Thank you for your criticisms and suggestions! I'm definitely not a writer by trade and merely by hobby. A reason why I started doing this is to get better at writing things that aren't academic papers or reports. But I did notice that a lot of the formatting, including italics and spacing, was a lot in part due to my old Microsoft Word version, which is what I use to write and spell check. Nonetheless, I'll definitely try proof reading more while in forum.
Act 1 Chapter 1 - Spring: Time of Amity
Callum stood alone in a crowd in front of a stadium that far dwarfed any building surrounding it, what few there were. He looked up and smiled, the rim of his brown hood obscuring the slight glare from the sun. He was the only one who stood still in a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, who had been funneling in around him. Though that mattered little to the boy, despite the glares of irritation he received from the inconvenienced men and women.
He chuckled to himself as he slowly walked with the crowd, much to the relief of many. A blue card displaying the number eighteen was clasped between his fingers as he began picking up the pace, deviating from the mass of people down to the stadium proper. When he arrived, where he had previously been subjected to the wide expanse of space outside or the tight corridors inside, he found himself in a cage of people, every individual representing a bar, trapping the boy and all other competitors inside of the field.
Callum slowly lifted his number eighteen, his face blank with the exception of a glint of a smirk gracing his features. It stayed on his face as a girl approached him, her hands clasped together, holding a card between her clasped fingers, obscuring the number written on it. The girl clumsily flipped the card over, giving Callum a chance to see the number painted on. Twenty four.
"You must be my tag battle partner," Callum mumbled to himself as he rolled his card and stuffed it in his pocket. He gave the girl an awkward smile and said quickly, "uh, my name's Hino! From Snowpoint City!"
The girl shuffled her feet and looked up, pushing her hair behind her ear. She gave a wide smile as she presented her card to Callum, her free hand twisting and pulling on her light brown locks.
"Hi! I'm Evelyn, but you can call me Evie! I'm a native Hearthome kid! Say…you look like you're my age, right? I'm twelve! Good to see another up and coming trainer!" She rattled on, her glossy blue eyes belying a calm persona that the girl clearly did not have.
Callum rubbed the back of his head nervously. "Um, well I'm twelve years old, going on thirteen. I'm not uh…new. I do have some good Pokémon in my arsenal!"
Evelyn clasped her hands together again, but rested her cheek on her clasped hands and gave a light laugh, filled with hot air and little sound. It looked forced.
"Great! Well I have --"
Much to Callum's relief, the talkative girl's ramblings were ceased by the ramblings of another. A pudgy, sharp dressed middle aged man took the previously vacant stage. Behind was a massive monitor displaying the tag battle tournament brackets that have yet to be filled. He grabbed for the microphone on the podium in front of him and began speaking. Callum scarcely paid attention to the speech that the man was giving. Instead, his eyes began wandering to the other people in the stadium with him. His eyes rested on various different people and darted quickly away when any of them happened to stare back. Callum waved awkwardly with a sheepish grin whenever that happened.
However, when his gaze fell on a familiar blue haired girl, it didn't leave. ’Thank Arceus she doesn't notice me...Dawn, how much have you improved since Floaroma?' As Callum continued to stare at Dawn, he failed to see an older teenager next to Dawn, who had begun to notice the intense look that Callum had been directing their way. However, before the teen could say anything, and before Callum could continue staring, he was interrupted by Evie, who he had been with the entire time.
"Someone you know?" Evie asked. Callum gave out a shrill yelp and then looked around hesitantly, giving a nervous sigh.
Callum shook his head. "No," he said, "Just checking out the competition! You know, so we know what to expect…"
The brunette nodded, smiling. "Gotcha! So how awesome is it that we get the Soothe Bell? It sounded so calming. Wah, I just have to have it!"
Confused, Callum simply blinked twice. Then he remembered. The man on stage, the mayor of Hearthome, had rang a bell. It was the one time during his stare session that he noticed the cacophony of sounds in the stadium die down for a momentary period of time. He turned to the stage for the first time since the mayor's speech. The monitor on the stage now had a completely filled bracket. Callum froze.
It was his face, his real face, at the top of the monitor, right above a large C signifying him as part of the third bracket. Callum forced his eyes away from the monitor and back at Evie, who was smiling and looking at the screen. Normally, Callum would have thanked his luck but this time, he couldn't help looking back at the screen. After the initial shock passed, Callum's eyes began to dart back and forth from the screen, to Evelyn, to the rest of the competitors.
'Darn it, how stupid of me…if anyone from Twinleaf sees that photo, I'm as good as caught,' Callum thought, panic beginning to set in. 'I have to leave…no, but that's just more suspicious. What can I do? I am truly, utterly, without a doubt, completely f--"
"Hino, you alright?" Evie asked, breaking Callum's thoughts. Callum blinked rapidly and looked at the girl standing in front of him with nary an expression on his face. He gave a sheepish smile and jerked his thumb behind him, where the majority of the competitors were.
"Um, yeah, I'm fine! Well, er…I saw someone I know on TV I think," Callum said, putting his hands in his pockets. He quickly took the opportunity to check on Dawn, acting like he was trying to find the person who was on TV. Callum felt a sigh of relief coming along when he saw Dawn chatting away with her partner, some green haired boy with glasses, completely oblivious to what the screen was showing her. He made sure to continue scanning the crowd for a good few seconds before turning back to his tag battle partner.
"Uh, looks like I was wrong," Callum said with a nervous smile. 'That's right, I registered as Hino. So long as I don't trip over my words, I'll be fine. If Dawn thinks she recognizes me, I can just keep arguing. She's a stubborn girl, but I'm sure I can bluff my way through it long enough…I hope.'
Evie gave a confused, inquisitive look at Callum before rolling her eyes. "Boys," she mused, and began walking towards the side of the stadium, leaving Callum alone with his thoughts. She turned back with a confident smirk. Twirling a lock of hair, Evie called out to Callum. "Come on! Let's talk strategy! It'll be fun."
At her voice, Callum jogged over to Evie, giving a quick apology and averting his gaze from Evie to the general space behind her. In response, Evie simply laughed and gave Callum a knowing gaze. She said in a mocking tone, "So, still thinking about that mysterious TV person? Or you nervous for the competition? If you are, don't worry about it! We're the third bracket so we have two battles to analyze. Now, let's talk!"
By the time Evie had finished talking, the two had made it to the sidelines, where the other competitors have begun congregating while waiting for the stadium to organize the first battle. Callum glanced at the competitors once more to see Dawn and her green haired partner missing. He then remembered, 'Dawn's part of the A bracket. She's going first. Good, I can measure her performance from Day 1. And now I have time to actually go over my battle plan.'
"…So, do you have a Pokémon that can do it?" Evie asked. Callum looked to his side and saw his chipper partner looking at him. He gave her an apologetic look and scolded himself for being unaware of his surroundings yet again. 'It's what got me in this mess to begin with. After this is all over, I should really check out a social awareness self-help book.' Callum let out a sigh and rubbed his arm.
"Um sorry," he started, "what did you say?"
Evie glared at Callum's half-hearted apology and Callum flinched, looking away from the fuming girl and at the stadium wall to his right. He tried his best to not make eye contact with the girl in front of him. If looks could kill…
"I SAID," Evie started, articulating every word that she said, "that my Banette works well with Pokémon that can put sustained pressure on our opponents. You know, tanking hits and making them focus on you. So, do you have a Pokémon that can do it?"
Callum thought for a second and answered, "Uh, I think so. Metang can take hits pretty well. Is that good enough?"
"Yeah, just make sure that Metang can last long enough for us to do our thing," Evie replied with a wink. Callum turned away and pretended to clear his throat, a shadow of a blush appearing on his face. He awkwardly coughed and turned to face the stage, where the four trainers who were part of the A bracket began taking their places in the opposite sides of the field.
Dawn sent out a Piplup while her partner sent a Slowking. A Scyther and Koffing were sent out by Dawn's opponents in response. Evie, upon seeing the Pokémon, elected to take out Banette and began instructing it for the upcoming battle, paying minimal attention at the battle going on behind her. In contrast, Callum gazed intensely at Piplup, leaning on the metal fence separating the sidelines from the field. As Piplup shot its concentrated Bubble Beam at the opposing Scyther's Razor Wind attack, Callum smirked. His smirk grew when the barrage of brown sludge bombs that Koffing had sent Piplup's way were blocked by Slowking's Safeguard. As the spherical Safeguard dissipated, Callum knew who would win.
'Mm, I see, Slowking is the defensive one. Once Koffing and Scyther's attacks pass, Dawn will try counterattacking.'
"Piplup, use Peck!" Dawn ordered. Piplup jumped into the air, ramming its sharp beak into Scyther while it was attempting to attack Slowking. Scyther was thrown with great force into the ground, leaving a small plume of dust. When the dust settled, it was clear that Scyther was unconscious.
'Good job, Dawn. Now, what will you do about this?'
"Koffing, use Gyro Ball!" Cried Koffing's rather muscular owner. Koffing began spinning and rushing towards Piplup, only to be stopped by Slowking's Psychic. The Slowking directed its paw down, sending Koffing slamming into the ground.
The referee extended his arm towards Dawn and her partner. "Koffing is unable to battle as well, which means Piplup and Slowking are the winners!"
Callum sighed and turned back towards Evie, who was whipping Banette up into fighting condition with words of encouragement. He gave a light cough to get Evie's attention and looked at her skeptically when she turned around.
"That match was…good, right?" Callum asked, knowing full well that Evie wasn't paying attention. She was the one to give an apologetic chuckle and awkward smile this time. But before she could come up with a retort or apology, Dawn's voice cut her off. At the same time, Callum froze.
"Callum? Is that you?" Dawn asked, her voice quiet, a sharp contrast to the passionate, direct orders she gave during the battle. "Callum," she called again, "It's me, Dawn!"
As Dawn, and Evie, waited for an answer, Callum's heart began racing as he turned around, giving the best confused look he could muster. He tilted his head to the side like he did when he was a kid and raised an eyebrow. Callum blinked several times before letting out a small laugh.
"Ah, I think you have me mistaken for someone else. My name's Hino, not Callum. Um, sorry for the confusion," Callum began, making sure to speak slowly as to not trip over his words. He took the opportunity to look over at Dawn. To Callum's great relief, Dawn's expression slowly turned from shock to confusion. However, she continued to keep her eyes trained on Callum's face. Callum looked back at Dawn, making eye contact, before ducking his head down and awkwardly pulling on his fingers.
'Dawn, you really have grown up,' Callum mused, his face downcast as he looked down at the ground. 'I hope this Hino identity holds. Right after this next battle, that mayor will announce my name and I'll have a credible story. Hope she doesn't suspect a fake ID…'
Dawn opened her mouth to say something but stopped at the sound of bickering between two competitors behind Callum. Both Callum and Evie turned around and saw two boys arguing, or at least attempting to. The boy wearing a cap was doing all of the arguing, while a lavender haired boy on the receiving end merely remained stoic and replying in short, harsh responses. Neither Callum nor Evie attempted to say anything and watched on. The Pikachu that was beside the boy wearing the cap locked eyes with an Elekid beside the lavender haired boy. Callum paid them a sparing glance as they growled at each other.
The argument ended when Dawn spoke up. "Sounds like you might've forgotten about the purpose of this competition," she started, reprimanding both boys for their inability to work together. "…both trainers and Pokémon have to work together in a tag battle. That is what Cynthia said," Dawn finished, prompting Callum to give her a look of incredulity.
'She's MET Cynthia? What kind of adventures have you been on?' Callum thought. His thoughts didn't go much further as the lavender haired boy replied to Dawn with a proverb that neither Callum nor Evie had heard of. The boy then looked at Callum with a nearly blank look bordering on aggressive. Callum nervously avoided eye contact and looked back at Dawn and her green haired partner, and then to Evie, who shrugged. Taking a deep breath, Callum addressed the aggressive individual before him.
"Er, can I help you?" He asked, looking away from the boy, who was now scowling. The boy crossed his arms and shook his head.
"No. Chimchar, let's go," he said curtly, leaving no room for any follow up statement. His scowl disappeared as he swiftly turned around and walked out, his Elekid and Chimchar following him closely. Callum glared at the back of the boy before giving a curt chuckle.
"I wonder if his, 'I'm so cool I can act like an angsty teen' act was always this good," Callum mumbled, prompting a chuckle from the cap wearing boy.
"No, that's just Paul. Don’t let him get to you! Hi, I'm Ash, from Pallet Town. This is my buddy, Pikachu!"
"Hi Ash," Callum began, "My name's Hino," he finished there, looking away from Ash in the general direction of the battlefield. The B bracket teams had already taken their places and begun their battle. However, it seemed none of the trainers in front of Callum were all too interested. Callum inwardly cursed his luck.
Next to Callum, Evie waved at Ash with a cheerful smile. "Hi Ash! I'm Evie, and I'm this easily distracted kid's partner," she said with a slight mocking tone. Callum shot his partner a dirty look and bit his tongue. ’If you spent as much time figuring out what the others have been saying as you have mocking me, maybe you would've begun suspecting something about me,' Callum thought bitterly, 'this tournament better end quickly.'
"Hey you two, I'm Brock," the older teen with a darker skin tone than the others said. Callum immediately recognized him as the one who had seen him observe Dawn during the opening ceremony. He immediately began regretting even speaking to the group. 'And here I am, standing next to the one guy who might suspect that I know Dawn, who so happens to be the only one who can figure out my true identity. If I somehow come out of this on top, I'm never doing this again.'
Evie happily chatted away with Brock, Ash, and Dawn, who had fell back in line with her friends. Callum didn't know whether to be happy that his partner was such a useful distraction or frightened that Dawn's confused, skeptical look came back every time she caught a glimpse of him. Instead of either, Callum instead elected to look up at the sky, counting the seconds that passed, hoping to Arceus that he wouldn't be caught.
"Alright, now that the B bracket has finished, let's get on with the third match of the day! C bracket participants, take your places!"
Callum thanked his good fortune and spared a passing glance at Evie before making his way to the field. "Let's go," he said blankly to the chatty girl behind him as he began twiddling the Pokéballs attached to his belt on his way to the field. Evie trailed closely behind, a determined look on her face. When the two took their places on one side of the field and their opponents on the other side, Callum began feeling his heart race. He found it odd, but strangely familiar and comforting.
Callum's opponents, two kids around his age, let out their Pokémon as soon as they took their positions. A Shieldon and Vespiquen appeared on the battlefield with a flash of light. As discussed, Evie let out her Banette and Callum did the same with his Metang. Evie turned her head towards Callum. "Now Hino, don't get too anxious. Just follow my lead and make sure Metang covers my Banette!"
Though Callum attempted to fire back with a sharp retort, he was silenced by the referee signaling the start of the battle.
"Vespiquen, use Power Gem!"
The Beehive Pokémon's gemstone like forehead glowed as it unleashed a sparkling beam of light at Banette. A moment later, under Callum's orders, Metang's body hardened with a metallic sheen as it used Iron Defense. The beam of light hit Metang head on, exploding on impact. When the dust settled, Metang floated about with nary a scratch on it. Taking this in stride, Banette disappeared into its own shadow.
"Now, Metang, use Psychic on Shieldon!" Callum yelled as Metang did as ordered, a blue light surrounding Shieldon as it was helplessly lifted into the air. As Metang completed the attack by launching Shieldon down into the ground, Banette reappeared under Vespiquen's shadow, delivering a powerful kick to the back of Vespiquen.
"No, Shieldon! Counterattack with Earthquake," ordered Shieldon's owner. The ground began shaking violently as soon as Shieldon hit the arena with its charged front legs. All of the Pokémon and their respective trainers felt the effects. Callum and Evie watched helplessly as their Pokémon were buffeted by rocks and powerful shockwaves. Vespiquen's trainer looked on with a smug grin as the Beehive Pokémon was safely floating above the Earthquake.
Callum winced as Metang struggled to get up after the Earthquake had subsided. It had only been floating a couple feet above the ground, still well within the effect range of the Earthquake. He regretted not calling for a Magnet Rise in time and looked at Evie, who also looked unsure of herself. From Callum's viewpoint, Banette looked almost ready to faint, the way that it was struggling to stay up.
He looked at Metang, and then to Shieldon's trainer. It was clear from his confident expression that Shieldon was going to use Earthquake again as soon as it had a clear shot. Callum began spitting profanities at Shieldon's trainer in his head, as well as Evie for suckering him into her plan. But like a flash of lightning, Callum had an idea. His worried frown turned into a sinister smile as he looked straight at Shieldon's trainer
"No, wait, what are you doing?! I could report you for this! You're breaking the rules!"
"Oh, am I? As you can see, this is Mount Silver, where Johto's very competent government has yet to even bother regulating. Metang, use Metal Claw on Onyx's trainer."
Callum gave a dark chuckle at the memory. 'Yeah, that could work,' he thought. He quickly pointed at Vespiquen with two fingers while whistling to Evie. She tore her eyes off of Banette and gave an uncertain nod.
"Now, Metang, use Psychic on yourself and follow Mount Silver Plan," Callum said, saying the order as quiet as possible so only his side of the field could hear it. Metang complied as it surrounded itself with a blue light. This only served to confuse the two opponent trainers as they exchanged hesitant looks. Callum felt a rush of adrenaline as he gave a simple command of affirmation. Metang flung itself, powered by its own Psychic attack, directly past Shieldon and at Shieldon's trainer. As Callum expected, Shieldon's trainer closed his eyes, bracing for a Pokémon made entirely of metal to come crashing into him. Callum's smirk grew.
"Stop! Turn around and use a full power Meteor Mash on Shieldon!" Callum yelled as Metang's Psychic disappeared, leaving a slightly damaged and chipped Metang rushing at Shieldon with a claw glowing in orange light. When Shieldon's trainer finally opened his eyes, it was too late. Metang's claws made direct contact with Shieldon's soft back, forcing it into the ground.
By the time any of the other trainers had registered what happened, Shieldon was on the ground, unconscious. With little time to question what had occurred, Evie gave Banette the command to attack Vespiquen. Banette complied, its raggedy arms forming a sphere of darkness as it flung the Shadow Ball at the confused Vespiquen, forcing it to recoil and fall from the air. It was unconscious before it hit the ground.
"Now, wait just a minute," the referee said, raising both hands up, "this is a clear violation of the official Pokémon battle rules! No attacks on trainers! I'm afraid I must disqualify the team of--"
"I'd think long and hard about the rules before you make that call," Callum spoke up, his voice no longer holding the hesitant and nervous tone it did before. "Neither Metang nor Banette attempted to attack the trainer. Trainers always run the risk of being hit with missed attacks, do they not? Metang attempted to emulate Body Slam using the moves it does know, a perfectly legal strategy that almost turned bad. Luckily, Metang had the intelligence and reflexes to stop in time," Callum finished with a triumphant grin plastered on his face.
The referee glared back at Callum for a few seconds before sighing. "Then…as I see no rules being broken, I have to declare the team of Hino and Evie the winner."
With those words said, Callum's grin widened. He recalled Metang after saying a congratulatory statement to it. Afterwards, without a word, Callum turned back towards the sidelines. He looked up and saw Ash and friends giving him a dirty look as expected. What both surprised him and filled him with relief was Dawn giving him the same dirty look that Ash and Brock were. He was in the clear.
"What the Hell was that?!" Evie cried, catching up with Callum when he made it to the sidelines. "You almost got us disqualified! I heard you tell Metang to use Psychic on itself! And I know you had some sort of plan already set up to do what you just did, so don’t think the excuse you used on the ref will work on me."
"Um, I'm sorry if you think that but--" Callum started, only to be cut off by Brock.
"Just as I thought, you ordered it! I've judged Pokémon battles and while I know what you did isn't illegal per say…that doesn't change the fact that it's wrong!"
Callum shied away from Brock's gaze and rubbed his arm nervously. "Well, er…I…" he stuttered out, only for Evie to cut him off this time, glaring at the nervous trainer. She scoffed, crossing her arms.
"Drop the act. I heard how eloquently you spoke to the ref. You've planned this out before, I can tell. Even by the name of your plan, the Mount --"
Dropping his visage, Callum laughed cynically. He found that drew the attention of all those listening, even Dawn. "Very well, I'll drop the mask. That's right, I planned it. You know what else? It was so much fun! Better than the typical, 'oh, please try harder my dear Pokémon!'"
Callum sighed, glad that he stopped Evie short. He was going to continue but felt a shiver go up his spine as he looked to his right. Dawn had been staring at Callum with such intensity that he couldn't help but feel the least bit afraid. He began wondering if she's figured him out. Before Callum could decide to goad her and the others further, Dawn gave a look of mock pity and disgust. Her green haired tag battle partner, who had simply been looking from behind with a bemused expression, crossed his arms and looked with amusement.
"You can't be Callum, I'm sorry about the previous assumption. The real Callum wouldn’t dare act like this," Dawn spat out, continuing to glare.
"Can't really argue with results, can you? Well, I'll take my leave then. I'll see you all at the second day," Callum said as he turned away to leave the stadium. He was stopped by Ash's voice behind him.
"Hey, Hino, I hope we end up battlin'. Then I'll show you what it means to really win a Pokémon battle!" Ash said, with a type of confident tone that Callum hadn't heard before. A part of Callum felt like Ash really could accomplish what he had said. Given the strength of Callum's Pokémon, he wouldn't be surprised if Ash really did manage to beat him. Provided that either of them even get that far in the competition.
Callum found himself alone in the lobby of the Pokémon center after that debacle back in the stadium. He didn't bother watching the rest of the competition. As far as he was concerned, there was no need to watch a bunch of children play Pokémon Trainer. He saw what he wanted. Callum also knew that after that display, nobody would seek him out yet. They were too angry or disappointed in him to. So he was surprised when he was interrupted from drinking his smoothie to see Evie sitting down across from him.
Evie started the conversation before Callum even had a chance to take his mouth off of the straw he was sucking on. "Hino, I don't agree with what you did. But after thinking about it a little, and seeing all those battles…especially Ash's, I'll work with you for the time being."
"Oh?" Callum asked, intrigued and amused, "I didn't expect you to rescind your accusations so quickly."
"I didn't," Evie shot back. "The only reason I'm working with you is because I want to win this tag battle tournament and get my hands on that Soothe Bell. I know you might not even care about that sort of thing, but I do. Besides, there has to be a reason you even entered, not to mention that you pretended to act like a shy, ditzy trainer."
Evie got up from her seat and gave the same cheery grin she had when the two first met. This time, however, Callum could tell how fake it really was. Callum knew he wasn't the best at social interaction. That's why the role of a, "shy, ditzy trainer" was so easy to assume. But even he could tell Evie had an ulterior motive beyond simply the Soothe Bell.
Callum said nothing about that, however, and gave a smirk. "Very well, now, let me get back to my smoothie. All of these honorable idiots interrupting my battles, my downtime after, and now my Sitrus Berry smoothie? That can't stand. Now go away."
This time, a much more genuine huff came from the brunette. She crossed her arms and mockingly turned her nose up in disgust. "Hmph, fine. I liked you better when you were playing the newbie. At least then you seemed like a little brother."
Evie left, making it a point to continue wearing that expression. She stopped after walking a few feet and Callum could guess that she no longer wore that ridiculous expression. Evie chuckled to herself quietly. Callum barely heard it but ignored it, opting to go back to the drink in front of him.
"You know Hino, if you were a bit nicer, you'd be pretty cute. Something about those green eyes of yours remind me of someone special…someone I looked up to," she mused. "But, I guess that won't change, because you're as much of an idiot as you are a genius. Really, acting so condescending to the referee that'll judge the rest of our battles? You go, Mr. I'm-smarter-than-everyone-else."
Evie's chuckle turned into a laugh as she walked off, leaving Callum both confused and angry. More confused than angry, in Callum's opinion. Nonetheless, as Callum got back to voraciously drinking his smoothie, he blinked a few times and then internally sighed. 'That's right, I have to change my contacts.'
Callum made his way to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. He still had no idea how the tournament got a hold of his real face when his ID clearly had the face that was currently looking back at him in the bathroom mirror. Callum sighed and looked more closely in the mirror. It was Callum staring back in the mirror, but very different in just a few key places. Broader chin, fatter looking face, and stretch lines. Most notably, Callum's normally dark brown eyes were replaced by sparkly green eyes.
After ogling at himself in the mirror, Callum slowly took out the contact in his left eye, revealing the same dark brown eyes. He looked back up to check his vision without the contact. Callum let out a sharp gasp at what he saw in the mirror.
It was Paul. Standing just a few inches inside of the mirror's peripherals, glaring at Callum. Not knowing what to do, Callum hastily attempted to put the contact back in his left eye but was stopped by Paul's strong, harsh order to do so. Callum froze in place, his eyes mismatching colors and his left hand still holding the green contact.
"Just as I thought, you are Callum Aurus," Paul stated. Unlike Dawn, Callum found no way to bluff his way out of this, especially considering he was staring back at Paul with evidence literally on his eyes. Not that he would have even tried, considering how matter of factly Paul had said it.
Callum gritted his teeth as Paul continued to speak. "I'm going to make this short. You may have fooled Ash and the other pathetic trainers but I know that it's you. Callum, the loser trickster. You lost in just the second round of the Lily of the Valley conference. How pathetic."
"You must be so proud of your brilliant deductive skills," Callum spat out, his face and voice unable to maintain any sort of calm façade anymore. "How do you even know me? It's not like I was the only one to lose in the second round."
"You were an up and coming star amongst a small group of trainers. Callum the Jester, they called you. Why they chose to follow your progress, considering there were so many better trainers out there, I don't know," Paul began, his tone leaving no room for interjection. "You might have changed your face just enough to trick everyone else, but I saw your battle. Your pathetic attempt to disregard the rules and use the system itself to win as opposed to your own strength? That's just what Callum the Jester did when he won his last three badges."
"Then," Callum started, "you know that I was unable to do that in the Lily of the Valley conference."
Paul simply nodded and turned away to leave.
"Wait," Callum called out, "what are you going to do with that information?"
"Nothing. I'll let you keep playing Hino," Paul started, before giving a glare. "…if you give up playing the Jester. I want to see your real skill."
Callum said nothing as Paul left the bathroom, leaving him alone with nothing but thoughts and emotions swirling through his mind. Chief of all was fear.