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Kinetic Spirits: Arc 2 - Malgam

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Fidchell, Jan 28, 2017.

  1. Fidchell

    Fidchell Souls of Fire

    Jan 17, 2017
    And here's the beginning of Arc 2! Enjoy!

    Arc 1: http://lakevalor.net/topic/16175-kinetic-spirits-arc-1-sagefox/

    Chapter One: Foregathering

    Malgam found himself back in his room, the collection of cardboard boxes, still standing with the grandeur of juvenile accomplishment and pride. The eevee was confused once again on how he ended up where he was. The last time he could remember, he was admiring all of the interesting trinkets in that assortment of chambers and suites. Those rooms were the birthplace of the mewtwo residing with him for sure; the decor and all the inventions dedicated to understanding and moderating her power made that evident. When he was in those chambers, he managed to gather up all of the inventions that he could muster, putting them into one big pile. The eevee lord figured that he could present them to Malice and get her to remember something–perhaps, she could even use some of them to her advantage, though he was not entirely sure that was the wisest idea considering the last thing he needed was for her to have unquestionable power over him.

    The little lord suddenly became overwhelmed with realization, whirling around to check. "Ah, damn! The gadgets and whatnot!" he sighed with relief finding all the devices he gathered sitting in the room with him, though messily scattered beside his fort. Then he realized something else–how in the world did he manage to get them out? He didn't even recall how he left the chambers. It likely was the same way he got in, but, of course, he did not even know, much less understand how that happened either.

    Feeling a headache coming on, the eevee shook his head, concluding that it wasn't in his best interest to worry about it. He felt rested and vigorous, ready to take on yet another day of getting on Malice's nerves. Now that he knew what was behind the vault, if those rooms were actually behind the vault door, he could finally get the mutant Pokémon away from the stress of finding a way inside. He had all that he needed. Now it was time to have his friend put at ease. Maybe she would not give him horrifying death glares anymore, or speak with such a harsh, uncaring tone!

    The eevee gathered up the trinkets, shoved them all in a burlap potato sack nearby, and went on his way to where Malice normally stood sulking her days away. The sack shuffled against the ground noisily as Malgam floated down the corridor towards the destroyed room. Upon arriving, lo and behold, the psychic Pokémon stood–no–she was sitting this time! Malgam stared in awe, her form elegant and her back straight. She looked like she was meditating in such a position.

    Even with the shuffling noise of the burlap sack Malgam dragged behind him, Malice did not even bother to turn her neck an inch to see him. Malgam guessed that she was in great concentration or was just lost in thought on how much she hated his presence currently. After how upset she was the last time they met each other, the eevee lord thought she would have immediately acted uppity, spouting out expletives and doing whatever she could to ward him away from her vicinity.

    Malgam cautiously circled around Malice, viewing her front and sensing some thick aura in the air just by being near her. Her eyes were closed and her form was so relaxed that Malgam thought he himself might drop and recline right then and there. The mewtwo's muzzle was no longer caked in blood; in fact, she was as clean as the sterile hallways of the facility, the undestroyed ones at least. Malgam just remained floating a good distance away from her, eying her admirably. Maybe she calmed down after all.

    "She just needed a nap. That usually works," Malgam thought to himself with a smirk. He softly landed his padded feet on the cold ground and began rummaging through his bag of goodies, occasionally looking back to see if Malice was towering over him like an angry mother. As he laid out the inventions in a neat line, he reminded himself of the nightmares he had, and then realized that, after arriving at the mew shrines, he did not have another night terror like the ones he was having ever since finding Malice in those caves. Granted, it was only one night thus far, but he had a good feeling that maybe the plague of vivid, bad dreams has gone away for good.

    After laying out all the rest of the devices from his potato sack, Malgam gazed back at Malice and his heart froze–she was staring directly at him with the usual horrifying, soul-piercing glare, her violet eyes unblinking. It took more than several seconds for Malgam to say something.

    "Err, hello," he greeted her with a nervous laugh. "Good to see you so relaxed–well, you were relaxed, I mean." After another brief staring contest, Malice's eyes finally wavered, directing their vision towards the floor behind Malgam. The eevee turned to see she was staring at the inventions, but then again, what else would be there? Maybe she was fond of the sack, wanting to use it to asphyxiate him.

    "What the hell are those?" the mewtwo asked with a flick of her muzzle, her deep, dreadful tone giving the eevee goosebumps. The inventions Malgam gathered included the silvery gauntlets he found first in the shrine, the golden tiara, the devolution device, a glistening purple orb radiating with a haunting energy, a collection of potions, and a large assortment of other strange accessories like a stunning band and riveting sash. Malgam figured only a few of these were made specifically for the mewtwo and that the other items could be used by anyone.

    Malgam smiled and answered, "Only the most precious of offerings for you, my queen." He bowed lazily and moved aside so she could see them all. Malice just continued to stare at the instruments, then back at Malgam.

    "What do you expect me to do with these?" she asked with stark contempt for the eevee. Malgam beamed at the question and scurried over to pick up the silvery gauntlets, decorated with purple gem-like attachments with various shapes. They were surprisingly light and seemed like they would make a perfect fit considering the cushioning inside of them, just tight enough to hold firmly on even Malice's skinny arms.

    Malgam presented the mewtwo with these gauntlets with a grin.

    "They'll look good on you!" he tried to assure her, but it, unsurprisingly, was not enough to sway the psychic Pokémon. She huffed through her nostrils with indifference and turned her head and view back towards the massive vault door as if it were more interesting. The eevee's heart sank, but he was still determined. If he read the plaque correctly, these bracers were meant to control Malice's power. Even though the inventions would cause her to be slightly weakened, she would no longer have moments of lunacy arising from an intense, sudden fluctuation of emotions; she would have increased control of her mind, basically.

    Malgam thought of what to say next. He could not mention the part about her power being weakened–that would most certainly be a deal breaker.

    "You know, there's a plus to wearing these," he said quietly with inflection in an attempt to goad her. "You'll be able to control yourself more easily when you have those moments."

    "What moments?" Malice replied without looking over at him, her vision acute.

    "Well, ah, you know." Malgam was suddenly afraid that we would say the wrong thing to set her off. He was already standing on thin ice with the mewtwo. "Like, you get really angry sometimes and start throwing around these beams and explosions and stuff."

    "And you are saying I have no control over myself?" she uttered coldly, causing Malgam to shiver.
    "Let's just say that it could help you better focus your energy," he stated, trying to sound smart and slightly puffing his chest out, "When you let loose that psychic blast yesterday, you were pretty exhausted afterwards. You don't want to let your guard down like that."

    "I figured you would see that as an advantage," Malice responded, her eyes darting over to him.
    "Ah, come on," the eevee said, scratching the back of his neck. "I'm not trying to take advantage of you whenever I can. I mean, you and I can do some pretty great things! I'm just trying to condition you, if that makes any sense." Malgam was not entirely sure what he said himself, but he did not want to come off like he was sucking up to the mewtwo either. If there was one thing he wanted to avoid, it was looking weak in front of her, and he for sure had his plans set in motion for something greater; Malice just had to cooperate with him. "So, you wanna put those on?"

    "No," she said bluntly, her voice reverberating across the chamber. Malgam bit his lip and stepped back.

    "Alright," he acknowledged, Malice's eyes moving back to the door. As brusque as that reply was, the eevee lord was not going to back off just yet. His little feet lifted off the floor as he began to hover once again. He floated over towards Malice and set the gauntlets down a few paces away towards her side as gently as he could. He then backed away slowly, seeing if she had taken notice, though she most likely has. It was obvious that she was still steaming over his meddling last night. Perhaps he had to distance himself so that she could take interest in the tools.

    Malgam left Malice to her meditation for at least half an hour before coming back to check on her. He made sure to find some cover a good distance away from the mewtwo, wondering just how far her vision reached. He recalled that unpleasant moment when she whisked him over to her from afar with her impressive psychic powers. His own psychic abilities within his espeon form were not nearly as powerful, let alone the telekinetic powers that remained even in his normal form as an eevee.

    Once Malgam found himself a nice wall to huddle up against, he peeked around the corner to see that Malice was indeed still there, but shockingly, she was standing up and staring at the instruments. From that far away, Malgam was not sure what exactly she was up to, but she appeared fascinated, as still as a hibernating boldore. The gauntlets were still sitting where the eevee had placed them last, and none of the items seemed to have been tampered with, so how long was she standing there gazing at the things?

    As if on cue since Malgam laid eyes on her, Malice lifted up the gauntlets with her telekinesis. She kept them hovering in front of her for several seconds before bringing them towards her, grasping them gently with her bulbous hands. She continued to stare in wonder as she attempted to figure out how the invention worked, twisting it around and gazing at every single little detail on the surfaces.

    Malgam grew impatient as he watched the mewtwo take her time in cross-examining the bracers. He ground his teeth together as he screamed in his head, "Your arms! Shove your arms into the top! Please, for the love of arceus, just wear the stupid things!" The mewtwo started to tap on the purple gem-like protrusions of the bracers and then gazed into them, looking like she was finally beginning to understand what their purpose was. Agonizingly slowly and carefully, Malice slipped her right arm into one of the gauntlets. Malgam grinned from ear to ear, his jaw locking as he watched, feeling as proud as a father watching his child walking for the first time.

    With her new equipment attached, Malice raised her arm and then extended it in front of her, the mewtwo appearing to admire the bulky silver object. She proceeded to put on the other bracer and then performed some arm twists, gauging the comfort levels of these new accessories. When she was finally satisfied, she relaxed herself, lifting her head as if taking in the air.

    Suddenly, the gauntlets sparked a bright pink, electricity coursing across their surfaces. Malice looked back down at them in confusion and started trying to remove them from her body, but they would not budge. The sparks were getting larger and more intimidating, a loud droning sound emanating from the bracers. The electricity started coursing around Malice's body, though she did not seem to be getting hurt from them. The mewtwo started to panic, bashing the equipment against the ground.

    Malgam shot out of his hiding spot, hovering over to Malice as speedily as he could. The eevee fixated himself on the gauntlets and then grabbed onto one, trying to remove it with her.

    "Stop! Don't break them! Let me help!" he shouted over the cacophony spewing out from the machinery. Malice suddenly lashed out, bashing the eevee across the face and sending him flying. He avoided a hard impact with the floor by twirling himself and hovering, the blow from Malice dazing him completely for a second. He balanced himself and rubbed his forehead, watching as the mewtwo continued desperately to pull off the stubborn instruments.

    "What the hell are these? What did you do to me!?" she screeched angrily. Malgam swallowed anxiously, not sure what to tell her. The gauntlets were not supposed to be like this, at least not as excessive with the whole sparking thing. They could be malfunctioning and there would be no choice but to get rid of them now.

    Malgam transformed into his flareon form in mere seconds and hovered over to her again.
    "Stretch out your arms!" he ordered her. Malice had a look of pure ferocity on her face, her eyes bloodshot and her teeth bared. It almost appeared the bracers made the problem worse rather than quelling her emotions. Despite her rage, she surprisingly did what she was told, extending her arms which were trembling violently with the energy coursing across her being. The flamethrower would hurt a bit, but not enough that it would discourage the mewtwo. Malgam proceeded to blow out a stream of potent flames from his mouth, engulfing the gauntlets in the hot fire. He did this for several seconds before stopping to catch his breath. Both he and Malice were shocked to find that the gauntlets were unscathed. Not only that, but they stopped emitting the horrible noises and the electricity was no longer being discharged.

    Malice's heavy breathing filled the chamber as the two stared at the bracers in bewilderment, trying to digest all of what just happened. Malice asked again with a bitter tone, "What did you do to me?" Malgam just gazed at her dumbly, still not entirely sure.

    "Those were supposed to do what I told you they'd do," he explained with a shrug. "Did you get hurt?"

    "What did it look like?" she hissed. Malgam recoiled and then sighed, rubbing his head, deep in thought.

    "Well, do you feel anymore 'in control'?" he asked, accenting the last two words. Malice just glared at him, clearly not understanding what that meant. "I mean, okay, let me rephrase that. Do you feel any different?"

    "Aside from the annoying tingling under my skin? Not at all," she replied sarcastically, turning to walk back to her usual spot. Malgam huffed in concern. Perhaps it would take a while before any real results showed. "And I appreciate you giving me these. I'm glad that they are stuck to me now, their durability almost as strong as this damn door," the mewtwo finished angrily. She sat down and attempted to take the gauntlets off once again but failed.

    "They seem to be stable now, at least," Malgam chimed in, trying to add some positivity amongst her apathy. Malice was not amused at this and then started to focus her psychic energy on one of the bracers, concentrating on the object intensely. Malgam watched as the gauntlet began to gradually shake, Malice's fingers twitching as they emitted some sort of aura onto the instrument. The flareon thought he could see bits of pieces of the gauntlet slowly displace and then realized what Malice was attempting–she was trying to teleport the thing away from her. He spoke up again, "I'm not sure you should do that. You don't want to accidentally teleport your forearm off of your body."

    "Shut up!" she shouted, her throat choked up with the high amount of energy she was investing in this attempt. Then the mewtwo stopped, exerted and breathing hard. She did not even leave a dent on the bracer–it looked like every iota was still in its place. Malgam sighed and reverted back to his eevee form. The pessimism of the mewtwo was starting to affect even him. He went over to pick up the golden tiara, trying to get her mind off the gauntlets for now.

    "Here," he said with childish excitement, presenting Malice the piece of jewelry. "It's nothing crazy like those things. Just a nice, pretty thing for a very special lady," he said cheerfully. The mewtwo eyed it as her head faced away from him.

    "Are you serious?" she asked bluntly. Malgam understood she was probably not in the best of moods to be accepting anything else right now, but he could tell she was transfixed on the golden crown, shining beautifully underneath the fluorescent light above. The longer Malice stared at it, the more grim her expression became, something that caught Malgam off guard. Her eyes were glued on the thing, like a starving Pokémon staring at a snack bar from beyond a glass wall. Malgam thought about tucking away the tiara, nervous at the mewtwo's fixation, but then she lunged.

    Flashes of gold started to paint her mind's eye as she felt her body whirling and spinning out of control, as if in a free fall. Malice thought that she could see blinding sparkles whiz across her vision as she was carried through the golden sea that engulfed her. The bright swirl of colors began to fade and part ways to reveal a scene bathed in soothing sepia. Malice felt like she was lying on her back. All around her was some sort of trough-shaped platform, the area outside a solid, washed out brown.

    Suddenly a bright ball of light exploded into view from above and gradually decreased in intensity as two sets of human arms began to reach into the trough, their thin fingers grabbing hold of sharp-looking tools, menacing as they glistened underneath the strong light. Malice tried to scream and wriggle, but it was no use–her voice was silenced and her struggling did nothing for her. Her body felt light and her muscles felt almost completely unresponsive.

    Just as fast as she was thrust into the trough was she ejected out of the scene by an unknown force. The hypnotic convolution of gold filled her mind once again as her lightness rendered her completely submissive to the undulating expanse carrying her away to her next destination. The shroud parted again to reveal another scene with the same sepia hue as before. This time, Malice felt her bottom seated against a pedestal and she quickly whirled around to see her surroundings. Even though she was in a different position, she was not able to remove her rear from the seat as if her entire lower body had lost responsiveness. She was in a large, familiar chamber, and all around her were humans, some gazing in wonder at her and some actually bowing in, what she assumed to be, worship.

    Once again Malice found herself sucked up back into a portal of gold. She hated being this useless, not having any control over her body that once felt powerful enough to erase the world. The golden curtains smothering her gave way and rippled, morphing into a spherical shape while still surrounding the mewtwo. She sensed something from below and looked downward. Malice could see three figures below completely covered in an angelic, radiant glow, the shining so powerful the mewtwo could not fully make out what they were. They floated upwards until they were several paces in front of her. Malice could feel invisible eyes looming over her, judging.

    One of the creatures was of a very small size and its shape almost resembled that of the mew she devoured. The second was about two times the size and height of the first figure, Malice only able to notice a strange, long tendril resembling her own tail that extended out of the back of its head. The last figure looked to be about the same height as Malice herself, with more of a brawny, irregular shape. Together, the three creatures of light shone even brighter than before, the golden swirl around Malice being swallowed up by the intense, white radiance. Eventually, whiteness was all she knew.

    Malgam watched in awe as Malice stood before him, staring wide-eyed at the tiara she was holding in front of her face, the sparkling reflecting in her eyes. For the last few minutes, Malice was frozen on the spot, hypnotized. Malgam did not expect this to have carried out this way, him having bent the mewtwo towards his will twice in a single day. Still, he wondered what the mewtwo was seeing and thinking, whether there was something that triggered in her mind or if she was just completely and hopelessly lost within a trance. Regardless, the eevee continued to observe with bated breath.

    Suddenly, Malice chucked the tiara aside, the golden crown clanging against the wall. Malgam's heart stopped at the sudden action and he saw that the tiara was still in one piece despite how hard the mewtwo hurled it away. He floated over to the piece of jewelry and picked it up, inspecting it to find no chips or cracks, admiring the fortitude of the object.

    Malgam gazed back to see Malice was on her knees, staring at the floor. He took the tiara and floated back over to her. She did not take notice. He waved a paw in front of her wide eyes and still she did not flinch or make a single movement. Malgam held out the tiara this time, and, to his surprise, it still did not cause her to waver. He scratched his chin, puzzled at how much this affected her. He chuckled at the next possible course of action that found its way into his mind.

    "Hey, stupid!" he said to the entranced psychic Pokémon, giggling to himself like a small child would if they were to whisper something naughty. Seeing that Malice was still not affected, Malgam proceeded to lift a paw. He smirked devilishly as he said, "You've been a very bad girl," and swing his paw at her face, hitting it with a resounding SLAP that echoed in the room, causing the eevee to cringe. Malice's neck twisted a bit to the side, and yet she continued to stare brainlessly. Malgam threw his head back and laughed uproariously, delighted at what he just accomplished. "Well, I dunno what in arceus' name happened back there, but it seems to me like a few bolts came loose in there," he said as he shook the mewtwo's head with a single paw. Malgam floated off a pace away and turned his back to the mewtwo. "But what about some piece of gold would trigger that? Maybe I've found the key to control her! Maybe that was–HRK!"

    Malgam wriggled hopelessly, dropping the tiara as Malice lifted him up, her grasp tight around his neck. He choked and hacked, tightening his grip on Malice's bulbous fingers. Despite the horrible sensation of his neck being crushed, Malgam tried to focus his energy on activating the necklace device. Finally, he successfully morphed into an umbreon, Malice's grip loosening as his body changed in a split second. Malgam released a powerful pulse of dark energy that further warded off the mewtwo, distancing the two Pokémon.

    The umbreon coughed hard, a paw massaging his tensed neck as he gazed at Malice, who stared back at him with what looked like slight confusion mixed with annoyance. From an act like that, he expected the psychic Pokémon to be fuming with rage, but this was quite unexpected, as if she lashed out in the midst of her dream or whatever she was going through.

    "Guess I kinda deserved that," the umbreon said with a hoarse voice, feeling ashamed and grateful that he was able to keep his life. The mewtwo stared at him for a little longer, then ambled back to her spot, sitting her rump down hard. There was not a more awkward night than this.

    Malgam perused the kitchen and cafeteria quarters of the facility, which was still packed with all sorts of food. There was even a snack bar nearby that would prove as sufficient backup for when they run out. The eevee was rummaging through every drawer, cabinet, and refrigerator in the vicinity. While there were plenteous meals that would satisfy even a starving snorlax, he was searching for something special. Despite having been nearly strangled to death, he considered all this a celebration, and knew of something that may even cheer up the brooding mewtwo.

    He could say comfortably that this was his main base of operations at the moment, and he felt there was no reason to go out looking for another. As crazy as Malice was, he also had to keep an eye on her; her power would prove to be incredibly useful for him, and now that she had those gauntlets attached to her, it should be an even easier time getting through to her and gaining her cooperation. If they were to run out of food, Malgam would have to figure out how to possibly get to another facility. Maybe there were even living quarters nearby–what crazy human would build some remote building in the middle of nowhere anyway? He tried not to focus on that right now, either way.

    Malgam finally found what he was searching for. He opened a lone cupboard to find a plastic tray that was filled with all sorts of cupcake-like treats he heard the humans call "Pokepuffs." He was delighted to see all the colorful foods, almost tempted to gulp them all down himself. Malgam picked up the tray, covered in a plastic wrap, and took a big whiff of the cakes. The scent caused a wonderful tingling to course across his body, making his fur stand on end. His stomach growled, demanding the cakes, but Malgam shook his head, resisting the urge to chow down. He chuckled to himself as he floated back to Malice.

    The eevee lord saw that the tiara was still where he had dropped it. He did not figure that Malice would touch it after that episode of entrancement. What exactly happened there anyway? What about the jewelry made her lose her mind like that? Malgam figured from this that the tiara must have some huge significance in the span of the mewtwo's life–in other words, it would be important to keep it.

    Malgam approached Malice, who was still in her spot, looking very pensive. The eevee sensed that she knew he floated into the room, some kind of creeping feeling running down his spine upon first sight of the mewtwo. He slowed his pace as he get closer to her. This time, he strangely did not feel the unnerving aura that seemed to pour out of her body; she seemed calm this time around. Once the eevee got a few paces close, her eyes pivoted to meet his. They shot to the plastic tray he was holding as well.

    Malgam smiled wide, holding up the tray in such a manner as if he were a waitress of a fancy restaurant, the tray level with his hypnotic, rainbow eyes. He did a trick with the tray of Pokepuffs, twirling it around with a single paw, and then gently placing it on the ground between them. Malice gazed at the food before her while Malgam hovered down to the floor onto his rump.
    "These are treats," he said excitedly, tearing off the plastic wrapping like he was opening a present, "ones that people made for Pokémon. As you might expect, they're really good!"

    "So you already had some yourself," the mewtwo deduced. Malgam took one of the Pokepuffs, laced with an appealing green icing with a moon-shaped candy piece on top, and stuffed it into his maw, chewing with utter glee as crumbs flew out of his lips.

    He swallowed it within seconds and replied, "Yes, actually. They fed me well." He took another and stuffed his face.

    Malice scoffed, looking away. "That's nice. They always fed me through tubes," she said bitterly. Malgam looked at Malice, feeling pity for her. They had never done anything like that to him, which made him think at first that maybe he was a more special project, but then cast that idea aside immediately upon realizing Malice had chambers dedicated to worshipping her.

    "Well, uh, did you taste it, at least?" the eevee said, fully aware of how idiotic his question was.

    "What?" Malice muttered, eying him in puzzlement.

    "I mean, we taste things with our tongue, but maybe you could still taste it as it went through your...uh–"

    "One tube was on my head," Malice pointed out the circular depression on her forehead, "and the other was on my belly," she pointed to the similar marking on her stomach. Malgam gazed at them and grimaced, not able to imagine what that would be like.

    "So you couldn't taste it then?" he asked, his lips quivering as he anticipated her frustration.
    "NO, you imbecile, I did not taste the food with my skin!" Malice shouted, Malgam recoiling so hard that he had to catch himself from falling back, balancing with his paws on the ground behind him.

    "Well," he started, getting back his bearing while taking yet another Pokepuff, this time just holding it out in front of him and staring at the treat, "at least you can eat for real now. Here, try this." He motioned the cake towards Malice, the mewtwo taking reluctant glances back at it.

    "I'm not hungry," she said. As if on cue, a little growl sounded from her belly, causing Malgam to beam and stifle his laughter. He could tell that the sweet aroma was getting to her and that eventually, not even she would be able to resist such a powerful scent. Soon enough, Malice slowly and slightly curved her head around, her magenta eyes focusing on the treat like she was staring down her unaware prey.

    Quickly, she snatched the cake from Malgam, holding it in front of her muzzle and giving it a small sniff. Suddenly, her sniff turned into a full-on inhalation, her chest expanding with the aroma of the vibrant cupcake. Malice creaked open her small mouth and took a hesitant bite out of the Pokepuff. She chewed slowly with intense concentration as if she were studying every bit of the texture and the taste. Her jaw was still for a few seconds, and then she swallowed in a weirdly graceful manner with nary a sound. She sat there for a minute, her indifferent expression unchanging.

    Then, all of sudden, she began to messily feast on the cupcake with both hands, bits of icing and crumbs flying everywhere. Malgam had to shield his face to avoid one of the projectiles from hitting his eyeballs. In seconds she downed the Pokepuff, her jaw hanging agape and her expression looking like she just had an epiphany. Slowly, she licked off the contents of the cake that hung onto her lips and closed her mouth. Malice reached over for the tray and pulled it towards her.

    Malgam was frightened at how Malice ate the treat, vividly imagining it being live prey. The mewtwo looked like she went into full predator mode for a moment there. He observed as she continued stuffing more Pokepuffs into her mouth, devouring them with such fervor. He was scared to interrupt her meal.

    "So, uh, I had something I wanted your input on," he stated timidly. Malice's attention was not averted. "I've been thinking on it for a while. It's not like I really had a goal all this time. I know you want to get in that vault, but maybe you should not push yourself." The mewtwo still continued her feasting without a word. "You see, I want to be on top of the world." He stood up and puffed out his chest, smiling with determination. "I want to be an evil warlock or something. The king of all things nefarious and vile! I want to rule the world with an iron paw!" Malgam exclaimed with the exuberance of a giddy child.

    It was not much longer before Malice downed the last of the cupcakes, a little belch escaping her mouth as she put a hand on her belly with a content huff. She pushed the plastic bin that now only carried tiny Pokepuff crumbs towards Malgam curtly, diminishing his gallant stance.

    "More," she demanded. Malgam was taken aback by her disinterest, but still expressed his excitement.

    "So you really like those, huh?" he asked presumptuously. He picked up the tray and hovered into the air, giving her an ornate bow and raising the pitch of his voice to imitate a more feminine tone, "Then I will fetch you some more, my queen."

    There were surprisingly a lot more of these Pokepuffs than Malgam once thought, and he was glad that he could satisfy the mewtwo and, in turn, improve her mood. He continued to indulge her in the cakes as well as his fantasies for acquiring world domination. Malice's stomach seemed like a bottomless pit as she proceeded to devour all the cakes he presented to her. Malgam started to worry about what he was going to do once they all ran out.

    "So, this plan of mine, while it is pretty ambitious as I'm sure you'd agree...it's actually going to be put into motion a little later on," he explained to the mewtwo.

    "Is that right?" she replied with feigned interest.

    "Yes! The first thing I want to do is find a way to get the missing piece to my necklace," he said, grasping the device around his neck proudly.

    Malice stared at the device for several seconds before stating, "How are you going to fit another stone on there?" Malgam looked utterly stumped and angled the necklace toward his face, examining it in dismay.

    He huffed and said, "Well, I'll find a way. Maybe it doesn't have to be attached to it. Maybe I don't even need a stone! I'll figure it out either way."

    "Sure," Malice said sarcastically, swallowing the last of the cakes. She seemed to be full now, relaxing her body. After a brief pause, she turned to Malgam and continued. "If you want to build an army, then go for it. There are plenty of wayward souls out there who'd love your protection, not that I think you'd do a good job at it." Malgam blew soundly in an expression of exasperation.

    "That hurt," he muttered. He thought he could hear a chuckle come from the mewtwo.

    "Well, I'm not stopping you. Do what you please. I'm only after one thing."

    "Y'know, one time or another you're going to have to move on," Malgam pointed out.

    "Are you jesting? I can sense something in there. It's something that will help me."

    "What are you trying to do exactly?" the eevee inquired. "What's your goal?" Malice was speechless at this, suddenly becoming frustrated. She huffed in resentment and looked away from him. "You should be my right hand."

    "Not a damn chance," she growled. "Go away now."

    "I'll let you think about it," Malgam said, starting to float away back to his room. He turned to her and called out, "Make sure you think about it! You can be my first recruit!"

    "You have a better chance of having followers that will put up with your childishness. Now shut up and get lost!" she shouted back.

    "Huh, I'll show her," Malgam grumbled as he exited the scene. "At least I don't sit around all day."

    The eevee hovered around his room, thinking madly about how he was going to go about his recruitment drive. With so many Pokémon out there, at least one of them had to know the sylveon form, whether it was from rumors they heard or knowing a sylveon upfront! Malgam's brainstorming led him to a pile of poster-size papers. He stared at the papers, his mind swirling with inspiration and fantasy. He had left a large box of crayons sitting somewhere along his box fort. He could see the images in his head now, vibrant and clear. He was going to create a true work of art–one that not a single Pokémon would dare resist!
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
  2. Fidchell

    Fidchell Souls of Fire

    Jan 17, 2017
    Chapter 2, where Hilde tries to be accepted by those of the Sanctuary.

    Hildegard contemplated on whether or not she should revisit the Sanctuary. The lucario's pride felt utterly shattered by the thought of this, crawling back to the haven asking for shelter. She did not want to be out wandering in the wilderness, especially with the Witch as furious with her as she was. She shuddered at the thought of what would happen if the female delphox were to lay a single claw on her–it would simply be over.

    She never enjoyed the thought of losing, but the lucario had to admit that she was clearly bested in the last two battles she fought. She started to seethe with anger upon remembering how the sagely delphox manipulated her memories and dreams, picking her brains apart while she could not do a single thing. Who was he to invade her privacy like that? In retrospect though, Hildegard realized that all the events that led up to her confrontation with the Witch revealed her hidden Mega form, which she was never able to achieve even under the strenuous training she and her master put themselves through. While she was confronted with the Witch, she could not fully take in the feelings she sensed in this form. The lucario knew her aura had intensified and felt a wondrous energy pumping in her, but the Mega form had only lasted for minutes. Hildegard wondered if there was a way to keep the form for as long as she wanted.

    The lucario's stomach growled, interrupting her train of thought–it was time for another hunt. Hildegard soon enough found herself a wandering poochyena. The canid-like Pokémon was a dark type and would serve as an easy meal for the experienced lucario. It wandered about in a blind direction, not having a care in the world. Hildegard stuck to the thickness of the brush and stalked it for a minute. Seeing that her meal was not picking up her scent or movements, Hildegard pounced with grace, bringing her fist back and letting the momentum aid its power. Direct hit! In a single punch, the poochyena fell over, skidding across the ground in a lifeless heap.

    Catching wild Pokémon and devouring them was not what the lucario ever expected to do in her lifetime, having been raised in the city, but she quickly got used to it. There was the ever-present, lingering feeling of remorse for her victims, having been around trainers' Pokémon almost all her life, but Pokémon in the wild were certainly different. There was no room for feelings in such a place. The only thing on these creatures' minds was simply the concept of survival, and Hildegard needed to adopt this train of thought quickly or perish hungry and alone. The lucario's skill in battle served to keep her well-fed and her warm aura bountiful and dense.

    Hildegard left the messy scene she created, trying to wipe the blood off of her muzzle. The lucario sighed in satisfaction, her belly full. She wondered to herself with every action that she took whether or not her trainer was watching her; she reminisced on whether he was with her from the start. Would he like seeing her like this, living out in the wilderness like an aimless vagabond struggling against the harsh reality of the food chain? Would he like this after all that he went through to shape her into the famed Pokémon she was known as in human civilization?
    To cast away these thoughts, Hildegard reminded herself that she was going through all this to find a way to revive him. She, however, could not dawdle around the wild, not after discovering the haven. There could be secrets there–ones that could help unveil the true path she needed to see all this time in order to restore her beloved master. She took his life and now she would do everything in her power to give it back. If Hildegard had to take up the likeness of the Witch and deal with forbidden magic, if there were such a thing, then she would gladly indulge in it. Witchfox and Sagefox–they knew each other since they were young and boisterous. Perhaps the old sage would have plentiful information about the Witch and what sort of outrageous wizardry or alchemy she undertook. He might even have information on Hildegard's Mega form and how she could possibly embrace its potential and attune herself with it more intimately.

    Hildegard trailed along a familiar path that seemed that have flat stones paved across it in a sporadic manner. The stones were mostly engulfed by the grass and weeds, but the clearing of trees and plants made it evident that this was meant to be a road. The lucario traveled across this path often. It served as a landmark for her to pinpoint branching paths that led to other familiar places across the wild. She certainly did not expect the wilderness to have a homey feeling like this, but it gave the lucario ease in knowing her way around and where to find other creatures lounging about.

    As she continued to amble towards the direction of the Sanctuary, Hildegard heard a rustle from her left. She whirled around, her ears perked and her eyes wide in full alert. The sound came again, this time from within the treetops. The lucario gazed up at them but could find nothing peculiar sticking out. Her heart started to race. Had another starving creature decided she was its next dinner? She had already been confronted time and time again by many different Pokémon, but she would not be bested.

    The rustle sounded once again, but from above. Once Hildegard whirled her vision upwards, she thought she could see a brown blur speeding along the vegetation away from her right. The lucario stood as still as stone, craning her head eastwards and waiting for the nimble creature to pounce. She thought back to the blur, which took an eerily familiar, humanoid shape. A shaded figure emerged from the bushes ahead, staring her down. Hildegard knew what it was right away, or who it was–it was the lopunny mother that she fought a week ago. The lucario ground her teeth, expecting yet another battle. This time it would be different; the lopunny was very powerful for sure, but now that Hildegard had the opportunity to understand her movements and her strategies, she would be ready.

    The lopunny, however, did not appear to be in the mood to fight, her form relaxed as she approached the lucario. Hildegard kept her fighting stance, prepared for anything. The rabbit Pokémon observed Hildegard with a look of suspicion, but her gaze was also somehow warm and welcoming. The lucario felt like she could relax as well; she dropped her stance but remained tensed up. Was this lopunny a guardian of the Sanctuary? She appeared so steadfast and dedicated to protecting the boundaries. It impressed the lucario that she was able to track her down so quickly as well, unless the rabbit had been following her for a while now.

    The rabbit Pokémon grimaced suddenly, eying Hildegard's snout. The lucario responded by running her tongue across it cheekily, tasting the blood still caking it. The lopunny proceeded to inspect the rest of Hildegard's body, taking interest in her trainer's jacket and red wristbands.

    "Why do you keep coming back here?" the lopunny inquired sternly. Hildegard huffed in annoyance, not appreciating her tone of voice.

    "What is it to you? I walk along this path all the time," she replied, crossing her arms.

    "You're walking towards the Sanctuary. What do you want from us this time? Do you still want to fight Sagefox? Haven't you learned your lesson?" The barrage of questions pouring out of the lopunny's mouth irritated Hildegard further, but the lucario tried to keep her cool.

    "If I have to fight you to get in," Hilde started, growling, "then let's get this over with already."

    "We don't have to. After all, you made it in the last couple of times," the lopunny pointed out. "When it comes to you, I'm a lot more wary, though. Are you going to answer my questions?" Hildegard carried a good deal of respect for the lopunny after their battle, but disliked how she approached her. As much as she did not mind having another fight, she swallowed her pride and submitted.

    "I need shelter," she said, choking up in embarrassment.

    "Do you now?" the rabbit Pokémon asked with distrust.

    "I gave the Witch her necklace back. I was nearly turned into dust," Hildegard explained, the lopunny's face changing to show a more concerned expression. "She could be hunting me. Not even I can face her in battle." Hilde hated that she showed so much weakness, but figured it would be better to avoid confrontations when she felt so vulnerable. She did not want to make enemies with every faction imaginable.

    "Very few can, if any," the lopunny said tenderly. "Perhaps Sage could, but he tries not to commit to violence. He has changed so much," she trailed off, as if stopping herself from giving out too many details. The two stood there awkwardly, the lopunny mother looking off in thought as the lucario continued to stare at her warily.
    "Are you going to let me in then?" Hilde asked bluntly.

    "No," the rabbit simply replied. "I have to speak to Sage first, then we will meet later."


    "At sunset, meet me at the lake would you?" The two Pokémon agreed on the meeting point, but Hildegard could not help but wonder why in the world they had to do this later on. She supposed by now they might have considered her a threat on the level of Witchfox if not a little lower down the rungs.

    Verily, once the sun began to settle down over the horizon, Hildegard appeared at the calm, serene lake that the lopunny pinpointed previously, waiting patiently. Beyond the treetops, the lucario, hypnotized, stared at the beautiful sky, painted a vibrant mixture of orange, pink, and yellow. Hilde felt she could get lost in that entrancing expanse, the firmament plucking all of her sorrows and troubles away like the leaves of a tree detaching in a cold winter.

    Hildegard heard a sloshing noise come from her right and she turned to face the lopunny mother who had made good on her promise to meet with her. She casually moved her hand along the cool, still waters, smiling fondly.

    "So what is your name?" the rabbit mother asked nonchalantly. The lucario did not respond, perplexed at the manner of her appearance. "I would just like to get to know you a little bit. We should call each other by our names."

    The lucario thought for a bit, then followed through. "Hildegard."

    "Hildegard," the lopunny repeated. "Sounds like a fittingly strong name." The lucario felt like she was being patronized, but stopped herself from making any rash remarks.

    "Well, what's yours?" Hilde asked back.

    "My name is Fleur," the rabbit answered. Fleur. For some reason, the name made Hilde's fur stand on end. It flowed very nicely, sounded pretty, and– She banished these thoughts, feeling ashamed for even thinking such things. Hildegard felt her face and ears heat up.

    "Well then, Fleur, what did the old guy say?" the lucario inquired, eventually noticing that this got on Fleur's nerves.

    "His name is Sagefox," she corrected her earnestly.

    "You don't know his real name?"

    "That is his real name ever since he changed his life around," Fleur stated firmly. She stood up and put her hands on her hips. "And he told me that you have to do something before coming into our haven."

    "Of course," Hildegard said sarcastically, standing up as well and crossing her arms. "And what would that be?" Fleur turned her gaze over to the lake besides them, then she made a gesture with a flick of her head. Hildegard picked up the message. "Are you kidding me?"

    "You have to bathe. You stink," Fleur said frankly. Hildegard was honestly surprised. She figured she might have to go through some process of initiation. Still, this was quite a thing to request. She had not bathed in so long that she became used to her scent and was unaware of how bad it was. There was also the fact that she greatly disliked bathing now and preferred not to.

    "Forget it," Hildegard snapped.

    "You'll need to if you want to join us," Fleur cooed.

    "I'm not joining you guys!" the lucario barked. "No alliances, no favors, no nothing. I will not bind myself to any community, not anymore." Fleur just shot her an unapproving glare, her black sclera mesmerizing.

    "If you want our protection, then you have to bathe."

    "I don't need any of your guys' protection. I only want shelter."

    "All the buildings of the Sanctuary are ours. If you want shelter, then you will do what you are asked of," Fleur explained with a firmness. "And we won't ask you to do much else except comply with a set of rules while staying with us. It's not as big of a deal as you are making it out to be." Hildegard huffed in frustration, turning her back to the lopunny. "Right now, all he wishes is for you to take a dip in the lake and wash yourself." Fleur's voice was softening, sounding very motherly. "It will take you no time at all, and perhaps you'll come to appreciate being more clean."

    "It's the wild," Hildegard retorted. "No one cares."

    And, like a mother who had lost her patience, her voice raised once again. "Our haven is not just some extension of the wilderness. We have embraced a more civilized lifestyle and we will not tolerate a Pokémon so indifferent to our structure, now get in the lake or lose your chance of staying with us. It's up to you."

    With that, Hildegard finally gave in, grumbling to herself and cursing under her breath as she removed her trainer's jacket. Fleur walked over, offering to keep hold of it for the lucario, but she whisked it away from her, snarling. Hildegard squatted and neatly placed the jacket onto a flat rock, folding it as well. She removed her wristbands and placed them on top of the clothing. Hildegard shot Fleur a nasty glare before dipping her toes into the pool, the water sending a shiver up her spine.

    Fleur said, "I thought that you would respect the sort of lifestyle we have."

    "What is that supposed to mean?" Hilde asked while walking into the lake, the water reaching the thick blue fur that surrounded her upper legs.

    "You lived in the city didn't you?"

    "How do you know that?"

    "Sagefox looked into your memories, remember? He knows a good deal about you now."

    "That damn fox doesn't know anything," Hilde bluntly stated, half of her body submerged. The lucario started to splash water onto herself, rubbing across her body with her paws and taking hesitant glances at the filed spikes jutting out of them. The lucario felt the bits of dirt underneath her fur and cringed at the thought of how much there was across her whole coat. She could hear Fleur sighing.

    "He told me everything he saw as well," she said. Hildegard turned towards her, feeling anger swelling up inside.

    "Is he just going to tell everybody about my life? Does he not respect my privacy?" she growled. Fleur shook her head.

    "I can assure you he told no one else. I am his student and his trusted friend," Fleur chuckled. "That is interesting that you mention your privacy. It seemed to me like you abandoned a concept like that already."

    "Just shut up," Hilde curtly ordered as she continued to clean herself, her movements becoming quicker and more harsh in conjunction with her temper.

    Night was quickly approaching once Hildegard exited the lake, her fur dripping and her countenance miserable. Fleur crossed her arms as she examined the lucario admirably.

    "See? Was that so hard?" she asked with a playful tone. Hildegard ignored her as she shook violently, countless beads of water sprinkling off her drenched coat. She then put on her clothes and then reluctantly approached the lopunny mother. "Now you won't drive anyone away. Remember, this is also a matter of respect for your fellow Pokémon. Sage will especially be pleased to know that you did this."

    "Yeah, because I really wanted to do that–Please him," Hildegard muttered sarcastically, to which Fleur just smiled tenderly.

    "Come on, then. I'll escort you to the Sanctuary."

    Fleur and Hildegard arrived within the boundaries of the haven just in time for nightfall. The whirring and chirping of insect Pokémon filled the brisk night air, the moon sluggishly making its way across the starry firmament as dark blue clouds drifted on by. Up ahead, Hildegard could see a couple orange lights standing out from amongst the darkness like two bright beacons. Upon closer inspection, the lights were coming from flames that sat on top of two torch stands. Beyond the torches, there was a large clearing with two decrepit structures lining the wall of trees surrounding the clearing. The stony pathway was more visible here as if somebody were actually maintaining them. Hildegard could see other broken down structures in this area, such as an eroded pillar and the remains of a stone wall connecting with one of the buildings.

    It was awfully quiet in the Sanctuary despite the droning noise, but Hildegard felt an overwhelming sense of security upon crossing the torches, her body shivering in delight. That feeling was snuffed away, however, as a tall slender figure shot out from above, landing in front of the lopunny and lucario. She rose to reveal that she was a mienshao, ornamented in all sorts of lavish trinkets and elegant charms. The weasel Pokémon was holding a lantern, which lit her figure and reflected off her golden accessories beautifully. As she gazed at the mienshao, Hildegard was hit with a flood of memories back to when she was a riolu. She remembered the dojo vividly and the tough mienshao that she faced against, him having thrown her around like a ragdoll and having beaten her into submission repeatedly. Hilde projected this mienshao onto the one she was currently looking at and started to detest her.

    "What are you doing out at this time?" the mienshao asked Fleur, the weasel's shining eyes glued onto Hildegard in interest.

    "Our meeting took a little longer than I anticipated," Fleur answered. She gestured an open hand, waving it towards the lucario. "This is Hildegard. I want to bring her to Sagefox. Do you know where he is?"

    The mienshao seemed to give the lopunny mother a slightly condescending look for a quick second, then went over to Hildegard and extended a paw.

    "MeiLi. You will be safe here, as long as you don't cause any trouble," the mienshao stated smoothly. Reluctantly, Hildegard grasped her paw and shook it. The way MeiLi was dressed made the lucario think she was somebody of high rank within this odd society. Of course, she did not have a complete idea of how a concept like that would work in a place like this. It appeared to her like a mix of both an open shelter and a little town. If they were to at least try to fortify the place better, Hildegard would not see it simply as an extension of the forestlands.

    Fleur again asked, "Is Sagefox around?"

    "Sagefox is sleeping," MeiLi answered quickly, wanting to talk to the lopunny as little as possible.

    "This early? He normally has a time where he–"

    "He is ill," the mienshao curtly interrupted. "He believes he may have devoured something rotten." No one said anything for several seconds, Fleur and Hildegard trying to let this information sink in.

    "Why aren't you watching over him?" Fleur questioned in a very concerned tone. "You know he would only trust us two to do that."

    "He insisted he should be left alone," MeiLi said with a raised voice, clearly losing her patience. "He thinks it may not be simply food, but perhaps a dream." Hildegard felt cold all of a sudden. A flashback triggered in her mind for a quick second–it was that moment where she regained consciousness to see the delphox swallowing her dreams of her traumatic past, taking the shape of a misty orb. That must have been it. The lucario gazed over at Fleur to see that she too understood.

    "I see. He doesn't do that sort of thing often," she muttered cryptically. Hildegard was not sure whether she should feel pity for the old fox. She was still mildly upset at how he bested her, let alone the heinous act that the delphox committed in his youth. Fleur turned to the lucario and nodded to her. "I suppose we will have to speak with him tomorrow." She turned back to MeiLi, who was already leaving the two. "Thank you," Fleur called out to the mienshao, who did not pay her any mind, disappearing beyond the corner of one of the structures.

    Hildegard's curiosity got the best of her and she asked quietly, "Who is she exactly?"

    "MeiLi and I are Sagefox's disciples, his most trusted students," she replied. Fleur then walked past the lucario and summoned her with a hand gesture. "I know a place where you can sleep. Follow me."

    Fleur took Hildegard to another smaller clearing within the Sanctuary forests. This clearing had a medium-sized building that stood out brilliantly against the moonlight. Hildegard could see a swellow perched up at the top of the building, lovingly tending to a large nest. As they approached the building, two small Pokémon emerged from the entrance, startling Hildegard.

    "Easy," the lopunny mother said to her as she paced forward and then squatted down to greet the two creatures. Once the moonlight hit them, Hildegard saw that they were the two buneary children of Fleur.

    The lucario immediately felt a twinge of guilt in her gut, thinking back to her and Fleur's fierce battle a week ago. Hildegard figured that it was the heat of the fight that impaired her judgment at that moment. All she heard in that time as she held up the bunearies were the malicious words of the Witchfox, which felt so assuring that it was like Hildegard herself adopted these beliefs; deep down, the lucario knew that she was better than that. She kept telling herself for so long that she had to do whatever it would take to bring back her master, but causing harm to children in any form was outside of her capabilities. She did not intend to hurt the kids, but did not consider the extent of damage the aura absorption would cause. Simply put, she was incredibly hasty, and viewing the kids would always remind her of what she attempted.

    Upon laying eyes on the lucario, the bunearies scuttled behind their mother, clearly remembering her. This had only caused Hildegard to feel more guilty. Fleur gazed back and forth between them and then shook her head with a smile, scooping up the children in her arms. The lopunny approached Hildegard with the bunearies hugging against her breast. Hilde felt annoyed that the mother was closing in on her like this, almost as if trying to send her on a guilt trip.

    "This is Hildegard," Fleur said softly to the anxious kids. The lucario reared back and looked away, feeling uncomfortable. "She might have seemed bad before, but perhaps she would like to be friends with us now." The lucario huffed loudly in disagreement, crossing her arms. The bunearies just stared at the aura Pokémon, unmoving.

    One of them, the female, finally spoke up. "She looks mean." Hildegard gave her an irritated glare, the child recoiling slightly. The lucario then started to walk off around them, entering the building without another word.

    "It's okay. We just had a misunderstanding. We talked."

    "She's going to sleep with us?" the female asked in surprise, a hint of fear in her voice.

    "She will sleep in another room, Mana. No need to worry."

    "B-But what if she comes in the middle of the night and eats us while we're sleeping?" Mana asked frantically. Fleur just chuckled and gave the two children a kiss on their heads.

    "Mommy will keep all the bad guys away. Remember what I promised you."

    Hildegard could not sleep. She stirred and adjusted her position constantly in the makeshift bed she was given. The bed was a tattered old mattress, the age of which was certainly ancient. Even so, it was the most comfortable thing Hildegard rested on. She was surprised when first presented with it, once thinking she would have to sleep on the floor. The lucario would not have minded it either, considering she was used to such a thing being on her own in the wilderness. Despite the comfort of the mattress, it did not make the feverish dreams of the lucario dissipate.

    Almost every single night it was the same thing with the same amount of fear festering inside. Hildegard found herself within a black void, a blue mist snaking across the thick air. She knew right away by the familiar, warm feeling of the fog that it was her aura. As intimate as the energy was, it did not put the lucario at ease. Every lucario would know to properly manage their aura, but to Hildegard, it seemed her own took charge of her at times. She felt helpless against it–the sheer density of it made it appear as a huge wave, swallowing up everything in its path. The aura grew thicker, the warmth creeping under her coat uncomfortably. As it did, Hildegard began to hear whispering voices reverberating in her head. It sounded unintelligible at first, but started to merge with the sound of crying and disturbing moans.

    Then there were the words–the words that would cause her body to shiver in unease. These words called out to her, begging her to stop and pleading for their lives. The emotions were contagious. Hildegard was connecting with them, her once collected stature devolving into a shambled mess of sorrow, despair, and rage. She could taste fresh, warm blood in her mouth as she fell onto her knees, succumbing to the barrage of emotions filling her. Hildegard thought her head would burst with the cacophony of agony within, images of the fatal accident with her trainer flashing in her mind. The turmoil was too much to bear, and then she would wake up.

    Tonight, Hildegard woke up the exact same way she would after every nightmare: Cold and sweating, her breaths quick and dry. The clamminess she felt across her body was horribly uncomfortable, but nothing unfamiliar. She tried to relax her muscles, her breaths easing down. She felt her racing heart pumping vigorously, which eventually slowed as well. The lucario could not understand how she never got used to the same terrors she faced in most nights she slept. Ever since she started having them, the lucario had made the resolution to sleep less, and while this has definitely deteriorated her performance, Hilde still found herself faring well. She hoped deep inside that having the soft mattress to sleep on would make her comfortable enough to avoid having the dreams. She figured now that the nightmares might plague her until her own demise. She sighed raggedly, bringing her legs in close and hugging them to make a fetal position.

    Suddenly, a soft rustling noise sounded from outside. Hildegard took heed of the thin window seated to her left on the wall behind her and gazed at the beam of moonlight shining through. She caught sight of a shadow moving through the light with hastiness. Fleur. Hildegard understood the rabbit Pokémon had every right to be wary with her staying in the same building as the family.

    The lucario got out of bed, knowing it would take hours for her to even get close to reaching deep sleep again. She raced out of her room with impressive quietness, keeping in mind the children most likely asleep in the room next to hers. Hilde speed-walked down the one corridor in the medium-sized building and as she trailed down it, she saw the opening to the kids' room. She meant to leave the building entirely, but the lucario became curious and took a peek into the room. What she saw in the small chamber caused her heart to freeze–Fleur was in bed with her children, who were snuggled up close to her. If Fleur was here, then who in the world was outside skulking around?

    Hildegard proceeded to nimbly exit the building. The stark briskness of the night still hung in the air as the shining moon made its presence known directly above the lucario. It was still very much the middle of the night; perhaps Hilde would just stay up for the remainder of it. She looked around the area, listening for anymore rustling, keeping her eyes open wide for any sudden moving figures. After an intense minute, the lucario began to patrol the building, circling it to find anything suspicious. Upon reaching the back of the structure, Hildegard finally noticed the stones slightly jutting out of the walls, making an easy means for any athletic Pokémon to climb up to the summit. The lucario grabbed hold of a couple of the stones and then trailed up the wall towards the apex in mere seconds, her eyes darting and locking on to all the stones available to climb with.

    When she reached the top, her heart skipped to see a familiar figure sitting on the edge of the roof. It was MeiLi, her back facing the lucario. Hildegard wondered how she so quietly made her way around the area and then realized that most of her clothes were taken off save for the luxurious cape. The pensive mienshao stared off into the distance with hardly any attention paid to the lucario that decided to join her. Hildegard approached carefully, trying to make little noise with her pads against the stone floor, but she had the feeling that MeiLi already knew she was there.

    "So why did you decide to come here this time?" the mienshao asked nonchalantly, confirming her awareness. Hildegard just stood there, cursing herself under her breath for her constant failure in a quiet sneak recently. She thought she was skilled in this considering how many wild Pokémon she managed to surprise, but the Pokémon within the Sanctuary were clearly more adept.

    "I have my reasons," Hildegard replied, not trusting the mienshao, at least not at the moment. She was hardly trusting of anybody, and that was the default when it came to meeting new people and Pokémon alike.

    "I'm sure you do. Everyone has a reason, though some waltz in here unknowing of where they stand. Most of the time they will try to take advantage of the haven's peacefulness," MeiLi explained. She had a snarkiness in her voice that caused Hildegard discomfort.

    "What are you doing wandering around here?" the lucario asked with firmness. MeiLi adjusted herself and started to inspect her paws in some sort of chic fashion.

    "This is my duty, to patrol the Sanctuary for restless spirits," she answered.

    "Spirits? Ghost types?" Hildegard questioned with interest. MeiLi scoffed softly.

    "'Ghost-type' might be a little tasteless, but yes, basically," the mienshao said as she stood up. Her menacingly long and slender figure caused Hildegard to tense up. MeiLi turned around to face the lucario, revealing something shocking within her grasp. It was a sphere of dark mist, seemingly being compressed by the weasel Pokémon. "But in the end, they are Pokémon like you and I." The mienshao closed her paws in around the floating, smoky ball, compressing it even further, then released it into the air in an elegant, quick motion. The ball dissipated into the air like vapor, spreading horizontally. A drawn out, whisper-like sound followed the diffusion until all the mist had disappeared.

    "That's very odd," Hildegard spoke up. "Fighting types normally can't touch ghosts." MeiLi looked back at the lucario with a subtle look of admiration.

    "You're quite knowledgeable, aren't you?" the mienshao said as she sat back down. Hildegard ambled towards the edge and sat next to her. MeiLi eyed the empty swellow nest nearby that Hildegard somehow completely missed. She fidgeted with one of the large twigs but was careful not to destroy the nest.

    "I've learned all sorts of things being with my trainer," Hildegard explained with a hint of sadness. "I've fought every kind of Pokémon imaginable, but nothing seems to compare to what I've found in the wilderness."

    "Indeed it is very different out here," MeiLi chuckled. "I had a feeling you were domestic." Hildegard felt she should have gotten upset at that word, but knew that it was essentially true. She was once a part of a human family, so it made perfect sense. The two said nothing for a minute until MeiLi broke the silence. "Why you left is none of my business, but you seem like a Pokémon with a mission. Sage and Fleur told me about what happened."

    "What does that mean?" the lucario asked, slightly annoyed with the possibility that her story was leaked out to everybody in the haven.

    "I mean the battle between you and Fleur, as well as your confrontation with Sage. They really were in marvel of your power, and I can feel it myself sitting here." With that, Hildegard was put at ease, relieved that she was not talking about the traumatic incident that clung on to the back of her mind permanently.

    "You don't seem to like Fleur very much," the lucario pointed out.

    "What makes you say that?"

    "It was just the way you talked and looked at her." MeiLi huffed through her nose sharply, confirming her aversion to the lopunny mother.

    "We are both students of Sagefox," she paused, breathing in deeply, "but I was his first. I dedicated so much of my energy to following him. I've been his disciple for many years." MeiLi gazed out into the distance with a look of resolution. "Fleur only arrived a few months ago, and I can see that Sagefox favors her quite a bit." Hildegard could feel the tension behind her words as well as her aura, thickening with resentment. "The lopunny has skill and potential, that much is certain, but even now I wonder how much more I must give to Sagefox for him to recognize my efforts." MeiLi's jealously was contagious, and this aura was all too familiar to Hildegard when she was reminded of a certain absol her trainer had caught. The similarities between the mienshao and he were disturbing.

    MeiLi stood up, brushing off her body and adjusting her shoulders. "But I should not dawdle here and mull over such things. It is time I continue my patrol." She looked back over at the lucario and nodded. "It was nice talking to you. Rarely do I come across anyone I feel I can have a conversation with." With that, she bounded off the roof, landing on the ground with profound elegance. Hildegard watched her disappear into the forest, reflecting on her own past once again. She has seen what jealousy can do to a Pokémon, and even though she would try not to make it any of her business, she could not help but feel a bit concerned over what the relationship between the mienshao and lopunny could entail.
  3. Fidchell

    Fidchell Souls of Fire

    Jan 17, 2017
    Chapter 3, where Malgam starts his recruitment drive.

    Malgam looked upon a copying machine that was in front of him. He watched proudly as his poster came out in copies from a slot on the side. This was an accomplishment indeed–the little eevee was very happy with his creative work and had little to no doubts that with his masterpiece, he would attain a personal army in no time at all. Unfortunately it did take him quite a bit of time to figure out the workings of this strange machine, but it was, of course, worth it.

    The whirring of the machine ended as it began to cool down, a stack of at least one hundred papers waiting to be claimed. Malgam lifted the papers, a lot heavier than he imagined they were. He smiled widely at the product of his supreme efforts and started to daydream about his future army. The eevee could see it now–he and Malice would be the feared rulers of their own kingdom, just like proper villains, and all would refer to him as Lord Malgam. To hear that title come from another's mouth was almost too endearing to ponder on. The eevee caught himself drooling and snapped out of his trance. He excitedly left the office room, looking forward to the mewtwo's feedback.

    Malice once again sat in front of the gigantic vault door, glaring at it with the bitter hatred one would have against a sworn enemy. She wondered if there was ever going to be a moment where she could detect a weakness in the steel frame. Right now it seemed like time was simply the only way she could hope to enter the chamber behind the door. Malice reflected on her own power in disappointment, not understanding how she of all creatures could not break through. After all the havoc she caused, it seemed like nothing could stand in her way. Now she had an impudent eevee and a metal door giving her trouble, and she was not sure how much longer her patience would last. With every day that passed by, she doubted more and more that Malgam had spoken the truth about this supposed vault, but for some reason she had a feeling deep in her gut that something existed there–something important. What reason did the eevee have to lie to her, and why exactly would he be sticking around?

    Just as she was thinking about him, Malice detected his presence close by. She heard him utter an expletive as the sound of papers falling filled the chamber. The mewtwo craned her head and looked behind her shoulder, catching a glimpse of the mess Malgam caused. The eevee frantically started to gather up the fallen papers, then stopped himself for a moment as if having an epiphany. The eevee chuckled and slapped his forehead with a paw. He then extended this paw, an indigo aura emanating around it. The same wisp surrounded the papers are they were lifted into the air. Malgam used his other paw to direct the rest of the papers on top of each other to recreate the stack. Malice huffed, actually impressed at the eevee's telekinetic ability.

    She turned away from him, waiting for Malgam to finally approach her to commence with his daily botheration. Malice would not admit it, but even though she was perplexed by the eevee's continued presence, she could not help but feel his company made this entire process more tolerable, despite how irritating he could be. She felt at ease with another being there with her, and somehow sensed familiarity with the eevee.

    As she predicted, Malgam floated over to her side, proudly holding the stack of papers like a child preparing to show their parent the fruits of their labor. Already catching him in her peripherals, Malice rolled her eyes over to him to show him acknowledgement, to which the eevee beamed. He made a toothy grin as he set the stack on the ground. He then pulled off the top sheet of paper, almost half his own height. He turned it so that whatever was drawn was facing away from Malice. The mewtwo stared at Malgam impatiently as the eevee presented an annoying grin.

    "I did it," he said behind bared teeth. Malice did not respond, waiting for him to continue. "I made the best poster ever." He finally turned the paper around to reveal his work of art: A juvenile doodle that featured both him and Malice. Along the top of the poster were the words 'Mal n' Mal Corporation.' The eevee was drawn with a comically large chest with all of his other standard features, including the cape he beared. He was making a gallant, lordly pose, sporting the same annoying grin that he wore at present. Malice was drawn with a different demeanor; the mewtwo had a very grumpy and menacing look, her arms crossed. She was drawn with the same height as Malgam and was wearing an article of clothing–a loincloth draped around her hips.

    "Why am I wearing that?" she asked. Malgam looked confused for a moment, but then gazed back at his picture, immediately realizing what she pointed out.

    "Oh, well, it's just weird if I'm the only one wearing something. Since you're my right ha–I mean–" Malgam stuttered and stopped himself. He chuckled nervously. "Since you're my partner, I felt that you should wear something cool too, but I already have the cape, so I thought you should wear something different." He awaited Malice's feedback, but her unimpressed expression said it all. "I guess you don't like it."

    "Where do you even find a thing like that?" the mewtwo asked. Malgam felt his heart flutter with inspiration, happy that she was at least curious about it.

    "I've seen it around...someplace. I think I might be able to find it," he answered quickly. The two looked at each other for a while, almost as if Malgam was waiting for permission to get it. The mewtwo's lack of objection eventually served as a cue for the eevee to float off, his excited laughter echoing across the chamber.

    Malgam returned after several minutes. True to his word, the eevee brought back a long piece of purple silk and a yellowish band. While Malice expected him to actually find a whole loincloth, she figured it was a preposterous thing to think about. What would the humans want with such an article of clothing? It was too primitive, and they were already wearing their white uniforms. With what Malgam was carrying, making a loincloth would not be a difficult task. Still, she wondered why she developed the want to partake in Malgam's ridiculous fantasies. Perhaps she was finally realizing staring at the steel door was proving to be less entertaining with each passing hour.

    The eevee presented the band and the silk to Malice, who stood up to receive them. She hesitated and then snatched the cloth from Malgam, inspecting the material. It felt really nice on her fingers; Malice thought this might be the first time she has ever felt anything like this. She gazed over at Malgam again to see he was holding out the band, shaking it impatiently. The mewtwo snatched this as well and proceeded to study it. She stretched it out and leveled the band with her hips. Malgam smiled in approval.

    "That'll be a perfect fit. Good thing you've got that wide pelvis!" he said cheekily. Malice just glared at him, giving him the clear signal to watch his mouth. The mewtwo continued to inspect the band, not sure what to do with it next. Malgam also appeared to be stumped, but then lit up in awareness. "Over your head! Just fit it over your head!" Malice shoved her head in between the strap so that it sat on her shoulders. The band was actually not as stretchy as she thought, the psychic Pokémon unable to get it past her bulky, organic shoulder pads.

    Malgam hovered over, offering his assistance. He grinned with absolute confidence and started tugging on the band, grunting loudly as he attempted to stretch it over. After several tries, the eevee quit, breathing hard. His paws on his hips, he exclaimed, "What a pain!" He thought a little more and then beamed as another idea flashed in his head. "Let's try fitting it from the bottom this time."

    "No need," Malice stated, contemplating a notion herself. She brought a hand towards the yellow sash, her appendages glowing purple with concentrated psychic energy. Malgam breathed out in awe, coming to understand what she was up to. Malice's fingers seemed to vibrate incredibly fast as the image of the strap began to undulate and displace. She slowly moved her hand downwards, directing the very atoms of the band lower down her body. Malice brought her hand away from the band and extinguished the energy emanating from it, the image of the band piecing back together with blinding speed. It now sat snugly on her hips.

    Malgam clapped his paws in admiration. "That'll work too!" Malice proceeded to take the purple cloth and wrap it around the sash, making a proper loincloth. The mewtwo stood there, inspecting herself with the new article of clothing attached to her frame. The eevee too observed Malice's slightly new look, hovering around her to see her from all angles.

    He then went back over to the stack of papers and took a poster. He held it out in front of him, his eyes darting back and forth from the drawing to Malice herself. "Could you cross your arms?" the eevee asked timidly. Malice huffed audibly and did so, the scowl ever-present on her face. Malgam started to laugh wildly, entertained by the almost exact resemblance. "This is totally perfect! You look like a proper righ–ah, partner! Yes, partner." Malgam extended a paw, expecting a handshake from the mewtwo. Of course, Malice ignored this and went back to her usual spot, sitting down without a word or a sound.

    The eevee sighed in disappointment and went over to her again, showing her the drawing; he was desperate for her attention.

    "You have to work with me here. This is a big undertaking. I can't just go around on my own and recruit Pokémon. If I have somebody like you by my side, it would be a whole lot easier!"

    "I am not interested in your expedition," she replied bluntly. The eevee's heart sank. "I only want to know what is within the vault." Malgam thought about telling Malice that all the instruments he brought her that one time were from the vault, but decided against it knowing he needed to keep her in suspense in order for the mewtwo to remain with him. It was evident, though, that she was gradually losing interest and doubting him. He was honestly surprised he managed to keep her for this long.

    "Well, maybe you don't have to join me then," he said, hovering over to the stack of papers and lifting them with his telekinetic powers. "But could you just pretend that you're my partner? I can't disappoint anyone when I'm passing out these posters." Malice did not answer, forcing Malgam to add, "You don't even have to move from your spot! I was planning on bringing in any potential recruits into the building anyway. It will be our center of operations where we plot some nasty schemes!" The eevee's enthusiasm appeared to be having some effect on her as she turned her head to eye him.

    "Fine. You can pretend." Malgam sighed with relief. "But don't involve me in any of your silly games," she ordered.

    "Games!?" Malgam exclaimed, puffing his chest out. "This is not some game! This is the foundation of Mal n' Mal Corporations–the starting point!" He floated away, prepared to exit and go forth on his voyage of recruitment. He called out to the mewtwo, "It will be the beginning of our evil conquest! Everyone will learn to fear us!"

    "Maybe this was a stupid idea," Malgam muttered to himself miserably as he leaned his back against a tree, sliding down until his rump hit the dirt. He perked his ears up and looked around, believing he had finally lost that incredibly moody ursaring–the damn beast had a worse temper than Malice, and that was saying something! The sun was starting to set, dissuading the eevee even further. He let his head roll lazily against his shoulder as he caught his breath. He never moved around so much in a day before, and even after his painstaking effort in the wilderness, he could not get anyone to buy into his recruitment drive.

    What did he honestly expect, trying to hire some random wild Pokémon to do his bidding? What did a creature with no restrictions or burden of rules want to give up all their freedom for? Most of them were too primitive and dumb to even understand what Malgam wanted and what he had to offer them. The eevee groaned in frustration, pounding his paw against the ground. At this point, he just wanted to go on a temper tantrum, but if he were to commit to becoming a leader, he had to learn to keep his bearing and collect himself in tough times–even he knew this was a necessity.

    Malgam looked over towards his slightly shorter pile of papers. The ones missing were either eaten, torn up, or incinerated; in this moment in time, he simply lost count. He sighed deeply, taking one of the posters and gazing upon his masterpiece. Something in him kept the fire of inspiration going. It was perhaps the motivation to show Malice that he could actually construct an army and become a feared ruler. Either way, he was beat, and he was not sure if he could keep this up for the rest of the day. If it was going to continue being this strenuous and unsuccessful, the eevee figured he could just blow it off and proceed on his alternate quest to search for his missing fairy type form.

    The eevee returned the paper to the stack and lifted the stack with his telekinesis. He hovered off the ground and floated through the canopy of leaves above, emerging through the surface of the treetops. He whirled around in search for landmarks that would take him back to the facility and could see the building barely visible through a thick set of trees a ways up North.

    Just before he would go back to his base of operations, Malgam thought he could see something else. It was something skulking around in the woods slightly to the left. It looked to be yet another wild Pokémon! Malgam was reluctant to waste anymore of his time and energy on approaching another, but figured he could talk to just one more as he was heading back. He returned to ground level in the forest and made his way towards the direction of the wandering Pokémon.

    Once he got nearer to it, closer inspection revealed that this Pokémon was a lycanroc. Malgam had seen many Pokémon in the days when he was still under care of the humans. In fact, in order to test his evolving capabilities and use of his powers, he was pit against many different types of Pokémon, lycanroc being one of them. The one he was eying right now was the midday form however, the one he fought back then being the midnight form. Malgam was intrigued in this creature's alternate look, having seen it for the first time in his life. The lycanroc appeared nervous, looking around frantically as if he had misplaced something dear to him.

    Not wanting to startle him up close, Malgam cleared his throat loud enough for it to be audible to the rock Pokémon. The lycanroc whirled around, facing the eevee directly with eyes as large as dinner plates. Admittedly, this was the opposite of what Malgam wanted, and he expected the creature to dash off in a panic. Surprisingly, the canid Pokémon stood his ground, lowering his head and spreading out his legs as if in anticipation of a battle.

    He called out to the eevee with a shockingly eloquent voice, "I'm in a hurry, let's get this over with." Malgam scoffed in absolute bewilderment.

    "Easy there, fireball," the eevee responded snidely. "I'm not looking for a fight." The lycanroc was put at ease rather quickly, but Malgam guessed that it was because the canine had mostly encountered nothing but other wild Pokémon that were hunting for a succulent meal.

    "You aren't like the others," the lycanroc said, confirming Malgam's belief. The rock Pokémon's gaze wandered over to the eevee's side and he looked like he fell into a trance. "How are you doing that?" Malgam just realized the lycanroc was staring at the stack of posters that he was levitating. Grinning, the eevee brought the stack in towards him and took one of the papers, presenting it to the canid Pokémon. The lycanroc studied the drawing intensely but then snapped out of it, gazing towards the sky. He looked dreadfully worried. "I have to get going. Thanks for not attacking me, but I can't stick around any longer."

    "Huh?" Malgam uttered in confusion. "Hey, wait! You aren't even going to ask what this is about?"

    "I have to find cover!" the lycanroc exclaimed. "The forest isn't enough to shield me from the moonlight. I have a shelter."

    "Well, I've got a secret base. There's plenty of cover in there, I can assure you." The canine stopped in his tracks and looked back at Malgam reluctantly. "Once we head there, we can talk further."

    "How do I know I can trust you?" the canid asked. Malgam rolled his eyes impatiently and sighed–of course, the classic question comes out and puts him on the spot. He really did not have a good answer for him.

    "Just go back to how I've bothered to communicate with you. I don't have any reason to trick you. I'm only interested in talking. We can do that, right?" the eevee asked innocently. "What can a little eevee like me do to a strong Pokémon like you anyway?"

    "Don't patronize me," the lycanroc growled. "Besides, you're doing something I never thought your type could do."

    "What? You mean the floating and stuff?" Malgam cursed himself internally, not thinking to plant himself on his feet and put down the stack of papers before meeting eyes with him. "I'm special, but not that special." The lycanroc started to look flustered, gazing back up at the sky.

    He sighed and then said, "Okay, show me your place."

    Malgam was delighted to present the facility to the lycanroc. At first, the rock Pokémon was very hesitant and knew straight away that this was a structure concocted by humans. The eevee managed to convince him that he had taken it over and drove all signs of man out of the facility. Eventually, the lycanroc did enter and Malgam proceeded to show him all around the interior. Needless to say, the canine was lost in utter awe, a place like this totally alien to him. He went on to thank Malgam for bringing him here, relieved at the prospect of shelter from the moonlight more specifically.

    After the little tour, the eevee went on to show his potential recruit to Malice; Malgam had strategically saved this for last. The canine was fascinated by the mewtwo, but could clearly sense the malicious aura surrounding her. He kept his distance, which Malgam honestly preferred. He did not want anyone approaching her and then being scared off completely if not winding up her next, unfortunate meal. Malice herself did not say much, simply grunting in acknowledgement. This was enough to inspire Malgam to continue his drive.

    The next couple days proved to be luckier for the little eevee lord. He did not run into as many irritable and starving Pokémon and managed to find a couple more recruits who were interested in what he had to say. These two Pokémon included a ditzy, female quilava named Plume, and a mysterious, masked zoroark named Xerxes. With three creatures under his care now, Malgam felt a sense of empowerment, knowing that this was another step towards him becoming a true evil ruler! Thankfully, the lycanroc did decide to stay in the facility with him, fond of the shelter. The canine introduced himself as Bernard, though he never disclosed on why he had to seal himself off from the moonlight. As far as Malgam knew, his three recruits were quite colorful, having their own quirks. He decided that he had to call in a meeting so that they all understood what they were in for, and to get the introductions out of the way, of course.

    He summoned the three into his room, where he scrambled behind his cardboard box fort and stood up, puffing his chest out. The eevee gazed down on his recruits, who all stared at him in puzzlement.

    "Sit! Sit! Please!" Malgam said with a wave of his paw. The three Pokémon sat down on their rumps, still appearing confused. Bernard was a little anxious and Xerxes was indifferent. The quilava, however, seemed awfully excited. The eevee cleared his throat, feeling a tad jittery himself. He had to present himself well for his first meeting. "So, I just want to thank you all again for joining me in my prestigious facility." Plume clapped her paws together rapidly in exuberance, which followed with an awkward silence from the rest of the Pokémon. Malgam chuckled and continued. "You three have responded to the calling, and now you are members of the soon-to-be worldwide organization known as Mal n' Mal Corporations!" While Plume looked in high spirits, Bernard seemed perplexed and Xerxes aloof, crossing his arms. "I'm very pleased to have you all as a part of our team. For now, I'd just like to get the formalities out of the way. If you all could introduce yourselves to each other, that would be marvelous!"
    Plume almost immediately leapt forward to the center, turning to face the zoroark and lycanroc. She stood onto her hind legs and waved a paw with a radiant smile.

    "Hi, hi! I'm Plume and I am sooo excited to be here! It's like, I've never expected to ever be accepted into a group and it's just so overwhelming and–!" The quilava went on to further express her excitement, much to the other Pokémons' frustration. "So, yeah, again, I'm Plume, and–and I'm a fire type, see?" She bent over, raising her rump into the air. Her back was lined with several red circular marks which started to glow as a small flame formed from her rear, working its way up to her head and growing in intensity. The three observing Pokémon backed off in response to this.

    "Cool! That's fantastic!" Malgam complimented her quickly. "You'll surely be an asset to the team." Truthfully, he just wanted her to put out the fire as soon as possible. The flames on her back weakened and then eventually retreated into the red markings. Plume started to breathe harder as if having slightly exerted herself, then turned to the eevee, her face glowing with anticipation. "Yes, yes, very good. I approve." Malgam lightly clapped his paws together, nodding.

    "You won't be sorry! I'll make you proud to have me here!" she exclaimed triumphantly as she ambled back to her spot.

    "Until you burn down the place," Malgam thought to himself, smirking nervously. The eevee turned to the lycanroc. "And you?" Bernard reluctantly stood up, his eyes shifting around as if he were unsure of how to begin.

    "Well, uh, hello. My name is Bernard, and, well–" Two fangs bit down on his lower lip as he fumbled for words. "I don't really like the moon. That's why I'm here, really." He turned over to Malgam. "Do we get any rooms here eventually? Or are you going to just let us run around?"

    The eevee presented a paw, shaking his head. "No need to worry about that. The whole facility is your home. Move around as you please," Malgam then stopped himself, suddenly remembering a certain moody mewtwo. "Well, except for that giant place where my partner is. Don't just wander around in there. You'll annoy her pretty easily," he explained, laughing anxiously.

    "Alright," Bernard acknowledged.

    He started to walk back to his spot until Malgam called out, "Hold on a moment! I'm not satisfied with that introduction." Bernard turned back to him slowly, a furrow of confusion lining his brow.

    "What do you want me to say?" he asked. "I already told you about my thing."

    "I dunno, maybe show us what you can do?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "Just get back up here!" Malgam exclaimed, the lycanroc scrambled back to the middle of the floor. "What kinda moves you got?"

    "Moves? Well, maybe you don't want to see those," Bernard muttered. Malgam crossed his arms and pouted, staring at the rock Pokémon with sheer apathy. "I mean, it might damage the interior."

    "Listen, pup, if you don't show me any fighting prowess, how can I just let you remain in the team? Don't you have any skills?" the eevee asked. Bernard looked back at the two reclining Pokémon, the zoroark closing his eyes and the quilava gesturing with both paws outward, egging him on.

    "Okay," Bernard breathed out. He faced towards the wall to his left, spreading his legs out and preparing his attack. He tensed up his muscles as he caused the ground to shake beneath them. Everyone began to back off, unsure of where the attack was going to come from or what form it would take. Malgam threw himself atop of his box fort, which was toppling from the force of the quake.

    "What are you doing!?" the eevee shouted, his voice trembling.

    "Just a little longer!" Bernard responded. A couple seconds later, the flooring in front of the lycanroc collapsed to make way for a large pillar of rock, which shot up and nearly went through the ceiling. Dust clouds formed all around the room as the quaking settled down, the shaken Pokémon trying to collect their bearings. Malgam remade his box fort, recovering the pieces that fell off. Bernard remained in awe of what he had done, staring at the stone spire, astonished.

    "Well that was really something!" the eevee lord said, retreating behind his fort once again. The other two Pokémon inched back to their spots, keeping some distance between them and the pillar.

    "That's a cool rock!" Plume piped up. "Good job!" Bernard looked over at her, a small smile forming on his face from the encouragement. He could not even bring himself to thank her.

    "Yes, not bad at all. I am satisfied. You can sit back down," Malgam permitted the lycanroc, who did a timid bow, then returned to his spot.

    "Are you sure it's okay?" Bernard shyly asked, eying the stone pillar that he could not believe he created.
    "Don't worry about it, this place is already pretty messed up," the eevee replied with a shrug.

    "I mean, honestly, I did not mean to do something like that, at least not nearly as big." Malgam nodded and then turned to Xerxes who, despite what just occurred, remained strangely calm and uninterested.

    "So what about you–"

    "Forget it," the zoroark said, his voice icy enough to chill the atmosphere.

    An awkward silence followed until Malgam broke it. "Forget what?"

    "I need no introduction. I have no obligation to indulge you on my abilities," Xerxes stated firmly. Malgam was tempted to transform into something that could teach the mouthy zoroark a quick lesson, but realized he had no means of taking down a dark type. He cursed internally, wishing more than ever that he had his revered fairy form.

    Plume followed with a, "Tsk, tsk, tsk. You aren't a very fun Pokémon now are you?"

    The zoroark proved to be mercifully tolerant even when faced with a voice as grating as Plume's. "None of this is about fun. I sincerely hope you don't think so."

    "Not fun? This is the best thing that happened to me!" Plume exclaimed, facing Malgam. "This is like a club! We can identify with something and be part of something bigger!" The zoroark craned his head to glare at the quilava, the eyes behind his pale, ceramic mask horrifically piercing; they might have even contested with Malice's. Plume shrinked back in response to his gaze.

    Xerxes looked back at Malgam and stood up. His form was lithe and strong, his sleek, black fur sporting gashes and scars in various places throughout his body. "I would like these two to leave the premises." The eevee eyed the quilava and lycanroc without a word, raising his lips in skepticism. He then nodded very slightly, to which the two Pokémon also stood up and exited the room. When the sliding doors closed from behind them, the zoroark took it as a cue to continue. "I am an assassin. I have joined many and completed many jobs. To link myself to any type of organization would go against my nature and shatter my reputation. However–" the zoroark removed his mask, revealing a hideously scarred face that could easily distinguish him from any other zoroark; in fact, anyone could be forgiven for thinking he was something else entirely. He proceeded, "I will make an exception this time. I wish to make an exchange."

    "Well, I've been considering that with all of you to be honest," the eevee explained. "Everyone is looking for a share."

    "I will tell you my wishes now," the zoroark hissed impatiently, Malgam sealing his lips. "There is a hollow spot in my soul, and for years I have tried to figure out what was missing from my life." Xerxes' voice sounded almost poetic, catching the eevee off guard. He tried really hard to stifle laughter that clawed in desperation to escape his lungs. Xerxes started to approach the little lord, causing him to lean against the wall behind him. "For my services, I will require a female that will love me despite my looks." Malgam's mouth hung agape as he locked eyes with the zoroark. He had no idea what to say.

    "A female that will...love you," Malgam repeated quietly. The zoroark scoffed.

    "You are young. I don't expect you to understand."

    "Hey now!" the eevee defensively retorted, taking a step forward. "I may be young, but there's nothing that this future ruler cannot do! I'll find you your lovebird, Casanova."

    "No need. My eyes are already set on her," Xerxes said with a foreboding tone.

    Malgam pondered on this for a few seconds. "Plume?"

    "Malice." Upon hearing this, Malgam could feel his fur stand on end, a chill coursing across his nerves. How did this guy know about Malice's name? Did the mewtwo actually bother talking to him?

    The eevee chuckled, expecting this to be a joke. "Um, you sure about that?"

    "One-hundred percent."

    "I don't think she likes dark types very much, no offense," Malgam pointed out, grinning sheepishly. The zoroark glowered at him and put on his ceramic mask. The eevee thanked him in his mind; Xerxes' visage was grotesque enough to turn someone into stone.

    "If you want me to assist you in your business, you will allow me to approach her." Whenever Xerxes spoke of Malice, his voice softened as if his heart were tenderized by the mere thought of the mewtwo.

    "Well, not yet, but soon, okay? I should talk to her about this first. Gotta ease her into things, you know what I mean?" Malgam said.

    The zoroark just stared indifferently for a while before finally saying, "You might have a point. Very well then." With that, he exited the room, leaving Malgam holding his breath against the silence that followed. The eevee exhaled loudly, unsure if he could say that went as well as he had hoped, but at least he figured out what his cohorts were like and what they were capable of. The eevee listened intently, hearing what sounded like water bubbling and flowing. He pinpointed the source to the stone pillar and saw water starting to flow from the hole that the rock created.

  4. Fidchell

    Fidchell Souls of Fire

    Jan 17, 2017
    Chapter 4, where Hilde speaks to Sage a second time, and Malgam tries to manage his new army.

    Chapter Four: Divulgence

    Hildegard woke up from her short slumber, feeling somewhat refreshed. She was surprised that she managed to get rest after all–her usual experience with the feverish, aura-fueled dreams normally canceled sleep for that night. The lucario stared up towards the stone ceiling, blinking several times before sitting up on her mattress. She stretched her body, raising her arms as high as she could while yawning, her jaw popping and tongue lolling out.

    Slowly, the lucario got out of bed, scratching an itch that developed on her left hip. Despite having gotten some rest, Hilde felt dazed and light-headed, not quite knowing what her agenda was for the day. She shook her head and then grasped the two, small aura sensors on the back of her head, hidden within her shaggy scruff of hair.

    Strangely enough, she could not detect a single soul's aura nearby, regardless of her unquestionable skill in doing so.

    The lucario left her room to emerge into the hallway. She then went down it, reluctant to pass the opening of Fleur's room. Approaching it, Hildegard slowed her pace further and concentrated her vision towards the interior as she got closer. Once she was in front of it, Hilde found that nobody was inside the room, not Fleur and not even her kids. She let a burst of air exit her nostrils as she looked around, slightly off put by the silence within the building.

    Hildegard suddenly remembered what she had to do today–she needed to speak with the old fox, wherever he was. Without Fleur to guide her, the lucario had no idea how she would locate the delphox. The lucario proceeded to quickly exit the building, hearing the chirping of various bird Pokémon filling the air. It was a sunny day, and the rays from above felt warm against her fur. Hilde took in a deep breath of air and then whirled around, trying to see if Fleur was anywhere near the building. She circled around the structure as well, but still could not find the lopunny mother.

    "Hmph," Hilde grunted in impatience as she made her own way into the thicket, aimless.

    The lucario felt like she had wandered around for several hours. There was plenty to see within this small community. There were so many different types of Pokémon staying within the Sanctuary. Hildegard wondered how the social structure worked in here. Was Sagefox really okay with letting the Pokémon do as they pleased? Sure, it would be tough to try to manage all the Pokémon residing within the Sanctuary, even with its walk-in-free policy, but Hilde felt there had to be better order established. Her having been within the company of humans for most of her life made it clear to her what this place was missing. Even if she resided here now for the time being, Hildegard was still concerned about the Witch, and pondered on why she had not come here herself to wreak havoc. She could imagine it now, the female delphox draining her very soul away as she slept, downing it like a delicious, refreshing beverage. It caused a shudder to crawl down Hildegard's spine.

    On the brink of giving up, Hildegard approached a clearing she realized she had not been to yet. She used the broken down structures around the haven to mark places she has visited already, and this particular spot had an arrangement foreign to her. Emerging through a particularly thick group of vegetation, she stared in awe at what was before her. In the middle of this clearing was a large temple, adorned with meticulous carvings along its edges and pillars, a large set of stone steps sitting against its front. Along the sides of the stairs were rows of eroded statues that resembled a couple of humans. The rest of the statues seemed to take the form of Pokémon, but with how dilapidated they were, it was difficult to tell what they represented.

    Hildegard approached the stone staircase of the temple, slowly directing her gaze from the bottom step to the magnificent bulk of the brilliant structure. She felt being so close to the building was humbling in a sense, and that taking a step on the stairs would disturb a legendary, slumbering beast. Slowly and silently, the lucario walked up the stairs, easing her breaths as much as she could. Once she reached the top, she continued onward, beholding the powerful stone pillars that she passed.

    Entering the dark interior of the temple, Hildegard could scent a light, musty odor, the air becoming slightly warmer. She blinked several times, her eyes gradually adjusting to the darkness. Along the walls there were multiple square-shaped depressions that each held statues of their own, some of Pokémon and some of humans, just like the display outside. Along the edges of the ceiling were ramps merging with the walls, these ramps embedded with complex carvings.

    In the center of the room, Hildegard could see a raised platform and a familiar, furry figure seated on the middle of it. She stood still, holding her breath. Suddenly, the figure outstretched two arms, then brought its hands together, clapping them twice. It was almost deafening despite the claps being light. Hildegard looked up, noticing a single beam of light forming from the ceiling. A circular hole on the ceiling made itself known as a stone slab shifted seemingly on its own. Looking back down at the figure, the strong light revealed it to be Sagefox, who appeared to be in a deep, meditative state despite his movements. He hung his arms in the air for another several seconds before slowly letting them fall, his hands resting on his exceptionally furry lap.

    Sagefox creaked open his eyes, which gazed softly at the lucario standing before him. A small smile spread on his face in wordless welcoming of Hildegard as he adjusted his specs with an aged claw. Despite his calm and kind demeanor, Hilde could not ease her tensed muscles, as she knew what the delphox was capable of. Then again, a good deal of the horrific power turned out to be a nightmare, but the lucario still felt that the old fox's potential was nothing to scoff at; she mocked him before, but now she could clearly sense his bright, warm aura, traits which were hard to come by from a Pokémon of this age. Hilde also detected from this aura that the fox had overcome his sickness, a healthy immune system also supporting her idea that he carried impressive resiliency despite his ancient body.

    Hildegard raised a foot only for the delphox to outstretch one of his lanky arms.

    "That's far enough, Miss," the old fox said, his voice soothing and quiet, but loudened by the spacious environment. Hilde retreated her foot and huffed in annoyance. "I was told you were wanting to see me. Did Fleur take care of you?"

    "Yeah, sure," Hilde muttered. Realistically, she did not care whether or not she had a room to stay in, and she did not appreciate Sagefox making it sound as if she needed the lopunny's care.

    The delphox nodded and tenderly said, "I'm happy you came to visit me again. I assume you have already spoken to her?" The lucario knew who he was talking about and reached into her jacket's inner pocket to pull out the cobalt necklace, the beautiful gems glistening from the reflection of the light pillar. Sagefox squinted his eyes and scoffed. "She didn't accept it?"

    "She nearly killed me," Hildegard stated firmly, feeling a dryness in her throat. The delphox's face turned grim. "Once she saw this, she was consumed with rage." Sagefox bowed his head, appearing disheartened.

    He closed his eyes and said, "I'm very sorry, Hildegard." The lucario did not respond to this. "If I knew she would have reacted in such a way, I would not have even given you the necklace."

    "You seriously didn't think she would do that?" Hilde asked. "She is evil, and surely you know about the horrible things she does."

    "Yes, yes, that is true," the delphox said sadly. "What I did to that poor girl transformed her into a monster, but I have held faith for so long that perhaps there is something still shining from within her corrupt soul." Sagefox got back onto his feet with hardly a struggle, rising with only the support of his back and legs. "Now after what you have told me, I fear there is nothing but darkness left." He sighed and looked upward in thought. He then looked back at Hilde with a renewed smile. "I figured that you could keep that necklace."

    "What? Why?" Hildegard questioned.

    The delphox rubbed his fuzzy chin and continued, "Well, I thought that it could bring you comfort. It belonged to her trainer–perhaps it could remind you of your own."

    "All it's going to do is remind me of a person that you murdered," Hilde said coldly, gazing at the jewel-laced accessory with contempt.

    "You're right, Hildegard," Sagefox uttered. "I apologize for thinking that. I will hold onto it then. It would be more appropriate." Hildegard prepared to take a step forward but once again, Sagefox outstretched his arm. "No need. I will come to you." She cringed at how much he seemed to patronize her, constantly looking out for her well-being. Sagefox ambled towards her, his heavy fur coat dragging along the ground. Gently, he took the necklace from Hilde's grasp, cradling it delicately within his claws. He smiled at the lucario. "Funny. One would think I keep the thing as a trophy." The delphox carefully put the necklace into a pocket on his fur robes. "Years ago that might've been the case. All it will serve as now is a reminder." The lucario was about to make a snarky comment about how he already mentioned this, but decided against it; she could resonate with his aura, which held a chilling density that communicated his sadness. There was also the fact that he was old and likely to forget these things.

    The delphox went back to his spot on the platform, soaking in the sun's light, which shone brilliantly off his fur.
    "Thank you for being patient with me. Did you have questions you wanted to ask?" he inquired as he slowly turned to face the lucario.

    Instead of confirming it, Hildegard asked straight away, "Mega evolution. Do you know about it?" Sagefox was taken aback by this and appeared confused. Again scratching his chin fluff, he looked as if he were trying hard to remember something.

    "Mega evolution. It has been many years since I saw anything like that," he said, adjusting his specs. "I am technically wild after all, and have been my entire life."

    "So do you not know anything about it?"
    "Hardly," Sagefox stated, shaking his head. "But if there was one thing I understood about it, it is that Mega evolution is the result of a strong bond between Pokémon and trainer." Hildegard exhaled long and hard, disappointed that this old fox did not know anything more. What he said was stuff that she already knew. "I can tell you aren't satisfied with my answer. Of course, being a Pokémon who once had a trainer, you would probably know more about Mega evolution than I do."

    "I never Mega evolved while I was with my master," Hildegard explained. "I know that a stone is required, and each one is unique to a Pokémon."

    "Indeed, and not all Pokémon have access to such a power as this," the delphox said. Hildegard remained suspicious, wondering how much he actually knew. "Just as you can detect mine, I can sense your powerful aura. It may be the most powerful I have ever encountered."

    The lucario glared at him and revealed, "I Mega evolved while I confronted the Witch." Sagefox's face lifted up in surprise. "And I did not have the stone."

    "Huh," the delphox breathed out in interest. "That is very intriguing. I did not know it was possible for that to happen without one, but then again my knowledge is limited." He twisted his body and gazed off dreamily, once again in deep thought. "Something has come to mind though. While your aura is powerful, I've detected that it might not be fully connected to your being."

    "What are you talking about?" Hildegard asked in a slightly condescending tone. Did this old fox really understand the properties of aura? How can he say that a lucario's aura is not 'fully connected?' What a bunch of nonsense.

    "I mean your attunement with it is not perfect. You have so much of it that it sort of trails behind. It's a bit hard to explain." Hildegard scowled in response. "I'm sorry if my criticism offends you, but on a brighter note, this Mega evolution could mean you are becoming more harmonious with your aura." The lucario's eyes fell to the floor as she pondered on this. If there was any truth to what this old fox was saying about her attunement, then what he just revealed might make some sense; however, it does not explain how she could Mega evolve without a proper stone. Was a stone really required for this type of evolution? Was her trainer really–

    She cast aside her thoughts for now, not wanting to stay in the temple for much longer. She went onto her next question. "Alright then. Maybe you know more about the Witch."

    Sagefox gave an expression of dismay. "What about her?"

    "Her powers–the magic she deals with–I want to know if you know anything about it." Hildegard was truthfully still upset at Sagefox for his heinous act of murder in the past, but at the same time she could not stay by Witchfox's side.

    "Day by day I remember vividly the horrible act I've committed," Sagefox muttered as if reading her mind. "The Witch–no–Ingrid was a vain one, indeed. Her human pampered her non-stop, yet I was still hopelessly attracted to that beautiful braixen." He let out a long sigh, shaking his head with a smile. "I hated humans back then. It was a passionate sort of hate. I had little trouble incinerating that girl into dust. It was so easy." Hildegard clenched her fist with a building anger, feeling her claws dig into her flesh. "But as my life progressed after we separated, something was festering inside me. I've come to the realization that I was truly a remorseless monster. I had to atone."

    "What have you done to make up for something like that?" Hildegard blurted out, unable to contain her rage. Sagefox closed his eyes in sadness.

    "I fear I will never know what must be done. I tried to find absolute solace in attempting to reach out to Ingrid multiple times. I think that may be the only way for my soul to be put to rest is to put hers at rest as well," he explained, crossing his arms. "Before I founded this place, I went to a fire dojo to atone and to find my inner peace. Those were long, difficult years, but it transformed me." Hildegard started tapping her foot, showing her impatience and lack of desire to listen to the delphox's life story. He noticed and chuckled. "Impatient as always, my dear lucario. Very well. I do not know much of the Witch's magic. I try to stay far away from the alchemy and dark wizardry she indulges in. It, simply put, rots one's core. Perhaps that's why she is far from saving now."

    "So what she does is not universal amongst delphox?" Hildegard asked, having the mindset that they all practiced the same sort of arcane methods.

    "No. What Ingrid does is well beyond what a Pokémon should ever wallow in. It is pure evil, but she has grown incredibly strong thanks to it." Sagefox sighed again, turning to face the lucario. "Look, Hildegard, I know you wish to bring back your trainer." Hilde was reminded of when Sage swallowed her dreams, making her memories a part of himself. It made her sick to know he had these when she never intended to spill out her motives or desires. Still, she remained speechless. "Is that why you want to know more about this?"

    "What's it to you?" the lucario snapped.

    "I cannot advise that you even think about reveling in dark magic. It will make your life so much worse."

    "I didn't ask any of this!" Hildegard shouted, her voice ringing across the chamber. "If you don't know anything, then I'm just going to leave." The lucario turned her tail and started to walk away.

    Sagefox called to her, "Hildegard, listen to me." To his surprise, Hilde did stop in her tracks, but kept her back facing him. "There is no discernable way to bring back the dead. Don't do anything that you will regret." His bluntness only fueled her anger, causing a subtle, blue vignette to surround her body as her aura intensified.

    She whirled at him, shouting, "You are a damn liar and a murderer! I have no reason to believe you!" With that, she turned again and exited the temple speedily, tears welling up in her eyes.

    Malgam was successful in increasing the size of his army over the next couple weeks thanks to the help of his first few recruits–at least twenty more joined his ranks. Of course, each and every one of the newcomers were welcomed into the facility, by him at least. Most of the Pokémon who had joined Mal 'N Mal Corporation clearly sought shelter and a home from the cruelty of the wilderness. Malgam feared that a lot of them would care little about his actual motives; it was already obvious a lot of them did not take the eevee seriously. Chaos was increasing within the small army day by day, and Malgam admitted to himself through this that his leadership skills were lacking severely.

    Malice was growing more uncomfortable the larger the population became, but Malgam continued to try his best to keep the Pokémon away from her. They all could figure out that she was something different and very dangerous. They quickly got the hint even without Malgam intervening. Malgam appreciated Malice's acknowledgement at first, but now he feared it, seeing the frustration in her sharp, piercing eyes.

    Malgam assigned his first recruits as his 'right-right-hands,' as he lovingly called them. They were not quite the tier that Malice was at, but they were right beneath her: Bernard the lycanroc, Xerxes the zoroark, and Plume the quilava. Malgam thought that it was probably not wise to assign them the way he did, especially with Plume being the way she was. He was glad that she had the enthusiasm his team desperately needed–he could not be the only one trying to brighten everyone's moods. Regardless, she was definitely not leader material considering her ditziness, but at least she was raring to go whenever the opportunity arose.

    Today, the eevee lord figured it would be a good time to sit back, relax, and admire how much his army had grown. He was very satisfied with himself and did not expect to have so many Pokémon under his belt at this point in time–then again, who could really resist his dashing looks, let alone his masterpiece of a recruitment poster?

    Things seem to have calmed down in the facility. Once again, he had his right-right-hands to thank for aiding him in keeping everything in order. As carefree as he normally was, however, he could not help but think about what each of them wanted in exchange. It seemed as long as he had a place for them to stay, he would be in a good spot. There was one Pokémon, though, that kept going through his mind, and that was the zoroark, Xerxes. He certainly wanted something a little more, and Malgam still had no idea how it would be possible. The zoroark wanted to court with Malice, that much was sure, but Malice did not like anybody really. How could the zoroark believe that the mewtwo would fall for him in any way? He had to give Xerxes credit for being so ballsy, but the eevee knew that love had a way of clouding one's judgment.

    The eevee lord sat up on the couch that was positioned behind his prestigious box fort and gazed around the room in thought. His eyes shifted over to the rock pillar created by Bernard, still standing tall next to the wall. The broken water pipes beneath the floor were melted shut from Plume's flames. The draining process afterwards was not so pleasant.

    Malgam somewhat missed the days back then when there was no one around but him and Malice. Now things have gotten so complicated it made his head throb. He floated over his fort and exited the room, aiming to reunite with his favorite psychic type. As he hovered down the hallway, he narrowly escaped a duo of Pokémon chasing each other down the corridor–a luxio and a crobat. The speedy creatures nearly knocked him straight out of the air and paid him no mind as they kept dashing down the hallway. Malgam breathed out in relief, pausing for a few seconds before continuing on his way.

    Malice glared with disdain at the masked zoroark standing several paces from her side. The dark type Pokémon did an elegant bow, his thick, ruffled hair swaying in unison with his motion. The mewtwo sat in near perfect stillness as she watched the zoroark's display with sheer indifference. This did not demotivate Xerxes, however, as he proceeded to perform a stylish dance, his body twirling and twisting with refined mastery that gave the impression of years of tireless practice.

    Once Xerxes finished, he slowed his movements and once again did a graceful bow, closing his eyes. He creaked open an eyelid to see that Malice was still not impressed, a little crease forming on the bridge of her snout. She craned her head away and back towards the vault door. It was now that the zoroark started to feel irritated. What he just performed was an ancient dance passed down upon many generations of zoroark–a special, ritualistic jig that traditionally existed as a courting rite. He could forgive Malice for not knowing this down to the wire, but was upset to see she still did not understand the basic meaning; he would not dance in front of her for no reason.

    "Very well," he thought to himself. "A conversation then." Xerxes sat down, keeping his eyes on the psychic Pokémon as she continued to face away from him. He took a deep, quiet breath and said with sincerity, "My lady, what lies beyond this door that interests you so?"

    "Do not speak to me," Malice snapped without moving a single muscle aside from her jaw.

    "I only wish to understand you more," Xerxes stated, attempting to sound trustworthy. "You are an amazing Pokémon. I can feel your energy from where I sit, dormant but warm." Malice's eyes slowly rotated towards the zoroark, and the dark type felt his heart flutter. "I am very glad to have met a wonderous lady like yourself. I am not aware if Malgam has told you, but I am Xerxes." Malice just huffed, expressing her disinterest. "I've been appointed as a higher rank within Malgam's army."

    "His army?" the mewtwo scoffed. "You mean his echo chamber? Not a single one of you imbeciles have done anything worthy of my attention." Xerxes was taken aback by her hard words. With how accepting and easily approachable Malgam was, he did not expect to be treated so poorly by someone the eevee called his 'right-hand.'

    "Malgam has not given us any tasks as of yet," Xerxes retorted softly, trying not to upset the mewtwo further. "But when that day comes, I will show you how powerful I truly am."

    "Perhaps you could start by keeping these irritants prowling the halls away from my presence, including yourself," the mewtwo hissed. While most Pokémon would be easily deterred from Malice's hostility, the zoroark found himself slightly attracted to it. He was not ready to give up on the mewtwo just yet.

    Xerxes stood up slowly, Malice's eyes glued onto him in expectation of his leave, but the dark type did not leave. Instead, Xerxes crossed his arms over his chest, a dark smog beginning to form around his feet. The smoke began to rise and circle the zoroark's figure, clinging onto his body as it continued to thicken and expand. A small tornado of smog enveloped Xerxes entirely, completely obscuring him and growing frighteningly larger. A strong wind formed around him, but Malice was immovable.

    The smoke, once it had grown to twice its original size, gradually began to calm and dissipate into the air, revealing that the zoroark had taken up a completely different form: He became the legendary Pokémon Lugia. Massive arms still wrapped around his upper body, he swung them apart, stretching them out and revealing a splendorous figure that could only be owned by a legendary. His sheen was a majestic silver, his limbs muscley and powerful. His head took the shape of a sharp arrowhead, his neck long and slender and ending at a set of sinewy shoulders. His torso was large and bulky, a healthy shade of blue lining his belly. Lastly, there was the long, robust tail, lined with several sets of impressive blue fins.

    Despite the zoroark having transformed himself into this tenacious beast, Malice sighed in annoyance and looked away. Xerxes' face drooped with chagrin, astounded that this was her reaction. Immediately after, he thought of something: Perhaps a form more familiar would suit her fancy. Causing the dark smog to rise once again, the zoroark-now-lugia engulfed himself, preparing to transform.

    Once the smoke cleared a second time, Xerxes' figure became a lot smaller to be half of Malice's own height. The dark type had now transformed into Malgam himself. He carried an impressively exact form to that of the original eevee lord, getting every detail correct down to the silly purple cape and the smug grin. Xerxes crossed his arms and puffed out his chest, catching Malice's attention. It was disconcerting how well he imitated Malgam's mannerisms and movement.

    Thinking that perhaps this act would have finally impressed the apathetic mewtwo, Malice sneered a bit and said, "Of all things you decide to do a mock-up of that whelp? How charming." Her sarcastic tone crushed the zoroark. He ground his teeth in frustration and then smiled, having one last plan in mind. The swirl of smoke emanating once again, Xerxes began his transformation into something larger, about the same height as Malice this time.

    The smoke faded away to reveal a similar shape to the mewtwo; in fact, Xerxes had become a mewtwo! He took on a more masculine form, with a wider and more powerful chest, his body moderately muscular and brawny. He was floating and arched backwards, showing off his figure at its most slender and whole with his limbs facing outwards. Xerxes relaxed himself, hovering slowly to the ground. Once his feet landed, he struck a gallant pose, twisting his body and flexing an arm. The zoroark was clearly desperate for the psychic Pokémon's love.

    Malice appeared transfixed, a hint of curiosity on her normally scowling demeanor. Could that have done it? Did the zoroark finally get to the mewtwo? He felt his chest swell with excitement, waiting for Malice to approach him with lustful intentions. There was no way she could resist his grandiose figure, so well-crafted by his many years of illusionary experience.

    The fires of exuberance started to wane, however, as Xerxes gazed at Malice who yet did not move from her spot. The look of slight awe on her face also molded back into her usual poutiness. The thought of her having been disappointed by something he unknowingly messed up sent a cold chill down his spine.

    The mewtwo scoffed and looked away, completely trampling the inspiration the zoroark once had. "To think you tried attracting me like I'm some wild creature...it's sickening. Leave me at once." Xerxes' internal fire billowed with rage as he stamped a foot in a childish tantrum.

    Fuming, he shouted, "What will it take to impress you!? I have many skills! I am a powerful and admirable creature who will stop at nothing to get what he wants!"

    "That much is clear. Leave me. I will not ask you again," Malice said firmly. Before the zoroark could act in anger, the eevee lord entered the large room.

    "Hey, Malice, I was thinking about our food preserves and I–" Malgam stopped, hovering in place with a grimace upon seeing a duo of mewtwos in the same area. There was a long awkward silence before the eevee continued. "Wow, Malice, I'm err–I'm happy for you and all, but aren't you supposed to be...uh, unique?" As if on cue, the black smoke formed around Xerxes, transforming him back to his original size as well as his original form. The smog cleared to reveal a zoroark that had lost his composure; he clearly looked upset.

    He spat and said, "Is it possible to faze this female?" Malice's temperament appeared to turn even more exasperated, if that were possible in her current state.

    Malgam shrugged and replied, "Well, I did warn you, buddy." Xerxes growled at the eevee.

    "If you cannot accomplish your side of the exchange, then I will have nothing to do with your group!" the zoroark said loudly, wanting Malice to hear every bit of what he said.

    In response, the psychic Pokémon ordered to Malgam, "Get this fool away before he gets hurt." Xerxes whirled on her, looking bewildered.

    "Are you jesting? You do realize I have the type advantage? What would you even do against me?" the zoroark snarled.
    "Yeah, I think you'd be better off fighting me," Malgam said as he approached the scene, crossing his arms. "It's time for you to take your punishment!" Xerxes turned back to the eevee, the look of angry confusion still painted on his face.

    "What is the meaning of this? I have done nothing wrong!" the dark type exclaimed, readying himself.

    "I told you not to speak to her yet. If you're so impulsive, how can I trust you to back me up out there?" Malgam explained in a tone that would be used to chastise a child. Xerxes had nothing to say in response to this, spreading out his arms and legs slightly in anticipation of the fight. Malgam quickly brainstormed and realized that he had nothing to properly combat a dark type. He cursed internally, wishing more than ever that he had the sylveon form he so deserved! He knew that zoroarks were very speedy creatures, so he went ahead and chose the form that would give him a step up over his agility.

    In a flash, Malgam evolved into a jolteon, parts of the fur on his scalp, neck, and rear jutting out in intimidating spike shapes. Electricity coursed across these spikes, with sparks connecting between some of the protrusions. He grinned down at the zoroark, who did not appear daunted in the slightest.

    The dark type launched forward, his speed just as impressive as Malgam expected. The jolteon, however, was like a bullet, almost disappearing in thin air as he charged forward and then swerved off to the zoroark's side. He whirled around as Xerxes attempted to regain his footing, his reaction not quick enough to notice where the jolteon went. The electricity dancing on Malgam's fur intensified as he readied a wild charge.

    Before Xerxes could even react, Malgam vaulted forward with blinding speed that turned his image into a lightning bolt. He phased right through the unaware zoroark, a deafening TTZZAPPP reverberating across the room as he made a direct hit. Xerxes screamed in pain, sparks surrounding him as he fell onto his knees. He recovered quickly, however, noticing the jolteon floating in front of him.

    "Now go to your room. You'll get your side of the exchange when you actually do something," Malgam ordered. Xerxes was not finished. The zoroark pushed forward with his powerful legs and launched himself at the jolteon recklessly. The sudden move caught Malgam off guard and he attempted to hover to the side. The zoroark's reflexes were quick this time as he stretched out a claw to grab Malgam by the head. With a mighty swing, Xerxes tossed Malgam against the wall, the jolteon bouncing off hard with all the air in his lungs forced out. Xerxes followed up with a dark pulse, an undulation of black and purple energy rippling out of his body and colliding with Malgam, enveloping him in a dark aura. Several small explosions of the energy sent the jolteon flying into the wall again, knocking him out momentarily. Hitting the floor, Malgam stirred and attempted to recollect himself, lifting his upper body to see Xerxes stomping towards him, his rage still present.

    Suddenly, a bright, purple blur crashed into the zoroark's skull from his left, sending him careening in the air at least several feet and crumpling into a heap on the floor. Malgam looked back over to the source of the blow and, to his utter surprise, saw Malice standing before him, her fist outstretched.

    "Mega punch?" Malgam slurred, still dizzy from the blow dealt to him.

    "Drain," Malice corrected him without acknowledging his presence. The jolteon just noticed the beads of light dancing around the fist she punched the zoroark with, which eventually sunk into her flesh. She turned, nonchalantly ambling back to her spot. Malgam just stared at her in complete awe, then back at the zoroark who was still as a rock.

    "Did you just...save me?" the jolteon said, baffled.

    "No, you runt. I've been meaning to do that," she replied as she sat back down, her drop slowed and graceful with the support of her psychic energy. Malgam just laughed as he devolved back into his regular eevee form. He continued chuckling as he hovered back into the air, reflecting on what just happened. That just had to be it–Malice really did like him! Well, maybe just a little bit. If she hated him so much, she would have just let the zoroark finish his work. Still, he felt ashamed that Xerxes took him out like that.

    His laughter ending with a sudden scowl, Malgam floated over to the downed zoroark, who was conscious again and stirring. He grabbed the creature's chest scruff and lifted him up, shaking him.

    He shouted, "Have you learned your lesson now!? Don't mess with us!" He threw Xerxes down onto his rump, the dark type grunting in pain. With his paws on his hips in a condescending display, Malgam stated menacingly, "And if you dare leave Mal 'N Mal after what you just did, we will hunt you down. Got it?" Xerxes did not reply, his pride clearly shattered. He struggled to get up, his legs trembling. Xerxes then limped off, grumbling angrily.

    Once the zoroark left the scene, Malgam slowly gazed over his shoulder to find Malice staring at the vault door like usual. The eevee sighed and hovered over to her.

    "Sorry about that," he said quietly, cringing in his apology. "I did tell him not to talk to you."

    "Then there's nothing to be concerned about," she replied. Malgam breathed out in relief, expecting a barrage of insults from the mewtwo. The eevee lord did not know much else to say in this moment and instead tried to remember what he was originally going to speak to the mewtwo about. He clapped his paws together upon regaining his train of thought.

    "Ah, yes! I have an idea of who to go to next," he said excitedly. Malice gazed over at him with her familiar glowering facet. "I got a hunch from a group of my minions that there's this witch Pokémon that lives in a cave someplace in this forest. Can you believe that? A witch!" he laughed at his own remark, realizing how dumb it sounded when he said it himself.

    "A witch?" Malice asked, accenting the word as if never having heard of it.

    "A delphox more specifically. Supposed to be very dangerous. Could be an asset to the team!" he exclaimed with a grin. Malice scoffed, heckling the ambitious eevee.

    "After that pathetic display with that irritant, you think you can take it on?" Malgam grasped his chest as if she pounded it herself, the air knocked out of him by her insult.

    "Well, I just let my guard down a little," he replied in a higher pitch. Malgam then shrugged and floated off. "I'm gonna have a nap, then I'll give her a visit." When he was close to exiting the room entirely, he called out, "Thanks for helping me, by the way!"

    Malice whirled towards his direction, suddenly heated. Before she could do anything, the eevee lord was already gone.
  5. Fidchell

    Fidchell Souls of Fire

    Jan 17, 2017
    Chapter 5, Malgam tries to recruit the vile Witchfox

    Fleur spent nearly an hour trying to locate the stubborn lucario she brought in last night. The lopunny had to waken earlier than usual to help tend to a bayleef that took care of a crop of berries–this crop was one of the main supplies of food for those dwelling in the Sanctuary. When she woke up, she found Hildegard still sleeping and figured that she would still be there by the time she returned. Unfortunately, the help she granted to the bayleef took longer than she thought, and the lucario was nowhere to be found in the building where she slept.

    The lopunny mother figured that Hildegard probably walked out, deciding that this type of lifestyle was not enough. Fleur always had the impression that the lucario preferred facing the dangers of the wilderness rather than settling down. Still, Hildegard did mention she wanted to speak to Sage, and perhaps she had already done so. Fleur would not have been surprised if that was all the lucario cared for before taking her leave. She concluded that it was not worth thinking about.

    Fleur recognized the position of the sun and the shadows painting the forest–it was around noontime and she needed to meet with Sage to begin today's training session. The drill today would be a long period of meditation, which assisted Fleur greatly in grasping inner peace and calmness that she required to come terms with her lingering past. It also helped her in maintaining a collected and tranquil attitude when assisting all the Pokémon of the Sanctuary, which could undoubtedly be a stressful and laborious time.

    Taking a peaceful stroll to the temple where Sage normally resided, Fleur thought she could hear a distinct rustling in the trees surrounding her. Initially she might have figured it was just a heavy draft, but the snap of a twig following shortly after caused the rabbit Pokémon to stop in her tracks. She gazed over to the right where the sound was most prominent and thought she could see a figure hunched down low within the brush. Fleur smiled upon realizing who it was.

    "What are you doing, you silly pup?" she asked with a chuckle as she heard a groan of disappointment come from the vegetation. The young growlithe who was the child of the arcanine she had become acquainted with emerged from the brush with his head bowed.

    "I'm sorry, Miss Fleur," he slurred with guilt. "I'm just practicing."

    "Practicing? Were you going to pounce at me?" the rabbit questioned playfully, eying him with her brow furrowed. The growlithe swallowed nervously.

    "I just learned a new move yesterday. I was wanting to try it out! I wasn't going to hit you though! I won't ever do that, Ma'am!"

    "What? So you were just going to miss on purpose?" Fleur said while crossing her arms. "That might still be dangerous. You could always stumble and wind up hitting me anyway."

    "Yeah, maybe...I've been doing it all night though! I'm getting really good!"

    "What did Sage teach you anyway?"

    "Oh, it was really cool! It was in class. Sage taught me to brace like this." The growlithe squatted down so that his belly nearly touched the ground. "Then I tighten my leg muscles and rush tackle!" The growlithe launched forward in a half-effort, stumbling as he stopped himself from careening into the nearby tree.

    Fleur giggled and asked, "Is that what it's called? Rush tackle?"

    "No! It's called, um, 'take down!' Yeah, that's it!"

    Fleur grinned warmly but then remembered she had to meet with Sage. "Speaking of grandpa, have you seen him anywhere nearby?" The growlithe nodded his head vigorously in response.

    "Yeah! He just came out of his home. He told me he was going to look for Sol."

    Sol. The name rung in Fleur's head like a bell, though she could hardly recall who exactly he was. Fleur could not even remember what species of Pokémon he was, let alone his type. She felt ashamed, once believing she knew every creature inhabiting the Sanctuary by now. She gave another motherly smile to the growlithe and patted his head.

    "Thanks, Rory," she said sincerely. "Run off and see if you can find Xavier and Mana. Last I heard they were hiding from you." The growlithe's jaw dropped in shock.

    "They're playing hide and seek and didn't tell me? Don't worry, Ma'am, I'll find them!" With that, the fire dog bounded off, growling playfully. Fleur watched him disappear into the woods and then reflected some more on this Sol. She could not understand how the name was so familiar and yet she could not conjure an image in her head. No matter–she needed to locate Sagefox. Fleur then slapped her forehead, completely forgetting to ask Rory where the old fox ambled off to.

    Another half-hour later and Fleur found herself in the central opening, the area of the Sanctuary which held the subterranean arena–the place where Hildegard attempted to fight Sagefox. She exhaled deeply in relief once she set eyes on the delphox, who was standing in front of a rundown building to the West. Sage was gazing upward intently towards the roof, as if something caught his undivided attention. The rabbit mother walked up to him quietly, not sure if she should disturb him–it was not often he appeared so concentrated outside of meditation; however, the delphox still heard her coming and blinked, turning to face her with a warm smile.

    "Fleur, my faithful student," he greeted her. Fleur did a meek bow.

    "Sage," she returned. She then pouted a little. "I've been looking for you for almost an hour."

    "Oh, I apologize," he said earnestly. "You see, I had to deal with a couple things." Fleur had no room to argue, as she was aware that despite his position, Sagefox continued to tend to a lot of the Pokémon around the haven with an impressive amount of energy for his age. "One of those being that lucario."

    "Hildegard came to you?" Fleur blurted out, feeling her gut clench. "What did she do?"

    "Don't get so flustered, my dear," Sagefox insisted. "We had a simple conversation is all." Fleur sighed, reassured.

    "Well, you certainly don't look harmed," Fleur muttered. Sagefox turned to look up at the roof of the building again, Fleur following his gaze but not quite detecting what caught his attention.

    He called out, "Sol, you haven't met Fleur yet, have you? Why don't you come on down? She's a student of mine. I'm sure you'll enjoy speaking to her!" The name was spoken once again. Finally, Fleur's curiosity can be sated and she can find out who this "Sol" was. She gave Sagefox a questioning look which he picked up on. "Sol has been around the haven longer than you. He is a gentle and quiet one...maybe too quiet." The delphox chuckled. "He's rather lethargic, honestly."

    "Is he sleeping?" Fleur asked, looking back up at the roof. "Upset maybe?"

    "No, no, he's just being, well, Sol. On nice sunny days like this, it's certain that he will nap the day away like nobody's business." Sagefox gave a deep sigh while shaking his head. "If one thing is sure, sleepy boy is not going to move a muscle at this rate. Perhaps you can head up there and get to know him?"

    "Ah, well, sure," Fleur agreed, meaning to get a look at him in the first place.

    Fleur was told that there were no stairs inside of the building; she would have to climb. Even with her powerful legs she would not be able to get to the top with a single jump. Inspecting around the structure, she could not find any jutting stones, meaning that Sol must have used one of the nearby trees. Fleur pinpointed the closest one, seeing one of the thick branches reaching over to the top of the building. The rabbit Pokémon did not often find herself needing to climb a tree, but it looked like she had to prepare herself this time. She lamented as she gazed at her claws, not looking forward to digging into the tough bark.

    The rabbit grasped onto the body of the tree, which appeared to be bending over to direct her towards the roof. Lunging, Fleur launched herself as high as she could, hugging the tree with her entire body. Cringing with the feeling of the rough bark against her fur, she scaled upwards until she was able to reach the branch. Grasping onto it with one claw, she released the tree's body, swinging like a ragdoll before reaching out with her other hand and getting a tight grip. Fleur continued to climb across until she finally hovered over the roof. She let go, landing without a sound.

    Collecting herself from the rough ascension, she quickly noticed the canopy of leaves were close enough to brush against Fleur's scalp. She crouched down, seeing a figure lounging on its back in the middle of the rooftop. It was a grovyle, and a particularly odd-looking one as well. As Fleur snuck forward, she managed to get a better look at the creature, who was still as a boulder. The grovyle was male and sported a paunch that exemplified his lethargic nature. Fleur had not seen very many grovyle in her lifetime, but she felt something was off about Sol. She noticed that vines were growing across his arms and a set of leaves had grown around the base of his neck. Two extra leaves grew from his scalp next to the long, curving leaf lining the middle that grovyle normally had. What also grabbed Fleur's attention were two sets of two yellow bulbs running down his back, being squished underneath his weight.

    Despite his strange, additional features, Fleur was impressed by the vibrancy of his skin, which was mainly a bright green and then a flashy pink that lined his jaw, ran down his neck, and down his stomach. In the middle of his abdomen was a green stripe that merged with the rest of the green on his body. Even if he was known as lazy, the rabbit felt that his scales were very healthy. The radiance of it gave her the impression that it was undergoing a reaction against the sun's rays.

    Fleur found herself transfixed by the grovyle's figure, so much that she did not notice he was staring right at her.

    "So you're his student," he said, his speech slow and smooth. The rabbit felt her cheeks heat up in embarrassment and she looked into his eyes only for the grovyle's eyelids to close once again. He seemed so relaxed that he might even be able to contest Sagefox himself in a meditation session.

    "Yes, my name is Fleur," she said with a warm demeanor. "And you are Sol?" The grovyle simply gave the slightest of nods. "Well, it's nice to meet you." The grovyle just grunted with a subtle smile, breathing out deeply. Fleur looked around, feeling awkward that Sol had seemingly no interest in carrying out the conversation. Sighing, the rabbit mother spoke up, "Sage says that you have been here for a long time."

    "I guess," he replied, snorting.

    "How long ago has it been? Were there not as many Pokémon here?" she inquired. Sol exhaled audibly, signalling his annoyance.

    "It was years ago, that's all I can really say," he answered bluntly. Fleur pouted a bit, not appreciating his vagueness, though she felt she should not pry.

    "Sorry if I'm annoying you," Fleur said, trying to connect with his feelings. "I'm just curious about you is all. You and Sage seem to have quite some history."

    "I guess you could call it that," Sol stated lazily. "It's not like it's interesting."

    "How did you first meet him, if you don't mind me asking?" Sol creaked upon an eyelid, his brow furrowing as his irritation and impatience grew.

    "So we're just going to jump into life stories now?" Fleur was taken aback, as she was hoping she would not set him off so early. She scrambled to figure out a way to take a step back and fix this.

    "I'm sorry. I only wanted to get to know you. Sage seems to care about you a lot."

    "Stop mentioning him," Sol said sharply, adjusting his position only slightly. He was clearly uncomfortable. "He's just really sentimental. I'm no different from the others to him." Fleur had a cascade of ideas and assumptions floating around in her head now, but she knew better than to continue poking at the grass Pokémon. The rabbit mother hoped that she would never antagonize anyone during her stay in the Sanctuary. Still, she was very disappointed that she was only able to talk to him for such a short time, but she understood what his nature was, and comprehended that if she wanted to stay on his good side and perhaps develop a friendship down the road, she needed to take it slow for now.

    "I'll leave you alone then. Still, it was nice talking," she said amicably after a slight pause. She turned, preparing to take her leave.

    Before she bounded off the rooftop, she heard Sol call out to her softly. "Good to meet you, Fleur."

    With rolled up poster in paw, Malgam set off from this base of operations to meet this "Witch" that he heard about thanks to the endless gossip from amongst his soldiers. The stories he had listened in on caused even him to shiver in fear, but it also made him grossly curious about her power. He had no doubt in his mind that she would make a valuable ally through her abilities alone, but getting her to join in the ranks would be another thing altogether. The little eevee had confidence in himself that he had a chance of wooing her considering he managed to build up what he currently had.

    Malgam floated off towards the direction where the Witch's cave should have been, the sun dipping half-way over the horizon, preparing for its nightly slumber. The sky was vibrant with the beautiful, warm colors of the sunset. The air seemed still with only the chirps of bird Pokémon and whirring of insects echoing across the forest.

    After nearly half and hour, Malgam finally arrived to a peculiar cliff face that stood out from the rest of the surrounding landscape. Even with it being so snug and nestled into the forest's embrace, its sharp, jagged shell stood out from the softness of the sylvan geography like a sore thumb. Its rocky exterior appeared to shine and reflect against the sun's waning rays. Biting his lip with anxiety, Malgam floated upwards and circled around the small mountain, seeking out anything off-putting or outlandish. He noticed it seemed stiller than ever in this specific part of the forest, and it did not help the tension that squeezed his insides.

    Not detecting anything out of the ordinary, the eevee returned to a flat surface against the cliff face that winded along into a pathway. This path emerged into a small crevice cut into the stone that widened to make a terribly ominous opening. Just being close to the entrance of the cave caused Malgam to get a whiff of a most otherworldly stench. The eevee lord thought that he could see subtle smoke wisps trailing across the darkness within. No doubt from what he heard, the Witch would be concocting questionable things made out of the entrails of the innocent. Swallowing nervously, Malgam hovered inward, feeling like the dark of the cavern itself was devouring him. There was no turning back now.

    Malgam traveled across the pitch black corridor, hoping that it would not branch into a convoluted series of labyrinths.

    Tapping his necklace device, he transformed into a flareon, needing a light to guide his way. He ran a finger across his coarse scruff and ignited a small, but bright flame that danced on the end of his claw. He already missed the warm, serenity of the outdoors, feeling as if he were crawling through the insides of some stone beast. The orange light from his flame illuminated the cave adequately and revealed that the pathway was gradually becoming more narrow the further along he went.

    Finally, the flareon discovered another light source aside from his fire. He put out the flame and squinted his eyes to see the path ended at another opening that uncovered a moderately lit chamber. This room appeared to be large and open. His little heart beating in excitement, the flareon pressed onward, tightening the grip he had on his poster. He entered the chamber, which was larger than he imagined. Before him was a pathway surrounded by a black, intimidating pit. The path stretched out into a circular platform, its floor decorated with a malicious carving. Along this platform were torches that were all alight and a set of purple crystals seated towards the right. At the other end of the platform begun another path leading to yet another opening leading into the unknown.

    Malgam gazed along the walls of the chamber to see even more openings. He thought he caught a glimpse of a bunch of noibat and zubat scattered across the ceiling, which was decorated with a variety of stalactites. It was deathly quiet in this chamber aside from the licking flames housing the torch bowls. He shuddered and then turned back into his original eevee form. He did not enjoy the prospect of venturing further down the road, but thought there might not be another choice. The eevee lord even considered turning back, thinking this was not the brightest of ideas. He reminded himself of a story he heard about the Witch turning children into broths.

    Snapping out of his paranoid thoughts, the eevee lord noticed a figure standing at the mouth of the opening ahead, obscured by the thick darkness. From what he saw, it looked somewhat humanoid, a flowing skirt reaching down to its knees and a set of huge, flame-like protrusions attached to its ears. The figure was disturbingly still, glaring at him with a pair of magenta eyes that reminded Malgam of his mewtwo friend.

    It stepped forward to reveal its true form, which was that of a delphox. She had a voluptuous shape–a curve at almost every corner–and her fur was a brilliant mixture of purple, white, and gray. With a sharp snout and a devious grin the female delphox ambled towards him with a strange elegance. Her figure was animated as she moved, the flame-shaped tufts of her ears bouncing along with her fur dress. With every step she took there was a reverberating tap on the stone floor; it felt like ice picks being plunged deeper and deeper into Malgam's ears. The delphox clasped her hands, rubbing them together as if more than pleased to see her next victim.

    Malgam grinned from ear to ear, locking eyes with hers until the delphox stopped at the other end of the platform. The eevee hovered forward until he too was on the juncture between the path and circular terrace. Not wanting to go any further, he revealed the poster grasped in his slightly trembling paw and unveiled it, letting it roll outward. The delphox did not appear interested.

    "You who they call the 'Witchfox?'" the eevee lord asked, his throat feeling uncomfortably tense. The delphox's grin widened, exposing her rows of sharp teeth.

    "Who is asking?" she responded, her voice incredibly chilling, oozing with the very essence of evil. Malgam swallowed and pointed to himself.

    "The name's Malgam, Lord Malgam, that is," he said with as much confidence as he could muster, but it always appeared that Witchfox was one step ahead of him, reading his every thought.

    "Lord, you say?" she chuckled a most shrewd chuckle. "How interesting. Few lords ever give this humble witch a visit." The delphox did a graceful curtsy which caused Malgam's heart to melt. Would this be easier than he thought?

    "Well, word of mouth has led me to you, my dear," he said with a subpar posh tone. "You see, I'm conducting a most prolific battalion, and I need not just any Pokémon, but the strongest in all the world to join me in my quest for world domination." Witchfox crossed an arm over her bosom and scratched her chin with the other claw, appearing engrossed. "Many testimonies have shown me your greatness. You would surely be an asset to our organization." She tilted her head and widened her eyes in surprise.

    "Me? An asset? Oh, you flatter me, my lord," she replied with a judicious chortle. Malgam returned a smile and hovered over to the witch, feeling more comfortable with her. He handed over his poster to her, which she took gently. The delphox female studied the drawing on the piece of paper, the wily grin on her face never diminishing. The eevee's heart raced in anticipation of Witchfox's approval.

    After what seemed like a whole minute, Malgam noticed a bright, purple glow emanating along the bottom edge of the paper. A crackling and crunching noise was heard as the glow grew into a thin row of flames, eating up the poster ravenously. Malgam reached out, his lips quivering.

    "H-Hey, wait," he stuttered as dark, purple ashes spilled onto the ground, the flames now completely engulfing the rest of the poster. Witchfox clapped her hands together, removing the stray dust caking them. Chuckling, she walked over to the eevee, who was still dumbfounded.

    "I don't need a silly drawing to tell me you're worth my time," she cooed as she reached out for the eevee. Malgam found himself unable to move, some strange force holding him in place. He was then wrapped up in her arms, brought close to her warm breast as if she were holding a child. "We'll be so good together, you and I." With that, she lifted a claw and opened it wide, her palm facing Malgam as her eyes began to radiate with a malevolent, magenta light. The light clouded Malgam's vision until the unfortunate eevee lord passed out effortlessly.

    Once Malgam's eyes snapped open, he found himself floating in a void of sickly green. Moving his body around, the eevee felt as if he were submerged in a pool of liquid. Its viscosity was similar to that of normal water, but the color itself threw Malgam for a loop. The eevee strangely did not feel the need to breathe, his chest feeling light. He whirled around, trying to figure out exactly where he was.

    Suddenly he detected a figure in the far distance, subtly clouded by the endless green. Malgam squinted his eyes, unable to tell what it was from this far away. He leaned forward and began to swim, paddling his stubby legs in a desperate attempt to reach this creature or thing, whatever it was. He found himself getting closer, but at an agonizingly slow pace. Eventually he found himself near enough to be able to make out what the figure was–it was the mew that he had seen in his dreams. She was looking away and floating around casually, as if entranced by something.

    Malgam opened his mouth and tried to speak, but a rush of the liquid filled it entirely before he could make a sound. He spluttered, suddenly feeling his lungs tense up painfully, his throat tightening. He choked and swallowed the liquid as he started to swim upwards, feeling like he was about to burst from all the tension.

    As he continued his scramble, the eevee spotted the surface, glistening with brilliant, relieving light. In a frenzy, Malgam swung his arms to and fro, pushing himself up as fast as he could with the remaining energy he had left. His ascent seemed to slow no matter how hard he struggled against the water's weight. Finally, he broke through the radiant barrier above.

    Bursting from beneath the surface with cool, refreshing air awaiting him, Malgam opened his mouth wide to accept the oxygen in big gulps. He coughed hysterically, feeling liquid being forcefully expelled from his mouth. In between this attempt to regain his bearing and ease his breathing, the eevee analyzed his surroundings. He was inside of a small, tight enclosure, an opening at the top leveling with the top of his head. Malgam found himself wading in a pool of green, gently bubbling liquid–it was warm and somewhat relaxing. There were vapors wisping from the surface, and it smelled of something mildly sweet mixed with a pleasant meaty scent.

    The eevee lord suddenly realized what this was. He was inside of some kind of stone pot. The water was not warm enough to cook anything, but the whole scene had his mind racing for answers. He then remembered what he saw right before he passed out: Witchfox. She somehow paralyzed him and then put him to sleep with Hypnosis. The nerve of that delphox! She would soon learn how unwise it was to badger the little lord.

    Swearing under his breath, Malgam reached out for the edges of the pot's opening and struggled to lift himself up. He could barely see his surroundings outside of the cauldron before feeling a heavy force upon his scalp. He splashed into the bubbling liquid once again, the force not leaving his head as he wrestled against it, his rear hitting the bottom of the pot. After several seconds, the force was removed and Malgam tore his way through the surface.

    Coughing and snarling in anger, the eevee shouted. "That's enough funny business! Show yourself, Witch!" Looking up above, Malgam spotted the female delphox leaning forward and peeking in with the most nefarious grin. She chuckled gleefully.

    "Oh, how did you wind up in there, my dear?" she asked with a condescending tone.

    "Explain to me at once what you are up to!" Malgam demanded with a pout. The Witch licked her lips, showing a sharp fang.

    "Basting you, of course," she replied. It amused Malgam how blunt she was, but did he honestly expect a Pokémon like this to act in a complex, civilized manner? "That is a very special seasoning. It's my personal favorite. Why don't you try that floaty thing you do?" Malgam almost slapped himself not realizing that he could just hover out of the pot; however, when he tried to do this, he felt different. The energy he normally concentrated to achieve this was nowhere in him. He could not float.

    "Wow, I'm impressed," he muttered. The eevee was tempted to evolve, thinking there would be no possible way for her to have messed that up too, but he felt he should reserve that surprise for now. He was comforted to find the necklace device was still around his scruff. He doubted this witch knew what it did. Regardless, "So you gonna eat me?" Malgam asked with a snappy tone.

    "Eventually," the delphox drawled, her voice guttural with foreboding. "But I have to let you marinate. They taste so much better that way. Besides," she moved a claw in a wavy fashion, "it will soften the connection between you and your very soul." Malgam scoffed. This sounded too ridiculous to not be a bluff.

    "My soul, huh?" he grunted. "That's pretty funny, Miss, but I think I'll take my leave now."

    "And that broth you are soaking in–it is made of the very essence of children."

    "Okay, I've had enough!" Malgam stated speedily, trying to haul himself back out of the cauldron. Witchfox grasped him with both claws, helping him out, but keeping a firm grip on him.

    "Yes, I believe it is time," she said, licking her chops with a long, frightful tongue. "I can tell your soul will be a scrumptious one. I can hardly wait." With that, the delphox opened her dark, toothy maw, inhaling deeply. Malgam started to feel light-headed, a cold sense of dread forming in his core. Now was the time to act!

    Malgam flashed for a second, transforming into his vaporeon form. With a deep breath of his own, he felt his insides fill with pressurized water. He lurched forward, releasing a powerful jet of water directly into the witch's gullet, causing her to gurgle in shock. She released him, coughing violently as she proceeded to spit out the liquid. Malgam landed and did a quick inspection of his body, noticing the broth no longer soaked him. The liquid might have been released from his body as well when he evolved. He gazed around and found that he was still very much inside the cavern, but in a different, more compact room.

    Looking back at the delphox, Malgam felt a twinge of utter fear in him as malevolent, purple flames formed around the fox Pokémon, dancing with the tune of her building rage. Her eyes glowed as they glared at the vaporeon, her sharp teeth bared as she snarled. Raising her shoulders and stretching out her palms, Malgam saw two violent flames burst out of her hands, engulfing them.

    The vaporeon shifted nervously but kept his stature solid. "That's a lot of fire. You know I just eat all that up, right?" he taunted with a grin. Suddenly, the witch outstretched a hand with blinding speed. The flame was put out, but in its place formed a dazzling, yellow bolt of electricity. Before Malgam could react, the bolt connected with him, a sharp, loud crackling echoing across the cavern as the lightning seared the vaporeon's every muscle. Malgam launched backwards, a trail of smoke following his body as it careened into the wall hard.

    As powerful as the attack was, the vaporeon did not succumb so easily to his injuries. He trembled as he tried to get back onto his feet, wondering feverishly how in the world she managed to pull off an electric attack. He hovered slowly into the air only to find the female delphox approaching him with her hand still outstretched, preparing another bolt of lightning as crackling sparks surrounded her entire arm.

    Malgam grinned and transformed just as the witch fired, turning into his jolteon form. The lightning struck him just in time and it surged around his entire body, eventually soaking into him. Witchfox retracted her arm, growling in exasperation. The jolteon stretched his body outward as if taking in the morning air. He felt rejuvenated thanks to the powerful electricity. Exhaling, he opened his eyes to see the witch flabbergasted. The jolteon grinned devilishly.

    "That was refreshing!" he said excitedly with a menacing chuckle. "You want to keep this up?" Malgam let a stream of electricity dance across his quills. "Or do you want to spare yourself the pain to come?"

    The delphox spat in resentment. Wordless, she prepared a flame attack, rearing back her arm. Malgam reacted, propelling himself forward with breakneck speed that almost made him invisible. He phased through her, sending a mighty bolt across her body. The witch screamed in pain and whirled around, recovering quickly from the blow. Malgam also turned to face her, the two locking eyes.

    Witchfox cackled, rearing back once more. Malgam again sped forward, ready to deliver another wild charge, but the delphox saw this coming. She launched forward and brought down her elbow, catching the jolteon directly on the forehead, knocking him down onto the ground. She hopped back and lifted up her arm, the ground beneath them beginning to shake. Malgam snapped out of his daze and trembled violently with the stone floor. Gasping in realization, he thrusted himself off the ground. A fiery geyser burst from where he used to be, sending rocks and dirt flying everywhere. Malgam shielded himself from the earthen explosion as he rocketed back to safety.

    Once the earth power attack calmed, Malgam found himself unable to rest just yet–an undulating psychic blast rippled through the smoke formed from the geyser, headed straight for him. Malgam evolved once again, this time into an umbreon. He absorbed the psychic attack with ease, using his momentum to strike back with his own attack: a well-aimed dark pulse. Even though she was a decent distance away, the pulse grew to an exceptional size, making escape impossible for the delphox. She braced herself and felt the horrible sting of the dark attack as it enveloped her body. The Witch howled in agony as she succumbed to the intense energy. She crumbled onto the ground, defeated.
    Malgam breathed deeply in relief, watching the downed delphox for a good minute before finally deciding he should approach. The fight was over, but he was not through with her just yet. Staring for a little while longer, the umbreon asked curiously, "Those moves can't be learned by your kind. How did you do it?"

    Witchfox twitched and groaned in pain as she proceeded writhing around weakly. She coughed before replying, "The real question here...is how you evolve the way you do."

    "Uh uh," Malgam snapped back, waggling a single claw. "You answer me first, witch."

    She made a feeble cackle before answering, "Souls."

    "Ah, I see," Malgam acknowledged, scratching his head. "Well, it's the same with me really." Witchfox craned her head to gaze at him in bewilderment. "You see these stones?" he pointed to the gems that decorated his necklace. "They each contain a soul, and that enables me to use each form available to me as an eevee."

    "Ridiculous!" she spat as she struggled to get onto her knees. "You don't know what you're talking about. I know the properties of souls, and what you said is a load of dung!" Malgam laughed, shrugging.

    "Yeah, I guess you're right. I lied," he savored the angered expression she wore. "Anyway, I'm going to give you another chance to join my crew." The witch's eyes widened in shock.

    "You choose not to finish me right here and now? I'll have you know you are the only one to have defeated me in combat," she snarled.
    "Well, like I said, I admire your power, and I have heard much about you," Malgam said, scratching his chin to appear wise. "You'd fit well into our ranks with the moves that you have. What do you say?" The witch bared her teeth in frustration, hating her current position and having been overpowered by the little nuisance. After several seconds, she gazed back at him, a hint of a glow coming from her eyes as she grinned toothily.

    "Sure, I'll bite. But let me reveal something to you, runt."

    Malice sat in her usual spot, hearing a distant door slamming from behind her. She turned to see Malgam floating into the room, giggling with excitement. This entrance did not sit well with the mewtwo.

    "Oh, Pokémon alive! Wait 'til you hear about my day!" he said, bellowing with laughter. Malice growled at him.

    "Not so damn loud!" she snapped. Malgam retracted in a moment of fear, covering his mouth.

    "My bad. Gosh, still so moody."

    "Out with it already. I want you gone as soon as possible." Malgam cringed. Her mood really was not helping, and was quickly drowning out his excitement.

    He cleared his throat and began. "Okay, so I met the witch, yeah? She was actually really nice! We sat down, had a cup of tea and talked over the whole recruitment deal." Malice squinted her eyes as she listened, clearly not believing a word. "But anyway, she said she would love to join, but would prefer remaining in her lair, which is understandable! Get this, though," he folded his arms and grinned proudly. "She spilled the beans about this place not too far from her residence. She called it the Sanctuary and said that a whole bunch of Pokémon are living there. It's some sort of haven." Malice lifted her brow.

    "The 'Sanctuary', huh?" she said with a scoff. Malgam was elated, sensing that she was impressed with him once again.


    "So what are you plotting now, my little explorer?" the mewtwo asked in a taunting fashion. Malgam puffed out his chest.

    "Well! Erm..." he exhaled defeatedly. "I don't think we'll head there just yet. We have to know what we're in for." Malgam looked off to the side, deep in thought. Suddenly, a voice came from behind the two Pokémon.

    "I know where this Sanctuary is." Malgam recognized the shady tone and turned to face the zoroark Xerxes, emerging from the shadows. "And I know who dwells–" he could not finish his sentence as Malgam launched into him, pushing him away. "Hey! What the hell are you doing?" Malgam directed him around a corner and shoved him against the wall.

    "What are you doing? Didn't I tell you not to get near my right hand?" Malgam whispered harshly into his face.

    "I overheard you talking about the haven, so I figured I should chime in," Xerxes explained, irritated by the eevee being so close to him. "I know someone there." Malgam reared back slowly, giving him a stink eye.

    "Go on," the eevee lord muttered.

    "The Sanctuary is a place that houses more than you'd believe. She will be able to explain more."
  6. Fidchell

    Fidchell Souls of Fire

    Jan 17, 2017
    Last chapter of this arc! This one focuses on Malgam and co. visiting the Sanctuary officially.

    Chapter Six: Spreading Word

    Xerxes, Bernard, and Plume ambled into Malgam's domain with not a single idea of what was to be discussed. The eevee lord wished for a meeting with the three right-right-hands, and they collectively guessed that they were going to receive their first real mission outside of recruitment and quelling the restless wild Pokémon causing trouble in the facility; however, when they did enter the eevee's room, he was nowhere in sight. There against the wall sat his box fort still set up in its usual fashion. Everything appeared to be in its place, including the spire of stone jutting from the floor, and the three Pokémon wondered where he could possibly be.

    Xerxes scoffed and walked off to the side.

    "He can't even be punctual. But what can you expect from a kid like him?" the zoroark muttered in frustration. Plume gazed over at him, biting her lip in concern. She looked over at Bernard, who appeared slightly puzzled but all around indifferent to Xerxes' issues. The lycanroc seated himself on his haunches and looked away, patiently waiting.

    After a few minutes, the sliding door from behind the trio hissed as it opened, revealing a hovering Malgam with a smirk communicating a recent resolve. He floated forward, Plume and Bernard sidestepping to make way. He got comfortable behind his box fort, sitting his rear on the couch and leaning back lazily so that only his upper back supported him. He gazed off into the distance dreamily and the trio looked at each other in confusion. Another awkward pause followed before the eevee finally spoke up.

    He said, beaming, "Thank you guys for joining me. Sorry I was late, just had a bit of a problem."

    "A problem, huh?" Xerxes said with a disparaging tone. Malgam detected it and pouted.

    "Hey! Your Lord is always busy. At times, something will come up and make everything more complicated. That's just the way it is." Breathing deeply, he continued with a grin, "Now then, the reason we are all here." He sat up, puffing his chest out and crossing his arms. "I have finally come up with the appropriate name for our glorious army. We will now be known as Team Malgam!" He spread out his arms as if having succeeded in a splendorous display, but the audience was not terribly amused. Even Plume looked perplexed at the reveal. Malgam cleared his throat, feeling irritated. "Well, that will be that whether or not you like the name. On to the next topic of discussion!" He hovered once again, observing his henchmen with excitement. "Have any of you ever seen a Pokémon called 'sylveon?'"

    The three Pokémon eyed each other with mutual, wordless bewilderment. Xerxes looked off indifferently, Plume lowered her head in shame, and Bernard sat with a worried expression, his eyes darting around. Malgam sighed, slapping his face with a paw. "So all of you have...no idea whatsoever?"

    "I think I might have heard of it," Plume spoke up quietly, to which Malgam zipped over to her, his eyes wide with thrill.

    "Tell me everything you know, Plume! Tell me!" Malgam commanded. The quilava shrank back with fear.

    "Well, I don't really know much, Lord Malgam, but why do you want to know about it so badly? It's just very pink and...girly?" she said, giggling nervously. Malgam's face slowly sank into one of extreme disappointment. He scowled at Plume, who tried to avoid looking into his glowing, piercing eyes in fear of blinding herself. Suddenly there was a flash and Malgam evolved into vaporeon, inching in closer to the frightened quilava.

    "You know nothing! Pink and girly? You do realize that sylveon is the most powerful form? Why else would the humans have not given me it? It's obviously so threatening that they hid it from me!" he hovered even closer to Plume until the frill around his neck touched her body. "Until I have that precious form I will never reach my full potential, do you understand me?!" Plume nodded vigorously, her eyes watering. Malgam retracted and devolved back into his original form, sighing deeply and shaking his head. Bernard gazed over at the shaking quilava sympathetically while Xerxes eyed Malgam with a slightly impressed countenance. The eevee lord did not want to show any bit of emotional weakness, but even he could see he went too far. "I apologize for that, my dear," he said, his throat feeling choked with embarrassment. "This subject is just quite sensitive to me, as you now know." He turned around to see Bernard had put a paw on Plume's back in comfort. The lycanroc retracted it immediately upon the eevee lord seeing them. Malgam pretended to not notice. "So, you know nothing else about it?" he asked Plume, who shook her head.

    "The question still stands. Why do you long for this sylveon?" Xerxes questioned.

    "I'm glad you asked, my masked friend! I carry all the forms my kind can evolve into except for that fairy type. I've tried scouring the humans' cache for information but could find hardly anything. This is clearly a powerful form that will greatly benefit me, so that will be an underlying goal for us." He chuckled heartily. "Even if it is pink and girly, all I am truly interested in is its awesome power. Finding other sylveon could lead to grand discoveries and knowledge about their capabilities." He paused, looking down at his trio who were giving him passing glances. "But enough about that. Let's talk about our next mission! This will be a big one, so listen up!"

    Malgam proceeded to spill out his plans to infiltrate the Sanctuary in as nonchalant of a way as possible. The haven was not meant to be closed down or have fortified walls so that only a special community could reside in it–the place was wide open for exploitation and would make a great target for recruiting even more Pokémon. These creatures were under specific care and one could say that a civilization was being reborn through it through the leadership of a certain few Pokémon. Xerxes revealed that one of them, a mienshao, had met with him before and expressed her own concerns and grievances over the haven. She also had bountiful knowledge of the haven's layout as well as its more extraordinary residents.

    The eevee met with his right-right-hands as well as a few more Pokémon outside of the building, those including a lombre, a linoone, and a machoke. Malgam had told Malice where they were headed to, like a father leaving for work, to which she responded with a passive grunt. As hard as it might have been for other Pokémon to notice, Malgam realized the mewtwo was indeed in a better mood ever since she began feasting on pokepuffs. The eevee lord preferred that this continue, as getting on her good side would be incredibly beneficial–thus, he made it a side mission to ensure their pokepuff supply remained steady and that they were served to Malice regularly.

    With a stack of posters tied onto the lombre's lilypad-shaped frill sitting on its head, the ensemble trotted off towards the direction of the Sanctuary, led by Xerxes. The zoroark's knowledge of the haven would surely make this expedition a little easier, but Malgam knew the hardest part would be the recruiting process itself. The Sanctuary would be teeming with Pokémon, but it would be an outlandish mixture of wild Pokémon and more civilized ones, possibly ones that used to belong to humans, according to the zoroark. There would be all sorts of reactions to their drive, and though Malgam has experienced this first-hand, the Sanctuary still had a form of a societal structure that could bring the denizens together and cause them to go against the group's push. Regardless of all this, the eevee felt confident this mission would be a success. He was destined to be ruler of all things!

    After a half-hour trek, Xerxes finally stopped the group, urging their silence. The Pokémon listened and whirled around, trying to figure out what had alarmed the dark type. He turned to Malgam and gave him a nod.

    "We are within the boundaries," Xerxes confirmed quietly. Malgam looked confused.

    "How do you know that?" the eevee said, observing their surroundings which appeared no different.

    "It's subtle, I know." Xerxes bent down to scour around the roots of a nearby tree. The Pokémon watched on intently as he swept his claw around the grass and dirt until he revealed a shining stone. He picked up this stone and showed it to the rest of the party, their eyes glistening in interest. "I was told these stones are set around the perimeter, so we are officially in the Sanctuary."

    "Well," Plume piped up, "technically, you are." Xerxes just glared at her in annoyance along with the others, to which the quilava shrank back with a cheeky grin.

    "Anyway," Bernard started, "I guess this means we should lay low?"

    "There's no reason for that," Xerxes answered. "Pokémon can wander in and out as they please. It's not that strict. You, however," the zoroark pointed to Malgam, who lifted his lower lip in disregard.

    "What about me?" he asked with a miffed countenance.

    "You are going to stand out quite a bit," Xerxes explained, Malgam scoffing in response.

    "Well, I guess you aren't wrong. What should we do about it?"

    "For one, you floating in midair would put a lot of the residents off," the zoroark said. There were murmurs of agreement across the crowd, causing Malgam to huff in annoyance.

    "Fine then, but I'm keeping the cape," the eevee lord declared, hovering to the ground until his four stubby feet touched the ground.

    "What about your...eyes, Lord Malgam?" Plume pointed out shyly. Malgam blinked a few times, then stamped a foot in further irritation.

    "There's nothing to do about that. Can we just get on with this? What about you?" he gestured towards the zoroark. "You look pretty villainous and all. I'm sure Pokémon would shudder at the sight of that mug."

    Xerxes growled quietly and said, "I have illusion powers. There's no need to worry about me. Besides, we've already went over this. I'm going to be meeting with the mienshao for further information on the ancient Pokémon that dwell here."

    "Right, right, whatever," Malgam said with an aloof swish of his front paw. "We'll do all the actual work then. Come on guys."

    "Just a moment," the poster-carrying lombre called out. "You think we should split into smaller groups? If we all go in at once, I think that would also make others suspicious." Malgam thought for a while, his eyes darting around. He then lifted his head, giving the lombre a knowing look and a smile.

    "I like the way you think, Mr. Lilypad Head!"

    Bernard and Plume proceeded to group together, carrying a good chunk of the pile of posters and heading out to start the recruitment drive. The other group consisted of the machoke, lombre, and linoone. Malgam and Xerxes headed out on their own paths, analyzing the haven and what activities went on there.

    The zoroark hid himself well in the shade and vegetation, looking out for the fancily dressed mienshao. He also seeked a random Pokémon that he could use the image of create his illusion. The eevee lord was correct in pointing out his intimidating figure alone would most certainly arouse suspicion. Some might even recognize him, as he was a rather infamous assassin.

    Coming across a lone building out in a clearing, Xerxes quickly crouched within a thick brush upon seeing a Pokémon ambling out of its entrance. The Pokémon was a female lucario, who carried an impressively athletic and lithe figure and wore human clothing, more specifically, a tattered, brown jacket open at the front. Her spikes were filed, something that definitely caught the zoroark's eye. He studied her figure well and memorized the texture and shapes of the clothes she wore. Despite already using a lucario's image once in his life, he needed to blend in as effectively as possible and get every last detail down.

    The female lucario stretched, tilting her neck left to right with a jaw-popping yawn. She walked off just in time for Xerxes to become confident with the image he had taken in. He crossed his arms across his chest and closed his eyes, a light wind swirling around him as his dark power carried forth, twisting his shape into the image of the same Pokémon he studied. He emerged from the bushes, taking up her exact appearance down to the red wristbands, filed spikes, and curly tail. He looked down at himself, admiring his new figure, and then went off to continue his search for the mienshao, keeping an eye out for the lucario as well, Arceus forbid they bump into each other.

    It was not long before the zoroark encountered the female lopunny he had been told about by the mienshao. Before he could waver and keep out of sight, the rabbit Pokémon had already spotted him.

    "Hildegard!" Fleur called out, walking towards Xerxes with urgency. The zoroark swallowed dryly, cursing internally. Even though he took up her figure perfectly, he did not necessarily know the lucario's personality, memories, or habits. He tried to go off of what she appeared to be like, thus he simply scowled at the lopunny as if wanting her to get it over with already. She did not seem to notice anything off about his illusion as she continued, "Have you seen a vaporeon around recently? I noticed he has been gone for a while. He was wandering around a lot. Maybe he got lost." Xerxes could not help but think about Malgam and amused himself upon the thought of him having once been a part of this ridiculous place.

    To answer her, Xerxes simply shook his head with a grunt, unable to emulate Hildegard's voice even with the illusion. The lopunny sighed and looked off. "Yeah, I figured you wouldn't have. Nevermind then. Did you rest well?" Xerxes felt his gut clench, irritated that this conversation had branched off to something else. He feared simply ignoring and leaving her would rile suspicion, but he was surprised that he did not bewilder her thus far. The cloaked zoroark nodded lazily, turning his head impatiently.

    "Not very talkative, are you?" the rabbit asked, her face skewing with playful skepticism. The zoroark eyed her with frustration and exhaled loudly, walking off while every muscle in his body tensing up. After a few paces, the lopunny said in clear annoyance, "Well, I'll see you later then." Her having said this brought a great sensation of relief to the dark Pokémon and he looked over his shoulder to see she was indeed ambling away. He relaxed himself, catching his breaths. That encounter was too close for comfort. He decided to walk the remainder of the way concealed by the thicker parts of the woods–it would have been an unpleasant stroke of luck if he happened upon the lucario next.

    Eventually coming across a distinct clearing with toppled stone pillars and eroded, decrepit stone buildings, the zoroark picked up the scent of something pleasant in the air–it was not just the beautiful flowers that had decorated the field in speckled formations, it was a scent that could have only been concocted by another's hands. Wandering the meadow, Xerxes noticed a figure standing against one of the broken down walls in the distance. Approaching the figure, he was happy to see that it was the mienshao MeiLi, adorned in her usual lavish apparel. She noticed the disguised zoroark as he neared her, the stone-cold look on her face unchanging. Xerxes initiated the greeting that the two of them shared privately, him pulling off an elegant bow with an arm bent, his claw touching his breast. MeiLi returned the gesture with a meek grin.

    MeiLi and the zoroark proceeded meandering across the fields, talking about future plans and the culture of the Sanctuary.

    "At night, I am expected to keep restless ghosts at bay," the mienshao said with a hint of pride.

    "Ghosts?" Xerxes muttered, scoffing in disbelief. "You did not tell me anything about ghosts."

    "I'm sure you know this, but the Sanctuary holds ground on the same place that a human civilization once thrived," she pointed out, Xerxes scratching his neck while in thought.

    "That is quite interesting. How are you even able to do it?" the zoroark asked, keeping in mind the mienshao's type and how they normally have a difficult time with ghosts.

    "I come from a long lineage of clerics, though in previous generations, only one was chosen to indulge in such practices. My current family all consist of clerics, having exceptional skill in pacifying spectral nuisances." Xerxes thought about how she could have still fallen into such a strange role with the reputation her kind garnered, but MeiLi seemed to have read his mind. "These skills are not taught to any Pokémon. This goes beyond what a Pokémon is normally capable of, learning abilities coded into their DNA. Through connection of Pokémon and human were we able to achieve such feats. But you are likely wondering why I bring this up in the first place."

    Xerxes and she stopped at a circular stone platform embedded into the ground, something the zoroark could not see due to the unkempt plant life littering the meadow. Xerxes eyed the mienshao in anticipation as she squatted down to brush a paw against the patterned stone floor.

    "The Sanctuary is host to a handful of legendary and rare Pokémon," she stated. Xerxes' eyes widened in attentiveness. "You spoke to me about a Pokémon you have teamed up with, hm?"

    "Ah, yes," the zoroark confirmed after a pause. "The eevee."

    MeiLi chuckled and said, "Depending on another, yes? That is quite unlike you."

    "It isn't like that," Xerxes growled at her timidly. "I hoped you wouldn't see me that way."

    "Of course not, my apologies," she said with a small smile. "There always has to be something in it for you. But what attracted you to this...eevee?" The zoroark grunted, hesitating to answer for several seconds.

    "I prefer not to answer," he finally said. "Let's just get down to business."

    "Very well," MeiLi agreed with a skeptical tone. "But do tell me what exactly he wishes for."

    The zoroark spat in contempt and hissed, "Honestly, he's too damn young to understand what he wants. He is simply going through a power trip."

    "Yet you've joined him anyway."

    "He has something that I want," Xerxes snapped. "And that's all there is to it. Anyway, the damn kid wants to take over the world or some crazy stuff like that. He also wishes to acquire a form that he does not have."

    "Which one is that?"

    "He called it 'sylveon.' I thought you might know something about that creature." MeiLi put a paw underneath her chin, looking off in deep thought.

    "If my memory serves me correctly, that would be a fairy type. I haven't seen many of those. You say he wishes to acquire the form?" she questioned, confused at Malgam's unique ability to morph at will.

    "Basically. The kid can swap out his form into almost every evolution available to his line. He is absolutely obsessed with getting this fairy type." MeiLi was amused by this, her chuckling causing her decorative figure to bounce.

    "As absurd as that may be, the world is host to many fantastic things. Regardless, I may know of a way for him to be able achieve his desire. It lies in the secret of the rare Pokémon that slumber underneath these grounds. Listen well."

    Malgam thought that by now he had seen every inch of the Sanctuary, but he could hardly keep grasp of a sense of direction. While the haven did have plenty of landmarks, the eevee lord could not see anything that stood out as a boundary setter, and he could not locate anymore of the shiny stones that Xerxes found. He felt that thinking on this would serve as nothing but an unwelcome contributor to his quickly growing headache. He concluded that as long as he could something stand out other than trees and shrubs, he was still within the haven.

    A stack of posters hovering over him with the aid of his telekinetic powers, he emerged through a thicket with some difficulty. Malgam noticed that he had come across a clearing larger than the ones he had seen thus far. In this clearing was a delphox with a thick, aged coat. He was standing before a multitude of smaller Pokémon, children most likely. After a discussion that the eevee could barely hear, the delphox led the crowd of little Pokémon into the nearby structure. The opening was large enough to fit the entire group if they were to have gone in huddled close. Over the building were dense treetops with vines that hung down almost in a purposeful, decorative manner, and around the building were shrubs and flowers that looked like they were planted in a deliberate pattern. As soon as the group disappeared into the building, curiosity overcame the eevee lord, and he went after them on all fours, still annoyed by not being able to hover.

    Before Malgam entered the building, he crept over to the side and pressed against the wall, leaning forward and gazing into the opening with a single eye. He set the posters down next him and studied the scene within. The delphox was busy arranging a multitude of berries across a wooden table. He was standing on a short platform at the other end of the building, and the children were seated on cushions in neat rows. They were chattering excitedly as the delphox continued his work. They all calmed down as he faced them with his hands behind his back, announcing without a word that a session was to begin. Malgam guessed that this must have been a classroom, but what could they possibly learn about? The world was not that complicated, at least not to him. The eevee imagined all they could be learning was type distinction, moves, and plants, but how boring that was! Malgam was intrigued enough by the fact that there was an actual school being run in this place; it reminded him of his younger years when he had gone through countless experiments and test sessions with the humans who treated him rather well.

    Snapping out of his reminisce, Malgam's ears perked up upon hearing the delphox speaking.

    "Now, children, you have probably seen these berries being grown across the fertile fields to the East," the delphox stated tenderly.

    "Oh, yes! I like that one! The green one!" a chikorita piped up excitedly.

    "Marmalade makes the best berries!" a ducklett followed with a joyful quack. The old fox chuckled warmly.

    "Ah, Marm indeed has lent her wonderful skills in helping our berry trees grow with such splendor. They've proven to have turned out quite fruitful."

    "Fruit? Was that a joke?" a suspecting fomantis squeaked. The delphox shook his head and laughed along with the other children.

    "I assure you it was not my intent. That having been said, our berries are essential to our way of life. They are very nutritious and uphold our haven's standards by easing us away from predation. Do you all remember that word? Predation?"

    A Jangmo-O raised a claw vigorously, "Oh! Oh! That's when a big scary predator eats another Pokémon!" The other children gasped and whispered amongst themselves.

    "That is correct, Clive," the old fox confirmed with an assuring nod. "In the Sanctuary, we must all live in harmony. Berries have proven to be edible for all Pokémon, and our wonderful variety of fruits can satisfy the most finicky of tastes, rest assured."

    "Marmalade is so great! I want to be like her one day!" the chikorita piped up again, beaming.

    "And I'm sure you will, Clover. All of you can, and your knowledge of each berry will be very important in our future," the delphox said with spread arms. Malgam thought it was about time to join this class. He was not sure how they would react to him, but he had to make his presence known one time or another. He hoped that the others were doing well in their tasks, especially that sneaky zoroark.

    The eevee waltzed into the room as casually as he could, taking a seat on a cushion next to a smoochum, who eyed him in confusion. Malgam tried to avoid its gaze and just looked onwards with a nonchalant grin. The delphox himself did not seem to pay much mind to him, as he went on to test the children's knowledge of the berries he had laid out. The clamor of excited voices seemed to have done well in making him mostly unnoticed. The smoochum, however, was very curious of him.

    "Who are you?" she asked. Malgam's cheeky grin grew wider as he pretended not to have heard the Pokémon. "Are you an eevee? You look funny. What's wrong with your eyes?" Malgam's fear had just reared its ugly head. His swirling, rainbow eyes were going to grab attention, for sure, but he did not think a child would have been able to distinguish him from a regular eevee that quickly.

    Malgam continued to ignore the smoochum and raised his hand along with the other children, trying to blend in further with the crowd. He heard the smoochum huff in annoyance but she did not say another word.

    Good, he thought to himself, Keep your mouth shut, you little cretin.

    Sagefox felt the air about the classroom change when the eevee walked into it. A new sort of aura had emanated and proved an unwelcoming presence. He could not quite put a claw on the last time he felt an aura such as this, but from the eevee's eyes alone, he knew that something was amiss. Still, he learned long ago not to judge so hastily, and decided not to make a scene of the strange eevee. He already knew that the eevee was not among the crowd of children that he normally held classes with, but perhaps he was a new entry to the Sanctuary. If that were the case, Sage could not simply refuse his company.

    The class went on until the old fox began to teach the children about the advantages and dangers of double battling.

    "Certain moves have a wider range, as you all well know. Some Pokémon prove themselves to be invaluable allies in the grueling process of the double battle. Do you all remember the move that we have last gone over?" the delphox asked.

    The ducklett raised a wing, to which the delphox nodded towards him. "Helping Hand?" the bird Pokémon answered shyly with a slight inflection.

    "That's correct, Bill! Indeed, Helping Hand is a fantastic and useful move to carry with you into combat for these types of situations. We did practice this move in a previous session. Do any of you wish to demonstrate it again?" The delphox's heart skipped a beat upon seeing the unusual eevee with his odd necklace raise a paw, his grin causing the old fox to shudder despite how innocent it initially looked.

    "Allow me!" the eevee said with an overly confident tone. Everyone stared at him in bewilderment as he ambled up towards the stage, his rump comically swinging back and forth as if in a dancing motion. The delphox concealed his unease with a cordial smile and made way for the eevee. The glowy-eyed creature faced the class with a smug countenance. "I will show you all the best and most optimal fashion to execute this move."

    The eevee suddenly leapt up onto his hind legs with surprising grace. Lifting up his two front paws, he clapped them together, first to the left, and then twisting his body to clap them once more to his right. A spherical aura manifested from his small paws and undulated outwards, which caused all the children to go "Ooo!" in unison. Suddenly, an orange flash shone radiantly on everybody, including Sagefox, which incited a series of hysterical chattering from all the children.

    "How did you–?" the delphox muttered in awe, to which the strange eevee turned his head to eye him with pompous delight. The children turned their full attention to the eevee, bombarding him with their exuberance.

    "That was so cool!"

    "That was the best Helping Hand ever!"

    "I can only do that to one Pokémon!"

    "Show us how you did that!"

    The eevee shook his paws in a dissuading gesture. "Easy, guys, easy! I just have a lot of experience. It's something your teacher here has to have you practice for a long time. Isn't that right?" he asked Sagefox, the delphox's jaw agape, unable to grasp the eevee's capabilities. How could someone have pulled off that move with an area of effect such as that? Not even he could accomplish that!

    The delphox quickly gathered himself and nodded, outstretching an arm towards the children. "That is correct. It takes a good deal of relentless practice and concentration. Now please! Everyone back to your seats." The children reluctantly returned to their spots, chattering still about the wondrous display the eevee made.

    One of them shouted out, "Hey! Mr. Eevee! Could you show us another cool move?" Malgam grinned, more than happy to impress the excited children further. He turned to face the delphox teacher.

    "Alright, Sir, do you think you could do something for me?"

    "Hm? What would that be?" the old fox asked, adjusting his spectacles.

    "Go ahead and hit me with one of your more powerful moves!" Malgam said bravely, puffing out his chest and chubby stomach as if anticipating an attack at any second. The delphox looked back at his students, who were starting to cheer him on, though he appeared very unsure.

    Gazing back at Malgam, he shook his head and said, "Do you mean that? I'm not sure we should commit to something so violent in front of all the children."

    "I'll be fine, geezer, now hit me with all you got!" Malgam sneered, causing the delphox to reel back and wrinkle his nose. The fire Pokémon then chuckled deeply, taking a couple steps back and removing his wand from his bushy tail.

    "Very well. What will you be demonstrating to the children is my question."

    "You'll see. Just hit me with something you fire types do. Like a fire blast or whatever," Malgam ordered with a slightly condescending tone. Pointing the stick at the eevee, the delphox prepared his attack, an intimidating glow of destructive flames forming at the tip. With start-up speed that took the eevee off guard, a five-pronged projectile of intense fire ejected from the delphox's wand, racing towards Malgam. The eevee reared back and extended his stubby arms, casting forward a radiant sheet of light, that expanded to cover his entire figure from his front. The fire blast collided with the light shield, accompanied with a blinding flash and a sound similar to two hollow, metallic objects banged together. The projectile was extinguished, dying in a flurry of dancing embers.

    Malgam seemed shaken for a bit, his eyes shut tightly. He noticed the fire was put out and gazed forward. His light shield had disappeared as well. There was a heavy silence in the classroom as the eevee collected him, brushing his neck tuft and smirking while admiring the kids' astonished expressions.

    "Protect. A very useful move indeed!" he said confidently.

    "Watch yourself, little eevee," the delphox uttered. Malgam whirled back at the delphox to see him pointing the wand at him and, once again, preparing another fire blast. He did not appear even remotely phased at ejecting the powerful move only seconds ago. Malgam braced himself as another death-dealing projectile raced towards him. He attempted to bring up his shield again, but, to his sheer terror, it would not rise to aid him. His heart skipped a beat as he saw the projectile closing in, ready to devour him. The eevee leapt off to the side, barrelling into the crowd of children as the fire blast swept over him, singeing some of the fur on the right side of his body.

    Malgam groaned as he tried to lift himself back up, some of the children coming to his aid and helping him. The eevee chortled, acting unimpressed, and giving an acknowledging nod to the children once he was back onto his stubby paws. He ambled back onto the stage, feeling his limbs shaking a bit from the narrow escape.

    "That was quite a cheeky move you just pulled!" Malgam exclaimed, the children laughing. "But, you see, that's why you can't always rely on that move."

    "That is correct, children," the delphox said with a scholarly tone that annoyed the eevee. "Protect might be useful, but it has less of a chance to be summoned in succession. That means if you keep using it back to back, it is less likely to work."

    "Yeah," Malgam muttered, snorting. "I do have one more thing to show you guys!" he said with a sudden excited demeanor, facing the inspired children. The delphox looked at him with wonderment.

    "Oh dear, you're full of interesting tricks, aren't you?" he asked. The eevee ignored him and then extended his paws towards the entrance of the building. The children gazed over at the doorway to be greeted by a stack of posters that were floating towards the stage, a blue aura engulfing them. The kids gasped and wowed in collective acclaim. Malgam started to move his paws in a shuffling fashion and each of the posters in the stack separated, flying towards each of the children, and even the sagely delphox. All of them studied the posters intently, some very amused by the drawings and chattering with each other about it. The old fox in particular looked skeptical and slightly puzzled.

    "Ah, I see," the delphox said in understanding. "So you're a part of a traveling band of entertainers!" The eevee glared at him in irritation.

    "Mal and Mal is a veritable organization looking for able-bodied, strong, and willing individuals to help in working towards a great cause!" the eevee boasted.

    "Is that so?" the delphox asked, staring him down while rolling up the poster.

    "I would heavily recommend you all consider this amazing opportunity," Malgam said, looking towards the children and raising his voice. "We can provide shelter, exquisite meals, and protection from all opposers!"

    "Interesting," the old fox acknowledged while scratching the tuft of fur on his chin. "But I think I will dismiss this class for now. Everyone, it's time for lunch!"

    As the excited children exited the classroom still holding onto the posters, Sagefox felt a tingling sensation of uncertainty in his gut. He noticed the strange eevee walking out of the classroom behind the others and he shouted out to him.

    "Excuse me, little eevee!" The stubby creature stopped in his tracks without facing the delphox for a few seconds, and then looked at him with an agitated expression. "Those were quite some impressive feats you've shown the children. Thank you for that." The eevee scoffed with a grin.

    "Anytime, old fox. If you'll excuse me I have some things to attend to."

    "Let me tell you something," the delphox said over him, suddenly sounding serious. "I'm not sure who you work for, but you cannot lure in children to your cause like you have."

    The eevee's face distorted into that of pure consternation. "Are you for real? I don't work for anybody! I am Lord Malgam of Mal and Mal Corporations! My claims are true and my credentials are legitimate!"

    "I'll take your words with a grain of salt," the delphox stated firmly. "I don't mean to upset you, but certain Pokémon have not taken kindly to our community and seek to attack us."

    The eevee huffed with frustration, appearing offended.

    "Think what you want, geezer. Ultimately, it's up to them and everyone else what they want to do with their lives. You shouldn't think otherwise." With that, the eevee exited the classroom.

    Once he disappeared out of sight, the delphox sighed raggedly, feeling uncomfortable. He left the building, welcomed to the sight a familiar female lopunny who was approaching him from his right. What was at first a relieving encounter became a heart-shaking moment as Sagefox saw that she too was holding one of Malgam's posters in her hand.

    Fleur inspected the poster with curiosity and said to the delphox, "Did you get one of these? I noticed a handful of Pokémon were walking around with them."

    The delphox's voice low with concern, he replied, "Yes, I also got one."

    "Does it disturb you too?" the lopunny asked. The delphox adjusted his spectacles, sighing deeply.

    "This feels too coordinated to be Ingrid's work. Come with me, Fleur." The two proceeded to venture across the Sanctuary grounds, seeing that all the Pokémon residing in the haven were in possession of a Mal & Mal Corporation poster, including Hildegard.

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