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 Edge of Destiny

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PostSubject: Edge of Destiny   Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:54 pm

This is the beginning of a trilogy called The Edge Chronicles. Each book is made up of three Parts; each Part is made up of several chapters. Simple enough? Please tell me what you think, and feel free to ask any questions you may have, to me or the characters. Remember, we can only answer questions relating to where I'm up to with the story! ;)

Rated PG-14 for violence.

Is this a darkfic? You could say that...

Book One: Edge of Destiny

Part One


The world of this story is a Pokémon world. But it is not the happy, joy-filled Pokémon world that you may think I am referring to. This is a bitter world, a twisted world, a world that is cold and unforgiving. In the Pokémon world that we are all familiar with, there is darkness, yes. There is evil, yes. But there are places where tiny, cute Pokémon live their lives in blissful ignorance, playing games or drifting lackadaisically across beautiful green fields and vibrant flowerbeds; where Pokémon large and small live in peaceful harmony with humans. In this harsh world, there is no such place.

The world of this story is based around the old theme of “Survival of the fittest”. If you are born as a Shinx, you had better become a Luxray quickly, or you’re dead. Pokémon fight to kill, and woe betide the young Pokémon that stumbles across a pack of hungry Mightyena.

In your sweet little Pokémon universe, humans coexist more or less in harmony with each other. Sure, there are nefarious criminals like Team Rocket, but they pale in comparison with this world. This world is overrun by warring factions, all battling desperately for the right to survive. Nations and empires rise and fall in the blink of an eye, and the land is ravaged by war. There are no Pokémon Trainers. Pokémon are a law unto themselves, and the vast majority of humans simply don’t care.

Some, however, use Pokémon as servants, or warriors in their armies, but these Pokémon are never treated as well as they are in your little sugar-coated universe.

However, there are a select few, a very few, who choose to work with humans as equals. These Pokémon-human teams are rare, but usually very skilled and secretive. Some are evil, and plot to turn all nations against each other, to ultimate destruction. Others are soldiers of righteousness, fighting desperately to restore some semblance of order to the world.

This war-torn world, known as Fulareif, is unknowingly approaching a tipping point. If nothing is done to correct the balance, the world will collapse upon itself.

Prologue-A Dark Night

The white moon hung in the sky, fighting for dominance over the dark clouds that threatened to overwhelm it. If one was to look up from the ground below, one might be able to catch a glimpse of the stars above, twinkling feebly through the dusty haze of fog that lay like a blanket over everything. A light, hot breeze stirred the haze, which swirled around everything, playing softly with the brittle branches of the dead, stunted trees and tickling the tips of the brown bulrushes by the dried-up riverbeds. In their hidden dens, wild Pokémon slept lightly, one eye always open for trouble, one ear always pricked for danger.

All of this, however, was lost on one particular Pokémon, an Absol, who was running for his life. He sped across the dusty plateau, his black-clawed feet kicking up dust clouds as he desperately sought to elude his pursuers. He could not see them, as he dared not look back, but he could hear them, panting rapidly.

“Wea! Vile! Wea! Vile!” The three Sharp Claw Pokémon were right on his tail, he could tell. This chase was only tiring all four of them; sooner or later, he would have to turn and fight. Sooner, he decided, and dug his front paw into the dirt, skidding several yards to an impressive stop, facing the Weavile, who had also stopped, eyeing him warily. They were trained hunters, bred for the chase and the kill. Moving as a unit, they spread out, so that Absol had to take a step back to keep them all in his line of sight.

Absol opened his mouth. It was risky, but if he pulled it off, it would send the Ice-types packing. He felt the heat build in his throat, growing from a tiny tickle, to a burning flame, to a raging inferno. He lifted his head, and then flicked it forward, loosing the Fire Blast attack. That wasn’t really a great success, he thought critically. It wasn’t; he really had to work on that attack. The fireball had flown half-heartedly through the air, landing between two of the Weavile with a pitiful pfft. The only purpose it had really serves was as a distraction, but it was enough. Absol focused his mind on the elemental powers at his core, drawing them out and moulding them quickly into a whirling tornado.

The Weavile were recovering from their unpleasant surprise. They might be swift, but mentally, they were a bit slow. The Razor Wind swept two of them up, hurling them into the third. All three fell in an ungainly heap, but quickly extricated themselves, hissing angrily as they returned to their original formation. The one in the centre began to form a Shadow Ball between its claws, and the other two followed suit immediately. Within seconds, all three Shadow Balls were flung towards Absol at great speed. He waited for them to come near, and then leaped, pushing off hard from the dusty ground and springing several feet in the air. He soared majestically through the air, landing behind the Weavile as the Shadow Balls collided with each other exactly where he had been standing, causing a sizable explosion.

Absol turned to face the Weavile as they whirled around to seek him. The moon burst out from behind a cloud, sending a ray of pure white light down upon Absol. With the eerie light of the full moon casting shadows upon his face, he looked quite terrifying. The Weavile backed off slightly, regarding him warily. This was an opponent not to be trifled with, they realised now.

“Finish him,” came a voice, cold, clear and commanding. Absol jerked his head around, eyeing this new potential threat. He couldn’t make out many details; he saw a dark figure, standing calmly on the brow of a hill several yards away. The head seemed oddly shapeless, so he guessed it was wearing a hood. He also made out the blurry outline of what appeared to be a large scabbard, hanging from the stranger’s belt. Scabbard meant sword, and sword meant –

Absol paused. He had bad memories of swords. As he eyed the figure warily, the long, dark scar that ran along his side seemed to twinge at the very thought. A long time ago... it had been such a long time ago...

It was as if he was being sucked down a tunnel, a long, murky tunnel of memory. It had been a cloudy night like this, six years ago. Absol had been on a mission known only to himself, when he had had an unfortunate meeting with an old enemy. A fierce battle had ensued, eventually leaving Absol the victor; however, he had been badly wounded. His foe’s razor-sharp sword had sliced Absol along his left flank, but it had been the man’s dying act; even though in agony, Absol had swung his head around and gutted him with the scythe-like blade that protruded from his skull. Leaving his opponent to die on the ground, Absol had staggered away, leaving a trail of blood behind. He had almost died that night...

A sudden whssh startled him from his reverie, and he threw himself instinctively to one side as the lead Weavile attempted to take him down with a Night Slash. Unfortunately, he dodged directly into the path of the second Weavile’s X-Scissor. The Bug-type move pulverized Absol, but he somehow managed to stay standing, glaring defiantly at his opponents. He would keep fighting. He would continue to resist, and he would beat them all, he could tell. However, he had forgotten about the third Weavile. That is, until he was hit from behind by its Focus Blast.

Absol lay, semi-conscious, in the dirt. He tried to stand, but his limbs failed him, causing him to collapse painfully once more. A pair of heavy brown boots came into his rapidly fading field of vision, and Absol forced himself to look up, into the face of the mysterious figure with the sword. It was as if his old enemy had come back to haunt him. Absol’s breath came in ragged gasps. The figure simply stood and looked at him for a moment. After a few painful seconds, it pulled back its hood, revealing the face beneath.

It was a woman, a woman with wispy, fair blonde hair and deep black eyes set harshly against pale skin, he saw by the suddenly bright moonlight. Under normal circumstances, she would have been pretty, but all chance of that was dashed by the cold, hard look on her face. She regarded Absol with undisguised hatred, as if he were something pure evil, something to be despised. He growled feebly at her, but she simply laughed, obviously not intimidated in the slightest. Absol winced; the high, cold laugh had hurt his ears. As if this was the final trigger, his vision clouded over completely, and Absol lost all awareness, drifting away... drifting...


A/N: Tell me what you think!
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PostSubject: Re: Edge of Destiny   Mon Jan 05, 2009 5:35 pm


Well, there's not much to critisize...it's great!

Rabid Kenta fangirl since seeing LOT the first time. Just don't call him Jimmy! >=O

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PostSubject: Re: Edge of Destiny   Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:52 pm

Thank you! Ironically, I never proofread things like that...

Oh well, here we go with Chapter One!


Chapter One-Who’s the bird?

Wham! Ryu slammed his fist into the wall in frustration. He had been taught to control his anger, but this was going beyond ridiculous.

Wham! He punched the timber again, this time yielding splinters, such was the ferocity of the blow. It just wasn’t fair! He hadn’t asked for this! That moron, Sam, had been taunting him all day, and Ryu had reached his breaking point half an hour ago.

Wham! Wham! He drove both fists into the wall, one after the other. He had struck out in anger once, just once, and now he was paying the price. Walled up in his empty bedroom, with no food, no water, nothing but the thin mattress he slept on; there wasn’t even a book to read.

Wham! This time, he drew blood. Ryu fell back onto his mattress in disgust, ruefully sucking his scraped knuckles. After taking out his rage on an inanimate object, he felt much better. Ryu wondered how he had let his temper get away from him like that; it wasn’t normally like him at all.

“Ryu?” called his uncle’s voice from outside the door. “Ryu, I’m coming in!” Ryu sat up on the mattress, dreading his fate. The latch on the heavy wooden door wobbled, and then the door opened, revealing Uncle Tomasu standing angrily in the doorway. Ryu’s uncle was a man in his late forties, with bushy hair that had long since gone white, and a handsome handlebar moustache, which lent him a stern aspect when combined with his beady blue eyes glaring out from beneath thick white brows. Ryu hastily stood up, bowing politely to his uncle. Tomasu did not return the gesture.

“You disappoint me, Ryu,” he said, glowering down at the slim teenager in front of him, abrupt and to the point as usual. “I thought I had trained you to overcome your emotions, instilled in you the values of our forefathers, and yet I find you brawling in the street with a young man who did nothing more than insult you! Explain yourself!” It was a command, not a request. Ryu swallowed. With anyone else, it would have been easy to justify his actions, but Uncle Tomasu was notorious for being unmovable. If he had it in his mind that what Ryu had done was wrong, there was nothing in Fulareif that could budge him. I should try anyway, thought Ryu hopelessly.

“I...” For some reason, the words didn’t seem to want to form in his mouth, he knew what he wanted to say, but for some odd reason, couldn’t say it.

“I thought as much,” his uncle said, and Ryu realised that he had not actually been expecting a reply. “What to do with you, boy, what to do with you...” He trailed off, apparently deep in thought. Ryu stood with head bowed, awaiting his fate.

“You will remain here until noon tomorrow. You will meditate on your reckless lack of self-control. You will not leave until the sun reaches its zenith. I will return then, and we shall discuss this matter further.” Uncle Tomasu bowed stiffly, and retreated.

Ryu lay heavily back down on his mattress. I don’t need him, he thought angrily, I don’t need anyone! But what was he to do? He could hardly run off... or could he? No, he thought firmly, pushing the idea to the back of his mind. Don’t be silly... Yet the closed window seemed to beckon him, calling to him, telling him that it would be alright, that it wouldn’t matter. Ryu refused to listen to it.

Four hours later, however, it was becoming unbearable. Ryu was beginning to get claustrophobic, not to mention bored. A small Staravia landed outside with a flutter of wings. It perched on the sill, cocking its head and eyeing Ryu curiously with one beady eye; it seemed to be teasing him, daring him to come out, to be free. That was the final straw for Ryu. Crossing quickly to the window, he slid the bolt back with a clunk that startled the Flying Pokémon; chirping loudly, it flapped away. Cursing the age and stiffness of the window, Ryu pushed and shoved with all his might, finally grinding the ancient fixture open.

The window had not been opened for some years, simply because it wasn’t safe. There were all sorts of small, dangerous Pokémon that could slip through in the night. Ryu put one leg through the window, hoping dearly that he would fit his whole body through. He wasn’t big, but then, neither was the window. He knew he shouldn’t have had all those fritters at breakfast...

On an instinct, he paused. Looking back into the room, he saw, hanging on a peg, a short sword, with its own scabbard and sword belt. On an impulse, he pulled his leg back inside and crossed the room to take it down. As he stood immobile, holding it, the history associated with it came flooding back. This sword had belonged to his father, the closest relative that Ryu had ever known. Of course, that had been before... Ryu ignored the lump in his throat as he buckled the sword belt on, not really sure why he was doing it, but somehow knowing that he had to.

Carefully, he swung himself out of the window, fully this time, and dropped the few feet to the ground, landing cat-like on the ground below. He heard a small chirrup, and looked over to see the Staravia perched on a rusty wagon frame that was lying, abandoned, behind the house. Looking back at the house, Ryu carefully scanned all the windows to make sure his uncle wasn’t looking out. Then he remembered. Today was Tuesday, which meant that Uncle Tomasu would have gone to the meeting of the village elders. He wasn’t technically old, but he was wise, and life expectancy was not great, what with all the recent turmoil.

Ryu slapped his forehead. He hadn’t needed to climb out the window after all. Tomasu had been counting on his obedience to keep him confined. Thinking of this, Ryu realised that there would be hell to pay if Tomasu found out he’d been gone. Ryu shook his head, and began to walk, cursing himself for not simply walking out the front door.

“Starrrr!” came a cry from the old wagon, and he looked over. The Staravia was still there, and what’s more, it seemed to be laughing at him. He walked over; the Pokémon regarded him cautiously, shifting slightly from foot to foot, but did not move. Ryu watched it, equally curious. It seemed oddly unafraid, which was unusual. Most Pokémon either went out of their way to avoid humans or attacked on sight, but this Staravia was bold as brass. Suddenly, it took off, darting away from the house. For some reason that Ryu couldn’t quite explain, he followed it. His house was on the outskirts of town, so he quickly lost all sight of civilisation.

The Staravia fluttered ahead, occasionally wheeling back to ensure Ryu was following it. He was. It was as if a giant, invisible hand was pushing him forward. As they got further and further away from town, the terrain became more rugged. Ryu was walking through what must have once been a huge and beautiful forest, but all that was left now were burnt, charred husks, leaning at odd angles, or fallen. It made Ryu sad, to think that so much beauty had been destroyed; this was why he didn’t usually come out here.

Ignoring the Staravia for a minute, Ryu walked slowly over to a large, blackened tree trunk. It was lying on the ground, and, judging by the surroundings, had knocked over several others when it fell. Once upon a time, it had been a kauri tree, strong and proud, the giant of the forest, but no longer. He approached it sadly, running a finger across its charred surface regretfully. For a reason he could not fathom, he felt a strange empathy with the giant plant. All across Fulareif, there were thousands, millions of these trees, dead and wasted, all because of the stupid war. Many Pokémon had died, or were forced to leave, because of the destruction of their habitat. If only they would all stop fighting, maybe the world could become peaceful again, but he knew there was little chance of that. He sighed heavily. That was never going to happen.

The Staravia, seeming to sense his discomfort, fluttered over and perched on a solitary twig that stuck out from the burnt trunk. The twig, however, was brittle, and could not support the weight; it snapped, and Staravia fell onto the trunk with an indignant “Starrrr!”. It looked pleadingly up at Ryu, who was again caught off guard by its lack of fear. It seemed to be telling him that it was of utmost importance that he followed it. Smiling slightly, and wondering what could be so important to the bird, he nodded in acquiescence.

Following Staravia ever deeper into the forest, Ryu began to feel uneasy. It was dead silent except for the soft sound of his feet and the occasional chirrup from Staravia ahead. It was beginning to get dark, and the scorched trunks on all sides seemed more and more threatening, like silent figures watching from the sidelines, waiting for him to stop, so that they could strike. Ryu shook these thoughts from his head uneasily, and thought that perhaps he should turn back now, while he still had all of his limbs. All sorts of vicious Pokémon lived in these woods; he vividly remembered one incident, four years ago, where a wild, savage Houndoom had mustered enough courage to enter the town...

“Fire! Get fire! Scare it away!” came the panicked shout. “It’s wild!”

“Idiot!” cried a second man, his rugged face lit by the flickering orange light of the burning barn. “It’s a Fire-type! It won’t be scared of fire!” The Pokémon had arrived in the dead of night and begun burning everything it could. It howled eerily, causing every human being within earshot to cringe.

“Then what?” asked the first man in a panic. “It’s already torched the barn and killed a man! We have to stop it somehow!”

“There’s only one way left, then!” cried the other, raising his axe. “Come on, Jimmy!” The man called Jimmy cowered behind his bulkier neighbour as the Houndoom leapt out of the burning barn, sending white-hot sparks showering over the group of armed men facing it. It was a fearsome sight, a huge black dog with wicked white horns glinting in the moonlight. Its barbed tail whipped through the air, promising a painful wound to anyone who tried to approach from behind. It howled again, defying these humans who dared to threaten it.

“But Alan!” cried Jimmy. “That thing’ll kill me!” Before Alan could say anything else, he was shouldered aside by a small, stocky man carrying a deadly-looking katana. It was Tomasu. From a safe distance, the ten-year-old Ryu watched in awe as his uncle stepped forward fearlessly to challenge the vicious Houndoom. The Pokémon howled a third time, and then attempted to hit the small man with a Flamethrower. Tomasu, however, stepped to the side with speed that belied his stocky build. He then slashed at the creature with his katana. The blade struck home, biting into the Houndoom’s shoulder.

The Houndoom let out a mighty screech of pain, and lunged forward, fangs bared. Tomasu was taken off guard by the sheer ferocity of the attack, and couldn’t avoid it in time. He cried out in agony as the yellow teeth sank into his left wrist. Shaking his arm free, he slashed at the beast again, this time cutting a gash along the side of its muzzle. The Houndoom howled again, backing off slightly. Tomasu was quickly hauled off by a pair of self-appointed medics; the rest of the group, emboldened by Tomasu’s bravery, charged it.

With two dozen angry men attacking it, the Houndoom didn’t really stand a chance. It delivered several nasty burns, but soon went down under the mass of flashing steel. Ryu averted his eyes from the carnage, which he had been watching with morbid fascination, and hurried over to see if his uncle was alright.

The next day, they had buried the dead man. Tomasu’s wrist was swollen and infected; it would be another few weeks until he could use it properly again. In a small, tight-knit community like this, a single death hit the whole community hard...

Ryu was jarred from his memories by an urgent chirp from Staravia, Ryu looked up to see that the Pokémon had halted, perched on a burned tree branch. It wasn’t looking at him; instead, it was staring intently ahead. Ryu ran up to stand beside it, and gasped involuntarily.

A huge, swirling vortex of some kind was hovering before him, a circular blob of purple and blue, spinning hypnotically. He was mesmerised, entranced by the swirling patterns that drew him in. It was at the same time the most beautiful and the most horrible thing he had ever seen in his life. It seemed to exude evil, a sickly aura that he felt would have killed the plant life if there was any; but at the same time, it was impossible that something this wonderful could be bad in any way.

Absently, Ryu noticed that the Staravia had vanished. He turned, his feet feeling like lead, to see-

He froze. Before he had turned all the way, a sword point tickled his ear. The eerie light from the vortex glinted off the blade, highlighting its sharp edge. He hardly dared to breathe, but his mind was racing. If he could get away from that sword, he could draw his own. He had been taught how to use it. He tensed his muscles, ready to spring away, but a voice came from the unseen end of the sword.

“I know what you’re thinking. Don’t move.” It was female, no doubt about that, but utterly emotionless. Her voice seemed to cut into his mind like a Scyther’s blade into its prey. “If you look at me, it will be the last thing you ever see. If you attempt to pull a weapon on me, it will be the last thing you ever do. If you make a sound, it will be the last thing you ever hear.” She seemed to be enjoying herself now, an edge of vindictive pleasure creeping into her voice. Ryu decided it would be a good idea to do as she said. “Now, I would like you to turn back to look at the portal.” Obediently, he turned back, his mind racing. Portal? What was she on about?

“Thank you,” said the mysterious individual behind him. Ryu felt a booted foot slam into the small of his back, and he pitched forward, falling headfirst into the vortex.

It was hard for Ryu to compare the journey to anything; however, he imagined it to be akin to being put through a mangle half a dozen times while being spun around like a spinning top before being spat out of a chimney. It seemed like ages, but was really only a couple of seconds before he was ejected forcefully at the other end. He landed awkwardly on his hands and knees, and a spike of pain immediately shot through his left kneecap. Ryu clenched his teeth and clamped down on the pain, and then turned clumsily to look behind him.

Even as he watched, the spinning portal, identical to the one he had just been pushed through, shrank and vanished, leaving him looking at a cold stone wall. Hang on he thought suddenly, a stone wall? Wincing from the pain in his leg, he turned. It couldn’t be true; it definitely shouldn’t be. But it was. He was in a large stone room, like a dungeon, damp and cold. The walls were made of crumbling grey stone, granite or the like. A short stone staircase led up to a heavy iron door. The only illumination came from a guttering torch in a wall bracket, the light from which failed to penetrate the dank corners of the room.

Peering into one of these corners, Ryu made out what seemed to be a pile of blankets. He stood up, in hopes of collecting one, but cried out in pain as his knee collapsed beneath him, sending him crashing to the floor. At the sound of his voice, the object which Ryu had taken to be a pile of blankets stood up and glared at him with bright red eyes. It looked intently at Ryu, as if trying to memorise every tiny detail of him. Ryu foolishly tried to stand again, and this time the pain was too much. He fell to the ground once more and blacked out.


A/N: That Houndoom scene scared even me as I wrote it...^_^;
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PostSubject: Re: Edge of Destiny   Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:25 pm

Wow, thats really good, quite descriptive...
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PostSubject: Re: Edge of Destiny   Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:42 pm

Posting new chapter!

Chapter Two-Absol

Ryu awoke in agony; his kneecap felt like it was on fire. Slowly, he became aware that he was laying on his back on a cold, hard, wet surface. He opened his eyes, but he couldn’t see a thing. His eyes throbbed as he painfully lifted a hand to rub them, and he opened them again to see a pair of bright red eyes staring down at him. Suddenly, Ryu was very much awake as he remembered what had happened. He sat bolt upright, and the eyes retreated suspiciously. He now noticed that the eyes belonged to a Pokémon, a large white canine with what seemed to be a black sickle protruding from the back of its head. Its face was black, as was a small oval on its forehead, and it had glowing red eyes that regarded him intelligently. An Absol? Ryu was struck by the inexplicable feeling that this was no dumb, wild Pokémon. And then it spoke. Or... did it?

You’re finally awake, it said. But strangely, its voice seemed to be inside Ryu’s head. Foolish boy, it continued, your leg is sprained. Stay where you are. Ryu’s head was spinning. This Pokémon... was talking to him.

Perhaps, he thought, I fell and hit my head when I climbed out of the window? Perhaps none of this is real, he wondered hopefully. An eerie laugh echoed through his head, and it took him a few seconds to realise that it was coming from the Absol.

I wish, human, it said, amusement gleaming in its eyes. This is as real as it gets. Ryu was getting more and more confused.

“How...how long have I been out?” he asked. It was impossible to tell the time of day.

About half an hour, said the Absol. Not that it matters, of course. You’re doomed to die here, especially with that leg. Ryu was really freaked out by the talking Pokémon, but he tried not to show it. Although...now he thought about it, was it actually talking? No, it said, it’s called telepathy. It is among my many powers.

“Telepathy...” said Ryu. This was getting weirder and weirder. Apparently the Absol could read his thoughts, too, because it said,

It will only get stranger, human. Ryu shuffled backward and leant his shoulders against the wall, thinking hard. He was in some sort of prison; that much was evident. There was an Absol, but was it a fellow prisoner? For all Ryu knew, it could be the jailor.

I am as much a prisoner as you are, human, it said regretfully, and Ryu realised with a start that it had been listening in on his thoughts again. The statement did little to assuage Ryu’s doubts.

Can I trust him? he wondered. Even if they were both prisoners, Ryu would be helpless if the Absol decided that he looked like a tasty snack. Being unable to stand greatly hindered one’s ability to defend oneself. Ryu’s head jerked up. The Absol seemed to be laughing at him.

Fear not, human. Pathetic as you are, I would not eat you. As for trust, however, I think it would be wise for both of us to reserve judgement on that, it said. Ryu nodded in acquiescence, choosing to ignore the stinging jibe for the time being.

“Can’t say fairer than that. I’m still bothered by something, though.” Ryu had to try hard to keep his mind focused. Parts of him were beginning to panic, and he had a horrible subconscious image of the Absol devouring his leg. He shuddered and continued. “Why am I here? I was pushed through a...portal of some sort by some crazy woman, and now I’m locked up in a dungeon with you!” His voice had grown steadily louder throughout the sentence, and he found himself pointing an accusing finger at Absol. Realising this, he dropped his arm, but it was too late. Absol rose from his nonchalant seated position and advanced on him, growling,

Are you suggesting that this is my fault, human? I was brought here against my will!

“By whom?” Ryu asked, trying not to show his fear. He was curious despite himself. Absol bowed its head.

I...know not, it said shamefully, settling back onto its haunches. I did not recognise her. For some reason, it seemed offended somehow.

“Her?” Ryu queried. “It was a woman?” Absol simply nodded. “Do you think it may have been the same one?” Absol snorted.

I doubt it, it said. I had been here barely two hours when you arrived, by my reckoning. When she...apprehended me, I was on the southern moors, down past Dujseg. Where were you? it asked.

“In a small village, near the northwest coast, but...” He realised that there was no way it had been the same woman. Geography had never been his best subject, but uncle Tomasu had taught him anyway. Uncle Tomasu... he thought sadly. What would he be doing now? Then he realised that he was still supposed to be in his room. Tomasu would not miss him until noon the next day. Ignoring Ryu’s thoughts, Absol said,

Exactly! You’d need to be a Pokémon to reach the northwest coast in two hours!

“Unless,” said Ryu excitedly, struck by a sudden thought, “she used one of those portal thingies to get there!”

Portal thingies... Absol mused, seemingly trying to remember something. I remember a portal...Her Pokémon knocked me out, and then...I remember...being dragged...and then... He seemed to be fighting to recall the memories. I was sucked down a...a tunnel or something...purple and blue... It shook its head vigorously. That’s all I recall, he concluded sadly.

“Sounds a bit like what happened to me,” said Ryu. “I followed this Staravia out into the wild, and then I got pushed into one of those things by a woman I didn’t see! So how’s this? She goes chasing after you, knocks you out and chucks you through a portal, and you end up here. She then uses another portal thing to get to where I am, and sends her bird friend to fetch me. Like an idiot, I follow the Staravia, and she pushes me through the portal, and I wind up here as well!”

Sounds about right, said the Absol, nodding. But that brings us back to your original question. Why are you here? Have you done anything to offend anyone? Ryu thought hard, but came up with nothing. He’d barely left the village in all his fourteen years, and strangers rarely visited. He shook his head. Well, said the Absol, I’m afraid I can’t supply any answers.

“Why are you here?” Ryu asked suddenly. “Do you have any idea?” Absol chuckled wryly.

Human, I have many ideas, each as likely as the last. In my time, I have done many things, and by the same token, offended many people. Our mysterious assailant can take her pick. Perhaps I killed her father years ago? I couldn’t say.

Before Ryu could reply, they heard a noise outside the door. Footsteps, at least two sets. Absol growled softly at the door, its hackles raised, ready to fight if necessary. There was a loud clanking noise, followed by an equally loud grinding sound; the unmistakable sounds of a door being unlocked. The door opened a little way, but then stopped. There was muttering outside, followed by a loud curse. There was a heavy impact, and the door flew open, revealing a large, thickset man. He was dressed in ragged black furs, from his hat to his breeches, and was wearing thick, studded boots, one of which he had apparently just used to kick the door open. He stood in the doorway, glaring at the two inside, but the most fearsome feature was the gigantic war hammer that he hefted over one shoulder. The haft was well over a metre long, and the head was skilfully fashioned from heavy black iron.

The big man stepped back into the corridor, allowing a second person into the room, one that Ryu had not noticed previously. It was a tall, slender woman, dressed practically yet elegantly in light travelling leathers. She had long, blonde hair that swung gently behind her, and a sword on her hip, much larger than Ryu’s. She had eyes of the deepest black, set in a slim, elfin face. Absol watched her with the utmost loathing as she turned and dismissed the big man with the hammer. She then turned to face the two prisoners with a smile on her face, a smile that did not extend to her eyes, which remained as cold and black as ever.

“So,” she said, and Ryu immediately recognised her voice. It was the mysterious woman that had sent him here. “So...” she seemed to think for a second, before saying, “Are you two enjoying the accommodations? Lovely atmosphere, don’t you think?” she asked, gesturing around at the damp brick walls.

You don’t fool me, lady! growled Absol menacingly. What do you want with me and the human? She laughed.

“You mean you don’t know?” she asked with a tone of slight disbelief. “Don’t you remember me?” She leaned in closer to Absol, whose eyes widened in shock. “Now he knows me!” she said mockingly.

No! he said in horror, staring at her. No, it – it can’t be! You! he shouted. Before Ryu could blink, he leapt at the woman, aiming his scythe at her chest. Taken by surprise, she stumbled backwards, narrowly avoiding the deadly blade. She recovered quickly, however, and slipped a long, deadly-looking sword from the scabbard at her side, levelling it at Absol.

“You really don’t want to do that,” she warned. Absol ignored this, and leapt at her again, but this time she was ready. Reversing her sword with a flash of steel, she slammed the hilt into Absol's forehead. With a slight moan, the Pokémon collapsed to the floor. Casually slipping her sword back into its sheath, she called out of the door, “Johnson? I have a little package here that I need you to take care of for me!” The big man with the hammer, presumably Johnson, stumped back inside and slung Absol over his shoulder.

“Whurr dja wannum?” he asked, his deep, gravelly voice slurring badly.

“The usual, Johnson. In the holding pens by the arena, whichever’s free,” she said, dismissing him with a flick of her wrist.

“Roight ch’are, milady!” he said, and stumped up the stairs and out the door. She watched him go absently, and then turned to Ryu.

“Excellent fellow, that, don’t you think? Not terribly bright, of course, but who is these days?” Ryu remained silent, as he had this whole time, observing her, taking her measure. “Oh, come now, Ryu! Why so glum?” She smiled and leant against the wall opposite him, completely at ease. Ryu finally decided to speak.

“How...do you know my name?” he asked. “And who are you?” She seemed to ponder these questions for a moment, but then said,

“I know your name, Ryu, because we have been watching you for some time. You are quite the special young man!” Ryu noticed she had only answered one question, so he repeated,

“Who are you?” She seemed a little taken aback, but answered anyway.

“My name... is Huyihije. At least, that is the name I go by, but you will have to make do with just that, I’m afraid. As for who I am...” she seemed to be debating whether to go on, “Let’s just say I work for someone with a lot of influence; a gentleman so secretive that even I don’t know who he is,” she laughed, clearly believing this to be amusing. She stopped, however, when it became apparent that Ryu was not joining in. “I’m afraid I can’t tell you any more than that. This whole project is top secret!” she whispered confidentially, and giggled. Unfazed, Ryu asked bluntly,

“What project? And why did you bring me here? What’s so special about me?” She laughed again, clearly enjoying herself for some bizarre reason.

“Like I say, I can’t tell you any more about the project. And believe me, you will play a very important role in it!”

“What if I don’t want to?” Ryu shouted suddenly. “I don’t want any part in...whatever this is! This isn’t my world! My world consists of my village, my uncle and my friends, not dungeons, portals, Pokémon and crazy lunatics that won’t tell me what’s going on!” Huyihije’s easy smile vanished, and she said coldly,

“Oh, this is your world now, boy,” Ryu began to ask something, but she held up a hand to silence him, and then walked to the exit. Turning in the doorway, she added, “I’ll be back later. Don’t go anywhere!” The door slammed.

As if I could, thought Ryu ruefully. He sighed and settled himself a little further down the wall. All he could really do was try to get some sleep, and take things as they came.
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