Sorry for the delay. School is keeping me busy. Anyway, here's another chapter that justifies the PG-15 rating. Just warning you now. Also, my usual beta-readers failed to give a rat's donkey about this chapter, so there may be more spelling/grammar errors than usual. FF38: "Pokeentomophobia" is "the fear of Bug-type Pokemon," and is common in small children, most of which grow out of this by adulthood. FF39: To be a big name professor, one must be a leading expert in a field no other big name professor is in.
Spoiler:- Chapter 10:
Chapter 10: Welcome.
So we got lost. I figured we were when I noticed the same Watmel tree that I caught Elekid at crop up again. That, plus we collectively figured that the forest wasn't THAT big for us to need several hours to trek across.
"Well," Emma had said, "at least there's plenty of food around here to munch on."
After trekking a bit further, we finally decided to just stick to one direction and hope for the best. Clearly none of us were smart enough to figure out the winding and confusing patterns the beaten path took.
We had gotten lucky. A huge mansion loomed over the horizon. According to the atlas, the Eterna entrance to the forest was landmarked by an old mansion nearby. It only took us forever to find it.
"Yay!" Emma shouted. "Eterna City is close by! And that means a Poké Center is nearby as well! Hot showers and comfy sofas and My Little Ponyta reruns galore!"
"It's a wonder you've suffered for so long without home comforts and not gone crazy," I said dryly.
"Hey! Once you've been on adventures as long as I have, you'll know to appreciate the small things."
"Of course. I wouldn't DREAM of traveling the countryside without my Miltank-hide boots and matching in-season traveling purse. Those are just essential, you know?"
She 'hmpf'ed to herself and looked indignant at my portrayal of her. Then she tried to steer the conversation away by talking to Greg about something else.
As we approached the mansion, an elderly woman came up to us.
"You look like powerful trainers! Please, you must help me!" she shouted at us.
Greg and I were startled by her sudden outburst. Sure, I was a powerful trainer, but what could Greg do? Emma, however...
"What happened? What do you want us to do?" she immediately replied.
Great. Commit us all to looking for an Oddish somewhere in this whole forest forever. Thanks, Emma. How long are you tagging with us, again?
"My child...my poor Isabelle. She's only nine! We live here in the Eterna Forest. I told her to go pick some Cheri Berries for lunch. I told her to stay away from the Old Chateau. That was five hours ago! I fear she may have wandered too close to the mansion and...it drew her in. Oh, my poor child!"
"'Drew her in'? What do you mean by that?" asked Greg.
"The Old Chateau...it's haunted. Swarming with malevolent spirits, I say."
Haunted? Really? Probably just a lost Munna making people see things.
"The Old Chateau has been abandoned for over fifty years. No one dares to go in there anymore. Most people who do don't come back out. Those few that DO...aren't the same anymore. I don't care about any of that, though! My poor Isabelle...I'd go in and find her myself, but I don't have any Pokémon of my own. I'd have no way to defend myself or my dear child. The malevolent spirits are repelled by the strong bonds between human and Pokémon, however. That's why I've been waiting for strong trainers such as yourselves to come by and help find my poor Isabelle!"
Didn't I see this in a movie before?
"We'll help you find your daughter, miss!" said Emma for all of us again.
"We aren't professionals, Emma," Greg said. "But we'll find this child. The mansion looks to be around 16 rooms. With the three of us, we can cover the whole layout pretty quickly."
Really? Greg, too? Am I just a horrible person for thinking that something's up here? I kept my thoughts to myself. With the three of us sticking close together, any scammer would have a hard time trying to pull one over on us.
We headed to the front entrance to the mansion. The gates were all rusted over and warped from time. The grass was overgrown and unwieldy, attempting to grow over everything. If there was a path to the house, we couldn't see it. The front gate was mostly closed, but parted just enough for someone to squeeze through. The child probably went through there. The partition looked forced. Each of the three of us squeezed through. The old lady waited outside.
"Please save my Liza!" she shouted as we made our way to the front double doors.
Greg turned one of the knobs. The right front door opened.
"Unlocked. After fifty years of people disappearing within it. Of course," I noted.
"Did anybody else notice that the wind died completely and all the Pokémon stopped making sounds once we got here?" Emma asked.
"Weather changes, and even Pokémon have a sense of dread. They probably overheard all the stories about this place and took it as fact. Honestly, I don't think there's any ghosts in here, or anywhere for that matter. That lady didn't look all there, if you know what I mean. Of course someone at her age would believe in ghost stories."
We entered the mansion.
"Well at least someone else here is being sensible," I said. "Seriously, am I the only one here who thinks we're being had? I half-expect some Team Rocket thugs to jump out at any moment, recite their motto, and demand for our Pokémon."
"That sweet, old lady wouldn't be working for Team Rocket!" Emma objected. "Didn't you see how concerned she was for her child?"
"Yeah, because if there's one thing sweet, old ladies are known for, it's being genuinely sweet and telling the truth," I replied, thinking of that one poison Elite Four member from Kanto. "Think about it. If you wanted to describe a spot as 'spooky,' how would you go about it? 'Many go in, few come out,' sounds like an unoriginal horror concept to me. Also, how convenient is it that the ONE THING the ghosts are apparently weak to is 'the bonds of humans and Pokémon'? I'm seeing 'trap' written on the walls here, so we need to stick together and not go 'Let's split up, gang!' on each other."
"I think the lady's words are legit, but yes, we do need to stick together," said Greg.
"Is anyone else cold?" asked Emma. "It's like someone cranked on the air conditioner in here, and I know cold."
A cry. More like a drawn out wail. High pitched.
"That's her!" Emma shouted, running to where the sound was.
"Wait up!" Greg said.
The noise sounded like it was coming from upstairs. We ran for the nearest set of stairs, Emma leading the way. She was about halfway up them when the stair underneath her foot collapsed, sending her foot through the hole and her upper body planted on the stairs in front of her.
"Ahhhhhh!!!" she screamed.
"Emma!" Greg and I shouted.
"You okay?" I asked.
"Let's be careful, guys. This place is more dilapidated than it looks," cautioned Greg.
The crying continued. We helped Emma up and proceeded more slowly towards the noise. We got to the top of the stairs and walked down a long hallway. The noise seemed to be coming from one of the rooms at the end of the hallway.
The hallway had moldy rugs carpeting the floor. There were portraits (they looked to be hand painted) aligning the walls. They depicted people and places, none of which I recognized. Every few feet, there was a glass window with the shutters opened, letting in light. It was the only source of light in here. I didn't expect there to be any electricity running through this place, but there wasn't even any candleholders. How did people move around at night in this place back when it was inhabited?
We made it to the room we thought the noise was coming from. Something didn't seem right, though.
"Why does the voice still sound like it's coming from the other end of the hall?" I asked.
The others looked at me and I knew they were thinking the same thing. Greg opened the door to the room.
"Hello?" Emma said.
The room was relatively small compared to the others. It was easy to see that the girl was not in there. We walked in to inspect the room and make sure of it.
"Well, looks like she's not a ventriloquist," I said. "She's not in here, and there's definitely a cry coming from the other end of the house now. Unless this is one of those old houses that have many secret passageways, I'd say there is no girl."
"We should check the room where the voice is now, just in case," suggested Emma.
She walked out of the room.
"Beldum, come on out."
I sent out Beldum.
"I figure we can use a psychic type to figure out what's going on here, in case there IS something supernatural going on," I explained to Greg, moving to the door.
I suddenly felt...something. Something strong. It was only for a split second, and I couldn't pinpoint what it was. If I had to take a guess, I'd say fear. Beldum withdrew itself back into its Poké Ball. Greg and I looked temporarily stunned by its actions.
"...that's not good," I said.
"Did Beldum share anything with you?"
"Just a feeling like always. Whatever it felt, it was intense. I think Beldum was scared out of its life."
I looked down the hall. Indeed, Emma was nowhere to be found. She said she was going to the other side to check out the voice's new location, but maybe she went into one of the side rooms instead? But then, why were none of the doors open?
SLAM! SLAM! SLAM! SLAM! SLAM!
The shutters lining the outer walls all slammed shut, one after another, and all in sequential order from where we were standing to the other side of the hallway. It suddenly got very, very dark.
"Oh let me guess," I said. "It was a strong gust of wind that did that, right?"
"So we went from 'scam theory' to 'clearly haunted' now?" Greg asked out loud.
We scooted close to each other, not chancing anything now.
"Okay, think like a horror movie," I told myself. "Why is this place haunted, and how can we put the spirits to rest?"
We heard the young child's voice again.
It was laughing.
"**** this place and the spirits in it! Go, Breloom! Blow a hole through the wall!" I yelled, throwing Breloom's Poké Ball at the wall.
It bounced right off the wall and didn't open.
"Don't panic. Don't move," Greg said. "We panic, we get separated, and if we move without caution, we could wind up going straight through the floor."
We remained motionless while the voice continued to laugh.
"What do you think happened to Emma?" I asked.
"If she was lucky, it was painless."
After several more seconds...
"I need to get Breloom's ball back, and we need to move if we want to get out of here alive."
"Right. Let's slowly inch our way to the ball, and then try to retrace our steps."
We made our way to the ball and I bent down to pick it up. I immediately dropped it.
"OW! It's boiling hot!"
"What? How did that happen? There can't be a furnace in this house."
"I'm not abandoning you, Breloom!"
I got a spare shirt from my bag and wrapped it around my hand and picked up the ball that way.
"It'll probably cool down once we get outside," Greg said.
"Okay, we need to go down this hall and make a left at the last door. Then it's down the stairs and around the bend and out the front door, preferably screaming."
We slowly made our way down the hall, keeping our eyes open for anything moving. What good it did us, seeing as how it was pitch-black and hard to see anything with the shutters closed.
We made it to the end of the hall when we heard a scream.
It sounded like Emma! Was she still alive?
"That's her! It came from through the door on the right!" Greg said.
"Hey, wait! Since when do things make sense in here! That could just be the spirits mimicking her voice!"
A couple seconds passed.
Oh ****, oh ****, oh ****...
And then I felt some presence push me backwards. Backwards being where the stairs were.
I couldn't spin around in time to land with my hands. The stairway was too wide for me to grab onto a railing. My only hope was to stop flailing my arms around like a windmill and stretch them out backwards and hope that cushions most of the blow.
I did just that, but I still ended up tumbling down the flight of stairs. I was probably only spared breaking my back by my bag slung behind my back, protecting it from sharp corners. A sharp pain shot through my left arm. Did I sprain it? Break it?
I lay at the bottom of the stairs, trying to catch my breath and assess the damage. Was I bleeding? Could I stand? I was coughing. It was so hard trying to exhale. The floor was frigid, I noticed (with my face). I looked around. It seemed the shutters were closed down here as well. A single beam of light came from the ceiling, where supposedly there was roof damage. I guess the spirits couldn't fix that.
A sharp, creaking sound, like rusted metal being rotated, made itself known. Whatever was moving, it was doing so very slowly. I slowly got back to my feet. From the other side of the room, a red glow started to creep across the wall. Something was glowing just around the corner, back where the front door was. Though it was stupid of me to do so, I shambled my way towards it. From the back of my mind, I could hear myself tell myself that this was a bad idea, but my legs seemed to be moving on their own. Was this what people meant by drawing a Mothim to the light? Maybe...perhaps maybe...it was Emma using her Vulpix to light a fire and try to gather Greg and me.
I rounded the corner and saw that the red glow was coming from a suit of armor. How was it glowing all by itself? I crept closer and closer to it, mysteriously intrigued by the phenomenon. I was starting to get the idea that the source of the light was coming from within the headpiece. What if it was a candle? I could use it to light the way as I made my way out of here.
I stood next to the suit. I reached over and lifted up the faceplate.
Greg's pale, wide-eyed face, with a trail of dark red blood running down to a slightly agape mouth, stared back at me.
"AHHH!" I shouted, letting go of the plate, causing it to fall back in place.
'****. **** **** ****. Now they're just toying with me,' I thought.
Why I made for the faceplate again, I don't know. Perhaps I needed confirmation? I lifted the plate again.
An unremarkable skull that was clearly showing its age stared back at me.
By now I was sure that I was losing my mind. Was it an illusion? Was Greg's face?
I stepped backwards from the surprise. The mansion decided then was a good time to troll me and had the floor give out under me, sending me through it.
"AHHH!" I yelped again.
I landed hard on my back. Well why didn't the mansion just have the ceiling fall on me while they're at it? The room I fell into was back to being pitch-black. I looked up at the newly made hole. The glow no longer was there. I stood up and checked myself over. Somehow I was still not dead. I decided the best course of action would be to find a wall and follow that until I found my way out. I did just that and soon found myself hugging a wall and walking down a corridor. This must've displeased the mansion, because not long after that, the candleholders lining the corridor lit themselves up.
'Ominous,' I thought.
I wound up walking into some sort of ballroom. The candles were lit in this room as well. I suspect the mansion was trying to burn me alive in itself, given all the cobwebs that were made dangerously close to those candles. The elongated dining table was draped with a white, eloquent cloth, and various kinds of foods placed on silver trays were positioned at various spots on the table. A three-pronged candelabrum was placed at the center and was lit. What looked to be two dozen chairs were pushed as far in to the table as they could be. Portraits of bland scenery plastered the walls. A larger candelabrum hung from the ceiling, also lit.
'At least the room was decorated before being abandoned,' I thought to myself, also thinking that now was not an appropriate time to be making snarky comments to myself.
At the end of the room there were two doors leading to other rooms, one on the left and one on the right. I decided to go with the door on the left. I entered the new room and found it to be spectacularly nondescript. It looked to be a storage closet of some sort.
"BELDUM SUCKS *** AND ERIC GOT HIS TWO BADGES OUT OF PITY!!!"
That was Greg's voice! Wait, what did he say?!
"OH, SO YOU DECIDE TO GROW SOME BALLS NOW, WHEN YOU'RE SAFELY HIDDEN IN THE DARK?!" I shouted back. "I'M SURE IGGLYBUFF'S real IMPRESSED BY THAT!"
"I DON'T SEE YOU IN ANY HURRY TO BACK UP THOSE WORDS!"
There! Behind me! Coming from the room on the right! I ran out the room I was in and stopped in the ballroom.
The candles were blown out, the cobwebs were gone, the table had been relocated to the right side of the room, the tablecloth was dirtied and bunched up here and there, the food was strewn across the table and at some parts, smeared, most of the chairs were turned over, some lying on the floor, some on the table, some missing legs, the portraits were slashed, some of THOSE seemed to be splattered with..."paint," as if someone dipped a brush into a paint can and then whipped it at high speeds at the portraits. The ceiling candelabrum was swinging. There was no wind of any kind in the room. I could tell all of this because there was a big freaking hole in the ceiling and some kind of light was shining through it. It couldn't be the sun because there was a floor above the ballroom, but something was being a handy source of light. I'm pretty sure the room was NOT like this a few seconds ago.
Greg ran into the room, looking worse for wear. He did a quick scan of the room.
"I'm guessing this room looks completely different to you, too, right?" he asked.
"I thought you'd died."
"Once I figured out that this place can mess with your mind, I figured the only way to see if you were truly dead was to do things this place couldn't possibly imitate."
"And so you questioned my ability to win badges. Why didn't you just shout that Beldum's mother was a *****?"
"I was getting to it."
"Well, at the very least, you came up with the plan when we weren't that far away from each other."
He hummed in agreement and we both gazed at the room some more.
"I found a staircase to the upstairs in the other room," Greg said.
"Right. Let's go. This room's looking too much like a silent horror film."
We went into the room and, carefully, made our way up the stairs. Unfortunately, we had no idea where we were and where the front door was.
"Emma's Skitty!" I exclaimed.
"Or is it? We can't trust anything we hear in here," Greg countered.
"Let's find out, just in case. I haven't found reason to believe this place can drown out real noises yet. Try not to go into another room without me again this time."
Greg mumbled something.
"What was that?"
"Nothing. Just wishing you a happy and long-lived life," Greg replied, overly cheerfully.
I whapped my arm behind me, hoping to hit Greg, but I missed.
We walked our way towards where we heard the Skitty's voice come from. The floor creaked underneath us.
"Skitty, use Doubleslap!"
Emma's Skitty came bounding behind a corner, ready for a fight. It stopped once it saw us.
"Nya! Nyanya nyaaaaa."
"What's going on, Skitty?" came Emma's voice.
She soon rounded the corner as well. She did NOT look worse for wear. In fact, it was hard to tell if the mansion did ANYTHING to try to kill her.
"You guys! I was sooooooooo worried about you two!" she said, coming up to us and drawing us both into a hug. "I was walking down the hall and couldn't find the little girl and when I looked back, the hall didn't look the same and so I wandered on and on, trying to find you guys and I was worried something happened to you, but here you are, safe and sound!"
"We're both scraped up, I was pushed down a flight of stairs, and nearly literally scared to death several times, but yeah, totally safe and sound," I replied, feeling pain in certain areas from the hug.
Emma ignored me.
"This place isn't safe! I can feel it," she said, shivering.
"We gathered as much," Greg replied. "Which is why we made the executive decision to get out of here as soon as possible. As in, right now."
"I agree," Emma chipped in.
"So can you use your sixth sense to find the front door?" I asked her.
"No..." she said dejectedly. "But I'm sure Skitty can help! She's great with directions!"
"Why IS your Skitty able to come out of its Poké Ball?" Greg asked. "Eric's Breloom wouldn't earlier and I tried sending out my Pokémon as well, and they wouldn't come out either."
"Really? Well, Skitty here isn't afraid of anything! She'll protect me!"
And then it started to get real cold.
"Great, you made it angry," I mumbled.
"Let's get moving, now," Greg commanded.
We couldn't get moving quickly since we knew about the mansion's fondness for collapsing its floors on us, but we did move towards a direction.
We picked a bad direction (Greg picked it). We wound up in the furnace room. Perhaps Greg wanted to get warm? Was it getting warm? The air was starting to get wavy. The furnace suddenly came alive and flared up, the sudden heat hitting us like a punch.
A howling sound could be heard. It sounded like a strong wind, but all the windows in the room were still tightly shut. Faintly, I could hear voices in the wind. Whispers.
Slowly, a thing began to appear before us. It was decidedly not human. My mind interpreted a certain spot on it as the closest thing to a "face" as it's going to get, and that "face" was staring right at us. Right at me. Right through me. It was staring right into my soul. Though the furnace was running on full blast, I had never felt so cold. I couldn't hear anything, nor did I acknowledge that I had stopped breathing. Everything around the thing became out of focus. The thing inched forward. I felt as if it were opening a mouth, if it conceivably had one, and I would soon be inside it.
A flash of light and Beldum was in front of me. From deep in the recesses of my mind, I heard the reverberating sound of Beldum's shriek. Out of my peripheral vision, I saw Geodude as well. The thing opened its "mouth" wider and probably let out a scream, if I was still capable of hearing.
I could only think in flashes then. I don't know exactly what happened, but next thing I knew, Beldum, Geodude, and Skitty were hurt very badly. I could tell that Beldum was doing everything in its power just to stay afloat. It used that willpower to hover directly in front of me. The thing inched closer.
Beldum glowed a brilliant light. Such a light came elsewhere as well. The thing seized up and drew back slightly. The amorphous ball of light morphed. A burst of raw power came from it when the glow faded and revealed a new form.
"METANG!!!" it shouted.
How, given that it, too, had no visible mouth, I don't know. Perhaps more of Beldum's power? Wait...Beldum?
The thing moved forward again and unleashed an attack.
"Confusion!" I heard someone say.
"Selfdestruct!" I heard another person say.
Beldum, or rather Metang, and Graveler charged up their attacks...and then everything went black.
I opened my eyes to see the blue sky above me.
"This one's starting to come through. Ease up on the Aromatherapy, Leafeon."
I tried to sit up, but pain shot through my body as I did. I yelped in pain.
"Don't try to run a marathon yet, boy."
I turned my head to the sound of the voice. Nurse Allison was kneeling next to Greg's unconscious body, looking at me. Oh please tell me that it was Greg's unconscious body. Nurse Allison saw me look at him.
"He and the girl are alive. In the same condition as you, I bet, but alive," she said.
Looking past her, I saw a Leafeon walking around us, giving off some sort of dust-like substance. Behind Nurse Allison stood a small crowd of people, whispering and pointing.
Could I talk? I tried to talk.
"I wouldn't try to make an inaugural speech just yet either. And anyways, I was hoping one of you three would be able to tell me that. A passerby noticed the three of you unconscious and in bad shape in the middle of the forest and contacted the Pokémon Center. Apparently she was a trainer, since she didn't know the number for the human hospital in Eterna City. You'll still need to go to the hospital, but Leafeon's here to make sure you don't go into critical condition in the meantime."
I took deep breaths. They hurt.
"We were told...by an old woman who...lives in the forest...that her daughter...Isabelle...went into the mansion...and we went in to find her..."
Nurse Allison looked at me with concern.
"You must've hit your head on something fierce. There's no one living in Eterna Forest. Certainly not anyone living in a house. I know because my job requires me to make frequent calls and mail orders and there's no valid area number or zip code for residency in the forest. Nor is there a mansion. In the middle of the forest."
What. I turned my head in the other direction and there was no sign of a big, freaking huge mansion anywhere to be found. We couldn't have teleported clear across the forest. It was like the mansion was never there to begin with!
"And I think I know why you brought up the name 'Isabelle,'" Nurse Allison continued. "There was a documentary on television last night about a duchess named Isabelle who famously traveled to Eterna City and made a controversy. Given that she died over 200 years ago and the rarity of the name nowadays, I doubt she's the one you thought you heard about. You probably just saw the special last night and remembered the name and figured she was still alive and involved in...whatever happened to you three."
The old lady who lives in a house that doesn't exist...the little girl who died 200 years ago...the mansion we went in that isn't there now...what's happening here?!
My head hurts, and I don't think it's from all the heavy thinking. The aching all over my body, the fact that Greg and Emma are lying right next to me, the clear memories of what happened...it couldn't have been a dream. Beldum...where was Beldum? It evolved...if I could send out Beldum now, and it looks different, then I'll know that it wasn't all a dream.
"It's okay to rest now. You're in good enough condition to afford it. The ambulance is on their way."
Post Author's Note: Spoiler:- undefined:
It'd be really nice if someone could tell me how well I did doing horror. It's very rare that I get the chance to do it. And no, those weren't anything from the Gastly line.
Credit for picture: "Emma" (littlebuster-k2); Credit for signature: 9dragonsbreed
So you should expect the truth from me. Only, you shouldn't expect it to be the truth you assumed.
Oh yes, and you should read my story Happenings Between Goals.