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COMPLETE: [Everyone] The Legend of Ampharos

The Beast in Unleashed
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
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The Beast is Unleashed

Bryan was given a hero’s welcome. People lined the streets of Olivine City to greet their former gym leader home. A huge banner was hung between two street lamps on the road south from Route 39. On the banner, in dark, blue letters, were the words: Welcome Home Bryan. We Love You. Bryan was surprised, yet pleased, at the display. He had always had great support from his home town and it hadn’t changed in the months he had been away. Jasmine led the mob of people who greeted him and he wrapped her in a deep embrace, much to the delight of the gathered crowd. They had clearly welcomed their new gym leader with the same kindness they had welcomed their former. Bryan waded through the townspeople, shaking hands, exchanging hugs, even kissing a few babies. For some reason, the adoration of the people he knew didn’t bother him like that of the random rabble who had tagged on to him at the tournament. As Bryan weaved his way toward the Pokémon Gym, the luscious taste of saltwater in the air, the town followed. By the time he had reached home, it appeared that a small parade was winding its way through Olivine. Unsure how to break up the assembly, Bryan turned to them and raised his arms. They quieted. Gathering his nerve, he gave a short speech, praising their loyalty and expressing his gratefulness. When he lowered his hands and finished, the crowd seemed satisfied and began to disperse.

Jasmine caught back up with him as the last vestiges of his welcome home party dwindled and led him into the gym. Nothing had changed. A few new scratches or dents decorated the well-worn walls, yet nothing more. Despite the fanfare and air of joy in the town, Bryan seemed to be missing something.

“Where is Elizabeth,” he suddenly asked, remembering she hadn’t been in the assembly.

“Not completely sure,” Jasmine answered, a forlorn look on her face, “she took a boat south to Cianwood last week. Didn’t say when she would be back.”

A look similar to the one on Jasmine’s face washed over Bryan’s, but he quickly washed it away. He was disappointed that he couldn’t see Elizabeth at present, yet she often made trips to Cianwood or north to Mahogany Town on business. When she would return was probably a mystery to everyone, including herself. In that spirit, he pushed his oldest friend from his mind and concentrated on the present. He and Jasmine celebrated alone that evening. They feasted on his favorite meal, spaghetti and meatballs. Number 7 joined them as well. It was an odd flashback to a night not long before he had left and he reflected on how much he had grown since. The next day, Jasmine introduced her uncle to all of her students. Like any gym leader, her disciples varied from month-to-month, but at present she had seven. Her first disciple, Steven, had stuck around a couple months, but was long gone now, so her longest incumbent student was Taran Barash, the young boy she had mentioned to him before. The other six were all relatively new and between 13 and 14 years old. Ironically, they were all boys. Taran was the youngest of the group, at 11, though a local boy who was even younger would train with them a few times a week.

They were all enamored by Bryan and berated him with questions about the tournament and meeting some of the biggest celebrities in the Pokémon world. Bryan fielded their questions for a time. When he didn’t think he could take the barrage any longer, he released Heracross and Growlithe for the boys to interact with. Of all his Pokémon, those two females could best handle the enthusiasm of the pre-teens. While the others played, Taran stood apart and, after a time, approached Bryan. He was calmer and more composed than his fellows and asked Bryan more serious, purposeful questions. The former gym leader automatically compared him to Patrick. His stark, inquisitive nature and age surely matched the reigning champion, yet he lacked the playful attitude Patrick rarely seemed to lose. Jasmine monitored the other boys while they spoke. When at last Taran’s masked curiosity was satiated, he challenged Bryan to a duel. Bryan agreed. He wanted to wait a couple of days, however, let his Pokémon get a good rest after the last few hard weeks of battle and travel.

In the intervening days, Bryan relaxed and spent most of his time musing over the day-to-day events at the gym. The six pre-teen boys probably wouldn’t last more than a month or two at the gym. He had seen their like come and go for years. They all wanted to be Masters, but they lacked the will to do so. Their concentration wavered. They struggled to pay attention in lessons. They enjoyed having their Pokémon do silly tricks instead of training them to battle. The bond they had with Pokémon was strong; their knack for battling and general obedience…lacking. Taran was different. He paid strict attention to everything Jasmine told him, as if her speech was golden. He was the first to arrive at every training session, last to leave, and most diligent in performing any task. He was the ideal student and Jasmine was grateful for it. The mature young boy had made her transition to gym leader smoother with all the hard work he put in and set a good example for her other students. Even if the other students didn’t follow it.

As if his demeanor and work ethic didn’t set him apart enough, Taran’s appearance was starkly different to his contemporaries too. The other boys normally sported loose-fitting shorts and t-shirts with sandals and occasionally ball caps. They all had long, scraggly hair, as was the fashion for boys that age. Taran, on the other hand, kept his hair neatly cut short and above the ears. It suited his plain face. His eyes were a brilliant, intelligent blue that mirrored the sea, though the boy never played with his companions in the water for he lacked the ability to swim. He would sit on the beach and read though, the only time he would forego his normal slacks and polo shirts for something more comfortable. His story was interesting as well. His mother came from a military family and was well-educated, while his father had worked in manual labor his entire life. He was the second of four children, the youngest of which wasn’t even a year old. Bryan supposed he considered Kalos home, as that was where he was raised, but the family had moved from Camphrier Town after the tragic passing of both of Taran’s mother’s parents. On the positive side, they came into a lot of money with the passing. The pain of the memories was still fresh; thus, a change of scenery was in order. His father now worked as a janitor at the lighthouse and his mother concentrated on raising and educating four children. Some nights, the boy, mature beyond his age, almost out of necessity, spent nights at home with his family. He cooked or cleaned, tended for his younger brother and sister, or found some other way to lift the burden of living in a new world. Most nights, however, he spent in his bunk at the gym, often reading lengthy texts long after the other boys had fallen asleep, who were exhausted from a day of misbehaving and rough housing.

Taran definitely lacked the child-like excitement and energy that typically came with his age and his companions rarely let him forget it. To his credit, he didn’t seem to care. He went about his days minding his own business and ignoring the joys of youth as though he had lived them once and was already over whatever entertainment they provided. Bryan experienced the benefits of Taran’s attitude first-hand the morning they battled. While the other boys had inhaled their breakfasts and sprinted for the beach, Taran had slowly eaten, his nose in a book, as was usual. He then ventured down to the arena for some last-minute training.

Their battle, though entertaining, wasn’t that eventful. Taran was definitely tough, yet he still lacked experience and refinement. In addition to Aegislash, he battled with Fletchinder and Dewott. They combined to make an excellent team, playing off of each other strengths and weaknesses. The Ember Pokémon was similar to Rocket in many ways. Her speed was unbelievable, yet she lacked overall in power. Dewott, to the contrary, could hit with tremendous force, yet lacked a lot of speed. Aegislash was different altogether. Bryan had researched the Royal Sword Pokémon while staying with Professor Oak and was astounded by its versatility. In Shield form, it could weather almost any blow and partially heal off damage with a usable item Taran just called ´Leftovers.’ In Blade form, its attacks were a force to be reckoned with. With a boosting move in Swords Dance; a powerful, well-rounded attack in Sacred Sword; and priority STAB in Shadow Sneak, Aegislash had the offensive tools to tear through nearly every Pokémon. The increased utility of carrying King’s Shield to switch back into a heavily-resistant tank just made him all the more dangerous.

Bryan had never faced anything like the Ghost/Steel-type and hoped he wouldn’t have to do so often in the future. Taran knew exactly how to wield his favorite Pokémon and did massive amounts of damage to Bryan’s team before Growlithe was finally able to bring him down. The brown-haired boy took the loss with the same calm, indifference that he took with the rest of his life. He thanked Bryan for helping his training and returned to his everyday routine. Before he wandered off, Bryan had suggested to the boy that he do some training himself, along with his Pokémon. He was thin as a rail, though a little tall for his age. Although he ate ample food, he appeared malnourished and, if he ever intended to take the Gym Challenge, he would need some more meat on his scrawny bones.

A rainy April passed swiftly into a storm-filled May and eventually into a mild June. In all that time, Elizabeth hadn’t returned and, despite telling himself he wouldn’t, Bryan began to worry. He was doing just that one morning, lazing in his old recliner watching the news, when a special report flashed onto the screen.

Cinnabar Volcano Erupts, Southern Kanto Suffering the Consequences.

Bryan wasn’t overly shocked or concerned with the headline. About a week before, scientists had predicted the volcano would erupt and an evacuation was ordered. A small subtitle beneath the main headline indicated that no-one was believed to have been injured in the catastrophe. Many members of the community in Olivine had even taken to sitting on the beach in the evenings, hoping they could see the distant eruption light the skies. Bryan wasn’t concerned about Pokémon either. They understood nature and its fury better than humans. If anything, many would likely benefit from the natural disaster. No, it wasn’t the eruption that concerned him, it was one of the minor headlines scrolling slowly across the bottom of the screen.

Aggressive, unidentified Pokémon terrorizing people near Cerulean City, with any information, please call…

Mewtwo. Bryan knew it had to be. Professor Oak said it had been living in a cave north of Cerulean, perhaps the eruption had disturbed it. He had to take action. Jumping up from his chair, toppling it with a loud bang, he rushed to his desk and pulled out the bottom most drawer. Inside was a long, hand-carved box he had bought from a vendor at one of the monthly beach sales since his return. Inside were three feathers. The icy, blue-white of Articuno; the electric yellow and black of Zapdos; and the faded white of Lugia. He opened the box long enough to confirm its contents and then slammed the box shut, tossed it in his travel bag, and stumbled to the door in his rush. Jasmine met him there.

“I heard something fall,” she started, but Bryan cut her off.

“I have to go now,” he huffed, looking for a path around her.

“Is this about the eruption,” she said, not understanding his hurry, “Erin said she saw the sky shining red in the distance last night.”

“Not the eruption,” Bryan said, his voice not losing its exasperated tone, “a lot of people are in danger, I have to help them.”

Jasmine’s brow furrowed up at her uncle. She didn’t like his mysterious manner or his attitude. And as gym leader, it was her job to protect people as well.

“I am coming too.”

“I…,” Bryan started, but didn’t have time to argue, “I am flying out on Skarmory in five minutes, that is how long you have.”

“Where are we going?” was her only response.

“Mt. Silver.”

If she was stunned or troubled, her face didn’t show it and she rushed off to grab what she would need. Bryan threw on the shoes that were resting at the bottom of the stairs and, in short time, Jasmine joined him with Taran. She was giving the boy last minute instructions on how to handle the gym while she was gone. He nodded his understanding, wished her luck on her endeavor, and the two were off. They rode their nearly identical Skarmory north out of the city. They soon left the moist, salty sea air behind them and entered the cool, mountain breeze their Pokémon preferred. Skarmory weren’t the fastest Flying-type Pokémon around, but they were the best for the job at hand. Contrary to popular belief, there were few Pokémon that had the size and strength to carry adults. Though many could carry children, it took special breeds, like Skarmory, to do the heavier lifting.

The duo flew east and eventually passed over the Lake of Rage. Searching his memory for a layout of the mountains, Bryan adjusted their course to be more southeast and they continued on. Sticking to the mountain air as much as possible, they made good time and, soon enough, Blackthorn City’s outline rose and fell in the distance. Before nightfall, Bryan could see the classic, red-roofed outline of a Pokémon Center on the mountainside. It was the only one of its kind between Viridian to the east and Cherrygrove City to the west. Living and working there must have been a lonely existence and he didn’t pity the nurse who had to do it. They landed near the solitary building and dismounted. Not far from the Pokémon Center was the mouth of a cave and it was toward the opening that Bryan hurried, Jasmine in tow. The pair had spoken very little during the journey and the near silence didn’t end with their arrival. Bryan had a single-minded goal and wouldn’t be driven from it. He had secretly been doing research on Moltres since his loss at the Pokémon League and felt this was the best place to start. All of his information on the Flame Pokémon pointed to one of two locations: Victory Road or deep in Mt. Silver. The Victory Road sightings were older and scarcer, so it was into the depths of the mysterious mountain that he ventured.

The interior of the cave was pitch-black. Pulling out Magmar’s Pokéball, he lit a torch off of his molten skin and let the Spitfire Pokémon, glowing in the dim light, lead the way. Jasmine, in aiding the venture to see, produced a Litleo. Bryan briefly considered questioning about his origin. The answer, however, was obvious. Litleo was native to Kalos, thus it likely had something to do with Taran. Mind at ease on that subject, he pushed on. Jasmine had no difficulty keeping pace, but, after an hour or so of racing through the dark, creepy cave, she broke the silence.


“What are we doing here?”

“Moltres,” was the only response Bryan gave her, his voice barely above a whisper.

Her uncle didn’t even glance back at her to see the befuddled look on her face. If he didn’t expect more questions after that answer, he was crazy.

“We are looking for Moltres? The Legendary Pokémon?”

Bryan’s only response was a nod. In spite of their close relationship, Jasmine felt like screaming at her uncle’s ridiculous behavior. She maintained her composure with a deep breath of stale, musty air.

“How do you intend to find Moltres?”

“Faith,” Bryan muttered, his voice barely audible, even in the emptiness of the cave.

Throwing her arms up in the air in frustration, Jasmine gave up on questioning her uncle and just maintained her effort to keep pace with his fervor. Another hour passed and the girl’s stomach began to grumble. She mentioned it to Bryan, but he ignored her. Another half an hour and the grumbling grew louder.

“I am done with the ridiculousness,” Jasmine finally shouted, her voice echoing off the walls and coming back to them, “I am not moving from this spot until I have eaten something.”

Bryan acted as though he hadn’t heard a word of her tantrum and continued on. The ominous sound of crumbling rock and the resulting scream, however, he could not ignore. Jasmine had plopped down on a rock cropping in her outrage and leaned back against what appeared to be a solid rock wall. It wasn’t. The thin layer of stone that separated the interior of the cave from the exterior gave way beneath her weight and she fell backwards and out of the cave. Bryan wheeled around, Moltres forgotten in his fear, and tripped over the rock-strewn floor in his rush to save his niece. Moonlight was streaming from the new hole in the wall, yet Jasmine was nowhere to be seen. Discarding his backpack, Bryan gingerly placed both hands on a large rock, cautious of other collapses, and leaned out into the gleaming night. Jasmine, abject terror evident in her face, was hanging precariously two feet below the hole. Luckily, a small tree growing out of the side of the mountain had temporarily halted her fall. Taking advantage of the lifeline, she wrapped both hands around the slim branches with a death-like grip. Now, she hung from it, muscles weakening, legs dangling helplessly beneath, hundreds of feet above the valley far below. Bryan panicked and then caught himself. She had to be scared enough without him adding to her concern. His mind raced.

“Just breathe slowly, Jasmine,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady and comfort her simultaneously, “I will save you.”

“I…can’t…hold…on,” she stammered through the effort of holding onto the branch and Bryan held up a hand to stop her.

“Save your strength,” he advised, “have I ever let you down?”

“No,” she said, a strange, peaceful smile playing across her face, “I have faith in you.”

No sooner had the words left her mouth, the branch to which she was clinging snapped off the tree and she fell. Screaming in disbelief, rage, and grief, Bryan lunged after her, attempting to grasp her arm before she escaped his reach. He failed. Tears streaming down his face, he pounded his fists on the rock before him, shaking small pieces loose from the weak stones. He stepped back, wary that he too might soon be plummeting to his death. This was his fault. He shouldn’t have let her come. He should have paid more attention to her. He should have explained more. The tears continued to flow unchecked, yet, even through the unrelenting sorrow, an eerie reddish-yellow glow caught his eye against the stark gray landscape of the cave. He wiped his eyes with a dirty shirt sleeve. Sitting on the moonlight-soaked boulder, where moments before Jasmine had fallen to her death, was a feather. Moltres’ feather.

Bryan blinked rapidly and picked up the fiery feather. Holding it before his face, he contemplated it in the moonlight and a movement from below caught his attention. Rising up from the valley, majestic and beautiful against the midnight sky, was Moltres. And upon its back…

“JASMINE,” Bryan shouted, his voice hoarse from emotion, disbelief, and the crying.

His voice echoed off the walls and Bryan barely recognized the voice that came back to him. Moltres flew close to the mountain, its wings wreathed in flames, and Jasmine motioned for Bryan to join her. The Flame Pokémon was close, but Bryan still had to jump to reach it. He didn’t care. In this world of miracles, he felt he could have leapt over the Tin Tower in Ecruteak City with a foot to spare. When he landed, Moltres flapped for more altitude and began racing at unbelievable speed for the horizon. Bryan just stared at his niece.

“How,” he murmured.

“I had faith,” she responded.

The two couldn’t find any more words to share as they sped off toward Kanto, their destination clear. Cerulean City. The journey was long with the wind whipping past them, freezing upon their face, but the radiating warmth of Moltres’ body countered it. As the sun began to rise in the distance, a poor facsimile of the wonder they rode upon, Moltres began to spiral downward. They landed in Cerulean’s central square, just outside the Pokémon Gym.

Cerulean City was in chaos. Not a chaos caused by the sighting of Moltres. A primal and terrified chaos that indicated Mewtwo had left the confines of its home and entered the city. Bryan had no time to lose.

“I have to find Mortimer,” he shouted over the din.

Jasmine nodded to him, unsure if he would hear her response over the racket in the city.

“I am here,” came a voice shouting from behind them.

Bryan and Jasmine turned to see the old man approaching, accompanied by Misty. Bryan had phoned him just moments before he left Olivine the day prior. He needed his feather. Mortimer handed it to him and Bryan dropped his backpack onto the ground to retrieve the others. The feathers of five Legendary birds clasped in his hand, Bryan hurried north and toward the source of the chaos. Jasmine and Misty weren’t far behind. Mortimer decided it best to avoid the excitement.

A woman came screaming past them, holding a bleeding arm and looking terrified back over her shoulder. Bryan mirrored her gaze. Floating a foot off the ground near the edge of Nugget Bridge was Mewtwo. Bryan had seen it in dreams, yet the fear it induced in person was far beyond anything he held felt before. Jasmine and Misty, unaware of what they were facing, stopped cold. Misty attempted some words. Nothing escaped her stupefied lips.

Mewtwo was the epitome of power. And horror. Some brave trainers were attempting to subdue the beast, but their failure was complete. A Venusaur lumbered toward the Genetic Pokémon, preparing a Solar Beam. Mewtwo tossed it aside with an unbelievably powerful Psychic. A Mamoswine beared down on it from behind. Mewtwo turned with lightning speed and delivered a vicious Drain Punch. Nothing was a match for it. Bryan held his feathers before him as Moltres swept into action. Zapdos’ and Articuno’s feathers flared and the other two Legendary Pokémon appeared. Lugia and Ho-oh, however, remained absent.

Moltres bathed Mewtwo in Flamethrower, Zapdos came in behind with Thunderbolt, and Articuno finished the trio of attacks with Ice Beam. Mewtwo held out a hand and summoned a Light Screen. The attacks bounced harmlessly off. The birds wouldn’t be defeated so easily. Zapdos swooped low with a Drill Peck while Articuno and Moltres assaulted the Genetic Pokémon from the sky. Light Screen continued to hold off the ranged attacks, but, as Zapdos closed in, Mewtwo vanished. And re-appeared in the sky above the Pokémon. He cast Psychic downward and the defenseless Pokémon crashed hard into the ground with a painful shriek. Now flying at the same level as Articuno and Moltres, Mewtwo went on the offensive. Articuno withstood another Psychic and Moltres used the opportunity to launch another Flamethrower. Mewtwo extended both strange, three-fingered hands up and…Bryan couldn’t really tell. It was either deflecting Moltres’ Flamethrower or absorbing it and casting one of its own. Whatever the case, Articuno was engulfed in flames and fell from the sky to join its fellow on the ground below. Only Moltres remained. The rest of the battle didn’t last long. The Flame Pokémon flapped for altitude and attempted a Sky Attack. A sound that could have been laughter emanated from the Genetic Pokémon. Psychic threw Moltres off target and Thunder sent it crashing to the ground.

All Bryan’s hard work was for naught. The Legendary birds had failed to defeat Mewtwo and lay, battered and bruised like all the other Pokémon, at its misshapen feet. Bryan looked up. He feared what Mewtwo would do next. Floating above the carnage it had wrought, it looked to be contemplating. Then, without warning, it vanished. Bryan stared at the point where it had been, mouth agape, baffled.

In the absence of the Pokémon that had been terrorizing the city, trainers rushed in to tend to their fallen Pokémon. A beleaguered nurse from the Pokémon Center, talking frantically on the phone, also rushed toward the mess. Mortimer, who had been watching the proceedings from the safest distance he thought possible, approached. He was visibly shaking.

“Why didn’t it work,” Bryan raged, his confusion turning to anger, “the ruins, the feathers, the legends. What did we do wrong?”

“Perhaps because you didn’t earn all of the birds’ trust,” responded Mortimer, taking a step back from the steaming Bryan. The rage didn’t last long though and he plopped down on the ground, drawing symbols in the dirt and scratching his head.

“You were here,” he said shortly, “Ho-oh didn’t appear.”

“I lied,” Mortimer admitted sheepishly, drawing a sharp glance from his frustrated associate, “the story and the feather have been passed down through my family for centuries. No-one even knows who saw Ho-oh all those years ago.”

Bryan buried his face in his hands. Both Jasmine and Misty, baffled by the conversation, looked ready to say something, but the words didn’t come to them. Despite standing, and sitting, awkwardly in a ruined portion of town, people and Pokémon running hither and yon repairing damage, no-one seemed inclined to move. Finally, Mortimer broke the silence.

“I know where we can find Ho-oh. We can still stop Mewtwo.”

“And Lugia,” Bryan questioned, looking up from his hands.

“One challenge at a time,” Jasmine chimed in.

Mortimer agreed with her heartily. Perhaps the answer would present itself later. He didn’t know it at the time, but he was exactly right. In the mean time, he told Bryan what he knew of Ho-oh.

“The story about Ho-oh may not be first hand, but the details are true. The Rainbow Pokémon lives atop Tin Tower in Ecruteak. The climb up the tower is only half the battle though, I don’t know what will make the Ho-oh appear to you.”

“Power,” Bryan muttered.

“What,” his three companions asked in unison, unable to hear his undertone.

“Power,” Bryan repeated so they could he him clearly, “I don’t have time to explain. What is the fastest way to Ecruteak.”

“The train” stated Misty, contributing to the conversation for the first time, “its not a long trip south to Saffron and isn’t Ecruteak just north of Goldenrod.

Bryan confirmed her assessment.

“I don’t know what you are mixed up in,” Misty added, “but I wish you luck.”

Bryan shook her hand in thanks and motioned for Mortimer and Jasmine to follow. His niece did so obediently, but the old man waved him off. He didn’t have the legs or the spirit for adventures anymore. So long as Bryan held the Fog Badge, he would be admitted to Tin Tower. In no mood to argue, Bryan started off again. Misty stopped him with a word.

“I know a quicker way, come with me.”

Niece and uncle fell in behind the gym leader as she jogged south and then west. She stopped before the old bike shop that had closed down when its owner felt he would do better business elsewhere. Pulling a key from her pocket, she slid it in the rusted lock and pushed open the door. It creaked as it pushed through a layer of dust on the floor. Leaning against the nearest wall, also covered in a layer of dust, were half a dozen bicycles.

“Take two,” Misty said, indicating the old bikes, “Hoj couldn’t transfer all of his inventory when he moved, but the bikes work fine. Don’t worry about returning them.”

Bryan thanked Misty profusely. Selecting two bikes from the wall, Jasmine and Bryan hopped on and pedaled fast out of town. Once in Saffron, Bryan wanted to head directly for the Magnet Train. Jasmine had other ideas.

“We haven’t slept in over a day and I am starving,” she pleaded, “as urgent as your mission is, is it worth starving over?”

Bryan conceded that it wasn’t. And it was better to stop in Saffron where the hospitality was warm and familiar. Thus, off to see Sabrina they went. She greeted them kindly and fed them a big, hot breakfast of eggs and toast. With Bryan finally at her disposal, Jasmine began to grill him for information on the mysterious adventure of the past twenty-four hours. Bryan resisted her questioning. Until Sabrina started pressing him as well. Shocked at the revelation of what occurred in Cerulean City, she wanted the truth too. Bryan caved. He told them both everything. Starting with receiving the feather from Elizabeth and culminating in the discovery of Moltres and the battle with Mewtwo. He included meeting Mr. Fuji, Mew, the circumstances around his encounters with Articuno and Zapdos, and the mysteries he discovered buried at Tanoby. He omitted no detail. The women were speechless.

Breakfast was finished and the dishes were cleared away. Still no-one spoke. When at last the silence was broken, Sabrina wanted to know what he planned to do. He told her in succinct form. She agreed with his decision. Now well-fed, they laid down for a long sleep, despite the fact that it was only mid-morning. Sabrina made sure they weren’t disturbed. Around seven that evening, Jasmine and Bryan rose and were refreshed. Still feeling the urgent push at his back, Bryan wanted to be off. Sabrina couldn’t stop him from leaving. She packed them a nice meal, kissed him lightly on the cheek, and warned him against the dangers of chasing the Legendary Pokémon again. With that, he and Jasmine caught the Magnet Train to Goldenrod and were off.
 
Last edited:
A Test of Power
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
213
Reaction score
108
A Test of Power

As they had traveled with the bikes, the trip from Goldenrod to Ecruteak took considerably less time than normal. Bryan knew a short cut that bypassed National Park and, before long, they cruised by the fork that led west to National Park, east to Violet City, and north to Ecruteak. They stopped only briefly at the Pokémon Center for Bryan to have his Pokémon checked. Tin Tower was located in the far northeast reaches of the city and, as Mortimer had told them, the old monks let them pass when they presented the Fog Badge.

The climb up Tin Tower was both mentally and physically challenging. The path doubled-back and split into forks, forcing the duo to retrace their steps on many different occasions. On the fifth floor, they got so confused that they walked in circles three times before finding their way forward again. Parts of the floors and walls were cracked or broken. Bryan, being taller and more fit than his niece, didn’t have much difficulty navigating the rougher patches, but he had to help Jasmine over or around some of the obstacles. Rattata in the hundreds had also taken up residence in the old tower. On the lower floors, their progress was considerably slowed by the annoyance of the Mouse Pokémon. At long last, Bryan and Jasmine, panting and sweating from the exertion, reached the ladder to the roof.

“I need…a break,” Jasmine huffed, plopping down on the floor.

Bryan couldn’t argue with her. He wasn’t as winded as the teenager, but the last two days had taxed him mentally and a rest was much needed. He leaned back against the cool, wooden walls of the tower and closed his eyes for a moment. Above him was the roosting site of Ho-oh. Another Legendary Pokémon. He wasn’t sure what to expect when they ascended. It was doubtful that the Rainbow Pokémon would be waiting for them and he had to demonstrate his power somehow. Or did his Pokémon need to demonstrate power? Or Jasmine? It was unclear.

It was he who had shown love deep in the Seafoam Islands, yet Feraligatr who demonstrated courage before Zapdos, while Jasmine had proven her faith to Moltres. He had been weeping like a baby. The thought passing through his mind caused a surge of emotion. It had been less than two days since he thought he had lost the most important person in his life, only to have her come back to him in the most indescribable fashion imaginable. Bryan must have dozed off as he daydreamed because, the next thing he knew, Jasmine was shaking him awake, ready to continue. Steeling himself against disappointment, Bryan led the way up the final ascent. What he saw there left him speechless.

Hovering over the far end of the dazzling roof was Ho-oh. Its golden crest and tail feathers gleamed brightly in the early morning sun and its immense, multi-colored wingspan flapped effortlessly to stay aloft. The Rainbow Pokémon fixed Bryan with a hypnotic stare and he slowly strode toward the enormous bird in a trance-like state. Not even Jasmine’s awe-filled gasp of surprise snapped him from it. Ho-oh cooed gently as Bryan approached its majesty. An odd sound in comparison to the challenging shrieks Bryan had heard emitted from the other birds. He faltered. His consciousness came bubbling back to the surface. Power. The power to resist. He willed his feet to stop moving. Ho-oh’s intense gaze wavered and a look of possibly amusement crossed its avian features. Bryan reached down and tapped Ampharos’ PokéBall. The Rainbow Pokémon averted its gaze and flapped higher into the air, assessing its opponent. Bryan felt his mental facilities return in full.
Ampharos turned to his master and nodded. He was ready. Ho-oh made the first move. Sacred Fire rained down from the sky. Ampharos threw up a Light Screen. It held. A sound from behind Bryan reminded him that Jasmine had ascended too. He held a hand up to her, asking for her silence and understanding. Their ability to stop Mewtwo’s rampage might well hang in the balance. Ho-oh ceased attacking. Ampharos wasted no time. Thunderbolt arced upward and struck the flying Pokémon.

Bryan had no idea Ho-oh’s strengths and weaknesses. He assumed it was weak to electricity, but with Legendary Pokémon, who truly knew. The purpose of the battle wasn’t to win; it was to prove they were worthy. Ho-oh began to glow. Recover, Bryan thought. The battle would never end in his triumph. He patted Ampharos reassuringly and waited for the next move. Ho-oh bathed them in Sacred Fire for a second time and again Ampharos’s Light Screen held. Instead of waiting for the Light Pokémon to counter, Ho-oh cut off the attack and swooped into a powerful dive. Its wings gleamed metallic as it activated Steel Wing and Ampharos countered with Strength. The two collided, Ho-oh driving all of its force forward, Ampharos digging his heels in to hold it back. Ampharos, arms pressed hard against the shining wings, began to slide backwards. Bryan put both hands on his Pokémon’s back and pushed as well. Momentum was halted. But only for a moment. Bryan and Ampharos began to slide backwards when the former gym leader felt hands on his back too. Jasmine. She was slight of frame, but had some strength in her. They halted Ho-oh’s progress.

Ho-oh cooed again. Ending the attack, it flapped skyward and assessed all three of them. Ampharos prepared another Thunderbolt, but Sacred Fire rained down again. Light Screen. Sacred Fire intensified. It shimmered and danced against the magical barrier in front of Ampharos. Sacred Fire intensified again. Ampharos fell to one knee. Bryan didn’t know what to do. He could support his Pokémon physically, but had no capability to support Light Screen. In the end, he there was no need. Ho-oh ceased its barrage and cooed loudly, still assessing the trio. With a nigh imperceptible nod of its head, it vanished in a flash of crimson fire. Bryan and Jasmine shielded their eyes from the radiance. When they looked again, a solitary rainbow feather floated down gently on the breeze from where the Pokémon had been moments earlier. Satisfied that Ho-oh was gone and their power proven, Ampharos collapsed.

Bryan felt like doing the same thing, but he knew he couldn’t. Ampharos needed treatment and it was a long trek back down the tower. Hopefully, the return trip would be more straight forward. He re-called Ampharos and turned to lead Jasmine back down the ladder. Their way was blocked. By Elizabeth. Bryan was at a loss for words, though not for lack of trying. He stammered and stuttered, but nothing recognizable as speech left his mouth. Jasmine, equally shocked, walked forward and poked Elizabeth in the arm. She was real. The beautiful, blue-eyed woman smiled slightly at the gesture and broke the stark silence on the roof.

“I am real.”

Her words did nothing to erase the confusion on either of her companion’s faces. If anything, it only deepened. Realizing she would have to explain herself, Elizabeth continued, her sweet voice the only noise playing on the light breeze.

“You have the other four feathers?”

Bryan managed a nod, though just barely. Ho-oh’s feather was clasped gently in his hand. The other three remained in their box, safely in his backpack. He had returned Ho-oh’s other feather to Mortimer and he kept the useless, but still sentimental, Lugia feather in his trouser pocket.

“Then I suppose my task is now at hand,” Elizabeth continued.

No change in the countenance of Bryan or Jasmine. Their confusion could be no more complete. They said nothing.

“Sit,” Elizabeth said, motioning to the flat portion of the roof, “I have a story to tell and you need to listen intently.”

They did as she asked. For some reason, they felt they couldn’t have resisted if they wanted to. Elizabeth began to speak in a sorrowful voice. The tone and the nature of the story took Bryan into the past and they saw as she saw. Her memories, her pain, her secret.

“Today would have been my wedding anniversary. I was married twelve years ago today. My husband died eight years ago today.”

Bryan and Jasmine both gasped at the revelation. Bryan had been in attendance at the wedding, though he had no clue at the date. Jasmine, on the other hand, had only met Christopher a couple of times. The fact that he had died on their wedding anniversary was a horrible and tragic. Elizabeth took their reactions in stride and continued as if the speech was rehearsed.

“I thought I was going to die too. I sank deep into the ocean and, with my lungs near to bursting, I lost consciousness. When I awoke, I was in a damp cave. The beauty and majesty of the cave was indescribable, but how I got there was a mystery. I was sitting on the edge of a deep pool of water and a magnificent waterfall thundered over a high cliff face and into the pool. Running up the cliff face next to waterfall was a ladder carved into the rock. My first thought was to escape, but I was too weak from the water, so I waited. As I slept to regain strength, a strange noise, like the coo of a dove, woke me from a light slumber. Hovering before me, its regal beauty leaving me awestruck, was Lugia. He spoke to me.”

She paused for a moment to catch her breathe. The story seemed to be wearing on her. Almost as if she was in a trance as she spoke. After a moment, she continued.

“I don’t remember what Lugia said to me, but he compelled me to stay. I did so. For how long, I didn’t know until I returned home and discovered I had been missing for nearly a month. In my time with Lugia, he confided in me. He was lonely, but that was the nature of his charge. No, more importantly was the task that he had for me. I had to choose a Champion. A trainer to which I had to trust in completely. To this person, I had to withhold a secret, but beholden a feather. I chose you Bryan. You are Lugia’s Champion. You must find him, unite the elements, and defeat the unstoppable force.”

Bryan and Jasmine just stared at her in shock. The woman had always been a mystery to Bryan, but he thought it was because he loved her and that love was forbidden. Now the mystery ran so deep, he felt as though he didn’t know her at all. She had met Lugia? No, she knew Lugia. She had lived with the Legendary Pokémon. Referred to it as HE. Bryan knew that Pokémon had genders and, with few exceptions, species could be either. The Nidoran family had distinct differences in their gender lines, while other Pokémon had more subtle differences. Certain species, like Jynx and Hitmonchan, were all the same gender, yet he had never heard a Legendary Pokémon referred to by gender. The assumption was, as they were the only of their species, that they were genderless, like Magnemite or Ditto. That was only one of a million thoughts and questions that ran through the disturbed man's head. He had known this woman since she was a girl. He thought he knew her. Perhaps he was wrong. He was hoping against hope that this was the only secret she had kept from him, but, with a deception of that size, it was difficult to believe that was the case. Amid all of the confusion and irritation, Bryan's mind settled on a single thought. She had given them a way to defeat Mewtwo. Access to Lugia's secrets lay before him and, with it, the end of Mewtwo's threat.

Pushing aside all other thoughts, he forced a more pleasant look on to his face. He could sort out his personal feelings later. Placing a hand on his niece's shoulder, passively counseling her silence, Bryan opened his mouth to speak. And caught himself. His next words were almost 'we have no time to lose,' but a single word snapped across his mind before he could utter them. Patience.

"Shall we head back to the city then," he said instead, drawing a flabbergasted look from Jasmine.

"We should," Elizabeth agreed, unsnapping a PokéBall from her waist, "I hope you don’t mind that I borrowed Abra."

Jasmine looked like she was about to snap at Elizabeth, 'of course she minded;' the instant trip to the foot of the tower with Teleport, however, erased the look from her face. A short walk back to town did little to change the mood of the small group and they remained silent throughout. Elizabeth broke the melancholy mood only briefly to inform them that she had also ridden her bike to Ecruteak, so they could all return to Olivine at the same pace. The adrenaline pumping through their veins from the bike ride did nothing to improve anyone’s mood either, as clearly indicated by Jasmine’s stiff waves to some of Olivine’s locals who greeted her on the routes north of the city. They halted their bike ride in front of the gym and Elizabeth indicated, with abrupt words, that Jasmine was no longer needed. It was a blazing contrast to the woman’s normal demeanor and the young gym leader again looked as though she would snap at the older woman. Bryan calmed her with a touch on the shoulder. He dismounted as well and spoke with her softly, reassuring her that he would discover the truth behind this great mystery and return for her. In the meantime, she needed to attend to her duties as gym leader. Jasmine agreed, against her better judgement, and embraced her uncle. After throwing a dirty look at Elizabeth, she gruffly pushed open the gym doors and was gone.

“You could have handled that more gently,” Bryan said, his voice rough.

He had never seen this side of Elizabeth before and he was quite sure he didn’t like it. A curt shrug of the shoulders at his comment reinforced his dislike of her mood. For some reason, she insisted that he stay with her that evening and, begrudgingly, Bryan followed her to the tiny villa on the edge of town that she called home. He had been there many times, yet, at the moment, something seemed off. Normally the small abode teemed with life. Now, it was empty and lonely. Elizabeth, despite her distaste of battling, loved Pokémon greatly and showed her affection by caring for lost or injured Pokémon. Truly, she was a stronger healer than the nurses at the Pokémon Center, but no-one was gutsy enough to say that aloud. At any one time, her house would be filled with wild Pokémon she had found on shore or other Pokémon that trainers had left temporarily in her care. Now, the silence in her house was uncanny.

She bade him to make himself at home and then stepped out again, supposedly to hire a boat for the next day. Bryan wanted to ask why. He had Ferligatr and Cloyster that could carry them to the Whirl Islands and he knew that she had Lapras, which would be more than enough to ferry them both wherever they needed. She was gone so fast, however, that he never got a chance. Elizabeth didn’t return to the villa until after Bryan had grown frustrated and turned in for the night. He had wasted several hours searching her house for some clue as to her recent changes, but found nothing. After realizing she had no intention of returning, he made himself a small dinner and turned in early. They were up with the dawn the next day and pushed out on a small skiff. Bryan was forced to row, but he relished in the task, as the manual labor took his mind off everything else. He had assured Elizabeth that they didn’t need to rush, remembering that patience was the key to meeting Lugia, but she had ignored him and hurried him down to the coast. The only words she muttered the entire trip were, ‘your patience will be tested soon enough.’ With that thought, or warning, ringing in his head, he gave up conversing with his oldest friend and concentrated on making the journey as short as possible. Luckily, the sea was smooth and a steady wind from astern pushed them along at a good clip. Within a few hours, the Whirl Islands were shadows on the horizon and by mid-afternoon, they had landed on the northeast island. Bryan was baffled at how they passed among the islands so easily. The massive whirlpools that protected the island’s secrets, and gave the islands their names, were calmed to mere eddies. Silence continued to hover between the two friends as Bryan lifted both his pack and Elizabeth’s on to his sore shoulders. She had packed both of them during the night and made no effort to help him with his burden. Bryan gritted his teeth and said nothing.
 
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Patience
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Patience

Elizabeth led him into a cave. Much like the Seafoam Islands in Kanto, the Whirl Islands were lit by sunlight that filtered through skylights in the cave ceiling and down to lower levels by gaps or holes in the cave floor. Despite living only a short way from the mysterious islands, Bryan had only explored them once. They were considered highly dangerous and the difficulty of access led to minimal exploring of the large island chain. Elizabeth, however, knew exactly where she was going. She took an immediate right after entering the cave and nimbly vaulted over a low rock ledge. Next, she headed north, demonstrated her acrobatics a second time and disappeared from Bryan’s view. Lugging the two heavy bags, one slung over his back, the other shifting back and forth from one hand to the other, Bryan attempted to keep up. He had to toss one bag over the low ledges before climbing over himself and was silently thankful that Elizabeth was waiting for him at the top of a ladder in a shadowy corner of the cave. She descended with him in tow.

Bryan’s muscles screamed as he tried to keep up with the nimble woman who, evidently, had no concern for the man lugging two heavy bags at breakneck pace through the mostly dark cave. The rare ray of sun that snuck through the cracks and holes above illuminated an interesting scene around Bryan, but he had no time to enjoy it. It looked as though they were traveling along a ledge overlooking other parts of the cave and, to Bryan’s surprise, he didn’t see any water either on their level or below them. They came to another ladder and descended. Bryan’s curiosity about the lack of water ended. To his left was a shimmering lake of pristine water and in the near distance, he could hear the crash of a waterfall. He remembered Elizabeth’s description of the grotto she had awoken in to find Lugia. They had arrived.

Sure enough, Elizabeth flung herself over the apparent edge of a cliff and began to descend. Bryan, more timidly, followed her lead. He positioned both bags awkwardly on his back and prayed he could make it. The foot-and hand-holds in the wall were wet and smooth, making his grip tenuous. In addition, the weight and balance of the bags on his back threatened to pull him backward and off the natural ladder. Halfway down, with his muscles screaming, Bryan hugged the wall and removed both bags. He tossed them into the waterfall, hoping the current would carry them, more-or-less safely, into the water below. Relieved of the burden, Bryan finished his descent more quickly.

At the bottom of the horrendous climb, Bryan found himself in the grotto Elizabeth had described, the crystalline basin of water frothed white by the mighty waterfall cascading into its depths. Movement in the near darkness caught his eye and he turned to see Elizabeth pulling one of the bags out of the underground lake. Behind her, Elizabeth pulled the other bag out of the underground lake. Bryan did a double-take. Elizabeth One. Elizabeth Two. How? Intrigued, yet wary, he moved closer to where they were dragging the bags. A small, unlit fire pit was visible beside a mattress lying on the stone ground. Some unburnt food scraps were still visible in the fire pit and a small, nearly empty basket of fruit was beside it. In his preoccupation, Bryan kicked a rock across the hard ground and both Elizabeths turned to look at him. One glanced over him with mild disinterest, while the other’s face lit up. The cheerful one started toward him, arms spread to embrace him.

Bryan, his frustration and ire with the woman still fresh, made to rebuke her. He changed his mind at the last second. Resting on her elegant neck was a necklace made from a strange, broken seashell. Of all the beautiful shells she had found over the beach in her life, she had decided to keep that one for herself. Bryan knew it well. This was the true Elizabeth. Her necklace clattered against the seashell necklace Bryan was wearing and the two shared a long, loving hug that said more than either of them could have put into words. Bryan forgave her for all the transgressions of the past two days, realizing someone else had been imperfectly impersonating her. More and more questions rose to his throat, but the most pressing came out first.

“Who is that?”

“Not who, what,” Elizabeth responded, her voice a little raspy, as though she hadn’t used it in some time, “that is Zoroark.”

“The Illusion Fox Pokémon,” Bryan questioned, remembering reading about the enigma.

“Yes,” she said, her tone somber, “an extremely powerful one in the service of Lugia.”

“It speaks,” Bryan stated.

“A rare gift in Pokémon,” Elizabeth admitted, “but it isn’t unheard of. Lugia also speaks the human tongue. I have also heard rumors of a Meowth who can do so and a Slowking who lives in the Sevii Islands.”

“Mew spoke as well,” Bryan replied, reflecting on his encounter with the Legendary Pokémon.

Elizabeth only nodded and led him to the edge of her mattress so they could sit. The surface was damp, but dryer than the cave floor and softer too. Zoroark, its secret revealed, reverted to its natural form and disappeared into the shadows. Bryan glanced about at their surroundings again. The waterfall and lake were beautiful. The limited light filtering down from above reflected off both surfaces, providing more light than much of the rest of the cave.

“How long have you been here,” Bryan asked, concerned.

“Too long,” Elizabeth said, her voice still somber, “some months ago now, I imagine, Zoroark came for me. He brought me to this cave and told me I had to stay until Lugia returned.”

Bryan’s eyes got wide at the mention of Lugia, but she informed him that the Legendary Pokémon hadn’t been home in that time. She continued.

“From time to time, Zoroark will leave the cave and bring me food. As I was running low, I assumed that is why he had left this time. I suppose I was right, in a way.”

She opened both bags to discover both of them stuffed to the brim, nearly entirely with food. Bryan’s also had a knapsack and a blanket, an indication that he may be in the cave for some time too. Patience, he reminded himself. Though Elizabeth’s far more than his own. They sat quietly for a time, looking for the right words. Elizabeth munched on an apple from his bag, while he contemplated how to ask the next question. He didn’t want to broach such brash topics just after finding her, but he didn’t know if he would get another opportunity.

“Zoroark told us a different story about how your husband died.”

“It is true, I imagine,” she said, the continuously somber face one that Bryan was unaccustomed to seeing, “Lugia told me, in finding his Champion, I had to keep a secret and bestow a feather. That was part of the secret.”

“I understand,” said Bryan, trying to do exactly that.

In truth, he was just as confused as ever. If she was truly in the service of Lugia, he could forgive her secret as easily as he forgave her attitude; neither truly being her nature. The first being the product of her loyalty, the second, not her at all. Silence again fell over the cave and Bryan added the sound of his munching on an apple to that of Elizabeth’s.

“I am sorry I got you caught up in all of this,” Elizabeth said at last, her facial expression indicating just how sorry she was.

“Don’t be,” Bryan assured her, wishing to see her beautiful smile again, “I may not have chosen this road myself, but I have walked it and I am a better man for it. I have grown, in strength and character. I couldn’t have done that without your decision or your spirit that I carry with me always.”

Elizabeth blushed deeply and a shadow of her normal smile attempted to push its way through the gloom.

“Jasmine said you have been seeing Sabrina,” Elizabeth commented, the shadowy smile disappearing.

Bryan frowned. It was true, Sabrina and he had grown close over the past year, but thinking on it now made him feel guilty. Thinking of the trials that his oldest friend had suffered in his absence made him feel guiltier. Elizabeth, seeing the pain and emotion on his face, touched his shoulder and apologized for saying anything.

“No, you’re right,” Bryan responded, “I have been seeing Sabrina, but in the end, she isn’t you.”

Taking the brown-haired lady’s hand, he looked deep into her sapphire blue eyes. A tear rolled down her cheek.

“I have always loved you more than anything else. I just have never been able to express these emotions.”

Bryan was crying now too. He must have been quite a sight, sitting before the woman he had loved all his life, tears streaming down his cheeks, pouring his heart out. Elizabeth leaned forward and, through the flow of their tears, kissed him passionately on the lips. Bryan returned her kiss, feeling a great weight lifted from his heart. When the emotions settled and the passion faded, the two friends sat in the radiant cave discussing more mundane matters. Bryan’s adventures since he had left, the burden Elizabeth had felt keeping her secret, and Jasmine's success as a gym leader. As the sunlight faded, Elizabeth lit a fire in the pit and they cooked some fish for dinner. Bryan slept little that night, his mind racing with a million thoughts and his body uncomfortable on the cave floor. The next day, their conversation rotated between adventurous stories and plans for the future. What would Bryan do once Lugia returned? How would they find Mewtwo again? Did the two of them have a future together?

The next day passed much in the same way and, luckily, Bryan found a pack of playing cards and some dice buried in his bag beneath the rations of food. Games, light meals, and talking filled the next eight days. Sleeping was sporadic and poor. Elizabeth offered to let him have the mattress on multiple occasion, but his pride and a stubborn sense of chivalry prevented it. By day nine, the food which Bryan had labored so hard to bring into the cave was running low and Zoroark, without a word to the two humans, climbed the devilish ladder to fetch them some more. At that point, neither of the sequestered people thought much of it and continued with their normal day’s activities. In just over a week’s time, they had bridged the emotional gap that had been growing between them for a decade. Secret revealed, Elizabeth could once again confide fully in her best friend. Bryan, having re-discovered his passion and self, opened up to her his greatest fears and desires. So close did they grow, they hardly minded spending their time in a dank cave, some unknown distance beneath the ocean, relying on a temperamental Zoroark for food. They grew so accustomed to the environment of the cave, Bryan immediately realized when something seemed off. Rising from the rock he had been perched on, he walked to the edge of the rippling lake. Without warning, a great column of water exploded upward and then crashed downward, soaking Bryan and Elizabeth to the bone.

Lugia. Bryan stared. Lugia was massive. It was larger even than the radiant Ho-oh: three times the size of the birds from Kanto. For the most part, its massive body was covered in shimmering white feathers. Their brilliance doing shame to the dull, white feather Bryan still possessed. Surrounding its eyes and on its tail were hard, dark blue growths, similar to the eight square spikes protruding from its back. Its stomach was covered in ocean blue feathers instead of white, giving it the appearance of a dragon more than a bird.

“SO YOU ARE MY CHAMPION,” he spoke, the words booming in Bryan’s head, much like Mew’s, just on a much higher volume, “IT SEEMS YOU CHOSE WELL, MY DEAR.”

Elizabeth smiled meekly up at the enormous creature. Her face was a mix of complex mix of emotions. She was no doubt happy that he had saved her life and proud that he had chosen her for such an important task. At the same time, she was disappointed that he had forced her to keep such a secret and angry at his contemporary's treatment of both her and Bryan. Somehow, her face seemed to portray all of those emotions simultaneously. Lugia noticed.

“I AM TRULY SORRY FOR YOUR TRIALS,” the voice continued, no less loudly and addressing both of them, “BUT THE PATH OF THOSE WITH GREAT DESTINIES IS NEVER EASY AND ALWAYS REQUIRES SACRIFICE.”

Neither human spoke, the awe inspired by the Pokémon’s size and presence acting to stem their flow of thoughts and questions. Lugia, perhaps readings their minds or perhaps simply on his own agenda, answered two of their questions with his next booming declaration and set their course.

“YOUR TRIAL OF PATIENCE HAS COME TO AN END. MEWTWO HAS BEEN LOCATED. WE SHALL LEAVE AT ONCE.”

Lugia landed lightly on the surface of the water. An act that seemed impossible for a creature with its bulk. Extending a long wing down to them, he invited them to climb on to his back. They did so and his booming voice advised them to hold on. Clutching one of Lugia’s back spikes, Bryan braced for the impending dive into the cold water beneath them. It never came. Instead, Lugia shimmered an off shade of purple, a sickening feeling rattled Bryan’s stomach, and they found themselves soaring high in the clouds.

“Teleport,” Bryan mouthed the words in Elizabeth’s direction to answer her confused look.

He had experienced the symptoms the first time an Abra had Teleported him, but he had been prepared for subsequent trips, thus the nauseating feeling normally didn’t affect him. This time was different. It was all he could do to keep from hurling all over the clean, white feathers. Elizabeth appeared to be sharing the same problem. Somehow, they both succeeded in keeping down their breakfasts. When the stomach churning stopped, both humans, clinging tightly to their perches, leaned toward Lugia’s sides to examine their surroundings. Clouds surrounded them on all sides. If they hadn’t already been soaked, the moisture of the clouds would have seeped into their skin. Below them, high mountains, occasionally dotted with fir trees, zipped by. Bryan and Elizabeth shared a look, wondering where they were.

“KALOS,” came the booming reply to their thoughts.

Lugia could read their minds. At least the thoughts on the surface. The duo glanced down again, taking in the beauty of the region neither had ever traveled to. The mountains soon gave way to a wide river pouring over steep cliffs in the form of half a dozen raging waterfalls. At the base of the waterfalls, settled on the banks of a mighty river flowing from the mountains, was a town. The town came and went in a flash, giving way to a massive canyon. A warm, yet pungent, air rose up from the canyon, emanating from the swamp settled in its basin. Swinging over the entirety of the canyon, leading to another town, was a sturdy rope bridge. In utter contrast to the warm swamp and canyon, the town was covered in a thick blanket of snow. Bryan wondered at the snow’s origin, as it only covered the small town and the area directly around it. Almost like a personal snowstorm constantly blew through the odd hamlet. Southwest of the city was a sprawling forest. It was in this direction that Lugia flew. Once clear of the town, Lugia dove low and skimmed over the numerous treetops. Deep in the forest, the trees opened into a glade. Beautiful yellow wildflowers filled much of the space and a gentle river flowed around its western perimeter, fed by a waterfall falling gracefully from a northern cliff face.

They found the other four birds waiting there, anticipating their arrival. Dozens of other Pokémon dotted the landscape as well. An oblivious Snorlax slept beneath a lean-to, but most of the other Pokémon were hiding from the terrifying and beautifully powerful birds. The Legendary Pokémon ignored the lesser Pokémon. They each focused their gaze on a single spot. A cave mouth in the side of the small cliff. Lugia landed and his passengers slid down from his back, barely twenty yards from the opening of the cave.

“YOU MUST DRAW OUT MEWTWO,” Lugia instructed, his voice calmly ordering Bryan to risk his life, “THEN WE CAN END THIS MADNESS.”

Bryan took a deep breathe. He had faced down the monster in dreams and reality. His fear of it was real. Elizabeth placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and walked toward the cave. She hadn’t seen the monster. She didn’t know what she was facing. He couldn’t even pretend to protect her from it, but he stepped quickly to catch her anyway. Side by side, they breached the darkness of the cave. The interior was lit, but where the ambient light emitted from was a mystery. The grotto was small, Bryan could see each of its four walls and the ceiling upon entry. As such, Mewtwo immediately spotted them. An angry look of recognition swept across its angular purple face. Antagonizing it was unnecessary, it wasted no time in attacking. Without hesitation, Bryan and Elizabeth sprinted back into the daylight. They were greeted by the welcome sight of the Legendary Pokémon hovering above them. As soon as Mewtwo followed them into the sunshine, all hell broke loose.

Articuno launched Ice Beam, Zapdos conjured Thunderbolt, and Moltres blasted Mewtwo with Flamethrower. Much like before, the Genetic Pokémon repelled their blasts with Light Screen. Ho-oh added Sacred Fire to the assault and Lugia unleashed an unbelievable Aeroblast. Mewtwo faltered. A moment later, however, it disappeared and the birds relinquished their attacks. Bryan, with a hand clasping Elizabeth’s, retreated away from the cliff face to a place of relative safety. An eerie quiet came over the glade in Mewtwo’s absence. And then, Bryan spotted the monster.

“THERE,” he shouted, pointing to the cliff edge beside the waterfall.

Mewtwo had re-appeared and was hold something in each three-fingered hand. The left hand contained a large, shiny orb of some kind, its glassy purple surface reflecting the sunlight. In the other hand was a similar object, but much smaller and rainbow in color. A malevolent grin formed on Mewtwo’s face. It smashed the two orbs together, shattering them into a thousand pieces, and began to glow. When the glowing stopped, Mewtwo had changed. Instead of its long, dark purple tail, a similar appendage swept back from its now less-angular face. A half-moon shaped crest also encircled the top of its head. Its strangely-shaped hands and feet plumped and their fingers elongated. The creature before them was still Mewtwo, yet somehow it had…evolved. No, that was impossible. Yet it radiated an even greater power than ever.

Their avian faces showing no less bemusement than Bryan and Elizabeth’s, the Legendary Pokémon renewed their assault. Mewtwo deflected each of their attacks with a swipe of its hand. It moved so fast it was almost imperceptible to the eye. With the assaults thwarted, Mewtwo began one of its own. A barrage of Aura Spheres burst forward, scattering its opponents. Articuno, the slowest of them, took a direct hit and fluttered to the ground. Next, Thunder began to rain down from the cloud-less sky. Again, the other Legendary Pokémon weaved to and fro, attempting to dodge the relentless attacks. Moltres and Ho-oh were struck by the terrifying display. Like its counterpart, Moltres fluttered to the ground, but Ho-oh persevered and returned to the attack. It swept into a swift Steel Wing, Lugia blasting Mewtwo with Aeroblast as cover. Steel Wing struck Mewtwo, forcing it further back on the plateau, but Ho-oh had set itself up for a counterattack. Placing a long-fingers hand on the ground, Mewtwo jerked upward, unleashing Stone Edge. Ho-oh had weathered the special attack, but was less adept at dealing with the physical one. It was flung backwards and over the cliff face, careering downward to join its fellows. Now, only Lugia and Zapdos remained airborne. A product, mostly, of their superior speed. Mewtwo was faster.

Ripping earth from the side of the cliff, he flung Rock Slide forward at both Pokémon. They dodged easily, but Mewtwo used the distraction to isolate Zapdos. Getting in close to the Electric Pokémon, he guaranteed that Lugia couldn’t attack from range without possibly hitting his ally. Zapdos, tangled in a one-on-one with the powerful Mewtwo, refused to back down. It lashed out with Drill Peck. Mewtwo dodged left and floated underneath its foe. It lashed out with another Aura Sphere. Zapdos took the attack and attempted a second Drill Peck. It shattered the Barrier produced by Mewtwo, but did no damage. Again and again, Zapdos lashed out. Mewtwo flitted around it, always out of reach. As the Electric Pokémon tired, Mewtwo dropped beneath it and attacked again. With Ice Beam. Another Legendary Pokémon fluttered down to decorate the flowered glade. Only Lugia remained.

Mewtwo sized up Lugia. The Diving Pokémon did the same. Lugia was three-times bigger than his foe, but Mewtwo had a fearlessness and ferocity that belied it size. It unleashed Psychic. Lugia barely flinched from the attack. He countered with Hydro Pump. The Genetic Pokémon could have dodged the attack or used Light Screen, yet it decided to take the attack. Proof that it could weather Lugia’s attacks as well as the bigger Pokémon took everything it dished out. Bryan and Elizabeth huddled beneath a tree, looking up at the two Pokémon hovering above them. It was going to be a long battle.

Lugia was faster than one might think and had no difficulty absorbing many of Mewtwo’s attacks. On the flipside, Lugia’s attacks weren’t the most powerful and Mewtwo’s bulk, in addition to Recover, made the battle seem without end. In the end, fatigue was the deciding factor. As sunset stained the foreign sky crimson and gold, Lugia’s bulk and long hours in the air began to take their toll. Seeing its opening, Mewtwo renewed its assault in full. Rock Slide flew forward, Thunder rained down, and Aura Sphere burst forth. The Diving Pokémon avoided some of the attacks, but the ones that found their mark began to do their damage. Too weak to counter, Lugia fluttered to the ground and glared up at Mewtwo. It had returned to its perch on the cliff edge, malevolent grin plastered across its face. Lugia used Recover. The grin vanished. The never-ending battle would continue, yet Mewtwo had grown bored of the duel and, once again, disappeared.

For long, countless moments, Lugia and Bryan searched the surroundings for Mewtwo’s return. It didn’t come. They had lost. Lugia sighed, a very human expression, and settled its great bulk down on the valley floor to rest. Elizabeth and Bryan left the safety of their tree and crossed the shallow river. The lady, her blue eyes dancing in the rising moonlight, tended to the fallen Pokémon. Bryan approached Lugia and, instinctively, place a hand on his long snout.

“ALL IS NOT LOST,” the thunderous voice said, losing none of its potency in Lugia’s fatigue.
 
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The Titans and their Master (Part 1)
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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The Titans and Their Master (PART 1)

Bryan opened his mouth to speak, but it wasn’t necessary, Lugia knew his thoughts before they escaped his lips.

“WE WILL TRAVEL TO SINNOH AND SEEK OUT THE COLOSSUS AND ITS TITANS.”

Only a true master can control the titans. The line jumped from Bryan’s memory. What did it mean? Is it relevant?

“WE WILL FIND OUT,” Lugia said, inside his head once more, “TOGETHER.”

They rested that night in the protected glade. In time, each of the Legendary Pokémon recovered their strength, took to the air, and disappeared into the night sky, perhaps forever. Only Lugia stayed. When the sun rose over Pokémon Village, Lugia awoke. He spoke peacefully with the Pokémon of the village for a long while and then turned to Bryan and Elizabeth. He allowed them to climb onto his broad back once more and they were off. Like the day before, they Teleported a great distance to start their journey. Bryan was more prepared for it, but his stomach still churned. Perhaps the great distances they were traveling were they cause.
They re-appeared over an unknown ocean, an enormous island’s shadow rising up in the distance before them. Lugia flew low over the pristine water until they reached landfall. He then gained altitude in huge chunks with slow, powerful flaps of his long wings. The sandy shoreline quickly gave way to deep, thick forests as the ocean disappeared behind them. Eventually, the temperature began to drop, despite the time of year, and snow began to fall. Through the soon blinding snow, Bryan spotted a village.

“SNOWPOINT CITY,” Lugia explained, “THERE YOU WILL FIND SNOWPOINT TEMPLE AND THE RESTING PLACE OF THE COLOSSUS. TREAD CAREFULLY.”

The Diving Pokémon landed well outside the city. Wrapping their thin coats around themselves, Bryan and Elizabeth headed into town. The forest around the city was dense and the snow made trudging through it even more difficult. When they finally emerged, they were wet, cold, and tired. They entered a clearing on the west side of the city and Bryan could see a Pokémon Gym in front of them. He momentarily considered asking the leader for help, but the trademark red roof of a Pokémon Center was visible through the falling snow and he led Elizabeth that direction instead.

At the Pokémon Center, the two were able to dry off, warm up, and fill their bellies with hot food. The nurse at the front counter explained that the strange weather was due to cold air blowing down off Mt. Coronet in the center of the region. She lent them heavy fur coats for their visit and they headed back into the snow. Snowpoint Temple was at the far northern end of the city. It wasn’t a long walk, yet deep snow covered the ground and the cold, white flakes still fell in blankets, making the trip far longer than it should have been. Upon arrival, they were met by a stocky woman with sheer white hair and a warm smile despite the cold temperature. She was older than her visitors by probably a decade, yet was pretty nonetheless. Her clothes were plain and designed for the weather. She assessed them with a casual attitude before asking them about their business at the temple.

“We just wish to explore the temple,” Bryan replied, masking his lie with a portion of the truth.

“Only those who have won the eight badges of Sinnoh have the right to access Snowpoint Temple,” she responded, politely, yet firmly.

Bryan explained that he had just arrived in the Sinnoh region, but he had won eight badges in both the Kanto and the Johto regions. The temple guardian seemed impressed, yet rules were rules. Elizabeth pressed her.

“We only wish to explore a bit, we understand that Snowpoint Temple is one of the great landmarks of the region.”

Bryan was both impressed and concerned with her ability to lie. The guardian, too, was more swayed by her arguments. And possibly charm. Bryan was lacking in the charm department.

“You are clearly a talented trainer and the dangers of the temple shouldn’t be beyond you,” the brown-eyed woman stated, “to prove your strength, I, Ejen, guardian of Snowpoint Temple, challenge you. Win and gain entry. Lose and I will continue to bar your way.”

That seemed fair to Bryan. He accepted the challenge. Ejen stepped away from the high doorway of the temple and led the two inside. Bryan thought it was odd to hold a battle to determine his entry within the temple itself, but, upon looking around, he understood why. The first level of the temple was very simple and uninteresting. A few random pillars decorated the room and a tall, unrecognizable Pokémon statue was built along the back wall. The temperature, although warmer than outside in the driving snow, was cold and the floor was slippery with ice. The trainers decided on a straightforward 3v3 format. Ejen took up a position against the left wall of the building and Bryan the right. Bryan chose Feraligatr as his first Pokémon and Ejen used an Alolan Ninetales. With the summoning of her Pokémon, it began to snow within the temple as well. The former gym leader was shocked. He had read about Pokémon who could naturally summon weather, but this was the first he had met. The temple guardian would be a tough opponent. He didn’t know how right he was.

“Feraligatr, Dragon Dance.”

“Killer Frost, Aurora Veil.”

Bryan chuckled a little at Ninetales’ nickname as both Pokémon performed their first move. Feraligatr danced himself into a frenzy, while Ninetales concentrated and a beautiful rainbow began to shimmer through the falling snow.

“Feraligatr, Hydro Pump.”

Bryan, feeling the need to turn up the offensive pressure, pushed his assault. Hydro Pump tore through the air. And then something strange happened. Aurora Veil was acting with the snow to dissipate the attack. By the time it reached Ninetales, its potency was little more than that of Water Gun. Killer Frost countered.

“Freeze Dry.”

A Water-type’s worst nightmare. Already cold from the snow and the air, Feraligatr was slowed and couldn’t avoid the incoming blast of air. Freeze Dry was potent against Water-types and the Big Jaw Pokémon didn’t stand a chance. Ejen had a lead. Bryan thought Pokémon number two was a no-brainer, so he chose Growlithe. Flamethrower, however, was weakened by Aurora Veil too and Alolan Ninetales’ secondary Fairy-typing limited its effectiveness. Luckily, neither Freeze Dry nor Moonblast were overly effective on Growlithe either, so Ejen resorted to more consorted measures.

“Killer Frost, Confuse Ray.”

The attack landed, but Growlithe, now constantly carrying a Persim Berry to deal with Outrage’s confusion, healed himself and countered. Body Slam did good damage and closed the distance between the Pokémon. Ninetales, preferring to attack from range, was put at a major disadvantage and Growlithe was able to finish her with Crunch. Ejen’s next Pokémon was Alolan Sandslash. Bryan racked his brain quickly, remembering that the Alolan-variant of the Kanto-native Pokémon was Ice/Steel-type. An excellent match-up for Growlithe. Bryan wondered briefly at the choice, and the oddity of two Alolan Pokémon being used in Sinnoh, but quickly turned back to the battle.

“Growlithe, Flamethrower.”

“Wolverine, Slash.”

Sandslash shot forward with unbelievable speed, practically skating over the slick floor. He dodged nimbly away from Flamethrower and landed a strong Slash across Growlithe’s back. With the distance closed again, Bryan resorted to closer combat fighting. Outrage ensued. Growlithe landed a couple of agile blows. It looked as though the Puppy Pokémon had gained the upper hand when suddenly…she slipped. Unaccustomed to the icy floor, Growlithe lost her footing and crashed to the floor. It was all Ejen needed.

“Wolverine, Earthquake.”

Bryan’s chances of exploring the temple were fading away. He had been chosen as Lugia’s Champion. He couldn’t let the Legendary Pokémon down. His final Pokémon choice was important, so he gave it some thought. Pidgeotto was out of the question against an Ice-type, just as Cloyster would be ineffective against Sandslash’s Steel-typing. Heracross was a possibility, but he could never go wrong with Ampharos. Earthquake could present a problem, but he could deal with it.

“Ampharos, Thunderbolt.”

Sandslash was fast in the attack, yet his dodging skills were limited and Thunderbolt struck home. Ejen ordered Earthquake to counter, but Sandslash didn’t move. Thunderbolt had paralyzed him. Now was Bryan’s chance.

“Ampharos, Fire Punch.”

The Light Pokémon ambled forward, wary of the icy floor. Wolverine struggled against his paralysis. It was no use. Fire Punch caught him across the jaw and sent the ice mouse flying. The match was even. Luck had run with Bryan in the last duel, but he was wary of his opponent’s skills and strategy. It wasn’t over yet. Ejen chose Glaceon. Three Ice-types. Bryan supposed it made sense for the environment and the Pokémon worked well together, but it was rarely a good strategy to use three Pokémon of the same type. Ejen did her best to prove him wrong.

“Glaceon, Blizzard.”

A strong wind whipped the existing snow into a flurry and targeted Ampharos. He threw up a Light Screen. It was only partially effective against the swirling snow and the temperature dropped to a nearly unbearable temperature. Ampharos visibly shivered and Bryan mirrored the reaction. He needed to end this quickly.

“Ampharos, Thunderbolt.”

“Glaceon, Double Team.”

As duplicates began to appear, Thunderbolt eliminated them, but the true Glaceon blended into the falling snow and remained elusive. A Quick Attack suddenly hit Ampharos from one side and he attempted to reign his opponent in with Strength. Glaceon disappeared back into the snow. Again, the Fresh Snow Pokémon shot out of the natural camouflage and, again, disappeared before Ampharos could react. The bigger, stronger Pokémon was wearing down with the cold, snow, and barrage of attacks. A third time, Glaceon could be heard sprinting through the shimmering snow. And then the snow stopped. Glaceon was revealed before she could land her attack. Ampharos was ready with a Fire Punch. His opponent was knocked backward, but survived the blow.

“Glaceon, Blizzard.”

Another snow storm blasted forth and Ampharos countered in the same way. Without the pre-existing snow, Light Screen deflected the full force of the blow and left Glaceon open for another attack. It didn’t survive the second Fire Punch. Bryan had skimmed by. Elizabeth clapped him on the back and Ejen walked briskly back across the temple.

“As promised, you can have full access to the temple,” she said, “but I will be accompanying you.”

Bryan wanted to argue, but he held his tongue. Supervised access was better than no access at all. Elizabeth’s silence agreed with him. Recalling their Pokémon, Ejen led the duo down a set of steep stairs, warning them with a stiff word about the build-up of ice. The first and second basements of the building were even less exciting than the main floor. A few pillars supported the ceiling, ancient boulders were strewn across the floor, and they had to navigate some icy patches, but it was far from exciting. Bottom floor number three, however, presented an interesting challenge. The whole of the floor was covered in a thin sheet of ice and they had to purposely slide across it to reached the next staircase. Ejen was well-practiced in both impromptu skating and the route they needed to take across the floor, so Bryan and Elizabeth carefully followed in her wake. Elizabeth, who went between her and Bryan, had little difficulty navigating the room. She was light on her feet and nimble, showing off a gracefulness that impressed Bryan. His effort, on the other hand, was positively embarrassing. He had difficulty staying on his feet, falling over boulders and crashing into the wall. At one point, he fell face first and slid on his stomach to the next dry spot on the floor. The girls succeeded in withholding their laughter and judgement, but, by the time Bryan joined them, he was sore and bruised in a dozen places.

After the horrible trial, Bryan was glad that the next floor was as boring as the two above and breathed a sigh of relief when they reached the final basement. At the base of the stairs, a tall mural decorated the wall. A huge Pokémon with long arms and six jewels or lights adorning its torso rose up above a village at its feet. No doubt the Colossus that Lugia had spoken of. Standing before the Pokémon were three smaller, yet similar looking Pokémon. They were arranged in a perfect triangle. One to the left, one to the right, and one to directly in front of the towering Pokémon. They had their arms raised to it, as if praising, or possibly controlling, the Colossus. Beneath the scene, written in Unown, were these words:

Regigigas
The Colossal Pokémon
When at last the titans of Ice, Rock, and Steel return
The Colossus will rise and bring an end to the chaos


“You can read that,” Ejen said incredulously.

“I have had a lot of practice,” Bryan admitted, “this writing is found in nearly every region of Pókran.”

Ejen gave him an admirable look, but Elizabeth seemed unsurprised. Perhaps the wonders she had seen in her life had begun to desensitize her. Whatever the case, Ejen was raving about how she had spent nearly half her life protecting the temple and never met anyone who could read Unown. Bryan shrugged sheepishly and evaluated the meaning of the words.

“I suppose this means we have to present these titans before Regigigas to wake it,” he postulated, “but I wouldn’t know where to find any of them.”

“That I can help with,” Ejen chimed in.

Leading them out on to another icy floor, she skated her way in a familiar pattern to the middle of the room. Standing there, towering much taller than its doppleganger on the top floor was another statue of Regigigas. Bryan didn’t think much of it and Elizabeth voiced his opinion before he could say it himself.

“Another statue?”

“This isn’t a statue,” Ejen stated, smiling broadly, “it is the form of Regigigas, awaiting the return of the titans.”

Bryan looked up in disbelief. And wondered why. The statue was a mirror image of the picture in the mural and towered above all of them. If the titans were required to awaken it, then it could indeed be resting as a statue. So, they had found Regigigas, but what of the titans of Ice, Rock, and Steel? Before he could voice his question, Elizabeth’s voice called to him.

“Look at these impressions in the floor. They look like footprints.”

Bryan rushed over to her. She was right. Directly in front of Regigigas were two matching footprints, partially depressed into the floor, as if something could slide into them. They were a strange shape, almost bug-like, but Bryan could think of nothing else they could be, save footprints. An idea struck him. Tracing a diagonal line to his left, he found what he was looking for. Another set of footprints. They were a different shape, a smaller circle inside a large circle. Bryan had no doubt they belonged to a titan. He traced another line directly in front of the frozen Pokémon. It took a second to find the final set of footprints, they were just small, circular holes in the floor. Bryan brimmed with excitement.

“This is exactly what is described in the mural,” Bryan exclaimed, breathing hard in exhilaration, “the titans stand on these spots,” he indicated their unique footprints, “and awaken Regigigas.”

“And where are these titans,” Elizabeth asked, taking some air out of his excitement.

Ejen piped up again, “perhaps I can help with that too.”

She led them carefully back across the ice, wary of Bryan’s ineptitude at crossing it. His “ice legs” were getting more experience, yet he still fell several times. He found Ejen standing at the base of the stairs again, pointing up at the other wall. Somehow, in his excitement at seeing the mural, Bryan had failed to notice that most of the back wall was covered in Unown as well. The dark lettering blended in well to the dark wall, but he could read it nonetheless.

Regigigas slumbers now, returned to its rest by its fellow titans: Regice, Registeel, and Regirock. It will rest until the chaos rises again. Should Regigigas be risen before it's time, it will become the chaos itself and reign terror down upon those who wish to control it.

Beneath the warning was a single word, possibly the author of the warning. It had been scratched through ages ago and beneath it, more dialogue.

The titans have been hidden. Their secret I will impart. Regice resides in an Island Cave, Regirock in the Desert Ruins, and Registeel in an Ancient Tomb. Sealed by the Keystone of Hoenn until the day of reckoning. To find the Keystone, you must posses two Pokémon of great length. One in size, one in lifespan. Beneath the rolling waves west of the Sky Pillar, seek out the Sealed Chamber.

The instructions were vague and ended abruptly, but beneath them was scratched a map. Bryan couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It looked like a great waterway dotted with islands. Two points on the map were labeled. On the east end, Sky Pillar, on the west end, Sealed Chamber. The trio of explorers remained silent for a long while, contemplating the meaning of the words. Regigigas had been put to sleep untold centuries ago and the keys to his awakening, the titans, had been hidden to keep chaos from taking the form of the Colossal Pokémon. The Keystone of Hoenn indicated that they may have left the region entirely. Where they were or how to find them was, as of yet, beyond Bryan. They had to find these obscure places referenced and discover what Pokémon they must possess. But how? As Bryan mused, Ejen interrupted his thoughts.

“You are trying to awaken Regigigas.”

They were, it was true, but Bryan tried to deny it. She was the guardian of Regigigas’ temple, she would never allow it. He opened his both to argue and failed. Elizabeth tried her luck and, unlike her friend, found her voice. Before she could mutter a word though, Ejen cut them off. Emphatically.

“No,” she said, raising her voice in anger, “I can not allow this blasphemy. It is my sacred duty to protect this temple and all within it. Regigigas will not be awoken.”

Bryan and Elizabeth were ashamed, but they knew they couldn’t turn from their course. They had to stop Mewtwo, the lives of so many people depended upon it. The monster could not be unleashed. How could they explain that to such a kind woman without revealing their secrets. They didn’t have to.

“PEACE CHILD,” a voice boomed through the temple and their minds. Bryan recognized the voice, but it was foreign to Ejen, “THEY DO THIS IN MY SERVICE AND THEY WILL NEED YOUR AID. RAISE THE TITANS, AWAKEN THE COLOSSUS, FULFILL A GREATER DESTINY.”

Ejen fell on her face, worshipping the great statue, believing Regigigas spoke directly to her. Bryan hid a smile. Lugia, of course. Something the Legendary Pokémon said rang in his head though, ‘they will need you aid.’ Why? She had shown them Regigigas’ resting place and would no longer inhibit their attempt to wake it. An old passage from Mr. Fuji’s book flashed across his mind for the second time in recent days. Only a true master can control the titans. He had seen the words at Tanoby as well. Now they had meaning. It would take more than finding the Keystone to bring the titans to Snowpoint Temple. He would need masters. One for each titan. Ice, Rock, and Steel.

“I am going to need to make some phone calls,” Bryan said, breaking the silence left in the wake of Lugia’s proclamation.

The mundane comment left befuddled looks on both women’s faces, but they agreed there was nothing left that could be done in the temple. Elizabeth, who had requisitioned Abra from Zoroark, Teleported them back to the entrance. The thick snow had stopped falling outside and Elizabeth and Bryan started back toward the Pokémon Center. Ejen remained to guard the temple. Bryan turned back to her.

“We need you,” he stated, trying to leave no doubt in his voice.

She gave him a strange look.

“I am the guardian of Snowpoint Temple. Until you succeed at raising Regigigas, here I must stay.”

This time, Bryan argued with her. He had conjectures, only conjectures, but they were based in fact and he needed her to fulfill them. He played on her abilities as a trainer. He failed. He played on her devotion to Regigigas. Failure again. He played on her pride. She finally pried herself away from the door. Pulling a hidden level, a heavy stone door slid into place, locking away all the secrets in Snowpoint Temple. Ejen followed them across town.
 
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The Titans and their Master (Part 2)
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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The Titans and their Master (Part 2)

Bryan’s first call was a bit of a surprise. He dialed the number into the video phone at the Pokémon Center and waited. No response. He tried a second time. An automated voice told him that his contact would be available in 30 minutes. Bryan rubbed his chin. He wanted to make this phone call first, so he waited. In the meantime, he pulled up a map of Hoenn. He knew very little about the region, except the Pokémon he had researched while staying with Professor Oak. He studied the map intently for references to an Island Cave, an Ancient Tomb, or the Desert Ruins. Elizabeth and Ejen, uninterested in his research, retired to the cafeteria for a quick snack. Bryan’s initial research was fruitless. Route 111 contained a desert, but there were no references to Desert Ruins anywhere. The Ancient Tomb was also a mystery and 40% of the region was covered in water. The Island Cave could have been anywhere. Next, Bryan searched for Sky Pillar and Sealed Chamber. He finally had some luck. Sealed Chamber was nowhere to be seen, but Sky Pillar was found in the form of a small island north of Route 131. Bryan pulled the crude map from his pocket. According to his drawing, Sealed Chamber should lie somewhere on Route 134. A town, Pacifidlog, had formed between the two landmarks since the original drawing was etched, but, other than that, the current and ancient maps lined up. The digital map warned of strong currents dominating the route west of Pacifidlog, which explained the arrows on the ancient map. A very precise path had to be taken through the currents to reach their destination. In addition, as the Sealed Chamber was beneath the rolling waves, he would need a Pokémon that knew Dive and scuba equipment. He wasn’t looking forward to that.

The women returned with a chocolate croissant for Bryan and he was about to explain what he had discovered when the phone began to ring. Bryan answered and Mitellos’ strong, well-defined face filled the screen.

“Mmm, pretty friends you have there,” he commented, seeing Ejen and Elizabeth leaning over Bryan’s shoulders.

Both women huffed and disappeared from the screen. Ejen took a seat at a nearby table to enjoy her tea and biscuits, but Elizabeth simply stepped out of the picture and remained close enough to hear the conversation. Bryan ignored Mitellos’ off-handed remark and went straight to business.

“You are from Hoenn, aren’t you?”

“That’s right,” the ruffian answered, suddenly wary of why Bryan had made the call, “why do you ask?”

“I am visiting Sinnoh and heard some tales about a Legendary Pokémon,” Bryan started, contemplating how much of the truth to tell his questionable friend, “the tales make some obscure references to Hoenn’s legends, but I am unfamiliar with the region and hoped you could shed some light on it for me.”

“You must be referring to the titans and Regigigas,” Mitellos responded, “I know quite a bit about those legends.”

Bryan had hoped the former Hoenn-jin would know something of the stories passed down in his native region, but his response still caught him off guard. The shock must have shown in his face.

“I grew up in Fortree City,” Mitellos explained, “and my mother worked at Mt. Pyre. It was her job to protect the legends of Hoenn. She taught them to me in hopes that one day I would follow in her footsteps.”

The explanation only served to increase the mystery surrounding the young vagrant, but Bryan was more caught up in his own mystery. Mitellos attempted to shine some light on it for him.

“The titans: Regice, Regirock, and Registeel, are said to be hidden in plain sight at three locations around Hoenn. The Island Cave, the Ancient Tomb, and the Desert Ruins. Once awakened, they have the ability to awaken their master, Regigigas, who is hidden somewhere in Sinnoh”

“Do you know where these places are,” Bryan asked.

“Sure,” replied Mitellos, again surprising Bryan, “the Ancient Tomb lies beneath a great pillar of rock on Route 120, the Island Cave is beneath an identical formation on Route 105, and the Desert Ruins lie on the far southern end of Route 111’s desert.”

“And no-one has ever entered them,” Bryan asked flabbergasted.

His response drew a laugh from Mitellos, “of course not. This isn’t common knowledge. Besides, the titans are locked away and the secret to unlocking them is long lost.”

Bryan measured his next words carefully. He needed the criminal’s help, but he didn’t want to reveal his end game. At least, not yet.

“Have you heard of ‘two Pokémon of great length. One in size, one in life,´” Bryan asked after contemplation.

Mitellos pondered for a moment before answering, opened his mouth once and closed it again. Bryan was afraid he had finally hit a dead end when the gruff voice finally answered.

“I haven’t heard of them connected with lore, but I may know to what your legend is referring,” Mitellos answered, a pensive look on his face, “Wailord is the longest Pokémon in the world, it may be the reference to size; while Relicanth is the Pokémon with the longest-known lifespan. Both are native to Hoenn.”

Bryan excused himself momentarily to look up records for both Pokémon. An annoyed look crossed the young face as it vanished temporarily from the screen. Bryan had done his diligence in keeping his secrets and extracted a lot of useful information. Wailord and Relicanth were both interesting Pokémon. Neither were common, per say, but they could be located with the proper diligence. Bryan racked his brain. He had located the Sealed Chamber. He knew the location of the hidden titans. He was ready to head to Hoenn. He switched the screen back to the phone and Mitellos face re-appeared.

“If you are going to try and awaken the titans,” he said, guessing the purpose behind all of Bryan’s questioning, “I want in.”

Bryan’s face fell. Apparently he wasn’t so good with the secret keeping. He glanced sideways at Elizabeth, her face was unreadable. Mitellos was a powerful trainer in his own right, but he wasn’t one of the masters Bryan would need to control the titans. His knowledge of the legends, however, could continue to be useful. As he contemplated revealing more of his poorly kept secret, Mitellos increased the stakes.

“I have access to both Relicanth and Wailord.”

“You are welcome to join us,” Elizabeth made the decision for Bryan and stepped back into the screen, “and since you know the region better than us, where shall we meet?”

“Where is the Sealed Chamber,” Mitellos asked, proving his knowledge of the legends was far greater than Bryan’s.

“West of Pacifidlog Town,” Bryan responded.

“Then we shall meet in Pacifidlog Town in two days’ time,” the gruff voice responded.

“Three,” countered Bryan, “I have more work to do here before I can leave.”

Mitellos agreed and ended the phone call. Bryan dialed another number. It was answered quickly and Jasmine’s young face filled the screen. Elizabeth ducked out of sight before she could be seen. Bryan had told her how ´fake Elizabeth’ had treated the girl and she didn’t want to raise her ire. Bryan’s face apparently did that without his friend’s help.

“What do you want,” she asked icily, a horrible change from her normal demeanor.

Bryan explained. Everything. As the narrative unfolded, Jasmine’s expression warmed and eventually returned to its normal, welcoming nature. Although, it was lined with concern about his trials at Seafoam and the endeavor he had undertaken to stop Mewtwo. Once Bryan completed his explanation of the titans and his needs for a master of Steel-type Pokémon, he asked Jasmine the obvious question.

“Can you meet us in Pacifidlog Town in three days and be the master that controls Registeel?”

“I wish I could,” Jasmine responded, “but I don’t think I am qualified.”

“What do you mean,” Elizabeth asked, showing herself for the first time, “you are the greatest Steel-type trainer in Johto.”

“I wish it were so,” the gym leader admitted softly, “but Taran has outpaced me at every step. He is officially a better trainer than I.”

“I could never ask someone so young to do anything so dangerous,” Bryan replied, put out.

“But you would ask your niece,” Jasmine said with a wink.

Bryan and Elizabeth both smiled at the jest.

“And you don’t need to worry,” the curly-haired girl continued, “he would love the chance to aid you. To be honest, he has grown bored here and I was afraid he might leave soon if I couldn’t challenge him more.”

“Are you sure,” Elizabeth asked, concerned written all over her face.

“Of course,” Jasmine finished, “I will make the arrangements and he will meet you there. You said Pacifidlog? Hoenn?”

They confirmed the details with her and wished her good-bye. Bryan’s next phone call was similar, but lacking a lot of the detail he had given Jasmine. Pablo agreed to meet him in Pacifidlog, yet was also concerned that his wasn’t up to the task of being considered a Rock-type master. Bryan could only hope he was wrong. Ejen, who had moved closer so she could hear what was happening on the phone once she finished her snack, was intrigued when Bryan pushed himself up from his chair without making another call. She was still somewhat lost as to the scope of what was happening, but she had ascertained a few things after listening to the strange phone calls.

“Don’t you need a third master,” she asked.

“I already have one,” Bryan replied.

“Who,” Ejen questioned.

“You,” Elizabeth replied, having come to the conclusion herself.

“M-m-me,” Ejen stammered.

Bryan placed a hand on her shoulder. He reassured her that she was indeed the master they needed. A master of ice, in mind and body. Someone who knew its secrets, its wants, its desires. Who had mastered every aspect of it. They needed the guardian of Snowpoint Temple. Ejen nodded meekly and sat back down.

Three days later, Bryan, Ejen, and Elizabeth found themselves in Pacifidlog Town. The boat ride was long and Bryan’s stomach felt awful, but Lugia had decided it wasn’t time to let others know of his presence. They found Mitellos waiting at the Pokémon Center. He had already rented diving gear for two people and was ready to set out. Taran and Pablo hadn’t arrived yet, though, so they waited. Bryan and Elizabeth explored the strange town while Ejen remained at the Pokémon Center with Mitellos. Bryan marveled at the construction of the small rest stop situated, without exaggeration, in the middle of the ocean. The city was completely supported by logs floating on the sea and the few homes and businesses in the town sat upon these rafts. Bryan was wary about the entire construction of the place, but a local assured him that the town had been there for hundreds of years. It sat conveniently on the long, open sea route between the eastern sea and Slateport City. It was the only civilization for a great distance in either direction and was a much needed rest for trainers traveling the southern part of the water-bound region. After ample exploring, the duo headed back to the Pokémon Center only to discover that the next boat, assumedly carrying their colleagues, had been delayed in Mossdeep City. Bryan looked over a map of the combined regions. It was amazing the amount of distance they had covered in just three days. Luckily, Snowpoint City had a small port and, after sailing around the tip of Sinnoh, they made for Three Island. From there, they bartered direct passage, at quite the cost, to Pacifidlog Town. Most ships from the other regions docked in Mossdeep City and ferries took them from there. Pablo would have come in from Vermillion and Taran from Olivine, but would have to catch the same ferry in Mossdeep to Pacifidlog. Bryan contemplated asking how Mitellos had traveled from Kanto so quickly, but the burly young man had grown tired of waiting and approached him purposefully as soon as the two old friends entered the Pokémon Center.

“We don’t need the others for this leg of the trip,” he said gruffly, “we can head out now.”

Bryan wasn’t sure how he felt about the idea, but Ejen and Elizabeth assured him that it was fine. The former gym leader asked the ruffian what he would need for the journey. Nothing, was essentially the answer. Mitellos had prepared everything they would be in dire need of, so, as long as Bryan had his Pokémon, they would be in good shape. Bryan, still skeptical, bid his new friend and his old friend farewell and headed for the western edge of town. He had still yet to form a solid opinion of the criminal that he was now following on another ridiculous and unbelievable task. Obviously, the first impression had been bad, but the kid had recovered from there. He evidently wanted people to believe he was a tough guy, and he was surely tough, yet the number of secrets hidden beneath the rough bravado were numerous. They didn’t speak as they slogged through the partially sunken “streets” of town. On the dock overlooking Route 132, Mitellos summoned Wailord and they donned their rented diving gear. They both fit easily on the massive Pokémon’s back.

“The map,” Mitellos said shortly as they pushed away from the city and toward the raging currents of Route 132.

Bryan produced it from his pocket and watch the other man peruse it carefully before gently leading his Pokémon in the correct direction. South. They were soon swallowed up by a speedy current and zipped along until it nearly beached Wailord in the shallows. Jumping off, they traversed the small, sandy reef and hopped back onto Wailord. They zipped along to another reef. It was so shallow that none of it fully breached the surface of the sea, but the single-minded Mitellos ignored all else and kept his eyes on the map. Bryan attempted to ask him a few personal questions as they traveled. Mitellos ignored him, saying he needed to concentrate on the trip. It was mostly true. The currents seemed to be getting stronger and Bryan began clasping harder on to Wailord’s back as they zoomed along. The next current whipped them toward a wall of stones jutting out of the water and Bryan feared they were going to crash, but, before they made contact, the current shifted directions and whipped them around the obstacle. Bryan saw another sandy reef fly by, positioned in the middle of the rocks, and soon they had reached another area shallow enough to dismount. Most of the sandy reef was submerged, but, for the first time, long walls of rocks erupted from the ocean as well, towering over even Mitellos’ extremely tall frame. Another swift current and another collision scare led them to another fully submerged reef. Mitellos took his time evaluating the map. So exact were the arrows on the map, even a slight miscalculation at this point could send them off course and they would have to start again. Mitellos decided. They jumped on Wailord and surged forward. Instead of stopping near another reef, their brief journey came to a halt in a strangely calm patch of open water. Bryan thought he was going to be sick. Mitellos looked around carefully.

“We are here,” he said confidently, donning his goggles and breathing tube.

Bryan did the same. With a non-verbal cue from her master, Wailord dove. They found themselves in a long, underwater tunnel. The walls were non-descript and the area unearthly silent. Mitellos urged Wailord forward. Progress was slow as the kept their eyes open for the tiniest hint of their final destination. Nothing jumped out at them, so the pressed on. After what seemed like hours beneath the water, but was truthfully about ten minutes, the tunnel ended abruptly. Light filtered down through the water from above. Wailord surfaced and the two men founded themselves in an underwater cave. Ten smooth, elongated pillars of rock lay before them, strange markings engraved into each one. Eight were arranged side-by-side in two columns and the last two, smaller, were adjacent to the top two rows. Bryan investigated the nearest. He couldn’t decipher what it said. Instead of the Unown writing he was used to, it was covered in a series of dots that were foreign to him.

“Do you know what they say,” he asked Mitellos.

“I have some guesses,” was the response, “but it doesn’t matter much. Likely just some history of the people who sealed this cave.”

Bryan wanted to ask more questions, but Mitellos seemed to know what he was doing, so he followed closely behind. The vagrant made his way to the back end of the cave, ignoring the elongated columns, and found similar writing on the back wall. He ran his hand over the writing and then re-arranged the six PokéBalls at his waist. The cave began to rumble and shake. Bryan did his best not to panic. The miniature earthquake didn’t last long and Bryan, trying to wipe the fearful look of his face, laughed in a somewhat hysterical manner.

“That was exciting,” he said jokingly, his voice higher than normal.

Mitellos ignored him and ducked through an opening in the back wall that hadn’t been there moments before. Had the earthquake opened it? Bryan didn’t care. He didn’t want to be left alone if it happened again. The second chamber was no smaller than the first, but was decorated differently. The low, smooth pillars with the odd dots were square instead of rectangular and arranged, more or less, in a circle around the center of the room. At the far back of the room, in front of a larger motif positioned between two smaller ones, stood Mitellos. He was running his fingers over the dots like he had before.

“Can you read it,” Bryan asked, whispering for fear of what would happen if his voice echoed off the walls.

“It is braille,” Mitellos responded, not exactly answering the questions, “the ancient Hoenn-jin used it in place of Unown because the Symbol Pokémon are foreign to the region.”

Bryan was again blown away by the extent of the boy’s knowledge.

“And…”

“My father was blind,” he answered, his voice huskier than normal, “he taught me to read it.”

Bryan wanted to press for more information, but he knew he needed to be patient. If Mitellos wanted to tell him more, he would. If not...it would be unpleasant to be punched by such a large man.

“What does it say,” Bryan asked, turning back to the task at hand.

“Dig here.”

Bryan was confused. As always, Mitellos was prepared. He pressed the button on one of his Pokéballs and Trapinch burst forth. She began to dig. In under five minutes, a three-foot-deep hole had appeared at their feet. Resting on the bottom was a small chest. Trapinch retrieved it. Inside the chest was…Bryan didn’t know.

“It is the keystone,” Mitellos explained, “with it, we should be able to access the resting places of the titans.”

Bryan nodded, but remained unconvinced. It just looked like a strangely-shaped rock to him. Mitellos closed the chest and placed it in his waterproof bag. They headed back toward the entrance. As they approached the underwater tunnel that would take them back to the surface, Bryan took a gamble. He grabbed Mitellos strong arm and halted his progress.

“How do you know so much about these legends,” he asked, trying to summon a brave face.

The bigger man didn’t turn to face him. He just stared off into space, remembering. In the same husky voice he had used when speaking of his father, he responded.

“When I was 10, my father was diagnosed with a terminal illness. My mother was devastated and I was determined to find a way to save him. I had read once that the titans were once motionless golems, given life by an unknown and powerful source. I believed if I could find them that I could transfer my father’s consciousness into one and save his life. It was a foolish dream, but every day for two years I researched everything recorded in Hoenn about the titans.”

“I understand,” Bryan replied sympathetically, “I lost my own father in an accident when I was 20 and the pain was unbearable. I can’t imagine being so young and knowing you could do nothing to stop it.”

“His death was hard,” Mitellos agreed, “and I was angry with the titans for not revealing their secrets. I traveled to the Ancient Tomb and beat on it repeatedly. With my fists, with my Pokémon, with anything I could find. I was arrested for destruction of public property, though I didn’t leave a scratch on the tomb.”

“So why are you helping us now,” Bryan asked, pressing his luck.

“Redemption,” came the unconvincing reply with the shrug of thick shoulders, “I was branded a criminal after the incident and couldn’t seem to escape the new identity, so I ran. Perhaps now I am looking for a way to stop running.”

Bryan was impressed. He wanted to ask more, but Mitellos was done talking. He rounded on the smaller man, eyes blazing, and wrapped a meaty fist around Bryan’s skinnier wrist.

“And you repeat none of this!”

Bryan agreed, as if he had a choice. He hid a smile though, the boy reminded him of Nidorino; eager to play and goof off in private, but refusing to show the rest of the world anything, save his tough guy face. They returned up the tunnel on Wailord and headed back to Pacifidlog by air. Bryan flew on Skarmory, who was constantly voicing his disapproval of the moist sea air. Mitellos, on the other hand, traveled in a highly unique fashion. His size being too great for most Flying-types, he flew with Gengar. The Shadow Pokémon enveloped the big man’s entire body in his ghostly one, allowing them to fly together as one. It was a spooky and amazing sight to behold. Upon their arrival in Pacifidlog, the others had arrived and were waiting for them. Bryan, suddenly famished, grabbed a bite to eat while Mitellos explained the next stage of the journey and showed them the keystone. Every last person seemed excited to get started.

“None of the resting places are close,” Mitellos stated, “but the Island Cave is probably the closest.”

“How are we going to get there,” Taran asked.

“Can’t we take a boat,” Ejen suggested.

“Impossible,” Mitellos turned down the idea, “only smaller boats can navigate the currents west of here and even they have problems.”

“Fly then,” Bryan chimed in between bites of his hamburger.

He and Mitellos had Pokémon that could make the journey and he knew Pablo got around on Aerodactyl quite easily. Taran mentioned that Jasmine had helped him catch a Fearow, so he could follow. Elizabeth could have Jasmine send her Skarmory, but, sadly, Ejen possessed no Pokémon who could fly. As everyone brainstormed the most efficient way to traverse a large chunk of the region to their three locations, a booming voice entered all of their heads simultaneously.

“I WILL TAKE YOU.”

Mitellos was shaken, but he did his best not to show it. It was the first time Bryan had seen him rattled by anything. Pablo, not sure if only he had heard the voice, clamped his hands to his ears and looked around for the source of the noise. Taran, who reminded Bryan of a miniature Mitellos, did his best to hide his shock. Ejen, recognizing the voice, dropped to her knees again. With an effort, Elizabeth pulled her back up.

“It isn’t Regigigas, it is Lugia,” she explained.

If she meant her explanation to comfort anyone, it failed. Taran probably took the news better than anyone, but it was possible that he didn’t know what Lugia was. Mitellos sat down abruptly, his well-muscled body visibly shaking. Pablo removed his hands from his ears and stared at Elizabeth, disbelieving. A look of disbelief crossed Ejen’s face as well and was replaced by anger and disappointment. She wanted to say something, but Lugia gave her no room to do so.

“MEET ME AT SKY PILLAR BEFORE DAWN TOMORROW.”

Bryan knew Lugia could read their thoughts, even from wherever he was at the moment, so he concentrated on reassuring his friends that they weren’t crazy and their mission was important. He was only partially successful. Mitellos recovered well, as he had spent a portion of his life in pursuit of Legendary Pokémon, yet his early failures had interred in him a minor sense of disbelief. He got over it. Pablo, having been privy and excited about Bryan’s early research, assured Bryan he was totally prepared to meet a Legendary Pokémon. He was lying. Ejen was the hardest to calm. Her belief in the legends was the strongest, having served as a guardian over Regigigas for part of her life, yet she felt betrayed. She believed that Regigigas had spoken to her before when, now, it was obviously Lugia. Both Bryan and Elizabeth tried talking to her. She didn’t want to listen. In the end, she ordered a bowl of fresh Hoenn Ramen and ventured out into the town to eat it alone. Elizabeth made to follow her.

“She will return,” Mitellos said, stopping her, “just give her time. She needs to process.”

Elizabeth agreed, her bright eyes sweeping over the muscular boy. He had wisdom in that thick skull of his. Or perhaps it wasn’t thick, it was just designed to look that way. Although Bryan had already eaten, the others hadn’t, so they wolfed down a quick meal and tried to sleep. ‘Tried’ being the key word. Most of them just stared at the ceiling for a long time, thinking about how the next day would affect the rest of their lives. Bryan, having grown accustomed to the feeling, and desensitized to the insanity that his life had become, was asleep only minutes after hitting the pillow.

Well before sunrise the next day, Bryan’s troupe was off. Mitellos had been right, Ejen returned some time in the night, but she was silent throughout the journey. She, Pablo, and Elizabeth rode Lapras, while Bryan, Taran, and Mitellos took the lead on Wailord. On two Pokémon well-designed for travel, it took no time at all to find their destination. Navigating the rock-strewn waters nearer to shore, however, was more difficult for the large Pokémon. They made landfall as the sun began to crest the peaceful waves. Lugia was nowhere to be seen. Pablo, in his disappointment, wanted to lash out. He never got the chance.

“RELAX, MASTER PABLO, ALL IS WELL.”

The voice was accompanied by the great rushing of wings and the whole group turned their eyes upward. Floating down from Sky Pillar’s lofty heights, balancing on its impressive wingspan, was the Diving Pokémon. Bryan and Elizabeth barely reacted to his presence, but it was entertaining watching everyone else. Mitellos, always attempting to maintain his bravado, did his best to contain his excitement, but it was glaringly obvious despite his effort. Pablo did nothing to hide his emotions, he jumped up and down and pointed. It was like watching a two-year old meet Santa Claus for the first time. A look of amazement and comprehension dawned on Taran’s face. He finally understood his companion’s reactions from the night before, but had little time to develop his own opinions at the moment. Ejen, on the other hand, was having difficulty sorting out her emotions. Her solitude the night before and silence that morning had been an attempt to do so, but she had failed. As the majesty of Lugia descended on them, her emotions continued to mix in a strange cocktail until a look of unexplained peace washed over her face. Lugia, his eyes trained on her, was speaking to her mind only. Apologizing, perhaps. As he landed, he touched his huge forehead to her comparatively small one in a gesture of respect. They were at peace with one another.

“SHALL WE BE GOING?” Lugia asked.

The Legendary Pokémon didn’t wait for a response. Bryan had expected the lot of them to climb on his broad back and fly to their destinations. He was wrong. One minute they were standing in front of Sky Pillar, the next minute they were on a small island housing a great pillar of rock. A loud splash indicated that Lugia had hidden beneath the water until he was needed again. Bryan took in his surroundings. Other than the sea and the pillar of rock, the area was devoid of anything. A few Wingull flew overhead, but, other than their cries, the morning air was peaceful and quiet. His friends were re-establishing their orientation after the Teleport and, unsurprisingly, Mitellos was the first to do so.

“Island Cave,” he stated.

It wasn’t a question. He knew. And his voice drew everyone else’s attention to the monument before them.

“What now,” asked Taran.

Mitellos, who had become the unofficial leader of the expedition, explained.

“Regice, Titan of Ice, resides within this cave. Only the Master of Ice may enter.”

Ejen stepped forward warily. She still questioned her worth as a ‘Master.’ She looked at the keystone Mitellos had produced from its chest and now held out to her with an open hand. The dull, gray rock was smooth and unassuming. No-one had a clue how it worked, yet, somehow, they all had faith that it would. Steeling herself, Ejen took the keystone. It turned an icy shade of blue and started glowing. Ejen was indeed worthy. Brimming with a new confidence, she approached the Island Cave. An icy blue doorway, matching the color of the keystone, and barely taller than the short woman preparing to enter, appeared at the base of the pillar. Ejen looked back at her compatriots. Each one of them graced her with a confident smile. She stepped through the doorway of blue light and vanished. No sooner had Ejen entered, the door vanished and everything beyond remained a mystery. The group waited. And waited. And waited some more.

After an hour passed, the impatient trainers abandoned waiting expectantly. Mitellos wandered off to a far corner of the small island and sat by himself. Pablo, exhausted from not sleeping, laid down and napped on the warming sands. Bryan and Elizabeth sat near the entrance to the cave and spoke with Taran. He told them about himself and expressed his intentions to leave Olivine City Gym and take the Johto Gym Challenge. Bryan encouraged him to do so. He assured the boy that Jasmine would understand. She would also be extremely proud if someone she helped train had success in the league. He smiled at the reassurance and then fell hard onto the sand as a strong tremor shook the island. Bryan jumped his feet, eyes trained on the pillar of rock. Mitellos, on shaky legs, hurried back to them. Moments later, Ejen fell from the edifice and landed hard on the soft sand. She was breathing heavily, but, in her hand, she clutched the keystone. Most of it had returned to its generic stony gray, yet the bottom third remained icy blue.

“Regice is in the keystone,” Ejen managed. Then she passed out.

Lugia's head re-appeared above the water and he spoke to them again. Ejen was too weak to Teleport, so he suggested they take her south to Dewford Town. Once she was settled, he would meet them north of the city. They took his advice and once again piled onto Wailord and Lapras. Taran took Ejen’s place on the Transport Pokémon, so the unconscious woman could lay on the flatter Wailord’s back. Elizabeth deigned to remain with the stricken woman. Taking the keystone, the others moved north to meet Lugia. The Ancient Tomb was their next destination. It sat on a low plateau overlooking Route 120. The dark clouds indicated rain might be in the forecast, so Mitellos quickly explained the next step. Registeel lived within. It was Taran’s turn to test his worthiness, so the boy took the keystone from Mitellos. It glowed a radiant, obsidian black and Taran approached the monolith. As before, a door, this time black and perfectly sized for Taran, opened its gaping maw. The Steel Master stepped inside.

The other three men remaining outside had no disillusions to the amount of time it would take for Taran to test his mettle. They settled in for the long haul. Mitellos again wandered, while Pablo and Bryan, leaning against a large boulder, discussed all that had happened since Bryan had left the league. The predicted rain began to fall before Taran returned, yet just after the hour mark, he did just that. In identical fashion to Ejen, he collapsed through an invisible doorway, keystone, now a third black as well, clutched in his hand. The rain-soaked ground cushioned his fall. He was out before the others reached him, but a proud, if exhausted, smile was painted across his face. Mitellos bent and retrieved the keystone. He handed it to Bryan.

“I will take him north to Fortree City,” he said, picking up the small child in his large arms, “you two continue on. Just come back for us when this is resolved.”

Bryan nodded and took the keystone from his strong hand. He felt sorry for the man. He had spent so long studying and searching for these very Pokémon and was the reason they could succeed, yet he wouldn’t get the opportunity to see the venture come to fruition. Bryan watched the two strangely similar boys, one huge, one tiny, disappear out of sight. And then he and Pablo were standing in a driving sandstorm. They shielded their eyes from the torrent of sand and turned to see their final destination. Bryan handed Pablo the keystone. It glowed a rich, muddy brown and the reflective door immediately appeared before him. He gave Bryan a nervous smile and practically sprinted into the Desert Ruins. Knowing he was in for a wait, Bryan removed his light coat, wrapped it around his head as protection against the sandstorm and waited. An hour passed and Bryan’s PokéGear began to beep. He opened his eyes and clicked off the alarm. Striding purposefully toward the unassuming pillar, he waited for Pablo to appear. He didn’t have to wait long. Pablo fell outward and Bryan caught him before he hit the ground. The man was heavy, but Bryan managed.

“Thanks,” Pablo muttered, and he too lost consciousness.

Bryan removed the keystone from his hand and began to drag Pablo out of the desert. The trip was long and hard. His friends had sacrificed everything for this endeavor, the least Bryan could do was see to their safety. Bryan collapsed in exhaustion when finally he exited the desert, only to find that he was on a connecting route and had no idea where to go. He laid Pablo gently against a cliff face and looked around. A woman was striding down from the north and Bryan recognized her.

“You’re Asabe,” he said, holding out a hand and introducing himself, “I am Bryan Schnieder.”

“Nice to officially meet you,” the stocky, yet attractive girl replied, “I was impressed by your battles at the tournament.”

“Thank you,” Bryan continued politely, “I was hoping you could help me. I am not familiar with the area, where is the nearest town?”

“Mauville isn’t too far south of here,” she said, indicating the route.

“Oh my, do you need help?” she said after a pause, seeing Bryan trying to lug Pablo back to his feet.

“I can manage,” Bryan stated, being unnecessarily stubborn, “I don’t want to burden you.”

She shot him a scathing look. Reaching into her bag, she pulled out a PokéBall and summoned Machamp. With ease, the SuperPower Pokémon lifted Pablo in two of his arms and headed south. I should have thought of that, Bryan berated himself. The trip to Mauville City was indeed short and Asabe directed her Pokémon straight to the Pokémon Center to have Pablo evaluated. Mauville City was a modern-day marvel, its tiled and lit streets teeming with people, but Bryan had no time to enjoy the displays. He was worried about Pablo, but fully expected a swift recovery. No, his mind was on the next step of his own journey.

“Do you have somewhere to be,” Asabe asked suddenly, catching him off guard.

“I…,” Bryan started, but Asabe cut him off.

“Go,” she said, “I can handle this. You clearly need to be somewhere else.”

“But you don’t even know him,” Bryan argued, his stubborn streak continuing for some unknown reason.

“You said his name is Pablo?” Bryan nodded confirmation, “and he is kind of cute. That is all I need to know for now.”

“Are you sure,” the former gym leader pressed.

“Go.”

Bryan listened to her. He rushed out the door of the Pokémon Center. And appeared in the basement of Snowpoint Temple. He had been Teleported so often recently, he was beginning not to notice. Pulling the keystone from his pocket, he looked it over. The bottom third of the smooth, oddly-shaped stone was an icy blue, the middle third was jet-black, and the final third was a muddy brown. The titans were contained within. Just another mystery unlikely to be solved. He would ask his friends about it years later, but even they couldn’t recall more than a few scant details of the possibly epic battles that ensued.

Bryan approached Regigigas and offered the keystone. It floated up out of his hand and began to glow, while a low chiming filled the chamber and the keystone began to shake. An icy blue light shot out of the keystone, returning the bottom portion to stone gray. Regice materialized and took its place to the left of Regigigas, sliding its pointed feet into their prints. Registeel followed promptly. The jet-black light was difficult to see in the near darkness of the chamber, but the Iron Pokémon shifted over to its place too. The muddy brown flash came last and Regirock stomped heavily to the final empty footprints. When all had taken their places, they raised their arms to their master. The temple began to shake and tremble. Bryan tried to escape toward the stairs, but the slick floor prevented deft movement. He huddled on the ground before the Colossal Pokémon. A strange mechanical sound rumbled through the air. Regigigas took a step forward and wrenched its other foot free from the floor as well. Bryan and his friends had succeeded. Regigigas had awoken. Another peculiar sound filled the air and Aura Sphere struck Regigigas directly in the chest, causing it to stumble backwards.

Bryan searched for the source and quickly found it. Mewtwo had appeared. All three titans turned to face Mewtwo and Regice shattered into a thousand pieces. A second Mewtwo, distinctly different from the first, with a leaner, more physical build, had attacked. Two Mewtwos, Bryan pondered. How? He didn’t have time to sit around thinking, he made for the stairs again as the titans occupied the two threats. A second Aura Sphere pounded Regigigas and it stumbled again. Throwing a hand downward to catch itself, it destroyed the stairs. Bryan huddled in the corner beneath the relief of the titans and watched the battle unfold.

From the beginning, it was obvious the titans didn’t stand a chance. Regice was defeated in a single blow and the second Mewtwo, which Bryan referred to as X, made to engage Registeel. Regirock intercepted it. Though weak to Mewtwo X’s Fighting-type moves, it was physically sturdy and withstood the attacks. Until another Aura Sphere took it from behind and it crumpled too. Regigigas and Registeel held out a little longer, but not much. Registeel was dispatched by the overwhelming nature of Mewtwo X who, goal achieved, turned to aid Mewtwo Y in bringing down Regigigas. A barrage of Aura Sphere, Psychic, and Dynamic Punch eventually brought the Colossal Pokémon down and having defeated another pantheon of Legendary Pokémon, the two Mewtwo eyed Bryan huddling terrified in the corner. Seeing no threat or an escape route for the meek human, they vanished, leaving their destruction behind. Bryan, still alert, made his way back to the island of safe ground at the center of the temple basement. Regigigas, in defeat, had returned to stasis. The titans, each crumpled on the floor in pathetic heaps, needed help. Retrieving the keystone, Bryan returned each of them to it as though it was a special PokéBall and plopped down on the cool floor. Mew appeared.

“Where is Lugia,” it asked.

“HERE,” came the reply from thin air.

“We have a bigger problem,” Mew said, speaking to the open air.

“Bigger than two Mewtwo,” Bryan queried incredulously, finding his voice.

“Much bigger,” Mew confirmed, “The Mewtwo are building an army. They found an entrance to Ultra Space and are rallying the Ultra Beasts to descend up Alola.”

“AND AFTER, THE REST OF THE WORLD,” Lugia added unnecessarily.

“What do we do,” Mew asked the void.

“THE BOY MUST SEEK OUT THE ALPHA.”

“Boy,” Bryan questioned, “me? Or someone else?”

“You,” confirmed Mew, the voice echoing inside Bryan's head at a far more pleasant register.

“How do I do that,” the former gym leader asked, resigned to his fate, “and what is the Alpha?”

“ARCEUS, THE FIRST,” boomed Lugia and Bryan couldn’t help but shutter, “YOU MUST SOLVE THE UNOWN RIDDLE.”
 
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The Unown Riddle
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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The Unown Riddle

Mew sighed, the most vocal sound Bryan had heard it make.

“Stupid legends and lore,” he muttered, “it doesn’t have to be that difficult. You must collect all of the Unown and travel to Spear Pillar. There we can meet Arceus.”

“We,” confirmed Bryan.

“Yes, we,” Mew stated, “we are in this together, people and Pokémon. If we don’t stop Mewtwo, we will all suffer.”

“I only have six Unown,” Bryan said, trying to stick to tasks, “I will need help gathering the others.”

“What help do you need,” Mew asked, “we can get it for you.”

“My friends in Hoenn,” Bryan replied, “as well as Cassi and Drago in Kanto.”

He considered including Sabrina and Jasmine for a moment, but decided against it. They had their responsibilities with the league and, besides, Jasmine had sent him Taran. Additionally, on a personal note, he wasn’t sure it would be enjoyable or healthy to travel with Elizabeth AND Sabrina. He wasn’t sure where he stood with either at the moment and he didn’t want to test it either.

“BRING THE KID TOO,” Lugia interjected, “I WILL MONITOR THE SITUATION IN ALOLA. HURRY.”

The relationship between Mew and Lugia was bizarre. Mew acknowledged the bigger Pokémon’s comment and Lugia’s presence was gone.

“He likes you,” Mew stated.

Bryan raised an eyebrow and Mew laughed. An extraordinary sound that echoed inside Bryan’s mind.

“So how do we collect all of the Unown,” Bryan asked, praying Mew had an answer.

“Tactfully,” came the response, “Unown can be found in three places. The Ruins of Alph in Johto, the Tanoby Ruins on Seven Island, and the Solaceon Ruins here in Sinnoh. You should split the job up among your friends so it can be done more efficiently.”

Mew was right, of course, but his friends were scattered to all ends of the globe at the present.

“Let me worry about that,” Mew said, reading Bryan’s thoughts.
“Can all Legendary Pokémon read minds?” the beleaguered trainer asked.

“Only the Psychic ones.”

Of course, Bryan thought to himself, realizing too late that Mew would be able to see that thought too. The tiny pink Pokémon made no comment to it. The wall in front of Bryan began to dance gently and he found himself standing in a forest. Teleport again. His body officially didn’t care.

“Solaceon Town and the Solaceon Ruins are south of here,” Mew said, “I will deliver your friends in time, but I would suggest you get started now.”

Mew vanished without another word and Bryan hiked the short distance into town. In his first 30 years of life, he had never met a Legendary Pokémon and had never really thought to. Now 31, he had met eleven and found himself doing their bidding. Oo what a difference a year makes.

Solaceon Town was quaint. It was nestled between a couple of mountains and a forest. Though not highly populated, it was a common stop for trainers on their journeys or explorers interested in the ruins. The west side of town housed a large Pokémon Daycare, while the east had modest housing. A single, straight road ran from north to south through the hamlet. Bryan, as was his custom, headed first for the Pokémon Center. The nurse there informed him that the ruins were located in the mountains to the east of the city and a guide would willingly show him the way for a small fee. Bryan thanked her for the information and told her he was going to wait until morning before exploring. He again found himself famished, perhaps a side effect of Teleporting, and settled into a hot cheese pizza while he established a game plan. He double-checked his PC to ascertain that he currently possessed Unown P, L, I, T, M, and Q. Mr Fuji’s research indicated that twenty-eight separate types of Unown existed. One for each letter of the alphabet (A-Z), as well as ? and !. He tore a piece of paper from a notebook in his bag, wrote down all twenty-eight characters, and then scratched through P, L, I, T, M, and Q. He kindly asked the woman at reception for three copies and returned to his pizza. He munched on the last two pieces as he contemplated how to split his resources.

Ejen, as a native of Sinnoh, he would keep with him at Solaceon. He was curious to learn more about the region and she would be the best way to do it. Elizabeth, he would keep as well, partly to be protective, partly to spend time with her. Mitellos was special and, if the reforming criminal would take the challenge, Bryan wanted him to research the Spear Pillar that Mew had mentioned. He already was deeper into legends than the rest of them and had a good head on his shoulders. Pablo and Cassi he would send together to Tanoby. They were already good friends and Cassi’s affinity for Water-type Pokémon would be beneficial within the water-bound ruins. That left Drago and Taran. He didn’t know either of them that well, but he trusted them. They would do fine at the Ruins of Alph since the Johto-based ruins were the simplest Bryan had visited.

Bryan ventured out to the Solaceon Ruins that night. They were built into a complicated cave system, but a cheerful man standing outside the entrance sold him a map of the interior, promising it would save him from getting lost. Bryan doubted it, but he paid the man anyway. The next morning, Ejen and Elizabeth arrived. As briefly as he could, he explained the situation to them. Elizabeth was unfazed, but Ejen was upset. Bryan explained that there was little that could be done for Regigigas and the other titans were safe now too. Everything would soon be returned to how it was before the attack. His assurance calmed her some more and Elizabeth suggested that catching some Pokémon would take their minds off of recent events. Ejen agreed. Bryan led the way to the edge of town and they spent the morning exploring the ruins. They didn’t find anything, but, by lunchtime, they had a much better understanding of the place’s layout. Upon their return to the Pokémon Center, they discovered that Pablo and Cassi had arrived. Bryan was surprised that Drago didn’t accompany them.

“What is happening?” Cassi asked, a look of confusion masking her normally pretty features, “Pablo tried to explain it to me when we arrived, but I am lost.”

Bryan filled Pablo in on the events since he had collected Regirock, while Elizabeth sidled off to get them all lunch. When she returned, he spent a solid hour fielding questions from the two of them and they still didn’t fully understand.

“I know it is confusing,” Elizabeth interjected, “but can you help us out with fully understanding?”

“I suppose we can,” Pablo answered, a glance from Cassi indicating that she agreed, “what do you need us to do?”

Bryan handed them one of the photocopies he had made the previous night. He explained that he was sending them to Seven Island to explore the Tanoby Ruins and catch as many Unown as they could. They needed one of each. All they needed to do, as they caught them, was to mark them off the list and inform the others which had been caught. Hopefully, among the three groups hunting Unown, they could achieve their goal relatively quickly. Cassi and Pablo looked over the list and joked a little at the fact that only six had been caught so far. In reality, they were relieved. The task at hand made logical sense to them and didn’t involve any of the Legendary Pokémon. The resolution of their task was beyond them, but they were well within their abilities to catch some Pokémon.

“When do we start?” Cassi asked.

“Soon,” replied Bryan, a movement catching his eye.

Mew had floated through a window and was motioning for them to follow. Bryan led Pablo and Cassi to an empty back room. Mew was waiting.

“That is what brought us here,” Pablo stated.

Mew pulled a face. Bryan enjoyed how human-like its expressions were. Before he could say anything, all three disappeared. Cassi and Pablo may have been concerned about dealing with the Legendary Pokémon, but he knew his friends were in good hands. Of all the Legendary Pokémon he had dealt with, Mew was the one he trusted the most. It seemed to understand humans better than the others and was enjoyable to be around. Shrugging, he returned to the lobby. Ejen and Elizabeth finished their food and they set back out for the ruins. They split up this time and succeeded in catching B and F. While walking back to the Pokémon Center, a telephone call from Cassi informed them that D and U could be marked off the list as well. Progress was being made. During dinner, a thought occurred to Bryan and he pulled out a pencil and paper to test his theory. With twenty-eight Unown, they would need five trainers, each carry six Unown, to travel to Spear Pillar. In addition, they should probably carry more than two Pokémon for their own protection. At present, only five people were involved in the endeavor.

Late that night, six and seven appeared, though they weren’t the two people Bryan expected. The first was Drago. The second was Grache. Bryan hadn’t seen or spoken to the hermit since leaving Viridian Forest over a year ago and a groggy, sleep-addled brain didn’t recognize him at first. Realization dawned when Drago re-introduced the hermit. The two men had been friends for years and, when Mew appeared to Teleport Drago, the talented trainer had convinced the Legendary Pokémon to bring Grache too.

“‘The more the merrier,’ it said,” Drago explained, “and I wasn’t sure what was going on, but I recognized its power and intelligence.”

“I will explain everything in the morning, if you want to know,” Bryan said quietly, trying and failing not to wake the women in the room, “for now, let’s get some sleep.”

They both agreed and retrieved more cots from the front desk. The next morning, Mew delivered a flustered looking Mitellos and a weary Taran. The back room was secretive, which suited Mew, but was promptly becoming crowded. Mew also advised alacrity in decision-making. Bryan laid out his plan as simply as he could and, when most of the faces around him remained befuddled, he just filled them in on the part they would be playing. Grache would be accompanying Taran and Drago to the Ruins of Alph to catch Unown, that’s all they really needed to know. There was an end-game, but full understanding of it would come later. The trio conceded and swiftly vanished. Mitellos helped the hunt for Unown that morning and Mew returned for him at lunchtime. If anything, the gruff young man had the most important job of all. For some reason, Bryan had considerable confidence in him. By the end of the day, with the combined efforts of all three groups, Unown A, E, G, K, O, R, V, Y, and Z were added to their collection. The next day saw the addition of C, H, J, N, S, W, and X. Leaving only ? and ! to be found. Another night and day passed, but the search for the elusive punctuation marks was fruitless. On a positive note, Mitellos called late in the evening to inform Bryan that all information pointed toward Spear Pillar being located inside Mt. Coronet, at the heart of Sinnoh. He was traveling to Celestic Town, about a day’s journey north of Solaceon, to narrow down the details. To the disappointment of all, another night and day passed without ? or ! being found. On the morning of the following day, however, Mew re-appeared.

“Lugia is becoming impatient,” it said lightly, “so I brought you a present.”

As the tiny, pink Pokémon spoke, a mildly confused Patrick materialized. He was holding two PokéBalls in his hands. Pressing their respective buttons with his thumbs, Unown ? and ! popped out.

“I understand you have some need of these,” Patrick smiled slyly.

Bryan could have hugged the kid. He didn’t. He had too many other questions. Patrick didn’t seem at all phased by Mew’s presence. How did he happen to have those Pokémon in his possession? And, for the hundredth time, who was this kid?

“He’s an old friend,” Mew responded to the unspoken question.

“And I caught my Unown in Ruins of Alph a couple weeks ago,” Patrick took up where Mew left off, “I took your advice and am taking the Johto challenge. Professor Oak just wants me to keep collecting while I am it.”

“Can you read minds now too,” Bryan asked, trying to keep his voice calm, though his head was reeling again.

“Nah, just your face,” the boy answered.

Mew laughed his uniquely musical laugh and Patrick joined him. The two knew each other. It was mind-boggling, yet explained so much. Not just about the boy either, but about Mew. The Pokémon’s attitude and personality mirrored that of Patrick quite well, it was likely that time spent together had rubbed off on the Legendary Pokémon. The other Legendary Pokémon, not as accustomed to interacting with humans, had less ‘agreeable’ personalities. Thoughts and questions for another time though Bryan decided. He called his other friends and informed them that their tasks had been completed; all of the Unown had been collected. The wanted to know the next step and Bryan told them to wait patiently, they would be returning to Sinnoh soon. Everyone knew what he meant, but none were too thrilled about the prospect. Thankfully, no-one argued.

That same day, Bryan and company set out for Celestic Town. Mew informed them that the others should be waiting when they arrived. The trip was long. Route 210 stretched north for a long way before meeting the mountains and swinging west toward the next town. The western stretch of the route was rocky and criss-crossed by rivers and waterfalls, making the journey physically challenging in some places. Everyone traveling, however, was in good physical condition and they reached Celestic Town by nightfall. As promised, the entire gang was waiting for them there. Bryan smiled as he opened the door of the Pokémon Center and saw all of his friends seated around two tables at the back. Pablo, Cassi, and Drago spoke animatedly with Taran, while Grache had succeeded in drawing Mitellos into conversation. They all looked up to see the other four walk in and the company was complete. Nine trainers strong and ready to take on the next challenge. Bryan walked over to the corner and greeted everyone. He had to make a few introductions because not everyone had met Patrick. Once introduced, however, he was immediately revealed as the Indigo League Champion. The boy wasn’t so happy about that. He excused himself and returned shortly with three large pizzas. The group greedily dug in and discussed their plans, ignoring to a point the purpose of their next step. Mitellos imparted what he had discovered of Spear Pillar and the upcoming journey though Mt. Coronet.

“The exact route through the mountain hasn’t been determined,” Mitellos informed Bryan, “but I have found a guide who can help us greatly.”

“A guide,” Bryan queried.

“Here she is now,” the burly man said, pointing to the door.

A stocky, brown-haired girl was walking toward them accompanied by a taller, thinner blonde woman. The shorter girl was dressed in old jeans and a plain brown tank top, while the older woman was dressed fully in black. Bryan recognized them both.

“Asabe, you know Cynthia?” he asked, welcoming both of them with brief hugs.

“We met several years ago when this young lady tried to becoming Champion of Sinnoh,” Cynthia answered for Asabe.

“I need to try again,” the girl added retrospectively, “but that isn’t why we are here.”

“Correct,” Cynthia said, turning to the task at hand, she handed a map to Mitellos, “this map should serve to get you to Spear Pillar. My grandmother looked over it again today, she can’t think of a more direct route.”

“Thank you so much,” replied Mitellos, “you won’t be accompanying us then?”

“Regrettably, no,” Cynthia responded, and she looked it, “Asabe and I have finished our training and I need to return to the Pokémon League before I am missed too much.”

“And you?” Mitellos addressed Asabe.

“I can come,” the younger lady confirmed, taking a slice of pizza from an open box, “if you don’t mind.”

“The more the merrier,” commented the Hoenn-jin, strangely quoting Mew from the previous day.

Some of the other members of the group seemed to disagree though, so Bryan stepped in to introduce the newcomers. Cassi and Pablo had met Asabe, while Patrick, unsurprisingly as ever, knew them both. The others were delighted to meet the reigning champions of Sinnoh and Unova respectively. Cynthia, noticing Pablo’s amorous stares, winked at him. He immediately closed his gaping mouth and blushed, which solicited a laugh from the entire assembly. With that, Cynthia excused herself and left the growing group to their planning. Mitellos and Asabe, voted leaders of the expedition, believed it would take about a day and a half to reach their final destination. With that in mind, they packed what they needed that night and went to bed. They were up with the sun and, after minimal complaining, were off. Patrick, not a morning person, wasn’t his normal cheery self, but everyone else got along fine, mostly due to their morning coffees. Patrick, who rejected the idea of coffee, perked up after a chocolate donut and they were off. The short journey to Mt. Cornet, which had an entrance just outside the city limits, was no more interesting than the journey up the mountain. Mitellos and Asabe took turns leading. They took indistinguishable paths through the interior of the mountain and occasionally walked up the winding exterior paths too. They spoke lightly throughout the journey, mainly discussing what exactly was going on with the secrets and mysteries surrounding their journey. Bryan found himself berated with questions at times and was glad when they settled down on a wide plateau on Mt. Coronet’s slopes to end day one.

Day two was no more exciting. A horde of Golbat attacked them as they returned from a night of feeding outside the mountain's caves, yet the number of talented trainers assembled quickly dispatched them. Mitellos even took the time to capture one. After that, everyone settled. Patrick was somewhat disappointed he hadn’t had the chance to catch some native Sinnoh Pokémon, but all disappointment was washed away when they reached their final destination. The final ascent led them up two wide natural staircase and onto a smooth, flat ledge. Carved into the mountain wall was an elaborate door and light shined brightly through from the other side. Each member of the group walked through individually and was left speechless. Sitting on a long, flat valley, surrounded by four separate peaks, an ancient altar had been built. Centuries, possibly millennia had ravaged the alter. Dozens of shattered and weather-beaten pillars jutted up from the surface of the altar. At the far end, a triangle motif was carved into the ground. They group gathered around the motif, curious, and then they looked at Bryan for instruction. He blushed slightly in embarrassment, he hadn’t thought this far ahead. Mew had said gather the Unown and travel to Spear Pillar, nothing beyond that, but there was something Lugia had said as well. Solve the Unown riddle.

“Spread out,” Bryan instructed, “see if you can find any Unown writing.”

With the ten of them searching, it took no time at all to canvas the altar. They found nothing. Disappointed, they gathered back around the motif. Again, the group was looking to Bryan for instruction. It was Mitellos, however, that had a thought.

“How many pillars are there?”

All eleven heads turned and started to count. Twenty-six they all confirmed. One for each letter of the alphabet, but not including ? or !.

“It's as a good a place to start as any,” Bryan decided, taking out his own Unown.

The rest followed suit. Before long, they were practically swimming in Unown. Nothing happened.

“What…” Pablo was cut-off before he could finish his retort.

The Unown began to spin and hum. The triangle motif at their feet started to glow. Everyone promptly took a step back and the Unown began to flash. They rotated from their standard black to an off-shade of blue. A beam of light shot up from the motif. The Unown lined up in alphabetical order and entered the beam in single-file. A myriad of expressions and emotions colored the faces of the awestruck and perplexed assembly. As they watched, the beam of light, saturated with Unown, began to take shape. It formed…stairs.

Patrick, the boldest, or least terrified of the group, mounted them. One-by-one, a mixture of fear, amazement, and confusion painted on their faces, the others followed. Bryan and Mitellos were close behind. Asabe after them. Grache, Drago, Ejen, Cassi, Taran, and Pablo had to practically be pushed up the stairs by Elizabeth who brought up the rear. At the top of the crystalline stairs, composed of light, they found themselves once again on Spear Pillar. Or at least an identical facsimile of it. Standing at the far end of the platform was a Pokémon. A Pokémon beyond description.
 
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Arceus and the Guardians (Part 1)
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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Arceus and the Guardians (Part 1)

The others hung back, but Bryan and Patrick, side-by-side, nearly holding hands, approached it.

“WELCOME TO THE HALL OF ORIGIN.”

Patrick and Bryan halted. The Pokémon had the booming tone of Lugia, yet the voice was distinctly different. Without looking, Bryan inherently knew everyone else could hear the voice too and he waited to proceed further until told. For some reason he felt…unworthy, to step closer.

“I HAVE BEEN WATCHING LUGIA’S CHAMPION AND THE ELEMENTAL MASTERS,” Arceus continued, “YOU HAVE TAKEN GREAT AND DANGEROUS STEPS IN THE BETTERMENT OF BOTH OUR KINDS.”

Bryan didn’t know what to say, but didn’t know if he could say anything if he wanted to. Even Patrick, who always had something to say, was speechless. Arceus continued to speak as if they didn’t exist.

“YOU HAVE BROUGHT OTHERS AS WELL,” a pleasant feeling washed over Bryan, it was as if Arceus was smiling in his mind, “THE LOST CHILD AND THE HEALER. I AM GLAD YOU HAVE COME.”

Since Bryan was rendered speechless, he attempted to decipher the Alpha Pokémon’s greeting. He was Lugia’s Champion and he assumed Patrick was the Lost Child. Elizabeth, as she wasn’t a trainer, was likely The Healer. Ejen, Taran, and Pablo had proved themselves Elemental Masters, but the others? A thought struck him. They could be Elemental Masters too. Mitellos was highly skilled with Ghost-types, Cassi with Water-types, Drago with Fire-types, and Grache with Grass-types.

“YOU ARE QUITE ASTUTE, I SEE WHY LUGIA CHOSE YOU AS A CHAMPION.”

Bryan wasn’t sure if everyone could hear that comment, but he did know one thing; the mind reading was getting annoying. Arceus said nothing at the thought and the air in front of it began to shimmer. Bryan prepared himself for anything he could think of. It was only Mew.

“Arceus,” Mew spoke in deference, “they have re-opened the gate to the Hall of Origin. You are free.”

“BUT I AM NOT YET PREPARED,” boomed the Alpha Pokémon, “THERE IS ONE MORE THING THEY MUST DO.”

“I am at your service,” Bryan said, suddenly finding his voice, “what is it you need of me?”

He knelt and Patrick mirrored his gesture. The others were practically forgotten standing on the edge of the Hall of Origin.

“MILLENNIA AGO, WHEN I FIRST CREATED THIS WORLD WITH PALKIA, DIALGA, AND GIRATINA, I SENT DISCIPLES OUT TO SPREAD POKéMON TO EVERY CORNER OF MY CREATION,” the booming voice hurt Bryan’s head, yet he hung on to every word, “TOGETHER THESE DISCIPLES, MY GUARDIANS, HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE…OR DESTROY. YOU MUST FIND THEM ALL AND THEN I WILL BE READY.”

“Who are these guardians,” Bryan replied nervously.

“ONE OF THEM STANDS BEFORE YOU,” Bryan’s eyes were drawn to Mew, “THE OTHERS CAN BE FOUND HERE.”

Bryan heard a rustle of paper and a scroll materialized in his hand. He glanced up at Arceus and then unrolled the scroll. It was a map of Pókran in its entirety with six shining stars adorned it. In the center of Sinnoh, on Mt. Coronet were two stars: one pink, the other black. Mew and Arceus? Or Mew and himself? The rest of the stars were spread across Pókran. The green one was located in Orre, far to the northwest of Johto; a silver one was positioned in Hoenn, on a northern route high in the mountains; a blue one was far out to sea, settled between the Oblivia and Almia regions; and, finally, the red one off the southwest coast of Unova.

“CELEBI, JIRACHI, MANAPHY, AND VICTINI,” Arceus informed him.

Bryan, his voice gone again, could only manage a nod. He rolled up the map and placed it in his pant pocket. There was a long pause and Bryan waited, wondering what to do next. It took a moment to realize Arceus and Mew were speaking privately. When they finished, Arceus’ voice one again boomed inside Bryan’s head.

“TAKE THE LOST BOY AND THE HEALER ON YOUR JOURNEY, HAVE THE MASTERS PREPARE FOR WAR.”

“War,” Bryan nearly shouted in his surprise.

“Lugia has told me that Mewtwo is waiting for us and he will be ready,” Mew answered, sparing Bryan’s mind another mental assault, “Arceus and the guardians may be able to handle them, but we will need protected. That is your job.”

“Do you want to explain that to them,” Bryan raged through gritted teeth.

“I may understand humans better than most,” Mew said, his mental voice sympathetic, “but this I can not do.”

Bryan understood, but he was in no hurry to tell his friends to prepare for war, he would get to it when the time came. Standing, he bowed to the Alpha Pokémon and Patrick did the same at his side. He wasn't sure how much information The Lost Boy was privy to, but he had at least heard Bryan’s responses to Arceus’ mental speech.

“GOOD LUCK…AND HURRY.”

The former gym leader felt a familiar sensation fill his body and knew what was coming. An instant later, he and ten other people were standing in center of Olivine City Gym’s arena. Jasmine, who had been relaxing on the bleachers reading a book, jumped and screamed at their arrival. Mew, who had made the journey with them, spoke directly to Bryan.

“I will return for you in the morning. Make what preparations you need.”

Calming Jasmine’s hysterical nerves was actually a greater task than telling his friends they needed to prepare for battle. He spared them the word war, as it felt distasteful. After the excitement and oddity of working for Legendary Pokémon, battling whatever army Mewtwo could throw at them seemed positively mundane. They all agreed to stay in Olivine until they were needed. Jasmine, on the other hand, was not happy about having nearly a dozen people dropped in her gym. She was short on disciples at the moment, so she had room to host them, but she would have liked some warning. She was happy to see Taran, though, again and politely introduced herself to all of the new faces. As expected, her attitude toward Elizabeth was icy, to put it mildly. Understanding why, Bryan and Elizabeth agreed to sit down and talk to her when they had time, something they had precious little of at the moment. After settling things as much as they could with Jasmine, Bryan retired to a private room with Elizabeth, Patrick, and Asabe. She was the best traveled of the group and would be helpful in figuring out where they were going. The Unova Champion informed them that Victini’s red star was hovering over Liberty Garden; a privately-owned island with beautiful gardens and a towering lighthouse. She had never been to the island, but Cynthia had spoken of it. The silver star, Jirachi’s, was also in a location she recognized. Route 113 in Hoenn. It was an odd place east of Fallarbor Town where the ground was permanently covered in soot and the active volcano occasionally caused soot to fall like snow as well. She had visited recently while scouting the Hoenn region for her next gym challenge. A mission that had been interrupted by Bryan and Pablo. Bryan apologized, but Asabe waved him off. She hadn't planned to be there much longer anyway, as she had training planned with Cynthia. Unfortunately, she could be of no help with the final two locations. Celebi’s star was located in Orre and Manaphy’s in Oblivia. As both regions lacked Pokémon gyms, she hadn’t had any interest in them. The three others thanked her for her help and she left.

“This star looks like it is well out to sea,” Patrick commented, “we will need a Pokémon that can Surf.”

“And possibly Dive,” Bryan added.

“Lapras can serve both of those purposes,” Elizabeth reminded them.

“We should probably have Pokémon who can Fly too,” Patrick thought.

Elizabeth shrugged him off, ”Mew will probably Teleport us everywhere.”

“True,” the boy agreed, “but better safe than sorry.”

They spent another hour discussing what other Pokémon they would need and what supplies as well. The Guardians were spread to every corner of the map and it was hard to tell how long they would be gone. They packed enough food for several days and a change of clothes too. A few miscellaneous tools and medicine and they were ready to go. Bryan and Patrick made a quick trip to the Pokémon Center to sort out their Pokémon, while Elizabeth sat down and talked with Jasmine. She would be taking the only two Pokémon she possessed, Phanpy and Lapras, so she had no need to access a PC. The conversation between the two women was terse, yet forgiving. So much had happened over the past few weeks, Jasmine was ready to believe anything. Despite, she had difficulty believing everything Elizabeth imparted. What was important to the young leader was that Elizabeth had returned to her kind and welcoming self. The reason was less important. By the time their conversation had ended, the boys had returned from the Pokémon Center. Bryan had Ampharos, Nidoking, Gengar, Feraligatr, Skarmory, and Pidgeotto. All were powerful battlers and the final three could provide useful services. Feraligatr could Surf if needed, Skarmory could Fly, and Pidgeotto would serve as an excellent scout in unknown locations. Bryan was also interested in attempting to fly with Gengar, but he kept that to himself. Patrick had retrieved Espeon, Umbreon, Tauros, Scizor, Blastoise, and Charizard. Like Bryan, he had chosen both strong battlers with other uses. Scizor could be useful in dense forests, Blastoise was another Surfer, and Charizard, in addition to Flying, could light caves with his tail. Thoroughly prepared for the next day, all four of them set out to find their companions. They found them enjoying a hearty dinner at one of Bryan's favorite restaurants. It was located near the beach and had a beautiful view of the sunset from its elevated porch. The entire group gorged themselves on pasta and partied until they grew too weary to stand. Bryan was proud that all of his friends were getting along. And prouder that he had somehow fallen into nearly a dozen friends. Good friends at that. Just for the evening, they forgot the burden laid upon them and relaxed. Long after the sun had descended below the crashing waves, they partied. When at last they had grown too tired to continue, the whole group, Jasmine included, stomped back through town to the Pokémon Gym, singing loudly and disturbing the peace.

The next morning, Lugia's Champion, The Lost Boy, and The Healer, as Arceus referred to them, were up with the sun. Bryan, realizing he still had the keystone in his pocket, tucked it into Mitellos bag before they left. He deserved the right to decide what to do with it. They let everyone else sleep and slipped down to the beach. It seemed like a nice, private place to meet Mew. They were right, the New Species Pokémon was waiting for them. Bryan pulled out the map.

“Where to first,” asked Patrick to no-one in general.

It was unclear whether Bryan or Mew would be taking the lead. Mew deferred to the man with the map. It was obvious now that the black star represented Bryan, or at least the map, and not Arceus. It was positioned beside the shining pink star on Johto’s southwestern coast. Olivine City. None of the other stars were close, yet, with Mew’s Teleport, all were within reach. Bryan reached a decision.

“Let’s start with Celebi.”

No sooner had the words left his mouth, the familiar sensation of Teleport rippled through his body. The next instant, he was standing beside Elizabeth and Patrick on a long, wooden bridge instead of on the beach. He was in Orre. It was a first for any of the trainers. A small sign beside the bridge announced the village in front of them as Agate Village.

“I am still here,” came Mew’s voice, causing all of them to jolt a little, “but I will remain unseen.”

The three walked forward with Mew in tow. A quick glance at the map showed that it had shifted from showing all of Pókran to only the village before them. The streets and homes were laid out in precise fashion and a faintly luminous path highlighted the way to Celebi’s star. With map still clutched in hand, Bryan led the way into town. It was one of the most unique places Bryan had ever visited. It was located on a plateau separated from the mainland by two waterfalls and overlooking a valley far, far below. The first waterfall crashed down to the north of the bridge leading into the village, the river flowed in front of the village, and the second waterfall crashed down on the far side. A lush green strip of hills decorated the edge of a cliff face on the far side of the bridge and the village had sprung up there. At that time of morning, the clouds had yet to roll back and reveal the valley below, making it seem like the village was positioned above the clouds. Technically, it was. The homes of the village were built into and around the steep hills. Atop the highest hill, was a massive, leafless tree that had also been fashioned into a home. If they had the time, Bryan would have loved to explore the unique village and perhaps learn how it had come to be. He knew nothing of the Orre region, but there had to be some distinct reason that a village had formed in such a dangerous place. His first thought was war. If the bridge was destroyed, the only access to the village would be by boat or flying. Boats would struggle with the currents between the waterfalls and anything flying would be seen from miles away. He didn’t think he had ever seen a more defensible city.

Imagination running wild on his new adventure, Bryan had difficulty concentrating on the task at hand. Luckily, he had the others to keep him on track. They wound through the sleepy village’s grassy hills, seeing few people. The ones they did see were quite advanced in age, but had a strange vitality to them, an aura reinforced by the powerful Pokémon they kept as company. The highlighted path eventually led them to a grassy staircase leading down beneath the city. Relic Cave, a sign read. They continued on. Relic Cave gave way to Relic Forest and sitting in the center of a forest glade was a tall, stone pedestal. Carved on it, in Unown, were the words:

Relic Stone

Resting place of the Time Flute.
Play the melody in times of darkness
Celebi will hear your call through the winding passages of time


Beneath the writing were seven notes on a musical scale. 'The Melody,' no doubt. The aforementioned Time Flute was nowhere to be seen. Patrick and Bryan investigated the pedestal carefully. Nothing.

“Celebi’s star is here,” Bryan stated, re-checking the map, “directly over this pedestal.”

The pink and black stars were right on top of the third, but they could find nothing. Frustrated, Bryan tapped his fist heavily on the top of the monument. It shifted. He placed more weight behind it; it shifted further and something clicked.

“Help me up,” said Patrick, “it needs more weight.

Bryan lifted Patrick on to the pedestal and he stood in the center. He began to sink. The click was heard again. Then a second. And a third. When the center of the monument had sunk Patrick up to the waist, a secret chamber popped open. Inside was a green flute. Elizabeth snatched it and Bryan helped Patrick down from the Relic Stone. Elizabeth, the only musician among them, played a couple of notes on the flute. The sound was high and pleasant. She bent and investigated the musical scale. Taking a deep breathe, she played the notes. Nothing happened. She played them a second time. Still nothing. Thinking perhaps the song was repetitive, Elizabeth played the notes five times in succession. No luck. Bryan re-read the inscription. It seemed clear, yet no Celebi.

“Hurry,” Mew’s voice spoke to them suddenly, “someone is coming to investigate.”

Bryan pulled out the map again, hoping it would give him a clue. It did. Celebi’s star had moved. The map had led them there for the flute, not the first Guardian.

“Celebi is in Ilex Forest,” Bryan stated hurriedly, recognizing the location in Johto.

Mew didn’t wait for further discussion. The moss-covered ground and sunlight shimmering through the scattered leaves vanished. It was replaced by a much darker, damper forest. Ilex. They stood before another shrine, this one wooden. It was nothing special, but Bryan remembered it from previous journeys through the forest. Supposedly it was used to call the forest’s guardian in times of great need. He just never knew it was Celebi. In the dark silence of the forest, Mew appeared and approached the shrine. It seemed concerned. Or upset. Bryan had difficulty telling. It was muttering something unintelligible. A fleeting phrase flashed across Bryan’s mind. So this is where you went. Why did you leave me?

He was unsure if the others witnessed the same thing, but Mew promptly returned to normal and approached the group.

“The melody.”

Elizabeth stepped forward and played the melody again. Immediately, a reaction. The shrine began to mimic the notes in an even higher tone. The beautiful, blonde-haired woman played on. Her hair began to rise; floating on an invisible wind. She played on. Even the awe of meeting Arceus paled in comparison to the beauty of the music echoing through the forest and the woman playing the notes. Without warning, all of the air left the forest and Elizabeth ceased playing. In a brilliant flash of green light, Celebi appeared. It drifted slowly to the ground on its fairy-like wings, fast asleep. Patrick, who was closest, shook the Pokémon gently.

“The dark times are close, but not upon us,” Mew said in a sad voice, eyes surveying its old friend, “let her sleep.”

“Her,” Elizabeth blurted out, taking the words out of Bryan’s mouth.

“Yes, her,” Mew responded, voice no less sad, “Arceus created us in pairs. Myself and Celebi; Victini and Manaphy; Jirachi and the Alpha. Jirachi and Arceus are 'genderless' as you put it, but the rest of us have mates.”

Patrick walked over to Mew and wrapped his small arms around the even smaller creature. Bryan felt like he wanted to cry. Elizabeth was crying. To live for all those centuries, knowing you had a partner, a soul-mate, yet to be kept separate. Unfair didn’t begin to describe it.

“Thank you,” Mew said, returning Patrick’s light hug, but adopting his normal tone, “but now is not the time. Arceus will care for Celebi until we have completed our task.”

The New Species Pokémon placed a small, pink hand on his partner’s bulbous head and she disappeared, likely Teleported to Spear Pillar. Jirachi was next.
 
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Arceus and the Guardians (Part 2)
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Arceus and the Guardians (Part 2)

The four of them vanished again and they re-appeared on the eastern end of Route 112 in Hoenn. Bryan and Elizabeth had briefly visited Hoenn. Was it really just a week ago? It felt like so much longer. Bryan checked the map and they headed west toward Fallarbor Town. Soon, the ground was covered in a thick layer of ash and, in some places, the ash was piled several feet high. Patrick thought it would be funny to kick the piles. The ash exploded upward and coated him in a similar layer of gray filth. He coughed.

“Oops.”

Elizabeth smiled at his playfulness and Bryan remembered a time when both of them would have done the same thing. Moments later, ash began falling on them too. Bryan thought the boy had disturbed another ash pile, but no, the ash was falling from the sky. Patrick took delight in phenomenon.

“Singing in the rain, just singing in the rain,
Through all this work and pain, just singing in the rain.”

This is ash,” Elizabeth pointed out, “not rain.”
Patrick changed his tune.

Singing in the ash, just singing in the ash,
Through all this work and…”


The boy, now entirely gray, paused, thinking of another line.

“Flash,” Bryan suggested.

“Or trash,” Patrick added.

Singing in the ash, just singing in the ash,
Through all this buzz and flash, just singing in the ash.”


Bryan chuckled, but Elizabeth was unimpressed. The former gym leader agreed that neither the lyrics, nor the boy’s singing voice, were anything to write home about, but he didn’t discourage the feisty youth. As Elizabeth jokingly argued that a monkey could do a better job, Bryan checked the map to make sure they were on the right path. The silver star was located practically in the center of Route 113. They were close.

“So you think you can do better,” Patrick jested, stabbing at Elizabeth with his finger.

She danced backward, avoiding him, and straightened. Her singing voice was wondrous. She sung a couple of short lines to find her voice and cleared her throat to finish, Bryan and Patrick grinning ear-to-ear.

“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T'was blind but now I see…”


Suddenly, Elizabeth stopped short and pointed. Both boys turned. A small rock formation, similar to those that had hidden the titans, rose up from the ashy earth. Painted on the side of the rock face was a shining silver door. Bryan made a dash for it, but it disappeared before he reached it. Where did it come from? How did they get it back?

“Keep singing,” said an invisible Mew. Elizabeth complied.

“Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T'was blind but now I see…”


The door took a more solid, almost metallic form.

T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T'was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home
Amazing grace, Howe Sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
T'was blind but now I see
Was blind, but now I see.”


The door became solid enough that Bryan could push it open. The four of them rushed inside and Elizabeth stopped singing. Mew re-appeared. He was following them, just remaining invisible in case someone else came along. Hovering about two feet off the ground inside the otherwise boring and empty cave, was Jirachi. It, too, slept. Mew placed a small paw on the newly discovered guardian and it disappeared, zipping off through the cosmos to sleep with Arceus until needed.

“Manaphy,” Mew suggested, pushing them along.

Bryan nodded and, expectedly, they disappeared. Their re-appearance was far less likable than the others. It was night now and Teleport dropped them in thin air. They fell. Not far, but they fell. Into the ocean. Patrick and Bryan, both horrible swimmers, kicked and spluttered, while Elizabeth, an adept swimmer, tread water and reached for Lapras. Before she could do so, they vanished again and re-appeared on dry land.

“Sorry,” Mew apologized, “got carried away.”

“Where are we,” Bryan asked, trying to shake himself dry. It did little good, though, because it soon started raining.

“Canal Ruins,” Patrick read on a sign.

“Let’s get out of the rain and figure this out,” Elizabeth suggested.

The four of them, Mew invisible once more, ducked into a building with a low overhang. They were inside ruins and water seeped through cracks and seams in the old rock, but it was dryer than outside. A large, deep pool took up most of the room. They found a dry-ish corner and sat down. Bryan checked his map and then referred to his PokéGear.

“Northern Oblivia, but our destination is far out in the Eastern Sea.”

“Where is this,” Elizabeth said, tapping a location on Arceus’ map south of their current position.

To all of their surprises, the map shifted and enlarged, showing the area indicated. Aqua Resort, the map read.

“We should be able to pick up Diving equipment there before heading out to sea,” Patrick deduced.

The other two concurred. After spending the night in the ruins to avoid prying eyes, they would head to the resort for equipment. From there, Lapras could take them to the spot on the map marked by the blue star. Bryan was concerned about the trip, but he kept his trepidations to himself. He didn’t like the open water, couldn’t swim well, and the location on the map showed no island or land mass within miles. Despite his misgivings, the trio followed the plan they set in order. Mew was either silent or gone the next morning, but it did nothing to slow them down. Although they stopped briefly for a delicious breakfast at Aqua Resort, Lapras was well on her way out to sea by mid-day. The water was calm and the sun shining brightly, so much that Bryan was sweating heavily and could feel the sunburn setting into his skin. He kept a sharp eye on the map and, as they approached the spot marked on the map, Patrick noticed something beneath the waves.

“I think there is a cave down there,” he said, indicating a jagged rock formation beneath the crystalline surface.

“If there is a cave, Lapras will be too big to navigate it with all of us on her back,” Elizabeth pointed out.

“We have our own Water-type Pokémon,” Bryan said, “we can use those.”

They did just that, Bryan calling out Feraligatr and Patrick choosing Blastoise. Donning the scuba equipment they had rented at the resort, all three prepared to Dive. Lapras, being the biggest, went first. Bryan and Patrick followed at a safe distance. The opening to the cave was easy to find and with the big Transport Pokémon as their guide, they ventured forth. Everyone kept their eyes open for secret passageways or branching paths. As they couldn’t speak in their equipment, hand signals were used for communication. Although nothing strange was uncovered, the going was easy. Until they hit a strong current and were pulled deeper into the cave. Unable to fight the current, they all hung fast to their Pokémon, hoping not to get separated. At one point, Bryan lost his grip on Feraligatr, but the Big Jaw Pokémon wrapped him in strong arms and let the current take them where it wished. When at last he came to a stop, all the light filtering in from the cave mouth was too far distant to illuminate the cavern. Bryan was alone and in the dark. He kept one hand on Feraligatr for safety.

Without warning, something heavy hit Bryan from behind and he recoiled. He attempted to kick away from the projectile, but it latched on to his leg. The former gym leader wanted to kick out, yet thought better of it. Through the inky darkness, he could just make out the form Patrick, a terrified look beneath his scuba mask, clasped onto his leg. Blastoise slowly swam up behind him and the four came close together so they could see each other in the darkness. Elizabeth was still missing, they needed to find her. Charizard or Ampharos might be able to shed some light on the situation, literally, but neither would be able to handle being underwater for any extended period of time. In fact, for Charizard, just mere moments could be suicide. As they silently pondered, keeping in constant physical contact, a light approached them. Feraligatr and Blastoise prepared to defend them. It was a Lanturn. The Light Pokémon, disinterested in them, turned and swam the other direction. Patrick had an idea. He tapped Blastoise’s shell twice. The Shellfish Pokémon shot forward and engaged Lanturn.

It was a short battle. Blastoise was powerful and a life lived deep in this cave, away from most dangers, had done nothing to increase Lanturn’s ability to battle. It was probably a good thing too, because a single Shock Wave could have done everyone a lot of damage. Battling, however, wasn’t the purpose of engaging Lanturn. Patrick caught it. With a quick digital link to his PC, he sent Espeon to Professor Oak and kept Lanturn. They had a way to light the dark cave. With the Light Pokémon leading the way, Patrick and Bryan explored the deep reaches of the cave. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The walls were smooth and round and no tunnels led anywhere except the one back to the surface. They could find nothing adorning the bland walls either. Bryan sighed mentally. Patrick, noticing the sign of exasperation, pointed to Bryan’s pocket. He pulled out the map. As with the other locations, the map had enlarged to show the undersea cavern in greater detail. The black star representing himself was in a large chamber deep in the cave, the blue star was in a smaller cavern…beneath them. They swam downward.

To their great surprise, they found Elizabeth. She was swimming alone, no Lapras in sight, dim light from a tiny flashlight her only eyes in the darkness. It wasn’t surprising, she was an excellent swimmer and, if the tunnel they had been dragged down was too narrow for Lapras, she would have had to continue on her own. In addition to their companion, they found the entrance to Manaphy’s cave. Elizabeth was inspecting a small drawing of the guardian in the floor of the round cavern when they approached her. She indicated it enthusiastically and Bryan showed her the map. Manaphy’s star was on the opposite side of the wall from where they were. How to open the door? Both Celebi and Jirachi had required music. The former from the Time Flute, the latter from Elizabeth’s singing. What music could they make underwater? The depth would dampen the sound and they couldn’t use their voices. In the bright light of Lanturn, the three humans and three Pokémon floated near the bottom of the cave. Thinking.

Patrick had the first idea. He paddled down to the drawing, he was no better a swimmer than Bryan, and pushed on the carving with all his might. Seeing his intention, Blastoise tried to help. The floor didn’t budge. Elizabeth, thinking along the same lines as Bryan, tried next. She clapped. It was noise in the water, Bryan supposed, but it failed too. The vibrations didn’t even carry to his ears and he was only a few feet away. Finally, Bryan had an idea. Touching Feraligatr, the two swam downward together. Bryan began tapping on the area around Manaphy’s drawing with his fingernails. No noise could be heard, his nails were too soft, until Feraligatr tried his hand. The Big Jaw Pokémon had long, curved claws and the sound of them rapping against the stone was evident even deep underwater. Bryan smiled and gave his Pokémon a thumbs up. Feraligatr continued. Long seconds passed without reaction and then Manaphy’s carving began to glow a brilliant azure. Patrick and Elizabeth joined him. Dark black lines began winding their way across the painting, forming keys. Piano keys. Elizabeth sprang into action.

She tapped a key and the note reverberated through the water with amazing clarity. They had found the entrance, but what was the tune. The Time Flute had required specific notes, but Jirachi had responded to a random song. Elizabeth tried playing a song from her childhood. No reaction. She looked up at Bryan, seeking advice. The map. Bryan pulled it out. The map of the underwater cave had shifted to sheet music. He kicked his feet hard, propelling himself toward the mass of blonde hair floating beside him. His ineptitude as a swimmer became apparent at that point, but Blastoise gave him a hand. Elizabeth read the sheet music, took it to heart, and played a haunting tune. The music vibrated through the water and the underground cavern like a massive aquatic organ. Bryan was reminded of Lugia’s voice thundering through his head.

Elizabeth finished the song and a loud grinding sound replaced the sonorous music. The wall, previously seamless, was pulling itself apart like two sliding doors opening. Bryan expected to be sucked into the chasm. He wasn’t. The door opened large enough that even Lugia could have entered, wings at full extension. A blue light shone from the other side. Bryan swam forward and into the gap. Or he tried, Feraligatr ended up pushing him most of the way. As he breached the doorway, his headed breached the surface of the water and his orientation flipped entirely. Despite the dozens of times he had been Teleported in the past month, he thought he was going to be sick.

One moment, he had been swimming down toward the cave floor, the next moment his head had breached water and he was staring up at a cave ceiling. The damp rock above radiated an ambient blue light. Before Bryan could locate the source, Patrick, Elizabeth, and the Pokémon broke the surface of the strange grotto too. They weren’t as lucky as Bryan. Patrick, ripping off his scuba mask, puked horribly in the salty water. Everyone promptly pulled themselves out of the water and onto the uneven cavern floor. Now out of the water, the source of the light became obvious. Hovering in mid-air, identical to its counterparts, was Manaphy. Sound asleep. The long, swept back antenna glowed ocean blue. Removing their diving gear and re-calling their Pokémon, the trio of humans approached cautiously.

“Wait,” said Patrick, his voice echoing off the walls, “has anyone seen Mew?”

“I am here,” came the response in their heads, and Mew appeared before them, “water really isn’t my favorite thing, so I hung back a little. Excellent job though.”

For some reason, Bryan found himself beaming. He had been complimented by a Legendary Pokémon. Mew placed his pink paw on Manaphy and the Seafaring Pokémon was whisked away in the blink of an eye. It took the ambient light with it. Now standing in pitch blackness, Bryan couldn’t see the map or their next destination. Patrick resolved the problem with Charizard. The final star on the map shown red, a great distance from Bryan’s black.

“Off to Unova,” he stated, and they were gone.

Their final destination was Liberty Garden, a privately-owned island off the coast of Virbank City. Reaching the island turned out to be harder than anticipated because, for some reason, Mew couldn’t Teleport directly to the island. Instead, they Teleported to Virbank and since it was late, so they took shelter at the Pokémon Center and headed to the port the next morning. The ferries to both Castelia City and Liberty Garden were temporarily closed. No reason, they just were. Mew Teleported them to Castelia City to try and catch a ferry.

Mew landed them on the top of a 30-story building. The most secluded part of the city, he explained. Bryan didn’t believe him, until they got into town and saw the hordes of people milling about the streets. The city was crazy. Saffron and Goldenrod, respectively, were the two most populous, and thus busiest, cities in the Indigo Plateau. Castelia City put them to shame. Even at the Pokémon League Tournament, Bryan had never seen so many people in one place. With the mass of people to avoid, it took ages to reach the docks. When they arrived, they discovered the port split was into five distinct piers. It took another 30 minutes to find Liberty Pier. Tickets to the small island were outrageous, but the three of them swallowed their pride and ponied up the money. A short while later, they were finally on their way to Liberty Garden. Until the boat turned around.

“The waters around Liberty Garden are too treacherous to traverse this afternoon,” a voice said over the loud speaker, “a partial refund or rain check will be issued for your tickets. Have a nice day.”

All three of them audibly sighed. A waste of time and money. Great. They landed back in Castelia City and re-grouped. Lapras, it was decided, was better at Surfing than any boat, she could make the journey. It was true, she did, but not because the waters were treacherous. The boat captain had lied. Upon landing on the island, all three were immediately arrested. Sort of. An odd group, calling themselves Team Plasma, had taken the island hostage and locked them in the brig of their ship to be sent back to Castelia City. The group was dressed oddly, like ancient knights or some facsimile, but everyone agreed they just looked ridiculous. Naturally, Patrick and Bryan fought their way out. Bryan was concerned about destroying the ship, but Patrick pointed out that they were a criminal organization and, one way or another, they needed to be stopped. Bryan acquiesced. Elizabeth frowned at them, yet provided no alternative. Charizard burned a hole in the hull of the ship and the trio mounted Lapras again. As the ship slowly filled with water, Lapras again approached the island, this time with a little more fury. She froze the dock with an Ice Beam, the first time Bryan had ever seen her attack, while Charizard and Skarmory swept down threateningly from the sky. Team Plasma countered with their own Pokémon, but Patrick and Bryan were far more powerful. Most escaped to the sinking ship, only to panic and throw themselves overboard. As they swam frantically back to shore, another ship approached. The fleeing members of Team Plasma boarded and had it turn around. The friends had the island to themselves.

The island was small, yet beautiful. The lower lying beaches were grassy and covered in flowers, while a few large trees had been planted along the northern edge. The center of the island rose up higher out of the sea and an old, but well-maintained, lighthouse sat at its center. Arceus’ map led them inside. Down to the basement. Another dead end. The group spread out and, drawing from the knowledge of their other encounters, they searched for a motif of Victini or, perhaps, some indication of the music that would draw it out. They were in the basement of the lighthouse, but experience told them that didn’t mean anything. Manaphy was beneath an undersea cavern in an upside-down grotto. Anything could happen.

Nothing happened. After an hour of searching, they came up empty-handed. Frustrated and tired, Bryan plopped down on the spiral staircase that wrapped around the interior wall of the lower half of the lighthouse. He let out a long breath and looked at his friends, still searching. and then cursed himself. He should have seen it sooner. Some of the tiles that made up the floor were a different colors. Some dark grey, others much lighter. They didn’t form anything remotely recognizable, yet, in the center of the room, a single tile was missing.

“The tiles on the floor can be moved,” Bryan announced, “we have to shift them into the right order.”

“But what order,” asked Patrick.

“The letter V,” came Mew’s voice, always invisible, never forgotten.

The group got to work. Bryan and Patrick shifted the light-weight tiles around the floor while Elizabeth stood on the stairs and directed their work. In a short amount of time, they had finished. The lighthouse began to shake. Elizabeth hurried down to join the boys and they waited for the tremor to stop. When it did, the spot in the center of the room, that somehow still lacked a tile, descended downwards. Another staircase. All three of them practically ran down it, followed by a flying Mew. At the bottom of the stairs was a wooden door. It was locked.

“Couldn’t be that easy, could it,” Patrick joked.

His voice activated the door. Red lettering began to scroll across it. Unown.

“What does it say,” Elizabeth whispered.

“V is for Victory,” Bryan intoned. The door swung open.

“Maybe it could be that easy,” Patrick commented.

It was. Victini was sleeping in the middle of the room, suspended like all the rest. Mew approached the Victory Pokémon, but, before he reached it, the room began to waver and dance. Liberty Garden lighthouse was gone and the three once again stood in the Hall of Origin. The five guardians, including Mew, were awake now, hovering in a semi-circle above their creator. All of their other friends stood around them as well. No-one was any less confused than the next. The eleven of them exchanged befuddled glances, but Arceus began to speak.

“YOU HAVE DONE WELL, MY CHILDREN, BUT THERE IS ONE MORE TASK I MUST IMPLORE. I SEE TEN MASTERS BEFORE ME. WHO SHALL BE THE OTHER EIGHT?”

A pain shot through Bryan’s hand and a tingling sensation, like someone was writing on him, caused him to look down. A lightning bolt had materialized on the back of his hand. The others were experiencing the same thing. A snowflake adorned Ejen’s hand, a water droplet on Cassi’s, and a flame on Drago’s. Everyone, save Elizabeth, was now imprinted as one of Arceus’ Elemental Masters. Even Patrick, whose hand displayed a pale green bug-shape, had been chosen. The group gathered close and examined their new tattoos.

Electric, Ice, Steel, Ghost, Rock, Water, Fire, Grass, Bug, and Fighting were represented. They were short Flying, Psychic, Dragon, Dark, Ground, Fairy, Poison, and Normal. Who could fill those shoes? Everyone shared the same look. No clue. Another booming voice, not Arceus’, interrupted them.

“THE HEALER CAN BE MY MASTER,” declared Lugia, from where, no-one knew.

“SO BE IT,” answered Arceus, and a tiny wing appeared on Elizabeth’s hand, “WHO ELSE?”

“Lance, the Dragon Master,” offered Patrick boldly.

“IT WILL BE DONE,” Arceus again, and Mew disappeared from its side, “YOU HAVE A DAY TO DECIDE THE REST. AFTER, MEET LUGIA AT THE ALTAR OF THE SUNNE.”
 
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All that Remains is the End
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All that Remains is the End

The Hall of Origin was gone, along with Arceus and his guardians. The eleven of them were standing behind an old-fashioned stone house in an area no-one recognized. The sound of vomiting could be heard and everyone turned to see Lance, doubled over and holding his stomach.

“What the…” he tried to ask, but was sick again.

Explaining this to the Dragon Master was going to be difficult, but it was going to have to wait. A door swung open in the back of the stone house and a young girl stepped out. She was dressed like a farmer, in practical brown pants and a matching shirt. A purple pouch of unknown contents hung at her waist and a matching bonnet contained the copious amounts of hair that she had pulled into long braids.

“I am Hapu,” she said, introducing herself, “I was told you were coming. Please make yourself at home.”

Bryan stared at the young girl, taken aback. Lance stared at all of them, the expression on his face indeterminable. Everyone else took Hapu’s invitation as if in a daze. Elizabeth, the most aware of the group, asked the first question on everyone’s mind. Hapu’s answer did its best to satiate one curiosity.

“Here on Alola, each of the islands has a Kahuna. Essentially someone in charge of maintaining peace and security on the island, while taking challenges from trainers who have passed their Trials.”

The confused looks continued, but Hapu did as well.

“My grandfather is the Kahuna of Poni Island and, as such, has occasional conversations with Tapu Fini, our island’s guardian deity. He has taught me to commune with her too. Yesterday, she informed me that eighteen Pokémon Masters would be traveling to the island. I am to welcome them and take them to the Altar of the Sunne.”

“Thank you for explaining,” Elizabeth said graciously, “and we welcome your hospitality. We have all had long travels, so I apologize for my companions’…” she searched for the right word, “fatigue.”

It wasn’t perfect, but it would do. Hapu led them all inside. Actual fatigue led most of them to sit or lay on the numerous chairs, pillows, and mats laid out. Lance approached Patrick, seeking further explanation, but Hapu spoke again first.

“Tapu Fini said eighteen would be coming, I only count twelve. Will more be coming?”

“It is a little complicated,” Bryan admitted, “we are still searching for the other six Masters.”

“Well if you need a Master of Ground-type Pokémon,” the young girl chimed, “I can ask my cousin, Geronimo. He just completed his last Grand Trial and is an excellent trainer.”

An intrigued look crossed Bryan’s face, they did need a Ground-type Master. Elizabeth read the look and sat down to speak with Hapu quietly. The distraction gone, Lance was finally able to question Patrick. With Bryan’s help, he elaborated as much as possible. It was evident the Dragon Master didn’t understand most of it. In the end, like with many of the others assembled, Bryan simplified it to the basics.

“The Legendary Pokémon exist. They asked for our help. Tomorrow morning, we will have to battle an unknown force of powerful Pokémon. Please help.”

Lance nodded and retired to a comfortable looking couch in the corner. Drago joined him and they got lost in conversation. Most of the others had done the same, introducing themselves to people they hadn’t met or catching up with old friends. Mitellos was half-sitting, half-laying on a huge pillow in the corner of the room. He could have been sleeping, but Bryan had a feeling he was only faking it to avoid conversation.

Elizabeth walked back to Bryan and whispered, “she is going to fetch her cousin from town. We can help ourselves to the food in the kitchen.”

Bryan passed the word along to the group and Mitellos, waking from his feigned sleep, was the first to the kitchen. The others ate in waves. Bryan, decidedly not hungry, retired to a more private room to speak with Elizabeth. They were in charge and needed to make decisions about who else to drag into this mess. As it was, most of the volunteers were partially unwilling. Now they had to make conscious decisions about pulling more people, more friends, into the war. Whats worse, Bryan wasn’t sure he even knew enough Masters to fill the quota provided by Arceus.

“We might ask Sabrina,” Elizabeth suggested in a low voice, knowing Bryan had already passed once on drawing the gym leader into their world of chaos.

“I know,” Bryan responded, the thought had been with him a while now, “we may not have a choice.”

“That’s a Psychic Master,” Elizabeth concluded, taking his answer for a yes. It needed to be.

“Do you know of anyone else?”

“Some of the other gym leaders might qualify,” Bryan suggested, “but I don’t know them that well. I suppose we could ask Karen, the Elite Four member.”

“I had a thought on a Dark Master,” a voice said, pushing open the door, “her name is Lucy. I wouldn’t know where to find her though. She is quite the enigma.”

A very peculiar manner overtook the boy as he spoke about his friend, but Bryan wrote it off to nerves. Everyone was nervous.

“I don’t think it will matter where she is,” Bryan said, “the Guardians will find her.”

“So that is three of six,” Elizabeth interjected, pushing the conversation forward, “what else do we need?”

“Poison, Fairy, and Normal,” Bryan stated, “I am at a loss for all three.”

“If you don’t know anyone else, we can send for Tonks,” Patrick suggested.

Elizabeth didn’t know the small girl, but Bryan was appalled.

“Tonks is just a kid, we can’t pull her into this.”

“She isn’t much younger than myself or Taran,” the champion countered, “plus she has a mean streak that can contend with anyone and she lives on her own.”

Elizabeth was convinced, but Bryan was still on the fence. If they didn’t have another choice though…he would ask around first. Lance suggested Koga as the Poison Master, but Bryan liked that idea even less than Tonks. Fairy and Normal, however, would be tougher to come by. Normal wasn’t a typing people tended to specialize in and Fairy was just as new as Steel, at least outside the regions of Kalos and Alolla. Naturally, Bryan asked the Kalos natives for advice. Taran was at a loss, he didn’t know too many people outside Camphrier Town and none of them were trainers. Asabe, being better traveled, knew more people than Taran, but none of them were Fairy Masters. She did, however, know a Normal Master.

“His name is Ike. He is from Ransei. It is a little-known region run by Warlords.”

Just another mystery to Bryan, but it was one less Master he needed. As Patrick had finally worn him down on Tonks, all he needed now was someone who was a Fairy Master. Thankfully, Ejen provided the answer. An old friend of hers, Ada, who lived in Celestic Town, had heard about the Fairy-type in her youth and been intrigued. She traveled to Kalos to learn all she could about them and returned to Sinnoh to teach about them. It would do.

“How do we let Arceus know,” Bryan wondered aloud when all of the decisions had been made.

Patrick pointed. Mew. He had never been far away since this whole business started and he would deliver the messages. That night, Hapu returned with her cousin and a mountain of food. The ever-growing group dug in immediately. However, as they started in on dessert, a commotion outside drew their attention. Sabrina, Ike, Ada, Tonks, and Lucy had arrived. They were each accompanied by a Guardian. No sooner had they been seen, the Guardians disappeared and the newcomers were left with more questions than answers. Bryan barely tried to explain. They were all introduced, Bryan gave the abbreviated version of events and the need for all the powerful trainers, and then they returned to their meal. The assembled cast of trainers was truly an amazing thing to see. Bryan, Cassi, Drago, Pablo, and Grache were formidable trainers in their own right and the others didn’t disappoint. Lance and Sabrina were accomplished members of the Pokémon League, while Patrick and Asabe were both the reigning champions of different regions. The tiny figure of Tonks was somewhat comical against the strapping figures of Ike and Mitellos. Geronimo, the only native of Alola, was dressed in quite a strange fashion and Bryan couldn’t begin to explain it. He didn’t get any time during the night to speak with Ada or Lucy, but, if his friends trusted them, he would too.

Somehow, they had assembled trainers from all of the Pokémon League regions, as well as Ransei and Alola. Alola was in the progress of joining the Pokémon League, but were still several years from official membership. Hapu, her bonneted head bobbing in and out of the crowd of trainers, made sure they were happy and well-accommodated. So pleasant was the evening before, it was easy not to think about the horrible promises the dawn held. Fate, however, couldn’t be ignored.

The next morning, they were up with the sun. Hapu, astride her powerful Mudsdale, leading the way. They turned left up Ancient Poni Path and soon entered Vast Poni Canyon. Its name didn't lie, it was, indeed, vast. Hapu, thankfully, was familiar with the area and led them on the most direct path to their destination. With the bulk of the canyon lying before and above them, Hapu led them past a large boulder that had been pushed out of the way, through a cave, out into the open, and back into a cave. The second cave had a strange, shiny altar at its center and the group felt as though they were being watched. Cassi, who had taken the Island Challenge, recognized the cave as a Trial Chamber and whispered as such to those closest to her. Despite the evident presence of the Trial's Totem Pokémon, it remained at bay due to their large numbers and they all moved through the chamber without being accosted.

Upon exiting the cave, a massive staircase rose up before them, ascending a small mountain rising up from the canyon floor. More than one exasperated sighed sounded from the group. Hapu jumped down from her Musdale and climbed the long staircase on foot. The rest bowed their heads and began the arduous climb. Patrick, Bryan, Elizabeth, and Cassi, near the front of the pack, were discussing their location.

“I was here once before,” Cassi was saying, “I didn’t find anything of interest at the old altar.”

“If I have learned one thing from the Legendary Pokémon,” replied Elizabeth, “it is that they are good at hiding things in plain sight.”

“Here, here,” was Bryan’s response.

Patrick, deeper in thought, gave a surprising assessment of the situation, “I think the Legendary Pokémon just know how to use their abilities better than younger Pokémon. We teach Pokémon to use their skills for battling, or entertainment, or mundane tasks. Legendary Pokémon, with centuries of experience, can use the abilities in a form that seems closer to magic.”

The others agreed, remembering some of the things they had seen when dealing with the Legendary Pokémon. The Time Flute summoning Celebi. Elizabeth’s song unlocking Jirachi’s tomb. The seal on Manaphy’s upside-down cavern. Even Victini’s puzzle. And that wasn’t including the elaborate system in which the titans were hidden and Regigigas was frozen. Bryan shook his head in disbelief again and concentrated on ascending the stairs. His legs were burning and his breathe was short when they reached the top. When they arrived there, what breathe he had left was taken from him.

The altar itself was beautiful. It resembled a tiered garden, with verdant bushes surrounding a cracked, yet intricate cobblestone mosaic. The mosaic surrounded a raised dais with a strange symbol stamped upon it. Further up the tiered altar were two symmetrical pillars rising up from within the mountain and submerged in water. Between them was another trough of water and, rising up majestically behind them, an indescribable monument of some kind. The towering mountain served as a backdrop to the entire scene. Stamped on the monument was the same symbol as the dais. A sun, perhaps, for the Altar of the Sunne. Despite the natural beauty of the altar, that wasn't what caught Bryan’s limited breathe in his throat. Standing on the two partially submerged pillars were a pair of thoroughly mismatched individuals. The first was an old man, rustic and weathered. He bared a resemblance to Hapu and Bryan assumed it was her grandfather, Kahuna of Poni Island. The second was a radiant young woman. Her long, shapely blonde hair fell past her slim knees and green eyes flashed beneath her low bangs. She was dressed entirely in white, from slim top to short skirt; long, slim leggings; and the monotony broken by expensive black shoes. Bryan had no clue to her identity.

The two of them were playing flutes. The old man’s flute was a light-yellow color and sported the same symbol as the dais and the monument. The young girl’s flute was a pale purple with a moon-shaped crest on the end. Together, their melody floated up over the monument with wondrous results. The water beneath them began to glow and flow upward, into and around the towering monument. When the two streams of glowing water met at the apex, above the sun crest, the air before them began to shimmer and shake. The disturbance in the air grew larger and larger until a graceful, unknown Pokémon emerged. The man and woman stopped playing.

“That was inspirational, Lusamine,” the man spoke softly to his assistant as they stepped off their perches.

She nodded politely, a wide smile on her face, but didn’t respond. The two approached the group and Hapu introduced the older man. He was her grandfather.

“Tapu Fini spoke with me again,” he told Hapu, though the congregation could hear him, “and told me to prepare for your coming. The Ultra Wormhole is open and Solgaleo will lead you through. Good Luck.”

“I will be staying here,” Hapu said, “but these folks will need that luck.”

Her grandfather turned to the group and did just that. He also issued a warning.

“Ultra Space is a dangerous place, so be sure not to get lost. Stay within the light of Solgaleo’s shadow and you should be safe.”

None of the assembled group remotely knew what he was talking about, but they nodded anyway. Taking Lusamine’s hand, he headed down the long staircase and away from the wormhole standing open before them. He waved briefly to Hapu. She waved back and motioned Bryan’s friends forward. As they approached, Solgaleo turned its back to them and a long, yellow shadow elongated behind it.

‘Stay within the light of Solgaleo’s shadow,’ rang through all of their heads. They scampered forward and into its protection. The Sunne Pokémon, its charges safely within its shadows, leapt forward and into Ultra Space. Bryan, unsure what to expect, braced himself. Alola disappeared. He turned back and could see the Altar of the Sunne disappearing in the distance, as if it were in a tiny window and he was being dragged away from it. Within Ultra Space, he could see…he had no idea.
 
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The Final Chapter
Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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The Final Chapter

The environment was black and blue and purple with small pinpricks of light shining through from an unknown source. It was as if the entire group was flying through outer space. And yes, they were flying, positioned safely on Solgaleo’s shadow as the Sunne Pokémon swam through Ultra Space. If they fell, they would fall and fall and fall. To where, Bryan wasn’t in a hurry to find out.

Soon after Alola finally disappeared in the background, a new window became visible in front of them. Bryan could see nothing through the window, it was simply a deep, crimson red. Solgaleo altered its course for the window. The sensation when passing through was difficult to describe. His stomach felt like he had Teleported a great distance, yet his skin felt as if it was passing through a curtain of water. Despite, Bryan remained bone dry. The sensation was fleeting and, when it passed, they all found themselves standing on the edge of a cliff. Several Flying-type Pokémon were visible overhead, but the area was small and only clouds could be seen over the edge. Solgaleo, withdrawing its shadow, raced ahead and promptly returned.

Clearly failing to find what it was looking for, it positioned itself in front of the red wormhole and prepared to depart. Everyone clambered back onto its shadow and they were off once more. The Teleporting, watery sensation came and went and they were once again flying through Ultra Space. After a short while, another window, this one blue, appeared. Solgaleo flew through it. Wormhole sensation, as Bryan decided to call it, washed over and the group found themselves standing in shallow water. They appeared to be in a cave and, as Solgaleo raced off again, a few random Pokémon scattered in its wake. Failure again. The Sunne Pokémon returned and they were off. The process repeated with a yellow wormhole giving way to a dark, yet dry, cave and a green wormhole giving way to a barren, rocky environment with minimal light shining through the cracks in dark clouds.

Each time, Solgaleo rushed off, only to return moments later and usher them forward. The pattern finally stopped when they passed through a white wormhole. Wormhole sensation washed over Bryan again, but it was stronger, more virulent, and more than one traveler behind him failed to keep down their breakfast. They found themselves standing on a completely foreign landscape. Its best comparison was possibly similar to the ocean floor. Tall, coral and algae-like formations clung to the high walls of the cave-like environment, glowing in a myriad or greens, blues, and purples. What Bryan assumed was rock beneath their feet wasn’t hard, it was almost springy. Hanging before them, numbering around twelve or fifteen, were terrifying creatures Bryan had difficulty believing were Pokémon.

“They are Pokémon,” Mew said, appearing from nowhere, as it seemed that was his favorite thing to do, “though an old, powerful species that has been trapped here in the darkness for too long. They are called Ultra Beasts and they are the army Mewtwo has gathered to protect his fortress.”

“What do we do,” asked Bryan.

“You must fight your way to the next wormhole,” said Mew, indicating another white wormhole on the far side of the strange cavern, “choose your Champions and push forward.”

An eerie, chiming…giggle, filled the air and the Nihilego, Mew gave them the name, noticed them and floated near. Their long, semi-transparent tentacles waved menacingly in the air. Bryan turned to his assembled Masters.

“Some of you must remain behind to fight these Ultra Beasts,” he declared, summoning his courage and attempting to sound brave, “who will volunteer to fight, while the rest of us push onward.”

Bryan expected resistance, or at least woeful muttering, but he received neither. Finally, with something concrete and understandable in front of them, the Masters were ready to fight. Even if it was going to be the toughest fight of their life. Seven hands automatically shut up. Bryan chose three. Sabrina, Cassi, and Geronimo would stay and fight the first group.

“Once they engage,” Bryan instructed the remainder of the group, “we will follow Solgaleo to the next wormhole.”

Everyone nodded in agreement and prepared to run. Sabrina summoned Alakazam, Cassi called forth Primarina, and Geronimo chose Flygon. The Nihilego, an enemy to engage, attacked without mercy. Alakazam’s Physic dropped one quickly, while Flygon rushed forward and Primarina launched into Sparkling Aria. Her attack hit, but one of the Nihilego shook it off and countered with Sludge Bomb. Primarina went down. Cassi chose another Pokémon and the others were off. The fight going on around them was intense. Alakazam was holding its own, but Cassi was quickly on her third Pokémon and Flygon only lasted one round as well. It didn’t matter, they had their own purpose and pushed forward. A single Nihilego, seeing the mass rushing forward with Solgaleo at the lead, swooped at them. A powerful Zen Headbutt from the Legendary Pokémon sent it sprawling and the wormhole sensation washed over them again.

The new terrain was more familiar. Thick vines were draped over large rocks and fallen tree trunks in a strange jungle scene. Over a dozen hulking bug-like Pokémon appeared from the foliage and attacked in an instant. Buzzwole, Mew informed them. Bryan didn’t even have to select Masters this time. Three more sprang into action. Drago summoned Charizard, his brother attacked with Tyranitar, and Ada stepped forward to aid with Rimbombee. The rest of the group didn’t wait to see what happened, they stampeded toward the next wormhole. A rogue Fire Blast nearly caught Solgaleo and a KOed Buzzwole nearly smashed Patrick, but they made it through, barely, unscathed, and a new environment materialized.

A desert. Yet unlike any desert on Pókran. The sand was whitish-gray instead of yellow or orange and tall rock formations were accented by shimmering green gems. Resting atop the craggy rock formations were the next group of Ultra Beasts. Pheromosa. With lightning speed, they descended upon the shrinking group. Mitellos intercepted the charging group with Dusknoir. Asabe’s Lucario and Tonk’s Crobat quickly joined the fray too. As the remaining nine trainers sprinted for the other end of the desert, Bryan took a moment to contemplate the fighting. Crobat was one of the fastest Pokémon in existence, yet the Ultra Beast it fought was running circles around it. A worrisome frown creased the former gym leader’s face, but he had little time to think on it. Another wormhole and another new environment.

The dark landscape had a bluish ting and scraggy lightning bolts dropped from the ominous clouds. Unfamiliar, squarish boulders dotted the dark earth and strange, metallic formations jutted up from cracks in the ground. An electrical energy pulsed all around them. It was feeding their next opponent. Xurkitree. Taran, Ejen, and Grache moved forward to draw the Ultra Beasts away from the next white wormhole. Aegislash, in all its ghostly metallic glory, was supported by Alolan Ninetales and Venusaur. The Xurkitree fell on them and they were lost in the sway of pulsating arms and legs. The battling trainers urged their fellows onward. They didn’t need to be asked twice. Bryan only hoped that, by the time they reached their destination, there were trainers left to fight.

Another wormhole. Another foreign environment. It appeared to be a ruined city, but ruined from what or when was lost to history. Scraps from other cities or other dimensions littered the metallic streets that the final six trainers stood upon and gobbling up the debris and garbage…a horde of Guzzlord. They were the largest of the Ultra Beasts yet encountered and the arms protruding from their gaping mouths were like something straight out of a horror movie. Lance moved forward with courage and called forth Dragonite. Ike and Lucy followed suit with Tauros and Umbreon. The ensuing battle would be intense and unforgettable, but Bryan wouldn’t be around to see it. Only he, Elizabeth, and Patrick remained of the original eighteen. Mew in tow, Solgaleo led them on.

The next wormhole and another challenge. The three of them, who had suffered through so much together, stood on the edge of a crater. The crater was filled with an unknown and steaming liquid, crossed by a single, rusted pillar acting as a bridge. The landscape was dotted with other, similar craters, some with thick pipes emitting from their edges. Tall, sharp spikes also protruded from the ground, like huge teeth eating the ground from below. No Pokémon were in sight. The trio crossed the precarious make-shift bridge and slid down the slope of the crater onto flat ground. The next wormhole was directly in front of them. Within one hundred yards. Fifty. THUD. Something crashed to the ground in front of them. It was huge and steel and began to rise from the place it had crashed. Celesteela, Mew informed them. He didn’t speak, not even to their minds. It was just a single word that occurred to all of them simultaneously. Patrick and Bryan prepared to engage the new Ultra Beast when it was suddenly flung to one side and out of their way. A second took its place, only to be berated by a Hydro Pump. The three remaining trainers turned to see Sabrina, Cassi, and Geronimo barreling toward them.

“We defeated the Nihilego,” Sabrina called out over the distance, “we can handle this too. Keep going.”

Bryan nodded and waved as Reuniclus attacked Celesteela a second time. Golduck and Gliscor appeared over a crater and joined the fray. With a free run to the next wormhole, Bryan took his friends' hands and plunged forward. He began to sweat. The temperatures of the other realms had been relatively consistent, if somewhat oppressive. Here, in a peaceful jungle, shafts of bold sunlight sifting through the canopy, it was nearly unbearable hot. The peacefulness was broken in an instant. The creatures that attacked them were small, yet terribly deadly. Their arms were sharp as scythes and they flitted through the canopy with unbelievable speed. Again, Patrick and Bryan prepared to battle, again they were saved by their colleagues. Magmar’s Fire Blast incinerated three of the speedy creatures, but a dozen more took its place. More and more, Kartana, Mew thought to them, dropped from the trees, far greater in number than any of the previous Ultra Beasts. Drago, Pablo, and Ada ensured them they could handle it. To prove so, Aerodactyl swatted two more from the sky and Gardevoir disable several with Psychic. Convinced that the chosen Masters were in control, Mew and Solgaleo led the way through the final gate.

The five stood on a smooth blue street, glowing purple and blue lines outlining its width. Angular black and gray buildings rose up around them, but no people could be seen. In the distance, rising up over the skyscrapers, was a tower radiating light. It was the only source of light in the city.

“MEGALO TOWER, OUR DESTINATION,” Lugia voice resonated through their minds as he descended from the heavens above.

“You have one final test,” said Mew, “once you have defeated the stealer of light, meet us at the top of the tower.”

He vanished without another word or explanation. The final test soon became evident. A horrifying, jet-black Pokémon with massively clawed hands and a multi-faceted and colored face below a triangular brow descended from the looming tower.

“NECROZMA,” Lugia breathed, with as much emotion as its booming voice could contain.

Solgaleo, a look of abject terror on its normally peaceful face, turned and fled back through the final gate.

“GO, MY FRIEND,” Lugia called after it, “WE CAN HANDLE THIS.”

Can we? thought Bryan to himself.

“WE CAN,” Lugia said, reminding Bryan again that he could read minds, “IF NECROZMA HAD ABSORBED SOLGALEO’S LIGHT, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO DEFEAT.”

Bryan had no clue what Lugia meant by ‘absorbed Solgaleo’s light,’ but it sounded bad. He prepared for battle and it was as a good a time as any to use Ampharos. Patrick, concurring that his strongest was needed, chose Scizor. Alongside Lugia, they sprang into battle. Scizor slashed away with X-Scissor and Ampharos unleashed Thunderbolt from a safe distance. Torn between the two Pokémon, Necrozma tried to cast Psychic at them both and failed to hit either. Using the distraction, Lugia swooped in and hammered the Prism Pokémon with Aeroblast. It faltered. And angered. Raising its over-sized claws to the sky, it unleashed an unspeakable sound. All three humans clasped hands to ears and the Pokémon wavered. Megalo, shining brightly in the background, began to flash. The light, which was lighting the entire city, surged from the tower and Necrozma began to absorb it. It didn’t need Solgaleo after all.

“NOOOOOOO,” screamed Lugia, realizing what was happening.

The sound exploded in Bryan’s ears and he recoiled. Lugia bombarded Necrozma with another Aeroblast. The surge of light deflected the attack. Necrozma, body expanded with the light, undulated and writhed. Lugia drifted down from the sky and gathered his friends protectively beneath him. They waited. When the pulsing and rippling stopped, a new creature stood before them. Instead of midnight black, it shone with the same radiant light Megalo Tower once had and its enormous claws had warped into wings and tiny arms. It sized them up.

“NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT,” Lugia said seriously, “YOU MUST PROMISE ME THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO GIVE THAT MONSTER EVERYTHING YOU HAVE.”

Patrick and Bryan assured him they would, yet were concerned what the Diving Pokémon planned to do.

“THE FATE OF THE WORLD, THIS AND THE OTHER, IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY ONE OF US,” Lugia stated mysteriously.

Elizabeth patted him gently on the underside of one enormous wing. In front of them, fully charged, Necrozma floated into the air and prepared to attack. A radiant orb of light formed above the Pokémon, growing larger and larger, feeding off Necrozma’s stolen light. As the orb grew, it pulsed and writhed, like it had a life of its own. The darkness of the city, in comparison, was absolute.

“The Light that Burns the Sky,” Lugia whispered, its tone, for the first time, at a palatable register.

The attack was so great, it threatened to envelope everything. Not just the Pokémon, but Patrick, Bryan, and Elizabeth too. Lugia wouldn’t let that happen. He spread his wings as far as he could and placed himself between his friends and the hurtling ball of energy. Without a thought, Lugia took the full force of the blow. And fell. Infuriated, Patrick and Bryan did exactly what Lugia told them to do, they attacked. Without forethought and without mercy, they attacked. Scizor pounded away again with X-Scissor and Thunderbolt after Thunderbolt blasted forth from Ampharos. Even Elizabeth, with tears in her eyes, joined the battle. Lapras’ Ice Beam joined the fray. Although weakened from the attack, Necrozma was far from defeated. It swatted away Scizor and turned to Ampharos. Patrick didn’t falter. Charizard burst forth and unleashed Fire Blast. Next, Ampharos fell to Necrozma’s Psychic. Feraligatr took his place.

Necrozma turned next to Lapras. Charizard and Feraligatr closed ranks and prevented the Prism Pokémon access to Elizabeth’s only fighter. Hydro Pump joined Fire Blast in pounded the shining Necrozma. Charizard and Feraligatr fell to Necrozma’s powerful attacks, but it was weakening. And quickly. Nidoking and Blastoise stepped into take their places. An onslaught of Hydro Pump and Ice Beam covered Nidoking’s approached as he lowered his head and delivered a punishing Horn Attack. Necrozma lashed out at the nuisance and sent Bryan’s Pokémon tumbling head over heels, but, at long last, it had had enough. Necrozma collapsed in a heap, breathing labored, and its light winking out. They had won.

Bryan checked on Nidoking. He had survived the blow. Barely. Blastoise was still in good shape and Lapras was called back at full health. Elizabeth’s sobbing drew Bryan’s attention. She was slumped over Lugia’s graceful face, tears flowing unchecked down her cheeks.

“Is he…” Bryan started, but Patrick shook his head. No, Lugia was breathing.

“He saved us,” Elizabeth cried, her voice raspy, “all of us, so many times.”

She was right, of course. Years ago, he had saved her from the storm and then, through her, resurrected Bryan’s life and passion. He had tested them to their limits, yet he had been there the whole way. Lugia was the architect of this entire story. Its silent hero. Well, as silent as the booming voice in their head had been.

“I will stay with him,” Elizabeth’s crying continued unchecked, “go stop that bastard once and for all.”

Patrick and Bryan approached the two of them. Lugia lying unconscious on the black street, Elizabeth draped over him. They both touched Lugia gently on the smooth, white nose and Bryan kissed his oldest friend on the cheek. On to Megalo Tower.

The tower, once shining with a blinding light, was completely black now. The streets and buildings, as black as the tower, faded into the growing darkness. Only the lights from Necrozma, fleeing from captivity after its defeat, had been lighting the city. As they vanished, one by one, so did what remained of Patrick’s and Bryan’s visibility. The light fading, the two joined hands and blindly worked their way to Megalo Tower. Inside, as expected, they found stairs. Climbing slowly, to avoid falling in the absolute darkness, the ascent began. Neither knew how long they climbed in the darkness, but, at long last, the light returned. In a sudden, unexpected change, all the light that had fled from Necrozma returned to the tower at once and the world was lit once more. It blinded the pair as effectively as the absolute darkness and they halted until their eyes adjusted. In the light, the sheer impossibility of the stairs became evident. The tower was tall and round, but slim. Despite, the staircase didn’t wrap around its outside walls, it shot straight up through the middle of the tower at an impossible angle. An angle the two, boy and man, were standing on unknowingly. They increased their pace. The stairs unfolded before them, shifting from a vertical impossibility to a traversable angle. At the top, they found a platform and their destination.

Mewtwo X and Mewtwo Y battled with the guardians. Mew and Celebi battled X, while Victini and Manaphy grappled with Y. Jirachi, enveloped in a transparent steel shield, bounced back and forth between the two, helping where needed. Patrick and Bryan stepped forward to aid them, but a warning word in their mind held them back. It didn’t sound like Mew and, with all of the guardians assembled, it could have been any of them. Manaphy distracted Mewtwo Y with Signal Beam and Victini used the opening to level a full power V-Create. Mewtwo Y hit the ground hard. It tried to push itself up, but Jirachi stepped in and slammed it back to the floor with Iron Head. Simultaneously, Mew and Celebi bombarded Mewtwo X with Psychic and Leaf Storm. It, too, fell. With both Mewtwo incapacitated, the guardians ceased attacking and floated high into the air, forming a star over the fallen Pokémon. Jirachi was at the top point, Mew and Celebi in the middle, Victini and Manaphy on the bottom. An energy flowed between them and surged downward, holding both Mewtwo in place.

Without warning, Arceus, in all its glory, appeared in a beam of colorless light. The Mewtwo rose involuntarily and floated toward their master. What may have been fear filled the evil eyes of both Pokémon, yet, struggle as they might, they couldn’t break free of the guardian’s combined might. Arceus surveyed them.

“POKéMON SHOULD LIVE IN PEACE WITH HUMANITY IN THIS WORLD WE HAVE CREATED. THOSE WHO CAN NOT, LIKE THE ULTRA BEASTS YOU HAVE SUMMONED TO YOU, MUST WITHDRAW FROM THIS WORLD. WILL YOU WITHDRAW OR WILL YOU YIELD?”

The power of the world shook the tower to its core. Arceus was power unrivaled. The creator of worlds. The creator of Pokémon. The master of all. Small pieces of shattered stone fell from the bodies of both Mewtwo and, shaking violently, they reverted to their normal forms. Hovering in front of their master and creator, defiant to the end, they began to shake again. Two Mewtwo merged into one, solving the mystery of how one became two. Mew, in his rage at humanity, had birthed Mewtwo from his own DNA. Mewtwo, taking that knowledge, had cloned himself. With unknown and unbridled power, Arceus reversed the process. A single Mewtwo, bereft of its Mega Form, weak and hopeless, collapsed to the floor.

“Pokémon can not live at peace with humanity,” it spoke, its voice a deep, angry growl, “you, yourself, have withdrawn from humanity because they abuse the powers we possess.”

“ABUSED,” Arceus corrected, “BECAUSE THEY SAW US AS GODS THAT WE ARE TRULY ARE NOT. NOW, IN OUR EXILE, THEY HAVE SEEN THE ERROR OF THEIR WAYS AND ARE RETURNING TO PEACE WITH OUR KIND.”

“And yet they war with themselves and destroy all that is natural in this world,” Mewtwo retorted, “and when they have need of our power once again, abuse it they will.”

“HUMANITY HAS INDEED BEEN RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR SHARE OF CATASTROPHES,” Arceus admitted, its tone never wavering, “BUT POKéMON ARE NO LESS FAULTLESS. LOOK AT THE WORLD THAT POKéMON HAVE CREATED WITHOUT THEM.”

Arceus turned its head, indicating the world they were standing in. Images of the worlds they had traveled through flashed through Bryan’s mind and, he assumed, Mewtwo’s as well. He no longer heard Arceus’ words, but its thoughts passed through his head. Together, Pokémon and people have created beautiful, prosperous lands. They work together, hand-in-hand, every day to keep them that way. Here, in this Ultra Space, where Pokémon have run free, unchecked by humans, the world is a disaster. It is incomplete and falling apart. Even here, in this city, where humans have tried to build a city, they are constantly accosted by the Ultra Beasts. This is what the whole world would look like if ruled by Pokémon. Ugly. Barren. Forlorn. Without love. Mewtwo would not be moved.

“And beyond this world you created, where people live without Pokémon.”

“IS NOT OUR CONCERN,” Arceus stated emphatically.

Released from the power of the guardians, Mewtwo stood, toe-to-toe with Arceus. The Alpha Pokémon towered over its counterpart, emotion-less face staring down at the would-be destroyer of worlds.

“I will not yield to humanity,” Mewtwo said.

“THEN I WILL PASS JUDGEMENT.”

Mewtwo tried to run, but was held in place, once again, by the power of the guardians. Arceus reared up on its back legs. Shadow pooled around Mewtwo, gathering into two large masses. The Genetic Pokémon looked one way and then the other, angular eyes focused on the gathering darkness. Ample shadow accumulated, Arceus tilted forward, slamming its front legs into the ground. The amassed darkness rolled over Mewtwo from both sides, enveloping the struggling creature. Patrick and Bryan, the only human bystanders to the spectacle, watched as Mewtwo disappeared into Arceus’ Judgement. A single, unearthly shriek filled the air and Mewtwo was gone.

It was over. Bryan’s emotions were unsure how to react. Was he happy? Sad? Relieved? All of the above? Arceus turned to him.

“BRYAN SCHNEIDER, LUGIA’S CHAMPION, YOU HAVE CONFIRMED THE HOPE POKéMON ONCE HAD IN HUMANITY. WE CAN NOT RETURN IN FULL TO THE WORLD, BUT WE WILL WATCH MORE CLOSELY, MORE VIGILANT, AND THE LIKES OF MEWTWO SHALL NEVER RISE AGAIN.”

Without waiting for a response, the Alpha Pokémon vanished. In its wake, Bryan swore he heard a whisper say, ‘Help the Lost Child fulfill his destiny.’ Bryan glanced down at the smiling boy. Mew, his friend, was approaching. Mew and the other guardians smiled at them, but none of them spoke. They didn’t need to. Everything they needed to say was conveyed in their faces and in their minds. Waving farewell, Victini, Manaphy and Celebi copied their master and were gone.

“Are you leaving too,” Patrick asked Mew.

“For now, yes,” was the response, “but I will return. And before I go, I think I can do one more thing.”

In the blink of an eye, Teleport had them back at the base of the tower. Jirachi was still with them. Splayed around the exhausted body of Lugia, Elizabeth still crying over him, were the Elemental Masters. Each had conquered their challenge and marched on to victory. Now they stood at the heart of Ultra Megalopolis, basking in the radiance of Megalo Tower. The threat of Necrozma gone, Solgaleo had also returned, ready for the journey home. Jirachi flitted over to Lugia and cast Wish. A few minutes later, the Diving Pokémon took a deep breathe and raised his head. Elizabeth coughed and wiped the tears from her eyes.

“Shall we be going,” she said, aware, for the first time, that everyone had arrived.

“AN EXCELLENT IDEA,” Lugia boomed, lowering a wing so Elizabeth could climb up.

The others mirrored the sentiment and walked, once again, into Solgaleo’s shadow. Mew and Jirachi, their task finished, vanished with a word. Patrick, his best friend gone, began to tear up as well, but Bryan put a hand on his shoulder.

“You have more friends now,” the former gym leader said, “and that little enigma won’t be able to stay away for long.”

Patrick managed a weak smile. Solgaleo dropped its head and sprinted through the final gate. Lugia, Elizabeth mounted on his back, speed whipping her hair back, followed. Without Ultra Beasts to fight or other realms to explore, the journey home was brief. The Sunne Pokémon ran at top speed for Alola and everyone was shocked to find that barely any time had passed since their departure. Hapu was cheerfully playing with a Sandile when they re-appeared through the breach in space and time. She led them away in silence, Solgaleo leaping back into the Ultra Wormhole. It disappeared too.

In silence, the Masters followed Hapu back along the same route they had taken that morning, only hours earlier. They spent another night in Hapu’s stone home. Through the night and into the next day, little was said. Little could be said. Together, they had traveled to other dimensions, fought terrifying and powerful Pokémon, and helped, in their own small way, to save the world. Now it was over and they had to return to life. A normal life. Lance and Sabrina would return to the Pokémon League. Cassi to her teaching and Pablo to his research. Many would return to their training, a new sense of purpose in their minds. Others, like Ejen and Mitellos, the course of their lives forever changed by the events, had decisions to make. However, no matter what they or the others decided, they knew they would remember this day forever. Forever changed. Forever empowered. Forever drawn closer to those they had shared such an unbelievable adventure with.
 
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Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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THANK YOU SO MUCH TO EVERYONE IS READ (AND IS STILL READING) THE SAGA I PUT TOGETHER.
Seeing people return a couple times a week to read the new chapters makes me realize the effort to write was worth it. If you have any feedback on the story as a whole, I would love to hear it.

THANKS AGAIN. HAPPY READING.
 
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Lone Scribe for the Lord of Time
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Major revisions to formatting and grammar which should make for an easier read. Also, last BUMP before archiving. Thanks again.
 
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