some effort. They don't and it makes me so angry at times...” He trailed off, but Calem wouldn't have been surprised if he said that he hated those people.

    “Um, Lysandre?” Calem asked after a moment of silence at their table.

    That snapped him out of that brief dark mood. “I apologize about that outburst,” he said, bowing his head. “Those thoughts had been building the past few hours and this conversation reminded me of that.”

    “It might be better to let them out and let them go,” he replied, thinking that it hadn't been much of a conversation between them. “At least that's what my parents would say. I hope you don't mind a change of subject, but... those gods you mentioned, Xerneas and Yveltal, right? What are they like? We haven't studied Kalos legends this year and I haven't heard anything about them. But if they're local deities, I should know something of them, I think.”

    Lysandre nodded. “Good idea, and something to keep in mind for the future if you wish to travel through the world. Learn a little bit of how to respect the deities where you are and it will help you greatly.” He took a deep breath, thinking on the two. “It's like I said: one gives life and the other takes it. Xerneas is said to never die no matter how grievous his injuries. Said to dwell within the wayward forest south of Snowbelle, he can even grant eternal life. Although, first one would have to find him in that place, and then who knows? Most stories of those given such a blessing find it to be a curse and have to seek the other to remove it. For the most part, though, people worship him for other reasons. You're too young to be concerned about that.”

    “I am?” Calem asked, wondering what he meant by that.

    It did make him smile a little, odd to see on his usually serious face. “Well, if you see an icon of Xerneas in a house, it usually mean it's a couple trying to have a child, looking for protection for the new life. On the other hand, an icon of Yveltal is rarely seen; people don't want to call on the personification of death. There are some groups that do keep such icons around, but they usually turn out to be insincere, trying to go against the grain and go along with their cultural group at the same time. Yveltal is said to rise with the tides of war, appearing when there are passionate battles all through the land of Kalos.” He paused. “And not just the battles for sport as are common today.”

    “At times like the Great War?” Calem asked. Then his great-grandmother might have heard of Yveltal. Maybe even saw him?

    “One would think so,” Lysandre said. “It is times like that when he usually appears. However, there were no recorded sightings of Yveltal during the last major war, what people call the Great War. That's a foolish name for it, I think, but that's what stuck. Anyhow, many counted it fortunate that he didn't appear. Unlike Xerneas, Yveltal's life force runs dry rapidly. He sticks around for a few years, then goes back into hibernation. But as he does, he sucks in the life forces of all beings around him, Pokemon and human alike. Thousands will die all across Kalos when he does; his last appearance is said to have taken the lives of a million humans and a million Pokemon, during a vicious cycle of civil war. That was when the nobility and royalty fell from the height of their power and the so-called revolutionaries of the people were arguing bitterly over how Kalos should be ruled. Yveltal scolded them severely, basically telling them to stop waking him up, then took so much of the country down with him. And that's how the current government managed to stick around long enough to stabilize itself. Given how many people and Pokemon were around at the time of the Great War, it could have held an even greater death toll with Yveltal's parting.”

    And then, maybe he wouldn't even be alive. Calem shivered at the thought. “I see.”

    Lysandre did notice his discomfort that time. “Even so, Yveltal is not considered an evil god. He is simply a force of nature, like death itself. And like how the eternal life of Xerneas can be a curse, Yveltal's power can be seen as a blessing. The times that he appears are among the worst possible, when the ugliness of human nature overtakes everyone. Yveltal wipes the slate clean, reverting everything to a peaceful state from which the beauty of life can rise again. At some time, you should take a look at pictures of the lands around a volcano a couple of decades after it erupts. Despite the devastation, nature heals quickly and the land becomes beautiful again. Sometimes a power like that of Yveltal is necessary to make things right.”

    “Hopefully things wouldn't get to a point like that,” Calem said, unsettled by that idea. “Most people are good, so it shouldn't happen often. Although I would think that knowing what Yveltal can do would make people want to do good and make it so that he doesn't appear.”

    “Most people are not that thoughtful when they decide what to do,” Lysandre said. “They see their decisions as small things, choices that won't affect the world. But remember, your choices affect those around you, influencing them to choose in similar ways. Thus one person's small choice can become the choice of many people, subtly changing the direction that society is going. And if society's direction changes enough, the choices people make can make it stronger, turning a good society into a terrible one. That's one of many reasons that I choose to do things the way I do.”

    Calem nodded. “But you would have a greater influence than someone like me would. There's a lot of people who speak well of you and look up to you.” Although he couldn't help but wonder if those people would change their minds if they got to talk to him like this.

    Lysandre shrugged at that. “I've had many years to build my influence. In time, you might be as much of an influence to others if you work hard at it.”

    “I don't know about that,” Calem said, feeling a little embarrassed. Maybe someone like Serena, given how popular she was.

    And just like that, Serena appeared in the entrance to the cafe, pausing. Calem wondered for a moment what she was doing here, but then Lysandre said, “No, I think you have the potential for it. It all depends on how much effort you put into developing yourself as a person. I might be able to help you with that, if you were to become associated with Team Flare. You're younger than other members, but,” he looked down at the magic analyzer for some reason, tapping the gemstone as if he was expecting to see something happen. And it did; the gemstone abruptly gave off a brilliant sparkling glow, audibly humming.

    “What is that?” Calem asked.

    “It's a device I've been working on, a specialized detector blending electronic technology and divination magic to identify the energy signature of the gods,” Lysandre said. “But it seems,” he glanced at Calem's shoulder, “that someone was able to muffle it.”

    He looked down himself to see that Mortan had fallen asleep there, an odd thing for him to be doing in the middle of the day. “Really? But why would he have some kind of godly signature like that? He's a regular Flabebe, except for the flower.”

    “Have you worked with a regular Flabebe before?” he asked, something Calem couldn't say 'yes' to. “He's a special one; I knew the moment I first saw him. He is not a god, but he's been around one so long that his aura is irrevocably marked by divine power, as you have been.”

    “Wait, how can I be marked by divine power?” Calem said, feeling uncomfortable with the conversation again. Maybe he should find some excuse to leave.

    “Oh, Calem, here you are,” Serena said, stopping by their table with a reusable coffee travel mug in her hand.

    “I was trying not to be late today,” Calem said, trying to smile and be calm. But he didn't feel like he was being very convincing. “Um, Serena, this is Lysandre; he handles my scholarship, so we were just meeting up to talk. Lysandre, this is one of my friends in school, Serena.”

    Surprisingly, she responded by curtseying to Lysandre, bowing her head respectfully. “Ah, hello Lysandre; I’ve heard a lot about you from my parents.”

    And he bowed his head in acknowledgment. “I'm not surprised. You're the Chateau princess, daughter of the current Champion, aren't you? I heard that he's expecting some serious competition from Diantha. Go ahead, join us if you like.”

    “Thank you,” she said, taking a seat. “And that movie starlet? Father said that he's keeping an eye on her. I think he's more interested to see some serious competition rather than being worried about keeping the position.”

    “One would expect so much from a true League Champion,” Lysandre said. And Calem ended up just listening in for a little while, as he hadn't seen much about the Kalos Pokemon League yet. At least their meeting with their friends allowed them to get out soon.

    While they were walking back to the dorms, Serena asked, “What's up with you? You don't get a chance to talk with one of the greatest people in the world that often, but you looked like you didn't want to be there.”

    He rubbed his head. “I know everybody looks up to him, but... I dunno, he says things that I don't feel are right and I think he was trying to talk me into selling him Mortan. I haven't kept Pokemon long in the past, but I'm not giving up on these two. They're my good friends as much as the rest of you are.” Swift croaked happily at that, which did help him relax. He was out of Lysandre's presence and didn't have to worry about him for a little while.

    “Oh please, he's a visionary,” Serena said, obviously not sharing his discomfort. “You should listen to the evening talks he gives at his cafe. It might seem strange at first, but when he gets into explaining it, they make perfect sense.”

    “I guess I just got a bad first impression of him,” Calem said. Serena shrugged at that and took a sip from her mug. “And how can you drink that coffee? It's so bitter that I think I killed half my taste buds trying to sip it.”

    “It's not that bad,” she said. “Not my favorite in Lumiose, but good enough. Hmph, but you are still a kid. I'm almost fourteen, so I can appreciate the sophistication.”

    “Hey, I'm not that much younger than you,” he said. “Although I think I agree with Professor Sycamore that a bitter cup will start a bitter day.”

    Serena shook her head. “Ah, why do you have to bring his lame puns into it?”

    “I'm sorry. Did you want the puns black or with cream and sugar?” She groaned at him while he laughed.

    Later on, while he was alone in his dorm room getting prepared for the afternoon skate outing, Calem nudged Mortan's flower. “Hey, you want me to recall you or are you done snoozing?”

    “Huh?” the Flabebe asked sleepily. Then he shook himself. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn't notice when I fell asleep. Yeah, I should probably rest.”

    “What's got you so tired?” Calem asked, taking the black flower in his hand to get a better look at Mortan. He had slid down the stamen he was gripping.

    “It was that man, Lysandre,” he said.

    “What about him?” he asked when Mortan didn't continue. He would let the Flabebe rest, but was just too curious now.

    Mortan yawned, then rubbed his eyes with one arm. “He had a detection device on him. You saw it at the cafe, right? The thing with the blue stone. It measures certain aura characteristics and it should have gone off like a siren in your presence. Mine too, but I was keeping it quiet as best I could.”

    “You mean that stone would glow, right? Because it did that when Serena joined us, really bright too.”

    He blushed. “That must have been when I started nodding off; I don't remember seeing it go off. Though, I'm not surprised. With me, you, and her in the same room, even I couldn't keep the device from triggering.”

    “He thought so.” On hearing a sigh from Mortan, Calem changed his mind on asking him about the divine markings yet. “On second thought, tell me later. You really are tired; you can go back to your Pokeball now.”

    “Mm, thanks,” Mortan said, nodding sleepily. “I'll tell you later.”

    -+-

    Serena may have tried to stay detached and cool around us, but it was starting to break down at the end of our first year of school. Even though I hadn't said anything outright yet, my interest in her caused me to keep inviting her to go do things with me and the group. More directly, Shauna would invite her too, literally dragging her into our plans at times. Serena might act annoyed at first, turned sideways to us with her mouth in a thin line. But once we began to talk or play, she'd end up joining our group to have fun.

    And then, right after the final exams of the first year, she invited us to a weekend trip to her 'actual home': the Battle Chateau.


    This area of Route 7 was breathtaking in its late spring beauty. A wide river passed by so serenely that it reflected the lush trees lining its northern bank. Along the neatly kept dirt path, wildflowers grew in a rainbow of abundance. Pokemon played freely under the wide sunny sky, not caring about the humans walking by A soft carpet of dark grass covered the ground outside the path, relaxed naturally instead of in perfect uniformity like tended lawns. The air was warm and fresh, smelling of the flowers, the grass, the river... it was magnificent.

    And in the natural scene, there was a manmade structure that was also beautiful, and yet absurd at the same time. Standing astride the wide river with its foundation on both banks was an old stone castle. It certainly had to be heavy; it looked heavy. Yet it also appeared to float gently on the surface of the river without the assistance of magic. Bright cloth banners hung from poles in front of the building and below many of the windows. It was a fairy tale castle in reality.

    Actually, it was a battlegrounds that was restricted to those 'of noble bearing'. “It used to be that only those Trainers of noble birth could enter,” a maid in the entrance room said. “They wanted a distinguished place for Pokemon battles and we provided it for them. However, the nobility of this age are in name only with little power behind it. We invite Trainers that are suitable for our refined matches and recognize those who succeed as part of the nobility.”

    “Yes, but these are my friends,” Serena said. “And since I invited them over for the weekend, they're allowed to stay.” She wasn't even asking for permission, stating things as they were (for what she wanted). Or since her father was the owner, she had already gotten permission for them to come over.

    The maid nodded. “Of course, my lady. We'll treat them as any of our guests.”

    “Wow, I never thought like I’d be treated like some kind of noble lord,” Teirno said, awestruck.

    “Not quite that far,” Serena said. “You'd have to win a great many battles to be treated like that. But we'll still have fun. Are my parents here yet?”

    “Your mother's in the family wing,” the maid said. “But Lord Dupont got called away just a short time ago. He said he wasn't sure if he'd be back tonight, but he'd definitely be back by tomorrow afternoon.”

    “I see,” she said, looking disappointed.

    Shauna wasn't one to leave a person sad for long; she promptly asked, “Hey, could you open up the windows and dive out into the river?”

    “That's ridiculous,” Serena said. “Although I'm sure you could, nobody here would do such an undignified thing. We can't even dive in the swimming pool because it's too shallow for that.”

    “You have a swimming pool in here too?” Shauna asked in excitement, then pestered her until she brought them to where it was, in the north end of the castle away from the battle rooms.

    Although the sound of the Chateau's noble battles was intimidating, Calem found that they there no different than those he faced at school. With Swift and Mortan, he lost some battles and won others. Sometimes they were greatly outclassed, other times the opponent Trainer would only have one Pokemon that was weaker than either of his two. But the battles didn't really interest him, even if the ones here gave him an unexpected windfall of money. He had more fun being outside, playing with his friends and all of their Pokemon.

    On Saturday just after lunch, they had split up as there were many Trainers around the Chateau. Calem didn't like that much. What he didn't like more was coming into a room and seeing a guy picking on Trevor. His Espurr seemed more concerned about Trevor than the bully, which was worrisome. “Mya,” Merlin said, turning to Calem with a look that seemed like a request for help.

    “You just don't have the history behind you to be a natural winner like me,” the guy said. He was wearing a blue suit that seemed like an expensive thing, with a classy watch and tie pin to match. But his attitude wasn't classy in the least.

    “A natural winner wouldn't see a point in bragging about it like that,” Calem said, hoping that if he got the guy's attention off Trevor, he and Merlin could get back and do whatever they needed to keep Trevor okay. “That sounded more like a bully's statement.”

    “And who are you to call judgment on me?” the bully said, turning his attention to him. “You seem like some low-brow foreigner with no connection to our fine land, so you have no idea what you're saying in downplaying a natural noble like me.”

    “Well I won't deny that what you're saying is true, but I’m also being honest in what I say,” he said. “All of your claims seem like nothing but hot air to me.” He felt a little bad to be talking like that, but he told himself to at least look confident in it.

    “How did a rude rube like you get in?” he said, angered. Meanwhile, Trevor and Merlin had gotten to a chair by the wall, out of the way. He was handling the aura dampeners on his own, so he shouldn't be too bad.

    “I'm one of Serena's friends, that's why,” Calem said.

    The bully crossed his arms over his chest and smirked. “Yeah, that's the only way you could've gotten in. But what makes you worthy of attention from the princess? A lowly guy like you, with one of the few royals in Kalos?”

    Calem raised his eyebrows; this was new. “She's royalty, huh? She never mentioned that to me, even though we're in the same classes and hang out afterwards.”

    “Of course she's royalty!” he said, getting mad again. “There's only two families that can be reliably traced back to the true Kalos royalty: the de Kalos family that owns Parfume Palace and the Dupont family that owns this Battle Chateau. They eventually go back to the same person, Leonidas de Kalos who was a king nearly three thousand years ago. What's she thinking, hanging out with someone like you?”

    “Only she knows that,” Calem replied with a smile. “And what meaning does that hold anyhow? It was three thousand years ago and I’m sure there were other kings since then.”

    “Only those descended from the de Kalos line have the divine right to rule Kalos. And people like you should show more respect for that. Hmph, well let me show you what nobility in Kalos entails. Ready to battle?”

    “Sure, why not?” Calem said, snapping his fingers to get Swift to his side and Mortan to float off his shoulder.

    This young nobleman did have three Pokemon. However, the type match-ups were not in his favor. Swift was easily able to handle his Charmeleon. And thanks to Professor Sycamore's advice, Calem knew that Mortan would have just as little trouble dispatching the Sneasel. The Furfrou could have been trouble, but it didn't seem to be as experienced as the other two. When the Flabebe and Froakie worked together, they took it down with only the latter taking damage.

    “He-hey, why can't you show respect?” the young nobleman asked, backing up a step.

    “Oh, thanks for the battle,” Calem said as he knelt down to use a healing potion on Swift. “You have some interesting Pokemon.”

    “I don't mean that,” he said, disgusted. “Why did you win?”

    After giving it a thought, Calem decided to mess with him since he'd been messing with Trevor. He shrugged. “I dunno, maybe because I used some tactics instead of none? I've seen Furfrou trained in some really effective tactics before, but not like that.” One of his classmates in Sycamore's homeroom had a Furfrou that she used to really great effect, making sure that any battle against it would take a lot of effort on her opponent's part.

    “That's it, I'm gonna make you really prove yourself,” he said, throwing his fist down as if in challenge.

    “Outside a Pokemon battle?” Calem asked. “I didn't think they allowed that.”

    “Nothing that crude and violent, sheesh. Do you have a bike? Meet me out front in five minutes.” He huffed and strode off.

    Instead of trying to call after the bully, Calem went over to Trevor and sat in a chair next to him. “Are you okay now?” he asked.

    Trevor nodded, although he looked worn out despite being not long after lunch. “Yeah, I got it taken care of in time. Thanks for distracting him Calem; that was close and I wasn't sure how to get out politely. And, sorry.”

    Calem shook his head. “Don't worry about it. I think I can handle whatever he throws at me. But if he's going to be taking me somewhere on a bike, we should find one of the others for you to stick around. Unless you're tired?”

    Trevor hopped out of the chair. “Oh, well, I think I’ll be okay if I didn't do anything really active. Yeah, let's go find Shauna or someone.”

    Getting out of the chair, Calem asked, “You sure you want to hang around Shauna if you don't feel like being active?”

    “Oh, right, that could be a problem,” he said with a smile.

    Feeling glad to have cheered him up, Calem walked with Trevor through the Chalet until they found one of their friends. It happened to be Shauna, so they told her what was up and she agreed to look after Trevor. Calem had a folding bike in computer storage, so he went back upstairs to the guest rooms to pick it up, then came back down to the front doors. What would the bully ask him to do now? Hopefully the staff stopped anything that would be real trouble.

    -+-

    Lesson Four: Social Studies (Kalos Nobility 1)

    The idea of having a noble birthright has been established in Kalos for thousands of years, but the current system was only written into law at the start of the Dupont royal family's reign (approximately 1500 years ago). After many attempts to rule the kingdom under one person, the laws of nobility were set up as a form of bureaucracy and order. The king (later, queen if established as head of the family) ruled over all; his word was law and his authority was absolute. He gave ownership of the land and other powers to the noble families who supported him, taking it away if they displeased them. Those who answered directly to the king were the grand dukes, anywhere from four to seven in number.

    In most cases, the grand dukes further divided up their land among regular dukes who answered to them, often giving these positions to children who would not inherit the main title or to loyal friends. These lands were then managed by a local marquis, earl, or viscount, depending on area. The lowest class of nobility were the landless barons, who often had no official powers either but had noble lineage and were often considered preferable for higher nobles to marry over the peasant class who rented land, buildings, and other properties from them. Making up the greatest percentage of the population (anywhere from 70 to 90 percent), the peasants were the people who farmed the land, built the structures, managed small businesses, sold most items, and served the nobility. By law, the nobles owned what the people who lived on their land used and made. The nobles settled disagreements among their people, collected taxes for the king, and enforced the laws given by the king. (as it should be)

    The system was far from perfect. The peasants were allowed to revolt against their ruling noble, but they had to get the noble of the next level up (or even the king) to back them up. At times, this led nobility to be mindful and fair. Other times, the nobility banded together to quiet revolts in severe manners. It did not help that much of the best education, especially in magic (at times machinery) and managing Pokemon, was kept within noble ranks, as were the strongest magical artifacts. The common people often did not have much to rebel against their noble leaders with.

    The power of the nobility even rivaled the power of royalty at times. Some of the Dupont kings were little more than puppets for powerful noble families who kept tight strings on them. On the other hand, there were also kings who were so charismatic or paranoid that they neutered the power of the nobility, forcing them to follow strict manners and fulfill whatever whim the king had. (they were all fools; if they had been sensible, they could have kept the system functioning smoothly)

    The reign of King Thomas Dupont the Fifth brought out some of the worst parts of the system of nobility, leading to the downfall of noble and royal power. Told he was descended from the bloodlines of the Dupont and the ancient de Kalos bloodlines (we have lineage charts to prove that, no need to be politically correct), he was a proud and lavish (and great) king. He ordered the nobles to spend much of their time within his palaces, away from the places they managed. This left the farmlands and villages to be ruled by young nobles who did not have the experience or restraint that their elders in the king's court had, leading to a discontent among the people. Unhappy with this arrangement, the nobles schemed (idiotically) to dethrone the king, only to argue amongst themselves who should take over in his place. Eventually, King Thomas was assassinated in a bloody (sad) battle with his court. The noble families then turned on each other while the king's son struggled to regain control. He grew disillusioned with them and had nobles executed on increasingly flimsy excuses. However, this weakening of the nobility made it easier for the common people to revolt against the nobles and the king. This led to a violent series of civil wars that only ended due to a hostile manifestation of Yveltal.

    (Teacher's note: Please do not write in your textbook any further.)
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  14. #14
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    Well if I do have readers who haven't played X/Y, might as well talk about how they relate to the story, huh? Besides, I like doing that.

    In setting this story up as a school, growing up, and a touch of horror (see chapter 5) kind of tale instead of a journey-fic, I had to do a lot of modifications to how events happen. Scenes in the game are my basis but I don't write them up strictly as they were. The discussion between Lysandre and Calem is a good example of this. Pieces and information were taken from a scene that doesn't occur until after your fifth gym battle, as well as seemingly random holocaster conversations Lysandre has with you. Plus, Sycamore's involved in the Lysandre Cafe scene in the game, but not here.

    There's also the Battle Chataeu, which Trevor (I think it's him) will talk to you about outside of it on Route 7 but not go in with you. That could've been fun to see your friends there, but no, only a set group of NPCs and league members will be opponents there. Some of the nobles there are all right, and others are really snobby and unlikable. Like the lady who thinks your clothes came from the garbage even if you bought them at the most expensive boutique in the game. It's interesting to see what players hate her for it, haha.

    I was going to leave this chapter as just the Lysandre scenes, but then that would make it short and the next chapter with the Chateau scenes really long...
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  15. #15
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    SPOILERS

    Obviously evil Lysandre is obviously evil. Really, really obvious- I'd managed to keep myself away from all spoilers save Mega Evolution and Fairy-types and I pegged him for the evil team boss that he is literally the second I saw him. Serena, you need to spot the obvious indoctrination for what it is.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  16. #16
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    'sup. Back.

    And that chapter made more sense as a non-player. I'm not sure if Serena had been confirmed as the Champion's daughter yet, but for some reason it had slipped my mind and I was really confused when it was treated casually by the narration. And then her noble lineage was treated as more significant. Which was a little odd. But outside of that, Serena for crony of the Big Bad is always nice. Sets up some future conflict. And framing Lysandre as an objectively good guy who just happens to be evil and possessing ambitions that would sort of destroy most life on the planet is interesting. Our villains aren't entirely bad. Just sort of crazy or mislead.

    On another front, making so much out of a two year age gap like Serena does is both amusing and rather realistic because 12/13 year-olds. As someone who works with them all the time in scouting, that really amused me.

    I can't think of much else to say here, but I will be sticking around for future updates.
    The Flash Drive of Champions: Backgrounds

    There are many reasons to journey in the Pokemon World. It turns out that banishment, Bond Villains, unbeatable rivals and being forced to attend one dance too many are among them.

    File 2.5 is up. Gela literally puts on a show for the world to see while elsewhen her world is shattered beyond repair.

  17. #17
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    Chapter 5: A Noise in the Grass

    That challenge that the young nobleman gave me, I won't ever forget it. I'm almost certain that he had no idea what it would lead to. But it's that bit of doubt that could very well justify my current paranoia.

    Outside, he found that Trevor and Shauna were there out of curiosity. The young nobleman was standing by a bike that was black with gold-colored detailing. He gave a snubbing look at Calem's bike, then handed him three black Pokeballs. “Here, we're going to have a Pokemon catching competition.”

    “Awesome!” Shauna said, jumping in place. “Can we judge?”

    “Probably not, because you'd give me an unfair advantage as you're both my friends,” Calem said.

    “Oh, right,” she said, calming down. “But I still wanna see the results!”

    “We can have the staff in the front room judge, they should be good,” the nobleman said. “You have those three Pokeballs and I have three as well. We'll be back in an hour, but I’m going to take you to a special place. We're going to compete to see who can get a Pokemon most befitting of royalty. After all, neither you have now would be worthy of royalty.”

    “W-what?” Mortan asked, sputtering with fury. Calem glanced down at his shoulder in surprise.

    The nobleman looked puzzled. “Did you just say something?”

    “No, you must be hearing things,” Calem said. Normally Mortan was more careful about not being overheard, but something about this made him lose self-control. “Okay, not a lot of time, but I'll give it my best shot.”

    “Someone like you is going to need more than that,” the nobleman said, getting on his bike. Calem joined him and they rode off east. Past a small bridge, they came to an intersection where Route 7 met Route 6, heading sharply northwest.

    After a few minutes biking down Route 6's hedge-lined dirt lane, they came to a paved road heading directly north. The road was lined with mirror-precise trees and bushes, then surrounded by huge fields of thick grass that towered over their heads. On the far side of the road, Calem could just see a large building at the end, something that was even bigger than the Battle Chalet. He was curious to see it, but it was here in the grassy fields that the nobleman wanted to hold their competition.

    Once they had split up, Mortan reached over and patted his neck. “Come on, Calem, let's go show up that good-for-nothing blowhard. I'll help you by finding out which Pokemon want to go with a human.”

    He nodded. “Thanks, but what's gotten into you? I don't think I've ever seen you get mad before, but it seemed like you were glaring daggers at him.”

    “Oh, that.” Embarrassed now, the Flabebe went quiet.

    “Were you owned by royalty at one point?” he asked. “Or was it an insult because you're a servant of the gods and more than that?”

    “Ah, well... actually, I was. It was a long time ago, before I became a servant. My best friend, probably ever, was a king.” After a pause, he hurriedly added, “Not that you're bad, you're a friend to me now. But he... we were the brightest point of each other's lives. One would have thought that he had everything he could ever want and I was spoiled more than any other Pokemon in Kalos. But that was just how things appeared. The truth was worse, people were mean to him. A lot of them would say, usually behind his back, that he didn't seem like he should be a king, even though he did lots of great things for the kingdom. I guess that idiot ticked me off because of that.”

    “Even after a long time?” Calem asked. “Your friend must have really meant a lot to you.”

    Mortan sighed. “Yeah,” he said sadly. “I didn't care if he was king or not. Oh, but we shouldn't be wasting time. I'll tell you more later.”

    “All right.” He pushed some grasses aside and noticed that there was a path ahead. He headed for that while asking, “So what kind of Pokemon should we be looking for?”

    “Hmm, we'll just have to see what's here. But this should be a good place. I'm not sure what that jerk or the judges will want to see. In my experience, Furfrou would actually be a good choice. Sure, some of them look pretty silly these days, but in the past, they used to be part of the royal guard along with Aegislash and Bisharp. Um, I don't know if Bisharp or Pawniard would be around here. And you won't be finding an Aegislash, although we might come across its lower form of Honedge if we're lucky. Pyroar would be pretty good too, but an actual Pyroar might be too proud to consent to capture. As for anything else, we'll just see what we find.”

    They came out onto a narrow path cut into the tall grass. Sharp turns made it hard to see where this path might lead or how long it would be. In the middle of one path, they saw a pink and white Pokemon that looked a bit like a teddy bear. No, Calem thought, like the Spinda bear doll that one of his old friends used to carry around constantly. The real Spinda was twirling about, tilting its upper half back and forth in a way that was dizzying to watch.

    “What in the world is that Pokemon?” Mortan asked.

    “You don't know?” Calem asked. “It's a Spinda.”

    “Oh. Would it be associated with royalty?”

    “I don't think so,” he said. “And if you don't recognize it, I guess it wouldn't be associated with Kalos royalty. Huh, but Tierno might like to know it's here. He likes dancing and is fascinated by how Pokemon move; he'd get a real kick out of this one. I'll let him know later.” Calem decided to follow the path in the opposite direction, running his hand along the line of grass. Maybe that would get the attention of the Pokemon hiding there.

    It seemed to work, as they ran across an Espurr and a Ledyba before long. Mortan seemed unsure about those two, so Calem let them go and kept looking. Eventually, a Furfrou jumped onto the path ahead of them and barked.

    “Oh, this one should be good,” Mortan said. “He's asking if we're good enough to be his friends. Are you looking for a Trainer?”

    The Furfrou seemed to confirm that, so Calem nodded. “Okay. I need you to keep helping me so... Swift, where are you?”

    There was a flash of blue from the grasses with barely a sound, and the Froakie was sitting between him and the Furfrou. Swift gave a few croaks, then took a ready position to wait for orders. The Furfrou barked and the battle quickly begun.

    After some time, when both Swift and the Furfrou seemed to be weakening, Calem said, “Okay, Furfrou, we're involved in a Pokemon catching competition. Would you mind coming along with us to help?”

    The Furfrou barked, something Mortan translated to, “Play with you? Yes!” Calem used one of the Luxury Pokeballs to capture it. As it sealed shut successfully, there was a plop on the ground just behind Calem's feet. He looked and saw that it was another Spinda... no wait, it was the same one; it had the same three-leaf clover shaped mark over its left eye. But instead of acting clumsy, the Spinda got itself on its front paws, twirled around, then spun its body so that it was standing upright again.

    “You again?” Calem asked.

    The Spinda put a paw to its chin and tilted its head at what looked like an uncomfortable angle. Mortan floated off into the air and looked at him, then shook his head and turned back around. “He says that he had some reason to follow us, but he forgot it.” Meanwhile, the Spinda twirled around and passed them at the edges of the grass, making a loud rustle as he did so.

    “At least he's carefree and honest about it,” Calem said. “Maybe we should try to pick him up and see if Tierno wants a dance partner.”

    At that, the Spinda squealed, then spun even more, out of the path. Mortan returned to Calem's shoulder. “After him! He said that's why, we mentioned dancing. But now he's getting away.”

    Calem started to run. “Sheesh. Slow him down, would you Swift?” He heard a croak and then the Froakie disappeared into the tall grass again.

    After a couple of turns, they came out to a square-shaped opening in the tall grasses. There was a bench here for some reason; perhaps this had been a better tended area previously. In front of the bench, Swift was rubbing her nose in a contented manner. The Spinda was sprawled out on the ground, limbs all askew. But right as Calem was going to ask if she had knocked him out, the Spinda sat up and shook his head as if to clear it.

    Calem went over and crouched by the two Pokemon. “Okay Spinda, can you hold still for a bit and listen? Please?”

    “TeEEeeeEeEEEe,” the Spinda said. Even his voice seemed to be spinning around dizzily.

    “He'll give us a minute or so,” Mortan said, causing the Spinda to put on a curious look.

    “Good, then,” the Spinda's head was twisting about, looking at all of them in quick succession. Calem put his hand on the Spinda's head so that it sat still while he talked to him. “I came here looking for regal Pokemon, but actually, one of my friends loves to dance and Pokemon who can dance. He'd be thrilled to meet you. Do you mind if I capture you and give you to him? You can always part if it doesn't work out, but I think you two would get along.”

    “HaaaAAaaaAaaaAaa,” the Spinda said.

    “Huh?” Mortan asked. “He says that's no trouble to him, but there will be trou...” the Flabebe then gasped. Swift had also stopped her grooming and was poised for battle again. “Uuh... yeah, we're in trouble.”

    “How so?” Calem asked, not seeing what was wrong at first. There were some rustling sounds in the grass nearby, but that was just Pokemon, right? Even so, he captured the Spinda in one of the Luxury Balls, just in case.

    Then there was a clear rattling of the grass, from all directions. Seven Pokemon emerged from the grass, making the small opening seem crowded and closed in. Each one of them was a strange floating sword, with long tassels linking them to sheaths. Most of them were silver bladed with rich blue tassels. However, the one on the other side of the bench from Calem was the color of blood, with black in its handle and sheath. That one was particularly ominous, although being surrounded by any Pokemon would be worrisome.

    Mortan and Swift backed up closer to him protectively. “Hey, we're not here to make trouble,” Calem said, trying to keep his voice confident as he stood up. Metallic voices answered him and some (including the red one) quivered. Mocking him, or nervous too? “What are these Pokemon?”

    “They're Honedge,” Mortan said. “They would work, but, um, this is bad. They don't seem right. Hmm?” He floated off Calem's shoulder to look at the red one. “What? No, we're not waiting on a girl. Why're you...? Ah, huh.” He turned back to Calem. “It's in their nature to drain aura from other beings and... we happened upon their hunting party.”

    “Oh. Well then, if we prove that we're strong, would you let us go?” Calem asked. The Honedges made shrill metallic sounds, like snickering or hating.

    “They're going to be tough,” Mortan said as Calem got ready to release the other two Pokemon he had. “And something doesn't seem right with them. I've never seen any Honedge act like this, even when hunting.”

    “Yes, so we'll just have to give them all that we've got,” he said. “Okay, on the attack! Do what you can.” He used Rain Dance while the rest went into motion; rainy conditions would make it easier on him to get through this tough match. But of his Pokemon, he wasn't sure who or what would be most effective.

    Immediately, a horrible sound filled Calem's ears. It was screechy and metallic, like a metal fork being dragged across a ceramic plate. He tried to cover his ears, but it still came through. As water droplets dripped down his face, he realized that the Honedges could hear this too, but nothing else would. It made no sense to him, although it filled him with dread.

    The Spinda went into a bewilderingly quick dance. It made a circle appear between their group and the hunting Honedges, then sent many little lights shooting in dizzying patterns among the sword Pokemon. The Spinda then slipped and fell on the ground, gasping even though nothing had hit him yet; it seemed whatever he did took a lot of energy. However, it worked amazingly to confuse the most of the Honedge party. The red one managed to resist, coming into the spell's boundary. The rest were soon fighting with each other.

    Swift did not even croak a warning before she launched herself at the red Honedge, trying to knock him away from Calem. His body faded for a moment and she passed right through his blade. Then he whirled his tassel around and smacked Calem with his sheath, knocking him over. The boy's arm throbbed and tingled where the Honedge had struck. Did they have a cursed touch? Swift immediately used Water Gun on the red Honedge, but he evaded the attack and fling his tassel around Calem's head. Tightening his grip, he brought himself closer. Calem's mind suddenly filled with murderous thoughts, but not his own. It was like something was ordering him to kill, ordering anyone who could hear to kill. Afraid of those thoughts, he reached up and tried to throw the Honedge off.

    “Don't touch it, Calem!” Mortan warned, right before a gray glow appeared around him and the red Honedge. There was a quick flash, like the shining blade of a guillotine, passing barely by his ears. But the attack only struck the Honedge, causing him to let go and back up. The way the strange eyes on his hilt looked, he was only keeping conscious through sheer willpower alone. He made some sounds like those of the blades clashing around them, blurring with the screechy awful sounds.

    “What's he saying?” Calem asked. His legs felt weak, so he didn't try to get back up. At least the murderous thoughts were fading. But there were flashes of light returning to him. Although confused, the other Honedges had defeated the three other Pokemon, leaving just the Flabebe with him.

    “It could have killed you in a few seconds,” Mortan said, floating back closer to him but facing the red Honedge. “Why do you care what it says?”

    “Well he's a hunter, and seems to be intelligent. Thanks for stopping him, Mortan.”

    “Um, I'm just doing what any Pokemon would, for its Trainer,” the Flabebe said. Then there was a slicing sound from the red Honedge right before it attacked. Mortan was down too, leaving Calem alone with these strangely murderous Pokemon. And that wicked noise, grating against his mind.

    Somewhere in that racket, he heard the grasses being moved. Four other Honedges showed up, all blue ones. They started arguing with the confused ones. Strangely, the red Honedge came closer and seemed to be against the new ones. Protecting him? Calem wondered if he could run away to get his Pokemon healed. At least get out of this demonic noise so he could think clearly. But the blue Honedges intimidated the red one, almost bringing him to tears it seemed like. Then they pointed their blades at Calem, forcing him to move.

    His body ached and his legs didn't feel steady, but Calem got up and followed their lead. It seemed to be the better option, as compared to possibly getting sliced up. Even if they did hunt other Pokemon and humans for energy, he thought that they wouldn't kill their victims. If a Pokemon actually killed a human, then there was something very wrong with it.

    Unfortunately, the noise did not relent, getting clearer as they approached a rather new structure hidden past the overgrown grasses. It was a simple block of concrete that gave a flat surface to an ugly green metal box. Something with the power system? The rain from his spell was clearing out, so he couldn't read it as easily. But now the sound was giving him those deadly thoughts again, one of which was particularly disturbing: sacrifice another to silence the nightmares. That was why the Honedges had brought him here. They were trying to stop this thing that was driving them crazy.

    Was it? Fearful, Calem turned back around to see that six Honedges were with him now, including the red one. They seemed to be arguing again, one of the blue ones forcing a healing berry on the red one. It all seemed bizarre. But more importantly, how was he going to get out of this? Only one was at his side now, so if he could somehow throw that one off... but did he have the energy to run from them? He could barely stand here. As the rain ended, he sat on the edge of the concrete block, hoping he could get enough energy back to run before it was too late.

    Then the rain picked back up. Strange; he hadn't recast it. He looked up and saw the enchanted clouds, with perfectly clear blue skies right around it. It wasn't supposed to rain today. Not only that, but this rain felt different from what he summoned. It was cold and foreboding, making him feel sick with dread. But it was back, so he could tell more of what was going on...

    The Honedges certainly meant to sacrifice him to stop their torment, but they didn't want to. That was the cause of the arguments. Since none of them wanted to kill but all were desperate, the blue ones were harassing the red one into doing it. They didn't like him, thinking his color was ominous. Maybe even an omen of this event. The red one was scared of the others for their past treatment of him. Still, even he didn't want to take another's life entirely.

    In contrast, the box that was tormenting them felt nothing. It was a machine, after all. In his heightened awareness next to it, Calem could catch thoughts of the machine's creator: pride, diligence, not a speck of compassion. This device was to create strife for some greater purpose. The machinist thought, what does it matter that some Pokemon are tormented and some people killed? The feelings it would send throughout Kalos were what was needed. The goal was worth any cost.

    Calem put his head in his hands; the noise was starting to make his mind hurt. “I don't want to die,” he said to himself. So he had to do something.

    “Then you should kill them before they kill you,” a ragged voice just behind him said. And it wasn't something he could barely interpret because of the rain. This was someone speaking a language he understood.

    He put down his hands and turned his head quickly, startled that he hadn't noticed anyone approaching him. There was a hooded man crouched near him. Or wait... was this human? He had no eyes whatsoever, a stub and holes that might have been a nose, and thin scars where he should have lips; this was more like someone had wrapped skin over a human skull without thinking to give it any features. Spidery black marks covered the right half of his non-face, and were matched by markings on his right hand as he offered Calem something. A long knife of some kind... no, he could tell in the rain that it was an enchanted dagger and it would be deadly to anything that met its blade.

    This faceless man was more terrifying than the Honedges; he certainly had no remorse about killing and had none of the presence that a normal person would have. Calem tried to get up and run immediately, but quickly tripped and fell back onto the ground. Noticing that, the Honedges quieted and looked over at them. The faceless man gave a short chuckle and appeared next to the noisy boxed machine, seemingly moving without actually moving. “Calem, don't try to run. I can always find you. But then, I probably won't actually hurt you. On the other hand, these foolish blades need to die for trying to kill you. Do it.”

    “N-no,” he said, hoping that this man-creature's 'probably actually' was closer to 'I won't hurt you' than not.

    He hissed in annoyance. “You don't want to rebel against me. I have mastered my power; you can barely grasp your own.”

    “A-ar-are you really th-that strong?” Calem closed his eyes, silently cursing his fear. He was trying to be cool, like heroes in action movies who tricked the bad guys into doing what they wanted. Like stopping the machine making that infernal noise.

    “You're a pitiful liar,” the faceless man said. “You should be able to tell that even at your level.”

    “But I can barely sense you, I don't really know who you are,” he said. To some degree, that was the truth. Even in this sunny rain, the faceless man seemed like little more than a shadow to his aura sense. He did think that it was a strong possibility that he could feel the man's power through the rain he had brought with him: cold, foreboding, and dangerous.

    “How can you not even know that?” he said, angered. He slammed his fist into the strange box. Even though he looked so thin and shadowy, he shattered the thin plate of metal like a brick hitting glass. The shards of it cut through the machinery inside, causing the noise to stop. Satisfied with that demonstration, he appeared next to Calem. “If you don't figure that out, you're going to remain ignorant and powerless. Ask your coward of a father, and let him know that I'm not going to forgive him now. Maybe not now, maybe not this year, but I will punish him for this negligence and betrayal.”

    While the faceless man was ranting, Calem sensed that the Honedges had moved. Most had retreated from the area, now that the noise was gone. However, the red one approached them instead. The Honedge got himself within a few feet of them, then lunched forward in an attempt to strike at the faceless man's head.

    The attack didn't connect, as the man slipped away right before it hit. “You foolish Pokemon,” he growled as pink sparkles appeared around him. “You don't have the will to deal death. I'll...” he would have killed the Honedge, Calem sensed that. But then the pink aura latched onto his hands, acting as chains. “Tch, you got lucky. Don't try that again.” Then he vanished, this time surrounded by the pink chains rather than his shadowy warping. The foreboding rain began to lighten.

    “What in the world was that?” Calem asked. His dad knew something about this deadly presence? It was strange. But then again, he felt grateful that he'd managed to escape death a second time, somehow.

    The red Honedge looked around, as if worried that the faceless man would reappear. But when he didn't, the sword Pokemon came back to Calem's side. Now that the noise was gone, he seemed more upset than dangerous. He said some metallic words, some kind of an apology. Then, he held his sheath out in front of himself, horizontally, as if offering it to Calem. Offering himself?

    It was a weapon he'd rather have than that dagger, Calem thought as he nodded. “Okay, I accept your apology. It was only because of this thing, right? Thank goodness he stopped it.” He brought out his last Luxury Ball and, after making sure, captured the Honedge.

    But then, what did he do now? He still felt weakened, definitely too tired to bike or walk back to the Chateau. After releasing the Honedge and telling him so, the sword Pokemon left for a moment, returning with a Kadabra. The rain was gone at some point, but the Kadabra was capable of telepathy and told him that she owed the Honedge (and thus Calem as his Trainer) a favor that would be used to get them back. Calem asked the Kadabra to let him fetch his bike, then take him back to the Chateau's entrance. With that favor returned, the Kadabra immediately disappeared to return back to her home.

    Not long after they arrived, one of the maids came out of the doors. “Calem, are you all right?” she asked.

    “I had a close call in a really strange encounter,” he said, sitting on the steps and shivering a little at remembering it.

    She offered him a hand. “Well come back inside and I'll get you some tea; it should help calm you down.”

    “Thanks. Oh, can you heal my Pokemon back up? Most of them are unconscious.”

    “Certainly, we'll tend to them immediately.”

    When the hour had passed, a group had gathered in the entrance room. There were the usual servants and a couple other young nobility that might've been the other guy's friends, as well as Calem's friends. Last of all, Calem's competitor came in the front door. “Welcome back,” a maid said. “You're a few minutes later than planned, but within good time.”

    “What, you were timing us?” the young nobleman said, shutting the door behind him.

    She gave a small bow. “Of course. If you're going to be having us judge any competition, we'll keep it to our standards. Miss Serena's friends said that you were after Pokemon worthy of royalty, correct? May we see the Pokeballs of those you caught to confirm the capture date and location?”

    “Sure thing,” he said, handing over two Pokeballs. Calem nodded and got out the three he had used. While he'd calmed his fear, his nerves were still on edge and he wanted nothing more than to get out of the battle area as soon as he could. No more fighting for today.

    “How many did you each use?” the maid asked.

    “Five,” the nobleman said.

    “Five?” Calem asked. “You only gave me these three.”

    “Yeah, that's right,” Shauna said. “I saw it happen.”

    “Slanting your chances before you began, Larry?” Serena asked. “Sorry Calem, I would've warned you if I'd seen it happen.”

    “Please don't call me Larry,” the young nobleman said, irritated but trying not annoy Serena further. “You know I don't like that.”

    Serena smiled sweetly. “Then don't trouble my friends like you did.”

    “Well three out of three is an excellent rate for Luxury Balls,” the maid said, examining them. “But that's not what your competition was about. So then, Larry has... a Furfrou and a Sigilyph, ah, very nice! The Furfrou is tightly linked to Kalos royalty, the Sigilyph to rulers of even more ancient lands. And Calem... has a Furfrou as well, a Spinda, and a Honedge. Well I don't think Spinda is related to any royalty.”

    “I knew that,” Calem said. “I picked it up to show one of my friends.”

    The maid bowed. “Ah, probably a good idea. I haven't ever seen a Spinda in this area, or along Route 6, so it's quite the lucky encounter for you. As for the Honedge, that's a good one for royalty, especially a young one. If taken care of properly, it will grow to become an Aegislash, known as the king's sword even today.”

    “So it's a tie then?” the young nobleman asked, disappointed.

    “Perhaps,” the maid said. “But, there's two more factors that need to be considered. And one is, this Honedge... the status screen notes that this is a red one.”

    “What?” he asked, stunned. Then the blue ones were more common, Calem thought.

    The maid nodded. “It's a rare coloration for a Honedge, quite special. With a unique factor to that, I would say that it is more fitting of royalty than a Sigilyph, and you tied on the Furfrou. That gives an edge to Calem.”

    “Then what's the other factor?” Calem asked.

    “Attitude. I heard from one of the butlers that the whole match started because Lawrence was being harsh to a child, and Calem stepped in to defend against you. It was different in the past, but here in the Chateau, your behavior must be on par with your ranking for you to earn full respect from the staff. Calem's chivalrous actions are more befitting of someone deserving royal status than yours. Thus, I must give the match to Calem, both on the Pokemon and on himself. Congratulations.” She then handed back the Pokeballs.

    “Now that isn't fair,” the young nobleman complained, taking his Pokemon back.

    “Neither is picking on somebody smaller than you,” Shauna said with a glare. Never mind that she was still as short as Trevor.

    “Was there something at stake for this match?” Serena asked, coming over.

    “No, but I consider the Pokemon reward enough,” Calem said, setting the Honedge and Furfrou in his party slot. That and being alive, but on thinking it over, he wasn't sure if he was ready to talk about it. Would they believe him? “I wouldn't have been able to afford these kind of Pokeballs. Oh yeah, here Tierno; I thought you'd like to have this Spinda.” He released it; the spotted bear promptly teetered around, trying to figure out who was the dancer.

    Tierno's eyes widened at that, watching the Spinda. “Cool, I've never actually seen one except in pictures!” He tried to mimic it, but the Spinda went quickly into moves that required more dexterity than Tierno had.

    “I could do something about a reward,” the maid said. “There've been other complaints about you, Lawrence, even after we warned you, so we're knocking you down to the Baron rank.” This got a frown from the nobleman, but he didn't storm off until she continued by saying, “And you've been Miss Serena's guest this weekend, Calem, but from how you've conducted yourself, I'll put together an official invitation and members card for you. You'll be starting at the lowest rank of Baron, but with victories and a continuing of your good behaviors, you could earn higher titles of nobility in time.”

    -+-

    Later that day, they met Serena's parents for the first time. Calem recognized her mother after a moment as the famed Pokemon racer Grace; she had aged a little since her earlier days as a sports star, but was getting back into racing. She was boisterous and playful, more like Shauna than Serena. On the other hand, Serena's father Edward was a dignified gentleman who was much like his daughter in personality. He recited a prayer before their meal and had a formal setting placed, even if it was just family and friends there.

    Because of that, Calem felt obligated to speak formally with the man when starting a conversation. “Excuse me, but do you know much about the Pokemon Honedge?”

    Edward nodded. “Yes, I’ve been using one in various team setups for a while. What would you like to know?”

    “Well I'm not entirely certain, but something odd is going on with the wild Honedges along Route 6,” he said. “I was there a little while catching Pokemon today and the battle I had with them was very different from the rest. For one thing, me and my Pokemon got surrounded by seven at once.”

    “Then you encountered a horde? Various Pokemon will do that, especially the weaker ones who band together to defend themselves against stronger wild Pokemon.” He set his fork down before rubbing his beard. “Seven is a rather large one; you usually encounter four or five.”

    “They'll group together like that?” Tierno said, intrigued. “Wow, that'd be cool to see.”

    Edward smiled. “Yes, although it can prove difficult if you're not prepared.”

    “Actually, that Spinda was able to use a confusion move on all of them, which helped a lot,” Calem said. This was going to be tricky to convey, since he didn't want to reveal that the Flabebe sitting on the back of his chair could speak like a human. “But there was something about them that felt different. They were attacking either aggressively or fearfully, more than any other Pokemon I've seen. And my own Pokemon acted different in reaction to them; they were wary and more protective of me than usual. Also, I got Rain Dance up because I have better awareness in rainy conditions, and once I did, I was hearing this horrible nightmarish noise. I believe only they could hear it.”

    “Now that is odd,” Edward said. “I could understand if they seem more aggressive. Some of the Honedge line are simply like that. But fearful, of a group like yours? No, don't take it the wrong way; they normally wouldn't be afraid of a Trainer and some other Pokemon. If anything, they're more likely to be sly fighters, waiting for the right moment to strike and trying to get their opponent to touch their hilt.”

    “That's the handle part, right?” Shauna asked. “Is it because they're a sword?”

    He shook his head. “No, that's part of a deception. Touching their hilt without proper safeguards will drain the life out of anyone.”

    “One of them did get close enough to do that to me,” Calem said. When Edward looked right at him, he added, “It was the first move he made after they surrounded us. As the rain was up, I felt a murderous intent at that, but I'm almost certain it wasn't from the Honedges; it was from something else that was tormenting them. He was the one that I captured, actually.”

    “Whoa, really?” Tierno asked, shocked to hear that. Others were too, including Serena and Edward. “It was different, but that'd make me too spooked to even consider capturing it.”

    “It did scare me,” Calem admitted. “But then things got stranger after my Pokemon fainted. They brought me to some kind of device that was emitting the sound. Right there, it was nightmarish. I'm not even sure what I saw there really happened, but the red Honedge eventually drove off a dangerous spirit from me and offered to help me. The device did get damaged, so the noise stopped. But it's still there and someone might be able to fix it, whoever put it there in the first place.”

    “That doesn't sound right,” Edward said in concern. “That device should be investigated. Were there any other Pokemon acting strangely?”

    He shook his head. “Not that I saw. Mine weren't worried until the surprise horde battle and the other two I captured seem perfectly fine.”

    “I'll go check it out tonight. But first, may I take your Honedge to a Pokemon doctor? You should get it thoroughly checked out before you use it, given the circumstances of its capture. Since I’ll be using the information to figure this mystery out, I’ll cover the cost of the exam.”

    “Sure thank you. May I come along? I want to know about it too.”

    “Certainly, glad you asked.”

    He took me all the way to another town in order to meet with a specialist. The Honedge, which I named Percival based on Richard's suggestions of a knightly name, showed signs of malnutrition. The doctor said that was normal for certain alternate color Pokemon, as many Pokemon were intelligent enough to hold superstitions and feel like different ones were ill-fated. Other than that, nothing was physically wrong with him.

    Mentally was a different issue. He showed signs of living in stressful conditions, and with some questions, I was able to get Percival to agree that he and his kin had been having nightmares. There was once during the exam when he got agitated suddenly and seemed like he was going to attack, but we were able to get him to calm down. On seeing that, the doctor said there was something going wrong with his aura, like a glitch or curse that was affecting his judgment. I had to leave Percival with the doctor for a few weeks until they could figure out how to undo that particular curse, so that he wouldn't attack inappropriately.

    Once we got back to the Chateau, Richard took off for Route 6 to look into it himself. He actually got hurt by the afflicted wild Honedges; it even appeared on the Kalos news broadcasts on the Holocaster network. But being hurt didn't bother Richard. He was more concerned for the Pokemon and figuring out what was causing them problems. The full answers wouldn't come for some time, even as they managed to relieve the problem temporarily for the wild Honedges.


    -+-

    As for my father... he tried to help, but his words just worried me even more
    .

    The Battle Chateau was open at all hours, at least the southern rooms where battles were held. But the northern end and the top floor were private to Serena's family, making them much quieter. In a window seat of one of the first floor halls, Calem could hear the lapping of the river below, the rustle of trees on the northern bank, and night Pokemon starting to call out to each other. The moon was reflected in the rippling surface of the river; a cool breeze came in through the open window. Occasionally, he could hear faint footsteps in other rooms, but he was the only one in this hall right now. He'd excused himself from the evening activities to call his dad.

    Having more confidence that his dad would believe him more readily, Calem described the whole incident to him. “And when that faceless man was around, he acted like I should know who he was and what he was talking about. When I said I didn't he got angry at you and said that he wouldn't forgive you, and that he'd punish you at some point.”

    His father, who had been quietly in listening, finally said, “I thought there'd be more time before they tried contacting you. It would've been over faster then, but you've still got several years...” He cursed quietly, something he rarely did.

    “Dad?” Calem asked, his mind recalling the fright of this afternoon exactly now. “What... what was that man?”

    “No one you should listen to,” he said. “That's the most important thing: don't do what they say, don't trust them. They won't hurt you, at least not seriously at this point.”

    “They? I only saw one.”

    “That might've been luck and only that one has found you so far. Don't worry about knowing who they are; that will only make it easier for them to find you. If they find you again, don't trust them and tell them to leave you alone. Or better yet, just ignore them. That's safest.”

    “Why aren't you telling me anything?” Calem said, feeling torn between fright that there were more like those faceless man out there trying to find him and anger at his dad for not telling him more. “That's what he said was a big problem, that you hadn't told me.”

    “I don't want to tell you their name as you saying it might summon them to you,” his dad said, sounding afraid as well.

    I had nightmares about that for weeks afterward, but he still wouldn't tell me.]
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  18. #18
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    So, nothing like this happens in the games. The locations should be mostly correct, just expanded on. Then I borrowed some things from the Gold/Silver/Crystal plot, because why not? Well I do have my reasons, but nothing I'd reveal now.

    The faceless man, on the other hand... he is sort of from the X/Y games. If you've seen lists about 'mysteries of X and Y', then you've probably seen it on them. Midway through the game, your friends tell you to meet them at a supposedly haunted house. You meet an old gentleman there who tells a 'scary' story that's not even taken seriously in the game; it's about a 'horde of faceless men'. Some people think it's a weird reference to the horde battle mechanic or an unreleased Pokemon, others think it's a subplot that got cut from the final game. Maybe the next edition will clear things up. Maybe not. But the story does little except make use of dramatic camera angles and the optional tipping feature. Pfft, I'd rather give a tip to the guy who plays N's theme song.

    But that idea was something I couldn't resist using.

    No lesson this time; chapter's long enough as it is.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  19. #19
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    And then everything takes a turn for the strange... That's two villains now then, Lysandre and the Faceless Man. Presumably, shenanigans will ensue in the near future.

    Calem's team has doubled in size, though Mortan seemed to go down very easily for being what he is. Is this a side effect of the de-evolution?

    As a side note about Mortan, I've actually just found out that the Flabebe line is all-female. You ignoring that, or was it just an oversight?
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  20. #20
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    That was a mistake, but I'm keeping it since Mortan's set as a male in my mind. And I don't really see why the Flabebe line needs to be all female. Sure, they're flower fairies, but don't need to exclude males from being that when the Ralts line of ballerinas always had males, haha.

    I like strange.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  21. #21
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    Chapter 6: Bugs and Stars

    Save for the Route 6 incident, my first year at the Lumiose Magic Academy ended well. I had good grades, not the top (because in my homeroom alone, the top grade average was contested between Trevor and Serena) but better than I expected. I went back to Vaniville for summer break and was glad to spend good time with my parents again. However, my parents were busily employed. I ended up spending several days with just their Pokemon and mine, much like past summers. But I didn't have the option to go visit Gran, so I soon got bored. Dad suggested that I look for a temporary job around Vaniville, but I soon found a more interesting option a bit further north from Aquacorde, in Santalune.

    At the bus station, Calem checked the newspaper clipping for the address he needed. But on walking a couple of blocks down the colorful old town, it quickly became apparent that he didn't need the address. There was one large building with a semitrailer parked in front of it. The building had been made to fit into this community, but it had an air of newness that the rest he saw did not. In a couple of weeks, this place was going to open as an official Kalos Pokemon League Gym.

    Outside of the building, he found a few other kids and a number of Pokemon waiting around a woman. Most of the Pokemon there were Bug type, Calem noted. Then a Bug Gym? He didn't have a Bug Pokemon, although for the first part of this, he probably didn't need one. The woman, after looking over a clipboard, looked at the group. “Okay, anybody else needs to sign up for the job?”

    “I'd like to,” Calem called, hurrying over to them. “Sorry for being late.”

    She smiled kindly. She had pale brown hair tied up in a ponytail and dressed more like she was out for a hike than setting up a gym. “You're just in time, actually. Okay then, my name is Viola, soon to be the Gym Leader here. What's your name?”

    “Calem,” he said, stopping as some of the others parted to let him in the group. “Nice to meet you.”

    “You too. Do you have the application letter as it was in the ad?” He nodded and handed it over, leading her to copy a few lines on her clipboard. But one point made her raise her eyebrows. “You're from LMA? Oh dear, I don't think I have the forms for their interns yet.”

    He shook his head. “No, that's fine. I don't think I need to be doing that yet.”

    She laughed gently. “Oh yes, I see. Anyhow, looks good, so welcome to the crew.” She looked over them in case of another latecomer. “Okay then, the basic structure of the gym is up, but we need to put everything else in place, prepare some set pieces, test the challenge structures, run test battles, and many other small tasks. Let the Pokemon handle the heavy lifting and... let's see...”

    That first day, he got assigned to help paint the entrance room with a few other kids. Over the next few days, he helped with more painting, assisted with carpeting the entrance room, created a few sculptures that resembled giant leaves, helped to test the weight capacity of a path of spider webbing, and battled a few times with the other assistants to make sure the Gym was ready. A lot of it was tough work, but they only had to work a few hours a day. And Viola would work alongside them, chatting in a friendly way and making sure the tasks weren't drudgery.

    -+-

    One day, Calem got a surprise when Swift evolved into a Frogadier during some test battles. She didn't change all that much at first; she grew a little larger, refined her look, changed her basic stance. After the work was over, he took her out to Route 22 to see how she performed more out in the open. She was getting quicker and stronger.

    He had all of his Pokemon out as usual. Mortan was hiding among some flowers, keeping an eye on Percival. The Honedge was keeping to the shadows of trees rather than joining in. Having gotten him back a couple days ago, Calem knew he should do something to make Percival feel more comfortable with having them as friends. He wasn't sure what, other than just having him around and treating him like the others. His father had said that some Pokemon just needed more time to adjust to being in a Trainer's party; it might be a case like that.

    On the other hand, the Furfrou was happily running along the footpath, eager to join battles and get other Pokemon to race him. Calem had the Furfrou race against Swift. The canine Pokemon rushed along in one continuous motion, in a straight line. Opposing him, Swift could make impressively agile bounds, but not actually run. She opted to use a jagged path, landing among grasses that just covered her. At the point where the two of them turned around, she hopped out and landed right in the Furfrou's path. He fumbled immediately in trying not to trip over her, allowing her an extra few seconds to turn and jump back. Swift won.

    “That was a clever bit of trickery,” Calem told them, then came over and petted the Furfrou. “But it was trickery in the end, so don't let it get you down. You could've won that.”

    The Furfrou barked and licked his face, making him laugh. At that point, someone nearby said, “Your Furfrou's looking a bit rough. How does it even see with its fur like that?”

    He looked over and saw someone familiar. “Oh, h-hello Serena,” he said. To hide his bashfulness, he turned back to the Furfrou and lifted the fur from his eyes. “I was wondering that myself, but he doesn't seem to have much trouble. I don't think he looks bad.”

    Serena came closer, taking hold of the Furfrou's fur and running it through her fingers. “Maybe to the average person, but a Furfrou admirer would find him quite shaggy.”

    “I have wondered if I should get his fur cut, if only to keep him cool as the summer gets hot,” Calem said. “I know I've seen an ad for a groomer in Vaniville.”

    “You'd best make sure that the groomer is able to handle a Furfrou,” Serena said. “And once you start trimming them, their fur grows out quickly. You'd have to get it done at least once a week, preferably twice.”

    “That much? Seriously? I didn't know that when I got him.” And that was something to be concerned about. If a groomer might need extra training to deal with a Furfrou (which it sounded like from her explanation), then it would probably cost extra too. And this job was due to end soon.

    “If you battle regularly, you should be able to handle the costs,” she said, almost reading his mind.

    “I have been battling, but I'm not getting much for it directly,” he said. When she gave him a puzzled look, he explained about how he was helping out in the new Gym.

    That seemed to impress her. “Oh, you're helping out Viola? That's great; I’ve seen her battle a few times and I’m sure she could give you some interesting tips. Mostly if you... oh, do you have a Bug typed Pokemon?” She glanced around at his Pokemon that were hanging out nearby.

    “No, I'm just helping her set up after all,” Calem said.

    “You'd get better experience if you kept working with her after the Gym opened, and for that,” Serena smiled at some idea she had. “Actually, I knew about Furfrous since I was thinking about training one myself for a while. It would be different to have to raise one while also keeping attentive to its appearance. So how about we trade? I picked up a Pinsir recently, but I don't think I’ll actually be using her. If I do decide on using a Bug Pokemon, I’ve got another in mind.”

    A Pinsir? He couldn't think immediately of what that Pokemon was. But working as a Gym Trainer could be interesting too. And he knew that he could trust the Furfrou's care to Serena. Calem nodded. “All right, that sounds good.” They handled the trade there so that the Furfrou left with Serena as she went east and the Pinsir Nibbles stayed Calem.

    To his surprise, Nibbles was as tall as he was, not including the Pinsir's barbed pincers which curved over her head. She was definitely bigger than him, with a wide carapace and sturdy legs. Calem tried her out in a few battles, using what he knew about Bug types to decide which ones to keep her out in.

    The next person to walk by and talk to him was actually Viola. “Oh hey, you've got a charming new addition,” she said happily, coming into the tall grass to join them.

    “She's good, although I'm not sure about charming,” Calem said, making her laugh. “One of my friends came by earlier; she traded me the Pinsir here for my Furfrou.”

    “That's a wonderful thing to do, trade Pokemon among friends,” Viola said. “I used to do that a lot when I was a teenager. Are you re-thinking about staying on for the rest of summer?”

    “Yeah, although is one enough?” he asked, rubbing his head.

    She nodded. “Sure, that'd be fine. Since you're a relatively new Trainer, I’d only assign you to the low level challenges. But if you want to add a second, that would help you out. All you'd need to do is go into Santalune Forest and pick up a Scatterbug there. Scatterbug is an easy Pokemon to start with, but it can still become effective if you put the effort into it. If you decide to not focus on Bug types like me, then it's no trouble to release one back into the forest. Some other Pokemon, you really don't want to let back into the wild if you've trained them far enough. They start to depend on humans and can't make it in the wild as well.”

    “How do you know which ones are which?” Calem asked.

    Viola thought about it, then shrugged. “Well, it's hard to say. Asking someone like myself, who knows a lot about particular kinds, is best, but I can only judge the fitness and well-being of Bug types. As far as I know, there isn't anybody who'd know about every Pokemon out there and there are some Bug Pokemon that even I don't know much about.” She looked around, then nodded. “Hey Calem, do you know why I chose to have my Gym here? I'm actually from Lumiose and I've been traveling all around Kalos and neighboring regions since I was old enough.”

    “Is it because of Santalune Forest?” Calem asked. “The one time I went in there, I did see a lot of Bug Pokemon.”

    “That's a small reason, but the big reason is over there. See?” She pointed to a nearby mountain. While other mountains could be seen on clear days, they were all far off on the horizon. Only hills and the flat plains around Lumiose were near this one. “On that mountain lies Victory Road.”

    “Really?” Calem asked, looking over the mountain closer. There was an impressive building at a crossroads between Route 22 going east and another path going north and up the mountain. Trees and distance made it hard to make out much else about it.

    Viola nodded. “Yup. There's two castles up there. One is ancient and mostly in ruins, possibly the oldest castle structure still in Kalos. According to legends, the king that built it there had such authority over the land that he was sometimes considered a god. Even those that refused to accept him as such recognized that he had a divine aura, enough to sway the true gods. The other castle was built about fifty years ago by the Pokemon League as their final stage. Kalos no longer has a king, but the regional champions, whether in Pokemon training or magic, are often treated like royalty. I love that.”

    “Then you made sure that you had the Gym closest to the champion's castle?”

    She giggled. “Yes.” She held her hands close together. “By thirty feet! See, Snowbelle is on the other side of this route and there's a Gym there that's been established for a long time, the longest in the Kalos league currently. So when you come to either one of our gyms, you can get a glimpse of your ultimate goal just beyond your reach. I'm waiting on him to come over and tease me for making my gym closer than his.”

    Calem laughed. “Shouldn't be too long, I would think. Maybe on opening day?”

    “Maybe. Hey, do you plan on taking the League challenge at some point?”

    “I'm not sure about that,” he said with a shrug. He knew some kids his age were enthusiastic about battles, even claiming that being a trainer meant that one couldn't honorably turn down a battle. But he'd never felt as excited about it as others seemed to feel. “Maybe later when I know better what I'm doing.”

    I may have told her that, but it didn't stop her from trying to get me interested. Viola seemed that way with everyone; she said her hobby and passion was photography, and it was obvious from her Gym and office that it was so. Yet she was also passionate about Pokemon battling, encouraging those who lost and feeling happy for those who won, even against her. She said that you can tell a lot about a person and their Pokemon in battle. At the time, I thought it was some kind of talent I didn't have. I had more fun in activities that weren't battles.

    Still, I did as she recommended: I caught a Scatterbug and spent the rest of the summer as a trainer of Santalune Gym. Scatterbug was a good Pokemon and grew quickly, to the point where I was soon battling Vivillon against those seeking their badges, up to the fourth (making me the youngest Trainer of that group). But I found myself getting more attached to Nibbles the Pinsir that Serena had given me. Maybe it was because of her. Maybe it was because Mortan said that Vivillon didn't have the intelligence to speak well but Nibbles did, so I could learn about her easier. At any rate, once the summer ended, I let that Vivillon go after Viola got some pictures of it for me. Mortan said that he seemed as happy to be free as he was with me, so I guess he would think well of me.

    But even being in a job where I was running Pokemon battles nearly every day, it didn't really click for me until late in the summer. If you know of me, you probably know what I’m talking about: the time I took the magic challenge of the Santalune Gym without even trying the training badge.


    -+-

    “Calem, it's for you,” his father said, handing him the house phone. “It's your boss.”

    “All right,” he said, taking the phone. “Hello Viola.”

    “Hi Calem!” she said cheerfully. “I hope I’m not disrupting anything.”

    “No, it's fine. What is it?” He saw Mortan land his flower on top of the phone's base, examining it.

    “Would you mind coming in later than you usually do tomorrow? About two o'clock. It's for something special, as if you work normally, you're going to have to quit early because of it.”

    “It depends. What do you want me do to?”

    “I want you to take my magic challenge.” She sounded serious about it too.

    Calem thought about immediately declining. But, she should know he wasn't that interested now. Did she have a reason behind this request? “Why? I've only completed one year at the magic school, so I don't know if I'm ready for something like that.”

    “It's fine, don't worry about the difficulty. The requirements for the first proof of magic are easy. After all, the main thing I'd be looking for is seeing how you cast in the heat of battle. I've already seen you use weather-manipulation spells in battle, which is more than enough to pass the first proof. I just can't give it to you unless you make a formal challenge. And, I would really like a first proof challenge to happen tomorrow because I'm at a loss for ideas for the other challenge.”

    That was reassuring, but, “What other challenge?”

    “Well, I got a call earlier asking for a reservation for an eighth proof challenge tomorrow, at two o'clock. The training badge challenges aren't that tough to plan for, since the league is fine if you do straight battles for any level. I'm still working on what I want for my proof of magic challenges, though, and haven't gotten around to the eighth.”

    “And I come into this how?” Viola explained her idea on how to handle it until she had something better. With the reassurance that he should be capable of his first level challenge, Calem agreed to help out. He then said goodbye to her and disconnected the call. But he didn't put the phone back immediately as Mortan was still sitting there. “Something bugging you?”

    “A little,” the Flabebe said. He turned his head as Calem's father came back into the room, so floated over to Calem's shoulder to add, “I don't like the phone. I can't hear what the other person is saying.”

    “That's how I feel when you talk to other Pokemon,” Calem pointed out.

    He blushed. “Oh, right, sorry. I suppose neither of us can help it. What are we gonna do?”

    “We're gonna do something a little crazy tomorrow,” he said. Which meant that he had to explain to his now curious parents, but they were happy to hear of it.

    The next day, he arrived in Santalune a few minutes before two and hurried to the gym. There was a camera crew there, something that he should have anticipated. Most people weren't interested in watching a low level proof challenge, but as the higher levels happened less often, this eighth level challenge at a new gym was sure to get regional attention. He went to meet Viola in her office and chatted with her until another gym trainer came to tell them that the other challenger was here.

    She was a beautiful woman. Although she was here for battle, she was dressed as elegantly as a movie star at a gala event. Her outfit was even themed for this gym, with a red, black, and white dress that resembled the patterns on a Ledian. She had platinum blond hair that was left loose, save for two braids at the front which were tied around at the back. But as he'd heard, this was normal for her. Diantha was a movie star, after a breakout role in a blockbuster movie that made her known worldwide. She stood out in this crowd like a glamorous goddess, even though everyone else dressed well for this occasion too. Calem had decided to wear his school uniform today instead of trying to find something else formal, which seemed quite modest compared to others..

    “Welcome to Santalune, Miss Diantha,” Viola said warmly, treating her as friendly as she treated everyone else. “It's good to see you here.”

    “Thanks Viola,” Diantha said, shaking her hand in a dainty manner. “And congratulations on being picked as a Gym Leader. I've been hearing good things about you.”

    Viola smiled in a humble way. “I'm just doing what I love, like always. And you're here for your eighth proof of magic in the Kalos League. This is going to be fun! Are you ready?”

    “Ready and raring to go,” she said, giving a glance at the Pokemon accompanying her, an equally elegant Gardevoir. “What do you need me to do?”

    “We'll get to that when we get inside, but first,” she nodded to Calem, who stepped forward to her side. “You'll be working with this young man, Calem. He's here for his first proof, and you two are going to be taking the same test. Come in and see.” She then went inside the Gym ahead of them.

    Diantha paused a moment to consider him. “Together, huh? This should be interesting. Good to meet you Calem.” She offered a handshake, which he accepted.

    “Good to meet you too, Diantha,” he said, his heart beating a little faster at meeting someone so famous and beautiful. It hadn't really sunk in until that moment what he'd be doing today. But, he was here for a challenge; he'd need to keep his mind on that.

    Followed by the camera crew, Calem and Diantha went inside and took the elevator down to the lowest level in the Gym. Normally, challengers would be taking on Viola on the middle level, where the giant spiderweb labyrinth hung. This was a special match and required a special setting. Down here, there was a flat floor where a giant game board had been painted. Black and gold squares alternated between the entrance area and the battle area on the opposite side.

    “Oh, a chess challenge?” Diantha asked immediately, her eyes gleaming. “Those are always fun.”

    Viola smiled. “Yes, you've got it. But with a twist this time.” She paused a moment, partly because the film crew was getting into position. This would be broadcast later. Once they had signaled their readiness, she continued. “As you may know, the chess challenge is a regular one for proof of magic on higher levels. The magician must cross the board one square at a time as the Trainer piece, while Pokemon are placed in other positions. Battles will only occur when two pieces compete over a square, but unlike the game, whichever piece wins claims the square. I'll have my Pokemon opposing your progress and the Pokemon you have still on the board will be allowed in your battle against me. It's a test of obedience, trust, and strategy. However, normally the high level challenger would be the one on the board. But not today. Calem will be the one to cross the board, and Diantha must control the game.”

    “Oh really?” Diantha said. “A young magician would be more vulnerable to a challenge like this... but I suppose it is more like the game itself.”

    Viola nodded. “That's right. Calem, you just have to obey her instructions and battle me when you cross the whole board. Diantha, you'll need to choose the Pokemon on the challenger side from your own Pokemon and Calem's, place them, and then make sure that he can cross the board safely with his Pokemon still available for his challenge. Calem has to be in the trainer position, but that's the only set piece. You'll also be battling me, although you get the choice of going before or after Calem if successful.”

    “Oo, now this is interesting,” Diantha said, seeming like she was having fun already. “Are you ready, Calem?”

    He nodded. “Yeah, I am.”

    “Good, then you two discuss what you've got, and I'll be waiting on the other side,” Viola said, then headed across the board. Once there, she used a spell that caused a shimmer to appear on the board. Probably something to enforce the rules.

    Diantha turned to him. “Okay, I’ll need to know what Pokemon you have and what you're all capable of. And, you're a student of LMA?”

    “I’ve only passed my first year,” he said, then answered her questions on his team and himself.

    After she had her information, she paused to think. “Okay, so... normally in this kind of challenge, you'd put your strongest Pokemon in the god's position so they can quickly move across the board. Also, we've got to consider that at least some of her Pokemon will be of a level appropriate to the eighth proof and thus yours won't be capable of matching them. So I think... oh, but there's a risk of losing Pokemon for the main battle to this. What Pokemon in particular do you want working with you against Viola?”

    “I was thinking that my Frogadier and Vivillon would work best,” he said. Any of them would be fine, he felt, but Vivillon probably had the best chance.

    In regular games of chess, the pawn pieces were usually represented by first stage Pokemon, with the other pieces being fully evolved Pokemon and a god in the position next to the trainer. However, Diantha put mostly her Pokemon in the pawn positions, with the other positions filled by Calem's and a few that Viola let them borrow to fill out the board. The god position was held by Diantha's Tyrantrum.

    Once the game got started, it soon became clear what she was doing. Her Pokemon were stronger and thus better able to handle their opponent Pokemon even though their moves were limited. If another piece came to challenge them for their square, they had a better chance of winning the ensuing duel. On the other hand, if one of his Pokemon got in a dangerous position, Diantha could get them away sooner because they moved more freely. She didn't even order Calem to move until the big threats on the board were taken out. Diantha lost her Gardevoir after it had to deal with four duels, but they completed the game without losing any of Calem's Pokemon.

    Viola clapped her hands, dismissing the enchantment on the board. “All right, you've won! So then, who'll be my first opponent?”

    “I’ll take that offer,” Diantha said, crossing over the board. Their battle took some time, and was spectacular to watch in person. Observing them both, Calem wondered if he could become that good in magic battles.

    After the battle, Viola congratulated Diantha on her win, saying, “This proof shows that you use magic not just for yourself, but to help others and allow them to do things that they wouldn't be capable of on their own.” Then she invited Calem into the battle arena. “Okay, for your first proof of magic, you need to show your skills in battle and magic. There are three ways to win here: defeat the three Pokemon I have, take me out of the battle, or last for five minutes. However, a win will not guarantee that you earn the proof, and a loss might not mean that you don't earn it. The only way to know for sure is to just jump into it and see how you do. Are you ready?”

    If the requirement for the first proof was simply being able to cast under pressure as she suggested, that made sense. “I'm ready.”

    And that was how I got my first proof of magic, after only one year of study. Frankly, it was a freebie in my case as I had met the requirement just last summer in order to get into the academy. Still, I wouldn't have thought to even try if it wasn't for Viola and Diantha. Viola's naturally friendly, and sharper than one would expect. She told me later that she was happy the chance came up, because she knew I wouldn't go for the proof myself even though I had good potential. I'm glad she looked out for me like that.

    And Diantha definitely wasn't expecting to be helping another there. She took up the role without hesitation, though. I had thought that those who focused on Pokemon battles were thinking of their own glory. It seemed that way from a lot of the skilled battlers I had met previously, like the battle club snobs at the academy who saw people that weren't concerned about battles as lazy. When I was younger, my dad, who had tried to make a living as a battler, was rather distant and I didn't like him because of it. Then he got in an accident in a battle and nearly died. He spent months at home in recovery, during which time we got closer.

    I remember him saying towards the end of his recovery, “I thought that being a winner would make everyone admire me and solve my problems, but when I won, I only felt jealous eyes watching me. So I thought I had to win bigger, and my unease only grew. Huh, but here I’ve got your admiration for not doing much of anything, and I feel happier than I’ve been in a long time.” That was part of why I had never been enthusiastic about battles when I was younger.

    Am I getting off subject? Or is it all part of the story you wanted? Ha, sorry. Anyhow... working with Viola was just a job, a lucky one where I got to hang out with my Pokemon a lot every day. But watching her battle Diantha, that was inspiring. Here were two ladies of differing charms, very different from the image I had of serious trainers, and they were battling in a way that was more like lighthearted chatter of a new friendship. Even their Pokemon were playful about it, pushing each other's limits without worry of fainting in defeat. They must have been confident that they'd be healed up by their Trainers right after battle, so any pain was temporary. And I thought, 'I’d like to be a Trainer like that, if I ever got into battling.' It'd be some time before I really got motivated, but that memory stayed with me when I did.

    -+-

    Lesson 5: Social Studies (Kalos Pokemon League)


    Pokemon battle organizations have come and gone throughout the history of Kalos. Some were government-sponsored, such as the Order of the White Shield, a group of human knights who kept a lifelong Pokemon partner to protect the country and king. Others were social groups, such as the exclusive club connected to what is now called the Battle Chateau. Still others were focused more on the common people, such as the Pokemon Rangers that once made a living by training their Pokemon and themselves to protect people from a tyrannical king and wild Pokemon.

    The Pokemon League came to Kalos as part of a worldwide movement after the devastation of the Great War caused the collapse of many existing orders and governments. It was meant as a way to turn Pokemon battles into a sport rather than a method of war and was hugely successful at that. Much of today's stability and prosperity can be attributed to organizations such as the League that were driven to create and inspire a more peaceful world.

    The League has a global set of rules and regulations, but each region is allowed some individuality to keep with their cultural standing and beliefs. In Kalos, there are two separate paths to take within the Pokemon League as a challenge. The standard path is the Training Badge challenge. Trainers gather a team of Pokemon, no more than six, to battle against established master trainers who set a certain level of difficulty based on how many badges the challenger has earned. Trainers may give orders or use healing items, but may not participate beyond this, either directly or indirectly. In contrast, the secondary path is the Proof of Magic challenge, which requires that the trainer participate directly in battle alongside their Pokemon. The trainer in such a challenge must be capable of using magic and must cooperate with their Pokemon in order to challenge a master of magic. As with the Training Badge challenge, the gym leader must be capable of giving varying difficulties of battle based on how many proofs the challenger has.

    Each gym within the Kalos League must be capable of providing challenges for both paths. However, it is possible, and in some cases advisable, for a gym to have two leaders if the master of one challenge cannot provide an adequate obstacle for the other. Over the years, it has also become expected, although not required, that the gym leader be a community leader, offering assistance to others when needed and doing what they can to keep their community safe and thriving.

    Lesson 6: Extra- Chess Moves


    Trainer/Human piece- One per side. This piece can only move one square at a time, in any direction. Taking the opponent's Trainer out results in a checkmate, winning the game.

    God piece- One per side. This piece can move in a straight line along as many squares as the player wishes unless another piece is in the way. One of the easiest ways of telling where a particular chess set comes from is based on which pair of gods are used. Common pairs include Xerneas and Yveltal (Kalos), Reshiram and Zekrom (Unova), Palkia and Dialga (Sinnoh), Groudon and Kyogre (Hoenn), and Lugia and Ho-oh (Johto, sometimes Kanto).

    Scout- Two per side. This piece can move diagonally along any number of squares unless another piece is in the way. The Scout is most often a fully-evolved Pokemon capable of flight.

    Attacker- Two per side. This piece moves two squares in one direction, then three squares in a perpendicular direction. The Attacker is most often a fully-evolved Pokemon known for having great strength.

    Defender- Two per side. This piece moves in any direction but diagonal along any number of squares unless another piece is in the way. The Defender is most often a fully-evolved Pokemon known for toughness.

    Pawns- Eight per side. This piece can only move one square forward at a time. Some games allow pawns to move two squares on their first move. Pawns are usually common or first stage Pokemon, sometimes being lower forms of the more powerful pieces.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  22. #22
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    Interesting variation on chess, there. Scout = Bishop, Attacker = Knight, Defender = Rook and God = Queen? with Trainer = King. Hmm.

    And there's Diantha on her way to the League. I always got the impression she'd been the champion for a very long time myself, but there you go.
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  23. #23
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    Chapter 7: The Miracle Eye

    As soon as Calem entered the classroom, Sycamore got his attention. “Hey Calem, congratulations on getting your first proof,” he said with a grin. “Do you have the pin on your badge?”

    “Thanks,” he said, smiling back. “I put the pin on my bag; wasn't sure where else to put it.”

    “Aw, but it's school tradition,” the professor said, getting out of his seat and coming over. As part of the school dress code, he wore the badge on his shirt (since it was summer and they wouldn't be wearing the jackets). “Ever notice that the badge has eight stars when most of the school logos don't? It's for the proof of magic pins. Here, it'd go on the bottom right one.”

    “Oh, I see.” He removed the pin from the strap of his school bag and got it onto the first star of the badge. It was a small pin, but it fit on the badge nicely.

    “That's better,” Sycamore said, beaming. “Usually don't see those on second year students; excellent work! I saw the match on TV.”

    “Well it was only because of Diantha that it was,” Calem said. “She was amazing to see in person.”

    He nodded as he headed back to behind the teacher's desk. “So I've heard. I've talked with her on many occasions, but haven't seen her battle in person myself. But now that she has eight proofs, we're waiting on the announcement of when she's going to try for the championship. We'll definitely be watching when she does.”

    And we did. There was a half day of school called when the day and time was announced so anyone who wanted could watch it live. Sycamore somehow got a large screen TV into our homeroom and all of us second year students watched in there, then had a pizza party afterwards. It was a close and exciting match. While I was watching, I wasn't sure if I should be rooting for Diantha, who'd help me win my first proof, or Richard, who had helped me out greatly with my Honedge. Diantha won and Richard accepted the loss with the dignity of a gentleman; it came to him naturally. It added to the respect and admiration I felt towards both of them. And, I became aware in my thoughts that I wanted to be a person like them. They were both stars in my eyes.

    -+-

    My second year of school was relatively quiet. I don't remember much except being busy with school activities, keeping up with Lysandre's requirements, and hanging out with my friends. But there were three events that are very important to me in contrast.

    As first year students, we had seen many of the traditions of Lumiose Magic Academy going on around us, but we only had to participate in a few. Once we became second-year students, we were expected to become more involved. One tradition involved a statue which stood as a gateway challenge. Sycamore told us about it in October: the official battle club of the school wouldn't accept new members unless they could properly interpret and perform a ritual involving the statue. And since my two newest heroes were both expert Pokemon battlers, I wanted to be involved.

    Serena solved it the day that Sycamore told us about it. I never heard the full story, but I still believe that she already knew about it from her father and was just waiting for the official word. It took me until early December until I solved it. Which was still pretty early compared to average even though Serena had already beaten me to it.


    It was snowing that evening, with big puffs of white drifting down quietly to coat everything around. As there was no wind, it was nice to be walking outside in warm clothes. Some of the students stuck to their school colors, but Calem wore a dark blue winter coat as he liked the color better. Surprisingly, only Swift really didn't like the cold out of his group. She was tolerating it better this winter, which was good as he liked to let them run around outside. He thought Nibbles might not like it, but the Pinsir was having fun with it, trying to nip snowflakes in the air. And Mortan stuck close to him as always. He may have evolved back into a Floette recently, but he still sat easily on Calem's shoulder.

    “It's kinda weird, because the Flabebe that Trevor had really didn't like the cold this morning,” Calem said as he walked to the statue. He could see and hear other students walking or playing in the small park by their school, but they were far enough away that they could safely talk as long as they kept quiet.

    “I don't notice it as much,” Mortan said. “Maybe I just have thick skin, after the cold environments that I've been in before. Though, I wouldn't like it if it got much colder; I still prefer the sun. Is that the one?”

    “Yeah, this is it,” Calem said, stopping at the statue. It appeared to be a mysterious astrolabe, a skeleton of a sphere that held many concentric rings. The rings were tilted at various angles, shifting slowly so that it appeared still but was a little different every day. Each ring held gemstones of various colors and clarity. In the center of it, there was a golden orb that gave off soft clicks. It was easier to hear the snow fall than it was to hear the possibly mechanical device there. When asked about it, Sycamore admitted that no one on campus knew what its exact purpose was.

    “I want to look at it,” the Floette said, flitting over to perch on the astrolabe's outer structure instead.

    “Sure,” Calem said, going over to a plaque.

    The small sign was old, but not as old as the device. On the metal stand, there was a badge for the battle club locked into place. Getting it out was the challenge for joining. The plaque itself read, 'Victoria Globe – a mysterious object dating back to the first era of Kalos royalty. Survived due to belief of being a divine artifact, but may be a man-made mechanical device. Current use by the Lumiose Magic Academy: Craft a rainbow to prove your skills.'

    “It's broken,” Mortan said. “Good.”

    “Is it?” When Calem looked over it, each piece seemed whole and maintained despite being out in the elements. “The central part?”

    Mortan nodded. “I suppose you could use it for measuring the power of spells, even for different kinds of spells. But that's not its intended use.”

    “Then what is its intended use?” he asked as Mortan came back to him.

    He pulled the stem of his flower close and looked down, considering if he should say anything. Thankfully, he did. “It was called a miracle eye if you were using it, a terror eye if you had to face it.” He sighed. “It's a weapon of war. As you might guess, it's difficult to make, not easy to learn. But if you knew how to use a miracle eye, one person could become equal to an army of a thousand. It's better that it stays broken, just something pretty to look at. Its history is probably quite ugly.”

    “Miracle Eye? Isn't that some kind of Pokemon move?” He couldn't recall immediately what it did.

    Mortan knew. “Yeah, one to bypass a Psychic null status. It has the same name. But this... um, I could show you.” He floated up to meet Calem eye to eye. There was something like a static charge between them, the boy noticed. At the moment it should have zapped them, he found himself recalling a memory that he'd never experienced. It took a moment to adjust, since it was from the floaty point of view of a Floette. That made the person he was watching seem enormous in comparison.



    “We're fine, ''''', we're fine.” His voice was gentle as he brought his hand underneath the Floette.

    “Siiiii,” he replied, letting himself collapse into his friend's palm. But he still clung tight to his flower, making it tremble.

    The man had a powerful appearance; rumor had it that he could crush rocks with his bare hands without using magic. But he knew no harm from this young man, only kindness. He brought his hand and the Pokemon in it closer to his face. “We're protected.” And that was true; a barely visible shield surrounded them. Thanks to the gleaming golden globe rotating on the ground, the shield would take many hits for them before breaking down. “But they also have a miracle eye, hmm...”

    He had seen that. The other wizard using a miracle eye was scary. On using theirs to look over the enemy lines, they had seen him laughing and talking of making the streets of Lumiose turn red with blood. Dd they have to be here? “Chiii pira fowa,” the Floette said sadly. Where were the days when they could relax in a field of flowers?

    “I told you that you could stay behind,” he said. “I wish you had. Don't worry; I'll protect you. I have to protect everyone, and tonight, when they don't know that I'm here... their miracle eye seems shoddy, and he's been drinking heavily. Then... hold still.” He knelt down by the golden device, preparing his attack.

    In a moment, the miracle eye gave them a view of the foe's camp once more. His friend used aura of the miracle eye to assist in his casting; the device moved quicker to compensate. He used his other hand to aim according to the vision, then, “Lavaburst.” A shimmer of gold and red fired out of their protective shell. Normally that spell could only be used within fifty yards of the caster. The miracle eye allowed them to fire the spell out of range of their normal sight. The shot pierced the other miracle eye's shield in a weak spot and erupted on contact with the device. In destroying that weapon, it blasted the enemy camp with the force of five regular Lavabursts, not one.

    They watched the ensuing destruction and chaos for half a minute before deciding on what to do next. The Floette thought it was scary. But, scarier if the same thing would happen to them.



    “Was that your old friend, the king?” Calem asked.

    Mortan nodded. “Yeah. He and I knew how to use them because he knew how to make them. I didn't like that about him for a little while. But I found out that he had reasons, and hoped that he didn't have to use one again. It wasn't the first option.” He looked back down at the miracle eye. “I think you're right about the colors not mattering as long as you have the range.”

    “Best thing to do would be try,” he said, observing the device. According to the riddle, he believed that he needed spells of seven different aura types. Perhaps it was to make sure members knew a certain amount before starting.

    “Oh, but there's some aura in it that doesn't match,” Mortan said, hurriedly as if he'd gotten distracted in talking about the device. “But whatever it is, it's been made to keep hidden. Be careful.”

    He nodded and raised his hands in preparation. Seven spells. Bubble, which Swift had used before picking up Water Pulse. Fairy Wind and Vine Whip, which he got from Mortan. Metal Sound, which was from Percival. Finally, Ember and Heal, which was something they used in class, and Wide Guard, which he'd known for some time. Parts of the miracle eye lit up as he cast spells on it; water, fairy, grass, steel, fire, heal, normal, that should work. Once it had energy from the seven spells, it activated a newer part of the device which released the club badge on the post.

    However, it never hit the ground. What appeared to be a spot of thick violet fog emerged from the miracle eye and snatched the badge. Large cartoonish eyes popped up, followed by a grin. The Gastly then rushed off. “Hey!” Calem called, running after the Pokemon. Why did it steal his badge? If he had to, he could fight it with Percival. Although, he'd rather not. The Honedge was wary of fighting a lot, worried that his demons would return.

    The Gastly weaved around like he was moving lazily, even though Calem was sprinting after it. It even paused for a moment to look back. However, that was the moment that Calem caught up, so he tried to grab it. Being made of gas and tiny particles, he could barely get a hold of it and fell face-first into the snow on top of it. The Gastly got away by moving right through him, a feeling between handling a plant with small prickles and breathing near a car with a bad engine. Something pressed against his chest, but dropped back down. It was the club badge.

    “That's a rather primitive way to catch a Pokemon,” a girl nearby said in amusement. But not just any girl; it had to be Serena who saw him like this. Feeling his face get warm in embarrassment, Calem grabbed the badge and got himself onto his knees. Also there was Lysandre, of all people; the large man had an expression of watching an idiot mess up and disapproving, something he didn't usually have for Calem.

    “I wasn't trying to,” Calem said, standing up and brushing snow off his coat and pants. Maybe if he didn't look right at them, they wouldn't notice how embarrassed he was. It would help if he didn't feel suddenly ill, though.

    “Gaaaa gwa hah,” the Gastly said, still grinning.

    “I got this for the battle club,” he held the badge up to his chest, “but then this guy stole it before I could pick it up.”

    “I suppose the proof is enough to chase after,” Lysandre said, coming closer to put a hand on Calem's shoulder. “Here, let me take care of that poisoning.” A warm sensation came from him as the Antidote took effect.

    “Thanks sir,” Calem said. But then, these two seemed like they had been talking to each other. “And sorry to interrupt. I didn't know you two knew each other.”

    “Not all that well,” Serena said. “But we have had some interesting discussions today.”

    Lysandre gave a nod. “There were some students who wanted to make a support group for Team Flare, so I came to visit their meeting. There are some legal reasons we can't make them official, but I have no issue with them helping out. I met her there.”

    “Then you're involved with Team Flare?” Calem asked Serena.

    She shrugged. “I'd like to be, but I'm not old enough. I mean, if it wasn't for the membership restrictions, who wouldn't want to be? They're looking for practical and permanent solutions to many environmental and social problems, and they've done nothing but good. You'd have to be heartless not to worry about what's going on right in our homeland.”

    “Well if you'll excuse me, I need to be getting back to my lab,” Lysandre said. “You kids have got a good thing going; keep at it. Good day.”

    “Bye Mr. de Kalos,” Serena called as he walked off through the snow. She looked back at Calem, then the Gastly. “Huh, so you'll be in the battle club now? Well this is Yorick. He makes himself a pest at the gym and the auditorium, so I’m not surprised that he tried to steal the badge from you. I gotta run; got studying to do at the library. See you tomorrow, Calem.”

    “See you then, Serena,” he said, putting the badge in his pocket. Almost immediately, Yorick came closer to him, sniffing. Calem stepped back and held up his hands. “Hey, I earned the badge. Why don't you want me to keep it?”

    Yorick snickered, making his gaseous body ripple. “Actually, he's not interested in the badge anymore,” Mortan said. “But he is interested in you, I guess based on when he passed through you. He wants to know how you are connected to Yveltal.”

    Glancing aside, Calem saw that Serena must be out of hearing. But he still lowered his voice. “I nearly died on the day I moved to Kalos, that's how. But nothing more than that, as far as I know.”

    The Gastly lost his grin for a moment; the serious look was odd on one of his kind. Then Yorick said something that made Mortan tremble and nearly fall of Calem's shoulder. “Wh-what? I don't think that's involved... oh, you saw it somewhere? Well good. I didn't want to get back into that again.”

    “What're you two talking about?” Calem asked. When the Floette sighed, he put a hand up to the shoulder Mortan was on. “I don't mean to bother you, sorry. I was just curious.”

    Mortan moved to Calem's hand, the expression on his tiny face sad. “What he said was, 'Glitter and shine lovely Kalos, show me your dark and bloody heart'. It's part of a poem that he thought of when he was in contact with you.”

    “How would that connect to me, or Yveltal?” he wondered. “Is it because he's a god that ends up killing a lot of people and Pokemon? But still not much connection to me.”

    “Kind of,” Mortan said, shifting his flower. “Ask your teacher about it. He might know something.” Yorick then grinned again, chuckling. “Oh, and, Yorick seems to want to join us. He spooks me more than Percival, but I guess he would help.”

    A mischievous Pokemon... but then, he did like the Gastly line and always considered getting one. “Sure, I don't mind. But why do I make you think of something with such a dark tone?”

    After hearing his response, Mortan slowly said, “Because you're like that too? Brilliant and pure on the outside, but then something dark lurks within? Uh, I don't know what he means by that; I haven't noticed anything I'd call dark about you. Might just be your brief contact with Yveltal and what I did to save you; that kind of thing tends to leave a mark on a person's soul.” Yorick snickered at that.

    “I don't think it really fits me,” Calem said.

    On Monday during morning homeroom, Calem planned on asking about the poem. Professor Sycamore was cheerful and energetic as always, a mug of coffee one of the local cafes on his desk (but not the same cafe as the previous week). “Finals are next week, so most of your classes will be reviewing material for the tests,” he said. “I’ll let you study most of this and next week, unless there's something else any of you wish to discuss. So, anything for today?” A few of them raised their hands, so he pointed, seemingly picking at random. “Then... Calem?”

    “Actually, I had a line of poetry I wanted to ask you about,” he said.

    Sycamore grinned. “Hah, excellent! We can claim that our class is being cultural then, brownie points for us all.” Some of the students laughed at the way he said it. “Poetry's not one of my stronger areas, but I'll give it a shot.”

    “It's something that just stuck with me, but I couldn’t get the full poem out of the one who recited it,” Calem said, trying not to look at Mortan on his desk. “It was something like, 'Glitter and shine lovely Kalos, show me your dark and bloody heart.'”

    He put a hand on his cheek and closed his eyes. “Ah, that line causes a shiver up my spine every time I hear that. Yes, I know that one, one of the few poems I know in full.”

    “That sounds creepy,” Shauna said, shuddering.

    Tierno nodded. “Yeah, I don't think I've ever heard anyone call Kalos dark and bloody before.”

    “It makes sense when you know more about our history,” Sycamore said, serious now. He looked at them, considering something. “Kalos is a lovely place these days; I love it. But even its most ardent fans like me have to admit that there have been a great many wars in our past. That's what the poem is about. Here, I can recite the full thing; it's not very long:”

    Glitter and shine lovely Kalos,
    Show me your dark and bloody heart.
    Golden mask to hide a face of fear,
    Silver words to soften a tale of hate.
    Live in the moment, the past hurts,
    Life is cruel, and death is instant

    Yveltal's wings cover the sky.


    “Hmm?” Mortan asked, fortunately sounding enough like a normal Pokemon that no one else paid attention to his confused reaction.

    “Why remember a dismal poem like that?” another girl in their class asked.

    Sycamore smiled a little. “I know, not very cheerful is it? But, the poem is a statement on the region's history. You might learn some of what it means in future classes, or maybe if you go exploring around the academy. In one of the lesser traveled halls, it's been on the wall for decades, even when I was a student here. But if you find it, well, be careful of going further. What's down there is not for the faint of heart.”

    Sycamore didn't give a direct answer that morning, but the reason he knew the poem was because of the place on campus, something I wouldn't come across until much later. Mortan said that the version of the poem he knew was different. However, he still wasn't ready to talk about it.


    -+-

    Another incident in my second year was quite a scary one, yet I believe that if it had not happened, I wouldn't have done all the things I would do in years to come. It was in early April, a day when the weather was so nice that my friends and I decided to go skating through the smaller streets of Lumiose. As a general rule, it's a safe city. But some of the back streets and alleys can be dangerous.

    The city always felt alive. No matter when one looked over the streets, be it the crowds of midday or the quiet of after midnight, there was always something going on, always lights glowing invitingly somewhere. From the water channels along several streets to the stone pavement, from the leafy trees to the tall steel tower in the center, elements that seemed diverse managed to blend into a beautiful whole. And when the sky was so sunny and blue like it was now, caught between rain showers, it was hard to resist going out to enjoy it all.

    “Let's go on a race around North and South Boulevard!” Shauna suggested, pumping her arms up so fast that her skates pushed her back. Her Litleo hopped out of the way and carried on grooming.

    “Oooh, that's going to take too long,” Tierno complained. “And we'll all be pooped.”

    “Well then we can go to a cafe for drinks,” she said. “It'd be something awesome we can tell people about later!”

    “I don't know if I'd be able to make it all that way,” Trevor said.

    “I'd rather just have a relaxing skate today,” Serena said. “Though I wouldn't mind competing like that on another day.”

    “Hey, you three live around here, but I haven't seen where you guys live yet,” Calem said. “I mean, you pointed them out a while back, but we didn't go visit. How about we do that? We might surprise your families.”

    “Oh yeah, mine wouldn't mind that,” Tierno said. “It'd be a good snack break.”

    Trevor put his hand to his chin. “Mine aren't in Lumiose at the moment,” he said. “But I suppose I could bring you in and show you around if you want. Not that there's much to see.”

    “I think my dad's working, but mom should be home,” Shauna said. “Okay, that's fun too. Let's go! We can take a shortcut down that way.”

    The shortcut turned out to be a narrow path between tall stone buildings. While paved, the area was dingy and dirty, not cleaned as often as the main streets. They had to go single-file for the most part, although Shauna and Trevor were still small enough that they could move around in the group. After a turn, all they could see were the buildings and a smidgen of sky. The alley led to an oddly-shaped opening where four buildings sitting at different angles didn't quite meet, where a group of people could probably meet in secret.

    And a group happened to be meeting there, all adults. The three men and one woman wouldn't stand out much if they were out on the crowded streets; they were dressed like normal residents. But it didn't take long for the encounter to turn abnormal. “Hey kids, get out of here,” the woman said. “We're with Team Flare; you don't need to be poking around here.”

    Immediately, Serena frowned and put her hands on her hips. “You are not with Team Flare. You don't have their stylish suits.”

    “Don't be ridiculous,” one of the men said. “Do you think people wear the same clothes every day?”

    “But you'd be wearing it if you were on Flare business,” she said.

    “Hey, we just need to pass through here,” Calem said, glancing at Shauna. She nodded and pointed out the way they needed to go. “We'll just go, if you don't mind.”

    “We do mind,” the woman said, moving to block the path they needed to head through.

    “What if we had them help us?” another woman said, appearing from the alleyway they had come from. She put a hand on Trevor, who had tried to back up to keep out of the confrontation. “The price he has set on admission is absurd, but we might wrangle some with them.”

    Calem started to feel worried, even scared. Shauna had her hands clenched close to her chest, shivering and glancing around for some opening (but the adults were blocking or close to blocking the exits to this little spot). Having an attempt to skate off only make him slip and fall tighter in her grasp, Trevor was wide-eyed and pale; Tierno too even if he was free. However, Serena only seemed angered. “Don't be ridiculous,” she said in a scolding tone. “I know Lysandre and he wouldn't let criminals join his group. Let him go.”

    “It might be a little extreme,” the first woman said, putting a hand on her chin and thinking. “We could at least confiscate their Pokemon if we don't mean to keep these kids.”

    “What?” Calem asked, now feeling angry himself. He was in the Battle Club; maybe not that great (he still couldn't beat Serena), but he might be able to give them a shot at getting out. “No way! I'd rather fight you myself rather than let you take any of us, my friends or our Pokemon.”

    “Really?” one of the men asked skeptically, smiling in confidence.

    “Meh, but we'll beat you in a Pokemon battle before that,” Serena said. And with that, they ended up in a Pokemon battle, Calem with Serena against the first woman and one of the men. But the woman in back still had a hold on Trevor...

    Calem tried to focus on the battle while he considered how they might be able to get him free. Fortunately, his Pokemon were performing extraordinarily well today. They seemed to grasp the danger of the situation and put forth all their effort, even defeating a couple Pokemon that Calem didn't think would go down easily. On the other hand, Serena's Braixen seemed aloof as always, following orders and not seeming worried. It got knocked out before the battle was over.

    “What a day to leave my smaller Pokemon behind,” Serena grumbled, clenching a fist at her side. She seemed to consider the other Pokeball she had, probably her Rhyperior.

    Before she could release it, something darted out of one of the other alleyways and knocked over the largest man there. It turned out to be a Lucario, who stepped on top of the man and looked at him sternly. There was a chance. “Teirno, Shauna, get out and get help!” Calem called. The two quickly skated out past the fallen man. “Serena, you...”

    “No, I'm going to see these losers cut down,” she said, clutching a bracelet and using it to focus a spell on Percival, who was currently handling his two opponents readily.

    “You're overestimating yourselves, little girl,” the woman said, scowling at them.

    Seeing that the two of them weren't running, the Lucario gave a threatening look to the men not involved, then dashed into the battle to fight alongside Percival. Once Serena had her boosting spell on the Honedge, she decided to cast it on the Lucario too. Calem gave orders to the two Pokemon, although he had to rely on the Lucario's judgment as he didn't know what it was capable of. Then he glanced back at Trevor again. The younger boy was crying with his face scrunched up. His Espurr was standing a few feet from them, still and also seeming worried. It was at that point that Calem felt a tingle race up his spine. It seemed like a surge of aura, but he only really felt aura clearly in the rain.

    He looked back at the battle and saw that the Lucario had knocked out one of the Pokemon, the last that the man had. Percival was able to finish off the other. Good. Before the woman could pull out another or order her colleagues to attack, Calem gave orders again, “You two, get Trevor away from her!”

    The Lucario was quick to respond, rushing past Calem and Serena to punch the woman in the arm. She cursed and let go of Trevor with one hand. While the Lucario worked on getting the boy fully free, Percival came over and whipped his sash around the woman, pulling her away and weakening her. But the red Honedge let go of her a moment before she fainted.

    “Mya!” the Espurr said, hurrying over to Trevor's side. Calem ran over there too, ignoring the other woman's orders for them to stop. If he could feel Trevor's aura without rain, it had to be a bad situation. Maybe if they could channel it into a harmless spell... but how did he get Trevor to focus on casting like this? Their magic teacher had mentioned spells with multiple users, but little about how one would connect aura to manage it.

    There was a ring of metal nearby; Percival was hovering lower, looking at him like he understood something. The Honedge closed his eyes, making his blade shine. After a second, Calem felt like he had been struck by a powerful wave. But it wasn't wet at all; it was Trevor's problematic aura, building in response to his fright. He also heard something like someone was crying fretfully. 'What is this? Why us? Let me go...'

    'You were let go,' Calem thought. To that, Trevor stilled and looked up at him. 'Calm down; I want to try something.'

    'I will let it be done,' a deep voice-thought from Percival added. 'Reveal your senses.'

    'Senses? Oh...' Right, his senses did intensify in the rain. Calem call the aura to a point in front of himself; the pull was more powerful than he was used to, but it reacted all the same. Using that point as a pen and the aura as ink, he wrote invisible runes in the air. He spelled out the runic form of Rain Dance.

    Normally, he would add something like a dance move to make sure the spell went off; it was still difficult to handle. But that didn't matter with the power at hand. The runes dissolved and winds whipped up around them. After the area dimmed considerably, rain descended. It was nothing like any other time he'd cast it. This rain was intense, falling thickly and stinging as it made contact with bare skin. There was even mist building near the ground. The thing that mattered most, though, was that it worked. It put enough of a dent in Trevor's aura that he managed to calm down and take control of it himself, releasing excess with sparks that made his hands appear to glow pink.

    Percival cut off their connection and Calem got up, focusing on what he felt in this powerful rain. That was nearly as overwhelming as the aura had been, as this magically induced rain was spread wide and strong. He could probably give accurate measurements and assessments of all the buildings within two blocks of this spot, not to mention what people were trying to get out of this sudden squall. However, he narrowed his attention down to the area close by, where the threat was.

    The second woman was harmless for the moment; when she woke back up, she'd be unable to cast anything for the rest of the day due to the contact with Percival. The first woman and the man who'd fought with her had no more Pokemon, but they could both use magic and could be dangerous still. The other two men couldn't use magic, but their strength could still be a threat. Down the alley that the Lucario had come from, someone was racing towards them as if on skates, a powerful caster along with another Lucario. Tierno and Shauna weren't too far from that person, following cautiously but worried about them. Trevor could probably cast now, if he felt up to it. The Lucario was ready for another fight; he wasn't going to give up, and neither was Percival and what other Pokemon Calem had.

    However, there were two other things that seemed significant. One, Serena's aura was stronger than he'd noticed before, with some unfamiliar runes tied into it. She'd always had those different runes, even back when he'd sensed her aura in their first battle, but they had increased dramatically. Two, there was some kind of magical device down the alleyway that they had wanted to go down. It was complex and strong, with a feeling that was like watching a good horror movie or an awful nightmare.

    “And lastly, how dare you order your Pokemon to attack someone!” the first woman shouted, looking furious.

    “It's excusable to get a friend free,” Calem said. “Sorry, I didn't hear all of that, but you have no idea what disaster we narrowly escaped. And I will still fight you if you really want after losing.” With the rain going strong, he felt that he had a good enough edge to attempt taking on an adult. She wasn't of rank to be a witch, he could tell. Serena would be a good help, so it'd mostly be a matter of making sure Trevor was fine.

    “Hah, leave it to me!” a third woman said, skating in with her second Lucario and crashing straight into the first woman. She got knocked to the ground, but the skater acted like it was barely a bump. The newcomer had the body of a serious athlete, with a helmet and various guards that might help her in a fist fight. “Trying to kidnap kids and Pokemon, huh? I ain't letting you get away with that.”

    The man by her decided to stay on the ground, feeling that it was safer than challenging this woman. The other man left standing started to back up, but with a whistle, she sent her second Lucario to incapacitate him. Seeing that the one who'd taken Trevor would be down for a while, the first Lucario went to join them, intimidating the others to stay where they were.

    “Oh, Korrina?” Serena asked, then smiled. “Hah, thanks! We could've handled them, but you're quicker.”

    “Now don't be too daring, Miss Serena,” Korrina said, putting a hand on her hip. “I know you're strong, but this could've been tragedy, I can see. And this rain's gonna make it hard to skate. Who cast this, anyhow? I've never seen one this powerful, not even from Siebold.”

    “That was Calem here,” Serena said.

    “Not exactly,” he said. “My Honedge linked me and Trevor up to make it stronger.”

    “Still, that's impressive spell work,” Korrina said, nodding. “Now that you know who you're threatening, I mean, these talented young mages and the princess of the battle chateau, are you gonna give up or do we have to rough you up some more?”

    “Fine, we give up,” the woman said. “But you all are going to get in a lot of trouble with Team Flare.”

    “You are not with Team Flare, and I can make sure that you're absolutely not,” Serena insisted.

    “Are we going to call the police?” Calem asked. “There's something dangerous down that alleyway that they were trying to protect.”

    By the time the police arrived to collect the group, the rain had lightened and fused into the normal shower that was supposed to come a couple hours later. Over in the other alleyway, they found a strange machine sitting a few feet from a doorway. It rendered inactive in the rain, but Calem's senses told him that it could be repaired to work. Much of it was hard to decipher, but there was a keyboard and display screen on one side, as well as a transmitting antenna on top. Close to it, there was a broken handcart. It seemed familiar, but Calem wasn't sure of it.

    “I've seen something like that before,” Korrina said, sounding worried. “It's...” she glanced at them, then gave a small smile to Calem. “Well, given your Honedge and name, I think I heard about you from Richard. I don't know if you've heard, but they found out what was driving the Honedge bonkers on Route 6. It was a device almost exactly like this, sending out aura signals that only those Pokemon could sense. It gave them nightmares and dark thoughts alongside their own; I'm sure you know it's taken a lot to soothe their nerves after that.”

    He nodded, feeling a chill as he recalled it. “Right, Percival here is still nervous from time to time. I think it is one of those; it gives me a bad feeling sensing it.” Thankfully it hadn't been active; it would have messed up his thoughts again, or even called back that faceless man.

    “But in the middle of Lumiose?” Korrina mused. “It doesn't have to be tuned to Honedge, could torment any Pokemon, or even humans I guess. This really could have been a tragedy; it's lucky that you kids stumbled on them trying to move it. I hear it was made by some mad machinist named Xerosic, but they never caught him for the Route 6 incident. Could be his work again. So how are you sensing it?”

    He shrugged. “It's the rain. I can't quite explain it, but I sense more things when it's raining.”

    “Um,” Trevor said, shifting shyly.

    “You have an idea?” Calem asked, trying to encourage him.

    He rubbed his head. “Sort of. When we were connected for a bit while the rain was going on, I sensed it too. Your awareness was greatly intensified when it started raining, giving you more information than a person should know through normal senses. But it seems like it's shallow, like it should be a part of something more. It's like the rain is a key and you haven't unlocked everything yet.”

    “I've heard of that,” Korrina said, to their surprise. “Now, don't look at me like that. I dunno what to call it, but I've read stories about people who used rain, mist, or bodies of water to their advantage like that. There was a really enigmatic assassin back in the Great War days who would only attack when it was rainy or foggy, but he would devastate the Kalos home forces. I happened to be thinking about it the other day because I heard they were gonna make a movie of his downfall to Miss Roselia, of all the heroes of that time.”

    That was interesting. “Really? I hadn't heard about that from her.” When she looked surprised, he said, “I'm a descendant of hers; I knew her for quite a while and she told me lots of stories. But not about an assassin like that. Maybe she thought it would scare me as a kid.”

    “Could be. Huh, you really are interesting.”

    “So how'd you come by us?” Calem asked.

    “It was Neo's doing,” she said, looking at the Lucario who had first helped them out. He was now standing close to Serena, nuzzling her hand (Serena was trying not to be obvious about petting him in response). Korrina smiled. “Hah, seems like he's really warmed up to you. Kinda shocking; he usually takes a long time to be friendly with anybody, even me. Anyhow, the other fellow with me is Leo, his twin brother, but they're like day and night. We were heading to the academy you go to, actually, cause one of the teachers wants to talk with me about something. I'm gonna be late for that, but whatever. Neo was following along nicely, but then he bolted down the alleyway and we had to go chase him down. Then it started to rain, and I ran into your other two friends getting away from there... well I couldn't keep myself out of it, really.”

    “Thanks for the help,” Calem said, nodding.

    “No problem,” Korrina said. “Honor of a gym leader, you know. Though you three were handling yourselves well. Getting a Pokemon to link aura between two of you and him, and everything else you did.”

    “It was necessary,” Trevor said, but then turned pink as he nearly admitted what happened. He glanced aside. “Um, but... I did notice something else. You don't cast like Ms Talonflame taught us to. You know, forming the rune letters, then filling them in with aura and breaking them? You just wrote the letters directly with aura and turn it into the spell.”

    Calem chuckled. “Yeah, and that's gotten me in trouble because she can tell I'm not using the spelling method. But that's how I've always cast spells; seems a waste to use the extra steps.”

    Trevor scratched his head. “You know, um, that makes sense to me. I think I could cast things the same way, now that I've seen you do it. And, it seems easier.”

    “What, no it doesn't,” Serena said. “How do you keep the rune letters clean and not get them to transform into something else?”

    “Just the same as a pencil, I guess,” Calem said.

    “That is an odd way to do it, but I know people who cast that way too,” Korrina said. “Like you said, they prefer to cut out the steps other people need. But, it's usually folks who've had some experience, not novices. Heh, but then I'm glad to have met you kids; you ought to really excel with what skills you have.”

    While we were waiting on the police to say that we could leave, after they had questioned us, I realized what it was that I wanted to be doing with magic: protecting others. My friends, my Pokemon, others I hardly knew; it didn't matter, as I wanted to help them feel safe. It certainly worked for those who had been there. My friends and I grew closer as they knew they could rely on me and I wanted to make sure they were safe. And Mortan later told me that my Pokemon had heard and felt my determination to protect them, even to put myself in harm's way for them. As a result, their loyalty to me because stronger.

    -+-

    Lesson 7: Basic of Magic (3)


    There is no one proper way to cast spells. With as diverse as world cultures and societies have been, many different methods of making use of aura have come about based on what the spellcasters knew and believed about magic. Some methods are simple, requiring nothing more than the caster. Other methods are more involved, requiring special items and steps. For most spells, the method actually used does not matter. Exceptions are, in most cases, special uses of magic that cannot be mimicked through normal methods.

    At Lumiose Magic Academy, as well as many other modern magic schools, the first and primary method of casting is the spelling method. It is a simple and flexible method that works well for education as well as basic magic casting. Using it requires knowledge of a runic alphabet, of which there are several that are widely used throughout the world. It is not required to know all the pieces of a runic alphabet, as they contain dozens or even hundreds of symbols describing particular effects of magic. However, taking the time to learn such exensive alphabets makes the magic user capable of a wider range of spells, rather than a limited pool of familiar ones.

    There are four steps to the spelling method.

    1. Focus. The caster must make a conscious connection to their aura, often referred to as holding it. Some casters are able to do this automatically, making this the simplest step. Others may find it hard to actually connect and is where many fail in magic entirely. Such trouble can often be lesssened through the use of a focus object. Students are often taught with wands for this purpose, as the items can also help in following steps, but jewelry or paper charms can also be effective focus objects.

    2. Spell. The caster must describe the spell they wish to cast using runic letters. It's often described as writing the letters in the air in the caster's mind, although students are encouraged to spell with wands to better grasp it.

    3. Ink. After the form of the spell in runes is in the caster's mind, he or she uses the aura they've connected with to color or ink in the spell word. At this stage, there is often a resistance from the aura as the energy is not easy to change consciously. This, along with the first step, is where many have difficulty. Aura prefers to be formless and if step two was carried out improperly, it might 'bleed' and change the runes, thus changing the effects of the spell.

    4. Break. Once aura has been formed cleanly into the rune letters, the caster then breaks the word, releasing the aura to take the form that the spell word described. If using a wand, the caster can slash the instrument through the word to do so. Often the shortest step, but it can cause a spell to fizzle or misfire if mistakes were made in other steps.
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

  24. #24
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    Huh, you're splitting the Protagonist flags between Serena and Calem. On one hand, Calem has the game character's background, but on the other Serena's got Lysandre's attention and has attracted the attention of one of Korrina's Lucario. Interesting.

    Speaking of Korrina, actually seeing her is a nice change, given the way she's the most plot-relevant Gym Leader in a game where said Gym Leader is one (Although the way she just vanishes after the battle on the Tower of Mastery was annoying). Then again, given that most FF.N X/Y fics are false-start Calem/Serena shipfests...
    "Nothing is impossible- The word itself says, 'I'm possible!'"- Audrey Hepburn

    One crazy trip: The adventures of a beret-clad boy and his best friend the sky. One day I will learn how to forum-format at a decent speed. Promise.

  25. #25
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    Chapter 8: A Haunting to Remember

    Shauna steadily grew more determined to be memorable through that year. She didn't have the smarts and pure power of Trevor, or the odd skills of Tierno or myself, or the prestigious heritage and battle prowess of Serena. But she had enthusiasm, seemingly boundless energy, and a cheerful demeanor that won her many friends (even if many of us would admit that she could be tiring and annoying at times). She got on the cheerleading squad and the student event committee, giving her all to making others excited about memorable events. In our close circle, she kept suggesting doing ambitious and sometimes crazy things 'for the memories'. On the very last day of our second year, before all of us headed out separately for summer vacation, she had yet another idea to spring on us.

    "Then what are we going to do today?" Tierno asked.

    Serena didn't look impressed. "I thought you all would have planned something, with all the talk of staying behind one more night."

    "I think Shauna has an idea," Calem said, noting the eagerness on her face.

    "Hoo boy," Serena said quietly, lowering her head.

    "It's gonna be great!" Shauna said, jumping in place. "Let's go out to Route 14 and visit the haunted house!"

    "A haunted house?" Tierno asked, nervous yet interested at the same time.

    She nodded. "Yeah, I've been hearing a lot about it for a long time, and always wanted to see it myself. It's not like those staged ones; it's a real haunted house, out in the woods down a path few people go. Nobody's lived there for years, but people say that you still see activity going on there."

    "If it's an abandoned house, it might be wild Pokemon wandering around inside," Serena said, not impressed.

    "But at nights, sometimes they see lights inside," Shauna said, trying to sound spooky and miming a scary Pokemon. "Or they hear a scream from the house, but when they look, there's nobody inside."

    "Again, a Pokemon could do that," Serena said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Especially Ghost Pokemon."

    "In that case, I have two that can blend in and spook the wild Pokemon back," Calem said. "Who knows? We might even find some uncommon Pokemon around such a place."

    "Hey, that could be fun," Tierno said. "And we'd be together, so it won't be as scary."

    "I've heard of it too," Trevor said. "And wanted to see the truth of it. If we pack something for supper, we should be able to make it up there and back before dark."

    Shauna grinned, "Yeah! I want to stay after dark sometime! But the dorm supervisors are expecting us to be back tonight, so we won't be able to this time."

    "Well I'm not interested," Serena said. "Besides, the Flare Club is having one more meeting later on and I promised I'd be there for that. I won't be able to do anything that requires going out of the city."

    Although it was a pity that she wouldn't go with them, the rest agreed with Shauna's suggestion. Calem decided to pack along a first aid kit and a flashlight, just in case, while the others got things they wanted to take (like Trevor's camera). They took their skates and stopped by a shop along the way to pick up sandwiches, chips, Pokemon food, and drinks for their picnic meal, then headed out of Lumiose and into what was known by locals as the Nature Trail. Along the way, Shauna and Trevor told them about spooky events that supposedly happened around the house, while Teirno and Calem tried to guess what would be there.

    Outside of the immense stone arch that made up the gate out of the city, they came across a wooden bridge across a small stream. Past that, there was a dirt path through an old playground. It had a covered tower with a slide, a merry-go-round, some bouncy Pokemon rides, a few swings, a pair of picnic tables, and a few benches. However, the equipment looked old and the little park was still. No one else was in sight. When Calem tugged the merry-go-round a bit, the paint flaked off on his hand and the ride creaked. "This is already kind of spooky," he said.

    "It looks sad to me," Shauna said. "I wonder why nobody's fixed it up."

    "Yeah, it could be nice," Tierno said.

    "Well there aren't many homes close to this gate," Trevor pointed out. "So there won't be many visitors."

    "Surprising that they built it here, then," Calem said. Since it wasn't their goal, they headed down a hill into the thickly wooded area past the old park.

    The leaves overhead soon blocked out most of the sun, giving the area dim and dappled appearance. There were a great many sounds around them, Pokemon and animals that were there but mostly unseen. Looking up at the trees, Calem noticed that the branches were often twisted and crooked. It wasn't so bad with the summer foliage disguising it, but it made him think that it would give a creepy atmosphere in late fall and winter. As it was now, it was rather pretty.

    At first, they had no trouble skating along the dirt paths. Then they ran into marshy conditions. The ground shone reflectively in spots, betraying spots of swampy mud instead of solid ground. Even the path became soggy, leading them to take off their skates so as not to get the wheels too muddy. Signs warned of hidden pits of bog; Pokemon rangers in their red uniforms were seen patrolling the route.

    "We might have to find a way to wash our shoes and skates before we get back to the dorms," Calem said as they entered a clearing in the marsh woods. Several paths lead away from it, one with a sign stating that it led to the next town, Laverre.

    "Yeah, they might not like us making muddy prints on the last day," Shauna agreed. "It should be around here, but I'm not sure which way to go. Definitely not the north path, but which one?"

    "We could split up and check the others out a little," Teirno suggested, but then was interrupted by a little shriek from a Pokemon.

    It turned out to be Mortan, having floated away from Calem's shoulder. The Floette had his flower stem held tight to his chest. "I'll catch up to you in a bit," Calem said, then chased after Mortan through muddy grounds. "What's wrong? You haven't gotten scared like this before."

    "I-I'm not scared," he mumbled. Once the other three kids went off to peer down side paths for the house, the Floette came closer to him. "Maybe a little. I feel..."

    "What do you feel?" he asked after a moment.

    "Bindings of an oath," Mortan said, now sounding sad. "I think... where you're going is on the western path. But if you go there, I can't follow."

    "Should we avoid it?" Maybe there was something dangerous there, although he wondered why only Mortan reacted. Trevor's Meowstic didn't seem concerned.

    He lowered his flower over his shoulder. "It might sound silly, but since I can't go, I want you to go. Um, be brave and observe things carefully before jumping to conclusions. Tell me about it later."

    "Will you tell me why later too?" Calem asked.

    "Once you're away from the school and we can be alone," Mortan said.

    He nodded, hoping he would keep his word. "All right." He then released Percival from his ball. "But you two stick together, just in case."

    Percival gave his version of a nod, leaning forward from his usual upright stance. "Okay, thank you," Mortan said, a little embarrassed.

    Just then, Shauna ran back in from the west path. "Hey guys! It's over here! Come on!" When Calem came over, she asked, "What's up with Mortan?"

    His friends didn't know about the Floette's ability to speak. "He doesn't want to go further down this path, it seems, and I don't want to force him. I left my Honedge with him."

    "Oh, so it has to be real if a Pokemon gets nervous," Shauna said, excited.

    "I hope that's not a bad sign," Trevor said as he, Tierno, and a couple of their Pokemon jogged over.

    "Not all of them are nervous, so we should be okay," Calem said, leading the way.

    Before long, they saw the old house rumored to be truly haunted and not just a Ghost Pokemon haunt. It was struggling to stand against the woods, with vines growing up its walls and leaves strewn across its bowed ceiling. At one point, it may have been a tall and elegant cabin, hidden just off the path for someone who wanted to be away but not too far away. Now the windows were cracked, the patio was crumbling, the faded paint was in patches, and the door was almost entirely missing. Pieces of acorns, nuts, and twigs were strewn near the entrance, so there probably was some Pokemon nesting inside. Branches stretched overhead; if any of them fell, it could be the end of this place. On the rooftop, some kind of avian Pokemon perched and watched them. It was sooty black, very round, and seemed to only have one eye.

    "It certainly looks appropriate," Teirno suggested. "Like a place you'd see in a movie."

    "It looks like it could fall apart at any minute," Trevor said. "I don't think we should eat inside."

    Shauna seemed disappointed. "Yeah. That's a pity. Well maybe we can get into Laverre for a picnic; I hear it's a really pretty place. Let's go check out the inside."

    The inside of the house was just as abandoned as the outside. A kitchen and mudroom sat on either side of the entrance; there were dishes around the sink and magnets on the fridge. On the floor, their muddy prints joined dozens more from Pokemon and other visitors. The surfaces were covered in dirt and dust, with even more evidence of inhabiting Pokemon. No humans had lived in this place for a long time.

    Past the kitchen counters, the house opened up into a grand living room. It was a tall space, with the high ceiling making the room feel bigger. The furniture was battered, bitten, and threadbare, the grimy colors bare hints of how they must have looked once. On the floor, there were scraps of a former carpet and, off by the east wall, a large pile of rags and old clothes. There was an old television set with a cracked screen sitting on a dusty shelf. On the back wall, there was a fireplace with ashes strewn in a wide arch around it and a wide door that led to further rooms.

    "Wow, I wonder what happened here," Shauna said in a hushed voice.

    "It still looks dangerous," Trevor said, eying a long crack in the wall.

    With little warning, the pile of rags began to grow. Long white hair became distinguishable from the rest of the mess and red eyes appeared on a rough face. Calem's friends screamed and ran off to leave. Recalling Mortan's words, Calem forced himself to stay in place until he knew what it was. Rather, who this was. It was some man, wearing ratty patched clothing that didn't fit quite right. He was sitting on the floor and looking Calem eye to eye. Once he began to stand, it became clear that this was no ordinary person. He was twice the height Calem was and he wasn't even standing straight. Something about him seemed old, perhaps just the clothing, but the lack of facial hair made him seem young at the same time.

    "We're sorry to disturb you, sir," he said, trying to be polite. "We thought this place was abandoned and nobody lived here."

    There was a moment where nothing was said. Then the giant said, in a deep hoarse voice, "Nobody does."

    Then was this some homeless man? A normal traveler wouldn't have such poor clothing. But then, he must not have been in Lumiose, since he'd be noticed and gossiped about. "Oh. Well I hope we didn't bother you much." The man just looked at him, his expression undecipherable.

    "Calem?" Shauna called back in, worried. But once she saw the giant, she got curious and came back inside, soon followed by Tierno and Trevor. "Who's this?"

    "I think it's okay," Calem said, still watching the man. "Well I'm Calem, and these are my friends, Shauna, Tierno, and the little guy's Trevor. We came because we heard this place was haunted."

    "There's no restless spirits, just restless imaginations of visitors," the giant said. "Kids like you shouldn't be in a rundown place like this; it could fall apart at any time."

    "But then you shouldn't be here either, huh mister?" Shauna asked, concerned for him.

    "Eh," he said, shrugging. "I'd be fine. Hmm, but if you came back... fine, poke around if you want, but be careful touching things and don't question it if I tell you to leave."

    "Oh, thanks sir," Calem said, nodding. "What do we call you?"

    That caused him pause, as if he hadn't expected anyone to ask for his name. "Jack," he said after a few moments.

    Since Jack said that he could warn them of danger, they went ahead and looked around in other rooms. But beyond simply being an old house abandoned to nature, there wasn't much interesting about it. There were hints as to past residents, like names carved crookedly into wood and faded photographs. A couple of rooms, including the living room, had bookshelves with yellowed books and mostly broken knickknacks. Some of the beds still had blankets and pillows, now in disarray with Pokemon fur and feathers left on them.

    On hearing a thump, Calem came back into the living room where Jack had sat back down, lost in thought. The Pokemon they had seen on the roof was now inside, apparently having squeezed down the chimney. Even more ashes were spread on the floor, especially when it shook itself and caused a miniature black cloud around it. Past the sooty black, he started to see its natural colors.

    "Is this one yours?" Calem asked. "It needs a bath badly."

    "Yes, it's a friend," Jack said, looking over at it. "I didn't tell you to clean out the chimney, especially not like that."

    "Cuuuruururu glii," the Pokemon replied.

    "How messy," Shauna said, smiling as she came in. "Hey, is there any running water in here? I don't think the swamp water is gonna help him."

    Jack shook his head, getting back up. "No, but... there's a bathtub in one of the bathrooms. I just, have trouble doing work with my hands."

    "We can handle it if there's a way to get water," Calem offered.

    "Thank you, on his behalf," Jack said, then went down the hall to find the bathtub. There, he held a hand out and cast a spell that caused it to half fill with water. A lemon scent wafted up from soapy foam. "It's a sort that won't damage his feathers as much."

    "Ooo, cool!" Shauna said, her excitement startling Jack. "How do you do that? We're learning magic, but I didn't think you could get a specific kind of water through spells."

    After a moment where his face briefly flushed pink, Jack replied, "If you're learning... it's too complicated. It should do for the task."

    The next few minutes were spent in a cheerful mess trying to get the Pokemon clean. The bird was mostly cooperative, getting into the tub at Jack's gesture and mostly holding still while Calem and Shauna tried to wash the ashes off. But he was so dirty that the water quickly turned black and they still couldn't see his full coloration. Jack had to transport the water outside (with another spell he wouldn't explain) and resummon fresh water, twice. By then, Teirno and Trevor had peeked in curiously from the hall, but with the two of them, Jack, and the Pokemon in there, the bathroom was packed. In the end, they revealed a Sigilyph whose feathers were dim with water, but a great deal cleaner than it had been. They brought him back into the main room, where the other two boys had found some old brooms to sweep a fair portion of the ashes and dirt outside the doorless entrance.

    "That was the dirtiest floor I've ever swept," Teirno said, rubbing ash off (and across) his face. Trevor sneezed in agreement.

    But it was somewhat clean, enough that the Sigilyph wouldn't get ashy and dirty again while it rested on the floor to dry off. In the meantime, a Golurk appeared from somewhere (where had it been hiding? It was nearly as huge as Jack) and watched them quietly out of the way. Jack looked over the two Pokemon, then bowed his head. "Thank you, kids. Unexpected kindness is always a blessing."

    "No problem," Shauna said. "You've got to treat your Pokemon right."

    "Yes... yes of course," Jack said, although he seemed sad.

    "It's been good meeting you," Calem said. "But we've got to get back to Lumiose. They'll get worried if we don't show up at the school dorms by sundown."

    "You'd best get back on the road then. You've made it a good day." He wasn't smiling, but something about his words seemed to carry great weight.

    Once they found Mortan and Percival again, they headed through the marshy area and had a late supper over at the old park. They got back into Lumiose and found that the gatehouse did have an outdoors faucet where they could rinse the mud, grass, and ash off their shoes and skates. After a visit to the bathroom to wash the ashes and dust off the rest of themselves, they got back to the dorms just as the sun was disappearing below the horizon.

    He didn't get a chance to speak with Mortan about what had happened until the next evening, after the bus ride home and the day he spent with his parents. In his bedroom with the door shut, he told the Floette about the visit they'd had with Jack. "I don't think he was a bad guy, but I'm not sure of anything about him," he said at the end. "He was slow about a lot."

    "He's probably troubled by his conditions," Mortan said, sad again. He even had his flower lying on the bedside table, with just one hand on it. "Depression can make it difficult to do anything and slow anybody down."

    "Is that it?" He put his hands on his knees, watching the Pokemon. His others were in the room too, attentive to varying degrees (except Nibbles, who was already asleep in the corner). "You seem to have a lot of insight into that person."

    The Floette closed his eyes and curled up, for a little bit seeming like he wouldn't say anything. Percival spoke up, causing him to lift his head and sigh. "Yes, I did say I'd explain... that person, his name isn't Jack. He probably gave it to you not wanting to reveal who he is, if you would believe it. His name is AZ."

    Almost recognizing it, Calem tried to recall where he'd heard it. "Odd name... seems like I should know who it is, though."

    Mortan picked up his flower and hugged the stem. "You're not a native of Kalos and your history classes haven't touched that time period yet. Aleksander Zachariah de Kalos, usually shortened to AZ, was once a great king. He was my friend before I became a servant of the gods."

    That startled him when it clicked in his mind. "Kalos... wait, isn't that the name of one of the ancient kings of Kalos, like, thousands of years ago?"

    "Around three thousand years ago, maybe a bit more," Mortan said. "That's who you met in that house."

    "Three thousand... but how is he still alive? How are you still alive, for that matter?" He knew that his Floette was mysterious and unusual, but he hadn't counted on him being that old too.

    "A curse for using forbidden magic," Mortan said. "And why... why I swore an oath not to see him again until his heart fully changed, working for the gods in the meantime. I mean, I'm happy that you don't think that he's a bad guy. He isn't; I still believe in him. But he made a very grave and bad decision. People assume AZ died, although legends tell that he has no grave because they never found his body. However, they couldn't find him because he faded from public view and deteriorated from what the image they held of him was."

    "I certainly wouldn't have guessed that he'd be a king," Calem said, still having some trouble connecting a disheveled probably depressed homeless man to an ancient and powerful king. Although, he did have that unusual spell for calling on a tubful of water suitable for washing a feathered Pokemon. Mortan still seemed sad, so Calem decided to see if it would cheer him up by asking, "How did you get to be a friend to a king?"

    "I met him when he was still a prince, but even that was lucky," Mortan said. "Those days I remember fondly."

    "Do you mind talking about them?"

    That did make Mortan smile. "Uh, well... no, if you want me to."
    Pokedex OS- Still trying to capture every single Pokemon out there in words: 648/718 Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, and Sinnoh complete!

    Fluer Noir- A story of a black flower, a shameful history, and magic.

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