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The Arcane Realm: Land of Freedom and Magicks (FFAZ)

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Maskerade- You accept the offer of employment. You didn't really have anything better to do and the couple were offering to reward you for your services. With 'all' of you helping, it probably wouldn't even take that long either. You proceed to question Mace, if you were going to solve his problem for him, you needed details! Munchlax almost considers slinking away, but a stern look from Chimchar keeps him around, he wasn't getting out of this that easily.

"Hold your Mudsdales youngin, I'll get to fillin ya in. Follow me will ya?" Mace turns and walks towards the nearest paddock. You follow since it was likely the only way you'd get any information. Turtwig trots along beside you, while Chimchar brings up the rear, making sure to stay behind Munchlax in case the little bear decides to make a run for it. Mace swings open a gate and waits for you to catch up. "Head straight on through here and y'all see what I've been talkin bout. Half the crop cut down by some Bug by my reckonin. Not even eaten the berries, just leaving em squished in the dirt. Don't knows where they be comin from, that's your job, just don't trash any more of ma crop!" Mace leaves you there, heading back into the barn to continue his work.

You and your Pokemon weave through the crop, after a while the tall stems of the Cornn berries give way to an open clearing, although not intentionally. Broken stalks litter the clearing, the ground is almost purple from all of the Cornn berries that have been carelessly burst. No wonder Mace was concerned, this was a lot of wasted profit! You pick up one of the broken stems to inspect it. While the stem itself was broken and twisted, the base seems to have been cleanly cut. Such a clean cut would normally be attributed to a tool, but Mace had sworn this was the work of Pokemon. How would you proceed from here?
“This is incredible…”

Ark stood in the middle of the clearing, half-incredulous. This wasn’t a trivial nuisance – crop devastation of this magnitude, especially for a couple who relied on it to make a living, could be catastrophic in the long run. Despite his initial weariness, Ark couldn’t help but feel bad for the couple. If they didn’t have any battle-ready Pokemon of their own, it was unlikely they’d be able to stand up to whatever did this. He wasn’t sure even he could.

“These weren’t broken or pulled. They were sliced clean off…” What could have caused this? He was savvy enough to think of a few Pokemon equipped to do this kind of damage, but none of the possible suspects felt like something he wanted to have to face.

But I already committed, dammit… Oh well, we can do this!

Chimchar was getting pumped, anxious to meet the culprit – whatever it was, it had to be pretty strong to do something like this. But Ark had different plans.

“We stand out too much like this. Other than this clearing we’re surrounded by tall berry crops, who knows what’s hiding there… Sorry bud, you and Turtwig are gonna have to retreat for now.”

Chimchar’s expression went from shock to sadness to a definitely jealous glare aimed at Munchlax - who, as a wild Pokemon, got to stay outside. Turtwig, meanwhile, yawned in approval; a nap in his Ball didn’t sound so bad. In the blink of an eye, the two vanished inside their PokeBalls, leaving behind only Ark and Munchlax.

“So… what am I gonna do with you? You brought us into this mess so it’s only fair you help us get out of it.” Despite his clueless look, Ark could tell Munchlax wasn’t actually that oblivious – in fact, something told him the bear was smarter than he was letting on. Gluttony and laziness didn’t necessarily mean stupidity, after all.

He handed Munchlax the severed stalk, then pointed at the surrounding crops.

“Only way we’re getting out of this is if we find the Pokemon responsible. Only way I’m ever getting you anything to eat again, too. So better start cooperating – try to find out who we’re looking for with your Odor Sleuth, will you?”

The Munchlax tilted his head, but clearly, there was no point in pretending he didn’t get it. If Ark wouldn’t feed him anymore, that’d be nothing short of catastrophic. Beaten, the bear complied, and began trying to catch any lingering scents in the critical piece of evidence…
 
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TheKnightsFury: You opt to remain in hiding, letting your Pokemon to fend for themselves. Whether or not this backfires is about to be seen…

Totodile mostly ignores Bulbasaur’s predicament, trusting Bulbasaur can handle herself, and instead decides to obliterate the half-frozen Mightyena infront of him. It’s an open goal at this point, so he decides to make it overkill – releasing the restraints that had been binding him for a while now, he allows his body to transform and grow into a powerful Croconaw! The large water lizard grins and proceeds to destroy his helpless predator-turned-prey, smacking him across the head with a Brick Break so strong it instantly causes the wild dog to pass out from impact, with no need for any follow-up attack! *Croconaw gains 2 Levels!*

Bulbasaur, meanwhile, tries her best to keep her composure in the face of a massive hyena running straight at her with flames coming out of its mouth. She struggles to focus, attempting to use the new move she only just learned to blind the oncoming threat, but the enemy is moving way too fast and is already way too close! Her bulb begins to light up, but she instinctively closes her eyes once the flaming fangs are about to make contact… but then, nothing happens. No impact, no pain. She reopens her eyes one at a time, to find Mightyena sprawled on the ground mere inches away from her. It tripped! Talk about uncommonly bad luck… not that your partner is about to complain, as she extends her two vines high in the air and entwines her to make a single, large makeshift rope… then brings it crashing down at point blank, hitting the hound so hard it drives the enemy into the ground, cracks forming around the crater it causes! *Bulbasaur gains 2 Levels!*

“Holy crap dude!” shouts Cameron, no longer able to contain himself. “Your Pokemon are amazing! I… I guess I should’ve kept my mouth shut. But this is great! With you tagging along I’ll get that Sawsbuck photo for sure!”

Confidence renewed, the photographer leaps from behind the foliage and throws Croconaw and Bulbasaur a grinning thumbs-up. Then, he points ahead, urging you all to continue the search.

“No time to lose, these mutts delayed us way to much already! Come on, to glory!”

Commendable as his optimism may be (if not slightly annoying), he seems perhaps a bit overeager to venture even deeper into the forest. Who knows what other, possibly greater dangers you’ll run into? Is this wild goose chase worth it?...

Oblivious to your apprehension, Cameron marches onward, only to suddenly be hit atop the head by a falling Watmel Berry! Who knew those huge things grew up in trees? Talk about bad luck…

“Jeez! What the hell man? I coulda died!”

Amidst the commotion, you suddenly notice Bulbasaur make her way over to the fallen Pokemon the Mightyena were surrounding before you stepped in. The creature is weak, unable to regain its footing. On closer, more prolonged inspection, you realize it’s a black cat with red stripes…

What will you do?

They'd done it! They'd done it without his help, but a feeling a dread was tearing at Xander's stomach. That trip up, the Watmel Berry, the black cat...... It a forest known for incredible swings of good and bad luck, these signs were clear as day. This mission was cursed. Sure, at the moment his Pokemon and himself were looking pretty lucky, but Xander couldn't see that lasting long around Cameron. The amateur photographer wouldn't be too keen on him abandoning the mission, Xander knew him well enough already that nothing would stop him from foolishly chasing his rumour. No, if he wanted to get out of this, he'd have to convince Cameron that he was a liability. Xander collapsed to the ground, grasping at his leg. "I think something bit me!" He shouted, causing his Pokemon to rush to his side. "Don't worry, just play along", he whispered to his Pokemon. "Something in the bushes, I think it might have been poisonous! My head is spinning, does it feel cold out here to you? Cameron, don't you see? I've cursed us, my bad luck is cursing us. That Watmel Berry was probably my fault as well, I could have killed you! And do you see that over there?" Xander pointed at the Litten, "A black cat! Another omen of bad luck. You need to go on and find the Sawsbuck, my Pokemon will get me and that Litten to a Pokemon Centre, without all our bad luck bringing you down, I bet you will find it with ease!" Xander continued to breath rapidly, working himself up so Cameron would believe something was actually wrong with him.

If his plan worked, he would secure the injured Litten before releasing his Charizard and get it to fly him straight to the City of Pentacles. They'd surely have no trouble finding a Pokemon Centre there, by the looks of it the Litten was in need of serious medical attention, something he couldn't offer himself. He just hoped that Cameron would fall for the rouse, but if worse came to worse, he doubted the photographer would be able to stop him from leaving.

Croconaw reached lvl 39!
Bulbasaur reached lvl 23!
 
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Meetan- Sera lends you her ear as you fill her in on as much as your backstory as you're able to remember. You weren't about to share all of it either, but she'd opened up to you so it was only fair to offer some openness in return. As you finish you final sentence, you see Sera is looking a little unwell. Her face is a bit pale and she seems unsteady. Suddenly she tosses the reins at you, thankfully you reach quickly and grab them, as Sera turns over the side of the cart. Her chest heaves as she vomits over the side, the sound is both distressing and disgusting. Sera soon rights herself, grabs a bottle of Fresh Water and drinks heavily from it. "Sorry about that Alice, I've been feeling off for the last week, really nauseous. I'm sure it'll pass soon." She gives you a smile, before starting up the conversation once more. "So you travel a lot as well? I suppose that means there is no man in your life? You know we're coming up on the Lover's Grove, have you heard of it? They say the two big oak trees that are twisted around each other are a Princess and her lover, who was a commoner. Forbidden love is often the most romantic, don't you think?"

You can see the two giant oak trees towering above the grove in the distance. Was it really possible for people to turn into trees? It was probably just a rumour or children's story that spread far enough to become legend. Although Sera was insisting that she was fine, she still looked a bit pale, perhaps she should be more concerned about her illness?


Sandaa- You had to get past the Clawitzer, but the pair of powerful crustaceans seemed intent on barring your progress. You call on two of your Pokemon to help you in the endeavour and while they weren't the most experienced or intimidating, you knew they'd give you their all. Pickle and Triton share a short stare with the unwavering Clawitzer, even as Triton calls upon a school of Wishiwashi to assist him, the guards remaining undeterred. You knew Clawitzer well, you knew most Water types well. Clawitzer were mostly dependant on their cannon like claws for battle, their Mega Launcher ability making them capable of firing off some incredibly powerful attacks. Hence neutralising their abilities was a wise course of action. Triton stirs the water around the pair, momentarily trapping them in the powerful currents of a whirlpool. Pickle uses the opportunity to disperse her Gastro Acid, which quickly spreads with the aid of the Whirlpool. Although they likely don't realise it, the Clawitzer have lost the boost they'd expect to have from their ability.

It doesn't stop the pair from attacking though. Releasing a burst of water from their claws, the Clawitzer surge forward, breaking out of the Whirlpool. They take aim and fire in unison, one firing a Dragon Pulse while the other fires a Dark Pulse. Triton and Pickle are forced to endure the attacks, but the Pyukumuku quickly throws up a Light Screen afterwards, hoping to lessen the blow next time. Triton prepares for more damage by setting up an Aqua Ring, the healing water would certainly be beneficial should the battle be drawn out. The Clawitzer still seem determined to force you away. Moving rapidly they spread out with a Double Team, creating a crowd of Clawitzer for you to deal with. Your Pokemon had taken more damage but had set themselves up well, now you just had to find a way to break through.....


Maskerade- You quickly realise why the couple are so worried, the amount of produce they had lost already was ridiculous. If it was to continue unchecked, they'd probably end up losing their entire crop. No crop meant no money, no money meant no farm. You recall your Pokemon, wary of having them out when you're uncertain what exactly you are dealing with. Munchlax could help with this situation, he'd gotten you into it anyway. After giving the bear a bit of a verbal spray, it reluctantly begins to sniff the severed stalk. He was used to sniffing out food, not Pokemon. He figured if he smelled something that wasn't food, it was probably what they were after. There was one really strong scent, he could smell it everywhere. It wasn't the Cornn Berries, it was something else.

You follow Munchlax as he walks around the destroyed crop. If he started leading you around it circles, he'd likely regret it. Although the Normal type eventually picks up on a trail and heads into the crop that is still intact. You're careful not to damage any of the berries as you make your way through the crop, although you have to remind the little bear multiple times to be careful. It isn't long before you can hear something nearby, a constant, almost rhythmic clashing sound. As you push your way through the Cornn Berries, you step into another clearing in the crop, although these berries are freshly cut. The Pokemon responsible are still present as well, a pair of Scyther are duelling each other in the middle of the clearing, while another stands on the far side, observing the conflict. You haven't been spotted yet, you'd found the culprit, but could you solve the situation?
 
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Meetan- Sera lends you her ear as you fill her in on as much as your backstory as you're able to remember. You weren't about to share all of it either, but she'd opened up to you so it was only fair to offer some openness in return. As you finish you final sentence, you see Sera is looking a little unwell. Her face is a bit pale and she seems unsteady. Suddenly she tosses the reins at you, thankfully you reach quickly and grab them, as Sera turns over the side of the cart. Her chest heaves as she vomits over the side, the sound is both distressing and disgusting. Sera soon rights herself, grabs a bottle of Fresh Water and drinks heavily from it. "Sorry about that Alice, I've been feeling off for the last week, really nauseous. I'm sure it'll pass soon." She gives you a smile, before starting up the conversation once more. "So you travel a lot as well? I suppose that means there is no man in your life? You know we're coming up on the Lover's Grove, have you heard of it? They say the two big oak trees that are twisted around each other are a Princess and her lover, who was a commoner. Forbidden love is often the most romantic, don't you think?"

You can see the two giant oak trees towering above the grove in the distance. Was it really possible for people to turn into trees? It was probably just a rumour or children's story that spread far enough to become legend. Although Sera was insisting that she was fine, she still looked a bit pale, perhaps she should be more concerned about her illness?
Alice had wanted to gauge Sera's reaction, and at first, she couldn't help but feel internal panic. The performer didn't look good - had something she said triggered a bad reaction in the other, or just disgusted her? "Oh, god-- yikes." She took the reins of the cart haphazardly, leaning the other way as Sera's insides were upheaved and splattered along the road. They'd just gotten to the Forest of Wands, the bare paths and plains gradually filling with grand trees and a thin veil of magic, and they were already desecrating it. What a record, surely there should have been an achievement for that? "No, no worries, it's fine."

Before she could carry on to speak more concerns, Sera had brought Alice's attention to the oak trees ahead. She'd heard that story about the Arcane Realm before, but she'd completely forgotten about it until then, the tale pushed to the back of her mind. The view made her feel nostalgic for a home in another world, vaguely remembering the car ride through winding country roads, with two tiny trees atop a distant hill, beyond rolling fields of farmland. She never had any idea what kinds of trees they were, or even exactly where they were, and they weren't impressive, but... Sometimes, even the most random things burned their way into one's memory. It certainly felt that way for Alice, at least. "Oh, yeah. Definitely. When I was in school, I always used to fancy my teachers." Alice recalled with a short laugh, admiring the scenery as they drifted through. "And I always liked the bad guys in TV shows and stuff. You'd think taking on plenty in real life would start putting a damper on that by now, but... Nope. But as long as it's just make-believe, it's all good, right?"

People could definitely turn into trees. In the Pokemon world, anything could happen. If people could be turned to crystal, or revived via tears of despair, be affected by curses and cross through worlds... Well, being turned into trees was really quite a small thing next to the other remarkable happenings. "Are you sure you're alright, though? It sounds like you've been sick for a bit, and I doubt you're getting any rest to deal with it, either." It was obvious the words came from a place of sympathy and understanding. Alice had been there enough. "I know with work you probably have to power through it, but you can tell me at least. And if there's anything I can do, like just keep an eye on your Pokemon so you can nap, then just let me know. Yeah? Don't force yourself or anything."
 
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Raves: You'd had enough of this farce, tired of the spoiled Honedge's bitter attitude and dishonourable actions. It wasn't like he had room to talk, after all, given the methods Menefer had employed to try and achieve his ends. The ghost sneered at your tirade, although the only way you could tell was by the narrowing of his single eye and the audible sound he made. “Idiot man. You think I haven't considered such things after all this time? Only a fool would set out on a quest of this magnitude without keeping such things in mind! Not all of us are as short sighted as aimless wanderers like you! It's why you'd be better off giving your vessel to me – it's not as if you're destined to achieve anything in your short life!”

Glasspine makes to use Thief. It was an odd choice, besides its type effectiveness – there were arguably better strikes that could be used right now, when all were guaranteed to make their marks. You soon realise that he and Nuhuko must have been plotting together during your little speech, corralling the undead sword towards that infernal box. You open your mouth to speak as you watch the Lunatone gear up and charge at Menefer with Giga Impact. For one, it would simply phase through the Honedge, and it did, and two--

“No!” At first you thought that it was Glasspine using an attack, but then you realised that it was Menefer's livid roar that was making the ground shake. You almost lost your footing again given the weakness of your body, and Glasspine stumbled a bit, your group feeling his shock and fury deep in your souls. It made you feel sick, even, as if the horror striking through your opponent at the moment was embedding itself within you. Nuhuko had managed to smash the orb, shards of black and amythest glass scattering into the windswept sands. The energy inside of it seemed to be swirling everywhere, growing from a small sphere that had been contained and into a growing mass. Your jaw dropped, but before you could try to think of anything to do, it exploded. Menefer roared again, closest to the blast, and Glasspine used this as his opportunity to use Earthquake. It's not like things could get much worse, you thought, as you once again hit the ground. You've already died once, what's one more painful end?

When the latest wave of sand and grim energy faded, you'd find the quiet eerie and deafening. It seemed like while you and your Pokemon had taken some pain from the orb's kickback, Glasspine's move had succeeded: Menefer had not only been forced into the box, but said box had dropped quite a distance through the sand. It was unnerving that you didn't have full confirmation of his fall, of course, but you figure that if he had survived or was in any state to come after you, he'd still be throwing his tantrum. Right? Glasspine and Nuhuko had grown three levels each for their seeming success, and now that you have a moment, you can see the bounty of other items left in the sand: a Razor Claw, an Ice Stone, about $500 worth of coins and a a Shiny Stone. Not a bad haul, sure, but nowhere near enough to make up for what you just faced.

And certainly not enough to take your mind off the ill feeling that hangs in the air. It might be best to leave quickly, if you can, because something tells you that the Realm might not be done with you yet...
As Alex somehow expected, Menefer's response to the countermeasure was little more than a sneer of sorts, and then opted to rub salt into the man's proverbial wounds by notifying him of how blind he was to the grander scale of things, and the futility of wandering around without an aim to climb for, before making a comment on his lack of achievement in life. He opened his mouth to retort, yet nothing came out. In spite of the Honedge's cutting remarks, the asshole had made something of a point. However, before Menefer could make good on that statement and run him through as he stood there blanked out, the resourcefulness of his pokemon shone through once again.

Nuhuko bided his time, as Glasspine swung at the sword pokemon, pushing him back away from Alex, and then utilised every bit of energy he had in him to provide a distraction, rocketing towards and through Menefer's form as he phased clean through him, and as the pharaoh realised what was happening, it was far too late: the heavy Meteorite pokemon going at full strength into an orb of what was almost certainly far softer and more brittle than he was. The pokemon's terrible roar ripping through Alex, the orb immediately shattered on contact and the energy within swelled and grew, before violently exploding. Taking that opportunity, Glasspine struck Menefer from behind to shove him forward and into the blast before jumping up and stamping into the sand, a sudden earthquake triggering. Alex once more fell to the ground, quite fed up with the whole ordeal and began to sink into the sand, a ironically familiar situation to when he first visited the realm, but thankfully Nothung was on hand, much bigger and hauled him out before he was devoured by the desert again.

Menefer was certainly not as lucky. The plan it appeared was simple, as the silence was unnerving. As he comprehended what happened, he saw that sarcophagus missing, and realised the situation: the ground pokemon must have chucked him into his own tomb and used the earthquake to flip the lid and bury the pharaoh, rather fittingly. Without that dark orb of energy he would weaken in strength and influence, and the cramped conditions in that box would mean there would be no easy escape for him. A dead ruler, back in their coffin, as all things should be. Even if he did realise that, he'd be in too much of a berserk tizz to consider escape, and even if that were the case and his two cronies got him out, Alex would be long gone, and he'd be right back to square one, only with no eldritch artifact to enhance his might.

Speaking of artifacts, there was the issue of the things they had hauled out of the box. A sharpened claw, some rock that was cold to the touch yet latent with potential, several pouches of old coinage that should sell for a pretty penny, and another stone, this one lustrous and shining, and certainly something that he could find useful. He gave himself a stretch, and gave a sigh. This whole shindig had left him battered, bruised, slightly deader than he was (for all the value that had to him these days) and a bit better off, and amidst the silence, he gazed at his pokemon. Nothung, who he had ventured into this land with all those years ago, still having the same skill even as time ticked on. Nuhuko, an aura of smugness around the pumpkin pokemon at proving himself over his counterpart. Glasspine, who evolved and became instrumental in averting a grim fate for Alex.

"We...should beat it. I...I need some time to think stuff through..." he murmured, recalling the rock and ground pokemon leaving him and his starter by his side. The Infernape gave a nod, and the pair began to walk back to civilisation, to take a small break from the realm. The two came for adventure, found it, and yet the human found himself...unfulfilled. That last remark had hit him through his thick skin, even as skilfully as the first remark Menefer made to him, and Alex somehow had that lingering thought behind him. 'What if he had actually smooched me?'


---

OOC: Picking up the above items and cash, with many thanks for the fun Alice. I'll certainly be back sooner rather than later once I decide where I want to go next.
 
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The Land of Cups



XX. Meadow of Judgement - Named for being one of the places where heretics and traitors were tried, the meadow has now grown out from that purpose and is a large place of life for small critters and flowers. The beautiful flowers provide food and shelter for a variety of Pokemon living there, and the feeling of magic is strong here. Mages can often be found here practicing their craft due to the large, powerful leyline within the Meadow. It is also said by the religious sect of the Arcane Realm is that this is where Judgement Day will commence, and all of the flowers here symbolize a soul that will be saved.
"They say they used to hang traitors to the kingdom and heretics to the church at this meadow, the guide book said back in the day..."

"Wim?"

"..."

For what seemed like a grim sounding location, the Meadow of Judgment was advised to Rory by the Arcane Realm Tourism and Socialisation of Youths Pantheon, otherwise known as the Artsy Pants to most people, as an ideal place to go to learn about the many mysteries of one's self. At the very least, it was a beautiful place regardless, with countless flowers, teeming with life everywhere, and even in the air he could feel some sort of funny tingling sensation, whether that was the magic that apparently inhabited the area, or just the excessive pollen count that would lay anyone with hay fever six feet under. At his feet, Xigua scuttled around, taking the odd nibble of a flower after careful scrutiny and enjoying the variety, while hovering just above waist height was one of his oddball pokemon, and not because it wasn't a bug pokemon.

No, ever since he arrived, Statis had emerged from her ball suddenly, and was not taking a "please, return to your ball" for an answer. The Elgyem's natural role to Rory was to support him in the event of him being utterly overwhelmed in terror and fear, but there was no definitive danger to him in this peaceful a location, and he ultimately figured that maybe the Elgyem just wanted to actually have some fresh air. He did feel a bit selfish keeping the psychic pokemon cooped up in her ball often, even though she appeared to hold no grudge of sorts towards him for the treatment, and he reckoned she could maybe learn something from the apparent magic in the meadow. He didn't have much of a plan coming here other than to do touristy things, but he at least was interested in what sort of pokemon resided here.

Mentally, he was also curious of a theory he had. In a place of beauty once stained with the blood of hundreds, surely there could be some interesting history behind it, and that dark past could have some impact on today's beauty...in essence, the theory went that there was bound to be some remnant of the apparent evils committed here, and he was interested in seeing if that had any effect on the spot of ill fate and its surroundings. But most of all, he just wanted to do touristy things. Take some snapshots, get some souvenirs, maybe catch a new friend or two, that sort of thing.
 
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