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Thread: The Curse of Forgotten Time (PG-13)

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    Post The Curse of Forgotten Time (PG-13)



    Genre: Tragedy, Adventure, Fantasy, Mixed

    Rating: PG-13. Occasional foul language and grim themes.

    Plot synopsis:

    Meet Vis and Nil. They've both lived for five hundred years, watching the world crumble around them. Vis was a human, and still looks like one, and Nil was a sarcastic Umbreon. This is their story: a journey through time, madness, and darkness.


    Additional details:

    This fic is a universe-tie-in fic, concerning the entirety of gen4.

    The editing comments about "Round" are simply my way of tracking which chapters I've edited. They mean nothing else.

    As expected of a fic of this type, this is indeed an alternate-universe fic. In particular, this is a universe that sucks to live in.

    The earliest point of the story takes place ~60 years after the events of D/P/Pt, and ~20 years after the events of Shadows of Almia, and ~400 years before the events of Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky.

    As expected, I know my work isn't perfect. Reviews, critique, and/or comments all are extremely appreciated.

    A centered "- - -" represents a change in time, either from the present to the past, or vice versa.


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        Spoiler:- PM List:

    Both In-thread replies and PMs are acceptable to be added to the PM list.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 12th June 2016 at 6:13 PM.

  2. #2
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    Prologue



    I snap to attention as the tell-tale sound of footsteps awakens me. The sound, warped and distorted by the blackened stone, spreads throughout the ruins. For over two hundred years, these ruins have been my prison, refuge, and hideaway: this body simply a memento of a life long since forfeit. I ready myself to take the fight to the intruders, should they prove to be hostile. As I pick myself off of the pristine, pitch-black stone floor, a familiar presence floods into my mind.

    *They're in the ruins.*

    Wordlessly, I reply.

    *The ones you were speaking of earlier? The ones we assisted before? The ones who defeated him?*

    *Yes, those two. They've entered alone, just as I requested.*

    *Are you sure that they can be trusted? Much more is at stake here than ever before. This is our last, and only chance.*

    *We can’t keep this a secret forever, and our time is finally running out. Of all of the possible secret keepers I’ve examined over the years, these two show the most promise.*

    *How long until they reach the deepest floor?*

    *I'm not entirely sure. These ruins are deep: easily comparable to some of the deepest dungeons I've seen during my travels out on the surface.*

    *And the limitations?*

    *Strict, but still flexible enough to allow passage downwards. The twisting tunnels, combined with the traps, will definitely slow them to a crawl.*

    *Excellent. You should come down here: I can only assume that you are expected to not be on the surface.*

    I reach out with my mind and effortlessly open a portal. A dark, swirling vortex materializes before me, held open by the force of my will. Even though it itself is as dark as the night, it still fills the chamber with an unearthly, pulsating violet glow. In an instant, an Umbreon stands beside me. Nil. Releasing my grip on the portal, it quickly flickers and fades, before it dissipates with a nearly inaudible snap. I turn to Nil, my partner.

    *This is our only chance, you know. Such an opportunity will never present itself again.*

    *I know. This is all or nothing. Failure isn’t an option.*

    I grin for the first time in years as I reply.

    *How did we end up here? I remember that I used to hate being with people. Now, however, we need to go looking for them. Before, it was just so we don’t go insane. And now, it is so we aren't forgotten.*

    *I only did it so that YOU wouldn't go insane. I was doing fine.*

    *We both know that if I had went, you would have soon followed.*

    *We both know that you would have never let that happen in the first place.*

    *And so, it seems that this is the only remaining path forward.*

    My mind returned to what I had just asked. My previous life had been completely different: I would have never guessed that my life would become what it was now. I asked myself the question, for the millionth time. Who was I, really, and how did I get here?
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 22nd March 2016 at 7:29 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  3. #3
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    Chapter 1


    I walk over to where I store what little possessions I still own. As always, they are stored in an old, faded, crumbling bag, predating the fall of humanity by wide margin. The bag rests upon a large stone surface, engraved in elaborate patterns of interwoven lines, and ringed with runes of meaning long since forgotten. Even I do not know what these patterns mean, only that at one point, this structure served as an altar of sorts, perhaps for prayer, or perhaps for sacrifice. The bag itself has holes dotting its decrepit surface, scars of its eternal battle against time. Just like my own, this battle's outcome was certain.

    However, due to diligence and constant repair on my part, this bag had served its purpose admirably, far longer than its creators could have ever expected. I reach inside of it, and remove what little personal belongings I still possess. While many of them are simply trinkets, each represents something dear to me. Every single one of these baubles is a memento of my journey, and thus more valuable to me than any sort of worldly riches. They validate my existence, and remind me of my past.

    One by one, I remove them from the bag. Faded scraps of machinery, red and white. A single, colourless, crumbling stone, held aloft by unseen forces and forever spinning. A small leather pouch, which jingles as I place it down. A crystal pendant, hewn into the shape of a crescent moon, darker than the depths of the ocean. A yellow nugget, covered in scratches.

    Remembering it as the oldest relic, I reach for the nugget and examine it closely once more. The nugget’s nearly spherical surface, of dull yellow hue, is pocked by several dings and dents, each about size of a pea. Turning it around, I reveal the hairline rift snaking its way across its surface, filled up to the brim with dirt and dust. This nugget was part of the spoils of my first exploration, kept as a memento of what I once enjoyed doing. Now, the only thing it represents is the life I left behind, before I became what I now am. It was, and still is my beginning. Once more, memories flood though my mind, consuming my thoughts. Memories of what brought me here. Memories of my time as an explorer.

    - - -

    I was born over three hundred years ago, in a little town on the southernmost portion of the Sinnoh region. No records of this town or its inhabitants remain, nor were there for any other town: including my name. As was common back then, I was coaxed into going on a Pokemon journey: a task usually seen as a boon. However, I never was one for straight-up battles, as the rigid rules of engagement destroyed some of the charm for me. Unlike my peers I was sent off early rather than on my own will, to receive a "head start". I was twelve at the time.

    Also unlike my peers, my interest was in the ancient ruins that littered Sinnoh, rather than the Pokemon that inhabited the region. For a reason which was incomprehensible to me at the time, everyone was either too apathetic, or too afraid to explore them: leaving the ruins undisturbed and often times undiscovered. Even the companies specifically created to explore ruins were ineffective, as they were either too bogged down by bureaucracy or just incompetent, leading to only portions of the ruins being explored, if at all.

    My parting gift from my home town was my starter, an Eevee. I decided upon the name "Nil", as not only did it sound interesting, it was also quick to call out and easy to remember. At the beginning, Nil was often sluggish or reluctant to follow my orders. Reflecting back on the look they gave me when they assigned me her, they knew this. They, of course, were the town's Pokemon distributor. I was far too naive back then. I wasn’t broken yet, for I still had faith in the world; nothing had gone wrong before, and I assumed that would always be the case. I departed from the town immediately after receiving my gift, eyes full of hope, excitement and joy, but little did I know that they had no intent of me ever returning.

    It is custom in Sinnoh and most of the known world that when on a journey, a trainer is essentially dead to their parents. These trainers were only ever welcomed home after gathering all eight badges: a daunting, if not highly improbable task. If the trainers did not return, there was little grief, for such things happened depressingly often, yet were never spoken about. This served to weed out the weak and the foolish. I was completely unaware of this, as the truth was as rarely told as it was grim. Blissfully ignorant, I went forward without hesitation.

    Even trainers who inherit enough material wealth to afford personal phones were treated as outsiders by their families. Parents of such individuals often offered to hold onto gathered money, in a sort of grim insurance for their child’s life. Several stories floated about of parents whom had suddenly gained a substantial amount of wealth, and had thrown a party after an unknown circumstance. Even if the child was still alive and well, the parents would often forget that the money still belonged to a living being, sometimes leading to binge purchasing.

    The journey's distasteful side effect of culling the herd was actually its main purpose. The concept of a Pokemon Journey was originally designed as a method of population control; a way of reducing the amount of homelessness that had once plagued a region far away. The rigorous and dangerous aspects of the journey picked off any participant that lacked teamwork, caution, or intelligence, leaving only the best of the best behind. This ensured not only a steady population, but created the perfect workforce, obedient, careful, and caring. Ever since the journey had been accepted as a valid tradition, the population per town had taken a dramatic nose-dive from two hundred per city to a completely stable sixty.

    Thus, every youth was forced into the journey, whether they liked it or not. To prevent too much pain from separation, there were rules about when a trainer could begin. Trainers were usually only thrown out against their will when they reached the maximum age, seventeen. Similarly, trainers could not start before they hit the age fourteen, for fear of having no chance to survive.

    I was twelve when I began.

    There was an unspoken rule that was also enforced, that served to further speed up the process. Town enforcers would keep watch for problems. Children who were caught stealing. Children who refused to listen to adults. Children who didn't fit in. All of these poor souls were sent early: they were given truant Pokemon, in hopes of teaching them humility, and if that failed, to kill them off.

    I didn't question my truant Pokemon, because I hadn't paid much attention to the Pokemon themselves. Rather than reading books about them, I instead read stories of adventure, exploration, and survival.

    I personally was a fan of Indiana Jones.

    Completely unaware of the fact the deck was stacked against me, I dispatched wild Pokemon in my way with ease. However, I simply did not have the control over Nil that other trainers seemed to effortlessly possess, as my commands seemed to be misheard, or sometimes, disregarded altogether. I blamed myself for this, on my lack of talent.

    Although I progressed steadily, I still had a difficult time. Twice groups of trainers travelling together offered me a spot to join them, but twice I declined. I never was a people person, and I wasn't willing to travel with anyone I didn't completely trust. I didn't yet know the true value of a companion, nor the pain of true exile.

    Eventually, a month after leaving my home, I arrived at the first city on my checklist, a place known as Oreburgh. I was effortlessly steam-rolled by the first gym, and almost any trainer I crossed around the city it was located in. Unlike the rest of the trainers, I was sent out with no money, and no pokeballs, and thus could not expand my team. After I lost several times to the trainers orbiting the city in search of wild Pokemon, my self esteem was at an all-time low. When I lost to a trainer's sole Magikarp, I finally quit. I recalled Nil, for what I swore would be the last time, placed her Pokeball within my bag, and moped off into the distance.

    Without direction, I wandered down a road I had chosen at random, intent of finding a purpose, any purpose. Several times trainers passed me by, but as I lacked Pokemon, they simply glanced towards me, and then turned away, intent on achieving success. One or two tried to pick a fight, to which I simply turned my empty pockets inside-out and pointed at my empty Pokeball belt in response. To my luck, none of them were dense enough to not understand that I wasn't worth anything.

    I wandered for several days, following whatever road I felt would lead me further away. I slept under trees, and ate whatever berries grew from the bushes nearby. It was with luck that I eventually passed a ruins site, marked by beige tents rising out of a compound ringed by iron fencing. Remembering my dreams of exploration from before I began my journey, I approached the entry to the encampment. To my surprise, the solid metal gate, sturdy enough to stop a rampaging Gyarados, was thrown open, leaving me to question their policies of security. I looked around, but there were no people in sight from outside of the gate. I steeled my nerves, and entered.

    The mossy dirt road underfoot was soft, loosely packed, and uneven, proof that very few people moved about in this site. I directed myself towards the largest tent, determined to ask about assisting the exploration of these ruins.

    The flap of the tent was heavier than it looked, but several moments and a bit of struggling later, I was within the tent. The inside was sparsely decorated: a shoddy oak desk, one rickety old bookshelf, and a flickering lamp resting upon the dirt floor. Piles of bones and discarded wrappers surrounded an overflowing waste basket, many of which formed a generous radius-inch radius ring around the basket. Even worse, the tent smelled of the nauseating mixture of decaying trash and sweat. An elderly old man sat behind the desk, wispy thin, badly shaven, and wearing a helmet that looked like it had been crushed by an angry Rhydon. I would have left immediately, had I not seen the hastily-constructed name tag on his desk, which simply stated “Foreman”.

    Trying my best not to retch, I approached the Foreman. He did not respond, and his eyes stared straight forward as if I was not even there. I prodded him, which coated my finger in foul smelling ooze. I wiped my hand on my pants in disgust, but he finally began reacting to my presence. From his response, he was previously deep in thought, and his outburst seemed to be caused by his brain being on autopilot, rather than intelligent thought.

    "Hello there, welcome to our camp. We are archaeologists! We do digging! I like fossils! We have a permit!"

    “I'd like to help explore these ruins here.”

    There was a short pause as the foreman's eyes adjusted. A minute later, he shook his head. Strangely, his wispy hair ceased all movement as soon as he stopped, a mystery I did not want solved.

    "Sorry kid, we’re trained adults. We are good at this sort of thing. We only just got permission to start poking around; it'll be a month before we'll be open to the public."

    “You mean it's unexplored?”

    "Yeah, and it could be dangerous. Sorry kid, you'll have to stay out."

    "Fine..."

    I left the tent, as not only was the conversation was going nowhere, but I was several moments from passing out from oxygen deprivation. The fresh air outside of the tent felt like heaven; I had never truly appreciated the fact that most air did not smell like death. Several deep gasps later, I was ready to think clearly again.

    Even though I knew I should not, I was intent on at least examining the entryway of the ruins. The entryway was interesting, to say the least. Carvings of Pokemon lined the walls, mostly Unown, but several were of other types. As my focus turned further into the ruins, I noticed that beyond 20 feet, the floors were completely caked in thick dust. It was obvious no one had entered at all. A mischievous grin crept across my face as I examined the inside of the camp for any witnesses. Aside from the tents, the only person visable was a single man in a lab coat, who, for some reason, was standing in front of one of the walls of a tent. After watching him for several seconds and seeing no change in his position or posture, I quickly crept backwards, and entered the ruins.

    These ruins were mostly monotonous; grey stone, with an occasional statue or plinth adorning sides of the hall. Several times I stepped upon a raised tile, only to feel myself sink. Each time this happened, I would jump backwards, and hit the ground, partly due to paranoia, and partly because I had read so many books that I thought that was what explorers did. I was quickly proven right at choosing to do this. Twice, a rusted blade descended from the ceiling where I had stood moments earlier, and once, probably due to age causing mechanical failure, I was instead greeted with the hideous noise of metal grinding against stone. After the third plate, I was much more cautious about where I stepped.

    Eventually I reached the deepest room, a circular chamber. To my disappointment, the ruins were quite linear: I had passed no forks, and no other paths, only a singular route to the deepest point. In the centre of the room was an intricately carved marble statue of a Garchomp, with perfect detailing; even the individual claws were easily discernible. Its eyes were embedded rubies, and its teeth were triangular quartz, all of which sparkled in the dim light. Shrugging my shoulders, I slowly pried the gems free with my hands, taking extreme care to avoid the tapered points. Behind the statue, was the only flat wall in the entire room. Interestingly one of the sections of the wall was a different colour than the rest. Taking a chance at a wild guess, I pushed against it. The brick quickly gave, and moved backwards. I pushed the loose brick further and further back, until it fell free of the wall with a thud. Feeling around where it fell, it seemed that the brick had fallen into a specifically designed holder, meant to move aside the brick without obstructing the passage it hid.

    Sticking my arm as far into the hole as I could, I grasped a smooth, cold sphere. I grabbed it and pulled my arm quickly from the hole. Not pausing to look at what it was, I began my retreat from the ruins. I was unsure if anything was going to happen, but it wasn’t worth the risk waiting to find out.

    Only when I saw the exit did I slow down.

    It was late; the moon, now a waning crescent, shone its light upon the deserted embankment. Loud, wet snoring emanated from the Foreman’s tent. Strangely, the man in the lab coat was still there, but had not moved an inch. I snuck as quietly as I could out of the camp. I didn't stop moving until the tents were no longer in sight: only then did I examine what I had taken from my little raid. Reaching into my pocket returned an extremely satisfying clicking noise, as I felt around in my pocket for the spoils. Soon, within my hand, I had a dozen quartzes, each the size of a fingernail, two grape-sized rubies, both star cut, and the curious sphere I removed from the hidden compartment in the wall.

    I did not know what the sphere was at first. All I knew then was that it was much heavier than it looked, and must have been well hidden for a reason. It was only after I tried to scratch the dirt off of it with my nail did I make the connection. As I scratched the dirt, the nail also scratched the sphere.

    “Wait a minute… This thing’s solid gold!”

    As the light of the moon reflected triumphantly off of my prize, I came to a decision. Rather than try and fail at my Pokemon journey, I would instead explore ruins, and spend my time doing what I enjoyed, rather than what I was expected to do. I was going to take my life into my own hands, and carve out my own path.

    My two-day trip to Oreburgh was fraught with paranoia towards my newly-acquired goods, which had since been transferred to within my bag for easier storage. Although the city still reminded me of failure, I ignored the feeling as I made a mad dash for the library. There, I approached the history section, which was easily identifiable as the section with the dustiest shelves. One by one, I retrieved books about recent history, and wrote down any lead, crossing out any contradictions or proven hoaxes. Anything that could lead to another exciting site to explore. After my list of locations was assembled, I replaced the books, and set off single-mindedly towards my new goal.

    My talents continued to pay off. From abandoned shack to supposed secret stash, all locations on my list were carefully explored, each almost untouched by previous looters or explorers. I made quite a profit from the valuables I absconded, yet I never spent them on Pokemon supplies. Instead, I spent it on exploration tools, such as chisels, hammers, small bags, a climbing pick, and a medium-sized machete.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 23rd June 2016 at 6:34 PM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  4. #4
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    Chapter 2


    I spent the next year snooping libraries for possible leads, along with occasionally asking about rumours. If a lead showed any promise, I would add it to my list no matter how unlikely. Not long afterwards, I would set off to examine the location. Regardless of whether the site was real or not, there was always wild Pokemon infesting the area around them. I didn't trust myself to battle them, and thus relied upon a mixture of fleeing, and repelling spray to avoid conflict. Eventually I was able to forgo the spray altogether, as I had grown used to listening to the sounds of possible aggressive Pokemon.

    And the sites that I did explore, were breathtaking. From buried villages, to active volcanoes, to even ancient, ruined halls, many places were hinted at, which I later proved to exist. Very few of these showed any sign of human activity in centuries, if not longer; and from these places, I began to see patterns. I began to find certain types of leads more valuable than others, due to continued payoff from similar situations. By the end of it, I had seen dozens of different sites, from the fantastic, to the mundane. Every new site was a surprise, and I slowly became accustomed to learning on the fly: my situation never was tolerant of being unable to adapt.

    This wasn't to say that I didn't run into a few scrapes along the way. Sometimes, even through the repel, wild Pokemon would attack, and while extremely dangerous, I always managed to get away with a maximum of a bad cut, or more often, a couple scrapes or bruises. I wisely invested some money into a larger, sturdier bag, and a well stocked first-aid kit, along with manuals on how to use it. This saved my life more than once. The bag, on the other hand, advertised a "Lifetime+" guarantee, a fact I would take advantage of in the centuries to come.

    I eventually ran out of leads: there were only so many written records of sites to chase. Although I still listened to word-of-mouth rumours, I eventually began digging through old, musty tomes, in hope of finding a true challenge. I found several, but they all were either proven to be hoaxes, or had clearly contradictory descriptions between records. I had nearly given up, but I had noticed something interesting.

    Several books, all of ancient history, spoke of a lost city, carved deep underground. A few described riches beyond compare nestled away, others spoke of the ruins being infested with ghosts and filled to the brim with the dead. Yet more described it as a portal between this world, and hell itself. Although I dismissed these wild claims as a false lead, one recurring detail proved for sure that this place truly existed. Every source, from ancient tome to family memoir depicted the ruins the same way, in the same location.

    Every single source described the ruins as obsidian black, its entry carved in patterns and runes of a language long forgotten. Light held outside the entryway failed to penetrate the darkness within, and thrown stones echoed unnaturally back. None who saw the entrance ever dared to step foot inside. To even further isolate it, it seemed that the only access into the remnants was through a location known as “Turnback Cave”.

    Turnback Cave was yet another complication, as all reports of it stated that the inside was a spacial anomaly; left became right, and no matter how deep you went inside, if you stepped back through the door you entered from, you would be at the entrance. Records described the cave as "hostile"; not due to the wild pokemon or the dangers, but by the sheer, unmistakable feeling that the cave despised interlopers and wanted them gone. I dismissed that last point with a shrug. There was no way a cave could have feelings. Right? To this day, I'm still not sure.

    I knew straight away that I would have no chance of traversing the cave without finding a guide, and thus began searching for a person who had been within Turnback Cave.

    My information search eventually lead me to the home of an elderly man located in Veilstone City, described as bald, save for his scraggly beard and missing one of his eyebrows. Those who I had asked for information had directed to me to him: apparently he was a trainer in his youth who stumbled across Turnback Cave, and eventually figured out how to find his way through it.

    It took me two months of travel, but eventually, I stood in front of his house in Veilstone City.

    Hoping my contact would be cooperative, I slowly walked up to his door, and knocked. Almost immediately, the door was flung open, revealing the man, his missing eyebrow clearly visible, smiling broadly. Crossing his face, from cheek to chin, was a thick scar, smoothed by age. This was definitely the man I was searching for. He looked me up and down, before speaking in a amiable voice.

    "Oh! Another Trainer off on a journey! I remember being a Trainer, way back when Aerodactl flew the skies and everyone was afraid of Psychic Pokemon! What brings you to my house, brave traveller?"

    “Oh… Hi. I’m looking for information about a place known as Turnback Cave. I asked around, and everyone said that you were the person to ask about it.”

    The old man’s face hardened immediately. He looked me over one more time, this time paying more attention to what I was carrying. He only spoke again after checking my arsenal of spelunking tools, and even then, this time much quieter than before.

    "I know about that place. It’s a horrible, confusing place. Are you sure that is where you want to go?"

    “I have made up my mind. I've spent two months alone getting here: there's no backing out now.”

    The elderly man shook his head, and ushered me inside. His home was sparsely decorated, with the only furnishings of note being three antique wooden cabinets, a wooden table, a small fridge, and an old television set. I saw stairs as well, but I didn't need to go up there. I sat at the table as he reached into a cabinet, removing a map from within. He returned to the table, and sat across from me. He placed the map flat on the table, and pointed towards an area circled on the map.

    "You see this circle here? Turnback Cave should be right around here."

    “Do you have any way of navigating the cave?”

    "The walls have extremely small Unown Glyphs carved into them, that can help travellers find their way. As long as you pay attention to what they read, and avoid anything that sounds dangerous, you'll be safe. Also, if it gets too dangerous, just walk back through the door you came in from. I don't know how it works, but the rumors are true."

    He handed me the map and escorted me to the door. I thanked him as I stepped outside.

    “Thank you so much Mister…”

    "Please, call me Dyllan."

    “Thank you Dyllan, You have no clue how much this helps me.”

    He nodded, but narrowed his eyes for a moment.

    "By the way, what exactly are you looking for in Turnback Cave? It's very rarely talked about, let alone seriously considered. Is there something inside you're looking for? I've heard that missing possessions often turn up within, and I can say for a fact that they do. One room I came across was full of nothing but mismatched socks, and keys."

    “I’m searching for the City of the Lost.”

    His reaction was frantic.

    "WHAT? The City of the Lost? Are you insane? I’ve seen the entrance to there. It looks like something you’d see out of a fever nightmare! You can’t be serious."

    “So it does exist then? Where exactly is the entrance located within?”

    Dyllan looked at his feet, shaking his head slowly as he replied.

    "I’m so sorry… but I can’t, in good peace of mind, give you any more advice on how to kill yourself. I can live with what I have already told you: there was no way to know that this was your plan: I took you for a treasure hunter. I know you will not change your mind, but please. Please think carefully before you do this. There is no shame in running from a danger you cannot overcome."

    “Don’t worry, I will.”

    According to the map, the entrance to the cave was only an hour away. I would need to take a thin path snaking between mountains, at the end of which, the entrance to the cave would be in plain sight. However, his warning had kicked my paranoia into high gear. I knew that while the payoff could be big, the risk would be even greater.

    I left Veilstone in silence, promising myself to be even more vigilant than before.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 19th April 2016 at 7:06 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  5. #5
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    Chapter 3

    An unnatural quiet heralded my arrival to the location marked on the map. Even the constant sounds of wild Pokemon, a usually ever-present cacophony, were silent. I listened for several moments: I could barely hear anything at all, besides the sloshing of water, and the rustling of leaves in the wind. The path had lead me in front of a lake, of size comparable to the three other great lakes in the region. The lake’s surface glimmered in the sunlight, refracting the rays in a way which, disconcertingly, seemed to give the lake an unnatural glow. Even the surface of the lake itself seemed not of this world, for its waves were drawn from the banks towards the deepest part of the lake, forming a white circle of cresting waves in the dead center. Somewhere nearby, there was a passage into Turnback Cave.

    I was not used to the silence. Whereas before, when I was exploring, I could hear aggressive Pokemon before I saw them: I had a means to get out of danger before it happened. Now, I would need to rely upon a backup plan. Fumbling around for several moments within my pack, I eventually grasped the only Pokeball in my possession. It was caked in dust from lack of use. I had never needed it before, and thus it had remained ignored. However, this time, any advantage I could receive would make a major difference in my safety. I carefully wiped the dust from the surface of the ball, and summoned Nil from within.

    As her shape formed, I stowed the ball in my pocket. She blinked from the sudden change of light, and glanced at me in a mixture of surprise and expectation. She looked around for several moments, but then turned back towards me. It was time to begin the exploration.

    The feeling of being watched was almost palpable as I circled the lake during my search. Even worse, I had begun to see the gathered waves as an eye, watching me disdainfully as I scampered about. The entire place seemed unnatural, not evil, but simply alien. However, I did not want to believe in such superstition, and thus did my best to ignore it. It didn’t help.

    As I reached the far side of the lake, I spotted a worn, ancient gravel path leading to a hole in the stone. I stopped beside the hole, and did a final check of my possessions. Finally, I removed a caged lantern from my pack, lit it, and looked around once more. Drawing a deep breath, I stepped through the threshold.

    Almost immediately, I found myself in a large, stone room, air heavy and stinking of soot. Even worse, I had a feeling that the inside of the cave was much larger than the outside. As Dyllan had described, the walls were inscribed in runes. The runes upon the wall to my right revealed the destination being the depths of the cave; which while probably interesting, were not what I was searching for.

    The wall that I had entered from simply read “Exit”. It was the third wall that caught my attention. Unlike the other walls, this one did not translate into any recognisable language. Attempting to translate it read “Syalrad Ves Enaros”, a phrase of meaning I did not know. After staring at it for several moments, trying to understand it, I concluded that it most likely lead to the ruins.

    Room after room I followed the carved instructions, with each identical room causing me to feel more and more lost. Even stranger, the cave completely lacked Pokemon, instead being inhabited by perfectly preserved corpses. Examining one revealed it to have died of hunger. I shuddered as I considered being lost in here forever.

    By the eighth room, I lost all hope of this cave existing within regular space, for it seemed that whenever I entered a new room, I arrived from a different direction. Simply being within the cave instilled an acute sense of vertigo, which made progress difficult, but not impossible. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I arrived at a room that was different. While the wall directly across from me was still the same, carved with the word “Depths”, it was when I turned to my left that I realized I had arrived at my destination.

    Seemingly chiselled directly into the stone, was a gigantic gothic arch, bordered by two pillars, each rising to the roof of the cave. Dancing across the oily black surface, were interlaced patterns of lines and sigils, which continued into the murky maw ahead. Gritting my teeth, I walked into the entryway. Nil was hesitant to follow me, but the moment I entered, she quickly chased after me.

    Once again, I felt as if I had stepped into a completely different dimension. The walls of the ruins were completely pristine. My examination revealed no chipping, no flaking stone, not even any scratches of any sort, just fresh, almost warm basalt. Even scraping the wall with a chisel failed to leave any mark at all. No longer trusting the ruins themselves to not be a trap, I was always on the alert to duck for cover at the slightest movement.

    As I carefully descended the stairs, multiple paths branched to my left and right. Not one to turn down a challenge, I turned off at the nearest branch. However, I couldn't shake the feeling that whatever lay at the deepest part of the ruins was of great importance.

    The side path was a maze, obviously inflicted with the same effect the walls of Turnback Cave so easily presented. However, unlike the main corridor, the side passages were not as perfect. Swarms of Zubat hid above, nestled within recesses in the roof. Similarly, glowing mushrooms illuminated the walls, casting a wavering blue glow over the cracked tiled floor.

    It wasn't that this portion of the ruins was different, for the walls were made of the same material as the main passage. However, it seemed as if this portion of the ruins had aged. While still in amazing shape, it was in much worse condition than what I had already seen. Poking around led me to five different paths, all of which glowed ominously. I chose one at random, and found myself back on the stairs. I shrugged my shoulders. It was time to examine what lay below.

    I returned back to the main corridor, and descended once more. The air, previously warm, took on a chill; it smelled faintly of burning incense, yet another impossibility within these unnatural ruins. Taking another deep breath, I snuck forwards, paying close attention to the roof and walls, in case of a trap. I got halfway down the hall before I felt something nip at my foot. In a blind panic, I jumped back, fearing for my life.

    To my luck, it was not a trap. Nil had nipped at my pants to grab my attention, and had begun pawing at a strange circular carving on the floor. I drew my lantern closer, and bent down to check.

    The carving appeared to be closely nested circles, with runes circling around the outermost ring. More importantly, the carving appeared to be raised almost imperceptibly. Leaning as close as I could to the plate without putting weight on it, I began to read the inscription aloud.

    “Na’ramos Ivila Malavis”.

    I stared at the gibberish, unsure of how best to proceed. Not wanting to risk setting it off by accident, I retreated backward slightly, where I began to consider my options. I had finally decided upon jumping over the plate, when suddenly the only thing I could feel was pain.

    Fire consumed my mind as I lay on the ground, writhing in agony. Every muscle in my body spasmed, throwing my limbs about like a ragdoll. My other senses, pushed aside by necessity, vaguely reported the scent of blood, the taste of iron, and the sound of my own voice screaming. Several times the thought that I had died and went to hell passed through my mind, but these were eventually replaced with hopes that I’d die and go to hell to escape. Some point during the ordeal my voice gave out, and I began choking on my own blood. Even worse, the sound was replaced by maniacal laughter, of a source I did not see.

    Eventually, the pain waned, after what felt like an eternity. I wanted to get as far away from the plate as I could. Thus, I began to lift myself from the ground, entire body still twitching. Three times I tried, but the first two simply resulted in me falling back down, muscles unwilling to support my own weight. On the third try, I was finally able to examine my surroundings. Beside me, Nil stood, staring at me in pain. Turning away revealed a dark shape fleeing the scene, not a Pokemon, and certainly not a Human. It ascended through the roof. Thoroughly terrified, I continued my search. Finally, I faced the plate, in hopes of figuring out what exactly had happened. What I saw, was not what I was expecting.

    A pale glow had filled the room, emanating from two glowing orbs floating over the plate. Small wisps of light rose upwards from each orb, dissipating after leaving the main mass. I was not sure what they were, but they seemed important. Pushing heed aside in favour of curiosity, I approached the plate again. Half of the runes were glowing, although I refused to read the glowing ones, for fear of re-triggering the trap.

    Strangely, the runes began to go out, one by one. Assuming that it was timer of some sort, I glanced at the orbs once more. They were definitely less bright than before, and judging by the rate at which they were dissipating, it would be mere moments before they faded away altogether. Not willing to risk losing them, no matter what they were, I lunged at the closest one. In the corner of my eye, I could see Nil pouncing for the other one.

    As my hand contacted the glowing orb, the orb appeared to be absorbed into my hand. I wasn't willing to delay long enough to figure out its purpose: as soon as my strength returned, I was off like a shot. I didn't want to be in the range of the trap should it activate again, so I fled back to the staircase. I slipped on a puddle of what I assumed was my own blood, but quickly regained my footing to continue my retreat. I spied the snuffed lantern lying on the ground and scooped it up as I continued my sprint.

    I would later be glad that I had chosen to run.

    I wasn't even a foot up the stairs before segments of the roof began to descend, blocking the deepest portion of the ruins at what used to be an intersection between the main stairs and a turnoff point. Unwilling to be put at the mercy of the side paths, I sprinted harder for safety. Dozens of gates closed behind me, each only moments behind me.

    The branching pathways didn't matter. The secrets at the bottom didn’t matter. The murderous trap that nearly killed me did not matter. The only thing that mattered was getting as far away from the ruins as I could. The echoing stone taunted me, made a mockery of my fear, as the sounds of panic and heavy breathing filled the air. Eventually the entrance came into view: I threw myself through it, hitting the stone ground hard, fully expecting the entrance to collapse.

    To my surprise, the entryway itself did not collapse. In fact, there was still an open path to the first branch: I could only assume it was a safety feature of some sort.

    Still nauseous from the trap, I stumbled towards walls until I found the one which lead to the exit, and went the path of egress.

    Three steps into the breach passed before I felt myself pulled in every direction. My eyes registered intense darkness, followed by scalding light. When my vision finally became clear again, I stood outside the cave. I stumbled forwards and collapsed, sense of direction temporarily shot. Head spinning and heart pounding like a hammer on an anvil, I lay face-down in the dirt, breathing deeply. Several minutes later, I had calmed myself down enough to peel my body off of the ground.

    The waves still crested and crashed in the center of the lake; but the wind had picked up since I had entered. To my further anger, the wind ALSO served to unnerve me, as the sound of the wind through the branches emitted a whispering noise. I turned around behind me, and was greeted by an Umbreon. I paused for several moments, before realizing who it was.

    “Nil?”

    *Yes?*

    I flinched. When I had called her name, I had only hoped to receive some kind of response. I had no idea that she would actually RESPOND.

    “You can talk?”

    *Yes.*

    My mind flickered back to the trap.

    “Did that trap hit you as well?”

    Nil paused for several moments, before responding. During this time, her muscles seemed to tense, but she didn't move.

    *Yes.*

    “This is getting too weird. Let’s go back to town.”

    *Yes.*

    I retrieved my Pokeball from my pocket, and began to recall Nil. As Nil's form dissipated and was sucked within, I came to regret my decision. The pain from the trap returned a thousandfold. I collapsed to the ground, clutching my head. Fortunately, this pain lasted far shorter than the trap, despite its severity. It faded not a minute after it had begun. However, I felt a different pain in my head shortly after, as fragments of something flew into my face.

    No longer trusting the world around me, I carefully raised myself back up from the ground. Around me, lay scraps of red and white metal, obviously remnants of the Pokeball. It seemed to have exploded quite violently. Several large shards were embedded in my left hand, which I quickly plucked out with my right. I spied Nil, sitting in the middle of the shards, in severe pain. Unsure of what to do, I reached into my bag to retrieve my first-aid kit, and began to approach her.

    For the first stroke of luck today, Nil woke up as I stepped nearer with bandages in hand. Slowly, she raised herself up, shook off the dusting of shards covering her, and then looked at me in shock.

    *That hurt! Why did you do that?*

    “I just tried to recall you…”

    *Wait. I actually said that?*

    “Uhh… excuse me?”

    Nil failed to respond. My further questioning and prodding failed to yield any further results, either. Shrugging my shoulders, I proceeded to bandage up Nil anyway; along with removing the various shards which had become embedded within her. I could have sworn she shot me a look of annoyance. I would receive that look a lot from then on.

    Finally, I gathered up the fragments of the Pokeball. While many Pokeballs had failed before, very few had ever shattered while recalling an owned Pokemon. Similarly, I doubted any Pokeballs had every exploded into shrapnel. I began to gather the larger fragments of the ball, in hopes of getting an explanation later. I shook my head as I did so. On one hand, they were pretty gross, being covered in blood and all. On the other, if I did decide to wash them, I could remove any evidence of them being faulty.

    In the end, it didn't matter, because I never did get the shards checked out.

    Five minutes later, I had gathered every piece I could find; notably, one third of the upper segment still remained, along with the mostly-intact emitter. Moving them into a small bag, I stowed them along with the rest of my gear. I would solve that problem out later. Right now, my goal was Veilstone: both to go rest, and to assure Dyllan that I had survived. It just didn’t feel right with him believing that he had indirectly killed me.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 22nd March 2016 at 7:27 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  6. #6
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    Chapter 4


    My thoughts are interrupted by a message from Nil. Several moments of regaining my composure later, I ask her to repeat what she had said.

    *You've been quiet for quite a while.*

    *Oh yeah, sorry about that.*

    *I'm not used to you being so quiet, what are you thinking about?*

    *Our past.*

    *...*

    *We've been through a lot, huh?*

    *I still don't know how you can remember it all.*

    *It's been my lifeline for centuries now, you know that more than anyone. I have nothing else to recite, nothing else to hold onto.*

    * ... If it's not too much of a struggle, can I listen in from now on? I.. I'd like to hear our story one last time.*

    *Easily.*

    *Where were you when you left off?*

    ---

    The full moon shone overhead as we trudged back towards Veilstone City. While the path before would have normally been extremely difficult to traverse during the night, that night seemed especially bright, and thus we found no difficulty. Even so, I lacked the energy to run. I was still reeling from the trap, not to mention the explosion. I nervously ran my hands over my exposed skin, cautiously checking for embedded shards that I might have missed the first time. To my disgust, I removed a half-dozen, each about the length of a pea. Eventually, I arrived at the city, and was greeted by the silent houses and empty streets. The only building open was the PokeCenter. Seeing no other choice, and desperately needing to sleep, I went to go rent a bunk.

    As was the case with every other PokeCenter I had seen, this building was impeccably kept. A sign hung above the door, proudly advertising the Center's policy of always being open. Before I stepped inside, I ran my hand over my face one last time, to make sure I had not missed anything. To my satisfaction, my hand came back clean.

    The inside of the building was brightly lit, and staffed by nurses in identical uniforms. The air reeked of strong cleaning supplies, and even stronger perfumes that were being used to cover them up. Determined to get a bed before I collapsed, I slowly lumbered towards the front desk. I quietly spoke to the receptionist, a middle aged woman carrying a clipboard.

    “One bed please.”

    She glanced towards a list on the wall beside her. Her reply was completely without enthusiasm. I didn’t blame her, no one would ever want to be working this late.

    "How old are you?"

    I thought for a moment, before replying. It seemed almost impossible, but only a year had past since I had left home.

    "Thirteen, I think."

    "Okay. Either way you're still in group C, We have some space left in your age group's room. That'll be 10 dollars."

    She gestured towards Nil.

    "Do you want us to hold onto your Pokemon for you?"

    I started to speak, but decided against it, after I remembered my mishap with the Pokeball.

    "No thank you. I'm sure she’ll behave.”

    "Okay then. Your bed is in room C, Section 3, Row 1. Bottom bunk. You have 12 hours."

    I watched the receptionist write down my details. Male. Age group C. Trainer.

    She also wrote down my name. My real, birth name. Yet, I can't remember what it was.

    I dropped my gear off at my bunk, and headed to the change rooms. I had already showered and dried myself before I noticed something strange in the mirror ahead of me. In the mirror, a pale, black-haired boy stared back, wary hazel eyes full of shock, exhaustion, and confusion. A long, jagged black scar ran from his right shoulder to left hip, wide, but not deep. I traced the scar with my finger, curious about how I had failed to notice it. I rubbed water on it, but accomplished nothing, not even cause myself pain. In fact, nothing I did to it caused pain, nor any sense of feeling whatsoever: it was if all nerves in the affected area were dead. To be honest, the scar resembled a tattoo, rather than the horrific burn I had assumed to have caused the pain in the ruins. Eventually, I gave up on trying to understand it, and finished donning my bedclothes.

    To my surprise, Nil was already asleep below the bed I was assigned. I pushed my worries aside, and climbed into the bed. Within moments, I was asleep.

    My dreams that night were strange: I was floating in a void, no ground in sight. Around me, thousands of stars shone, just barely illuminating the area. A small cord, two inches thick and dark as the night, floated in the darkness, starting a mere foot to my left, before ending mid-air.

    The sleep hall was deserted when I awoke. I gathered up my belongings, and took a quick check of the scar as I walked towards the changing room. To my relief, it had shrunk, but the affected area was still numb. I searched for Nil to wake her up: it was time to head out. I found her sleeping on one of the beds: she gave me a bleary-eyed glare when I shook her awake. As we checked out at the receptionist's desk, I was asked to clarify that my age was copied down correctly. I confirmed, and received a concerned look in return. Thinking nothing of it, I left the Center in a sprint.

    The sun hung low in the sky, signifying late afternoon. I walked towards Dyllan’s house, mentally attempting to make sense of what had happened the night before. For all I knew, I had triggered some sort of trap, of which I had barely survived. I may or may not have suffered intense mental trauma, as I heard my Pokemon talking to me, even though she failed to speak since.

    Even worse, I was afraid. I was afraid of death, afraid of pain, and now, afraid of mistakes.

    I had never considered the possibilities of dying during my explorations before; but that trap had changed my opinion. Either way, I had no plan on ever going back to those ruins, in any way, shape or form. In retrospect, it is funny how things turn out.

    I arrived at Dyllan’s house, and knocked. Moments later, the door opened, revealing Dyllan, wringing his hands, and single eyebrow furrowed in worry. However, when he saw me, his face softened.

    "Thank goodness you’re all right! So I take it you couldn't find the ruins entrance?" he asked.

    “No, I certainly found it,” I confirmed, spending time to carefully choose each word.

    He looked me over, as if not believing what I had said.

    "How far did you go into the ruins?"

    “I’m not sure. I had reached the bottom of the entryway stairs when I ran into... difficulties.”

    I shuddered upon saying the word “difficulties”. The searing pain I had experienced was still fresh in my memory.

    "There's no shame in running you know? If your life is at stake, there's no reason to continue."

    He paused for a moment, as if thinking of the best way to state something.

    "I assume if you were searching for the City, you had no other plans. If so, what do you do now?"

    I was not ready for that question. I had spent a year without looking back, without examining other possibilities. I looked down at Nil, and then back up at Dyllan.

    “I’m… Not sure.”

    "Why not give the Pokemon League another go? Judging by how young you look, you can't have gotten far."

    "I never even got my first badge."

    "Really? Just how young are you?"

    I told him my age. Immediately, his face warped from relief to pained remembrance.

    "Thirteen, huh? How old was I, when they threw me out?"

    I had no clue at what he meant at the time. All I knew was that I felt pain in his words.

    "I’m headed to Eterna City to visit my sick granddaughter right now. If you want, you can hitch a ride."

    Seeing no reason not to, I hastily agreed.

    A few minutes later, we had arrived at Eterna city. Solid stone mountains ringed the city, forming what appeared to be an impenetrable barrier. Dyllan directed me to the west gate.

    "The fastest way to where you need to go is straight through Eterna Forest. From there, you should be able to get to Oreburgh pretty easily."

    “Thank you for your help, Dyllan. You’ve been a lifesaver.”

    As I left the town, Dyllan called out a final piece of advice from behind me.

    "Make some friends! They'll make a huge difference in what you'll face..."

    The path to Eterna Forest was for all purposes and intents, completely overgrown. Scraggly weeds interlaced the fragmented concrete path, its rough patches worn smooth by the footfalls of countless travellers. Bordering the path was dense overgrowth, in which the constant shuffling of bushes betrayed the presence of wild Pokemon. Although I encountered several trainers on my way, all of them were novices, much easier that the ones I had previously faced. Eventually, I stood in front of the forest entrance, beside which was a large sign, hastily nailed to a large tree.

    The sign read, in faded black letters “Eterna Forest, the mysterious haunted forest”.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 22nd March 2016 at 7:30 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  7. #7
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    Chapter 5


    The entry into the forest was heavily shrouded by the dense foliage: the twisting bends and turns made vision almost impossible. I muttered to myself, as I instinctively checked my pack.

    "I suppose this is the way I need to go, right?"

    *Don't ask me, you were the one reading the map.*

    I glanced at Nil, who had begun giving me a mocking stare. I had nearly forgotten that she could talk now. It was at this time that I realized that she was a jerk.

    “Why weren’t you answering me earlier?”

    *I didn’t think it was important.*

    “And this is?”

    *No, but it is funny.*

    "Are you going to act like this from now on?"

    *I don't see a reason why not!*

    I shrugged my shoulders in resignation and stepped into the forest.

    The forest was not as dark as I expected; despite the lack of direct sunlight, I could see quite clearly. The bends in the path I had seen from outside, while still there, weren't as sharp as I had assumed. It still made travel extremely difficult, and the lack of a path or signs prevented knowing which way was directly through the forest. Many of the paths we took lead to dead ends, or to trainers.

    Either way, we spent a large amount of time training, whether we liked it or not. Nil and I both agreed that this task, while boring, painful, and slow was entirely necessary. By the third dead end we had encountered, I decided to instead just follow the left wall. Several minutes, and another dozen dead ends later, we finally stepped out into an area that was different than the rest of the forest.

    We stood in the center of a clearing, with the sun directly visible overhead. To the east, west, and south of the clearing lay identical paths: almost indistinguishable. Had I not marked the trees I had passed earlier, it would have been entirely possible for me to have accidentally turned back around. The real interest, however, lay to the north. Nestled in the undergrowth sat a mansion. The mansion was built out of dark, solid wood, most of which the rain and the sun had bleached beige. Its windows had long since caved in, leaving no indication whether they were smashed in, or had fallen apart naturally. A young boy sat on the cobblestone path to the mansion, likely just starting on his journey. Beside the boy sat a Shinx; this one was laying down, either asleep, or trying its best to do so.

    Curious on what exactly this structure was, I approached the trainer, ready for a battle if necessary. What I got instead, was a discussion.

    "Oh hey there! This is pretty cool, huh?"

    I was taken aback by how upbeat this trainer was. My journey had been doom and gloom, perhaps I was just unlucky? I considered this for a moment, before just deciding upon asking about what the structure was.

    “Do you know what this place is called?”

    "The sign over there says “Chateau”, but I’m not sure what that means. It sounds like a different language."

    I followed the boy's pointing finger to a crumbling sign attached to a fallen mailbox. It indeed said Chateau, but the sign was in such disrepair that any other text on the sign was unreadable.

    “What brings you here?” I asked the boy, as I carefully opened the mailbox, hoping to find something. I retrieved a small stack of coins, which I hastily pocketed. The boy continued speaking, oblivious to what I was doing.

    "I was hoping to check it out, but I thought that I’d get lost if I went in alone. By the way, we never introduced each other! My name’s Jack, and this is Sparky!"

    The Shinx raised its head momentarily upon hearing its name, before setting itself back down again.

    "What’s your name? How old are you? How many badges do you have? I have one, but I’m hoping to get another before the end of the week! Where are you from?" he pestered.

    I wasn’t ready to admit what my name was, as I had given up on my journey, and had hoped to start anew. Even worse, I wasn’t willing to admit I was further behind than this kid, even though I started much earlier than him. I pulled a random name out of the air, and went with two badges as my alibi. I personally doubted that he knew where my hometown was, and felt fine just describing it in broad terms.

    “My name’s Vis. I'm thirteen. I've got two badges. I'm from south of Sinnoh, from a little town on the border.

    "Wait, thirteen?"

    Jack gave me a confused look for a moment.

    "Mum said I couldn't leave until I was fourteen! I begged and pleaded, but they said, "No, you're not ready yet! No, it's not safe!". How on earth did you convince your parents to let you go early?"

    I scratched the back of my neck. This kid was older than me, but acted much, much younger. Perhaps it was what I had done, or what I had experienced that made me seem older.

    "Actually, I didn't have a choice. They said I was the right age, and gave me my Pokemon. That happened a year ago."

    "WHAT? You were twelve? My folks are such jerks! I wanted to start since I was nine!"

    I felt like explaining to him why not having enough preparation was a bad thing, but I didn't feel like crushing his spirit.

    "I never told you the name of my Pokemon. This here... Wait, you can tell him yourself, right?"

    *According to this human here, my name is Nil, other human.*

    Jack looked at me in confusion. He glanced at me, then at Nil. Finally, he scratched his head and replied.

    "Umm… I didn’t... quite catch that. Could you repeat that again?"

    *My. name. Is. Nil.*

    “Did you hear it that time?”

    The boy rolled his eyes at me. I could hear him calling me crazy under his breath.

    "How about you say it this time. It’s pretty hard to understand your Umbreon, what with the ACCENT, and I don’t like the way it’s snarling at me."

    “Her name is Nil.”

    "Okay, since you two are here, do you mind helping me check out this house? I want help in case I fall down or something and I need someone to pull me out. Also, Sparky won’t stop growling when we get near the door for some reason."

    “Sure, why not. I’m pretty good at this sort of thing."

    *Heh…*

    I glared at Nil, before joining Jack in approaching the front door.

    The tempurature around the house plummeted as we approached the front door. The same unnatural feeling that surrounded the lake before was also present here: the feeling of being watched was undeniable. Sparky followed closely behind Jack, obviously unwilling to follow him, but doing so nonetheless. I glanced down to Nil; her hackles were raised, but she seemed much less afraid than Sparky. Jack made an offhand comment about Nil's appearance.

    "I didn't know Umbreons could look like that. I thought Jolteons were the only Eevees that had spiky hair."

    I pushed aside the everpresent feeling of dread to respond.

    "Maybe she's just scared."

    *Am not...*

    "I don't think I've ever heard of a trainer Pokemon that looked different when afraid. Maybe yours is just special."

    "Haha, that's entirely possible. It's really cold here; much colder than I'd think it'd be inside the forest."

    *I’m pretty sure there’s something behind that door.*

    Following Nil's advice, I glanced back towards the door. Through the empty windows, I could see shifting movement, however moments later, it was replaced with a dense mist. Jack had begun quivering, although whether it was caused by the cold or by the feeling of dread, I could not tell. He obviously was trying his best to hide his fear, and judging by how he was watching me, assumed I couldn't see him out of the corner of my eye. We reached the door, with me slightly ahead, and I turned around, causing Jack to jump. I did my best to pretend that I couldn't tell that he was afraid.

    “Well, let’s get this over with. Can you count down to open the door?”

    Jack gulped, and took up a position on the other side of the doorway. He began counting down, voice wavering.

    ‘One…. Two….”

    Jack’s shivering increased in frequency as he got ready.

    “THREE!”

    We quickly threw the door open, and stepped through the doorway. The entryway was deserted, saved for mangled tapestries hanging from the walls. A ruined staircase snaked upwards, leading to a large room, guarded by solid-looking doors. Moving shapes danced in the corner of my vision, but disappeared when I turned to face them. The bottom floor was flooded with dense fog that came up to my chest; I couldn't help but feel as if the fog was trying to devour me.

    *This place is a wreck. And I can almost bet that it's haunted.*

    Nil’s comment mirrored my concerns. Meanwhile, Jack’s entire body was shaking, but when he had returned to trying his best to hide his fear.

    "I… I… I think we should check out that big room…"

    Nodding my head, I removed a rubber mallet from my backpack, and approached the staircase. With utmost care, I firmly struck one of the lower steps, which returned a loud thunk. I had repeated this five more times, when Jack’s question interrupted me.

    "What are you doing?"

    “I'm testing to make sure this staircase can hold a person's weight. I don’t trust it not to collapse.”

    "Oh. that makes sense. I'll just stand down here while you do that, then."

    My paranoia paid off, as several previously solid-looking steps shattered into foul-smelling wood dust when struck. Eventually, I cleared a safe path up the staircase, which Jack used to follow me up. As I reached for his hand to help him up over a gap, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Unlike the other phantasms, this one did not dissipate when I turned to face it. It had the shape of a woman, clothed in a bonnet and a dress, and was facing away from us. It quickly glided around a corner, out of sight.

    “Did you just see that?” I asked Jack.

    "See what?"

    “That woman. She went around that corner.”

    "Are you sure? You seem… a bit paranoid… and a little bit insane..."

    “I’m going, you can either come or not. It's your choice.”

    With that statement, all traces of Jack pretending to be brave disappeared in an instant.

    "PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME HERE… it’s scary…"

    “After we check out this area I want to see, I promise to help you look in the big room.”

    "Okay…”

    Together, we turned the corner, revealing a long hallway that led towards yet another door. This hallway was in much better shape than the rest of the house; not only was the decorative stained glass bordering the door intact, but the walls were decorated with various paintings as well. Jack checked to ensure we weren't being followed as we proceeded forwards. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the eyes of the paintings following us, and, unlike what I expected, they continued following me, even as I watched them. I neglected to mention this to Jack, as I doubted it would do anything besides unnerve him further. Teeth chattering, he choked out a question.

    "This hallway is beyond creepy... I really think that something's watching us..."

    He paused, before looking at me suspiciously.

    "Hey... Why aren't YOU afraid?"

    Of course, I could have told him the whole story, about how I was an experienced explorer, and how I had been through much worse. However, I doubted he would be as willing to trust me if I revealed that the results of my last exploration ended up with me walking into a trap. Instead, I deflected his question.

    "I've been through worse."

    *Like having traps blow up in your face.*

    "Shut up..." I muttered, "It was one time..." As I whispered to Nil, Jack began wringing his hands.

    We reached the end of the hallway, and once again took up position on each side of the door. With a silent nod, we flung the door open and stepped through, fully expecting it to be empty. We were wrong. Oh, so very wrong.

    Sparky's eyes unfocused, but he did not move. Nil bared her fangs, but took up a stance that would allow her to flee quickly. Jack stared confused at the room, obviously not aware of the Pandora's Box we had torn open. And me?

    I saw ghosts. I had encountered Ghost Pokemon before, yes, but those were naturally occurring: they reproduced through eggs, just as any other kind of Pokemon would. They were simply infused with a different element. The spectres in front of me? These were real ghosts. Between the ethereal forms of the dead Pokemon, sat several in the shape of humans. Unlike the woman, their features were visible; they were pristine in form, besides bearing faces of pain, and despair. The crowd of ghosts parted as the spectre of the woman stepped forward, bonnet still concealing her face. Then, as one, the ghosts issued a booming ultimatum.

    YOU HAVE TRESPASSED ON OUR DOMAIN. LEAVE OR ELSE WE WILL BE FORCED TO REMOVE YOU OURSELVES.

    Jack had obviously heard them, as the squeak he emitted drew my attention to his face, now pale with terror. Sparky still showed no emotion, but had begun vibrating violently, as if all of his muscles had begun attempting to wrest control at once. Nil glanced towards me, biting remark at the ready, before immediately turning back towards the threat.

    *You don’t ever learn, do you.*

    I stood dumbly for several moments as I took in the scene. Obviously, I didn't react fast enough for the ghosts' tastes. In an instant, dozens of angry spirits charged us like a hive of angry hornets, their shrieks and wails forming a deafening cacophony. At this point, I abandoned all hope of fighting our way out, grabbed Jack (who was not light, but manageable), and sprinted for the entrance. As soon as we began running, Sparky was behind us, running as fast as he could, but still dead-eyed and shaking. I was too panicked to check which stairs were safe, but to my luck, all of the ones I stood on held my weight. The door was open when we reached the landing, a courtesy which I would later attribute to the ghosts. Even so, I didn't care at the moment. All I could care about was getting the heck out of the forest.

    Just as we exited the house, Jack ceased being unconscious. I could tell, because it was at that moment that he began screaming bloody murder. I quickly summed up the past minute, still trying desperately to sprint for safety.

    “LOTS OF GHOSTS. START RUNNING YOU’RE HEAVY.”

    Quite helpfully, he started running beside me, before glancing back at the roiling wall of angry spirits. Although it was obvious he couldn't SEE them, it was apparent that he could FEEL them, and knew that if he fell behind something terrible would happen. After what seemed like an eternity, we an exit to the forest, and not willing to spend another moment being chased, we lunged through.

    After several moments of catching our breath, and fearfully checking to see if the ghosts had followed us out, we finally had enough breath to speak again.

    "I’m… I’m…. I’m… I’m gonna go find a different way. Thanks for the rescue, but let’s not... let's NEVER go back there again."

    He got up, called Sparky, and stumbled off into the distance. I couldn't help but notice Sparky was still shaking, and Jack was walking bow-legged.

    In the distance, I could hear him calling me a lunatic.

    Like clockwork, Nil's comment arrived just on cue.

    *Two for two! You’re really good at this.*

    “Shut up.”

    A nearby sign confirmed that we had somehow made it to the side of the forest we wanted to be on. In fact, Oreburgh city was only a brisk fifteen minute walk away.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 22nd March 2016 at 7:32 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  8. #8
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    Chapter 6

    I take a deep breath. Ever since... Ever since I left the surface, I had been consumed by my own despair, by my own feelings of uselessness. Although my travels back then were often far from enjoyable, they at least passed the time, and kept me sane. Now? Right now, the only thing keeping me sane is resolution: my willingness to finish what I've started. It is nearly time for us to finish repaying the debt we had obtained, three hundred years ago. We have finally completed our task, our impossible task.

    And now, it is time to prove that despite it all, we succeeded. One final step, one which we would need others to assist in. Our final act of redemption.

    *Do you mind checking on our guests? I want to know how deep into the ruins they are now.* I whisper to Nil.

    The layout of the ruins was erratic at best; often times multiple paths led to a single dead end, which, upon leaving, would return you to a different area than you came from. The effect had only gotten stronger since we first accidentally dropped the gates. The Pokemon on the surface had a name for such an effect. We... I lived inside a Mystery Dungeon.

    *I'm sure they're fine.*

    *It's still a good idea. Need to make sure they haven't given up* I chuckle. I know they would not, and that any estimate that we make will be grossly inaccurate, but it gives a rough idea of how fast our guests are trying to descend.

    Nil vanishes from view as I open a gate to one of the hidden passageways under the main stairs. I had found them by accident, long ago, and their purpose was obvious. Their purpose was to allow sentries to survey intruders for potential threats.

    *From the looks of it, they've stopped to rest about an eighth of the way down. I can smell food.*

    Of course, I could just simply let them inside. We could open the gates, and let them descend down the main stairway. However, that would defeat the true purpose of all this. All of this, is simply a test. I had to prove that they are willing to go as far as they have to, through empty halls of ruined stone, due to trust alone. I had to prove to myself that they were the right choice.

    *One thing I never asked, did we ever go back to the Chateau? Do you think it's still there?* Nil asked.

    *I did, not a decade ago, when I went to gather food. It was gone.* I shrugged. Around where the Chateau used to be, was a rather fertile section of forest. I had gotten used to raiding it for foodstuffs under the cover of night, always wary of being spotted by non-feral Pokemon. The last thing I needed was a witch hunt.

    *So even the ghosts had moved on?*

    *Everything had, except us. But now?*

    *Our time is finally here.*

    - - -

    Oreburgh was just as lively as it was when I had first entered it. Novice trainers darting about, and the distant clang of metal on stone rang from within the mine. However, the feeling in the air this time was different. While before I had felt nothing but dread, this time, I felt determination instead. However, the gym could wait. Right now, my priority was searching for the nearest shop. It was time to buy supplies.

    The shop I found was standard in appearance, being made out of the same pre-fabricated parts that every other shop was made from. That is, the shop looked like a box, and was built for function, and not form. In a desperate attempt to make it fit in more, the builders had painted the roof navy blue. It didn't help.

    The clerk raised his head from the magazine he was reading, and hailed me in when I entered the shop. I didn't want to be rude, so I quickly acknowledged his greeting, before getting down to the task at hand. The most pressing items I needed were curatives and food, both of which were both easily found, and reasonably cheap. I almost sprung for a pack of Pokeballs as well, but even looking at one brought back flashbacks of pain, and so they remained on the shelf. Looking over my selection, I grunted appreciatively as I approached the cashier to pay. I dropped the handful of coins I had acquired from the Chateau upon the counter as I turned to leave. To this day, I'm not entirely sure they weren't cursed. Oh well. It wasn't my problem any more.

    The gym building was much more interesting. The inside was solid stone, with the floors and pillars hewned from solid rock, and polished to a mirror sheen. I spotted circular tubes on the ceiling to allow airflow into the building from above. Pickaxes, drills, and hammers lined the walls, seemingly as decoration. I approached the first trainer, hoping that my preparations were enough.

    My preparations, at first, seemed entirely unnecessary.

    Nil easily defeated the first trainer's Pokemon, and while there was an obvious path around the next, my limited supply of non-gemstone currency led me to challenge them too. With the two preliminaries out of the way, I ascended the polished marble stairs to the platform where the gym leader, a stout, aged, bearded man awaited. He nodded towards me as I approached.

    "Welcome to my gym. You seem pretty strong; how come I haven't seen you before?"

    He had, of course, never seen me before, due to those two trainers having beat me every time had I tried before.

    "I... I missed this gym the first time around."

    "It's okay. Your Umbreon seems pretty strong; this shouldn't take long."

    He called out his first pokemon, a Geodude. Despite what he said, it took quite a while. Although Nil could easily dance around any attempt at an attack, she had a difficult time staggering her opponent. Four charging tackles later, we had both begun to lose our patience. Nil was the first to complain.

    *Ugh... This is boring. Do we really have to do this?*

    "It's not like it's difficult, just finish up so we can be done with here."

    The gym leader raised an eyebrow in my direction.

    *I don't think I'm even slowing it down.*

    "You are, just keep hitting it. It'll go down eventually."

    The gym leader's expression morphed from annoyance to concern.

    "Uh... Are you all right there?"

    "Nil here's complaining about how long this is taking."

    *I've knocked it down three times, but it keeps getting back up.*

    "Err... Okay."

    The Geodude went down a minute later, having not landed a single hit on Nil. Similarly, the next two Pokemon sent out, a Cranidos and a Shieldon went down without a hitch, but not before taking a dozen hits each. I had long since stopped paying attention, as Nil had begun doing her own thing. When I heard the gym leader clearing his voice, I looked back towards him, sighting a very tired looking Nil.

    "Good job! I’m supposed to tell you a speech, but I forgot it, and kids these days don’t ever listen to it anyway. Anyway, you won! Here's your badge."

    He handed me the badge. His expression changed back to concern.

    "Uh... also. That bit with you talking to your Umbreon; what was that about?"

    "I told you. She was complaining about how long it took."

    "As in, you could hear your Umbreon?"

    "Yeah, couldn't you?"

    He squinted at me for a moment, and then shrugged while throwing his hands into the air.

    "I'm a gym leader, not a psychologist. You might want to get that checked out. Good luck on your journey anyway."

    We walked out from the gym in silence. As I rummaged through my bag, searching for my empty badge case, I glanced skywards. It had been at least an hour since we went in. Nil had long since regained her composure, and had begun to voice complaints.

    *If every one of these gyms are like this, I'm running away.*

    "That one wasn't that hard, they couldn't even touch you."

    *I'm more annoyed by how long it took to take them down. It was like ramming a brick wall.*

    "Not everything can be exciting, you know."

    *That certainly never stopped you before, mister give-up-and-go-exploring!*

    "..."

    *Do you have anything to say for yourself?*

    "..."

    *Nothing at all?*

    "I'm sorry..."

    *Huh?*

    "How about this. We go and train for a bit, so that you can beat those sort of Pokemon down faster."

    *Not exactly the solution I was hoping for, but it wouldn't hurt.*

    "What exactly was the solution you were looking for?"

    *I'm not exactly sure. I just thought that we could do something else next time.*

    As we left the town, I asked Nil my final question for the day, a question that had been burning in the back of my mind for the entirety of this week.

    "Have you noticed that the other trainers can't seem to hear you talk?"

    *Honestly, they probably just don't listen. You certainly don't.*

    "But isn't it weird then? That I can hear you?" I paused for a moment. "After all, if anything I should be the one would CAN'T hear you."

    I paused for a moment as I recalled a similar story, I had heard a long time ago.

    "There were Pokemon that could speak our language, but they spent years learning it. I don't think you had such freedom."

    *Yeah, what with being trapped in a ball for however long it was. Speaking of which, what happened to mine?*

    "It exploded."

    *It exploded?*

    "Well... It exploded first. After that, the Pokeball ended up in my arm, face, leg, and chest. I think there's still some of it in there."

    *Huh. Maybe I can talk to you because I don't have a Pokeball, then?*

    "Maybe, just maybe."

    We left the town, both deep in thought.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 22nd March 2016 at 7:33 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  9. #9
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    Chapter 7


    We went to great lengths, back then, to learn new moves, and even further to come up with new strategies. After all, our problem with that gym was simply caused by our relative weakness: Nil had only just evolved, and thus lacked a method of dealing with opponents that wouldn't go down easily.

    *It was much harder, back then to fight sturdier enemies.* My voice whispers.

    *It still is, I never was one to keep a distance, to circle and dodge.* Nil's voice replies.

    *And yet, you kept doing it.*

    *I had my talents, and you had yours. It worked out for me, as you can obviously remember*

    *In the long run, maybe, but it definitely caused more problems than it fixed.*

    I waited for a moment, before asking a question I had never received an acceptable answer for before.

    *Back then, why did you resist me so much?*

    *I don't know. Maybe because you were dumb.*

    We both grinned. No matter what changed, that answer never did. It gave us hope, that despite what we had experienced, that on the inside, we were the same as we always were. Every day, for the past hundred years, we had both prayed that this was true. We both know without a doubt that this belief is a lie, but giving up on it would simply be too painful to bear.

    *Do you think that they're even a quarter of the way down yet?* I continue.

    *Possibly. You have to remember, that ever since we came back, the passageways have become even more warped: there's no guarantee that they haven't been moved backwards, up the stairs instead.*

    *I hope they don't give up.*

    *They won't. I've watched them, ever since our last outing. Nothing phases them, not the ice, not the heat, and not even the gods slow them down. They will make it down here, even if it's the last thing they do.*

    *And thus the only thing left is time.*

    *It's hard to believe we would ever have a shortage on that.*

    ---

    The journey from there was swift; even with Nil's occasional complaints, we ploughed through all opposition, easily besting the next two gyms. Over time, we became more and more confident in our abilities. This began to manifest as pride, and recklessness. However, as luck would have it, the next gym lay on the other side of Mount Coronet, a massive mountain that bisected Sinnoh. Nil was less than pleased to hear that there were also some ruins sites within it. I had already examined a majority of them, but according to word of mouth, a new section had been recently unearthed.

    *Are you sure that this is the only way through? I get the feeling that you're just taking a detour.*

    "I've checked and double checked, and this is the only way to where we need to go without either using a boat, or swimming. It shouldn't take too long, anyway. There's only one site inside of it that I'm interested in."

    *I swear, you should ask for a pamphlet from those ruins maniac guys. Maybe you can join wanderlust anonymous.*

    It was midday when we arrived at the nearest entrance to the mountain. Confident that my supplies were enough, we entered.

    It was from that point forward that I began culturing a hatred for Zubat.

    What most maps, tourist pamplets, and guides back then failed to state, was that Mount Coronet was one of the largest Zubat nesting ground in Sinnoh: as we looked up, only small patches of bare cave ceiling were visible amid the roiling blue mass of beating wings and angry shrieks. I hadn't paid much attention to the floor before, but I had noticed that it was a much different color than the walls or the ceiling. Curious now, I bent down to take a closer look, covering my head as I did so. The beige, which I had originally attributed to a natural dirt floor, was actually just years worth of piled and hardened guano, caked into a alloy of filth as hard as stone. I chuckled to myself as I realized that any other trainer wouldn't have even thought twice about it. Just to be thorough I removed a scraping tool from my pack, intent to learn how deep the cave floor was buried.

    Three layers later, the real floor was finally revealed. To be honest, I wasn't exactly happy about standing on top of four inches of Zubat poop.

    Using the Zubats as an excuse, I turned off the path, towards the latest site. According to what I had heard, it was recently excavated barely halfway up the mountain, and while it lacked riches, it made up for this in ancient statues. Similarily, word of mouth said that historians were willing to pay a pretty penny for any statue, simply to learn about our region's past. I found the area quickly, as it was littered with loose chunks of stone, discarded tools, and broken glass. I moved beside the opening, wanting to take a closer look before going in. After all, I didn't want to barge in on anyone.

    Through the opening, I saw men in ragged black uniforms, standing around a carved marble pillar. Although the ones closest to the door were simply leaning against the pillar, the rest were moving frantically, swinging tools against the stone. I began to approach them, before I immediately recoiled. They weren't excavating the area, but rather breaking the statues and pillars into fragments, and stuffing them into bags.

    I had heard of the criminal organizations that existed in Sinnoh, most notably, the now-disbanded Team Galactic. The uniforms of these men seemed to match up, but were much more ragged and worn than the photograph of their uniforms I had seen. Even stranger, I knew that what they were doing was ineffective. Galactic was known for having deep roots as a smuggling ring, and anyone worth their salt would have realized that the relics were worth much more whole than in pieces. Whoever these people were, they were here on their own will. Curious, I ducked back behind cover, and listened to their conversation. From what I could tell, one of the criminals was either reciting a speech, or venting.

    "... threw us out? Leaving us rummaging for scraps? Even if we get a good price for all this ****, we're still in a hole. Traitorous assholes! Even if they weren't lying when they said that these things were worth money, I doubt it'll be enough."

    "They hid behind their "Policies" and "Code", but it was all a trick to screw us over later! Thanks to those asshats, we don't even have any Pokemon! It's not our goddamn fault that our mission failed: it's because those other cowards ran away when they lost!"

    "The next bastard we stumble across is gonna get it; if Galactic's not gonna be the scary bad guys, then I guess we'll just have to."

    Another voice interrupted temporarily.

    "You mean murder?"

    The raving leader's anger only became greater. There was silence for several moments, before the sound of metal impacting stone broke the silence. He had obviously thrown his tool at the wall to make a point.

    "Only the first few! We only need to prove to the world that we aren't the sort of idiots that run away from kids when we lose. After that, we can make a pretty penny off of ransom alone. People nowadays are so stupid, that if we cover our tracks, they won't find us, even if they try."

    It would not be an overstatement to say that I was scared out of my mind. While I had experienced many dangerous obstacles before, comparatively, they weren't nearly as bad. The trap would have killed me, yes, but it would have done so quickly. Similarly, by then I had realized that the ghosts had no intent of adding me to their number either, as they were more focused on routing us than inflicting harm. These thugs?

    I knew right away that if I was caught, horrible things would happen to me. If they were so willing to kill strangers, just to create a name for themselves, I could only imagine what they would do to someone, who they knew was listening in on them. Trying my best to stay silent, I lowered myself closer to the ground to minimize chance of detection. Carefully, I began inching my way back towards the entrance of the mountain; away from the obviously-murderous criminals.

    I managed to turn a corner, only to see another man approaching, wearing the same uniform as the criminals. This one was carrying a bucket of water, meaning that it was likely that he had gone outside to refill supplies. He hadn't noticed me yet, and was whistling a jaunty tune as he walked down the passage. Nil and I glanced towards each other for but a moment, before nodding and continuing to run.

    "... Hey wait, why is there a kid out here... Wait what? AURGHH..."

    I struck the scout in the gut with my shoulder, while Nil circled around to strike the back of his leg. Already stunned by our sudden appearance, our victim showed no sign of resistance as he fell backwards into the ground with a thud. The wooden bucket that he was previously carrying struck the stone, shattering to pieces and drenching the scout, along with leaving several puddles upon the stone. We kept running, desperate to put as much distance between us and the hornets' nest we had just stirred up. I was temporarily afraid that we had killed our victim, but those worries were proven pointless when he screamed through his gritted teeth.

    "GUYS HELP! SOME KID JUST HIT ME. owwww...."

    In an instant, the thugs from the other room flooded into the hallway, saw me running, and began pursuit. A few bent down to help the one the I knocked over, and a few more slipped on the freshly-wet stone, but many more charged forward at full speed.

    Trying my hardest to stay ahead, Nil and I tore through the tunnels, desperate to outrun our pursuers. We kept running until we found a small recess in the rock, into which we hid. We both waited for several moments, motionless and breath shallow, before I gathered up the courage to peek outside.

    The thugs had stopped at an intersection, where they began to split off in different directions. From my blind estimate, I gave myself a mere ten minutes to escape before a patrol found us.

    I whispered to Nil, hoping for her cooperation, just this once.

    "We need to get out of here."

    *Do you know which way is out?*

    "Yes, but they're probably guarding it. We'll need to be very careful."

    *Great, just great.*

    As we dodged several patrolling thugs, I began to no longer trust that my own voice would not betray our position. I began whispering quieter and quieter, having long since assumed that Nil had better hearing than a human. However, rather than communicate effectively, a majority of my words concerned whining.

    "I can't believe our luck..."

    *Luckiest human around, aren't you.*

    Two more close calls with patrols were avoided by hiding in crevasses in the rock. The second was too close, forcing me to scrape past a jagged rock. It cut deeply, causing quite a bit of bleeding, but I didn't notice: I was too hopped up on adrenaline to care. We continued running, still desperate on escaping.

    At last, the staircase down to the main chamber was within sight. Two of the uniformed men stood there, facing away from the stairs.

    My whispering had long since become effectively inaudible. I wasn't sure whether I was truly making noise, but was too paranoid to care.

    "On the count of three, we make a run for safety. Can you hear me okay?*

    *I can hear you fine.*

    "Three...*

    "Two...*

    "ONE.*

    In a final burst of speed, Nil and I dove past the guards, and rapidly descended, headed for the nearest exit. The two guards, obviously having seen us, resumed the chase, determined to cut us off. What they failed to take into account, however, was that I had foolishly taken fresh blood directly into a Zubat swarm.

    Not a moment after I entered the main chamber, the screeching stopped, leaving the room eerily quiet. If I had been paying more attention, I would have noticed, but at the time, I was too focused on the two men with sharp implements chasing me down. As we passed under the swarm, only then did it explode into action.

    What felt like thousands of Zubats descended, forming a solid wall of hungry mouths. A handful clung to my arm, face, hair, and even my legs. One particularly fat one attached itself to my injured arm. Doing my best to ignore my discomfort, I continued running, ignoring the buffeting wings and shrieks. The criminals didn't fare much better.

    "Rick! Why are there so many goddamn bats?"

    "I don't know, Sam!"

    "Where'd the kid go?"

    "I don't know! I can't see! It's like there's a zubat clinging to my face. ... Wait! There is one clinging to my face! GET IT OFF..."

    "Brush it off you idiot! We need to ... HOLY CRAP I THINK ONE JUST CRAPPED IN MY MOUTH!?!"

    "This isn't worth it. Let's just say he got away."

    "Stupid kid. What the hell did he do to stir up this many Zubats?"

    Only when I had exited the cave and could no longer hear footsteps did I dare slow down. Only then did I notice the Zubats still clinging to me. While most of the Zubats dislodged when I escaped to the sunlight, a few of the more determined ones still latched on, not quite so willing to forfeit a meal. Even so, all but the one clinging to my bleeding arm were easily dislodged with a hammer, with the remaining one requiring several hits.

    Now free of stowaways, I was fully able to take a look at the damage. My arm, the only major injury, had a deep cut, about two inches long and heavily dessicated from having blood drained from it. It looked horrible, being discolored to a pale hue, but I knew that it would heal with time. The other thing I realized was that I was drenched in guano. My clothes were drenched in it, and my hair had become hardened by the drying scat. The only part of my body not covered in it, was my arm. It seemed that the Zubat that had clung to it had done an admirable job of keeping it clean, by blocking the incoming guano with its body.

    Extremely winded, I attempted to complain to Nil, but was unable to choke out a single word. Instead, I ended up silently fuming to myself.

    *That sucked. I hurt everywhere. I'm just glad none of the crap got into my injuries.*

    *Were you trying to make a joke there? It wasn't funny.*

    I blinked.

    *Wait, you can hear me? I'm not actually speaking right now.*

    *... Are you pulling my leg?*

    *I'm serious. I barely have enough breath to stop myself from passing out.*

    Nil glanced at me, gave me a strange look, and then nodded.

    *Weird, I could hear you loud and clear when you were whispering, too. Much clearer than I should have been able to hear, that's for sure.*

    *I'm too tired to think about it right now. Let's go find somewhere we can go clean ourselves off. Sleeping would be nice too.*

    *I will never feel clean again.*

    *Neither will I.*

    And with that, we limped our way towards Hearthome city, caked in many layers of rapidly hardening filth. To our surprise, no trainer even tried to stop us as we made a beeline towards the city.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 30th March 2016 at 5:47 PM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  10. #10
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    Hello, and welcome to the forums! American--Pi here, and welcome to the Weekly Review! (Fun fact: up until now it was called the Sunday Review, but I decided to change the name because I can't always manage to post the review on Sunday.) Here's how it works: Once every week I pick a one-shot or a chaptered fic to review. I try to alternate between the Fan Fiction and Shipping Fics forums. My reviews are Review Game-style, which means that for Fan Fiction I pick four out of the eleven Review Game criteria and comment on them as much as I want to (but at least two sentences per criterion). Every time I try to pick four different criteria, but usually I just comment on whatever in the story catches my eye.

    This week, I wanted to review a story that hasn't had anyone leave any feedback yet. I chose to do this because, as a writer, I understand how frustrating it is (at least for me) when you work really hard on a fic and nobody comments on it. So here it is, a Review-Game style review of The Curse of Forgotten Time, Prologue to Chapter 7.

    Dialogue
    I noticed that your dialogue tags are rather inconsistent. What that means is, you surround each bit of dialogue with different things, from single quotation marks (') to double quotation marks (") to brackets ([]) to parentheses whose names I do not know ({}). This doesn't detract from the story you're trying to tell, but it is standard in writing that all dialogue is surrounded by the same tags, which usually is either double quotation marks and single quotation marks. There is no need to use different dialogue tags for different characters, because the narration should make it apparent who said what.

    Sometimes, you want to express that a character is saying something in a certain way, like through telepathy, through thoughts, or in a loud voice. If that's the case, simply italicizing the dialogue will suffice.

    Like I said, though, the changing dialogue tags don't really detract from the story. I just thought I'd mention it because I'm more used to reading dialogue in more standard formats, and your dialogue format just took me by surprise somewhat.

    Characters
    I noticed that Vis doesn't have much backstory or details at all. Which is rather odd, considering Vis is the main character. I don't even know whether Vis is a boy or a girl, so for the purposes of this review I will refer to Vis as "xe" and "xir". ("Vis" sounds like a boy's name to me, but there are definitely females out there with masculine-sounding names so I don't know.)

    How old was Vis when xe started xir Pokemon journey? How old was xe when xe decided to restart xir Pokemon journey, after xe ran into that trap that left xir scarred? What does xe look like? Xe might have black hair and light skin, or bright green hair and dark skin - I've read your eight chapters I still don't know what Vis looks like.

    For some people, that may not be a problem, but I like to visualize characters and really get to know them. Maybe Vis has been living for so long that xe's forgotten who exactly xe is. If that's what you were going for, then the lack of description of Vis's character makes sense. Personally, though, I would have preferred more characterization.

    Enjoyment
    Your story was quite an enjoyable read. You paced your story very well. Even though it is shaping up to be a Pokemon journey fic, it definitely was not cliched. It is an exciting adventure story with a good amount of humor mixed in. I really like stories like this, so I enjoyed reading this story. Every chapter made me want to read more.

    Plot
    I liked the way this story is set up: the prologue puts the reader in the middle of the present action, and the story is told through memories. The prologue, while confusing because I had no idea what was going on, urged me to keep reading because I wanted to figure out what exactly was going on.

    However, I'm not sure in which direction this story is going exactly. It was interesting to read about Vis's adventures in dungeon exploration, but after xe gets cursed and restarts xir Pokemon journey, I really have no idea what Vis is doing and why xe is telling the reader this story. If xe is collecting badges and all, then why isn't xe catching more Pokemon and telling us more about his journey in Sinnoh? What was the point of the journey to the Old Chateau? (I'm assuming that it is foreshadowing, and Jack will appear again, but currently it seems a bit random and out of place.)
    And what exactly happened in Turnback Cave? Why couldn't Vis recall Nil into her Poke Ball, and what's with this pain that is associated with the curse? What role will the curse play exactly in the story?

    I'm assuming my questions will be answered as the story continues. However, I do have a really big question that really needs to be answered.

    I was confused as to why, in your universe, most trainers who go on Pokemon journeys die or never return to their hometowns. If that were the case, then why would people go on Pokemon journeys in the first place? You mentioned that Vis was "drafted" into going on xir journey - what exactly does "drafted" mean?

    Overall, if this is your first attempt at writing fanfiction, you're doing pretty well. Even if it isn't your first attempt, you have a nice foundation for a great story here. I hope you're enjoying your time here in SPPf, and I would suggest that you participate often in the Fan Fiction community in order to connect with fellow writers and improve your own writing. Trust me, pretty much everyone here is cool and nice, and can offer many insights into writing.

    One last thing, I would like to be added to the PM list for this fic. I'd really like to see how this fic develops and progresses.

    - Pi

  11. #11
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    Chapter 8

    Several people who were previously going about their business stopped and stared at us as we entered the town. I didn't blame them: many trainers had passed through Mount Coronet, but I doubt that any had ever arrived bleeding, caked in guano, and wearing ripped clothes. Then again, it was unlikely that these people had ever encountered a trainer with my almost-supernatural ability to get hurt in new and exciting ways before. They saw Nil in the same condition as well, but paid no heed: Pokemon were, in their eyes, made to take punishment.

    I approached the closest gawker, intent to find a Pokemon Center to clean off and rest. My intent was so obvious, that before I could even speak, he had already pointed towards it. I began my walk towards being able to clean myself, but along the way I overheard the man I passed speak to another.

    "What the hell happened to that kid? It looks like he picked a fight with a Scyther, and lost."

    "Sorta strange that he's so quiet, normally kids that hurt don't even make it to the town."

    "He must have SOMETHING going for him, if he managed to make it back at all."

    "Should we really be talking like this when he's around?"

    "Nah. He looks half dead. No way he can hear us."

    I muttered under my breath, still intent on keeping my mouth shut until I cleaned off.

    *Assholes.*

    Unlike last time I was in a Pokemon Center, the crowds parted in front of me, as I marched directly towards the shower rooms. I wasn't sure what played the largest part, the blood, smell, or my face, which was frozen in a seething mix of anger, pain, and disgust. An hour later, I still didn't feel clean. I made sure to thoroughly wash out my cut with soapy water, a painful process which I had to restart six times. However, I knew that a little bit of pain would be worth it, rather than losing a limb due to infection. Another half-hour after that, I decided I had cleaned out the cut to the best of my ability, and gingerly dried myself off, taking special care to avoid touching the open wound. I donned my last spare set of clothes I owned, and turned to Nil.

    "Are you going to say something sarcastic now?"

    *Only that if you don't find a way to wash ME off, you're never going to hear the end of it.*

    I sighed. The shower wouldn't work on Nil, and I couldn't use a pokeball to clean her quickly. Seeing no other choice, I went to the front and asked for a washtub. My question raised an eyebrow, but you don't argue with the person who came in caked in guano. I eventually was given a small plastic washtub, meant for children. Nil seemed like she was about to complain, but decided indignity was better than having the guano fully harden in her fur.

    Yet another hour of furious scrubbing later, I had checked my equipment, and entered the sleeping quarters. It was late, so many trainers were already asleep. However, I knew that it'd be a good idea to clean and dress the wound before I slept. Pausing for a moment, I removed my first-aid kit from my bag, and removed a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a bandage, and a cotton swab. I had seen the label on the back of the rubbing alcohol, and thus knew what I had to do to apply it. Assuming it'd prevent any infection, I took the swab, liberally doused it in rubbing alcohol, and pressed it quickly against my open wound. I expected it to feel like washing out the cut.

    My screams woke up the entire room. Several graveyard-shift staff came running, whom I only left after I explained exactly what I had done.

    Several minutes and an entire room's worth of angry looks later, I applied the bandage to the arm, before climbing into my bunk. Nil, having watched me carefully ever since I applied the rubbing alcohol, finally chimed in.

    *Another wondrous success by Wanderlust Anonymous.*

    Not wanting to wake everyone up again, I was forced to whisper. It felt like I was forgetting something.

    "I checked our stuff, at least we didn't lose anything."

    *Besides a gallon of blood each. And in your case, your dignity.*

    "You lost yours, too."

    *I lost my dignity long ago, right about the time when I started associating with you.*

    I finally had calmed down enough to look back at what had happened.

    "How exactly were you able to hear me, back when we were running?"

    *I don't know. I just... knew what you were saying. And I felt certain that I heard you correctly.*

    "That sounds a lot like what you're doing."

    Nil paused for a moment. I was unsure if it was from confusion, or trying to remember.

    *Really? Didn't you say you can hear me? I'm still speaking, but for some reason you're the only one who understand what I am saying.*

    "I can, but I'm a human, and don't understand Pokemon. It's just... in your case, I know what you mean."

    *Strange, because I'm definitely speaking what I am saying.*

    I shook my head in resignation. We weren't getting anywhere with our wild guesses, and I was getting too tired to care.

    "We should sleep. There's no point trying to figure things out this late."

    *Fine...*

    As I drifted to sleep, I felt a strange sensation at the location of my cut: both icy cold, and burning hot.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 4th April 2016 at 5:43 PM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  12. #12
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    Chapter 9

    *Even after so many years, simply trying to remember that makes me feel... unclean.* Nil whispers, breaking my focus for but a moment.

    *Can't blame you. It sticks out in your mind because of how disgusting it was. That experience really made it much harder to survive the first month after you left for the surface, you know.*

    *Huh?*

    *When you first left, the first Pokemon teams were criss-crossing the surface: the chance of detection and being tracked were simply too high to risk. And such, to survive...*

    *You seriously ate Zubat for a month, after I left?*

    *Despite what you'd think, once you cook them, they tasted better than the scavenged berries and canned food I occasionally find in human ruins we had been eating before. Stringy, but sweet. Don't worry though, all of them were feral: I wouldn't have even considered it if they weren't.*

    *What sort of life have we lived, where you can remember eating feral Zubats as a FOND memory? Was it really that bad?*

    *No... our lives weren't always doom and gloom...*

    *Not as far back as I remember...*

    *Really? I'd assume you'd enjoy your travels on the surface.*

    *I would, but it just feels... wrong leaving you down here to rot. It feels like I'm missing something. Besides: exploring was always your thing, not mine. I can't help but imagine that if you were in my position, and I in yours, we'd be much better off than we are now.*

    *Trust me. You don't want to be in my position.*

    I pause for a moment, before continuing, sighing quietly.

    *I miss the old world. The world where I didn't have to hide. The world before I was considered a monster."*

    I shake my head. That world was gone: time waits for no one, least of all us. We still had a job to do, but for now, all we need to do was wait.

    -----

    The day started as any other. I pulled myself out of the bed, checked my things, and prepared to head out. My bandage felt tighter today than yesterday, but I paid that fact no heed. I was halfway to the door, intent on tackling the next gym as soon as I could, before one of the nurses tapped me on the shoulder.

    "Are you alright? Last night you walked in pretty beat up. Your arm was bleeding pretty bad too. Also, you started screaming at about midnight. What was that about?"

    I turned towards the voice. As expected, it was the same nurse that saw me walk in yesterday. Or at least, I thought it was. The Pokemon Center's strict uniform of pink wigs and doctors scrubs made it difficult to tell the nurses apart.

    "I'm okay. I'm hoping to head out right away."

    "You should at least let one of the staff take a look at the injury: just to make sure it's not infected."

    "It should be fine, I... rubbed alcohol on it yesterday at about midnight. That's why I... well."

    The nurse gave me a look of shock.

    "You are aware that you didn't need to do that; we have real disinfectant here. And painkillers, too! We do in fact do more than just treat pokemon, you know."

    *HAHAHAHA. Oh man...*

    I grumbled to myself. I was too focused last night on being self sufficient to realize that I had walked into a hospital; completely unaware that they had real medical supplies.

    "You should at least let us look at it. After all, we know our stuff."

    Seeing no reason why not, I rolled up my sleeve, and presented my bandaged arm.

    "This isn't a bad effort, actually. Who taught you first aid?"

    "Necessity."

    I had of course spent a period of time learning the basics of cleaning and treating wounds, once I began doing my explorations. I didn't know if I would need those skills, but it never hurt to learn what could save your life.

    "Well, let's open this up, and see what we're looking at."

    Producing some bandage shears from a pocket, the nurse cut a bit of the bandage, unwinding it with a smooth motion. I was prepared for many responses, but not the one I received.

    "This arm's completely fine?"

    I blinked for a moment as I tried to process what I had just heard. After I decided that I had heard her correctly, I looked at the back of my arm. The cut that was there yesterday was completely gone.

    "That can't be right. Errr... Just to be clear, you ARE the boy that walked in last night covered in Zubat poop, right?"

    I winced as the horrible experience resurfaced itself in my memory.

    "Don't remind me."

    "Well, I'm not entirely sure what happened. It seems that your arm's completely fine, though."

    "Any clue what could have caused the cut to disappear?"

    "Well, how bad a cut was it?"

    "About 2 inches wide, and it looked like a prune. I got it yesterday after I cut myself on a sharp rock in Mount Coronet."

    "I would assume the Zubats would have something to do with the dessication, huh?"

    "Any idea how yesterday I had a cut, and today, it's gone without a trace?"

    "Sorry, but this really had no precedent! But please, if you do manage to get hurt again, feel free to ask for assistance from one of our staff. In fact, I'm certain almost any Pokemon Center has someone on hand able to help as well."

    *No, No. I'm sure Vis here can try and clean it again. He likes to screw things up by himself.*

    "Thank you. Time to get going." In a quieter voice, I muttered towards Nil, "Shut up Nil."

    I left the Pokemon Center bewildered. Ever since I set off that trap in the ruins, my life had taken a turn for the bizarre. First I learned Nil could talk, but only I could hear her, yet for some reason she was a sarcastic jerk. Every step of my journey was more dangerous that I could imagine, and now injuries were disappearing overnight with no treatment. I pinched myself to check if I was still asleep and having some sort of deranged nightmare. No luck. This was real.

    "I... suppose we should go beat the gym leader here?"

    *That is what you came here to do, right? Unless getting attacked again was your plan. Was it? Then again, it might very well have been.*

    The gyms type was detailed in the sign, revealing its contents as ghost Pokemon. The sign was more or less plain, but in the corner, scribbled onto the painted wood in black paint was text which read: I ain't afraid of no ghosts.

    "Ghosts, huh?"

    *Ready for round two?*

    I grinned as we entered the gym.

    The gym was an absolute pushover. The moves they used were ineffective, their defences were imperfect, and even their gloomy décor did nothing to throw me off my game. And this time, the price of failure wasn't even being chased through a forest by a horde of angry revenants. Even the leader’s Pokemon fell quickly, after landing only a few solid hits. We left the gym, as I threw the badge up and down in my palm, feeling rather good about myself.

    "We're getting better at this."

    *Maybe. I'm not entirely sure we weren't at an advantage in there.*

    "A win's a win."

    I reached into my bag, and placed the badge with the others.

    "Off to the next city on our list?"

    *Oh joy, what wonders await us on the road to there? Maybe this time we'll get eaten by something. Or lose limbs! I always thought four legs was too many.*

    'You really need to stop being such a pessimist."

    *Is it really being pessimistic if this sort of thing happens to us all the time?*

    I placed my face into my hands. Why DID bad things keep happening to me?

    "Touche."
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 12th June 2016 at 10:15 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  13. #13
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    Chapter 10

    The route to Canalave city, our next destination, had a much different feel than the other legs of our journey we had experienced back then. Although there were trainers about, doing their best to improve their skills, their overall presence was much lighter than other routes: a fact we were both happy about, for it meant that we arrived at our destination quicker. The few trainers that we did encounter on the main road went down quickly; enough to grant us a false sense of superiority.

    Eventually we arrived at Canalave. Unlike any city we had seen before, this one was directly on the water: dry-docked boats edged the city limits, and dozens of boats floated in the harbor; ranging in size from a one-man dinghy, to what appeared to be cruise ships. We spent the night at a PokeCenter, where the relaxing sound of water sloshing against the docks and walkways served to calm us down immensely. We felt ready for anything. We entered the gym.

    We were not prepared.

    While the trainers that staffed the gym used Pokemon that were much sturdier than we were used to, they still failed to put up a meaningful resistance. Unfettered, we pushed onwards, determined to reach the end, as quickly as we could, and take another step in our journey.

    Of course, we made a horrible mistake extremely quickly. Unlike his assistants, the gym's leader was no pushover. Simply taking down just one of his Pokemon took several minutes, of frantic dodging and continuous assault. By the third pokemon, Nil had taken a fully defensive stance, focusing entirely upon dodging the ruinous blows that rained down around her. What few attacks she could land were simply opportunistic counter attacks.

    Still, Nil succeeded in taking down three of the leader's Pokemon. Through a mixture of luck, and exceptionally close calls, she had managed to avoid a majority of the hits, while suffering only glancing blows in return. Unfortunately, the leader's fourth Pokemon was a Steelix. And this one? This one was faster than the others.

    Nil didn't even have time to counter attack the Steelix's relentless blows. Even worse, I could feel the power in each attack: every time a segment of the gigantic snake connected with the ground due to a missed hit, I could feel the ground vibrating below me. Still, we managed to survive for a good five minutes.

    Eventually, Nil had decided to try and make an aggressive move, in hopes of putting a dent in the metal monstrosity. However, rather than take the hit, the Steelix lifted its front half directly into the air. It lingered for a moment, as Nil and I both continued on, oblivious. Three seconds later, the titan crashed to the ground with a force large enough to cause me to lose my footing. As soon as it made contact, I heard an audible crunch, and my mind filled with deafening static. I didn't even bother trying to save face.

    I quickly surrendered, and in response, the Steelix was recalled. Below where it was before, was Nil. Nil was in bad shape, but very much alive... but unconscious, bleeding heavily, and half of her limbs appeared to be bent the wrong way. I immediately leaped into action, doing my best to bend her limbs the right way, and spraying down her bleeding injuries with medicinal sprays. Then, when I was certain that she would survive the trip, I picked her up, and carried her to the PokeCenter.

    The next hour was a mess. I had to explain several times that Nil lacked a Pokeball, sometimes multiple times to the same nurse. Still, they did their work admirably, even though it was obvious they were not used to having to operate upon a Pokemon. I struck up a conversation with one of the people in the Center, in hopes of passing the time while my partner was healed.

    "Do... the nurses here not operate on Pokemon very often?"

    The person I had asked, a teenage trainer wearing glasses, did his best to answer my question.

    "According to the science journals I've read, the Pokeball system works by converting Pokemon to energy. So, apparently, that means that if a Pokemon gets injured, when they come back out the ball, they'll be in the exact same shape as if they were completely healthy. It's really cool. When I grow up, I want to be a scientist... imagine how useful it'd be if you could do that with people!"

    I shuddered involuntarily. I couldn't shake the feeling that, no matter what the benefits of such a device would be, I would opt out to the best of my ability.

    "So my partner, who doesn't have a Pokeball?"

    "Huh, that's a funny way of describing your Pokemon. Do you only have one?"

    "Yeah. Only one."

    We talked for several more minutes, before one of the Nurses came to get me. Just as she arrived, the static I had been hearing vanished. I was led to Nil, who, while still in bad shape, at least was able to move on her own power. They warned me about it being important to have a Pokeball for Nil, to prevent such a thing from happening again, and even more importantly, to not put her into a new Pokeball before she fully healed. They said something about "Imprinted form" and "reverting", to which I nodded. I wasn't planning on putting her in a ball anyway... Instead, I'd need to be much, much more careful.

    Several more minutes later, Nil slowly drudged out of the Pokecenter beside me, legs obviously stiff, body still shivering in pain. She tried to glance towards me, but found herself unable to turn her head. Instead, she slowly walked a circle, until she was facing me. I could feel her pain in her voice... if it really was her voice. I still wasn't sure, back then.

    *That was horrible.*

    I could only nod sadly.

    *I don't think I'm going to be able to much of anything...*

    I quietly replied. "I'm so sorry. There was nothing I could have done... And now..."

    *So you’re going to give up again?*

    “I don’t see another choice…”

    *At least I can walk again; it'd... suck if you had needed to carry me around everywhere...*

    “So what do we do now? There's no way you'll be able to fight, definitely not in this condition.”

    *Why are you asking me?*

    I paused for a moment, unsure of whether she was being sarcastic, or asking a genuine question. I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

    “Because this is my fault.”

    * . . . *

    We both stared northward, towards the docks. A few boats lazily drifted in an out of the harbor, silent as ghosts, besides the occasional blare of a horn.

    "Well... There's nothing left for us here, in Sinnoh."

    *Sinnoh isn't the only place, in the world.*

    "Maybe. It's worth a shot, right?"

    I dug my hand into my bag, searching for the small pouch where I kept my valuables. The bag I had chosen originally had a small, hollow compartment, likely due to an error in manufacturing. I quickly turned this into a boon, and used the false wall to hide things I didn't trust other trainers to loot while I slept. I retrieved a small stack of bills. Although, as always, my money was frugal, I had saved up a comparatively large sum: more than enough to break from the journey for a while.

    I turned to walk towards the harbor, before quickly backtracking. I was going to have to move a lot slower than I was used to, at least until Nil...

    I cleared my mind. Until Nil was better. She was definitely going to get better: I could feel it in my gut. Still, I decided she might use a bit of help.

    "So, do you need me to go get a carry-on bag for you to sit in? Or maybe a furniture dolly?"

    *... Not nice. Although, if you could go get a shopping cart or something...*

    Five minutes later, I walked inside of the marina, pulling a small, blue plastic wagon behind me. I had purchased the wagon from a family inside the town: apparently, their child had just recently outgrown it. Inside the wagon, Nil was glaring at me in indignation. Still, both of us were glad that we were able to make progress without me needing to carry Nil around, nor waiting for her to catch up.

    The interior of the marina was painted off-white with cyan accents, seemingly outlining the obvious shelf on one of the walls, filled to the brim with brochures. Beside it was a beat up corkboard, coated in a thick layer of requests, offers, and the occasional scam. I dragged Nil's wagon towards the corkboard, before flipping the plastic safety brakes. Shrugging my shoulders, I wandered over towards the brochure area, and returned with a handful.

    The first few brochures were disheartening. I read them aloud in a mixture of confusion and amusement. I commented on each one, a feat reciprocated by Nil. We were both doing our best efforts to amuse ourselves, despite the situation.

    “Kanto: home of the original Pokemon League. How about no.”

    *Yes, because battling is exactly what we want to get away from. NEXT!*

    “Hoenn: tons of beaches!. Not exactly my sort of thing.”

    *Yeah, I haven't actually ever seen you swim. Are you even able to?*

    " . . . I don't think I've ever received training, that's for sure."

    I flipped to the next pamplet. It was beige, and... beige. It had a camouflage background style, but the outside of the pamphlet was simply black text on beige. It was inspiringly, impossibly bad.

    “I’m not entirely sure why this brochure is even here. It just says Orre: We have stuff.”

    *[i][Just... What is that thing. It looks like they ran out of budget./i]*

    "This is by far the most boring sheet of paper I've ever seen. I think the value of this brochure is probably much lower than the value of the materials they wasted to make it."

    *EXACTLY.*

    I stared at the Orre pamphlet for several more moments, before I returned the handful of pamphlets back to the bank in disgust. Every single “Vacation spot” had either an active battling community, or something horribly wrong with it. (In Orre’s case, it was a desert wasteland which had so few redeeming factors, that the fact they recently displaced a major criminal gang had made the pamphlet.) Wondering if the ones at the top were simply what most trainers wanted, I dug my hand down to the bottom for one of the pamphlets below the others.

    I retrieved a tastefully colored pamphlet, advertising a region known as Almia. It described itself as a Pokemon sanctuary, with a very large portion of the region undeveloped. I fully expected Nil to mock my choice of the region with the most area to explore, but she was too focused at a piece of paper tacked onto the corkboard. Shrugging, I turned my attention back onto the papers in my hands.

    “This place seems pretty good. It's forested, more or less anti-battling, and doesn't seem to have many things wrong with it. How about Almia?”

    Nil replied, but did not turn towards me. Her response seemed more whimsical than normal.

    *Up to you!*

    “Okay. What exactly are you looking at…”

    I stepped back towards Nil, and traced her line of sight to a piece of paper, boldly lettered in huge text which read: Hoping to tell your problem to get lost? Join Wanderlust Anonymous today, and leave your troubles behind!

    *Look! I found your people!*

    “Ha Ha. Very funny.”

    Paying no further attention to the notice, I grabbed the handle of the wagon and walked with the brochure to the main desk. I placed the brochure down, and rung the bell, hoping to draw someone to the currently-empty reception desk. Eventually, a portly man strolled out, ready to answer my questions.

    “Do you have any ships going to a place called Almia?”

    He gestured for me to hand him the brochure. I complied.

    "Well that’s a name I haven’t heard in awhile. If you don’t mind me asking, what purpose are you hoping to go to Almia for?"

    “Just taking a break from the League challenge. I'm hoping to find a quiet place to relax for a while, maybe go sightseeing.”

    "You’re a trainer? They don’t take kindly to trainers They say it’s a nature reserve, over there. They confiscate any Pokeball you try and bring over, assuming they even let you through. They say that Pokeballs are “Bad for Pokemon”, and if you’re unlucky, they’ll confiscate your caught Pokemon too. They give your stuff back when you leave, but still. Bad business, them folks."

    “I’m sure that won’t be a problem.”

    I gestured behind me, towards Nil. The man followed my finger, towards Nil, who had since sat down, and tried to make herself comfortable. This had taken at least a dozen tries; I didn't envy the pain she likely experienced when she tried to bend her legs. The man stared at Nil, before asking for clarification.

    "Uhh... please explain what exactly I'm seeing."

    "My Umbreon doesn't have a Pokeball, and is currently injured. I'm hoping to go sightseeing until she recovers."

    "Wait, your pokemon doesn't have..."

    I cut him off as he spoke. I had already been through this once already.

    "Yeah, it's weird. But what's done is done, and I think Almia has a good chance at being a good vacation spot."

    "You're still going to need some sort of confirmation that your Pokemon's never been in a ball. Do you think you can provide that?"

    "Yeah, I think so."

    I reached into my bag and shuffled the tangled mess of scraps that used to be Nil’s Pokeball to my pocket for easy retrieval.

    “How much for a trip to Almia?”

    "It’s pretty cheap, because not many people want to go there, besides sightseers. Should come out to about 200 dollars for a round trip? Also, are you going to bring the wagon with you?"

    "Stranger things have happened."

    I paid the man, and was directed towards a stern looking sailor, who further directed me inside a boat. As I was told, the inside was more or less filled solely with elderly folks, several of whom congratulated me for my keen appreciation of nature, and questioned me about the wagon I was dragging along with me.

    The trip lasted through the night, during which I ended up falling asleep; my hand warm from resting on Nil. My dreams were fitful, painful, and confusing. Several times I woke up feeling exhausted and nauseated, as if I had run a marathon; but each time I managed to fall back asleep.

    I woke up again an hour later, when a blaring voice jostled me awake. It was early morning, and I at least felt less tired, even if the nausea had not completely faded. Beside me, Nil had taken a more comfortable looking position within the wagon.

    "Welcome to Almia, folks. Be sure to take out any Pokeballs on your possession, and give them to the border guards. Remember, capturing or harassing wild Pokemon is against the rules here, so keep your hands to yourselves. Thank you for travelling with Kyogre Nautical. Have a good day.”
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 22nd April 2016 at 7:48 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  14. #14
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    Chapter 11


    We left the vessel in single file, and were one by one asked to proceed through a checkpoint, which was manned by two personnel. I watched a few people slowly walk through the gate, and a few were pulled aside to be questioned by the guards. Since I was near the back of the line, I instead decided to use my time to take a look at the area around me.

    We had arrived at a port town of sorts. However, unlike Canalave, this city seemed to have much more greenery; the occasional tree jutted out from between the loosely arrayed buildings, which cast long shadows over the common hedges edging the roads. Although I could also see several taller buildings off into the distance, they were far outnumbered by the stout, humble buildings that dotted the surrounding area. Glancing further into the horizon, I could see the outline of a massive, thin tower to the north, where, at the top, a bright light shone, clearly visible from the ground.

    *You are aware that guy over there is calling you over, right?*

    Much to my embarrassment, I had forgotten to take notice of the line I was standing in. In the time that I had zoned out, I had migrated to the front of the line, and the people behind me had begun to stare at me in annoyance. Sheepishly, I walked forward into the checkpoint. I hadn’t even made it halfway there before I was pulled aside. One of the guards spoke, with practised words.

    "Sorry kid, but no Pokeballs allowed within our country limits: we've got very strict rules here."

    “Oh, right. Here’s the only one I’m carrying.”

    I handed him the handful of scrap metal. The guard stared at me for several moments, as if unsure of whether it was a joke. He glanced quickly between the scrap and me, before calling over his partner. After a couple moments, he returned, seemingly having regained his cool.

    "Well, okay then. Our metal detector there still picked up some other pieces of metal, that could've been Pokeballs, that you have in that bag. I'm going to have to search it, but it'll be easier if you just describe everything inside it."

    As he went through my bag, I listed off all of the metal objects within. Badges. Exploration tools. Currency. Gigantic metal sphere. (I neglected to mention that it was gold) Nearly satisfied, he began to wave me along, before his eyes drifted, and fixed upon Nil, who had been standing innocently behind me the entire time.

    "I have a question. How are you controlling that Umbreon without a Pokeball? She certainly seems well behaved."

    “Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. She just started following me after her Pokeball broke. And also: that depends on your definition of well behaved. If you can’t handle sarcasm, then you could say she’s a menace.”

    *HEY…*

    "Huh. Technically, that’s within the rules, if she is indeed free willed in joining you. The Rangers here do the same thing. Well... as long as you don’t go stirring up trouble, you should be fine. Still, it’s probably a good idea to go register her as a pet before you go anywhere; don’t want to get separated and lose her."

    “I’m sure there’s no need.”

    "If you insist. Welcome to Almia."

    And with that, we were through. We stopped by the nearest store to purchase a map of the region, and engaged in the mandatory witty banter that we always seemed to be unable to avoid.

    “So, where to?”

    *I’d prefer if we just checked into a nice hotel and enjoyed THAT…*

    "I know we came over here to relax, but I really want to at least check out one of the heritage sites here: supposedly, they're really well preserved."

    I held the map in front of Nil as I pointed to each of the three sites. The first was supposedly within a castle, of all things, far to the north. The second, deep within a volcano. The third, nestled within the depths of a desert. Neither of these places seemed ideal to settle down in, but who was I to argue with the choices of ancient civilizations?

    *Are you sure that this is the best idea? What with me being in this wagon, and all.*

    "Well, as long as we stay out of trouble, we'll be fine."

    I laughed a bit as the words of the border guard echoed in my head.

    *What?*

    “Free willed, huh?”

    *I don’t get it.*

    “If you hate doing this so much, why did you ever bother following me?”

    *Maybe because SOMEONE needs to be a voice of reason for you?*

    “That’s not a real answer.”

    *I’m… I’m not entirely sure. It just feels like I’m supposed to. It’s not like I’m being compelled to, but I just feel that it wouldn’t be right abandoning you. Plus, without me, you wouldn’t last a week.*

    We stood in silence for several moments, trying to make sense of it all. Finally, I broke the silence. That conversation was going nowhere, and we still needed to decide where exactly to go.

    “How about the desert?”

    *Why that one?*

    “The other two sites are extreme hot, and extreme cold, respectively. I don’t feel the need to either freeze to death or melt. Not to mention I doubt that either of those places would be the level of wheelchair-accessibility that we'll need. From what I can tell, the only real hardship that we'd face getting there is the sun. Also, it’s a big desert. Should give us some time to practice that thing we did over in Mount Coronet.”

    *Running in blind terror? Because if that's the case, I'm not going.*

    “No, we’ve had plenty of practice at that. I’m pretty sure we qualify as world experts. I mean the other thing.”

    *Being eaten alive by Zubats?*

    I sighed, and stared at Nil in exasperation. She was giving me a wide-toothed grin that I had grown accustomed to.

    “The telepathy thing.”

    *Oh, that. You're right. It'd be pretty hard to find enough Zubats out in the desert, anyway.

    “You know what I meant. Anyway, there’s not very many people in the desert, so we should be able to get plenty of practice. I think it’d be plenty useful in case we ever need to split up.”

    As expected, several passer-by had stopped and begun giving us strange looks. I didn't blame them: for all they could tell, a strange foreign boy had been participating in half of an imaginary conversation with his Umbreon, which was currently sitting in a wagon, and staring sarcastically at the boy. Taking the entire scene in from a different perspective, would definitely seem strange, surreal almost.

    “We should get going.”

    We returned to the shop to purchase a pair of canteens, a map of the desert, and several days worth of trail rations. While I was there, I purchased a sturdy pair of work gloves, hopefully enough to stop the searing sand from burning my skin. Finally, after we had double-checked our supplies, I boarded one of the small ferries departing to the desert. We arrived fifteen minutes later, to a different sort of town.

    The clay houses here, all bleached beige by the sun fit in perfectly with the cracked sandstone roads. There was a bustling crowd moving about, with every person within dressed in loose clothing. All of them were visibly sweating from the heat. Ahead of our arrival zone, outlined by the thicker than normal density of people, was the town’s main well. Somewhere to the side was a pair of sap-covered young men trying and failing to remove a cactus with a hatchet.

    It didn’t take a genius to decide buying some desert clothes right away was an extreme priority. I personally purchased a full set for myself, and after a bit of thought, a hat for Nil. Although she complained about how dumb she would look wearing a human hat, that sentiment was quickly repelled when I pointed skywards towards the blazing sun, and then back down at her. A quick change later, we were ready to enter the desert.

    The desert garb I was draped in was itchy, but I knew that no matter how uncomfortable the clothing would be, a sunburn would be much worse. Nil had left the wagon, and was now standing beside me, face nearly completely obscured by the child-sized sombrero I had placed atop her head.

    “Ready to go?”

    *I look ridiculous in this hat.*

    “Just be glad I didn’t spring for the cowboy hat.”

    *Let me rephrase that. Compared to anyone who isn’t you, I look ridiculous.*

    I couldn't help but agree with Nil. While the desert clothes would certainly save me a lot of trouble later, they certainly did not do me any favors in the looks department. I had taken a look at myself in a mirror before I had left, and was greeted by a boy in what appeared to be an oversized robe. Whether it was due to a trick of the light or not, my eyes once again seemed different; much darker than I had expected. However, the overall effect when I looked in the mirror was quite funny: I slightly resembled the sort of wild man that would chase an explorer through a dark hallway, gibbering nonsense and brandishing a spear. All I needed was some face paint, and... the spear, and the picture would be complete.

    “What, too ‘Angry Savage’ for you?”

    *Uhm… what.*

    “Never mind, you wouldn’t get it.”

    *I swear, I have no idea what you're talking about sometimes.*

    "Forget it."

    *Anyway, I think I'll try and walk as long as I can, until I need a rest...*

    "Seems good. I'll keep the wagon, then."

    And with that, we slowly walked towards the desert, fully expecting to enjoy the first day of our vacation.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 22nd April 2016 at 8:18 AM. Reason: Current Round: 4*

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    Chapter 12


    The desert lived up to my expectations: blazing golden sand sprawled as far as the eye could see, punctuated by the occasional Cacnea standing motionless, waiting for prey. Above us, the sun consumed the sky, no clouds in sight, with only the occasional flying pokemon contesting the sun’s dominion. The harsh sun clawed my small portions of uncovered skin; further cementing the purchase we made as worthwhile. We had a map that would direct us to the general area of the temple, but I wasn’t in a rush to get started. Instead, I was focused on learning what exactly I could do. I turned to Nil, who had since begun to stretch to the best of her ability.

    “Ready to get started?”

    *Fine.*

    We spent the next hour slowly moving through the desert. Eventually, Nil had regained enough confidence to try moving away, although we both did our best to always move towards the temple. Eventually, we began to ping each other with telepathy, before choosing to send individual words, and then entire sentences, while even if terse, still carried meaning. It didn’t take long before we spotted a pattern. Interestingly, any message we sent was clear no matter how far we were from each other, and we both were unnaturally good at guessing details about each other’s locations, when the conversation invariably devolved into "guess what I see". Several times we described each other's surrounding in perfect detail, as if we had seen from each other's eyes, if for but a moment. However, I seemed to have a harder time sending messages than Nil did. We had just recently regrouped, to make sure that Nil was doing okay.

    “Well, that will certainly come in handy la-Gahhh....”

    As I spoke, a gust of wind blew a gout of sand into my mouth. I could see Nil grin in the corner of my vision, but I was too busy spitting out the uncomfortably hot sand to berate her. She filled in the gap in what I was about to say.

    *Telepathy from now on?*

    *Urgh… Yeah.*

    *I don’t understand why we shouldn’t just talk like this all the time.*

    *Suppose it’s just a habit. You spend your whole life talking one way. It’s pretty hard to change. By the way, how bad is it to walk right now?*

    *I'm able to go at about half-speed right now. I don't think I can go any faster, though.*

    *That's good. But, weren't you pretty much immobile yesterday? What changed?*

    *No clue, but no point in looking a gift Ponyta in the mouth..

    Once again, we broke apart, and continued to relay thoughts and messages as we went. Although the landscape was certainly barren, I couldn't help but feel relaxed from the isolation: no trainers to stop me on the road, no dense under-brush was in need of being cut through, and no wild Pokemon attempted to jump us.

    Of course, the third point remedied itself quickly as I stood on a raised bank of sand. It quickly collapsed, but not before a cracking noise filled the air, along with a sickening squelch. Moments later, the echoing cry of a Flygon emanated from somewhere behind me.

    *What was that?* I heard Nil whisper.

    *I think I stood in a Flygon nest.*

    *Probably a good idea to start running then.*

    I wasn’t sure if the angry dragon would chase us, but I knew sticking around wasn’t going to help the situation.
    .
    *I don't think they'll try and chase you, but it's probably a good idea to stay away for a bit. Can you meet me at the temple?*

    *I'll be fine, but it'll be close.*

    *Be careful.*

    With that, a Flygon swooped into view, and began to chase me. I dropped the wagon, and began running, at full speed, towards my destination. Although the airborne dragon was definitely fast, my frantic dodging eventually dissuaded the creature from continuing its pursuit. It instead flew off into the distance, towards somewhere to the west.

    The site came into view for me within 10 minutes of running. From a distance, it was easy to see what its creators intended: a gigantic sandstone structure of a Hippowdon stood out from the rest of the structure.

    I couldn’t help but chuckle as I reflected upon my situation: since when did I become such a good runner? Ten minutes of solid sprinting felt like nothing now. Perhaps all the running in panic was good for something, after all. I quickly approached the entrance, located within the maw of the structure, and contacted Nil.

    *Well, we ended up doing what you wanted too.*

    *If that was on purpose, I will never forgive you.*

    *Don’t worry, it wasn’t. Where are you right now? I’m standing at the entrance. It's in the Hippowdon's mouth.*

    *I should be there in a minute or two. I can’t run, what with the MAJOR INJURY. By the way, I can hear something following me. Might want to get the door open.*

    I turned towards Nil’s location, intent on at least seeing what was chasing her. Unfortunately, there was a rather deep crevasse between the building and the other side; too deep to climb up and too wide to jump across.

    *If you come in from that direction, there’s a big pit in the way.*

    *I don’t have a choice; if I try and turn, they'll catch me for sure. Is there anything you can do?*

    *... Nothing yet.*

    *I can see the entrance now, I should be there very soon.*

    True to her word, within moments Nil came into view, two Vibrava and a Flygon in hot pursuit. Thankfully, it appeared that none of the sand Pokemon were moving at their top speed, instead, they appeared to be more focused on hunting. Nil was visibly slumping as she limped forward as quickly as she could, but she was not slowing down. Interestingly, rather than chase Nil down, the approaching Pokemon slowed down as they approached the crevasse. Instead, they decided to fan out and move forward slowly, to block any escape.

    *COULD REALLY USE SOME HELP HERE.*

    Not knowing what else to do, I began sprinting towards the crevasse. Thoughts clouded my mind, most of fear, but a few stuck out as seeming almost alien. I had no idea what I was doing, but I tried everything, in a desperate hope of coming up with an idea, or a plan, or anything, that could work in this situation. The seconds seemed like hours as I carefully sifted through dozens of plans, before discarding them, one after another. All the while, a glowing image pulsed in my mind, showing in exact detail Nil's predicament.

    I’d be unlikely to make the jump across the ravine, and even if I could, it’d be impossible to make the jump back carrying Nil. The image showed the Vibravas moving closer, jaws clicking. I imagined using the rope from my bag to pull Nil across. The Flygon landed, and began tramping forwards. I even imagined throwing a tool at one of the Pokemon, in hopes of repelling them all. By the fifth or sixth plan, the image had consumed my thoughts, rendering my ability to create further plans ineffective. I fell to a knee, mind full of despair, and hopelessness, as I saw the creatures charge, through my partner's vision.

    The fear, hopelessness, and failure were immediately joined by a feeling of nausea and exhaustion. I could see Nil's vision shift slightly, and could tell that the approaching Pokemon had slowed, ever so slightly. Still, I lacked a way to get her across.

    *What the hell did you just do?* I heard Nil whisper.

    I opened my eyes. Ahead of me, was a swirling vortex. Its color was a deep blue-black hue, with flecks of blue and grey dancing around its surface, which formed an almost hypnotic pattern. It didn’t seem solid: I could vaguely see through it, into the horizon beyond. It took me a moment to tear my attention away from it, there were more important things to worry about. Beside Nil, another vortex, identical to the one beside me sat on the sand, slightly indented into the ground. While the sudden appearance had likely startled the wild Pokemon, they'd likely get back their confidence soon; and then they would charge again. We didn't have much time. Even worse, the feelings of nausea and exhaustion were only steadily growing worse, as each moment passed.

    *What the hell is this thing?* Nil asked

    *I’m not sure. It doesn’t seem solid though. Ugh… I feel so sick.* I replied, although I could feel that my message was weaker than before.

    Our brief respite had worn out as quickly as it had appeared, as the Pokemon continued their diving charge, mandibles once again clicking angrily.

    *What do you think it’ll do if I jump into it?*

    *I have no clue.*

    *Screw it, anything’s better than being eaten. Here I go! If I die, it's your goddamn fault!*

    I watched Nil jump into the vortex, before vanishing from sight. Not a moment later, the vortex collapsed with a crack. The nausea reached a peak, but then steadily began lessening. Still, my concern for my partner led me to make sure she was all right, before even daring to worry about myself.

    *Are you there?*

    I felt a tug on the thick clothing I was wearing. Looking down, I saw Nil, looking more or less fine, although visibly pained due to her overworked legs. She was still leaning heavily, and had in fact started to lean against me, in hopes of taking some of her weight off of herself.

    *What happened?* I asked, deeply relieved that she was in one piece.

    *The vortex spat me out over here. How did you do that?*

    Across the ridge, the Flygon had obviously seen its prey disappear, and had made a quick turn to begin flying back to its shattered nest. The Vibrava, on the other hand, lacked the manoeuvring capabilities of their airborne cousin, and instead skidded over the edge, into the crevasse, where they plummeted into the depths with a solid thunk.

    *Do what?*

    *That swirly thing! It only showed up when you stopped.*

    *I’m not sure. Can we please go inside? I think... I need to go take a rest.*

    I clutched my head as I opened the door. I wasn’t sure whether I had been the cause or not, but I had felt too sick to pursue the matter further. Right now, my goal was to get inside before I vomited.

    *You don't look so good either.*

    *Aren’t you going to complain about how we’re not going to get those Vibrava out of the ravine?*

    *Forget them! They tried to eat me. I’m sure they can dig themselves out.*

    It was at this time that an elderly man stepped out through the door I still held open.

    "If you’re just gonna stand there staring at your Umbreon, close the door! You’re letting the whole desert in!."

    “Oh. Oops. I think we should go inside, then.”

    The man let out a sigh, before closing the door behind him. Sheepishly, Nil and I exchanged glances, before we both slowly meandered into the temple.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 25th April 2016 at 7:55 PM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  16. #16
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    Hey Shattersoul, it's me, American--Pi again. Welcome to the Weekly Review! First and foremost, I apologize for taking a while to get back to you. Holiday season business and all that. Anyways, you know the drill: Once every week I pick a one-shot or a chaptered fic to review. I try to alternate between the Fan Fiction and Shipping Fics forums. My reviews are Review Game-style, which means that for Fan Fiction I pick four out of the eleven Review Game criteria and comment on them as much as I want to (but at least two sentences per criterion). Every time I try to pick four different criteria, but usually I just comment on whatever in the story catches my eye.

    This week, I decided to continue reviewing your fanfiction, because I quite liked what I saw the first time I reviewed it. So here it is, a Review-Game style review of The Curse of Forgotten Time, Chapter 6 to 12.

    Opening
    I really like the beginning of Chapter 9. We get a short snippet of conversation between Vis and Nil, as usual, but this one really made me want to read more. I was curious about what exactly happened Vis and Nil, and I even got a little emotional at their reminiscing about the past ("I understand. I miss the old world. The world where I didn't have to hide. The world before I was considered a monster." That part really hit me right in the feels!).

    Spelling/Grammar
    I didn't mention this before because I thought it was a one-time mistake, but I've noticed that in several areas you use the wrong verb tense. Keep in mind tenses - use present tense for what is happening now (Vis and Nil waiting for the visitors), and use past tense for what happened in the past (the story that Vis is recounting). An example:
    Quote Originally Posted by Shattersoul
    My train of thought is temporarily shattered by momentary paranoia.

    {It's probably a good idea to check on the visitors. Don't want them walking in when we're not ready.}
    [Fine. I'm pretty sure that they're still not even a quarter of the way down.]

    I opened a gate for Nil, and she stepped through. Moments later, she quickly returned, and I closed it behind her.
    All the verbs are in bold. As you can see, the verb tense changes here, even though in the story all of the action covered by the quote above should happen in the present tense.

    Enjoyment
    I'd like to say once again that I quite enjoyed your story. You do a great job at inserting humorous bits into an otherwise serious story. I love the dark humor, Nil's sarcasm, and Vis's general confusion as he figures out what the hell is going on with him. I really want to find out exactly what happened to Vis and Nil, and why they are waiting in the ruins for some unknown characters. Keep writing; you're doing a great job!

    Plot
    Now that I've read more chapters of this fic, the plot is becoming more defined and clear to me. It's interesting to see many things happen to Vis as he tries to figure out what has happened to him. I might be wrong, but I'm getting the vibe that the main point of this story is Vis figuring out what to do with himself, especially now that he's been cursed and has interesting powers. I'm quite fond of character-driven stories in which characters develop and learn things about themselves, just saying. I liked the parts where he tries out his crazy newfound powers - telepathy with Nil, opening portals, and knowing where Nil is. The plot is definitely becoming more thick and interesting now, so great job.

    The introduction of the Almia region into the story is definitely looking to be quite interesting. What I'm most curious about, however, is the fact that the people of Almia prohibit Pokemon Trainers and Poke Balls, labelling them as cruel. If Poke Balls are indeed cruel, then why are they in such widespread use in other regions of the Pokemon World? Aren't Pokemon Trainers supposed to be friends with their Pokemon, therefore eliminating the potential for cruelty? Why is the philosophy of Almia so different from the philosophy of the rest of the world?

    I understand that this fic takes place in an alternate universe, one that we don't know from the canon Pokemon games (correct me if I'm wrong), but I have a lot of questions about this universe. For example, why is the Oreburgh gym leader not Roark as we know him from the Pokemon canon? I'd love to see some more worldbuilding on your part.

    Overall, these were a nice batch of chapters that improved and built upon the plot. I'd like to stay on the PM list, so I can drop a review of this fic once every two weeks (every other week's review is dedicated to a shipping fic, so…). Keep up the good work!

    - Pi

  17. #17
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    Thanks again, Pi for the review.

    I struggle a bit with the tense switching, yeah. Maybe someday I'll get the hang of it.

    I suppose I never did elaborate on a few details.

    Almia was always pokeball-phobic: this is canon. The ranger series eschews them altogether and instead attempt to calm wild pokemon instead, to try and coerce them to work for those who need assistance.

    In short, no one "owns" pokemon there, only volunteers. The entire region is full of poke-communists (In the nicest way possible)




    And about the gymleader not being Roark; Gymleaders swap out every 20 years. The earliest point of the fic takes place a long time afterwards.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 18th January 2016 at 9:49 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shattersoul View Post
    I suppose I never did elaborate on a few details.

    Almia was always pokeball-phobic: this is canon. The ranger series eschews them altogether and instead attempt to calm wild pokemon instead, to try and coerce them to work for those who need assistance.

    In short, no one "owns" pokemon there, only volunteers. The entire region is full of poke-communists (In the nicest way possible)
    I see. I never played Shadows of Almia (even though I've played Guardian Signs).

  19. #19
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    Chapter 13

    The doorway lead to a small, narrow passage, which now served as a reception area.

    Although the silk ropes leading to a relatively recently-constructed security kiosk did taint the image somewhat, the entryway into the outer sanctum of the ancient temple was still breathtaking. Rivers of flowing sand bordered the winding path towards the innards of the temple, made safe by tastefully constructed sandstone barriers.

    I couldn’t have helped feeling slightly impressed by how they had done it: the barriers were solid, natural sandstone, and judging by the flaws and imperfections, carved by hand. They even had carvings of ancient Pokemon lacing their surfaces, an obvious indicator of a craftsman who truly cared for his work.

    The lines of people waiting to go inside, while long, moved quickly. It seemed the purpose of the kiosk was not to prevent entry or to collect a fee, but to rather prevent misguided individuals from grievously damaging the internal structure. Several times I witnessed tourists leaving deposit money into a hollow statue, most likely donations to pay for the maintaining of the exhibits.

    Personally, however, my focus was finding the nearest bench to sit down in. Whatever that thing outside was, or why it existed, or even HOW it existed, it caused me to feel rather ill. I found a bench to sit on, and waited there for the dizziness to fade. I heard Nil shake in a futile attempt to remove the sand from herself. Offhandedly, I let loose a comment.

    “What happened to your hat?”

    *Fell off when I was trying to get away from the Vibravas. Probably still out in the desert somewhere.*

    "And I left the wagon behind when the Flygon attacked me. Are you sure you'll be able to keep up?"

    *Well, it'll suck, but I'm certain I'll be okay.*

    I sighed. Although she probably didn’t need either, I wasn’t willing to do an uncovered trek back during the day. I retrieved one of my canteens, and drank half, before turning to Nil.

    “We’re going to have to leave at night, then. Want some water?”

    *How exactly...?*

    “Open your mouth.”

    I poured the canteen out over Nil’s mouth. My disorientation, mixed with having never done this before, ensured that only about a third of the water actually got into her mouth, while the rest splattered ineffectively onto her or onto the ground. It was a waste of water, sure, but it was funny enough to be worth it.

    *Well… I’m at least SLIGHTLY less thirsty. And a little wet.*

    “It’ll be fine. As long as you don’t go jumping in the sand river, you should dry fast. With luck, it'll help cool you down too.”

    The water helped ease my headache somewhat. My head finally clear, I thought deeply about the impossibility of my situation. Although I had attributed the telepathy to Nil, this new experience was seemingly out of her control. For the first time, I questioned myself, rather than going with the flow These strange happenings only started after our experiences in the City of the Lost, and yet they were only getting more bizarre as the days carried on.

    For the first time, I realized that the trap had done much more to me than simply cause harm. I didn’t know what exactly it had done, but my fragile denial against the impossible had finally shattered. I was confused, to be certain, but the feeling of curiosity had all but drowned out any doubts I had gathered. Although I was more directly interested in what caused it, the exact extent of what I could do trailed only slightly behind.

    Whether the overall effects of those ruins would be a boon or a bane, we would have to see. Until then, I'd need to spend some time practicing what I knew I could do, and continue hoping that anything new that popped up would be beneficial, rather than extremely dangerous. It was like reaching into darkness, hoping to grab something useful, rather than dangerous... Actually, it was exactly like reaching into darkness, in both meanings of the word.

    *You okay there? You sorta zoned out.*

    *Have you ever wondered how weird our journey’s been?*

    *Uh. what?*

    *Me being able to understand you. Telepathy. And now that weird portal thing.*

    *Yes, I guess. What are you trying to get at?*

    *All of this started after that trap in the ruins. Do you have any clue what that might have done?*

    *The trap?*

    *Yeah, the trap that started all of this.*

    Nil paused for several moments, before responding.

    *What about those things that came out of the trap, after it fired?*

    *. . . Huh. Maybe.*

    Although her response seemed strange at first, second thoughts agreed. After the trap first fired, there were a pair of glowing spheres that appeared, and each of us took one.

    *When I took mine, I felt refreshed.*

    *Strange. When I took mine, I felt weaker than before. Still stronger than after the trap hit, but weaker nonetheless.*

    *Just what the hell were those things?*

    *No use wondering right now. Maybe you could go get examined by a doctor?*

    *Heh, any doctor worth his salt would dismiss me as a crazy kid, and any doctor crazy enough to try would be too unreliable to trust the results of.*

    *Then there’s no use worrying about it. We should just enjoy the visit here, and when it’s over, go back to town and pray we don’t get attacked on the way back. Of course, knowing our luck, we'll probably end up angering Palkia, or something. You have a natural gift at getting us into dire straits.*

    *You’re right. we came all the way here, might as well enjoy it, right?*

    For the next few hours, we wandered from exhibit to exhibit. Although the recorded histories showcased only the ancient activity of the desert region, they were nonetheless educational. Several of the areas, obviously once trapped, had become meeting areas or hubs, with the previously-hidden pits bridged, and slippery floors covered in packed sand.

    The deepest part of the site was only accessible through a lift, a security precaution further reinforced by the uniformed personnel which oversaw the entry and exit of the chamber. Although puzzling at first, the explanation was clear moments later as a gigantic topaz, carved into a crescent moon, seated atop a pedestal came into view. The descriptive plaque nearby identified it as a replica. The description provided cited it as an ancient artefact, but it had been moved to a new permanent location.

    I could only assume that the topaz was there solely to appease the locals, who would not have taken kindly to having their relic pilfered without a replacement.

    Finally, after we had enough, we exited the site. To our luck, it was night time: brightly lit by a waning moon that would have paired perfectly with the topaz to form a whole. Under the light of the moon, we slowly trudged back through the desert, this time much more careful about where we stepped. Unfortunately, we never found where we had dropped the hat or the wagon: I could only assume that the desert sands would consume both over time. Finally, we reached the desert town and hitched a ride on one of the boats travelling to the mainland. Nil piped in, interested in what our next step was.

    *So. Where are we planning on sleeping tonight?*

    *I was thinking on a floor somewhere, as usual.*

    *Really? Again? Even on vacation, you have standards that are way too low.*

    *Heh. Then again, maybe not. How about today we go rent a room at a hotel.*

    *Are you sure you even know how? That seems a bit out of your expertise.*

    *What exactly IS my expertise?*

    *Getting attacked by wildlife. Messing up. Impersonating the homeless.*

    To my luck, we passed a rather full hotel which had a small room available for rent. Not caring about size, I quickly paid for a single night, checked in, and changed into my rarely-used nightclothes. I couldn’t climb into the bed fast enough.

    As I quickly drifted off to sleep, I had my final revelation of the day. Ever since I had left on my journey, four years ago, I hadn’t slept in a room of my own, only in either a communal area, or more often, the closest place that was protected from rain. I waited for several moments, trying to relax, before I finally let my guard down, closed my eyes, and drifted off to sleep.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 25th April 2016 at 7:52 PM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  20. #20
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    Hi there! Coming here from the review game, and I'll be reviewing the Prologue until Chapter 3.

    You've got a really interesting start going on here. The prologue sure sets the mood, and finding out that one of the Pokemon was an Umbreon, I immediately thought of Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity and thought that the one speaking was an Espeon. But then you go back in time (I think?) and reveal that Nil had a trainer, and now I'm left wondering if they're the same or not. I'm leaning toward not, given that they talk differently, but hey, it does succeed in reeling the reader in to the intricacies of your plot.

    Your plot, though, could use some fleshing out in some places. Your chapters are rather short, and while I'm not saying you should aim to write longer chapters, I think you should take some time to expand the in-betweens of your plot. One particular example from the first three chapters is this one:

    On the other hand, I had come too far, invested too much time, to simply give up my chase.
    I wanted this part to be explored more. You say that the protagonist takes their time researching and reading a lot of text and reaching dead ends, but that's all we get. I wanted to get a sense of their frustration from these dead ends, or at least a more concrete representation of all the effort he put in to get to this point. I like how you presented their descriptions of the City of the Lost, but I think it would've felt more rewarding if we saw them following those dead ends or getting false leads. I get that you wanted to go right into the action, but maybe two or three extra paragraphs describing this would be okay? Just a personal preference, but I think it would help in transitioning from their less dangerous journeys to the more dangerous ones.

    This can also benefit in expanding your characters. In Chapter 3, you mention a particularly interesting fact that Nil has never been out of her Poke Ball during explorations. This is a really interesting point of characterization for the protagonist, but I felt that it came out of nowhere when you mentioned it. Taking your time to explore the in-betweens, which can include how the protagonist and Nil interacted when he was doing research or when he was about to go on an exploration, can help in making this feel less abrupt (I am assuming you go back to this point in later chapters, but if you don't, I feel that you should at least give it a mention, especially since Nil can communicate by the end of this chapter). This becomes even more relevant when Nil evolves into an Umbreon, which takes a very strong bond between the trainer and Pokemon, so it would've been great to see more of that.

    Like I said above, your description was pretty good. I particularly like how you describe places, such as in the opening of Chapter 3. They're simple, but you know exactly the words you need to set the tone. But I do want to note that there were times where your descriptions seemed redundant, such as here:

    Upon checking my myriad arsenal of spelunking tools,
    "Arsenal" already denotes a vast collection, so you don't have to say "myriad". There were a few more, but a good proofread would get them.

    Speaking of which, I do think you should proofread your chapters a bit more before posting them, or perhaps try to run your chapters through a beta reader. There were a lot of grammatical errors I found in the first three chapters, many of which were missing periods, missing words, or awkward capitalization (such as the word "the" in the second quote below). While they don't take away from your interesting plot, they do get a bit distracting.

    Two particular errors that I wanted to note were:

    “Oh uhmmm… Hi. I’m looking for information about a place known as “Turnback Cave”.”
    In this case, the quotation marks for Turnback Cave should be single quotation marks so that they don't clash with the ones you used for the main dialogue.

    And:

    ‘THe walls have extremely small Unknown Glyphs carved into them,
    If you mean the Pokemon, its name is spelled Unown. See the word "the" for the awkward capitalization I mentioned above.

    Overall, though, you're off to a very interesting start with these first three chapters. What happened in Turnback Cave was really exciting, and it succeeds in making the reader interested in what the heck it was and how it will come up again in the future. Just take your time with the in-betweens of the plot, since by doing so, it strengthens the core events of your plot even further. Good job, and good luck with the project!

  21. #21
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    Thank you so much. I'm planning on doing another go-around at editing the chapters tomorrow, and am going to take your critique into consideration.

    About the beta reader: I actually did have one before, but I am looking for another (My old one became quite busy, and he focused more on flow and plot than grammar.)
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 5th January 2016 at 1:34 AM.

  22. #22
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    Chapter 14

    I awoke to the smell of ashes, the feeling of immense heat, and the sound of screaming. Swearing heartily at my naivety, I catapulted myself out of the covers, grabbed my pack, and threw open the door. Outside, overworked sprinklers spun rapidly, trying in vain to combat the roaring blaze that had consumed a large portion of the hallway. The thin walls, while artistic, only stoked the fire further. Even worse, the choking smoke of the fire, mixed with the raining water, made vision all but impossible. The entryway had suffered the worst; the flames had snaked along the walls, and formed a fiery ring preventing access through it.

    *Nil. I need you to make a move for the exit. I’ll try to find another way out.*

    *Since when are you a hero?*

    *There’s no way I’ll be able to get out through that way; and I’m still carrying my machete and climbing pick. More importantly, you're still hurt. Besides, these walls are pretty thin: I should be able to cut my way out. I’ll see if I can’t get some people out too.*

    *You could try that vortex thing again.*

    *Yeah, it's worth a shot*

    *Are you sure you'll be able to do it?*

    *Even if I could get that to work again, I’m not sure if I can handle sending more than one person through it. Sending you through felt like being punched in the gut; I'm not sure whether I'd be able to sustain sending people through it.*

    *See you outside then?*

    *You had better be waiting.*

    As Nil limped through the fire, I weighed my options. The hotel was several floors tall, but I knew I wasn’t able to do anything about any of the higher floors. However, judging by the screaming coming from the rooms nearby, there were people still in the rooms around me.

    When I had entered the hotel, I wasn’t blind enough to not realize that the rooms were arranged in a certain way. The hallways formed a rectangle, with every room receiving a window leading outside. There were also a few inner rooms, which were much larger as a compensation. Assuming it’d be easier to lead the people in inner rooms to the outer rooms, and smash the walls for the outer rooms, I quickly began.

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the first few doors I kicked in elicited quite a bit of panic. After all, a boy in his pajamas, wielding a machete in one hand and a pick in the other, breaking through your door in a burning hotel checked off all of the marks of being in a bad horror film. However, after I cut a hole through the thin outer walls with my climbing pick, they got the picture and fled through it. At about the fourth one, they were more relieved to have help arrive than to question why help arrived as it did.

    The first few rooms were easy; while the flames were quite vigorously burning, they burned hot rather than fast, giving me plenty of time. The stink of burning gasoline occasionally wafted above the spoke, meaning that the original blaze was caused by a person, on purpose. I originally just felt good about saving people, but reality quickly broke me out of my reverie. I badly burned myself as I entered the sixth room, this one empty, and barely made it to the seventh. By the eighth, I had trapped myself; fire covering egress in every direction. This room revealed an elderly man and his wife, both clad in expensive jewelry, but more pressingly, revealed that this room was also ablaze.

    Also to my luck, this room was an inner room; which meant there was no way of escaping. Gritting my teeth, I contacted Ni as I placed my ruined tools back into my backpack.

    *Hey Nil…*

    *You don’t need to even finish that. You trapped yourself. Didn’t you.*

    *Fire on four walls, inner room, yeah.*

    *Seems like you’ll need to try that gate again, then, huh?*

    *I guess. Last time I did it though, I had a direct line of sight to where it was happening.*

    *Well, you better figure out how to get it to work from in there.*

    Almost on cue, a chunk of the room collapsed, striking the television and showering the area in sparks. The elderly couple gave me a terrified look, but I held up my hand and sat. I would need to focus.

    *Any clue what you did last time?*

    *I was really focused on where you were and how to get there?*

    *That could work. I’m in the park two houses down from the hotel. Seems like most of the people you got out have come here to watch the fire; a lot of them are crying.*

    The center of the ceiling had begun to sag, causing the glass chandelier to nearly touch the mahogany dining table. All around me, the room blazed, but I was focused on Nil's position. Even as the chandelier gave way, I sat still, trying desperately to summon the portal. Only when I heard a gasp from the couple did I open my eyes.

    The vortex had returned.

    Wasting no time, I screamed at the panicking couple.

    “THERE’S NO TIME TO EXPLAIN! JUST STEP INTO THE SWIRLY THING!”

    Although they hesitated for a moment, a burning chair falling through the traumatized ceiling spurred them into action. I saw them exchange looks before passing through, and felt the exhuastion of keeping the gate open increase as they stepped through.

    *Did you just send an old man and an old woman through?*

    *Yeah. What’s the situation there?*

    *Well, those two are hugging, and there’s a bunch of people staring at the vortex. About half of them are curious, a few are terrified, and a few children are lining up to throw rocks at it.*

    A few rocks were emitted from the vortex, which clicked against the walls.

    *Well, I’m going to try and go through.*

    Giving one last look at the fiery deathtrap I was escaping, I stepped through. Interestingly, the feeling of stepping through reminded me of exiting Turnback Cave; with the sense of moving through impossible spaces returning, if only for a moment. As my vision returned, I let go, closing the gate behind me with a crack.

    Several moments of stunned silence later, the crowd had begun quiet murmuring. Judging by the majority, they believed I had stolen some sort of advanced technology to do what I had done. Although many of them thanked me, more gave me strange, alienating looks. I turned towards the hotel; the blaze had begun being combated by several people riding Staraptors, each dumping water onto the roaring flames. Assisting them appeared to be every water Pokemon in the entire city, all working together in unison.

    I was about to go find a place to change out of my charred bedclothes, when the squeal of braking wheels drew my attention behind me. Several men in uniforms piled out of a newly-arrived van. I cringed as I realized who they were. It seemed that even this region had an active criminal organization.

    The burliest one addressed another, seemingly ignoring the crowd he had captured. His inferiors spread out, forming a ring that prevented escape.

    “See Maurice? Told you that we’d get our marks either way.”

    Maurice, a long, thin man with a thinner moustache, replied in a nasally voice.

    “But Ged, we could have lost the VIPs! I told you that was way too much fire!”

    “Aw shaddap. What I’m more interested in, is how these folks here managed to get here before our boys could catch the ones we need.”

    The crowd instantly all turned towards me. I was still clutching my machete (Which at this point was more of a battered piece of metal from all of the doors I had to smash) but I froze as the brute’s gaze focused on me.

    “Hah, there’s no way that this kid did anything. Throw 'im out.”

    A thug approached me, but was quickly repelled as I brandished my tool towards him.

    “Well lookie here. We got ourselves a hero. Hows about this. We let you go, and ya don’ go do anything to bother us from now on.”

    I opened my mouth to reply, but that thought was never finished.

    *INCOMING BEHIND YOU*

    I turned quickly, just in time to see a huge, meaty fist hurtle towards me. To winded to dodge, and too burned to react, I went down like a stone. As I faded to unconsciousness, I heard Ged address the crowd.

    “If ya folks knows what’s good for ya, ya just go home and forget about all this. Don’t bother following us, ya won’t find us. And if any of ya even dare calling the Rangers…”
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 4th May 2016 at 5:27 PM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  23. #23
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    Chapter 15

    I awoke in a grey, windowless room, head pounding, and arms sorer than ever before. Through bleary eyes, I examined where exactly I had been taken. The room was square, and nearly featureless: it lacked windows, decorations or paint, and the only breach of the walls was a solid-looking door.

    Inside the room with me were several of the people I had pulled from the blaze, along with several others I did not recognise; these were likely others who had escaped by themselves. Every single person within the room was chained to the ceiling by bindings welded to the roof. I personally had been given similar bindings, but being shorter than the others, I instead was hanging, with my arms supporting my entire weight. The elderly couple I had saved were among the prisoners, although they just seemed glad that I had woken up. How long exactly had I been unconscious?

    *Are you there? Hey, are you awake yet? Wake up dammit! Don't die on me yet!*

    Nil's voice filled my mind, full of panic and of desperation. The usual undertone of annoyance was still there, but definitely less than what I was used to.

    *Nil! Where are you? How long was I out for?*

    *Good. They took you about three or four hours ago.*

    *That's.. really not good. But where are you?*

    *No, I’m back at the woods. When they knocked you down, I managed to escape.*

    *Why didn't you do something to get me out of there?*

    *They had handguns, if you didn’t notice. Every single one of them did. And I doubt I'd be able to do anything, being in the shape I am.*

    I hadn’t. I was too tired from opening the gate to pay close attention to what the thugs were carrying. And I could have paid the price. It was lucky that I was simply trapped, rather than sitting within a shallow grave, a bullet lodged in my head. Nil continued probing for information.

    *What’s the situation like, over there?*

    *I'm hanging from the ceiling, and can’t feel my arms. There don’t appear to be any cameras, but there’s no way I’m going to be able to get out of here.*

    *Can’t you just warp out?*

    *I’m not sure I’d be able to get out all the way, what with the chains holding me in place. And since I have no clue where I am, if I leave it's not likely I'll be able to find my way back. Not to mention that I don't trust myself to warp that far: I could end up inside a tree or underwater, or something.*

    *I see. Want me to go try and get help?*

    *Please do.*

    There was a long pause. I was left alone with my thoughts, before one of the other hostages, a middle-aged woman with glasses and brown hair decided to strike up a conversation. I recognised her from the fourth room, she and her two children had been quick to flee once I opened an escape.

    "Did they take your portal thing?"

    “I don’t see any way I could use it, even if they did. We’re all chained here, so we can’t go through.”

    There was silence for a moment as the woman thought.

    "You mean you still have it?"

    “I’m not entirely sure if they’re able to take it.”

    "Are you able to aim it?"

    “What do you mean?”

    "What happens if, for instance, you aimed it at those chains holding you up?"

    At first I dismissed that as an impossibility. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized impossibility no longer existed for me.

    “I’ll give it a shot, I suppose.”

    Focusing directly on the chains above me proved a little harder, but I wasn’t going anywhere. Several failed tries left me more and more frustrated. As I finally succeeded, it snapped open for a moment, before dropping me hard onto the floor. It closed as I impacted the hard concrete, my concentration immediately shattered..

    I spat out some blood and lifted myself up. The rest of the hostages turned towards the noise, noticed me free, and began murmuring once more.

    "Do you think you’d be able to use that to get us all out from here?"

    “Probably not. It takes a lot of energy to send a person through, and I don’t think it’d be right leaving people here. Bringing someone in here won’t work either, because unless we're able to pick open the door, everyone in here would know if we tried to escape.”

    "Do you think you can at least cut all our chains too?"

    “I would, but I don’t trust myself to aim the portal at other people with that much precision. If it cut chains, it can certainly cut flesh. You saw how long it took for me to cut myself down.”

    "So what do we do then?"

    Like an angel of coincidence, Nil’s message reached my mind.

    *I found this building with a bunch of humans entering it. From what I can hear, the humans are going in and complaining about a “kidnapping”. Seem familiar?*

    *That’s great! See if you can’t get help.*

    The woman gave me a look of confusion as she saw my face light up.

    "What are you so happy about?"

    “Help should be on its way soon!”

    "How can you be so sure?"

    “My friend told me.”

    The woman snickered a bit.

    "You’re telling me, that not only did they miss your portal device, but they also missed your communicator? Goddamn idiots! Are you able to send messages back?"

    “Yes. And as I said, they’re probably not able to take them from me.”

    "They’re implanted?"

    “Something like that.”

    *Uh, Vis? In case you don’t remember; I’m a pokemon. Humans can’t understand me. How exactly do you want me to talk to the people in there?*

    “GODDAMMIT!!!”

    The woman flinched at my sudden, seemingly unprovoked outburst.

    "What’s wrong?"

    “This is going to be a bit more painful than I expected. It seems that it’ll be quite hard for my partner to get help.”

    "Why’s that?"

    “Because she’s a pokemon.”

    Once again, the woman thought for a moment, and replied.

    "Ask her if she sees a device shaped like a hatchet, flat but with a piece sticking out."

    Slightly confused, I began relaying messages.

    *Yeah, there’s one lying on this counter here.*

    "If she sees one, tell her to grab it, and try and portal it into here.”

    There was a slight pause, and then panic from Nil.

    *OKAY NOW THE HUMANS ARE CHASING ME.*

    *Get to safety, I’ll try and open a portal when you stop.*

    It was quite fortunate that Umbreons are very good at hiding.

    *Okay, I’m ready. Open it, I’ll throw it in.*

    This gate proved easier than the others, as this time I was transporting a small device, rather than a living person. Moments later, I held a communicator of some kind, and judging by the rapid vibration and frantic chimes, the owner was desperate to get it back.

    After throwing a glance towards the people watching me, I lowered the volume to the minimum, and turned it on. The voice, even diminished to the least possible, was still clearly audible.

    "SO YOU FINALLY ****ING PICK UP, HUH? WHO ARE YOU, AND WHAT GODDAMN PURPOSE DO YOU HAVE FOR STEALING RANGER UNION PROPERTY?"

    The voice paused for a moment as if another conversation was happening. I turned the volume back up, to listen to the background conversation.

    "What do you goddamn mean 'The location tracker jumped'?"

    "I mean that two seconds ago it was still in Vientown, and now it’s over here."

    "That’s impossible. I just watched an Umbreon limp off carrying it."

    "In all my years, these tracking devices have never failed. Either a flying pokemon picked it up and flew over, or something else happened."

    I turned the volume back down as I prepared for the yelling to begin again. Luckily, the voice was much calmer this time; I could barely hear the first few sentences he spoke as I recalibrated the volume.

    "You better have a good reason for this."

    “First, I’d like to know who this is.”

    The voice sighed, and identified himself as Wayne, the current leader of the Vientown ranger auxiliary corps, and that I had indeed stolen his newest recruit’s communication unit.

    I quickly explained the situation, stopping briefly to refute sceptical claims, before finally waved off and told to find an adult.

    Shrugging, I moved towards the woman who had helped before, and held the communicator near her mouth. I explained the ranger’s unwillingness to listen to her, to which she agreed to help prove my point.

    "This is Karen Shelby, Pokebiologist working for the Ranger Union. Everything that boy said is true. We’re currently held in an unknown area, and likely being held hostage for ransom."

    The ranger’s voice softened as he heard an adult. I couldn’t help but be slightly offended at not being believed.

    "So this kid’s “portal” joke is a real thing?"

    "I saw it in action, and it’s how he managed to get your communicator here. According to him, he’s got some of communicator with a pokemon as well."

    "Ignoring the obvious impossibility of that, these men holding you; do they look like a member of a criminal gang?"

    "I wish. They look like terrorists. I’m almost entirely sure they’re trying to ransom us off."

    "We’ll send a dispatch team to get you out, as soon as we can. However, you’ll need to sit pretty; according to our scanners, you’re somewhere out in the ocean; probably on one of the old abandoned oil platforms we keep finding everywhere."

    "Thank you. Please come soon."

    With that, Karen rolled her eyes, and slumped back into a more comfortable position.

    *So uhh… A couple of humans found me.*

    *What are they doing?*

    *Seems like they’re using these top things to try and circle around me.*

    *Do they look dangerous?*

    *No, not really. They're getting mad when I walk into the top though. It's funny.*

    Although I felt a weird tingling, I ignored it. There were more pressing matters at hand.

    *Doesn’t seem like they’re trying to hurt me anyhow, and judging by how they’re acting, they’re getting quite frustrated by my lack of reaction.*

    *So what are you going to do?*

    *I think I’m going to have a nap.*

    Much later, I would learn that the two rangers sent out to capture Nil were put on suspension for a month, solely due to the amount of profanity that ensued.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 12th June 2016 at 11:46 PM. Reason: Current Round: 4

  24. #24
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    Rewrites of all 15 chapters (and the prologue) are finally done! I should be able to start working on the next chapters soon. (Phew.)
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 4th March 2016 at 1:36 AM.

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    Chapter 16

    It was no surprise when the sound of a person approaching the door reached my ears. It was obvious that they would check on the prisoners: after all, we had escaped them once before. While the rest of the captives were still chained up, I was not; and due to how exactly they had chained me up, it would be impossible to fake still being trapped. I would have to improvise. I had nothing on my person, besides the metal rings that had before held me up, and about an inch of chain trailing off of each of the rings. Shuddering about how badly this could go wrong, I took up position beside the door, whispered to the other captives to be silent, and readied myself for the only option remaining.

    The door swung inwards, and a guard walked through. He was not as tough-looking as the group that had captured us, obviously a rookie rather than a veteran. He had a key ring in one hand, a knife in its sheathe on one leg, and a holstered gun on the other. Panicking, I contacted Nil for assistance.

    *Nil! Are you there?*

    *Yeah. I’m here. What’s wrong?*

    *There’s a guard coming into the room. I cut myself loose, so if he finds me, I’m done for.*

    *And? What are you asking?*

    *What should I do? I can’t sneak away: there’s no way I can get out of here in time.*

    The guard was talking to himself as he strolled towards the back of the room. I couldn’t see his eyes from where I was standing, but from the way he walked, I could tell he was exhausted.

    “I can’t believe I have to go check on the prisoners... We've went overboard, they're in a locked, sealed room. Hell, the kid that tried to get away last time is suspended, for crying out loud. This should be Larry's duty, he's in charge of feeding them...”

    *Do you still have anything?*

    *Nothing besides the manacles that were hanging me up…*

    *There. That’s your answer.*

    The novice began each of the prisoners, starting from the side opposite from where I was before.

    *What?*

    *Use the manacles to knock him unconcious.*

    *You mean attack him?*

    “Let’s see. You folks enjoying your stay? Anything I can ask the kitchen to go get you? The sky, and about ten dollars, is the limit.”

    *What’s the big deal? You ask me to fight other Pokemon all the time, and I don’t whine about it.*

    *That’s different! Pokemon can survive things humans can’t! This guy has a gun!*

    *Really? If humans are weak, how are you still alive?*

    *It just seems so risky. What if I screw up?*

    *Then don’t screw up.*

    He paused for a moment as he spied my chains, which had been hanging free ever since I cut myself loose.

    I shook my head. Nil was right; there was no way out of it besides to attack the guy. However, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a good shot if I just swung at him.

    “What the hell? How did that happen? And where the hell is the kid?”

    I stood up as quietly as I could, and took up a stance to strike. The other prisoners had begun giving me a wide-eyed look of confusion.

    “The hell did this happen? These chains are solid metal! This cut is clean! You there! Scientist chick! Did you see where the kid went? How the hell … Oh. Oh no.”

    As soon as I saw him begin to reach for his gun, I threw my leg around his, before quickly pulling back. The guard stumbled forward, thrown off balance by my sweep, and impacted the wall with a thunk. Following up my initial move, I clubbed him on the back of the head with the shackles, just to make sure he was unconscious.

    Although I expected my jumping of the guard to make a lot of noise, the metal walls quickly devoured any dissonance. It seemed that this room was soundproof.

    Wasting no time, I searched the guard, quickly seizing his keys, his weaponry, and his wallet. I pocketed the wallet as I began unlocking the prisoners from their bindings. The elderly man’s arms remained up even after being released; he blamed his old joints having locked.

    “What purpose does a soundproof, metal room with chains attached to the ceiling serve?”

    Karen snickered a bit, and replied quietly.

    “Seems whoever lived here was into very strange things.”

    Unsure of what she meant, I instead focused on what we had to do.

    “Assuming the Rangers are here soon, we should be safe. Can some of you watch that guy? I knocked him out, but I’m not sure he won’t come to.”

    Someone else muttered quietly as I continued my train of thought.

    “We should be safe for ten or so minutes, until they send another guard to check on this one. I get a feeling, however, that the next one won’t be as inattentive as the last.”

    Karen grabbed the communicator as some of the captives helped me gag the guard. As we chained him up to one of the sets of manacles, Nil checked in.

    *I’m assuming you’re not dead?*

    *Not yet, that’s for sure.*

    *Keep it that way.*

    *I’ll try, but no guarantees.*

    As we finished restraining him, the communicator began ringing once more.

    “Uh, hello? This is Wayne. We’ve run into a slight hitch.”

    Those were not words that any of us wanted to hear. Karen, who assumed that another person talking would raise a flag, responded.

    “What kind of ‘hitch’ are we talking about, here?”

    “We’re at the site, but it’s sealed up tight. You’re in one of the old oil rigs, back when they made them to last. Anyway, it seems your captors have closed the main gate, and if this rig is anything like the others we’ve seen, that’s the only way in. That’s not the problem, however. The problem is that these gates are thick: an Electrode going off right beside it wouldn’t even scratch it. We’ve got hackers set up to try to open it, but it looks like they killed the power from the inside. What is your situation down there?”

    A palpable feeling of panic had descended upon the room, but we held our composure. Karen responded, voice only slightly wavering.

    “Everyone down here is free, and we’ve got a guard gagged up and restrained down here too. We have his key, but are planning on staying in here in hopes of being unnoticed.”

    “How the hell did that happen… Let me guess… The kid?”

    “Tripped the guard, then whacked him with a manacle. Judging from the way the guard’s eyes looked, he was either stoned, or really out of it.”

    “At least I can believe that.”

    I butted in.

    “So you’re saying they killed the power from inside the building?”

    “From the looks of it, they only took down the outer access pad. I’d assume they still have power elsewhere, otherwise there wouldn’t be lights on inside.”

    Karen handed me the communicator, having long since begun assuming I had a plan.

    “What if I snuck up there and opened the door from the inside?”

    The ranger laughed dismissively at me.

    “Hah, kid, you got a sense of humor. You got no training, no Pokemon, and no backup, and you seriously think that you can make it to the keypad?”

    “Yes.”

    The laughter stopped.

    “You are aware, that if you screw up, you’re dead, right?”

    “If I don’t try, we’re dead anyway.”

    A short pause later, the one of the communicator’s buttons began blinking.

    “Alright kid. I’ll let you take a shot at it. We’ve sent a map of the building to that comm unit, with the main entrance highlighted. It’s only two floors above you, but it’s likely to be heavily guarded. I’m not sure if they have Minremo tech, but even if they don’t, there’ll probably be wild Pokemon roaming the halls anyway.”

    He continued: “Despite what you think, the goal here isn’t to stop them, it’s to get the gate open so we can extract you and the rest of the hostages. Trying to pick a fight is a very, very bad idea. These stupid pricks have gotten braver lately, they must be trying to fill the power vacuum that formed when we took down Dim Sun. Just be careful out there; this place is a labyrinth. Also: the code for the door release is six-three-nine.”

    “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine. If there’s one thing I know how to navigate, it’s a labyrinth.”

    “I’m not even going to try to make sense of what you just said. Wayne out.”

    I took a deep breath, before handing the knife to Karen. I wouldn't need it, but I knew that even if it was immoral, having some sort of weapon in the room would be helpful if a patrol came knocking. Hoping that would not happen, I stepped out into the hallway.

    Escaping from criminals intent on murder? Why did this feel familiar? As I began my escape, I swore quietly to myself.

    “There better not be any ****ing Zubats in this building.”

    The map pinpointed my current position as being in the basement. Tracing a path through the floors, I felt my heart sink. In order to reach the entrance, I’d need to sneak through four rooms at least, more if I had to take a detour.

    The basement level was quite sparse, having only three doors leading out from it, along with stairs leading upwards. Snoring echoed from one of the rooms, warning me of possible reinforcements appearing from below. I ascended the stairs as quietly as I could, before pressing my ear against the door to listen.

    After several moments of silence, I carefully opened the door, revealing a storage room of sorts, with wooden crates littering the area haphazardly. Checking a few of the crates revealed them as empty, save for one which housed a family of Ratata. I had nearly made it to one of the doors when loud, clumsy footsteps spurred me into action. Picking a crate at random, I threw myself inside, praying that it would be unoccupied. Through the thin walls of the dusty crate, I heard a familiar voice.

    “So yer saying that there’s rangers outside?”

    “Yeah, boss. No clue how they got here, there’s no way they could have found us this fast. Even if one of the witnesses told them, this place is hidden!”

    “Obviously not hidden enough!”

    The steps came closer. I held my breath, afraid of revealing any hint of my presence. An itch had formed where my skin contacted the crate, but I ignored it.

    “Jord, ya really need to do something about them crates. Why do we even have em?”

    A loud thud followed by several shrieks came from somewhere to my left. I assumed he had kicked the crate full of Ratata.

    “There’s goddamn rats in these boxes, man. Get ya act together!”

    “But boss! There’s rangers outside!”

    “If these floors can handle supporting your fat ***, then they can survive some rangers trying to break in. I’m not worried.”

    I continued sitting motionless until I was sure that they had left. The itchiness had increased, but I still did my best to ignore it: there were still more pressing matters at hand. Carefully stepping out, I checked the map once more. Mentally crossing out the direction they had departed towards, I continued my egress.

    I continued moving as fast as I could without making noise, avoiding incoming patrols whenever I could, and hiding if that was impossible. Several times I encountered wild Pokemon roaming the halls, but luckily they were more interested in keeping their territory than directly attacking, and thus ignored me. I couldn't help but imagine what would have happened if I had crossed the area with Nil beside me; another intruding Pokemon would have whipped the wild Pokemon into a frenzy. Soon, I was but a room away from the exit. Unfortunately, this room happened to be their control center.

    The control room was a multi-level checkpoint, with metal stairs connecting the floor I was on with the floor below it. The catwalk spanning the distance was mesh, preventing any chance of simply crawling across. As I crept to a corner of the room and peered down, I revealed three of the thugs: two were focused on the metal stairs, and were pointing their handguns at the entry point, fingers on the trigger. The third's eyes were glued to a monitor, which I could only assume was linked to outside.

    I tried several times to figure out how to sneak past the hostiles within the room, before I just went with the simple, and most elegant solution: opening a gate out of sight, on the other side. Another few minutes later, I stood by the door to outside. After another minute or so of searching, I found the emergency manual control, and began the door's opening routine.

    Sunlight streamed inside as the solid steel door slowly creaked open.
    Last edited by Shattersoul; 9th June 2016 at 5:44 PM. Reason: Current Round: 4

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