After a long, long time, I'm pleased to announce that this is the revised and improved version of A Returning Darkness. I've also decided that I am going to rate this as a PMD story with a rating of PG 13 for violence, occasional bad language, dark themes, and sprinkled horror moments. As always, read, critique, and most importantly, enjoy.
Prologue: Among the Dust and Echoes
Journal Entry 1
I told my dad that I was gonna go to the Hidden Lands to explore the ruins therein. He seemed rather pleased that I decided to put my Officer job on hiatus for a while and return to exploration. I wish I could tell him the truth, though. He’d never understand. He knows my history inside and out after he took me in. Most of the time, he’s the smartest Pokémon I know, but that Sceptile is stuck in his ways at times. It’s like he’s adopted these thousands of year old habits.
...Maybe that was what that note meant…
I leave tomorrow, heading for Treasure Town. I’m glad I evolved into a Flygon a month ago and adjusted to my new body. I feel powerful, strong. I hope Laav notices. I can’t risk telling her despite her recluse ways and general sense of trustworthiness.
Ugh, my mind strays again. I can’t seem to think straight when I should. If anyone sees these journals, don’t ever tell my dad, Leafblade. At least not until either he understands the truth or gets dragged in.
If you do happen to read this, Dad, please understand that I had no choice in this. I must know your secret. Something pulls me to know what it is and why all of a sudden I feel as if it’s no longer safe.
The Flygon folded the notebook, droplets of blood and tears splattering onto the dusty, wrinkled pages. His body convulsed at the small movement of placing the torn diary back into his rescue bag. His other hand clutched his right hip where a deep slash of a Dragonite’s claws had raked over his delicate scales. Flying on, he left the shredded body of an unconscious Dragonite behind him. Looking away from the nauseating sight of his wounds, he saw his destination rising up before him. Just above the ever climbing Highlands, a large, rocky structure stood ominously against the rather peaceful-looking realm of Dialga’s hidden island. Columns of crumbling rocks held the obelisk up. His weary body begged to simply fly to it and take shelter in the darkened refuge, but his barely conscious mind reminded him he had a dungeon to finish traversing.
A twinge of fiery agony coursed through his side. He needed to rest, but the exit was still too far away to risk chomping down on his last Oran. Driving himself forward through sheer will, he reached the last room of the dungeon, only finding a sleeping Tropius with a sparkling Oran right next to it and the exit of the dungeon itself shimmering against the back wall. Saliva gathered in his maw as he contemplated the risk.
Greed and need overthrew his caution as he summoned his draconic flames and spat them at the dinosaur. His aim was true, like usual, and he engulfed the Tropius’s back legs in purple flames. He breathed another volley and the creature fell over, whining pitifully as it slumped back into unconsciousness. He hated attacking ferals without fully knowing if they were passive or not, but not at the moment. Despite the guilt that built up in him, he couldn’t take a chance in his bleeding state to make that judgement as he snatched the berry up in his claws. A roar from behind pierced the air and rattled his sensitive ears.
Dashing through the barrier and returning to the realities outside of the dungeon, he turned to find a bright star crashing into the spot he once hovered over. The bloody Dragonite he thought he had beat fumed steam from his nostrils, murder blazing in his eyes.
Knowing the other dragon wouldn’t dare leave the dungeon he called its home, Dustshade flew towards the towering structure. Green and brown moss covered the the ancient texts and drawings scrawled along the walls. The black markings of ancient Pokemon that once lived here were remarkably well preserved: no doubt “frozen” by Father Time.
Light was quickly fading away inside the antechamber as Dustshade realized just how much time had passed since he entered the Hidden Highlands. Dropping his bag gently on the ground, he fished around for the sturdy branch he had procured from a Parasect in Treasure Town and a large bottle labeled “Wonder Amber.” Coating the branch with the resin, he breathed a small flame on the soaked bark and watched as the room lit up from his makeshift torch. The smell from the burning amber always bothered him, but it was his best fuel source for the money he made.
Despite telling himself at the start of his journey he wouldn’t let his curiosity and attention difficulties better him, he found himself lazily flying by and reading the old texts. Each story was written in the primitive footprint language, and he stopped to read over a story that suggested how Groudon was the clever of the two Nature beasts, waiting for his brother to show up first to incite torrents of rain before emerging to cast the desert sun over the water deity. It was from his craftiness that drove the old Pokémon and humans on land to be more intellectual than the sea brethren. It was an old fable that had managed to be passed down to this day, but here, other details were given and further explained.
Moving on to another wall, he read through the various myths that adorned the aged stones: the creation of Reshiram and Zekrom, the birth of the universe, and others he read over in great detail. The Flygon had learned of all of these stories during his life, finding them fascinating and cryptic. Yet here, so much more was given and even stories he hadn’t read about and canvases he never seen before dominated the few rooms that followed. How Rayquaza was actually Palkia’s servant before becoming the Sky Guardian. Another spoke of the possibility of the Legendaries being mortal after all. Another...
A clatter of rocks sounded back from the entrance along with the faint sound of pages flipping. Turning back, he saw that he was quite a ways from the entrance. Rushing back to the front, whatever intruder was gone, but his journal was open. Hovering over it, he found it open to yesterday’s journal.
Journal entry 30
I fear I’m being followed. Cielliene assures me that only Empyr, herself, or anyone they deem worthy may enter Dialga’s land, but I remain unconvinced. I don’t vocally raise my fears, but I feel a presence dogging me since we made camp outside the Highlands. I feel the presence most at night… It’s hard to explain. The sudden chill, the echo of footstep, the small wisp of a flowing gown. I’d blame my already fragile mind, but I know I can’t hear anything. Cielliene has been on edge since we made camp. More so than the standard dungeon crawling. Whatever it is, I can only hope it’s friendly or just a trick of the mind.
At least Cielliene was agreeable when I asked her to leave me be after we reached the Highlands. She seems quite nice.
As he was closing the book, he saw the faint trace of red on the page after his entry. Gingerly turning the page, he gasped and toppled to the ground, in shock enough to fall out of the air. On it was his exact handwriting scrawled in blood. The header at the top of the page with what looked like the outline of him on the ground, his journal open in front of him; in almost every way, it was the exact tableau of how he looked right now. And just behind him was a shadowy form, also outlined in red with eyes staring soullessly at him.
A deathly cold chilled his body from head to tail. Clutching his torch tightly, he got up and spun around, seeing nothing in the darkness beyond his torch’s bright light. On the ground though, he gazed at a small, edged stone, covered in fresh, sticky blood. Looking around, he didn’t see anything that suggested another presence. Fluttering backwards, he snatched his bag and journal and passed through another long hallway of glyphs. The instant he left the opening antechamber, a horrible shriek echoed throughout the ancient structure, rattling the rocks and floor. Dropping his torch in pure terror, he zoomed to what looked like a small chamber that lay at the end of the natural hallway.
His breath went ragged as the very walls pulsed an eerie, maroon red. Terror gripped his heart as wings practically froze from a sudden and very real blast of chilling air. Getting back up, he half crawled, half flew around the corner before another blast clattered against the walls. His heart nearly stopped as he looked up at a gold door, humming with malevolent energy and rapidly pulsing red like the walls around him. On it, in clear, common language was:
Come no further, child of the leaves and ruler of the dust. You are not welcome here.
A wind billowed through the halls behind them as a chorus of moans echoed through the air. His heart racing and a cold sweat dripping down his body, he dashed for the safety behind the door, uncaring of the words that warned against it. It opened quite easily, revealing a well-lit room. Books and old, rolled-up tomes were shoved into bookcases. Closing and locking the door behind him, he heard the scraping sound of claws against the door followed by the constant and loud moans of whatever it was that stalked him, but for now, he was safe.
Hoping the door would bar whatever was out there, he nearly retreated to the farthest corner possible but stopped. Above the door was the very myth he had come searching for. Slumping to the ground in mesmorized awe, he pulled out his journal. His serpentine neck rested against the back, dusty wall as he wrote this day’s real journal, skipping many pages from the bloody picture that was written.
Journal Entry 31
… My fears are realized. I have been followed, but for reasons I don’t yet realize. Maybe it’s for what I see before me. One of the myths I’ve sought has finally bore fruit. Before me is a primitive drawing of Arceus and Giratina. Yet, despite the stories before, I see the two conjoined in a kiss as if they were lovers. Around the drawing, there is a text that even I don’t know, but it looks remarkably similar to Unown. Various pieces I recognize though. It frightens me. It speaks of a war, one that has been waged between these two on at least two occasions. A war driven by deception. I will have details on my next journal… I hope. From the moans echoing beyond the shelter of a lone door, I swear the dead themselves guard this abomination of a place. For weeks I dreamed of finding this, and now nightmares will surely be my companions until death claims me. I am trapped, with no other avenues of escape except my best friend: the Golden Door. I only hope it thinks me a friend in return...
If I don’t make it out… I love you, Dad.