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Old 12-13-2003, 08:47 PM   #1
Lady Vulpix
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What happened inside the temple in Templa Taure

<Gabi's POV>

An old and unexpected memory hit me like a lightning.
"Okay, why am I remembering this all of a sudden?," I asked aloud.
"Remembering what?," Ade queried.
"Ryan. Yssera. White Mountain... The false prophecies about a great evil awakening and the beings I cared for a lot that suddenly changed their names and personalities and left Ulthuan without a warning," I enumerated half to him and half to myself. "They were all lies. I really don't know what happened to them, but something changed them there... And now... Now I remember I felt something back then, when I saw them after they returned from White Mountain. I had the same sensation I'm having now." I raised my head to look at Ade. "Do you think it means anything? Can you help me figure out what it is? Or am I getting scared and connecting things that are unrelated?"
"Everything connects in some way, the hard part is in finding out how. There is no real end to anything in this world," the mysterious Eevee known as Rhiannon expressed herself telepathically.
"Now that I think of it, I remember that moment. I was so happy to see Edie again -or whatever she wanted to call herself- that I didn't pay attention to anything else. But yes, I think I remember what you felt now. Like something wasn't right," commented Lagi, not sparing a thought at what Rhiannon had just done.
"Now you come to mention it, something does feel decidedly amiss with this situation, it defies logic," Marius agreed.
"Something definitely wasn't right back then. It felt like a profanation, now that I think of it. And the story about Yssera... It made cold run up my spine even though Ryan seemed so grateful for everything. For a moment, I felt White Mountain was no longer the sanctuary it had been. I haven't been there since then, but I've felt something has been missing ever since. And now this place... Too many coincidences in my opinion. I may be seeing things that aren't there, but it does feel like a pattern," I countinued, my friends' comments giving me some hope of being on the right track.
"Excuse me for asking, I'm a relative stranger to you I know, but at what point does it feel like things start to link?," asked Rhiannon. "I don't mean just the link you've mentioned, I mean the very first time something occured that you could link to this pattern of yours." Her question took me by surprise. I didn't quite understand what she meant at first, but then I managed to reorder my thoughts enough for the question to make sense.
"What was it?," I asked myself, thinking back to the time when it had all begun... for me at least. "Well, White Mountain has always been a sacred place... A sanctuary for peace. I loved it. It was the place I went to when I needed to collect my energy and get my mind clear."
Rhiannon smiled. "As was this for me, it marks the start of a tale too long to tell now. We'll ignore the fact that the instant I set foot in the forest I was attacked by Scythers for now, it's held more good memories than bad."
"I see," I said. I could have sympathized with her more, but I had dug too deep into my own story to shake my thoughts away so fast. I continued. "Well... years ago, I hosted a tournament at White Mountain: the Pegasus Games. Lots of things happened there. I even picked up several psychic connections over there. One was among a friend and his team, one turned out to be between Ade and Tsuyoi, and one came from a winged Ponyta who seemed to embody the peace of White Mountain in herself. Her father came to me and told me she needed to find her destiny, and trusted me to find her a trainer to help her. So I had her go with the winner of the tournament, and that felt like a good idea at the time, and for the next couple of years."
"I take it you're not so sure now? Evidently we both did things we regret back then. Finally we have something in common, Gabi. And I thought that was impossible," Tsuyoi smirked. Over the years I had learnt to tolerate him, but just barely.
"Please, Tsuyoi, let her think!," Ade defended me.
"Maybe," I half smiled, admitting the possibility that I might have something in common with the creature who made my nerves boil and enjoyed it. After all, nothing can irritate a person more than looking at a magnified reflection of their own worst traits. And it was comforting to know Tsuyoi did regret some of his past actions. I briefly glanced at him before going on with my story and completing my reply to his remark.
"It was great at first. But then something happened, at the same mountain where it had all began, that changed not only her, but also her trainer and their whole team. They changed their names and they were never the same since then. They had the same tastes, and looked the same on the outside, but deep inside them it was as if only a shadow was left. We slowly lost contact and then they all left, not caring about anything they were leaving behind. Ryan told me the cause of their change had been a dragon named Yssera, who had settled in White Mountain and called for them. It was one of the last things he ever said to me that wasn't some kind of oral goodbye note. And rejoice, Tsuyoi. Back then I was so clouded by my emotions that I set aside all feelings of something being amiss."
"I'm so pleased to hear that. To be fair, I was so young and foolish that I wasn't exactly being too helpful, was I?," Tsuyoi confessed.
"Wow, Tsuyoi, I couldn't have put a more sarcastic streak on that first sentence if I tried!," Milliardo retorted. Was that supposed to be a good thing?
"Stop with the sidetrackings! We need to try and pinpoint the source of all of this chaos!," Rhiannon scolded us, making my confidence sink again.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get us sidetracked," I apologized.
"Man, I'm so glad I'm related to such a bossy bugger..." commented Milly.
Maybe he had a point besides his intention. Maybe Rhiannon was being bossier than she should, and I shouldn't feel intimidated by her. I would have reacted in a totally diferent way if her words had come from Ventura instead. But my unfamiliarity with her and the fact I was already feeling insecure had helped her catch me off-guard. I regained some of my composure.
"I just think these two events may be connected. Maybe there's a bigger scheme behind all of this," I explained. "I wouldn't be surprised if the Tower of Hoeth was next, or if it had already been attacked without our knowledge. But this time it's different. This time we're meeting our opponent face to face."
"It sounds like an omen when you say it that way," Lagi told me.
The words "it's an ominous light, comeone once said" came to my mind, but I shook them away. It was just a phrase from a videogame, the one that had inspired Lagi's name; I oughtn't be thinking about something that irrelevant.
"I'm getting distracted. That's not a good thing," I shook my head to help myself clear my thoughts. "Back to reality, I'm sure something's about to happen."
"I wouldn't like to bet on this being the end, not by a long shot," Rhiannon snarled, teeth bared. I could feel a strong energy condense around her. "And you're right. Something is about to happen. I can sense it."

A dark, thick smoke started emerging from the floor as Rhiannon spoke.
"Everybody, back off!," Lagi issued a warning.
We could do nothing but watch, as the smoke started drifting towards the Gyarados.
"Is it me or is that generally a bad thing?," wondered Milliardo.
The reactions of the Gyarados were many. A few of them backed off (one of them being Amber's father), while others tried to shake the smoke away, and the rest started roaring and demanding for their enemy to show their face.
"Whoa, you're going no closer, smoke, if you know what's good for you!," shouted Milliardo, sending a pulse of Dark energy towards the smoke.
I thought that was as bad an idea as what the most agressive Gyarados were doing, and it turned out I was right. The smoke formed a fist and knocked into the Umbreon, sending him crashing into the furthest wall and knocking him out completely for the next few minutes. Once he was down, the shapeless figure headed back to where the Gyarados were.
"Hey!," Tsunami shouted as soon as his friend was attacked, but he seemed to realize his mistake immediately, as he jumped into the water and disappeared from sight.
"Does anyone have a plan?," growled Hero. He had all the right to feel frustrated, the situation looked worse than any we had faced.
"Yes. Stop this from happening at all costs!," Rhiannon declared.
A bright green gem made its way out of her forehead. The Eevee was becoming more puzzling by the minute. At least it didn't look like one of the stones used by the spirits to possess pokemon, but there was something big about it.

<Amber's POV>

Rhiannon shot forward at blinding speed, blowing the smoke out of her way as she passed, only to have it reform behind her and knock her into the wall just like it had done with Milliardo. It then turned to the group of Gyarados again, only this time it penetrated the body of one of most ferocious serpents.
"Okay, what's just happened?," Hero asked.
"I underestimated him, that's what's happened," replied the Eevee, picking herself up as if she had only tripped.
An unfamiliar voice came out of the Gyarados's mouth.
"Ahh... a solid form at last... this has been too long, too long for my liking." The possessed pokemon glared at our group. "What gives you the right to interfere here?"
"Who's talking about rights now?," Caledor shot out.
That was the first of many fearless sentences and actions displayed by my Espeon friend that night. All I could make of it was that he preferred taking the most foolish risks to being paralyzed by fear.
"What gives you the right to corrupt such a pure place?," Rhiannon snarled.
"Rich, I think, coming from a creature constructed from one of the most tainted organisations Ulthuan has seen. Yes, I know your past. I can smell the scent upon you."
Would the surprises and mysteries never end? But still, she was on our side. Or wasn't she?
"Then you will know not to cross me, and you will know that if I have to the Gyarados you hide behind will be sacrificed to stop you," the Eevee replied.
I was horrified at the mere thought. I didn't know if she meant her or not, but I couldn't let her do that.
"Wait, you're taking this too far," I warned her.
"There is no such thing as too far now, do you not understand that???"
I seriously hoped she was bluffing, trying to scare our enemy. The Gyarados whose body he was possessing was a jerk, but he didn't deserve what had come to him, let alone being killed by one who was supposed to be helping him. If Rhiannon had no compassion, then we couldn't trust her. Of course, she could be bluffing. A moment earlier she hadn't seemed like someone who was capable of doing such a thing; plus it made sense to trick your opponent into believing you know no limits, so that he'd find no weaknesses to exploit. It didn't sound like something I would do, but maybe some of my friends would and I wouldn't have doubted them. Rhiannon deserved a chance.

The Eevee sprang forwards, only to be sent crashing against the wall again, this time by a Hyper Beam.
"Pathetic..." her enemy judged her.
Rhiannon got up again, but she looked confused this time.
"Uhh... what's going on?," she asked.
She then saw the possessed Gyarados and started squealing in fear before running from it.
"No, no, no, *she's* left me again! Please, no!!!!," she screamed.
"Aww, have you lost your will to fight now? Such a pity...," her opponent smirked through the Gyarados's face, getting ready to strike.
"Leave me alone you big meanie!," the Eevee squealed. She certainly didn't seem the same pokemon she'd been moments earlier.
"But where would be the fun in that?," her enemy teased her.
The possessed Gyarados lunged at Rhiannon, but she managed to dodge.
"Did I miss something here? Since when did she become so inept?," asked Scratchy.
"I don't know what's going on, but we can't just stand and watch," Gabi decided. "It's bad that Ventura and Kirei aren't here, but maybe our old crazy plan can still help."
"It's just as risky as the pool's plan, but right now what isn't?," commented Caledor for only himself to understand. "At least I won't be the only one getting smashed against the wall."
"Pardon?," Gabi asked.
"Tsunami's had a bad idea, that's all," he explained.
I remembered Tsunami was still hidden underwater. He'd have to come out for air at some point. I hoped nothing would happen to him when he did.
"Enough of your babbling about what makes a bad plan. This wasn't anticipated," blared Tsuyoi, glaring at the Gyarados. That earned him a stare from Gabi.
"Which plan's a good one, then?," Caledor wondered.
"Well let me see.. how does 'hide behind the strongest' sound?"
"It sounds like Milliardo's plan," Gabi confronted him. "But I take it you're thinking of giving it a new meaning?"
"Of course. At least, Gabi, this time I actually offer my services as a shield, if you don't like that feel free to fight on your own and be killed."

<Gabi's POV>

Now that was a surprise. Evidently, there was a lot at stake that I didn't know about. I'd do my best to figure things out, but I reckoned I'd better not move until I managed to understand what was going on, and what my options were. And if that gave Tsuyoi a bad opinion of me, so be it. He wasn't in my 'cool people' list either (figuratively speaking, since I'd never write such a list).
Tsuyoi turned to the monster.
"So then. You have been tipping the scales far too much, demon, explain to me your purpose before I take advantage of your being hosted in a physical body."
I looked at Lagi, who shrugged and sighed before turning her attention back to Tsuyoi and the demon.
"What is it to you?," came the reply. "We will slowly take over the true points of power in Ulthuan. We will eventually have our way. We will eventually bring the world to chaos. Whatever you may have to say on the matter."
"Who's we?," Tsunami chose that moment to return to the surface and show himself.
"That is none of your business!," the demon roared, firing a Hyper Beam at my Vaporeon friend.
Caledor reacted instantly, shooting a Thunderbolt at the possessed Gyarados. But something stopped his attack from connecting.
"Do you really think your pitiful attacks will work?," the demon laughed.
"Well... maybe a little," Caledor replied.
I had the feeling he had a plan, but I couldn't tell what it was.
"Maybe their efforts won't work. But what do you say to MY attacks? You have tipped the scales too far, demon," Tsuyoi issued a threat, letting wisps of red smoke emerge from his claws.
"What are you suggesting?," his enemy dared him.
"Oh, great. Ruin your opening by announcing what you're going to do. You'd better know what you're doing," Caledor spat out, frustrated.
Tsuyoi glared at him before responding with a threat.
"And I do hope you know what you're doing by practically begging to be turned to stone! But anyway... I suggest that Gyarados be left well alone. Against a creature such as Rhiannon, maybe it would give you an advantage. But you know that I am more than capable of tearing that body apart in seconds."
"Well, if you insist..."

<Caledor's POV>

I wanted Tsuyoi to win just like everyone else did. But after what he'd said to me, I was hoping he'd get a severe beating in the process. Having caught the demon's attention for a moment, I'd bought him the chance to get a surprise attack in. But he had to blow it. He had to show how independant and powerful he was. Okay, he was powerful, but he had a serious attitude problem.

Now the demonic smoke had started to come out of the Gyarados's body, and was now gathering outside the pool, taking the shape of a horrible creature. It looked almost like a centaur, but it had the legs and tail of an Absol, and luminous yellow eyes.
"There. Does that please you?," it faced Tsuyoi.
"Immensely," replied its opponent, leaping at the horrible figure. The two engaged in a fight in which neither of them seemed to have a clear advantage. I heard some of my friends talking behind me.
"I don't think there's much we can do here," Sylvan said to Sindel. "Should we try to find Ventura and Kirei?"
"Well, I..." Sindel began, but she stopped when Tsuyoi came crashing our way. His body made some deep cracks on the floor before he got back up.
"We're so in the wrong place!," Sylvan exclaimed. "What can affect a demon made of smoke?"
"Let's try this!," said Tsuyoi, hurling an energy ball of an intense red color at the demon. His attack seemed to connect, giving him the time to address us once more before launching himself back into the battle. "At the very least I'm confident in my ability to withsatnd whatever it can throw at me, so I leave it to you guys to find a way to finish it."
"He said something about great points of power," Gabi remembered. "This temple has to be one of them or else he wouldn't be here. I think we need to find where that power is to ensure he doesn't get it, and if possible use it to get this place back to what it used to be."
"That sounds better than facing either of those two," I concluded, still mad at Tsuyoi for threatening me. "Any ideas of where to start searching, or how to get there?"
"Acually, I do have something of a suggestion..." Marius spoke out. "Gabi, that stone of yours enhances the psychic abilities of whomever touches it, correct? And if I'm right half of the potency of psychic powers comes from the desires of their wielder."
"Do go on, Marius," Gabi encouraged him. "You seem to be thinking the same as I am."
I wished I were a better psychic so that I could know what those two had in mind... And for many other reasons as well, but that didn't matter at that moment.
"Well. We basically have two options, either we allow the stone to whomever wants an end to this the most, or we assume that Kirei is held up because she has unintentionally found wherever we are supposed to be, and so give the stone to whomever desires to be in the same place as she is the most. Am I making sense here?"
"Yes, you are," Gabi confirmed. "But the stone only amplifies powers that are already there, so if we want to go somewhere else, the one to use the stone should be someone who can teleport."
"You know," Milly groaned, picking himself up, "next time tell me to stay home next time you guys want to risk your necks, before my honourable streak gets me killed. What's going on here, anyway?"
"Welcome back. Though I'm not sure you'd like to know the answer to that question," Sylvan told him.
"I'd say 'try me' but seeing as Tsuyoi and whatever he's fighting look like they're gonna pull this ****ing place down on our heads soon I'll just say 'get on with whatever you were doing and explain later'!"
"If I use the stone I might be able to feel where Ventura and Kirei are," suggested Lagi, edging closer to us. "Then Sindel could take the stone teleport us there. It shouldn't be hard for her."
"Will that work?," Sindel hesitated. "I'm not sure if teleporting somjewhere I haven't been before is such a good idea. What if we end up telporting into a wall or something?"
"Sorry, I didn't think about it. I'm so used to Ventura who has a radar sense to complement her teleportation skill..."
"The problem could be solved if we had a way to contact her," Gabi pointed out.
Tsuyoi interrupted the round of speculations without stopping the fight.
"Well you had better think of something soon, if I actually get injured during this battle I want you all to know that your lives will be a living hell for the forseeable future."
"I have one suggestion," Marius got back on track. "Given my earlier hypothesis on psychic powers granting the desires of their wielder, maybe we let Lucky touch the stone and hope that he is so closely linked to Kirei that a combination of his wishes and her abilities bring us to her?"
"Yes, that could work," Lagi agreed. Gabi, however, had some doubts.
"I really want to believe it can. Though the stone has never worked in that way before."
"In any case, it would help us make contact, which is what we need," Lagi remarked. "They've both been closely linked since the first time I saw Kirei."
"Actually, you have a point," agreed Pandora. "Try it. I have a funny feeling her luck and Lucky'd passion amplified would work."
"Indeed. Such a close connection can break through any barriers and guide one soul towards the other," Lagi nodded. "And you've seen the stone help with that in the past, even if it was such a confusing event we'd all rather not think about it."
That comment made me raise an eyebrow. If she didn't want to think about it, then why was she mentioning it?
"You're right. I'd rather not think about it," Gabi hushed her. "Lucky, are you ok with this?"
"I... I guess so, nothing bad's going to happen is it?," Lucky seemed ready to accept.
"Like it can get any worse than this? Please, just do it!," Pandora pushed him.

Gabi carefully took the thin chain that held the white stone off her neck, and handed it over to Lucky. The instant the Meowth took it, Tsuyoi was hurled over to the same spot he'd landed before. This time, the thick floor gave in; and even when a whole room could have been built between the floor we were standing on and the one below, the impact was so strong that Tsuyoi's body broke all the way through. I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked through the hole and saw what looked like our two missing comrades. Ventura didn't seem to be in a good shape. I looked at Pidgeot and Gabi, trying to confirm what I'd just seen with those whose eyes were keener than mine. But neither of them looked at me.
"I'm going down," decided Lagi, "does anyone need a ride?"
"Lucky, can I have the stone back, please?," Gabi turned to the Meowth. "I think I'll need it."

Before Lucky returned the stone, his son decided the next course of action.
"Oh screw this, the action is down there, we're up here, what is there to consider?"
"Wait..." Ade tried to stop Milliardo, but the Umbreon had already jumped through the hole. "Damn, too late... do we have any choice than to follow now?"
"Have this back, I have to go help!," Lucky finally gave Gabi the stone before diving down after Milliardo.
"I don't think I can jump from this distance," Gabi reckoned as she placed the thin chain that held the stone around her neck again. "I'll appreciate your help," she turned to Lagi.
"Why delay this?," Tsunami decided. "We know we're all going down one way or another. Watch out, there I go!"
He jumped into the hole, shooting a Water Gun to the floor below to slow down his fall. He didn't hurt himself, so I saw it as a good idea.
"Well if you think I'm sitting here you can think again!!!," Pandora cried out, jumping down without taking any protective measures.
I followed Tsunami's example, landing safely in the room below, and was soon followed by everyone else one way or another. All except Estel came down. I guess it would have been too hard for anyone to carry the Shelgon, and I wouldn't want to think of what would have happened if he'd just jumped down.

<Ventura's POV>

I was finally catching my breath again when I percieved everyone coming down. I wasn't sure of whether their presence made me glad or uncomfortable. In any case they were better company than Tsuyoi and the demon, who were still engaged in a fierce battle. I must admit I was shocked when those two showed up; I thought the nightmare wasn't over yet.
"Okay. We're here," Milliardo's voice stood out among the general noises. "Hope one of you has a better plan than hope that whatever makes up the non-Ninetales part of Tsuyoi is stronger than a shadowy demon!!!!"
"This isn't quite a plan yet, but I have a strange feeling about this room," Gabi commented in a vague fashion I wasn't in a state to handle.
"Call that the understatement of the year," I told her, flying over to her side.
"Ventura, what happened?," she turned to look at me, with a concerned tone in her voice.
"Believe me, you DON'T want to know. Let alone from me," I assured, afraid that I wouldn't find the words, and that sending the images would result in too much of a shock to her.
"Are you alright?"
I wasn't. But what could I tell her? I wasn't even sure of what I was feeling, and I didn't see a way in which she could help. Hadn't we been deep inside a temple and in the middle of the night, the morning sun could have helped me feel slightly better; physically at least. All I knew was I wanted the whole thing over.
"I need some sunlight," I finally said. "But we have to destroy that demon first."
"As much as I hate to admit it, any help you can give would be much appreciated!," snarled Tsuyoi. "Stalemate is not a situation I'm comfortable in."
At that moment, I felt the look of two eyes piercing through my heart. Or something like that. Objectively speaking, it was Lagi looking at me worriedly. But her look hurt too much, as it did to think of what she might be thinking.
"Ok, I'll tell you what I know," I gave in. "This room possesses great power, and the pearl over there can be used to focus it. How, I don't know, but it's held the demon captive for a long time."
"Well I guess at the very least we have to somehow gain control of that pearl, then," Sindel deduced.
"That's easier said than done. I don't think touching it is a good idea," I warned her.
"Well, we need to do something," Gabi whined. "I wish I could get premonitions on demand, that way I'd know what to do."
"I do have something approaching an idea, although it would be tremendously risky," Marius spoke out.
"Not that anything else wouldn't be," Gabi replied. "What is it?"
"Well we can't actually reach the gemstone owing to the battle between Tsuyoi and that demon taking up the entirity of the room, so as much as it pains me to rely too heavily upon the supernatural, maybe we utilise your stone once again, Gabi. Only this time we allow Kirei to touch it. If I'm right, this should boost her already disturbing luck tremendously and show us the way to end this."
"That sounds a lot like my old tremendously risky plan," Gabi commented. "I think it's worth a shot."
"Your tremendously risky plan was aimed at liberating the possessed pokemon," I reminded her, "but right now I'll say anything that has a chance of working is worth trying."
"I'm all for anything that ends this, I've grown bored with this ridiculous exercise session," said Tsuyoi as he dodged several blasts of energy from his enemy.
"If we didn't need him to focus on the battle, I'd reply to that comment," Gabi remarked, surely having thought of a variety of possible responses. "So, where's Kirei?"
"Umm... here," the female Espeon stepped forward, "though I don't much like the way we're saying 'where's Kirei' all of a sudden..."
"Sorry, with all this commotion I can hardly keep track of everyone," Gabi apologized dumbly.
Kirei sighed in response. If that had been a joke, it was lame and really ill-timed.
"Not quite what I meant, but I guess I can't shirk from responsibility forever... what do you want me for?"
"Would you accept to touch the glowing stone and see what happens?," Gabi asked her, ignoring all reactions to her previous words. "Nothing bad should turn out of it, at worst we'd be left just like we are."
Kirei flinched.
"Uhh... I dunno... I know what that does and... and... I'm not sure, it could make things worse, half the time my powers think far more in the long term than I do and it might hurt us!," she backed off.
"If it helps us in the long term it means we won't die in the meantime. Sorry to put it so bluntly."
Come to think of it, maybe Gabi was too anxious to be tactful.
"But... but..." Kirei began, at which moment Soo wandered over and whispered something into her ear. I couldn't hear her words, but they seemed to have a much better effect than Gabi's.
"Alright, guess I've no choice, have I?," Kirei sighed.
"If we have other choices, I don't know what they are," Gabi admitted. "But I believe it should turn out alright."
"Well... okay...let's give this a go, then," the Espeon finally accepted, walking over to touched the stone as Gabi leant towards her.

<Lagi's POV>

At the precise moment Kirei touched the glowing stone, Tsuyoi was knocked into the pedestal that held the white orb. The impact caused the sphere to fall over, sending it rolling to the point where we were standing.
"Uh? Wait, don't you even think..." the Demon reacted immediately, but Tsuyoi blocked his attempt to reach the pearl, both creautres resuming their ferocious combat.
"I can't keep this up forever! Destroy that thing, now, or you'll have me to answer to!," Tsuyoi demanded.
"Destroying the sphere would destroy the demon?," Ventura asked. She didn't feel sure about it.
I tried to get a glimpse at what the demon felt, since he was bound to know the answered, but his overwhelming hate forced me to look away. I instinctively turned to my friends; their fears were anything but relieving, but at least their mutual support provided me with enough strength to go on.
"Maybe," I replied with as much uncertainty as Ventura. "He's linked to it somehow. The question is how to destroy it without touching it."
"Well I think we've already discovered the two are linked, what do you expect?," Tsuyoi roared. At that point his anger was almost too much to bear, but while he was bashing me, I felt that other negative feelings lay deeper inside him. Feelings I didn't want to dig through, as I feared the consequences on both sides.
"It could work the other way around if it turns out to be not the source of his powers but what's been holding him," Gabi pointed out.
"Look, look, we have to do something, what other option is there?," Rhiannon urged us.
The situation was taking its toll on everyone.
"Finding a greater power and channeling it to get rid of the demon once and for all," Ventura suggested with more certainty than anyone had had so far. "There's a big power locked in this room. If we manage to tap into it and combine it with ours and focus it on the pearl, maybe we can purify it -and the forest- again."
"Sounds good. Does that theory have any bases?," Gabi queried.
"Everything I say does. Now shall we stop arguing and focus for once?"
"There is a great power within here, I can feel it too," Sindel noted. "But how can we tap into that?"
I thought for a moment, trying to filter everyone's feelings until I could feel the true nature of the room's energy. It wasn't as hard as I'd expected. Its force was great indeed.
"Maybe I can help with that," I offered. "At least I can feel its nature, and since many of you have psychic abilities, you could link us all so that you can all feel what I do."
"Can I skip it this time? I'm not feeling too well and I may hinder you more than I'd help," Ventura asked trying to hide her fear.
At that moment something strange happened, though I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was. It happened quite fast, and when I turned to look I saw Rhiannon shaking her head. Whatever had been going on was over, but she felt different somehow.
"We feel that we may be able to assist here," she said. "Trust us, we have a few abilities that can help."
The Eevee was as much of a mystery to me as she was to everyone else, but I understood she didn't want to answer any questions at that moment. She just wanted to get things done.
"Ok, I trust that you all know what you're doing," Gabi accepted, temporarily resigned to the ignorance we all shared. "I can join you if the little power I have can help."
"You must channel this though us. Please. This could be the only way, since your friend is busy fighting the demon," Rhiannon instructed us.
At that moment, as the Eevee braced herself, a bright gem emerged from her forehead, just as it had earlier at the pool. Gabi looked at Rhiannon without uttering a word.
"Ok, we'll do it," I accepted.
"Now, aim your powers at us, you must do this if you want to succeed!," Rhiannon told us.

Gabi was the first one to send Rhiannon a psychic pulse. I tried to feel everyone in the forest and focused on restoring their lives and their home to what they used to be. When the image was firm in my mind, I did my best to send Rhiannon the energy those thoughts gave me. Caledor joined in with his Psychic attack, and I could have sworn I felt Iael's energy too, even though he wasn't in the room with us.
"If it's just power that you need, I can provide that," Ventura decided, adding her Psychic to the mix.
"Ugh... you'd better know what you're doing, you moron...," Milliardo told Rhiannon before sending in a Psychic of his own.
Next, Sindel joined in silently. At that moment I felt Hero's frustration building up. It was hard not to lose focus.
"Great, I'm useless here," he growled. "Is there anyone else who can help?"
He started hopping among the crowd, looking for someone to push forward in order to make himself useful. For the sake of my own concentration I was glad when he found one.
"Or, yes, there is! Kasumi, what are you waiting for?," Hero demanded.
"Uh? Uh?," the Growlithe took some time to react. "Oh! Sorry!!! Yeah, baby, just you wait for my amazing power!"
So, Sumi sent Rhiannon a bolt of her Hidden Power. The Eevee grimaced, as Kirei finished the job.

Then, the collector of our powers let out a loud yell. Smoke began to waft from the runes covering the walls to converge upon Rhiannon. With another yell from her, a huge pulse of psychic energy swept across the room to finally slam into the demon, stunning him temporarily. It felt much like the time when Gabi confronted the Dark Cloak follower in Nagarythe, only this time the energy proceeded from many beings who supported each other, and nobody drifted into another dimension as a reasult.
"Shall we aim for the orb now?," I turned to Rhiannon for guidance.
"I think that's the best course, but we have to be quick. We can't take this for too long," she replied.
We all sent her our power again, focusing on purifying the white orb. Rhiannon sent the pulse towards the sphere, which began to glow upon contact with our combined energies.

At that moment, the demon returned to his senses. "Wait... don't you dare!," he yelled, leaping towards the orb.
"Why, don't mind if I do take advantage of the obvious opening..." Tsuyoi stopped him by firing a sphere of red energy at our enemy. "Now quickly, finish this!"
We all held our concentration, until the light emanating from the pearl was so bright that we could no longer see. I closed my eyes, and it still made its way through my eyelids. It took me a few seconds to adjust when I could finally open them again. I noticed the demon's absence before I could see the space left by him. It felt like calm returning to the forest after a devastating storm. And it wasn't just in the room where we were standing... I could feel it everywhere! The spirits were leaving, the possessed pokemon regaining their freedom, everyone wondering what had happened, but grateful to find peace at last. Well, except for the Gyarados upstairs, but I had the feeling that the word 'peace' was not in their vocabulary.

"Is it... over?," Sylvan was the first one to speak.
"For now, I think it is. The forest feels safe now," only as I spoke I realized I was panting.
"Unlikely. Until we face the Dark Dragon itself I doubt this particular chapter will remain fully closed," Tsuyoi reminded us. "Still..." he grinned. "I haven't been tested like that for quite a while. I'd say this adventure had been quite worthwhile."
"I was wondering what happened to the Black Dragon," Gabi noted. "We never got to see him... or her."
"I know. I don't sense any presences other than ours around here," I told her. "The Black Dragon probably left before the battle began."
"I doubt they will stay dormant for long, but there are other perils that need to be addressed first," stated Rhiannon, already quite a few steps away from the rest of us. "Anyway, We're glad we could help free this place. Now if you'll excuse us, we have to leave."
"Are you leaving so soon?," Pidgeot turned to her.
"We have other places to be, at least for now," the mysterious one replied.
"Wait, you're just leaving, just like that?????"
Milliard was overflown by his emotions. I felt guilty for intruding, even if it was against my will.
"We're sorry," Rhiannon replied, sadly. "It simply isn't the right time yet."
"Fine. Just turn up, save the day, and leave. See if I care," Milliardo told her, his words contradicting his feelings, which were already mixed themselves. He mumbled something with sounds I couldn't make out, but with a clearly harsh content against himself.
I wished I could do something to make things better, but neither Milliardo nor Rhiannon would have accepted my help, and at least one of them would have taken offense by my intrusion. I thought it was best to step aside.

"We need to help my father and the others," Amber gave the scene a new turn. "They're still in the pool, aren't they?"
"Unless they've already managed to break through the temple walls," her mother rolled her eyes.
"Easily fixed, if a Gyarados can't break through then I can. Who said I was only ever out for number one?," Tsuyoi offered.
"Isn't there a way to take them out without crushing what's left of the temple?," I requested. This sacred place had already taken too much damage.
"Teleporting would work. Just don't leave me behind like the last time," Ventura didn't miss the chance to take it on our trainer.
"That was last year and I've already apologized for that," Gabi answered, to exhausted to take the argument any further.
"Well let's think this through logically, shall we?," Suggested Marius. "How did they say they were brought here, again?"
"They didn't, but the Black Dragon must have used its powers to transport them," Plum deduced. "Most of them will be mad for having to rely on others to save them, so whoever goes up will have to put up with their bad mood for a while. Then I guess I'll get some insults thrown at me on the way back, but I'm already used to it. At least one of them is worth putting up with the rest."
The Charizard smiled as she thought of her partner.
"Does that mean you're leaving too? I've only just found you!," Amber claimed.
"We all need to go back home, but I guess I can stay here for a couple of hours and hear some stories; you must have a lot to tell," her mother said with a smile.
"Yes, I do. I just wish you didn't have to go."
"You have a new life and I'd never fit into it. But now that I know where you are I'll come over and see you from time to time."
Mother and daughter embraced each other warmly. I would have been delighted, had I not been that close to Milliardo. As it was, his jealousy clouded the scene for me.
"Enough of the mushy stuff, already!," the Umbreon finally broke in. "Can we just free those Gyarados and piss off to wherever we all came from?"
"Yes, who can transport 20 huge serpents back into the river?," Tsunami reviewd our group. "Preferrably without making a scene out of it."
"Well that's you ruled out then, Tsuyoi!," Kasumi grinned.
"If you were anyone else, Sumi, I'd throttle you at this point...," came the semi-harsh reply.
"Give me the stone and I'll do it," Ventura faced Gabi. "Everyone else has been using it tonight, so you can't deny me that."
"I wouldn't call Lucky and Kirei 'everyone else'," Gabi told her, "but you can use it."
"I can?!"
Ventura was in shock. She hadn't expected her request to get through, let alone so fast.
"Yes. I trust you to act responsibly. And if you end up giving some of those Gyarados a headache I wouldn't mind all that much."
"Oh, look! Gabi's being mean!," Tsunami pointed at his trainer.
"They were mean to us first," Gabi remarked. "But try to do it safely, if possible," she told Ventura.
With that, Gabi took off the stone again, and handed it over to our friend, who disappeared immediately.

"Well, is this it, then?," Ade asked while Amber took off, heading upwards.
"For now," Gabi answered.
"It's always for now," Sylvan sighed.
"Well we can't exactly have anything *finish*, can we, that'd be far too easy!," blared Milliardo.
"Well, we do have a new enemy to watch out for. But if we got through this one in one piece, we can get through just about anything," Gabi commented, suddenly filled with hope and realization.
"For once, Gabi, I happen to agree with you," Tsuyoi admitted. "It's been... interesting."
"Hey, is it me or can you understand us without the stone?," Caledor told Gabi. "Because I'm certainly not translating!"
"You're right!," she reacted. "I hadn't noticed; I'm so used to wearing it... I guess I know you all well enough to understand you by now."
"So, where do we go from here?," asked Pidgeot.
"I guess we stay for a while until Amber and her mother have finished talking, and then go back home," Gabi suggested. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm too tired for anything else."
"Yes, too bad we never found the burger bar," Caledor said. I can't say I understood him, but it felt like an inside joke.
"I'm going to ignore that comment," Tsunami contradicted himself. "Where has Amber gone to?"
"I think she's gone to say goodbye to her father," I told him.
"I hope the Gyarados don't get her," Tsunami shook his head.
"Well, I guess this is where we say our goodbyes, anyway," Ade began with the ritual.
"I guess so. I hope the next time we meet is under better circumstances," Gabi replied.
"What?," Beckham complained. "But what about the burger b..."
"Let's not start waffling about that, shall we?," Ade interrupted him by clamping his hand over the Wartortle's mouth.
"Don't worry, we'll get our revenge soon," Caledor assured.
"Yeah, when the burger bars take over Ulthuan they'll all be sorry!"
The Espeon laughed with his friend.

The goodbye ritual prolongued itself for quite some time, only interrupted by Amber's and Ventura's returns (with the corresponding request from Gabi for the Venomoth to give her back the stone), and our encounter with Estel and later Pearl and Iael on our way out. The Shelgon thanked us all for saving the forest, while the others wanted to know the details of what had happened and Iael confessed that at one point something had caused them to think about us and he'd directed all his energy and his best hopes to our group. Then, Estel left as soon as we made it out of the temple, and everyone else who wasn't in our team did the same. Well, everyone but Plum. She and Amber had a long conversation. So long that some of my teammates fell asleep in the middle of it, and Gabi admitted she would have done the same had she been in a comfortable position. She'd never been good at staying up late. Pidgeot offered to take her home, along with everyone else who wanted a ride; who turned out to be everyone but the Charizards and myself.

I sat next to Plum and Amber, rejoicing at their reunion, listening to the stories they both had to tell and sharing my own when asked to, otherwise trying not to bother them. Fortunately for me, they both accepted my presence, and Plum seemed to understand me quite well after her daughter told her about me. After all, while she was not an empath, she knew how it felt to be considered different and to be set aside because of it; and to have feelings that most couldn't understand, or even accept. But all three of us also knew the bliss that came when we finally found someone who felt the same way... someone who would accept us just like we were. And we knew there were several beings around who could do that, with whom we could share a special bond that would give us a strength those who rejected us would never know. Looking back, some of those feelings probably weren't mine, but I felt them at the time, and I understood them. And I admired the two Charizards for having the courage to be themselves no matter what others would say. The sun had already risen when we left the forest in different directions. I accompanied Amber back home, and felt a new spark of hope shining within her. Most of the journey was silent. Words weren't necessary. Only when Sector Alpha came into our range of sight did my friend speak.
"We'll make it," she said. "I don't know what will have to deal with, nor for how long, but we can make it through."

Lady VulpiX

Owner of the Necessary Unown Trophy
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