There was once a child who was promised a bright future...
-------------------------------The Mark of Dawn
...until her heart broke and released a nightmare she could never wake up from.
Chapter One: The Girl that had a Promised Future
Dawn gazed at the boat Ash and Brock boarded. Her eyes couldn't leave the fading ship. While still holding Piplup in her arms, she reached over to the boat, trying to catch it with her hand. But each time she failed only brought more regret. Even holding her tears back Piplup knew the pain his trainer was in. Embracing Piplup slightly tighter Dawn fell to her knees and buried her face into Piplup's chest. Her tears did not stop. Piplup raised his little fins and tried to calm Dawn down but nothing worked.
"I'm fine." Dawn muttered. "Just a little sad...and tried."
Then things started to change.
Soon her breathing began to slow down, her tears started to disappear. Piplup could feel the beating of her chest were hard and slow. Pulling her ruby scarf away from her neck was a mark being drawn onto her neck as if it was a tattoo. The black mark started to form into a shape of a ghost, a black ghost. Feeling his trainer releasing their grip on him the little penguin slipped away. Dawn quickly fell to the ground. Opening her eyes Piplup saw how red they had become. They were no longer bright sapphire like before. Dark aura began to engulf her body.
"Go." Dawn spoke. "Run Piplup."
Refusing her orders Piplup ran and grabbed her hand but the dark aura around Dawn pushed him away. Rolling a few steps back Piplup returned and repeated his actions before getting the same results.
"It's got me now. It's no use. It was going to happen to me anyway."
The little penguin shook his tears away. "Pip, pip lup!" He screamed. Dawn tried to smile.
"It's alright. Just go back to Mom. She'll take care of you." Screaming in pain, Dawn tried to dig her fingers into the cement. The transformation began to change more of her physical appearance as the tips of his hair began to turn bleach white. "Remember that story I told you when we first met? About the Mark of Darkrai?"
Piplup rubbed his eyes and nodded. It was hard for the little water type to stay away from his trainer.
"Darkrai lives off nightmares; in fact its physical appearance is made up by nightmares of others. Once every century he picks one and places a mark on them, sucking away their former appearance before they become Darkrai." Tear started to fall as her legs started to fade and merge into one. It began to turn back and ghost-like. "I'm that girl Piplup. I'll be what every child fears of." Reaching her hand out to her starter, "But I'm going to find help. I'll end all of this."
Piplup quickly scattered to Dawn and held her fingers. The little water type could not hold his tears any longer and held his trainer's hand tighter as he continued to cry.
"So wait for me then we can return on our dreams. No need to worry okay?" Her voice started to fade and become, deep, dark and raspy.
He just watched as a red collar was placed around her neck as the rest of her body faded into black. Losing energy in her hands they dropped and slipped from Piplup's grasp. Dawn continued to smile hope to her pokemon as she closed her eyes for the last time. The black aura covered her whole body and before Piplup knew, Dawn was gone. She had become what little children always feared of. Darkrai.
Darkrai raised a hand and swiped at Piplup but the little water type ducked and the attack missed. Darkrai growled and this time summoned a shadow ball towards Piplup's direction. Refusing to fight Piplup reached over for Dawn's old ruby coloured scarf and started to make his way from the port. Thinking that Darkrai would surely, not hurt humans. Looking back Piplup was convinced his old trainer's heart was still in there. Looking back to where he was running Piplup continued to go through legs, dodge a few and jump over boxes and other material things.
Looking around he soon saw he was at a busy road. Glancing over his shoulder Piplup saw the dark figure coming towards him, passing people by and avoiding sunlight. Darkrai had no interest in the people around him; nobody could see it unless he really wanted them too. Piplup couldn't attack Darkrai back but instead continued to run. Ash or Brock weren't with him to save him, neither were Dawn's rivals.
"It's all over." Piplup thought to himself. "Dawn once told me that Darkrai will kill anybody that saw the transformation." He began to shake in fear. "And that's me." Piplup ran on the footpath and hid within a moving crowd. "I should have run when Dawn asked me too." Escaping from the crowd Pilpup saw he had ran into the residence area of the town. The area was clear and nobody was around.
Piplup felt his body flying into the air after Darkrai summoned a shadow ball right behind him. After falling to the ground he made to his feet quickly. He had to keep running; he promised Dawn he would wait for her. He had no other choice but to run home and hid there for the meanwhile. Looking skyward he noticed the sun was starting to set. Fearing for his life more than ever the little penguin continued to run and hoped for a miracle.
"Night is coming. Then Darkrai will kill me no doubt. I have to stay safe and get help!" Looking around Piplup saw the most unlikely person walking the streets of Dawn's hometown. Paul.
The trainer didn't seem to be interested in Piplup's sudden survival as he continued to read a book all about natures of pokemon. Walking a steady speed Paul had nothing to really worry about. Running across the road Darkrai soon sent another shadow ball towards Piplup and crashed into Piplup, sending him flying across the road and landing right at his feet.
Looking down at his feet Paul gazed at the Piplup and held him by his flipper. "A Piplup? Did you escape from Professor Ronan's lab?"
Panicking Piplup tried to describe his horrible ordeal to the trainer but it only turned Paul off. He dropped him and continued on his way. Shaking his little fins in the air, Piplup continued to scream before receiving a shadow claw attack from Darkrai. The attack was so loud it caused Paul to look back and saw Piplup was sending Bubblebeam at empty space. Suddenly Piplup jumped out of the way as the ground made a hold in thin air. Paul knew that whatever was happening was not right, especially for a quiet town.
"Piplup!" Paul screamed. He hand signal the water type to run to him. Opening his backpack, Piplup scattered inside. Holding his bag tightly did Darkrai decide to show himself.
"Don't get involved human." Darkrai treated.
"A pokemon like you don't show up while there is light. Explain yourself." Paul was not intimidated by the nightmare Pokémon's presence.
Darkrai pointed at Piplup. This caused Piplup to slip deeper into Paul's bag. "If you let me kill that little brat in your bag you won't have to lose your life in the process."
"This is not right." Paul muttered. "Oi you in the bag, give me a pokeball."
Holding a pokeball without showing its face Piplup obeyed and held the machine high. Paul rolled his eyes and snatched the ball out of his hands and threw it into battle. Out came was Froslass. Froslass was surprised to see what enemy she had in front of her.
"Ice ball!" Paul yelled.
Holding its hand in the air Froslass started her attack ready as Darkrai did the same with Shadow ball. It was holding it longer for more power. Paul looked down at the traumatise water type hiding deep down in his bag. "You just had to give me a pokemon weak against ghost didn't you?" Piplup just responded by using Bubblebeam and it collided into Paul's face. "Don't make me turn you into a fried Piplup!" Looking back at the battle Paul saw Ice ball was big enough to attack. "Alright go Froslass!"
Both pokemon released their attacks and both smashed into one another and caused a huge explosion and released smoke everywhere. Covering his eyes Paul waited until the smoke had subsided before calling out the next attack. To his surprise Froslass was still standing at Darkrai was on the ground and fainted. Paul dug into his bag for an empty pokeball before being interrupted not only by Piplup pecking his hand but at Darkrai as it began to transform once again.
The ghost figure faded and formed into a girl, a woman with pure white hair, a red scarf, black body length dress and white gloves. Her hair had the same hairclips from a familiar face and a red ribbon was placed in between her hair. Paul could not believe his eyes as Piplup peeked out of his bag and jumped out after seeing who it was. Returning Froslass to her ball Paul walked over to the fainted girl, unsure what to do with her.
"Pip, pip lup!" Piplup cried as he shook the girl's body.
Staring longer at the unconscious girl did Paul start to recognise her. Despite her new features like her new hair colour Paul knew it was no other than Dawn, but how she ended up as Darkrai left a mystery to him. Opening her eyes slowly Dawn scoped around her surroundings and saw her dearest Piplup and…Paul. Unable to move her weak body Dawn just smiled as Piplup rubbed his cheek against his trainer.
"Dawn right?" Paul asked. She looked at him and nodded. "What just happened?"
With her reply, Dawn began to talk before noticing her had lost her voice. Placing her hand over her voice box Dawn looked away with sadness. Piplup looked back at Paul and saw the boy was covered in confusion. Paul simple sighed before picking Dawn into his arms.
"She lives around her right? Bring me there."
Piplup nodded and led the way. Paul looked down at Dawn who continued to lay silent in his arms in sadness. She had her face dug deep in his chest, showing no signs that she wanted anyone to see her in her new form. A few minutes of travelling Piplup had led the two back to Dawn's home. Ringing the doorbell for Paul the three waited for the door to be answered. With luck, Johanna had answered and opened the door before being covered in grief after seeing Dawn in such a state.
"No, Dawn dear!" Johanna screamed as she pulled on Paul's sleeve and dragged him into the living room. Johanna watched nervously as Paul placed the depressed girl on the couch. Still, Dawn refused to move and laid there.
"Can you explain what happened?" Johanna panicked. She was in no mood to ask Paul's name.
"I was walking while reading my book before this silly penguin," Paul pointed at Dawn's Pokémon before adding. "Came up to me and looked like he was asking for help. Then that's when Darkrai started to attack me. I had no choice but to fight. I easily took him down before it transformed into her."
"Oh Dawn," Johanna sat beside her daughter and placed her head on her lap and brushed her hair. "You knew didn't you? You knew that once Ash left you would finally turn into that thing we feared so much."
"Thing? Darkrai right?" Paul saw Johanna nod.
"You see, when Dawn was young she got so sick that it was incurable and that's when Darkrai showed up. It said he could cure Dawn but at the cost that when Dawn would feel the most heartbreaking event in her life she would turn into Darkrai's pawn and take over her." Moving her scarf to show enough of her neck to show Paul the mark "and anyone that defeats Darkrai will gain a mark on the same place Dawn has." Looking at Paul sadly. "I'm sorry but this mark has is also on you. You two are now connected."
"You're kidding right?" Paul knew the way Johanna spoke that it was not.
"The story of the Mark of Darkrai will explain all. But for now, you are the only one that can hear Dawn's voice. Only through her mind though." Johanna embraced her daughter tightly. "I'll never be able to hear my child's laughter or voice ever again."
Dawn tried to embrace her mother but the closest she got was placing her hands on her mother's shoulders for a few seconds before them dropping down again. Moving off the couch Johanna walked over back to Paul. "If you want to avoid what you had earlier make sure Dawn will never experience anything that painful again. It will only fuel the darkness in her heart which is what Darkrai wants. If the pain lasts too long he will come after you and suck all the darkness out of you as well."
Paul's mind was clouded with so much confusion he had no idea where to start. He held his head and sighed. Thinking to what Dawn's mother had said to him earlier and looked at the side of his neck and noticed a dark ghost like tattoo was placed there. That mark only confirmed that what had happened was real. For the first time in a long time did Paul felt fear of his own life.
"There has to be a way to fix everything right?"
Shaking her head. "For centuries, people have died without knowing the answer." Placing her hands on Paul's shoulders. "I'm so sorry for dragging you into this."
"No I should. I shouldn't have been affected by my emotions."
Turning to Dawn who was still lying on the couch, Paul walked pass Johanna and knelt down to her. "I agree. So what triggered your transformation anyway?"
Without an answer Dawn turned around and faced her back at Paul. He sighed and rolled his eyes before standing on his two feet. He looked back at the nervous mother.
"I'm guessing I can't leave her here either?"
"I'm afraid not."
Trying to retain respect to Dawn's mother Paul simply walked out on the two. Before sitting on the front door steps Paul was already deep in thought. With his arms crossed and his back against the pole Paul looked up towards the sky. He had only come to drop off something for his brother to the Professor and now his life was bonded with a girl he hardly knew. Placing his hands on his mark he sighed. Night had covered Twinleaf by the time he had returned inside and saw Dawn had not moved from the last time he had saw her.
"How long are you going to sook (cry)?" Paul spoke harshly.
"As long as I'm like this." Turning around to face Paul. "Why did you save me?"
"I didn't know that Darkrai would turn out to be you." Taking a seat opposite to Dawn. "Now explain everything to me about this Darkrai business."
Looking around at her surroundings Dawn soon sat up and looked blankly at Paul. "Every century Darkrai picks a human to places a curse on them that when they feel the most painful experience of their life Darkrai will take over them. Usually after the transformation they cannot go back but during out battle you somehow saved me just in time."
"And this mark?"Paul pointed at the symbol at his neck.
"When a human is able to stop the transformation they receive the mark of Darkrai. The victim reverts to human and is bonded to the person that defeated it. But this only delays the transformation. When I feel the same pain that caused my transformation I will turn back into Darkrai once more." Dawn placed her hands on the base of the sofa and pushed herself to her two feet. "And when that day comes, I will kill you." Turning around to her Piplup who just stood and looked up to her with worry. Dawn opened her arms and Piplup jumped into them. Holding him tightly. "This is why I always placed a smile when I couldn't. I didn't want Ash or Brock to become a victim of my curse."
"You're not to blame." Paul spoke as he stood up and made his way to the bluenette. "We are both victims here. Just like your mother who had no choice but to fall to Darkrai." Placing his hands into his pockets before taking a sigh. "I don't know how things will turn out but we are here now. We might as well deal with it."
Looking at Paul with shock and confusion, she had no idea Paul could help her out without a second thought despite their strange relationship. She expected him to be angry, mad, upset and leave her to suffer. That was the Paul she and the others remember. Even that day where Paul told why he disliked Ash so much she never expected him to let her travel and talk by his side for a few minutes. She could remember Zoey saying that he was always a little softer towards her. But she came to the conclusion that he treated woman softer then towards guys.
"Why are you helping me?" Dawn questioned once more.
"Because I'm dragged into this mess from the start." Paul reached over for a pillow sitting still on the couch. Reaching over for it, "I wouldn't help you if your Pokémon didn't come to me for help." Throwing the pillow at her face. "You're not going to turn into Darkrai by angry are you?" Paul spoke as he made his way towards the door. Placing his hands on the doorknob, "I'll be back in the morning."
Closing the door behind him Dawn quickly fell back onto the couch and sighed. She looked back at Piplup in her arms. Patting his head, "You can hear me too right?"
"Well since your half Pokémon I guess so." Piplup shrugged his shoulders and jumped out of his trainer's arms. He turned to face Dawn with his chest puffed out. "Like that brat said, this isn't your fault and we should find a way to cure your sickness!" The little Pokémon explained.
"You of all Pokémon should know that's impossible. The only way Paul can get better is if I die."
Waving his fins in the air angrily. "No! I refuse to accept that! There is another way and if not I'll make one!"
Smiling softly, Dawn patted her Pokémon before picking him into her arms. Heading to her room her eyes crossed to her mother who was heading to her own room. Johanna looked across the room and put on a glad smile to see her daughter was alright. Dawn tried to put on a smile but decided not to and headed towards her own room. Piplup jumped out of Dawn's arms as soon the two entered into the room. He ran to her window and stared at the night sky. Turning around he noticed Dawn was just sitting on her bed and playing with the sheets she was sitting on.
"Did your transformation trigger when Ash and Brock left?" Piplup hopped from the window and to Dawn's bed.
"I couldn't control myself. I was filled with so much regret and my emotions just got the better of me."
"I saw the way you held onto Ash's hand before you left. You like him didn't you? You didn't want him to go and when he did you felt your heart break."
Placing her hands over her heart a few tears began to fall. "It's something I don't want to go back to."
"And you didn't tell him about your…''sickness'' because you knew he would of stayed or at least try to help you."
Wiping her tears away, "Yes, and that is the last thing I want to do is hold him back from his dreams."
Patting his trainer's shoulders Piplup looked back with a smile only he could put on. "We will find a way out of this alright?" Dawn embraced her Pokémon and fell to her side while still holding Piplup in her arms. With a cheerful nod, she agreed.
"We'll find a way. With you and Paul by my side I know we will."
"So did you do it for me?"
"Yeah, I gave the Pokémon back to the professor." Paul replied lazily as he sat on his bed. "I don't know why you couldn't do that."
Paul could hear his brother Reggie laugh at the other end before adding. "I'm too busy unlike you who are too lazy to go to Unova like another "friend" of yours."
"I told you I wanted to train a little more before heading there in a few days." Taking a pause, "Oh and remember that girl Ash travelled with? Well she's coming with me."
"Oh, that's…interesting. What's with the change of heart?"
"It's complicated." Covering his mark, "I got to go. I'll be leaving here in the morning."
"Okay then, see you then!" Reggie ended the call in a cheerful tone. Paul rolled his eyes before looking at a short ruby scarf he had picked up during his encounter with Dawn's Piplup. Reaching over for it he stared at it, taking a good look at the fashion item.
"How the hell am I going to explain this to Reggie? I can't just go "oh by the way, I'm stuck with Dawn for the rest of my life and might die because of it."
Placing the object back on the table Paul made his way to his own bed. Tucking himself in, he stared at the ceiling above him. "This is so much worse than dealing with Ash's friendship lectures." Paul spoke before falling asleep.
Paul stared deeply into his bathroom mirror. He wasn't gazing at his ruffed up hair or his eyes. It was the strange Darkrai mark placed on his neck. His mind wondered back to where Johanna showed Dawn's mark. It was at the same place where his was. Placing his hand over it Paul wonder if there was really a way out or else he would travel with a soon-to-be killer. Paul feared nothing, he wouldn't think twice to ask a champion to a battle or release any of his pokemon no matter how long they were with him but dying got to him. Sleeping, which was an easy thing for him to do was now a challenge. He had to get the fear out of him and focus on his dream. To become the strongest pokemon trainer out there.
"I'm probably a true monster now." Tightening his grip on the mark, "They have more reason to fear me now."
Sighing Paul left the bathroom all dressed before being greeted by Dawn sitting on his bed. After seeing him Dawn quickly stood up and bowed down to him a few times.
"Sorry!" Dawn spoke in an apologetic manner. "I kind of walked through your door by accident."
"So you're a ghost who that thinks you can still enter my room without knocking?" Paul spoke as he dried his violet hair with a towel. Throwing it roughly into his bathroom, "Couldn't you just walk out again as soon you fell into my room?"
"But what if somebody sees me?! Everyone would go into a panic!"
Turning around to reach his bag, Paul paused. "Fine." Opening his bag Paul looked for his things before looking at Dawn. He noticed she had brought a bag with her. "You didn't bring anything? I'm heading back home today; I don't have any clothes for you there."
Placing her hands into her lap. "I'm fine with this dress. I have some money with me so if I really needed to buy clothes I'll let you know. And I do have a bag, Piplup is holding it."
Tossing his bag over his shoulders, Paul shrugged. Opening the door he saw Piplup irritated, patting his left foot on the ground with arms crossed. Raising his fins into the air, "How dare you make me wait out there for so long?!"
"You mean she just didn't get in just now?" Paul questioned.
Piplup turned to face Paul. "Yes! And how can you hear me?"
"I don't know, maybe this mark on my neck?" Paul finished by rolling his eyes. Looking over his shoulders he noticed Dawn was running to him, pulling his turtle neck down Dawn inspected the mark on his neck. Looking back Dawn noticed Paul didn't like her touching him. Taking a few steps back,
Holding her hands up. "Sorry. I just needed to see it."
"Next time look at your own for a better picture."
Dawn bowed her head before walking out of her room with Piplup tagging behind her. Reaching into his pockets Paul pulled out the key to lock the room. But the little item slipped through his fingers and fell to the ground. Kneeling down to pick it up Paul gazed across the room and saw a shadow figure tagging behind Dawn. Her shadow did not give a silhouette of a female teenager but a figure of Darkrai. Quickly looking away Paul locked the room while keeping his distance from the girl.
With her hands behind her back Dawn just hummed her favourite songs while trying to ignore her Pokémon's rambling. Piplup always had such strong views. Stopping, Dawn picked up her pokemon and placed her fingers across his beak to keep him shut. Afterwards she placed her fingers across her lips. If her lips could make a sound she would have made the sign that told him to keep quiet. Dawn smiled and laughed before continuing to walk down the hallway and into the main room of the pokemon centre.
"She acts like she did with Ash despite her...condition." Muttering to himself before walking to Nurse Joy to receive his pokemon.
"Good morning!" Nurse joy greeted with a cheerful smile. "Paul is it?" The nurse asked. Without the boy replying Nurse Joy walked to the back to retrieve his team.
"Did you bring a few pokemon of your own?" Paul couldn't but ask.
"Yes, Nurse Joy will probably bring them out after yours."
"Tell me, are you only forcing yourself to be happy because you don't want to turn into Darkrai?" Paul turned to face Dawn straight to her face.
"This is who I am Paul. Yes, I'm doing this to not only to save myself from turning into that monster but I'm naturally happy-"
"Until Ash broke your heart." Paul interrupted.
Piplup who was standing at the counter beside her trainer, he felt more insulted than Dawn and sent multiple peck attacks at him. Covering his face from the attack Dawn couldn't help but laugh. But not even Paul or Piplup could hear her laughter. Only the act of laughing could be truly heard. Both boys stopped and looked at her.
"Maybe...that's it." Paul looked back at the counter after hearing Nurse Joy placing the tray of his six pokemon on the bench.
"Here you are." Nurse Joy greeted before turning to Dawn. "Now you want yours I'm guessing?"
Nodding, Nurse Joy left once more to retrieve Dawn's team this time around. Piplup still wanted to even the score and tried to attack the man again but Dawn held him in her arms. Acting immature Paul pulled his tongue out. But this only upset Piplup more and sent a wave of Bubblebeam at him.
"You're such an annoying trainer. Can't even teach your pokemon to act properly outside its ball.
With an annoyed glare, "And your any better?! Remember Ash beat you in the Sinnoh league this year and you saw him annoying and pathetic. Who's the pathetic one now?" Turning her back on him.
Dawn expected a call back or another insult heading her way. But nothing, all she got from him was silence. Paul just continued to look into empty space. Turning around Dawn reached her hand out to place it on his shoulder but backed away after their earlier encounter.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to-"
Shifting his eyes to her Paul sighed, rolled his eyes and left without saying a word. After thanking Nurse Joy for looking after her pokemon with a bow Dawn raced after the boy while holding Piplup by his fin. Exiting the building she noticed Paul was by a tree with his back against it. Holding Piplup in her arms, Dawn ran up to him.
"I'm so sorry for what I said. I didn't mean any of it!"
With his arms crossed Paul looked at the girl intently before looking the other way.
"Whatever." Paul spoke while readjusting his bag. "Let's go."
"Don't make me repeat what I said. Let's. Go." Paul stated harshly.
Taking a breath, Dawn reached out for a pokeball and returned Piplup inside. It wasn't something Piplup was neither use to nor Dawn but during long travels it was best to make him stay inside. With a nervous nod, Dawn stood beside the trainer and began a long journey together.