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 A Heart of Blackened Gold (PG-13)

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PostSubject: A Heart of Blackened Gold (PG-13)   Sat Apr 26, 2008 4:29 pm

Ah, the things I do to avoid homework. I decided to mark this story PG-13 for violence, as it gets worse later on. (I mapped the story in my head before I started writing, so this will be better than my last one, I promise. =P) The Howl in this story is not the same Howl as the one in The Thieves of Sinnoh; I'm planning a running gag in any future stories I do, they'll all have a Houndoom named Howl in them but it will never be the same character (like how Final Fantasy does with a guy named Cid). Anyway, hope you enjoy the story. 8)

Chapter Jump:
- Chapter 0: Rage and Fear (Below)
- Chapter 1: Strength and Heart
- Chapter 2: Hate
- Chapter 3: To Call Home
- Chapter 4: A Thief and a Killer
- Chapter 5: The Nightmare Begins

// ----------
// Chapter 0 = Rage and Fear
// ----------

"He thinks it will be the death of me," Howl thought. "But just maybe it will be his own."

Howl was, of course, referring to his father. He had always thought his father an old "relic" of a hunter, and like all of his elders, he never seemed to be good for anything but talking. His hunting days were long over. Howl was to succeed him as a great hunter, but to him, power was something to truly indulge in.

Howl loved his new devil horns. His flames burned hotter than ever, and his stare could strike fear into any enemy. He loved that fear. He loved the thrill of hunting, to watch his prey panic for only a split second, and then fall limp with their throat sliced clean. He loved a struggle even more, to hear cries of pain and terror as bones crunched in his jaws. It made his blood rush and his mind race. It was truly intoxicating.

"He thinks it will be the death of me, but just maybe it will be his own."

He thought about the night before, when his father confronted him about "hunting for fun." Howl loved that hunt, but his father rebuked him.

He first thought of the Luxio he saw wandering in the field alone, and thought it would make a good fight. He was wrong, the Luxio quickly collapsed as Howl pounced from the trees. He tried to let it struggle, so that he could enjoy a fight. But he had underestimated himself. The Luxio's shoulders buckled under him, and he did more screaming than fighting. Howl clamped his teeth into his throat to silence him.

"Da...ddy..." he gasped.

A full-grown Luxray took him down and pumped a jolt of lightning into him. While Howl was stunned, the Luxray rushed over to his son.

He was still breathing, clinging to life like an apple to its tree. But he was not long. He whispered something to his father as blood drained out of his neck and soaked the grass. His distressed face grew relaxed.

His father shook with rage. His eyes glowed, and his body pulsed with lightning.

Howl staggered to his feet and shook away the pain. He felt his heart rush when he saw the furious Luxray. "This will be a good fight!"

And it would have dragged on forever. The two beasts exchanged blows for hours; fire and lightning, biting and slashing until the other lay dead. The field quieted down when Luxray had been coated in mud by the fight. With his electric attacks uselsess and his body exhausted, Howl pinned him to the ground and pressed a paw to his neck. Luxray stared back at him with defiance. He knew he was going to die, but he refused to give Howl the satisfaction he wanted by showing fear. His glowing eyes began to fade and his heart beat weaker, but he only stared coldly back at Howl.

The look in his eyes whispered "You are a monster." Howl growled back "Thank you."

A silver mist faded through Luxray's eyes. His pulse stopped. Howl stood up licked the blood from his lips, then noticed a young Shinx trembling in nearby bushes. Howl stared for a moment, then returned home.

Howl's argument with his father was little different from the fight.

"You killed a helpless child!?"

"He was weak. I'd say I did the world a favor."

"Do you really think that's the way the world works? What if someone murdered you for nothing too? Should I just say 'Thank you'? Thank you for removing this heartless whelp from our world?"

"I would never lose a fight!"

"Your power is a gift, not a weapon! You cannot abuse it to satisfy your gross thirst for blood!"

"And why not? The weak don't deserve to live!"

"Who are you to decide that!? You aren't some god!"

"Maybe I am!"

Howl's father sneered, then closed his eyes and shook his head. "Howl, my son, this must stop. You do not realize what you are doing... You are destroying lives. What did his father say to you, when you killed his son?"

"He at least put up a fight." Howl answered. He remembered the defiant stare the Luxray gave him.

"Howl, that is enough!" His father calmed himself again. "You must not think so lowly of others. This father and son you killed, what about their family?"

Howl thought about the Shinx. Perhaps he should have killed it too, he thought. No, it wouldn't have been any fun.

"What if someone did this to you?" his father said. "No... what if you did this to yourself..."

"Perhaps I should!" Howl barked. "Then I wouldn't have to listen to your preaching all day!"

"Howl, you must control yourself! You could risk destroying everything you love!"

"I don't love anything!" Howl paused when he realized what he had said.

His father was stunned. He frowned, and after a silence he let out a deep sigh.

"Then it's too late, isn't it?" he muttered. "Leave. And do not return."

Howl sneered and turned away slowly. He did not want to be here anymore either. He tood a few steps away and paused, then turned back with a flame in his eye. These were his last words to his father.

"You think this strength will be the death of me. But maybe... just maybe it will be your own."

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PostSubject: Re: A Heart of Blackened Gold (PG-13)   Thu May 08, 2008 1:51 pm

This chapter turned out pretty long. Now I realize why it was taking forever to write. And to think I was gonna add even more. o_o

// ----------
// Chapter 1 = Strength and Heart
// ----------

Howl wandered along a river near Mount Coronet. He came to Eterna City, which he heard was a sign he was on the west end of Sinnoh. He sat on a high cliff and surveyed the area. He spotted a crowd of pokemon, perhaps six or seven Banettes and Mightyenas and one Machoke, cautiously approaching the city from the south. He watched them to see what they were doing.

In the town, he saw a gray Ninetales glancing around the edges of the city. A gray Ninetales? Who had ever seen one like it?

The Ninetales sat quietly but alert, keeping an ear turned toward the foothill the other pokemon were sneaking over. One peeked over the hill, and in a flash it ducked back. The Ninetales saw it out of the corner of her eye.

"Come out." she barked.

The pokemon whispered to each other nervously. The Machoke seemed to give a command, and the others quietly scattered around to surround the area. The Machoke stepped over the hill alone, and at once, all the other pokemon came out of hiding. They stepped into the city, drawing closer to the Ninetales who seemed to be guarding the city alone. She stood her ground.

"So many of you against one girl?" Howl laughed. "What cowards!"

The crowd looked to Howl's perch in surprise, and the Ninetales seized the moment and lunged at the Machoke. Howl darted around the mass tearing and slashing at everything in sight. What a fight!

The pokemon began to flee, but Howl was inclined to chase them. The Ninetales stopped him with a quick bark.

"Let them go." she said. "They've learned their lesson."

"Lesson?" Howl sneered.

"Those were Thieves. Pokemon who steal."

Howl didn't care. He was more upset that he let his prey escape. He sighed and started to walk away into Eterna Forest. The Ninetales went in after him.

They walked together for a short while, but Howl already felt at ease with her.

"My name is Silver." she said. "Who are you?"

"Howl." he replied, with confidence in his voice.

"Howl. Good to meet you, and thanks for your help back there."

"You're a good fighter." he said. "Do you hunt?"

"...Only when I need to."

Howl pondered that reply for some time. Was there ever a time when one did not need to hunt?

"Silver." he said. "You could have killed those thieves, you know."

"I didn't need to. They knew when they were beaten, that's why they ran away."

"But why not? No one will miss them."

"I don't like to kill, okay?" Silver snapped, a bit annoyed.

There was a thump in the distance. Howl and Silver turned to see where it came from, and in a blink, the Machoke lunged from the side of the trail and delivered a powerful blow with its fist to Howl's side. Silver leapt aside and burst out with a Flamethrower, blowing Machoke into a tree.

"You again!?" she growled.

Howl sprang to his feet and bared his teeth. He glared at Silver. "I told you to kill him--"

Silver sneered, and turned to the Machoke as it struggled to its feet. "Get out of here! Leave us alone!"

Howl wasted no time in lunging at him, and as he and Machoke tumbled to the ground and brawled, Silver prepared a powerful Fire Blast. Machoke grabbed Howl by one of his horns and threw him to the ground, and as he readied a finishing Focus Punch, Silver released the attack. The blast shook the ground and seared the trees, leaving a trail of ash in its wake. The Machoke lay motionless on the black, charred ground, and the smell of his baking flesh began to fill the air. Silver caught her breath and winced from the smell. She hastily went ahead on the trail, and Howl staggered behind her.

She stopped at a small tree with large Sitrus berries and plucked one. "Eat this." she said as she tossed it to him. "It'll soothe your wounds."

Howl glared disapprovingly at the fruit. He looked back up at Silver.

"...Fine, don't eat it." she sighed after a brief silence. She turned and began to walk away.

"Why are you following me?" Howl muttered.

Silver looked back at him, as if she were surprised to hear him ask. "I'm going home, to Floaroma Town." she said. "Why are you following me?"

Howl kicked the Sitrus berry back to Silver's feet and looked her in the eye angrily. "Look," he growled. "I don't need anyone. I don't need this berry, and I don't need you."

Silver sighed, thought a moment, and kicked the berry back to Howl. "I don't need you either." she said. "Here."

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PostSubject: Re: A Heart of Blackened Gold (PG-13)   Sat May 17, 2008 6:17 pm

Woohoo, Chapter 2 is done! here's to hours of "valuable" study time, well spent doing something else. =D

// ----------
// Chapter 2 = Hate
// ----------

Howl grew even more annoyed. He snarled and approached Silver angrily and bared his teeth in her face. She grimaced from his breath.

"You think I'm weak, don't you...?" Howl hissed. He rolled his head to the side and cracked his joints as he walked past Silver. He kept eye contact.

She turned to him. "I never said that." she said, keeping herself calm.

"But you're thinking it." Howl snarled again. "I don't need your help." He turned and walked a bit more.

Silver saw him wince a bit as he walked. He was badly hurt when the Machoke first hit him. She strode up beside him and crouched below his shoulders. "Climb on." she said. "I'll carry you."

"Leave me alone!"

"But you're in pain..."

"So what!?"

"What's wrong with you!?" Silver barked as she jumped back to her feet. "I'm just trying to help!"

"I don't need you!"

"Fine!" Silver barked again. She had never known anyone so stubborn. She turned her nose into the air and walked off.

Howl grew angrier as she walked further. "You know," he growled, "This wouldn't have happened... if you had let me kill him before."

Silver stopped. "I don't like..."

"But you just did." Howl began to approach her again. "I told you not to wait. This didn't have to--"

"Enough!" Silver barked. "I told you, I don't like to kill!"

"But you just did."

"Because he was about to kill you!" she paused for a moment. Howl seemed puzzled. "...You don't understand me at all, do you?" she said. "I only fight to protect. What's your excuse?"

Howl lost his mind. Silver suddenly reminded him of his father, whom he longed to slaughter. In this sudden rage, he lunged at her, not caring where he hit or how hard. As if yelling to his father miles away, Howl delivered his answer loud and clear as he slashed at his image.

"I fight for power!!"

Silver was still exhausted and sluggish after her Fire Blast earlier, and had trouble avoiding Howl's berserk strikes. He forced her to the ground and pressed his forearm to her neck. As she tried to push him away, he grabbed her wrist in his jaw and clamped down. In sank four teeth, then eight, then dozens. Her shriek of pain was music to him. As he heard a bone crunch inside her, he tore away from her wrist like a razor, leaving as many deep gashes as he could. He climbed off of her and watched her bleed as she struggled to her feet. Something did not feel right.

"You..." Silver sobbed, clenching her teeth. "I just wanted... to help... and you... you..." She fell back to the ground.

Howl relaxed himself. It wasn't until now that he realized he wasn't fighting his father. As he watched Silver try to drag herself away, something inside him felt strange. Was he sorry? Couldn't be. A moment ago he was the happiest he had ever been. He stopped to think. Why did he attack Silver? Because she sounded like his father, he thought. Earlier, he liked her because she was a fighter. Would he turn his back on her, just because she fought for others and not herself? And there was still something more, something he could not even describe. Something made him hate to see her in such pain.

He strode up beside her and crouched down to her shoulders. He did not say a word, but looked into her eyes and saw that "something". That something that made him feel so terrible. Silver looked back at him, not knowing what to say. She did not know what she saw in his eyes either. She dragged herself closer to him and and wrapped her uninjured arm around his shoulders to steady herself. Howl wedged himself under chest and lifted her off the ground, trying his best to keep her other, injured arm still. His shoulder throbbed, but he didn't care. For some reason, he didn't care.

As Silver adjusted her body onto him, Howl felt a tear on his paw. He did not know whose tear that could be, Silver's or his own. He gathered his strength and began to walk. Silver bit her lip from the pain, and whenever she let out a whimper Howl would push himself to walk faster. "South," he repeated to himself. "Just go south. Take her home, take her home..."

The sun had descended to the horizon. Howl walked on and on, he walked mechanically. He could no longer feel the grinding sensation in his shoulder or Silver's weight on his back. As he approached the south edge of the forest, all of these pains seemed to return. He knew he was close to the city now, and he turned west once more. He saw the Pokemon Center in the distance, and as he forced himself faster and faster, the voice of a young Vulpix stopped him.

"Silver! Silver!"

Howl had not realized that Silver had fallen asleep on his back.

"Who are you?" The Vulpix asked as it entered his path. "What's wrong with Silver...?"

"She's hurt..." Howl muttered. He didn't know he could still speak.

"The Pokemon Center is over here! Come quick!"

The Vulpix dashed off to the Pokemon Center. Howl caught up with her, and the nurse took Silver in. Howl walked away before she could take him in as well. He sauntered around to the side of the building and laid down, leaning on the wall. The Vulpix came back outside and sat down in front of him.

"Thanks," she said. "Thanks for bringing her back, mister Houndoom."

Howl mumbled something back as he raised his head. He himself didn't quite know what he was saying. He tried to speak coherently as he came to his senses. "who..."

"Me?" Vulpix asked after a short silence. "I'm Sherry. Silver's sister."

"Silver..." Howl groaned. He dropped his head again. "Will she... be okay?"

Sherry giggled. "She'll be fine," she smiled. "She's Silver, after all. I'd be more worried about the nurse."

Howl lifted himself to his feet again and drifted to the top of a hill further away. He could see the door of the Pokemon Center from here. He watched for only a moment, and the second he lowered his head and closed his eyes, he fell into a deep sleep. He didn't know how long he slept there, but it felt like only a second. The touch of a nose on his cheek provoked him just enough to open one eye, and in that eye he saw Silver's face shining in the moonlight. She laid down beside him with a subtle grin on her cheek. She and Howl lowered their heads together and fell asleep on the hill, and a pillow of flowers kissed them both goodnight.

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PostSubject: Re: A Heart of Blackened Gold (PG-13)   Sat May 17, 2008 6:48 pm

*Puts on earphones and listens to all american idiot*

Fang is back! Fang is back! Fang is back! Well not really! But still! He's been reborn!

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PostSubject: Re: A Heart of Blackened Gold (PG-13)   Fri Jun 06, 2008 3:10 pm

Woohoo, Chapter 3 is finally done! Time to return to the same distractions that kept me from writing it for so long! =DDD
*cough*

//----------
// Chapter 3 = To Call Home
//----------

Howl slept well that night. He awoke to a soft morning sunrise, and felt Silver's fur alongside him.

"You're awake," she smiled.

Howl was a bit surprised she was here. He noticed the thick, hard bandage on her right arm; she must have had trouble walking all the way to this hill from the Pokemon Center.

Silver sat up and stretched. She turned to Howl and tilted her head a bit, beckoning him to get up too. Howl only looked up at her, with his chin still on the ground. He eyed her bandage again.

"...Why did you come here?" he mumbled after a sigh.

"Sherry told me," Silver giggled, "the nice Houndoom outside was worried about me." Her smile grew.

Howl blushed. What did that girl say?

Silver laid down on her side, still smiling to Howl. She noticed he was trying to avoid eye contact. "You're... nice, aren't you?" she sighed as she rolled onto her back and looked to the sky.

She looked back at Howl from the corner of her eye. He was still avoiding her. He looked to her once for an instant, and when he noticed she was looking back, he turned away again and frowned.

Silver's smile began to fade. "Howl..." she said softly as she turned to face him again. "There's... something my papa once told me. He said that... hate can blacken a heart of gold."

Howl closed his eyes and pretended not to listen.

"Do you... hate anyone?"

Howl's eyes snapped open. He rose to his feet and stretched, realizing the pain in his shoulder was disappearing. He drifted away to the side of a flower shop facing away from the hill, taking care not to look back. He let out a heavy sigh and plopped down against the wall.

"That was dumb." said a voice from around the building's corner.

Howl lifted his head and saw Sherry coming around to him from the front of the shop.

"Why'd you walk away?" she asked. "She likes you."

"What do you want?" Howl scoffed.

"Well, um... what did she say?"

Howl frowned. "She should've stayed at the Pokemon Center."

"Don't say that," Sherry said. "She must've known you were worried about her."

"I wasn't." Howl said hastily. He didn't want to be 'worried'. He didn't know the meaning of the word.

Sherry sat down and looked up at the hill. Silver was pacing in circles, trying to excercise her injured arm. "But that's Silver." she smiled. "They can tell her to stay in bed all they want, but she's not gonna."

"...Feh."

"You wanna see my favorite flower?" Sherry asked, almost spontaneously. "It's right in front of the shop--"

"Don't you have someone else to talk to?" Howl snarled.

Sherry laughed nervously. "Well, Lex is still asleep..."

"Then wake him up." Howl snapped. He didn't yet realize he didn't know who Lex was.

"But he might be having a good dream."

What kind of reason is that?

"Just leave me alone."

Sherry sat quietly for a bit longer, then smiled. "You can come play with us when you feel better," she said as she stood up. "We're going to the valley with the big spinny things."

Howl scoffed again as Sherry turned and ambled away. Why would he play with children? He hated this place, all the flowers, the sweet aromas, and now Sherry's deep, dusty glass eyes. It all sickened him beyond words.

Not knowing what to do with himself, he wandered toward the front of the flower shop to see Sherry's flowers. They seemed nothing more than large green balls atop long stems. Every flower in town was in full bloom except these. He wondered why someone like Sherry would love them so much when they don't look like anything.

"How dainty," he thought, and breathed an ember into their midst. He grinned as the stems faded to black, but then something happened. The balls on the tops began to open up, revealing pillows of white petals. He watched, partly amused and partly puzzled for a while, then a shower of water extinguished the embers. He looked up and saw a human girl with a watering can.

"You troublemaker," she giggled, and flicked him on the nose.

Howl would have snatched her fingers off if she didn't pull her hand back as quickly as she did. He gave a forceful bark and growled, and the girl retreated to inside the flower shop.

"Thanks for waking me," he heard. It was a voice from beneath a tree on the edge of town. "I thought I was gonna die... heh..."

"You're okay now," said Sherry's voice. "It was just a dream..."

Howl turned and saw she was talking to a Shinx.

"I know," said the Shinx. "But it keeps coming back..."

Sherry sat quietly for a moment. "Hey Lex, why don't we go to the valley?" she suggested. "It might help. Fuwante might be getting lonely, you know."

Lex smiled. "Okay. Race ya!"

"Hey! You didn't say go!"

Howl watched them as they bounded off toward the east valley. He remembered the windmills from last night. "So Lex is that Shinx," he thought.

"Howl."

Howl knew this voice. It was Silver. "What do you want?" he replied, without turning around.

"...Howl, I want to know." she said. "I want to know... what happened to you in Eterna Forest last night."

Howl stayed silent.

Silver sat down. "You were... a monster one moment, and so kind the next. Who... who are you?"

'Hate can blacken a heart of gold', her father said. Could it have been true? Howl pondered this. He had only attacked Silver because she reminded him of his own father. He was always holding him back from using his power the way he wanted to. Is that why he hated him? Now that he had left home, there should have been no one to hold him back. But perhaps it was the knowledge that he was still alive. "Maybe I should have killed him before I left." Howl thought. But what exactly is a 'heart of gold'? What would he be like if he didn't hate anyone? He didn't dare imagine.

Silver finally came closer to him and leaned on his shoulder. Howl was lost in thought. "...You... hate someone," she whispered. "Please... I want to know. I want to help you..."

Howl looked away and gave an uncertain frown. "I... I don't need you." he said. "I don't need anyone."

Silver lifted her head. "Then why are you here?" she asked. Her voice began to sound more and more concerned. "Don't you have a home?"

'Home'? Howl had no place to call home. Not anymore. Perhaps that was why he was here; he had nowhere else to go. But why did he hate this place too? Did he hate everything? Everyone? He lowered his head and smelled a flower.

"Home..." he whispered to himself.

He closed his eyes, and Silver laid down next to him. They were both silent for a long time, and Howl's mind began to drift.

"Silver!"

Howl opened his eyes slowly.

Silver jumped to her feet. "Fuwante! What is it?"

"The valley!" the Drifloon panted. "There's trouble!"

"Where are Lex and Sherry?"

"That's the trouble..." Fuwante gripped his head in panic. "Someone dangerous is there, and I can't get them to run away!"

Danger? Howl lifted his head.

"We need to help, fast!" Silver turned to Howl. "You too. Come on!"

Howl gathered his wits and dashed off to the valley with Silver. Fuwante stayed behind.

A shadowed figure faded into view on the opposite edge of town, watching the two rush to the Windworks. It crept calmly into the meadow and scanned the landscape. It looked down at its own feet at a large blossom.

"Gross." it muttered.

Its foot drifted across the flower as it walked, and a flame trailed behind its heel. It burned for a moment, then the charred stem finally curled about and twisted into itself like a candle wick.

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PostSubject: Re: A Heart of Blackened Gold (PG-13)   Thu Jul 03, 2008 1:34 pm

This is the first half of what would have been a really long chapter, but I cut it in half because I wanted to get something done. I'm sooo overdue for an update. -_-;

//----------
// Chapter 4 = A Thief and a Killer
//----------

Infernape sat calm and quiet as the nurse bandaged his shoulder and chest. Silver watched from across the room for a time, then gave a glare toward Howl, as he passed by outside the Pokémon Center door. Infernape rubbed his shoulder as the nurse finished, and Silver led him outside.

"All right, what happened...?" Silver sighed as she turned to Lex and Sherry, who were sitting against the wall. Sherry hesitated to look up to her.

"...Well?"

"U-uhm... I just--"

"I'm sorry," said Infernape, "about this... misunderstanding."

Howl scorned him from a distance, but found himself with an odd grin. "'Misunderstanding,'" he thought. He didn't care whether or not he was right to attack Infernape, because the fight he put up a true dream. He realized why he had also enjoyed fighting the Luxray from several days ago; because it was not just a struggle, like he had on his hunts. It was a true fight. He wanted more.

"My name is Saul." the Infernape said. "I... came here looking for someone. I didn't mean to scare these children."

Sherry glared at him from the corner of her eye, with her head still low. She knew he was lying.

"I only need to find a friend of mine. His name is Hikaru."

"Hikaru." Silver echoed. "I'm sorry, I haven't heard of him." She turned to Sherry and Lex. "And I'm sorry my sister and her friend tried to attack you.... Howl!"

Howl ignored her.

"Howl!"

"It's no trouble," Saul laughed. "I... guess I needed some exercise, heh."

Silver wasn't moved. Howl was the one who injured Saul, but she knew he would not apologize. "...I'll talk to Howl." she sighed. "You're welcome to stay in town, if you like."

Saul brushed his chin in thought for a moment. "Actually," he grinned, "I think he will be here soon. I'll stay."

By now Howl had wandered to the hill overlooking the north side of town. He walked staring blankly into space, wondering what Silver would try to say to him next. Whatever it was, she should say it to Sherry instead. She was the one who attacked Saul first.

As he drifted over the hill, he spotted a dark figure lying down in the meadow. He drew closer and saw it was a Lucario, with its fur a darker hue than normal. All of the flowers around it were smoldering, releasing a strangely pleasent aroma, like incense. The Lucario was holding a white blossoming flower to his chin, taking a slow and calm breath of its scent. He kissed it and tucked it into a pouch beside him.

"You are...?" he asked as he half-opened his eyes toward Howl.

Howl was silent for a moment, a bit stunned by the sight of such an odd character. Who was he to appear from nowhere and burn a hole in the meadow, then question someone else who was here first? Howl blinked, then realized it did not matter to him.

"Howl." he answered reluctantly.

The Lucario turned his head to the sky and closed his eyes again. "Thieves." he sighed. "Do you know anything about the Clan of Thieves? Have you seen them?"

"Who's asking?"

Lucario gave Howl a suspicious glare.

"Who wants to know?" Howl repeated. "I'm asking... who you are."

"My name is my own." Lucario replied, maintaining his glare. "You're not a Thief, are you?"

Howl frowned. This Lucario clearly did not respect him, so he was not going to answer him anymore. Howl marched closer, but Lucario was undaunted. He still stared with indifference, and did not waver from his relaxed demeanor.

"You don't want to make an enemy of me." Lucario warned. "We are friends for now, and for as long as you choose to let this last. If you do not know where the Thieves are, just tell me so." He finally sat up and slung his pouch onto his back. "Well?"

Howl did remember the Thieves he and Silver fought at Eterna City. He had enjoyed that brawl, and began to think: if this Lucario was chasing the Thieves as well, there could be more fights to come.


"I think I understand you now." Howl grinned. "You're a traveler, aren't you?"

Lucario stood up and cracked his neck. "...Yes." he replied at length, restoring eye contact. "And why do you ask?"

"Are you hunting these Thieves? Maybe... I can help."

Lucario's gaze turned from suspicious to questioning, almost as if he were considering accepting him. After a moment in thought, he broke eye contact and walked past Howl, toward the edge of the hill. He stared into the sky. The sun was beginning to set in the west, and the sky glowed pink. He took a modest breath and sighed, then looked down and surveyed the town.

"You... can come if you wish." he said. "But first, there will be something I need to take care of."

Howl's smile grew wider. The thought of more and more fights like the one in Eterna City made his blood rush. "So..." he asked as he approached Lucario and sat beside him. "When do I start killing?"

Lucario could see his excitement. "Not tonight." he sighed. "I... need rest." He turned away and began to walk back toward the charred flowers in the distance. "And you should rest too."

Howl was not willing to wait for long. Whatever he was going to do, he had better make it quick.

"One more thing." Lucario said as he looked to Howl over his shoulder. "Hikaru. My name is Hikaru... I think we can be friends."

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PostSubject: Re: A Heart of Blackened Gold (PG-13)   Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:38 pm

The second half of said really long chapter. Excitement begins now. ^_^

//----------
// Chapter 5 = The Nightmare Begins
//----------

Howl nodded, and watched him drift toward the far end of the meadow. He wondered for a moment

why he would want to be so far from town, but in a second thought, knew that whatever the

reason, he would be back.

"Howl!" called Silver's voice.

Silver ambled up the slope, while Howl sat tall and proud of his new partner. Perhaps he could

tell Silver that he was leaving town soon.

"Howl." Silver panted. Howl wondered if she took some strange pleasure in saying his name over

and over. "About the valley--"

"What about it?" Howl interrupted. He didn't want to listen to her if she was just going to

admonish him like his father, the cast on her arm should have been a reminder of that. "...It's

not like he's dead." he muttered as he remembered the Infernape.

"...Forget it." Silver sighed and shook her head. "I'm too tired to deal with him like this,

" she thought, and dropped herself to the ground and stretched. She crossed her wrists and

rested her chin on top of them, and peeked up at Howl through a half-closed eye.

Howl still sat tall, not exhausted or sleepy at all. Silver wasn't surprised; it was so much

more tiring to run to the valley and back with the use of only three legs. Howl looked down at

her for a moment, then returned his gaze to the sky. But he could not hide his excited grin.

"...Do you remember this morning?" Silver asked.

"Barely," Howl thought. The fight at the Valley Windworks had nearly washed his mind

clean; all he could think about since then was "What's next?" Would he and Hikaru be

taking on the entire Clan of Thieves? Could Silver come as well? She was a strong fighter,

though she should probably wait until her arm healed. He decided he could not wait that long;

Silver would stay behind. Perhaps she could join later. She did hate thieves, she said in the

forest, so surely she would. But what about the thrill of being outnumbered? To slaughter an

army by himself? He hoped the fights wouldn't lose this element. "Ten at once!" he

thought. "I'll take on ten at--"

"...Are you listening?" Silver interrupted herself.

Was she still talking?

Howl leaned toward Silver and whispered to her, "I'm leaving tomorrow."

Silver was baffled. Everything she had just said had gone in one ear and out the other, and Howl

changed the subject completely. She began to wonder why she bothered trying to talk to him.

"Another hunt, I'll bet?" she scoffed. Howl's grin gave him away; Silver knew the only

reason he would leave with such an expression is if something was drawing him away. And what

could lure him away but make him smile so excitedly? A fight. It had to be another fight.

"What's wrong with you?"

'Wrong'? What could be wrong? He felt great!

"Howl... Do you really not care about anything else?" Her voice grew more stern, and she lifted

her head. "As long as you're having fun, nobody else matters? Is that what you want to

say to him?"

"...Who?"

Silver gazed out toward the town, and watched Lex and Sherry chasing each other about. "Him."

she said. "Lex... Do you know why he has nightmares? His father and brother were killed...

murdered right in front of him, by a terrible beast." She turned to Howl. "Do you know

who that beast was? Do you?"

Howl looked down at Lex too. He had never imagined that he would see that Shinx again; the one

he saw trembling in the bushes the night before he left home and let go. But what did that

matter? Howl was not going to kill randomly like he used to, he would only be killing criminals.

That way, he thought, he could be doing some good; or moreover, no one would try to stop him.

"Thieves," he whispered to Silver. "We'll be hunting Thieves."

Silver was unmoved. "But you'll still be a killer." she said. "You... don't know what you're

doing. You don't know the damage you cause when you take a life..." Her eyes were fixed on Lex.

"So what if I'm born to be a killer?" Howl replied. He loved to think of himself this way. "How

can you tell me that isn't my destiny?"

"Because you're kind..."

"I am not!"

Silver did not want to argue any more; she could tell there was no getting through to him. Still

she found herself wondering why he refused to open his heart to anyone. He had said he didn't

want to be weak, but if she told him that simply loving someone didn't make him weak, would he

listen?

"...Good night." she scoffed and dropped her head again.

Howl sat back up. He was not sleepy. "Silver can stay behind," he thought, "if she is

just going to complain.
"

Some time later, after the sun had set and Silver had fallen asleep, Howl heard a soft rustling

on the ground behind him. Still awake and alert, he looked over his shoulder and saw Hikaru

approaching. His eyes faintly glowed gold in the darkness.

"It's time to go." Hikaru whispered as he stopped by Howl's side. He eyed Silver, on Howl's

other side.

Howl read his thoughts. "She's not coming." he said, before Hikaru asked. "But... what is it you

need to 'take care of'?"

"Come." Hikaru beckoned, as he stepped forward and proceeded down the hill.

Howl followed, taking one last look back at Silver. He could not put his own thoughts into

words, but he felt a familiar feeling; he suddenly did not want to leave her behind. He started

to hesitate, but Hikaru walked on as if he didn't care. Howl coaxed himself into following once

again, encouraging himself that soon he would forget this whole place.

Hikaru marched into the town without letting his eyes or feet wander. He seemed to know exactly

where he was going, possibly because he had searched from the hilltop a few hours ago. But what

did he see? It did not take long for Howl to realize; Hikaru stopped dead at the sight of an

Infernape sitting against a tree, just nearly asleep.

"Saul." Hikaru called.

The Infernape half-opened one eye, then quickly snapped both wide open grinned. "Well," he said

as he stretched to his feet, "look who's here, and right on time..."

In the blink of an eye, Hikaru clapped his hands and sped toward Saul in a furious blur. He

moved both his hands to one side and conjured an azure ball of energy between them. Saul barely

escaped the flash of energy as Hikaru smashed forward, detonating the base of the tree behind

him. The thunder from the blast could have been heard for miles, and the tree melted into a hot,

blue mist.

Silver, Sherry and Lex were blown out of their sleep at the echoing boom. Sherry winced from the

shock at first, but when she saw Silver running down the hill toward the misty aura, she rushed

out to meet her. Lex also gathered his wits and followed, but stopped in his tracks when he saw

Howl ahead. Howl did not notice him; he was again too absorbed in a fight.

Before Saul could make another move, Howl had pinned him to the ground. Hikaru approached him as

well, and another blue flame sprouted in his hand.

"H... Hikaru..." Saul gasped under Howl's paw. "He didn't tell me... you had an accomplice!"

Howl decided he didn't like his voice and pressed harder onto his throat to silence him.

"'He' doesn't know much about me, does he?" Hikaru growled. He waved his hand toward Saul and the flame floating in his palm began to grow and spin into a sphere. "Howl, move."

Howl released his grip and backed away, and Saul struggled to his feet.

"Howl!"

It was Silver's voice again. Howl did not respond.

"W... who is this? What's going on!?"

"Quiet." Howl barked.

Silver was stunned. What happened to him this time?

"Heh... I knew you would be stronger than before..." Saul chuckled, "but this... it's a good thing I came prepared."

"Not true!" Hikaru bellowed. "My power is immeasurable... bring your entire clan! I'll slaughter them all!" The aura sphere doubled in size and loosed itself from his palm, blowing a crater in the ground.

Saul leaped into the air and grabbed hold of a tree, then swung around and jetted himself at Hikaru like a meteor. Hikaru spread his arms wide and waved one hand far in front of him and his other hand far behind. The moment Saul impacted Hikaru's palm, the fire surrounding him scattered and blew thinly into the wind. Hikaru did not move an inch from where he stood. He watched Saul hang in the air for a moment, then vanished and appeared behind him, delivering a fiery kick to the back of his knees and taking him down to the ground.

"You underestimate me..." Hikaru scowled, and with one arm wrapped around Saul's neck, he prepared another Aura Sphere with his other.

"Stop!!" cried Silver.

Howl turned to her in rage. "Don't interfere!" he barked, and bared his teeth.

Silver snarled. Was Howl really going to fight her if she came any closer? She would rather find out for herself than watch another murder.

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