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Fanfiction PMD Worldforged Exile

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Tolerance, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    Fanfiction Link or AOOO Link

    In a world without humans, Pokémon have created a society for themselves. One night, an eevee named Vanilla finds himself lost in confused after being chased from his home by mysterious forces. After befriending a local calling herself Chocola, Vanilla must discover, what happened to his family, and more importantly, how he can help them.

    ~The History of Exile~​

    In a time lost to legend, the land of Exile found itself separated from the outside world. Finding themselves separated from the human realm, powerful Pokémon fought freely for control of territory and the evolution stones they needed to increase their power.

    Not much could be done to stop them since, without human intervention, evolution had become rare. Stones containing the energy necessary to evolve became increasingly sought-after treasures. This constant power struggle between Pokémon lasted until the discovery of the Legendary Evolution Stone.

    Discovered by a group of eevee and their evolutions, the Legendary Evolution Stone could be used to evolve any Pokémon capable of evolution, and unlike the normal stones, it never seemed to run out of energy. Power struggles continued for a time, but the eevee families now possessed the ultimate tool with which to quell the opposition.

    Eventually, they were the only significant power left, and the Eevolution Council was formed. The battles of legend became as rare as the stones used to promote them, and Pokémon of every type, regardless of their numbers, now had a voice in the goings on of their home. Since then, the lands of Exile have only known peace.

    Until now...

    ~Vanilla's Nightmare~​

    Vanilla collapsed in what he suspected was some sort of meadow. Even if there was enough light for him to see, he doubted he'd know where he was at the moment, he'd been running for so long. Raised as a family member of one of the Convocity Council houses, he'd never really ran, well, anywhere before.

    Running was hard, he'd learned over the course of the night. Through his panted breath and pounding heartbeat, he'd eventually heard the sound of running water somewhere nearby. Suddenly noticing how exceptionally parched he was, the eevee made the effort to peel himself off of the ground. To his recollection, he'd never really been thirsty before either. Somehow, it was worse than the running.

    Quickly finding the nearby stream, even in the darkness, Vanilla solved at least one of his problems.

    Seemingly unable to hold himself up any longer, the eevee finally had time to think. What happened? The last thing he remembered was his mom waking him up in a panic.

    "...come one, Sweetie, please wake up."

    "Mom?" Vanilla said, rubbing his eyes to bring the image of his mother into focus.

    "Oh, thank Arceus! Come on Vanilla, we need to hurry. The older eevee said in a worried tone.

    "Wha-what's going on," Vanilla replied, the sleepiness still stubbornly fighting his against wakefulness.

    Cream's ears swiveled around at something in the distance. "I'll tell you later, Dear, but for now, I just need you to follow me, okay?"

    Now he could hear it too, someone was shouting at something in the compound courtyard. "O-okay." Vanilla responded, noticing for the first time, that it was far too bright outside. The smell of smoke was growing stronger.

    "Shoot, I'd hoped we'd have more time..." Cream whispered to herself as she led her son down the various corridors. She carefully stopped at every intersection, keeping an ear out for whatever, or whomever, was causing the ruckus.

    It hadn't been long before the commotion grew louder, its source fast approaching. "Quickly, this way." She motioned towards the younger eevee.

    Sliding into one of the servant passages, Cream carefully counted her steps. Finding what she was looking for, she pushed on one of the rocks in the wall, revealing a secret, unlit passage. "Quickly, dear." She ordered, moving out of the way so that Vanilla could pass.

    Entering the creepy tunnel, Vanilla turned around to wait for his mom, but before he could do so, he witnessed the tunnel dim drastically. His mother was closing the passage behind him.

    "Mom? Mom! What are you-?"

    Cream put a paw up to her muzzle. "Shush, Dear. Please be quiet and listen. I can't let them find you, I can't- Listen, Vanilla, I need you to promise you'll do one very important thing for me. Can you do that?"

    "Of course, Mom! I'll do whatever you want, just-!"

    "Then run, Vanilla. I need you to run and get as far away from here as you can."


    "I'm sorry, Vanilla, my Little Prince. I can't come with you," Cream said as she sealed the entryway shut, "this is the only way I can keep them away long enough for you to escape. Now go, keep your promise!"

    Even through the brick, he could hear his mother crying.

    Vanilla ran.

    Hot tears poured from his eyes at the memory, burning his cheeks. Vanilla had kept his promise until he could run no more. What more could he have done? What had happened to his family? His mother?

    Mercifully, before any more thoughts could form, his fatigue had finally wrested control over his consciousness, dragging him into a restless slumber.

    ~Chocola's Discovery~​

    "The wild zorua tenaciously stalks its prey..." Chocola whispered to herself in a mock accent as she wiggled into a pouncing stance. Just as her target reached an opportune position along the path, she leapt from her hiding spot in the bushes. "Sneak attack!"

    The startled rattata threw his package into the air with a shout.

    "Hehehe! Got you!" Chocola said proudly, catching the falling package before it could hit the ground.

    Calming down from his fright, the rattata berated her, "How many times do I have to tell you not to do stuff like that! It's bad enough that I've gotta fix up the southern warren entrance, I don't want to have to deal with your shenanigans too!" he finished, before simply taking his package and storming off in a puff.

    "Oh, come on Cheddar, don't be mad! It was just a game!" The zorua shouted after him as he hastily retreated down the path, package in tow. Her ears drooped a little at being ignored while the angry rattata disappeared into the distance.

    What was she supposed to do for fun now? "Hmm. Go back home and finish my chores? Hehe, not likely..." The day was simply too nice to waste on chores, after all. Skipping along the path, Chocola wandered towards one of her favorite hiding places.

    If only the floette would stop chasing her away from their garden, then it would be the perfect hiding spot. Those guys sure were picky about their flowers.

    As she made her way towards the glade, Chocola found it in complete disarray. It wasn't long before she found the culprit lying amid the debris.

    "Hey, what do you think you're doing!" She shouted. "Do you want to get in trouble for messing up the place?"

    The prone eevee didn't respond.

    "Hey! Listen-" Chocola started, prodding the Pokémon in the side.

    Groggily, the eevee glanced up at his accuser. Eyes still blurry from sleep, all he saw was a dark menacing blob hanging over him.

    Coupled with the events from the night prior, instincts took over and Vanilla found himself tucked into a ball, cowering. "P-p-please don't eat me!" he protested.

    Chocola rolled her eyes. Why did so many Pokémon believe that someone actually wanted to eat them in this day and age? She noticed that the eevee was still cowering in fear. Sighing in resignation, she used her special ability, taking on the form of eevee herself, albeit with a few creative alterations. After all, seeing a mirror image of oneself standing before them would likely do the opposite of calming them down.

    "Calm down. Do I look like someone who's about to eat you." She said, trying her best to sound soothing.

    It must have worked because she found the eevee peaking out from behind his tail. "Oh..." He sniffed, wiping away the fresh tears. "I-I'm sorry. I didn't mean to accuse you of anything, it's just that, well, um... I didn't-" Seeing the eevee before him clearly for the first time, Vanilla's sentence ended before he could finish it.

    "Oookay..." Chocola stated, raising an eyebrow. She'd never gotten that reaction from one of her illusions before. "Right. I was just trying to let you know that the floette are going to be mad that you've destroyed their garden. They're very protective of it."

    "What!?" Vanilla shouted, refocusing on his surrounding in daylight for the first time. If he'd really trudged through this glade last night, and there wasn't a reason to believe otherwise, he'd really done a number on it. "Oh no, what do we do? I can't get in trouble for this, not now!" Was it just his imagination or was he hearing a mob of floette gathering in the trees to take him down?

    Chocola thought of a new plan. "So, you don't want to get in trouble, is that it?"

    "Yes, of course!"

    "Hehehe. Then the answer is simple!"

    Vanilla just turned his head to the side questioningly.

    "We run!" Chocola said before darting off through the underbrush, giggling all the way.

    Sitting stunned for a moment, Vanilla's thought process caught up to what just happened. Shaking his confusion off, he chased after the mysterious eevee.
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    #1 Jan 10, 2017
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  2. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~Mystery Dungeon~​
    "Where... Are... We... Going...?" the still-sore eevee asked through panted breaths.

    "Oh, um. Right. I guess this is far enough to escape the floette, but we've only got a little farther to go to get where we're headed."

    "Can we slow down a bit, miss? Oh! My apologies on skipping formalities miss, my name is Vanilla."

    The disguised zorua stopped in her tracks and eyed Vanilla, "You're an odd one aren't you?"

    "Excuse me? I'm not sure I follow."

    "You're awfully polite is what I'm saying. Not too many of those around here. My name's Chocola, by the way. Nice to meet you!"

    "Oh, yes. It's nice to meet you, Chocola. I appreciate the help back there. I wasn't aware that floette were so protective of their territory."

    "Well, of their flowers anyway. They are going to be so mad when they see the mess you made!" Chocola teased.

    "I didn't mean to, I swear. I was just tired and, and..."

    "Hey, don't worry about it. I believe you. Besides, I don't want to talk about boring stuff when we've arrived!" Chocola said in a sing-song voice, stopping just in front of the mouth of a dark cavern. Even with the morning sun pouring down the shaft, it was difficult to see more than a few steps inside.

    Vanilla sniffed the damp, stale air. Some unknown substance permeated the place. "What is it we hope to accomplish here?"

    "Looking for shinies."

    "I don't follow, what is a 'shinies'?"

    "Oh you sad, little eevee... How I envy the thought of learning of the shinies. Shinies, you see, are the most important things in life. Treasures of the shiniest shine. Magnificent in their shape and texture. In the right paws, shinies are power!"

    "So a shiny is a type of legendary evolution stone?" Vanilla asked, slightly confused.

    "Yes! Well, no, actually. I've never even found a regular evolution stone, let alone a legendary one. Those are super rare."

    "But you're sure there are some in here?"

    "Nope. But that's why we're looking!" Chocola squealed before hopping into the darkness.

    Vanilla approached the void as if it were some deadly creature eager to nip at his extremities. "And you're sure this is safe."

    "Hah, no. That's what makes it fun! Now come on, it gets easier to see once you're inside."

    "If you say so..." Vanilla said worriedly.

    Following Chocola's footsteps and the constant drip that emanated from some deeper locale, Vanilla pressed on. It really wasn't so bad once his eyes adjusted, even if it was still rather difficult to see more than a few paces.

    "So how does one find these shinies? What do they look like?" Vanilla asked.

    Chocola responded by quickly pouncing on the eevee, holding her paw to his muzzle. "Shhhh... For starters, we gotta be quiet if we don't wanna wake anything up. As for what they look like, you'll just know it when you see one." She whispered to him in a hushed tone.

    'Wake who, or what, up? I thought she said this place was safe...' Vanilla thought worriedly, wisely keeping his ponderings to himself.

    As they pressed on, the sound of dripping water grew louder. Its source became evident soon enough, as a shaft of light pierced through the ceiling up above, pouring into the same underground lake as the dripping water. Pools of light cascaded off of the rippling surface in smooth arcs that illuminated the roof of the cave.

    What they saw first made the pair stop in their tracks, littered around the ceiling were tiny little crystals that seemed to capture and reflect the paltry light and turn it into something truly amazing as the little beams glittered in every direction.

    Vanilla was the first to break out of his reverie. "Are these the shinies?"

    "Oh, yeah, sort of. You know what they say, you can only find shinies where you see them, after all." Chocola whispered back.

    "Do they say that? Who says that?"

    "Just shush and help me dig. Jeez, you don't have to get all philosophical on me, even in the shiniest cave ever."

    As they got to digging around the surprisingly soft cave floor, it became evident that they weren't the first prospectors to churn around the earth in the cave.

    "Darn digletts beat me here again..." Chocola said a little dejectedly.

    "But don't they live in places like this?"

    "Well, yeah, but that doesn't mean the get to steal my treasures..." she retorted in a huff.

    Just as Vanilla was about to claim the endeavor a wash and pull himself out from his self-dug hole, his back paw caught on something hard. For the second time today, he found himself with a face full of dirt. "Ow!"

    "Hey, are you okay?" Chocola said as she wandered over from her own hole.

    "I think so, I just tripped over a rock or something. Must have knocked it loose during the excavation." Vanilla reported, checking his paw for injuries. He honestly couldn't remember the last time he was this dirty. Now that he was thinking about it, he'd never really been dirty.

    Ignoring, entirely, the dirt and how much of it must have been covering herself, Chocola jumped into the eevee's pit. The only thing that alerted him to the action was a fit of giggling.

    "Um, are you-"

    "You found a shiny!" The disguised zorua shouted in excitement.

    Before Vanilla could question his own good fortune with a, "What, really?" the sounds of thousands of wing-beats filled the cave. The shout had awakened some of the cave's inhabitants.

    "Zubat! Run!" Chocola shouted before pushing the stone out of the hole and picking it up with her mouth.

    She'd already darted past Vanilla before he registered what zubat had to do with anything. Suddenly remembering that loud noises might wake something up, and that something was probably living in this cave, and that zubat live in caves, he quickly chased after the vixen.
    Nearly out of breath, Vanilla burst through the bastion of safety that was provided my the mid-day sun. Despite being chased out of a second location today, he had to admit that he was enjoying himself a little. If it wasn't for the events of the night prior, he might even admit that he was having fun.

    "Haha! Take that, Umbral Cave! Your shinies are mine now!" Chocola declared defiantly once it was clear that the other Pokémon didn't intend to pursue them any further.

    "So what did you get?"

    "Let's get a closer look, shall we?" Chocola said as she sat down in front of her prize.

    Vanilla eyed the time-smoothed piece of obsidian-looking stone. "It's some sort of rock?"

    "Hmm, it did look shinier in the dark... Oh! I know!" She said, picking up the stone in her front paws before holding it up to the sun. The light that managed to pass through it was distorted, making all sorts of random shapes as she shifted the stone about. "Aha, it is a shiny! I knew it!"

    "Wow, I didn't know that rocks could do that!" Vanilla said as he observed what he could from behind Chocola.

    "Well, it's no evolutionary stone, but it's still a pretty good find for a rookie." The vixen said as she handed the precious stone to Vanilla. "Here, you try."

    "Thanks!" Vanilla took his turn at tumbling the stone about in the sunlight. To say that the shapes produced were interesting was an understatement. Every twist and turn seemed to produce new variations. When the eevee was finished, he attempted to give the stone back to Chocola.

    She refused. "Hehe. You found it, you get to keep it. Those are the rules!" She stated matter-of-factly.

    "Really? Are you sure?"

    "Yeah! I have tons of these at home." She declared. Now that things had slowed down, though, the time they had needed to catch their breath had passed. "So? Now, what do we want to-"

    Chocola was interrupted by the sound of a stomach growling. Thankfully it was coming from Vanilla and not something waiting beyond the mouth of the cave.

    "Guess that answers that question. It's time for lunch! Do you have to go home for that?" Chocola inquired.

    Vanilla honestly didn't know the answer to the question. Could he even go home? And if not, what was he going to do for food? He didn't have the first clue how to forage for things. What about shelter? What about-

    Chocola was waving her paw in front of Vanilla, trying to get him to snap out of his daze. "Hello? You still there?"

    "Yes..." Vanilla stated, shaking his mind back into focus. "Sorry about that. I don't really know what I'm supposed to do for lunch."

    "Really? That's weird..." Chocola said as she raised a curious eyebrow. "Well, whatever... Wait! I know. You can have lunch with me! I'm sure Reiga can make you something. Come on!" She finished, darting down the hill only far enough to coax the eevee into following.

    As Vanilla quickly caught up, they started down the hill at a more reasonable pace. "That would be wonderful, thank you."

    "Hehe. Don't mention it."

    Vanilla just smiled.

    "No, I'm serious. I have a reputation to uphold."

    After a fit of lighthearted laughter, Vanilla returned to the conversation. "So, is Reiga your mom?"

    "What? No. Reiga is Reiga. She helps out when daddy leaves on his travels."

    The name sounded familiar to him, but Vanilla couldn't place it.

    "Yep. Daddy's always going around and helping other Pokémon, so he's kind of important. What about your parents. What do they do?"

    Vanilla noticed that she didn't mention her mom. He doubt he would ever not want to mention his own mother, regardless of circumstance, but after the events of the night prior, he wasn't sure what he should say. "I don't really get to see my dad much either," Vanilla admitted, figuring he could at least reveal that much. "But my mom, she's always... She's-" Vanilla stopped, fresh tears rolled off of his cheek.

    Chocola turned to the eevee. Seeing the state he was in brought up a bunch of questions, but digging too deep too soon wouldn't help anyone much. At least that's what her father would say, she thought. "Look, if you don't want to talk about it, don't. I'll understand."


    "Yep. Everyone's got reasons for doing, or not doing, stuff. Why should talking be any different? Besides, I'll get into trouble if anyone thinks I made you cry. So just take a deep breath and forget about it."

    He wasn't sure how breathing deeply would help, but Vanilla did as he was instructed. Soon enough, though, he calmed down a bit.

    "See? That's better. Now come on! I can almost taste those snacks already!"

    Thankfully, the walk back to Chocola's house was both short and not fraught with danger. The house itself was built into a tree, using the curved trunk and branches as support for the rest of the structure. The result was a very unique looking house that one would never see inside of Convocity.

    "Reiga? I'm home! Is lunch ready yet?" The disguised zorua called out as they entered the house.

    "Welcome back Chocola." The Lucario called as she emerged from what Vanilla assumed was a kitchen. "Oh, you've brought a visitor?" She said raising an eyebrow at both the eevee and the fact that her charge was disguised as one.

    "His name's Vanilla! Um, he's new, so I thought I'd invite him over for lunch, is that okay?"

    "It most certainly is. I'll make some more sandwiches, but first, you should wash up. You're both filthy."

    "Yes, ma'am. Come on, Vanilla. This way."

    As Vanilla walked after Chocola, he turned to thank the lucario for preparing him a meal. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Reiga."

    At this, Reiga stopped the eevee in his tracks. "Hold up a moment, Little One."

    "Reiga?" Chocola questioned. "What's wrong?"

    "Hmm? nothing. Just that a lady should tidy up by herself, in private." Reiga said nodding towards the zorua as if to emphasize something.

    "Oh right!" Chocola remembered that even if she was just washing her paws, being close to Vanilla while she did it might give away the illusion. And with how weird the eevee seems to act at times, seeing her change like that might be a bit more than he could handle at the moment.

    Back in the living room, Reiga lifted the stone off of Vanilla's back. The simple touch caused the eevee to visibly flinch. "Oh, I'm sorry, Vanilla." Taking a step back, she kneeled down so that she wasn't towering over his tiny frame. "I didn't mean to startle you. I just wanted to talk while Chocola was busy. This is one of her's isn't it?" Reiga asked while holding the stone up for examination.

    "Chocola gave it to me. We found it in a cave."

    "Oh? That must have been some adventure. So Vanilla, can I ask you a question?"


    "Well, let me ask one anyway. Being an eevee, you wouldn't happen to know about the commotion in Convocity last night, would you? Rumor has it that there was an attack on the Council..." Reiga noticed Vanilla's irises shrink a little more with each word. "Now, don't you worry, Little One. You don't have to answer if you don't want to. News travels fast, even out here in Jocundale, but it would be very difficult to get here from the capital in such a short amount of time. Word in town is that the Evolution Council was overthrown and the members captured, well most of them. Some of them supposedly escaped. Now, I'm not saying that a little one, such as yourself, ran all the way here from Convocity, but if you did," Reiga leaned closer to the cowering eevee, "just know that you'll always be safe here." she whispered.

    At this Vanilla was able to calm down once more. It seemed Reiga was very perceptive.

    The moment was interrupted by a damp, but clean, Chocola attempting to tackle the crouched lucario. "Hey give that back!"

    "Not so fast," Reiga questioned while artfully dodging her charge, "Vanilla said you gave it to him."

    "Well... I did! But you should still give it back!"

    "And I will, but after lunch. Go ahead and wash up now, Vanilla, while I get the sandwiches ready. Chocola will show you the way." Reiga finished as she left the room.

    "Alright, come on, you. I'm getting hungry." The vixen admitted while trying to pull Vanilla out of another daze.

    Vanilla was trying to process the pieces that seemed to be falling together in his mind. Sandwiches? Most Pokémon just ate berries, especially out here. Didn't they? That and the lucario- a lucario named Reiga. It all made sense!

    "Wait, so is your Reiga, THE Reiga?"

    "Hehe. Yep, the one and only!"

    His mother had always told him stories that came from a lucario born in the human world. She had been stranded on Exile before Vanilla had ever been born. Her stories of the outside world inspired an entire generation of Pokémon with human-sounding names, or, at least what they thought were human-sounding names. Even his mother admitted that her name, Cream, was just a nickname given to honor the lucario and her stories.

    But all of that begged another question. What was she doing here?
    The sandwiches were constructed of several alternating layers of sliced topo, ginema, and kelpsy berries placed in between pieces of pamtree berry bread. The main course was supplemented with thinly-sliced tamato berries that had been fried to a crispy consistency, a fairly uncommon technique, but the spicy, rough texture complemented the mellow melody of the sandwiches nicely.

    "Thanks for the meal, Miss Reiga!" Vanilla started once he'd finished off the last of his crumbs. "It was delicious!"

    "Why thank you Vanilla, but please, it's just Reiga." The nodded in appreciation. "Although," she said with a smirk, "Chocola could stand to learn a thing or two about manners from you..."

    "That's- Reiga! That's not true, I know my manners. I just haven't thought about how to thank you for the meal yet. You know, properly."

    "Well, you can start by finishing your chores."

    "What!? But-" Chocola's protest slumped into submission under Reiga's sudden glare. "Aww, alright."

    "I'm sure that, if you ask very nicely, Vanilla would be willing to help you."

    "Oh, please, Vanilla? Pretty please? If you help, we'll be done in no time!"

    "Okay!" The eevee said with an eager smile on his face. "What are chores?"

    "I- What? You don't have to do any chores at your house?"

    "No. Is that weird?"

    "Lucky is more like it..." Chocola grumbled.

    "What she means to say, is that chores are tasks that are done around the house in order to keep things running smoothly." Reiga instructed as she wrote something down on a small board. "Today, Chocola was supposed to clean some windows, but, since she managed to wander off all morning," the lucario continued as Chocola tried to hide behind her tail, "I did them instead of heading into town for some groceries."

    "Do we have to?" Chocola pleaded.

    "Yep! And here's the list of things I need." Reiga said as she handed them the board she had been writing on. "Pakki's already expecting you, so you just need to make sure she gets the list. Do you think you can handle that without getting sidetracked?"

    "Yes, Reiga, I can... Come on Vanilla, the sooner we get this over with, the better..." Chocola declared in defeat.

    "Alright. Thanks again for the meal, Reiga!" Vanilla said as he jumped down off of his cushion.

    "You're most welcome. Just stick close to Chocola, she'll show you around."

    Vanilla bowed out and followed after the vixen.

    Chocola always perked right up whenever she thought the lucario wasn't watching. Reiga waited until the duo left earshot before moving to a small container that was placed high up on one of the kitchen shelves, far out of reach and innocuous enough to be easily overlooked. Inside, were several blank sticks of matching size and length. Taking one out, she placed the container back on the shelf and returned to her charcoal pencil on the table. Being careful to make the letters clear and concise, Reiga wrote a simple message on one side of the stick. 'I'm sure you've heard the news. One escapee might have made its way here. I'll keep you posted. -R'

    Satisfied with her work, Reiga snapped the twig in two. The sudden change in its structure caused it to dissolve into a black mist, wafting away until there was no evidence left. The lucario smiled, as she returned to finish her own errands "Things might finally be getting interesting around here..." She spoke to no one in particular.
  3. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    "Are chores hard? Is that why you didn't want to do them earlier?"

    "No, not really, they're just boring is all. Besides, the weather was way too nice to waste on windows!" Chocola declared.

    "Well, I suppose I should be thankful that you decided to skip out on your responsibilities today. If you'd finished your chores, we might not have met!"

    "Yeah, well, there's no getting out of these ones..."

    "What's so bad about the task Reiga gave us? Is picking up groceries difficult?"

    Chocola gave the eevee another one of her odd looks. "You sure are an odd one, Vanilla, but to answer your question, this task is super easy."

    "Is there something about the town you dislike?"

    "I suppose you could put it that way. Let's just say that, if we're lucky, we won't have to deal with it today." Chocola picked up her pace. "Come on, I'll race you!"

    "Hey, not so fast!" Vanilla shouted after the vixen as she increased her lead. He wasn't looking forward to running more than he had to until he recovered.

    The trip into town was uneventful, but it gave Vanilla time to think. To be honest, he was kind of excited to try out this whole 'chores' thing. He'd always seen the council's workers going about their jobs, and he'd always given them the respect his mother said they deserved for being such diligent workers, but he really had no idea what such work entailed. Even if he was using it as an excuse not to think about his more pressing issues, learning new things was at least partially fun.

    Before long, the houses grew closer and closer together, until the space between them reached a point of saturation, no longer filled with field and forest, but gardens and the occasional tree. The crowds of Pokémon thickened as well, though not to the degree that Vanilla had witnessed on the few occasions he'd been taken outside the council's complex. Still, the bright colors and cumulative chatter provided a stark contrast to Chocola's rather remote home.

    "Hehe, I win!" Chocola said, easily securing her victory from the winded eevee "You really need to get outside more, Vanilla!" After noticing that the eevee in question was still trying to take everything in, it donned on her that he hadn't seen the town at all. "You haven't been here before? Did you just move here today, or something?"

    "Not to my knowledge..." Vanilla replied with an earnest smile,"This is my first time here, though. Everything is so colorful!"

    "Of course it is! Welcome to Jocundale, silly! And I thought I lived under a rock." Chocola chided sarcastically.

    Vanilla's ears drooped at her observation for a moment before he remembered their task. "So now what? What does one do when getting groceries?"

    "You're so weird!" Chocola teased, pulling Reiga's board off of her back. "Well, we take this to Pakki's shop. Normally, you'd pay for what you're buying when you buy it, but we get what's called a tab." Vanilla looked confused. "That just means we can pay what we owe for the supplies once daddy gets back."

    Vanilla nodded his head. "That makes sense, I suppose. It's some sort of short-term credit situation, but instead of a loan of coins, you just pick up the goods and settle the debt at a later date just like normal.

    Chocola had her head tilted in confusion.

    "What's the matter? Did I misunderstand?"

    "No... It's just... Well, the way you act makes it seem as though you come from a world that's just as weird as Reiga's human stories, so that's why you didn't understand things like chores. But then you go and explain things better than I ever could, like you didn't just understand, but... I don't know, wrote the tablet on it, or something." Chocola sighed before continuing into town. "Well whatever, at least you aren't boring, Vanilla!"

    "I'll take that as a compliment, I suppose. Thanks, Chocola!"

    "Yep, definitely weird."

    Their destination ended up being a small covered stall covered with white and blue striped fabric that sat next to a larger building.

    "Pakki? Are you in there?" Chocola shouted as she stepped into the store.

    "Chocola? Is that you?" Said an older pachirisu female who hopped onto the counter. A brief look of confusion crossed her face before she saw Vanilla following behind her customer. "Reiga said you'd be stopping by. And you brought a friend? You've certainly been busy lately, little miss."

    "Yeah, yeah. Here's the list for today." The disguised zorua said as she handed the piece of wood.

    The pachirisu cleared her throat as she picked up the list.

    "Oh, right! Vanilla, this is Pakki, she runs the general goods store. Pakki, Vanilla."

    "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Pakki! This is a nice store you have here."

    "Why thank you, Vanilla, but it's Missus Pakki." She said before returning her attention to her list. "Let's see what we have here... A few berries, another charcoal pencil, and oh? I'm afraid I'll have to find Pecan for the rest of this order, Chocola. You won't be able to carry all of this by yourselves."

    "What? What did Reiga want to buy!?"

    "See for yourself..." Pakki said as she handed the list back.

    Reading down past the usual fruits and supplies, Chocola found the suspect item and groaned.

    "What's wrong?" Vanilla asked in his usual curious tone. Looking at the things on the list himself, he still couldn't tell what was causing such distress.

    "Look at the bottom of the list..." Chocola suggested.

    "'Four dozen flower bulbs.' I-I don't get it..."

    "Ugh, it means that Reiga knows that we were in Floette's garden this morning! She's going to make us go back and plant all of those flowers tomorrow!"

    "Oh!? Really? Wow. How did Reiga find out about that?"

    "I don't know! Reiga's got some scary lucario magic when it comes to these things. She. Always. Knows." Chocola emphasized.

    Vanilla let out a sigh of relief.

    "What are you sighing about? That means that we have to do more work!"

    "I'm just glad that the floette won't have to suffer for my actions. I think Reiga believes that I can pay them back by fixing what I broke."

    "Yeah, but then you owe Reiga for figuring out how to fix the garden up! Did you ever think of that? That's how she works! It's diabolical!"

    "Oh." Vanilla answered, ignoring her pleas that her caregiver was evil, "I'll have to think about how to repay Reiga and your dad then, I suppose."

    "What does my dad have to do with any of this?"

    "He's the one who will inevitably pay for these purchases, correct?"

    Now it was Chocola's turn to stop and think. "Oh, riiight. When he pays the tab..."

    Setting down two small, but fully laden satchels, Pakki butted into the somewhat animated antics of her customer. "Well, now that that's sorted, here's most of your order. Pecan will stop by later with the rest."

    "Thanks, Pakki." Chocola stated as she donned one of the bags. "We'll leave the bags with Pecan when he gets there."

    Vanilla attempted to copy Chocola's donning of the satchel with a little bit of success. Thankfully, he only needed to figure out how to adjust the strap before he managed to slide it over his head and forelegs. Moving with the bag was another story, however. The shifting contents of the bag threatened to throw his balance off with every movement. "Woah-"

    "Hey, watch it!" Chocola said as she reared up and steadied the wobbling eevee. "Wow, you really weren't kidding when you said you didn't know how to do this kind of stuff."

    "Sorry. I-I Don't..."

    "Calm down, will ya? Stop trying to push against the weight and just widen your steps a bit more, like this." Chocola said as she slowly walked around the eevee. "Now you try." She continued after helping him to his feet.

    Sure enough he managed to get a somewhat steady rhythm, at least enough of one to keep him from falling over, anyway. And with each additional step, Vanilla seemed to be getting the hang of walking with the pack.

    "There you go, now let's get back home!" Chocola cheered.

    An awestruck Pakki leaned closer to the zorua and whispered, "What's his deal?"

    Chocola whispered back, "Don't worry about him, he's just sorta new, to well, everything..."

    "Oh?" Pakki answered with a quizzical look on her face as her customers managed to finally make their way out of her store.

    "Who were they?" a younger pachirisu asked as he entered from the back room.

    "That was Chocola and her new friend, Vanilla."

    "Chocola? But why did she look like an eevee?"

    "I'm sure you'll understand when you're older, Pecan. Now, I've got some more things to add to the numels' cart before the evening deliveries..."

    Once outside the store, Vanilla really started to get a hold of the whole pack puzzle. He only had to look where he was placing his front paws only once every few steps by the time they made it to the end of the block.

    Just after he'd conquered the complicated task of turning the corner, Vanilla suddenly found himself being pushed behind a stack of baskets with nothing but a "Shoot, quick, hide!" coming from Chocola.

    "What's wro-?" Vanilla started only to have a paw bop him on the nose, cutting his question short.

    "Shuuush! Please, please, please tell me he didn't see me..."

    Before Vanilla could whisper who, a singsong voice emanated from above. "And who do we have here?"

    "Go away, Clementine!"

    "Oh my, Chocola? I can't say I understand why you constantly refuse to give me the simple pleasure of your presence?" The vulpix stated with a flashy grin.

    "Because you're gross." Chocola said as she got up and headed beck towards the street. "Now if you'll leave us be, Vanilla and I are headed home."

    The vulpix cut off her escape. "You and? Oh, an eevee?" Clementine observed. "Too bad, though. I don't exactly talk to males, you understand. Although that might explain Chocola's delectable little-"

    "Hey!" The vixen in question cut him off with a mean look.

    "Hmm? Well then it's none of my business, I suppose. But I have to say, I fully understand why those Pokémon were looking for eevee. I could personally look at you all day, Chocola."

    "Just go away, already!"

    "Fine, fine. Just don't be a stranger, Chocola" Clementine winked as he left for the path. Before gallivanting off, the vulpix could be heard trying to woo another Pokémon that had caught his eye.

    As Chocola simmered at the conversation, Vanilla brought her back to reality. "He seems nice."

    "What part about that seemed nice? He practically ignored you."

    "Hmm, maybe. I'm sort of used to it. At the very least, I believe that Clementine was sincere."

    "Yeah, that's probably because you're not a girl. I'm sure he's sincerely hit on every one of us in Jocundale Valley by now." Chocola stated while rolling her eyes. "Well, whatever. Let's get back home..."

    Vanilla didn't know about any of that, but he did recognize the warning that the vulpix had given. Pokémon were out there looking for eevees. That not only meant that he probably wasn't the only one to escape, but that someone was looking for him as well. Getting back to Chocola's house unseen would probably be for the best.

    The trip back to Chocola's house was, thankfully, uneventful.

    Chocola had removed her bag and had darted deeper into the house before the satchel hit the ground. Meanwhile, Vanilla found himself fighting with the strap's buckle once more.

    "Reiga! We're back!" Chocola called out.

    "Oh? With all of it?"

    "Well, no. Pecan's supposed to deliver the rest later." Chocola said with her ears drooped at the memory of what the extra items entailed. "Does Vanilla really have to fix up the floette's garden tomorrow?"

    "Nope." Reiga responded simply.

    "What! Really?"

    "Because you're going to help him."

    "Aww. Why?" Chocola pleaded.

    "Because you didn't tell me about it after the fact."


    "Nope, no 'buts'. Say, where's Vanilla?"

    "Oh! He's probably still by the door trying to get his pack off." Chocola explained before darting back to the entrance.

    Reiga sensed something was wrong before she heard Chocola's shout.

    "Reiga come quick!"

    The lucario hurried to the door. Chocola was nudging Vanilla in an attempt to wake the prone eevee. He'd never managed to get the pack off before passing out. In one quick motion, Reiga removed the stubborn clasp and picked the eevee up to check on him.

    Vanilla was breathing normally, and Reiga noticed little flutters under his eyelids. Dreams. Vanilla was just asleep. "Good, he's just asleep is all, Chocola. It seems you've tuckered the poor guy out."

    Chocola perked up at the announcement that Vanilla was okay, but other thoughts quickly resumed their course through her head. "But-, but He never told me where he lived! We have to take him home to his parents for bed don't we!?"

    "Calm down, Chocola." Reiga said as she placed Vanilla down on the living room cushions as carefully as possible. "Tell you what, clean up for dinner and unpack the groceries, and I'll try to flag down a wingull. If there's anyone who knows where a new family of eevees have moved, it'll be that old Pelipper, Mister Perso."

    "O-okay..." Chocola said as she slowly wandered off, still worried about Vanilla.

    Once the zorua had left, Reiga resumed her examination of the eevee. His breathing still steady, she picked up one of his paws and got a closer look. The pads were soft, little nicks and cuts could be seen, but nothing deep or serious, but most of all, they were bruising. The bruises continued even into his fur. If Reiga's assumptions about Vanilla's origins had been guesswork until now, the eevee's condition was more than enough to solidify them.

    Vanilla had spent most of his life well cared for. If she didn't know any better, Reiga'd probably assume that this eevee had never walked more than a dozen paces any day of his life. The poor thing was really going to be sore in the morning.

    It also meant that flagging down the mail-birds was going to be a fruitless effort.

    That being the case, the lucario found herself in awe that the little pampered fox had, so far, been absolutely stoic, never mentioning or complaining of his injuries even once during the course of the day.

    "Maybe there is hope for you yet, little one" Reiga whispered into Vanilla's ear before covering him with a blanket. "Only time will tell..."


    With Vanilla sleeping soundly, dinner ended up being far quieter than usual. It was obvious that Chocola seemed worried for the eevee, even if she wasn't mimicking his species' form.

    "Are you sure he'll be okay?"

    "Yes, I'm sure," Reiga replied, "all he needs is some rest."

    Silence filled the air as Chocola pushed one of her strib berries across her plate in disinterest.

    Reiga leaned forward conspiratorially, "So? What's with the change?"

    "Hm? Oh!" Chocola had almost forgotten that she looked like an eevee. "Um, I kinda accidentally scared him awake this morning. Like really scared him. I-I didn't mean to, honest, but anyway, I figured this was the best way to calm him down..."

    "Is that all? It's not like you to keep up a trick for so long."

    "It's not a trick! It's just that, he calmed down so much, and then we got sidetracked, and I kinda just forgot, I guess."

    "So, when are you going to tell Vanilla that you're not an eevee?"

    Chocola thought about it for a moment. "I don't know... I mean, what if I tell him and he doesn't like me anymore?"

    Reiga raised an eyebrow. "That's never bothered you before. I hear you terrorize Cheddar and his friends constantly."

    "T-that's different! They know it's a game!" Chocola had to admit that the other Pokémon her age weren't very fond of her 'games' "Besides, he seems to like eevee me. What's wrong with that?"

    "Nothing, I suppose, but I think that you shouldn't lie to your friends, Chocola. That boy's smarter than you're giving him credit for. I'm sure he'll figure it out eventually."

    Chocola sighed before finally eating the final, helpless strib berry on her plate, and allowed Reiga to collect the dishes before finally resting her head on the table in frustration. Reiga was right, of course, as much as it pained the zorua. She'd have to tell Vanilla eventually. "But he's so different than the rest... What if, when I tell him, he just treats me like they do?"

    The lucario was certain she knew what made the eevee different but felt compelled to keep that particular secret as is for the time being. "If he's really your friend, Chocola, he'll understand."

    Silence filled the air again as Reiga finished with the dishes.

    "Do we still have to fix the floette's garden tomorrow?"

    "If Vanilla feels up to it, yes."

    "Yeah, he doesn't really seem to be the sturdy worker type..."

    "Well he managed to keep up with you for most of the day, so he's at least got a little stamina." Reiga teased. There was no downtime with the zorua around.

    Chocola perked up a little at this. "So, how long until his parents come by to pick him up, anyway?"

    "Oh, um. They're pretty busy right now. So Vanilla will be staying the night, at the very least." Reiga lied.

    "In that case, we should probably leave him a snack. You know, in case he wakes up hungry."

    "I'll leave some leftovers out if it makes you feel better. In fact, if Vanilla's going to be staying a while, how about I make us a special treat, hmm?"

    Now the lucario had Chocola's attention. "Oh, oh! How about The Pie!"

    "Sure. We'll need some more ingredients for it, but I think you've made an excellent choice!"
  4. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017

    As Chocola readied herself for bed, she found herself staring back at her altered reflection. Her disguise was nearly flawless, every dimension matched that of the eevee resting downstairs. Of course, she'd altered it to suit her 'self-image' a bit, and had added superfluous flaws to increase its believability, those were tricks she learned from her mother at a very young age. Every zorua did, it was just in their nature.

    What wasn't, was the same reason her reflection was bothering her. The fact that she was still wearing it. She'd never held onto one for so long. More to the point, she'd never felt compelled to. And for the life of her, Chocola couldn't figure out why.

    It wasn't for her benefit, surely. She couldn't think of a reason she'd want, or need, to hide among the local eevee population for her own gain. Unlike Convocation city and its Eevolution Council, Jocundale didn't even have a substantial eevee population. Vanilla's family notwithstanding, of course, wherever they lived.

    That only meant she was doing it for someone else, and Chocola wasn't so dense as to not know who she was maintaining her disguise for. But again, why? Sure Vanilla was kind of entertaining, and a bit aloof most of the time, but surely he wasn't any different from any of the other Pokémon she'd met. The minute he learned she was a zorua and, and not an eevee, he'd distance himself just like they did.

    Just like they all did.

    A whimper brought her back to reality. It came from downstairs.

    Making her way downstairs, Chocola found the makeshift bed Vanilla was sleeping on in disarray. The eevee was still unconscious but had thrown off the blanket. Getting closer, Chocola could make out his furrowed brow and slight head shake, as if he were saying 'no' in his sleep. Vanilla was suffering from a nightmare.

    'Poor guy' Chocola thought. She'd had more than her fair share of those as a young pup. Being the good host that she was, the zorua felt compelled to do something. Her mother had helped with nightmares back then too. First thing she'd do is tuck Chocola in tight, then rub the scruff of her neck until she calmed down a bit. Then to finish the nightmare off, she-

    Chocola's eyes widened at the realization that she was nuzzling an eevee she'd only met that morning. Panic set in, and she was sure that she was turning three different shades of red in embarrassment as she darted off towards the stairs. Something stopped her halfway up, however. Looking back down at Vanilla, she could see that his Nightmare had passed.

    Entering her room, and closing her door behind her, Chocola tried to think about her actions once more, and what they meant, only to conclude that she was too tired to think of anything. She only hoped that Vanilla was truly asleep so that she could avoid the additional embarrassment of bringing the situation up again. Her cheeks still burning, Chocola went to bed.


    Reiga had been in the kitchen. She didn't need to use her aura sense to tell when Chocola was slinking about the house, but it did help her get a clear picture of the vixen's interactions with their guest.

    Vanilla's aura had been turbulent, even in sleep. No doubt increased more than a vivid dream had any right to. Chocoloa's had shown a rare moment of clarity, for her anyway, before the two states suddenly switched places.

    Now Chocola's aura had spiked in activity, embarrassment, it seems. But Vanilla's was now even and cool. However amusing the interaction must have been, the results were clear.

    Rereading the message stick in her paw, Reiga rubbed the charred letters off of it and began rewriting. 'Our guest shows promise, but your C is likely growing attached. Things may start moving faster than we've prepared. -R'

    Summoning a bit of her own aura, Reiga destroyed the twig in a silent pulse.

    Moving silently to her own room, the lucario couldn't help but smile at the calm look on Vanilla's face. To be young once more...

    ~Flower Garden~​

    Despite waking up sometime during the night and eating a salad that had been left out, Vanilla found himself starving when he woke up that morning. Thankfully, it was a scrumptious smell coming from the kitchen that woke him up.

    Reiga called them pancakes, but Vanilla wasn't quite sure why they were called that. Maybe it was because they sort of looked like a pan? Regardless, he enjoyed them, and the nutpea syrup they were covered with, immensely.

    "Does Chocola not like these pancakes?" Vanilla wondered at the vixen's missing presence.

    "Oh, she loves them. And, provided she eventually gets out of bed, she can have some." Reiga said as she sat down with her own plate. "So, how are you feeling today? You gave Chocola quite a shock yesterday afternoon."

    That's right. Vanilla's tiredness had snuck up on him so quick he didn't even manage to doff his satchel. "My apologies, I'm not sure what came over me."

    Reiga eyed the eevee with a raised eyebrow. "Oh? Well, just try not to push yourself too hard today. It would be a shame if another episode like that were to occur during less favorable circumstances."

    Vanilla's ears swung back behind his head. "I'm sorry, Ma'am. I'll try to be more careful."

    "Hmm. Just don't let Chocola drag you off on every whim of hers, and I'm sure you'll be fine."

    A loud thump and a groan could be heard upstairs, followed by a groggy inquiry about the breakfast aroma that had wafted throughout the house.

    "Speaking of the rascal, it appears as though she's finally awake." Reiga noted through an entertained smiled.


    After finishing the hardy meal, Vanilla and Chocola found their satchels packed with the flower bulbs that had been delivered the day before. They would have to be carried back to the floette's garden before work could begin, but t least the garden was closer to the house than Jocundale was.

    When the duo finally reached the flower field, they found a few floette, and a florges waiting for them.

    "Are these the culprits from yesterday?" asked the florges in a commanding tone.

    Chocola stepped up for introductions but was stopped by Vanilla.

    "My name is Vanilla, Ma'am. I apologize for any trouble I may have caused you yesterday. If you'll allow it, Chocola and I will assist in repairing the damage, under your direction, of course."

    The florges pondered over the eevee's words for a moment. "I find those terms acceptable. We will even accept these actions in place of Chocola's past troubles depending upon how well you work for us today."

    Chocola swallowed. All she had to do to get on the gardener's good side was to do a few chores for them? Why had no-one mentioned this before? Granted, she had to do a 'good' job, but still...

    "Come on then, let's go- um..."

    "You may call me, Feiss, Chocola. This way, if you would." The florges in question said as he led the way towards the damaged flowerbed.


    The work was fairly straightforward, once the debris from Vanilla's path of destruction was removed to a reclamation pile, holes could be dug and the bulbs could be planted.

    Feiss gave quick, curt instructions on how to space the holes and how deep to dig them, much to the detriment of Chocola's attention span. She eventually got out of the habit of digging for treasure with every hole but her bulb planting left much to be desired.

    When Vanilla noticed that his own work was steady, but his hole digging was extremely slow, he got an idea.

    Work went much faster once Chocola was tasked with digging the holes so that Vanilla could concentrate on the replanting. In fact, with the exception of an initial watering, they finished the job well ahead of lunch.

    When Feiss went to get some water pails so that they could be filled from the stream, Vanilla gave the flower bed a once-over. Not quite in rows, the mounds still managed to fill up the gap he'd woken up in not two days ago. Eventually, he noticed Chocola standing off to the side, staring past the trees beyond the nearby stream.

    "Is something the matter, Chocola?" Vanilla asked of the vixen.

    "What? No." She replied. "It's just that I was wondering what's past these trees here, I've never been over there before."

    "I was under the impression that you've been through here lots of times?"

    "I have, but the floette usually chase me away before long. I've never made it much farther than this."

    Feiss came back with pails and they got back to work with the watering, but Vanilla found he wanted to know what was behind the wooden veil himself.

    "Excuse me, Feiss, Sir? Is it alright if I ask for a favor?" Vanilla asked once the all of the mounds had had a good soak.

    "Hmm?" The Florges thought to himself for a moment before leaning closer to the eevee.

    Vanilla whispered his request to Feiss.

    "I suppose I can grant your request. Just remember that you are only allowed to observe, nothing more. This way."

    Chocola suddenly felt less bored and more intrigued. "What was that about?"

    "I guess we'll see!" Vanilla said with a sincere grin as he started following the florges.

    The underbrush proved no match to the ground-bound duo's curiosity, and soon they were greeted with a clearing beyond the trees.

    Mount Everpeak dominated the sky behind the meadow standing before them, the slight breeze caused the flowers in the field to sway in gentle waves, something that almost never broke through the glade that Chocola was used to.

    The meadow before them was also much, much larger than the garden, the flowers speckling the field all the way down the hill as the stream cut into its perimeter.

    The sights and smells of the flowers were almost too much for Chocola, who found herself ready to burst through the meadow at top frolicking speed!

    Vanilla tackled the vixen before she could jump into the flowers.

    "Ow! Vanilla!?"

    "Wait Chocola! Look." Vanilla pointed to something hiding amid the flowers as he helped her up. "Do you see them?"

    "Them?" Chocola squinted as she tried to see what Vanilla was pointing at. It wasn't long before she spotted them too.

    "Yep, this meadow is filled with flabebe. I think that's why they don't want you running through the flowers here."

    "Oh..." Chocola said as her ears drooped a bit. "I didn't know. I-I wouldn't have hurt them, though! Don't they know that?"

    "I think they know do, it's just that they're being protective is all. And as much as I know you'd like to run through the field, I only asked if we could see it."

    "Now that you see, we hope you understand." Feiss stated.

    Chocola had almost forgotten the florges was still there. "I understand..." Though she never liked that others thought she would ever want to hurt them.

    It was true that she wanted nothing more than to run through the field right now. Looking at Vanilla though, he seemed content just to take in the sights and smells, she would just have to make due as well.

    Closing her eyes, Chocola inhaled deeply. Thousands of scents filled her nostrils, not all of them from the flowers that dotted the field in front of her.

    The cool breeze countered the heat from the sun, maintaining a perfect balance of hot and cold on her coat. Between that and the fresh air, Chocola could almost be content to sit and watch. Almost.

    "Thanks Vanilla!" she said while excitedly jumping around him. "This place is the best!"

    "Yeah, well, you can probably thank Feiss for letting us see this place too. We wouldn't be her without his approval."

    "Thanks, Feiss!" Chocola said in earnest. "I'm sorry if you were worried before. About me, I mean, when I entered your gardens all of those other times. I'd never hurt you guys!"

    "Such trust must be earned, little one."


    "That you meant no harm, at the least. Today, however, you've earned more than that, if only a little." Feiss said as he motioned for the foxes to depart. "We will remember that you've helped fix what you have broken, but the flowers now need time to grow."

    "Aww, can we come back and visit this place at least? In the future."

    'Maybe. Perhaps if more trust is earned." Feiss stated cryptically.

    ~Chocola's Secret~​

    "So, how did everything go?" Reiga asked as her charges returned to the house. "Well, I hope?"

    "It did!" Chocola said excitedly. "I mean, I guess the planting stuff was a bit boring, but I got to dig a bunch of holes, and then I got to see the giant Flabebe meadow!"


    "It's true," Vanilla confirmed, "the flabebe meadow had an excellent view of the Everpeak."

    "That's a rarity, Feiss must have been quite impressed with you two to let you see that." Reiga complimented.

    "Well, I still wish I could run through it a little, but I didn't want to scare anyone, so we just got to look at it. It was still pretty great, though!"

    "Good to hear it." Reiga continued. "Now I'll have lunch in a bit, but afterward, you'll have to go back into town and get a-"

    "Um, Reiga, wait!" Chocola cut in, motioning for the lucario to lean closer to her. "Could you-" Chocola started whispering into Reiga's ear while looking conspiratorially at Vanilla.

    "Hmm, if that's how you want it. I suppose I can keep Vanilla entertained for a while."

    "Thanks Reiga!"

    Vanilla tilted his head to one side, thoroughly confused. "Thanks? For what?"

    "That's a secret!" Chocola answered. "You talked to Mr. Feiss about the garden for me, Now it's my turn to do something! But you'll have to wait here while I get the stuff for it, is that all right?"

    "I guess so, I don't really have much planned, honestly."

    "I'm sure we can figure something out..." Reiga said with a grin.

    Once Chocola had disappeared down the trail towards town, Vanilla turned to Reiga. "Thank you, Reiga, for everything. You've been most helpful."

    "Are you sure? It's pretty unusual to be thanked for doling out punishment."

    "But it was the right thing to do. And that's not all I'm thanking you for, either."

    "Oh?" Reiga said as she started heading inside.

    "I'm thanking you for letting me stay here, and for coming up with an explanation regarding why." Vanilla said sincerely. "I don't know how I'll ever return the kindness you've shown me."

    Reiga thought about it for a moment. Were she doing this out of only the goodness of her heart, she would accept the gratitude and think nothing more of it. "Well, I appreciate it, but paying me back can wait. What you need to do is figure out what you are going to do next."

    "What do you mean?"

    "Well, although you haven't exactly explained who you are or where you've come from, I know that you know that I'm pretty sure I know your identity."

    Vanilla gulped.

    "As such, I'm asking what you plan to do in order to save your family."

    "Oh, that..." Vanilla replied as his ears drooped back. Truth be told, he hadn't given it much thought. No, he didn't want to think about it at all. "I guess- I mean, I do need to save them, but I don't the first thing about how to go about it. I'm not even sure who-"

    "Absol's. A pair of brothers by the names of Absolution, and Perihelion." Reiga stated matter-of-factually.

    "What?! Why would they?"

    Obviously, Vanilla wasn't being kept in the loop in regards to council affairs. "From what I understand, they were fed up with how their information was being handled by the council."

    "So, in short, they wanted something done, the council refused for some reason, and the absol brothers took matters into their own paws? What could they possibly have that would warrant such actions?"

    "That, Vanilla, is something that you'd have to ask them about, yourself..."

    Chocola was in good spirits. First, Vanilla was going to be staying over for a while, then she had finally been able to see the flabebe's meadow? Who knew that asking nicely would get her farther than sneaking around?

    On top of that, Reiga as going to make her favorit-est dessert ever! Light, fluffy crust. Sweet and tart filling that was topped with an even fluffier whipped topping. All that was missing was the berries she had just picked up.

    Chocola was even setting, what she thought, was a record time for running to Pakki's store and back. She only hoped that Vanilla liked the dessert as much as she did.

    "Well, well, well... What do we have here?" A drifloon said as it floated into Chocola's path.

    "Excuse, me." Chocola stated in annoyance. "You're in my way."

    As the vixen tried to move around the aerial Pokémon, an infernape blocked off her other exit.

    "That is the point." The ape said flatly.

    "Why?" Chocola asked as her gaze moved back and forth between the two. "Look, you must not be from around here, but you'd be better off if you left me be. If you're looking for someone to chase, I'm sure you can find Cheddar around here somewhere..."

    "We're not looking for no 'Cheddar'. All we need is eevees." Drifloon said as it readied an attack.

    Chocola had nowhere to run and was hit by a direct blast from the drifloon's hypnosis attack.

    It had no effect...

    'Duh, I'm not an eevee.' Chocola thought to herself. Of course hypnosis wasn't going to work on her because she was a dark-type Pokémon, and hypnosis was a psychic attack. She was practically immune, but that didn't mean that these goons needed to know that. After all, the infernape's attacks would do some damage.

    "Oooohhh..." Zorua moaned before giving out a loud yawn and pretending to fall to her side in unconsciousness, her satchel of berries tossed harmlessly, and safely to the side.

    "Aha! Bagged us an eevee after all!" the drifbloon stated. "Maybe now Leshari won't be mad at us for letting some of them escape!"

    "Hold your ponyta's, Latte, we still have to get this one back to Convocity." the infernape said.

    Chocola had to suppress a giggle, they were buying her act. She should probably escape the first chance she got, but her curiosity was getting the better of her. Why would eevee's be escaping from the capital? Could this have something to do with why Vanilla seemed sad all the time? Chocola had to find out, and to do that, she'd just have to play along.

    "Well, either way, Monmon, this one's out cold. Bring the cart around and we'll load her up."
  5. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~Detained Doppleganger~​

    The zorua found herself being placed inside a shoddily-built cage being pulled by an even less-solidly constructed cart. The ride was bumpy and uneven, but the worst part?

    Chocola was getting bored. Being asleep was one thing, but playing at sleeping? Boooriing with a capital 'B.'

    "Aww, looks like sleeping beauty is finally up from her nap."

    'Hehe. Better late than never.' Chocola thought to herself. "W-where are you taking me?" she said, feigning fear.

    The drifloon laughed. "What? Where do you think we're taking you? A pleasant cruise off the coast? Can you believe this eevee, Monmon?"

    "Leave her alone, Latte. We don't need to be riling her up." The infernape pulling the wagon called out.

    "Oh, please, everyone knows that eevee are harmless." Latte muttered.

    "You still haven't answered my question..."

    "We're taking you to Convocity, in case it wasn't obvious."

    "But why?"

    "Jeez, you really don't know, do you? We're taking you to your parents. That way they'll have to do what Absolution says."

    "Latte! We're not supposed to talk to the prisoner."

    "Come on, Monmon. As far as eevees are concerned, this ones both harmless and clueless." Latte said as it reached through the bars and started scrunching Chocola's cheeks together. "See?"

    "Who's Absolution?" Chocola asked through her 'torment'

    "Really? You don't even know who's responsible for you being stranded out here in the first place? No wonder he and Perihelion were able to overthrow the Eevolution Council!"

    "Oh?" Chocola said with a stretch as she paced the cage.

    "Yeah, sorry to say it, but if your folks were as dumb as you are, they were going to get tossed around eventually. Guess you're lucky that it was the absol brothers that did it and not someone less nice!"

    "Latte! Shut it!"

    "That's okay, I don't mind..."

    "Hah! See what I'm-" The drifloon's sentence died as it glanced in Chocola's direction.

    "Latte?" Monmon asked as he stopped the cart. "What-" then he saw it too.

    The cage was gone, in its place twisted a whirling, wreathing shadow that seemed to absorb all light.

    The shadow spoke. "Thanks for the info. I think I understand the situation a little better now." The shadow started to grow until it filled the vision of both the infernape and the drifloon. "But as for you, I don't think I need you two anymore!" The voice finished as the shadowy tendrils rushed to surround the two, filling their vision with every conceivable nightmare.

    Latte screamed first, leaving the infernape behind in terror. Monmon however, outpaced the floating Pokémon once he remembered how to control his own muscles.

    Chocola found herself alone in the perceived darkness. Moving towards the spot she scouted earlier, the zorua wiggled her way outside of the slightly-larger hole in the side of the cage.

    Free of the cage's confines, and of the two eevee-hunting goons, Chocola sighed to herself. "I guess I wouldn't have made a very good damsel in distress anyway..."

    Not wanting to stay long enough for the two hench-Pokémon to recover, Chocola headed back to her satchel.

    ~Waking Nightmare~​

    Vanilla paced back and forth in worry. Had his mere presence brought disaster?

    The two rattata siblings, Cheese and Swiss, had been coming to see Chocola about an apology when they witnessed an eevee getting abducted by Pokémon from out of town.

    They satchel they had found was filled with the berries that, Reiga said, Chocola had meant to pick up.

    Despite Reiga's claim that the vixen knew how to handle herself, her message did little to calm Vanilla down. What if she never returned? He wasn't sure what he would do if harm had come to such a nice family, to Chocola, on his behalf.

    Vanilla's worries were pushed aside once he spotted Chocola in the distance, not more than an hour after the rattata had delivered the news. He'd never been more thankful for the fact that Reiga had been right.

    "Chocola! Are you okay, Cheese and Swiss saw the whole thing!"

    "Please, Vanilla, it takes far more than something like that to do me in! Sorry to worry you, but, um, thanks for your concern."

    "What happened? How did you escape? Are-"

    "Whoah there, big guy, slow down. After what I just went though? I think the first question is mine." Chocola's voice turned serious. "It's time for you to tell us what's really happening."

    "W-what do you mean?"

    "Don't play coy Vanilla. These guys were after you, not me. And I think it has to do with why you don't want to talk about home."

    Vanilla sat down on his haunches. He'd finally been found out. To begin with, it had only ever been a matter of time, but in a way, the secret being out in the open with Chocola felt like a weight had been lifted off of his back.

    "I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier, Chocola... It's just-"

    "Wait! Before you start blurting out the details," Chocola sniffed at the air, "I think we could all use a snack!"

    Despite wanting answers, Chocola refused to let Vanilla's first Custap Cream Pie be marred by such talk. Only after the entire fluffy pastry had been consumed did she allow Vanilla to tell his story.

    Vanilla cleared his throat once the plates had been cleared away. "I-I guess I'll start with who I am. I was born into one of the Eevolution Council families. My dad is an Umbreon named Fayd, and my mom's name is Caer, but everyone's been calling her Cream since Reiga told the council her stories. She's an eevee, like me."

    "Ah, I believe I can recall a few Pokémon by those names." Reiga chipped in.

    "Yes. My mom's told me many stories about you, Reiga. She was always interested in the human world."

    "What does that have to do with why those goons are after you?" Chocola asked.

    "I'm not entirely sure. The night before you found me, my mom woke me up and led me to a secret passage that led outside the building. She stayed behind to ensure that I wasn't followed, but other than that, the only other details I know came from Reiga."

    "Wait, You knew!?" Chocola said as she glanced at the lucario's smug grin. "Oh, of course, Reiga always knows! Why didn't you tell me?"

    "Because it was not my place to discuss such matters."

    "Again, I apologize Chocola. Reiga only guessed at who I was and left it at that. I haven't directly told anyone about my identity until now."

    The vixen rolled her eyes in exasperation before signaling that Vanilla should continue.

    "Well, Reiga said that the Eevolution Council was overthrown by a pair of absols by the names of Absolution and Perihelion. I am still unsure as to what their motivations may be, other than the fact that they were denied something and it didn't sit well with them, but they've been holding my family and the rest of the council as hostages ever since."

    "Wow, so what those guys were saying is true then. The Eevolution Council has really been outed?"

    "What did they say?"

    "Nothing much. I gather that they aren't exactly the brightest of eggsecute eggs, if you know what I mean. According to them, Absolution's the one in charge, but the families aren't all cooperating with him, even as prisoners. That's why they sent Pokémon out to find eevees, because it looks like your mom wasn't the only one who had the idea of letting her children escape. They also said something about how things with the council were bad enough that if the absol hadn't attacked, someone else probably would have. Although I don't know if those two could be considered an authority on that kind of thing..." Chocola added.

    "But why would Absolution attack the Council? And Perihelion? I've never met his brother, but Peri always seemed so nice...?"

    "I guess you can't judge a book by its cover." Chocola mumbled to herself.

    "What?" Vanilla inquired.

    "Oh! Um, nothing. I-I'll tell you later..."

    "Alright then. Well, that's pretty much the situation as far as I know it. I just don't know where to go from there." Vanilla said as his ears drooped.

    "Duh, silly, it's obvious. We have to go and save your family!" Chocola declared.

    "But I don't know the first thing about fighting!" Vanilla stated, suddenly adamant. "A-and I couldn't ask you to get involved!"

    "Why not?"

    "B-because you've been so nice and helpful, you and Reiga. I don't want to see you get hurt." The eevee admitted.

    "Please. You're my friend, Vanilla. I'm sure we'll figure something out. It might even be fun!"

    "Thanks, Chocola." Vanilla said with fresh tears forming.

    "What's the matter?"

    Vanilla wasn't quite sure. At first, he thought it was caused by remembering the night he escaped, but now? The Eevee ran over and hugged Chocola. "I-I guess I've never really had a friend before."

    The vixen found herself at a loss for words as Vanilla encircled her in an embrace. Yes, she had called him her friend, didn't she? But even as he thanked her for everything she'd done for him over the course of the last two days, his voice muffled by her fur, the fact remained that she was still lying to him.

    What kind of friend did that make her?

    ~Cascade Canyon~​
    Vanilla was still unsure about what he needed to do to save his family. Chocola, however, decided to pull him along on another adventure rather than allowing him to mope around until he came up with an answer. Besides, the exercise could only be food for the eevee. Too bad being lost and constantly out of breath seemed to be the new normal.

    "Welcome to Cascade Canyon, Vanilla!" Chocola told her out-of-breath friend.

    "What treasure are we looking for today?" Vanilla managed once he had regained some iota of composure.

    "Shinies, same as last time." Chocola said as she peeked over the edge, the river carved a course through the canyon below. "Although here we won't have to worry about zubat or diglett messing things up."

    "Oh, that's good then-" Vanilla started before peering over the edge himself. The sudden height was jarring, to say the least. "Woah!" he finished as he retreated to the relative safety of not being near the ledge.

    "Hehehe!" was all Chocola could say in regards to Vanilla's discomfort.

    "Is there any place less precarious we could look?"

    Chocola thought for a bit. "Not really. I mean, I've already checked the less-dangerous places. Well, most of them..."

    "What do you mean?"

    "There's a few places I haven't visited while treasure hunting around here, Places like the top of the super dangerous Everpeak itself!" Chocola stated while pointing to the top of the always-visible mountain. "One day, though, I'll conquer that mountain, and then, the rest of Exile!"

    "That's a pretty lofty goal, Chocola." Vanilla stated, obviously impressed. "If you've already explored everything around here, you must have a pretty extensive collection of treasures already."

    "Oh, that's right! You haven't seen my stash yet. We'll have to show you that when we go back."

    "I can't wait-" Vanilla said before retreating from the precariously close edge once more. Looking at the vixen, his eyes pleaded with Chocola to find a better treasure-hunting local.

    "Fine, we'll take the lower path when we reach the next branch in the path. There's bound to be one around here somewhere. But don't expect me to pass up any shinies that we see higher up."

    "I somehow doubt that anyone could prevent that, Chocola." Vanilla stated with a smile.

    "Hehehe!" Chocola grinned.

    As they made their way to a crossroads, they had yet to come across any stones of value, affording Vanilla with the opportunity to take the lower path. Not that the rapids between the path and the nearby cliff walls seemed safe, but that was surely better than falling onto the ground from a greater height, right?

    The distance between the canyon walls widened. As Chocola kept her eye to the rock walls, Vanilla found himself gazing over the widening river.

    "I wouldn't get too close to it. The river only looks calm here. It's actually running pretty deep and fast below the surface."

    "Oh?" Vanilla replied, taking her word for it. "Wait, I thought you said you hadn't been here yet."

    "No, I said that I'd been almost everywhere, not that I haven't been here before."

    "Then why are we checking again?"

    "Because, when it rains, the rocks on the cliff can loosen up and fall into the river. The rocks behind those ones can be shiny." Chocola explained before suddenly stopping in front of Vanilla.

    "What's wrong?"

    Chocola pointed forward at the gap in the path where the rock had broken away just as she described. "Ugh, the only problem with this place is sometimes the trail falls off too..."

    "Wait, what!? You mean our path could fall away at any time? What about the higher path we were on? Why-" Vanilla found himself cut off when a large boulder fell from above and landed right in the hole in front of them with a massive splash, nearly drenching the both of them.

    "Hey, what do you think you're doing up there!?" Chocola shouted at the shadow moving about on the ledge above them. "You could have hit us!"

    "I say! Miss Chocola, is that you I hear down there?" A vaguely quagsire-shaped shadow inquired from above. "Whatever are you doing traipsing through these parts?"

    "I'm not trying to get squished by rocks if that's what you mean."

    "I'm sorry, but I didn't quite catch that. No worries, Miss Chocola, just you wait right there, and I'll be right down." The shadow declared before disappearing over the ledge.

    "Who was that?" Asked Vanilla.

    "I think it's Mister Erigsly. He's the leader of Team Dapper."

    "So he's a guild member?"

    Correct, young eevee." The quagsire in question answered as he appeared down the path where they, too, had just came from.

    "Hi, Mister Erigsly! This is my friend Vanilla. Vanilla, Erigsly. Now that that's out of the way, do you mind explaining why you were trying to squish us?"

    "Squish you? Perish the thought!" Erigsly exclaimed as he inspected his work "Though I must apologize if it appeared that way. I had no idea anyone else was down here."

    "Likely story..." Chocola said suspiciously.

    "It is the truth. Team dapper was dispatched so that we may fix the damaged paths through the canyon. As it stands now, there is no route to the other side, So logically, it stood to reason that no Pokémon were likely to wander through. Although it appears I was mistaken. So, that brings me to my next question, what are you, little ones, doing here, hmm?"

    "Hey, don't change the subject!" Chocola stated before answering. "But if you must know, we're hunting for treasure!"

    "Ah, gemstone hunting, a noble exploit, but I'm afraid you'd have better luck downstream. The rocks that fall into the water get worn down and deposited at a bend not too far from the canyon's exit if I'm remembering it correctly." Erigsly said knowingly.

    Chocola shooke her head in frustration. "Darn, the sableye already have a claim there, otherwise I would've gone." The vixen thought for a moment before continuing "Wait, have you at least spotted anything up where you found that big rock?"

    "I'm afraid not, Miss Chocola. I'd love to assist you in your quest, but I've still got work to attend to, and I suspect that I'll end up farther up the path. You will notify me if you notice any paths that require my attention, won't you? " Erigsly asked before turning to head back. "Although, you might try your inquiry with my assistants. They're bound to be around here somewhere. Maybe they've seen something. Oh, and be sure to give my regards to your father the next time you see him. Take care, Miss Chocola!"

    "Bye, Mister Erigsly! I'll be sure to tell my dad!" Chocola waved the quagsire off.

    "It was a pleasure to meet you, Mister Erigsly" Vanilla responded as well before turning to Chocola. "So your dad's a guild member too?"

    "What? No. Daddy just helps them from time to time. I don't think he's ever been a member of a team." Chocola said as she used a fore-paw to gingerly test the rock the quagsire had used to repair the path. "Come on, let's go find his assistants! Four sets of eyes are better than two!" She finished before hopping across the boulder.

    Vanilla sighed as he approached the impromptu bridge, realizing that, despite the danger, he had no choice but to chase after her.
  6. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~Team Dapper~​

    After the incident with Team Dapper's leader, Vanilla wasn't sure what to expect of the rest of his team. The council had dealings with guild members from time to time, but Vanilla was never privy to such dealings.

    From the stories he'd heard, he had been under the impression that Guild teams were all composed of rough-and-tumble Pokémon looking for a fight, an outlook that didn't seem to fit Mister Erigsly in the slightest.

    A few more twists and turns later and they could hear sounds of a struggle in the distance. Turning the corner revealed a farfetch'd wielding a leek against a fallen log. Holding the leek in his wing, the duck lunged at the log before slicing it neatly in two and returning to a ready stance.

    "Hey there!" Chocola shouted.

    "Wah!?" The farfetch'd shouted, nearly dropping his leek in surprise. "Don't you know it's rude to sneak up on other Pokémon like that?" he quacked.

    "Oh, our apologies. I'm Vanilla, and this is my friend, Chocola. Are you one of team Dapper's members, by chance?"

    "Of course I am! The name's Fett, and if you can't tell, I'm very busy clearing out these felled trees."

    "Mister Erigsly said we could ask you if you've seen any treasures around here." Chocola said as she hopped on top of one of the nearby wood piles. The pile wasn't stacked very neatly and nearly toppled over with her additional weight. "Woah!" she exclaimed before neatly recovering her balance.

    "Hmmm." Fett said, closing his eyes to concentrate. "How about this. I tell you if I've seen anything, but first, you have to do something for me. How does that sound?"

    The vixen didn't like the sound of that. "Aww, come on. It's just a simple question!"

    "Ah, but your help will show how much you want an answer. You do want that kind of information, yes?"

    "Fine." Chocola said flatly, any work that might lead to treasure had to at least have some worth, right? "What do you need us to do?"

    "Well, um, how do I put this. I can cut logs all day, but, um, I'm not very good at anything else..." Fett admitted as he rubbed the back of his head and gestured at the precariously stacked wood piles all around. "So, if you could help stack these, I'd appreciate it."

    Stacking wood really didn't seem like fun to Chocola, but Vanilla beat her to the punch. Grabbing one of the sticks off of a nearby pile, he turned to the duck and asked for clarification. "We just need to stack these by the wall over there?"

    "You bet! While you're doing that, I can finish cutting the rest of these logs, and we'll be ready for the next job!"

    Vanilla saluted before dragging his stick over to the wall. "Come on, Chocola!"

    'Why did he have to look so happy doing manual labor?' The vixen thought to herself before grabbing her own piece of wood and hopping off of the woodpile. 'This better lead to some really shiny treasure..." Chocola finished before setting her piece down next to the wall.

    This was going to be a long day.

    Vanilla was almost glad for the work. Despite the breaks he was forced to take to catch his breath, he no longer felt as though his fatigue would cause him to drop at a moments notice.

    Chocola, however was just glad the work was nearly finished. Rolling the last few logs into place, she called out for Fett. "Okay, we're done. Now it's time for you to hold up your end of the bargain. Where are the shinies?"

    "Oh, um, about that... I actually haven't seen any..." The farfetch'd said sheepishly.

    "You what!? Listen, you said you'd tell use where we could find some treasure after we helped, and we did, so are you going to tell us or not."

    "Now, now. Calm down, Chocola, I'm sure there's a valid reason for Mister Fett's behavior."

    "No, she's right. I just didn't want to stack all of those logs. Sorry."

    "So we did all that work for nothing? Great! Just great!" Chocola yelled as Vanilla held her back fromlunging at the bird.

    "Well, look, I'm sorry I lied, okay. Tell you what, I'll take you to see the one Pokémon on our team who has an eye for such things. If there's any treasure to be seen, Noodle's the one who's most likely to have seen it."

    Vanilla looked hopeful, eager even. And with that look, Chocola's found her anger at the farfetch'd was quickly diminishing. "Fine. Let's go."

    "That's the spirit! I'm sure she's around her somewhere." Fett said, happy to still have both his feathers intact and a finished workload.

    They found the final member of Team Dapper, a furret named Noodle, attempting to dig a tunnel through one of the more precarious outcroppings.

    "Hey, Fett, finished already?" She said with surprise after she pushed a load of dirt and rock into the water below. Dusting herself off, she noticed the two foxes standing behind her teammate. "Oh, now I get it." She said eying the farfetch'd accusingly. "Let me guess, you needed help with something, and Fett here agreed to help in exchange for doing some of his work. Only, after it was done, it turns out that he can't actually help you and now he's brought you here in hopes that I might solve his problem. That about sum it up?"

    "Wow! Almost precisely." Vanilla acknowledged with a surprised grin.

    "What do I keep saying about doing stuff like that, Fett? One of these days, you going to make a deal with a Pokémon that we really shouldn't be owing anything to. Do you understand that?" The furret said shaking her head in disparagement. "I swear, if you weren't such a decent fighter, you'd be the end of us, Fett."

    "I like her!" Chocola whispered to Vanilla.

    "Alright, what did the duck promise you so we can get that sorted?"

    "Shinies!" Chocola exclaimed.

    "What? I'm not sure I follow." Noodle said as she tilted her head.

    "She means treasure." Vanilla translated. "Shiny stones in particular. Especially evolution stones if you've seen any, ma'am."

    "Hmm. An odd request." the furret stated as she furrowed her brow in thought.

    "So? Have you seen any or not? We've wasted a bunch of time stacking stuff already and the day's almost over!" The vixen pleaded.

    "Hold on a sec." was the only thing Noodle said as she retraced her steps in her mind. It didn't take long for her to recall something promising. "Ah, there we go! Come on, I think I might know where to find what you're looking for." the jill said as she hopped back down the trail.

    "Finally!" Chocola shouted as she leapt to follow the weasel.

    As the group made their way to Noodle's possible treasure, Vanilla found himself walking next to Fett. Something about the conversation between the two dapper team members had piqued his interest. "So, um, Mister Fett? May I ask you a question?"

    "Sure, kid. Just so long as it doesn't have anything to do with more treasure. And it's just Fett, by the way."

    "Oh, right. It doesn't have anything to do with that, I promise. It's just that, Miss Noodle said you were a decent fighter earlier, and I was just wondering what it takes to learn how to fight."

    "I'm not sure I follow..."

    "Well, I mean. Where did you learn how to fight? Is there something special you have to do to do it well?"

    "Look kid. All Pokémon know how to fight. It isn't something you have to learn." Fett answered, to which Vanilla drooped his ears. Great, now he was ruining the pup's mood. 'Way to go, Fett...' "Now don't get me wrong," he added, attempting to change the direction of the conversation, "there's always room for improvement. That's kind of what the guild does. It puts members under Pokémon who can pass what they know to the younger members."

    "So I just need join a guild in order to get stronger?"

    "Well, I suppose you could do that. I guess with the way things have been going for you eevee-types lately, you all could use some practice."

    "Fett!" Noodle scolded, dropping any guise that she wasn't eavesdropping. "But, he is kind of right. It hasn't been safe for eevees to be traveling about these days."

    "Yep, we know. But trust me, we'll be fine!" Chocola interjected.

    "If you say so. Anyway, we need to go up there." Noodle said while gesturing to one of the trails that connected the lower path to the upper one.

    Vanilla didn't like that prospect too much but thankfully, they didn't have to go very far. As they walked back along the cliff, Noodle stopped at a section of the path that was surrounded by little scraggly shrubs that half-hung over the cliff side.

    "And we're here!" The furret declared triumphantly.

    "Here where? I don't see anything."

    "That's because it's up there!" Noodle said pointing to a tiny stone sticking out of the cliff side above their heads. "The suns changed position, so it was easier to see this morning."

    "What is it?" Vanilla asked.

    "I don't know, but I want it!" Replied Chocola. "How do we get up there, though?"

    "I'm not sure we have to..." Noodle said as she examined the cliff face from up close.

    "What do you mean?"

    "See the rest of the rocks up there? They look ready to fall any day now. We just need to knock them loose." The furret said before backing up towards the shrub-lined perimeter of their outcropping.

    "Knock them-? Wait are you sure that's a good idea?" Fett asked, the concern for his wellbeing rising with each syllable.

    "We'll be fine. Just keep an eye on that gem so we don't have to dig around for it." Noodle said as she reared up for an attack.

    A single headbutt was all it took to dislodge the ledge. The furret was a little dazed, but quickly recovered, and stepped out from the rock's path before it inevitably crashed onto the trail.

    Only, the gem popped out of the rock as soon as it impacted, sending it tumbling directly for the edge.

    "Oh no!" Chocola shouted as she dove towards it.

    But she was too late, the gem just barely avoiding her grasp. Before it could plummet into the river below, however, the gem managed to lodge itself between the branches of one of the shrubs.

    Before anyone could stop her, the vixen started climbing into the tree to retrieve her treasure.

    "Chocola! Wait!" Vanilla yelled as he dashed after her.

    Just as Chocola snagged the gem between her teeth, the branch snapped, but not before the eevee had managed to grab hold of Chocola's tail.

    A muffled "Woah" came from both of the foxes as they struggled. After all of the work Vanilla had done for the day, he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold on.

    The two Team Dapper members, however, had no illusions about the situation, and were already leaping into action.

    "Fett! Whirlwind!" Noodle shouted as she prepped for a leap.

    Without hesitation, the farfetch'd whipped up a small cyclone and pushed it towards the eevee. As the winds enveloped them, it began to lift them into the air and hold them aloft, but it could not do so for long.

    As the whirlwind gently moved the pair up and away from the cliff, Noodle sprang into action. Using all of her might, she leaped past the pair and into the opposing canyon wall. Rebounding off of the far wall, she aimed herself at the two foxes.

    Colliding as softly as possible, Noodle wrapped herself around the pair. Her momentum mostly spent, it was clear that the three of them would never reach the ledge. Instead of accepting that fate, the Furret did the unthinkable. She unfurled herself as quickly as she could, flinging the foxes forward just enough for them to land on the path.

    Chocola and Vanilla both took a spill as they tumbled towards the relative safety of the ground. Noodle, however, was not so lucky, and she plummeted into the darkness below.

    It was then that the three remaining Pokémon noticed something odd. Instead of hearing the fateful splash they were all expecting from the furret's selfless act, they heard nothing over the dull din of the water below.

    Fett was the first to peer over the edge. "Noodle!?"

    "Um" The slightly damp, but otherwise unharmed furret replied. She was standing in the middle of the raging river around her as though the body of water were no more than a mere puddle. "What?"

    As Noodle slowly rose up and out of the water, the head of a quagsire appeared beneath her.

    "Boss!?" The two team members shouted in unison.

    Team Dapper's boss, Mister Erigsly had finished his work and was ready to head back towards the canyon entrance. But, being a water type, he could hardly pass up the chance to swim back instead.

    It was just pure luck that he happened to be nearby during Noodle's daring rescue. Or so he said. Despite the scolding he gave his underlings about endangering other Pokémon, we was content with the fact that no-one was hurt.

    "So, now that that's all out of the way, Do you suppose we could get a look at that trinket you were so willing to risk your life for, Miss Chocola?" Mister Erigsly asked.

    Chocola was carefully laid the gem out in front of the encircled Pokémon.

    The gem itself, despite being somewhat shiny, and almost perfectly round, was an entirely unremarkable brownish-black color.

    "What is it?" Asked Fett.

    "I don't know!" Chocola admitted. "But I don't care, I like it!"

    "Well, if that fulfills Fett's promise, than I think we can mark this whole thing off as a success then, don't you think?" the furret prompted.

    Vanilla looked at Chocola who was now holding the round stone up to the light. "I do believe that we are satisfied, Miss Noodle. And thanks, again, for the rescue! You guys are amazing!"

    "Think nothing of it, young Vanilla. It is all in a days work for Team Dapper!" Mister Erigsly beamed.

    And with that, the two groups departed. Both with their tasks complete, and one who would soon be late for lunch if they didn't return before long!

    ~Chocola's Secret~​

    Following lunch and a board game that Reiga swore came from the human world, Vanilla's fatigue finally caught up to him. Curled up on one of the living room cushions, the eevee settled down for a siesta, fully intent on waking up before dinner was served.

    Oddly enough for Chocola, she too felt that a nap was in order. Or rather, she didn't feel like doing anything without the eevee. Tossing and turning on her own cushion, she eventually gave up the prospect of rest, however. Instead, she found herself content with just looking over the other fox's sleeping form.

    He'd called himself her friend, that much was certain. After he threw his own life on the line for her sake, she believed every word of it. So why was she still hesitant to tell him the truth? The longer she waited, the harder it would be on Vanilla.

    The eevee already had enough on his plate, right? Could she really give him something else to worry about? But then there was the discussion he had with the farfetch'd. It was only a matter of time before he left to join up with a guild, or something.

    Or something...

    An insane idea began forming in her head. Maybe, just maybe, it would actually work. But was she sure she should even try? Just watching the gentle rise and fall of Vanilla's breathing was enough to settle her decision.

    The building excitement drained the afternoon drowsiness out her system and Chocola silently jumped off of her cushion and made her way upstairs.

    Even after Vanilla awoke, the house remained oddly quiet. The reason for such silence was not lost on Reiga, who suspected that it was due to some event from the the pups' earlier escapades. The fact that Chocola had simply retired to her room for the quiet afternoon was proof enough.

    While Chocola hid away in her room, Reiga instead challenged Vanilla to another game of checkers. He had been soundly defeated the first time, but he seemed to be getting a handle on the basics of piece maneuvering by now. There were other games she would prefer to use as a gauge, but the complexity she'd grown used to in the human world was mostly absent here, at least in the realm of boardgames. The fact that even the youngest humans had access to surprisingly complex challenges was largely what made humans, and subsequenlty human-trained Pokémon, forces to reckoned with.

    But checkers would have to suffice for now. "So have you made a decision yet?"

    "Not yet..." Vanilla started as he successfully jumped another piece. "There's just so much I still don't know."

    "Such as?"

    "Well, for starters, I need to get stronger, I think. Both physically and, um tactically, I guess?"

    "Oh?" Reiga said, blocking one of Vanilla's pieces in.

    "I heard that the guilds can train Pokémon how to fight, but I'm not sure if joining a guild is the correct decision. Even if I did, training could take quite some time, and that's the one thing I'm sure I don't have..."

    Reiga was a bit surprised at his assessment, almost more so than his blocking her from making a king piece. "If the guilds aren't an option, what would you do then?"

    "I suppose I'll have to find someone else to teach me how to fight. Are there any Pokémon in town that could teach me?"

    "I'm not sure..." Reiga lied, knowing full well the answer. Vanilla had missed her feint as she kinged another piece anyway. The look on his face hinted that he'd noticed it, but by then could do nothing about the piece. "But I'm confident you'll find something soon enough."

    "Thanks, Reiga!"

    With that, the game continued in silence. Reiga still won, as it would do no good to go easy on the child, but his skill was improving rapidly. In time, he may even beat her, but as the eevee said, time was the one commodity that neither of them had in great amounts.

    Dinner was also a subdued affair. Chocola made short work of her charti-chilan berry sauce and topo berry noodles, and headed right back upstairs once she was done.

    "Is Chocola feeling well?" Vanilla asked in concern.

    "I don't think she's come down with something."

    "Then why has she been avoiding me since we got back?"

    "Well, everyone needs space now and then." Reiga suggested as she removed their plates from the table. "But in this case, I believe that this is something Chocola must work out on her own."

    "So, then, there's nothing I can do to help?"

    "Afraid so, Little One. When she's ready for your help, she'll let you know." Reiga admitted, only to see Vanilla's ears droop a bit. "In the meantime, though, would you like to help with the dishes?"

    Thoroughly distracted, Vanilla hopped onto the counter with an excited, "Sure! I've never 'done dishes' before! What do I do?"

    "For starters, we're going to need some warm water. So we're going to need some flint and that pot over there..."

    Despite how tired Vanilla's muscles felt, his mind was anything but. Thoughts of guilds, and fighting, but most of all, his family, filled his head.

    He was so alone with his thoughts, Vanilla almost missed the quiet "Psst." Coming from the stairs. "You're still awake, right?" Chocola whispered her question.

    Unsure why whispering was needed, Vanilla played along with a wry grin. "If I was, I wouldn't be able to answer."

    "Oh, right..." Chocola said as she sat down in front of Vanilla's cushion. "How are you doing?"

    "What do you mean?"

    "Well, you know... we kind of cut it close out there today, and, well, I just wanted to apologize for getting you into that situation."

    "Apology accepted, I guess, but it isn't necessary. I couldn't hold it against you." Vanilla admitted. "We did manage to secure the treasure, after all. Besides, I've got the feeling that I'll be seeing more of that in the near future, whether I want to or not."

    Chocola mulled over the eevee's words before getting up. "Come on upstairs for a bit, I want to show you something." She said, motioning for the stairs.


    "Don't worry, this won't take long." Chocola stated. 'I hope...' she thought to herself.

    Upstairs, Chocola led the way to her room. It was pitch black at the moment, forcing Chocola to guide Vanilla towards a spot in the center of the room.

    "Close your eyes!"

    "What? Why?"

    "Just close them, okay!"

    Chocola pushed past Vanilla and began shuffling with something. Even through his closed eyelids, he could sense that some moonlight had flooded the room.

    "Okay, you can open them..." Chocola finished.

    Doing as instructed, Vanilla was greeted with a sight he could only compare to the cave he'd visited on his first adventure with the vixen. Scattered about her room lay all manner of shiny stones and multifaceted gems, each reflecting and refracting the moonlight until the walls and ceiling looked like the Chocola's own personal star-scape.

    "Oh, myyy..." was all Vanilla could say as he turned around a few times in an attempt to take the whole view in. "I've never seen anything like this, Chocola! 'Amazing' doesn't do it justice!"

    "Thanks! This is just about everything I've ever collected during my treasure hunts. I-I just wanted you to see them like they're supposed to be seen before-" Chocola cut herself off.

    Vanilla didn't understand, by the tone of her voice, she made it sound as though this was the last time they'd ever see each other. "Before? Chocola, this isn't about me needing to leave to help my family is it? I promise I'll come back and visit from time to time. I swear!"

    "No! This isn't about that at all. Not really..." Chocola admitted as she turned to face the moon outside.

    Even in the relative darkness, Vanilla couldn't have missed the gleam of tears running down her cheeks as she did so. "You're my friend, Chocola. You can talk to me."

    "T-that's just it! I've been a terrible friend!"

    Vanilla tried to approach. "I don't underst-" He was cut off when Chocola turned to face him as a soft light surrounded her form. Before his very eyes, his friend transformed away from the image of the eevee he'd known over the last few days and into something else.

    Her coat darkened to black, and the cream-colored tips turned crimson. Chocola's fur was longer, the tuft of hair on her head, more prominent. Before long, only the unmistakable form of a zorua stood before him.

    "I-I'm a horrible friend. I was never an eevee, I lied, was lying to you, the whole time. Ever since we first met. Now you know. I'm not the eevee you're friends with." Chocola revealed as she sat down to rub the tears out of her eyes. "A-and if you never want to be friends after this, I-I'll understand..."

    Vanilla simply got up and walked next to his friend. "Chocola is Chocola."

    "W-What!?" the zorua said, slightly dumbfounded.

    "Chocola is Chocola." He said again as he sat down against the vixen. "It doesn't matter what you look like. I didn't become friends with you just because you looked like an eevee, I befriended you because I liked all the little adventures we went on during my short time here. I've enjoyed your company in a way I've never experienced before, and I'd never give that up just because you didn't look the way you did when we first met. If Pokémon did that all the time, they'd never be able to have friends on account of how much an evolution changes someone, right?"

    The zorua sat there in shock for a moment. This had never happened with any of the other Pokémon in town. Every time she'd copied their forms, they always became angry or upset. Always. "That's probably the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me!" She said, her spirits rising with every word. "You're sure you're not mad at me for lying to you?"

    "Of course not. I mean, I'd always assumed you had your own reasons. Kind of like how I didn't discuss my situation to you until it was too late. Besides, that skill of yours is kind of what zorua are known for, I couldn't possibly hold that against you."

    Chocola had just finished drying her cheeks off by the time she figured out exactly what her friend was saying. "Wait!? You knew!?" She said while looking at Vanilla suspiciously. As the eevee simply nodded in affirmation, Chocola realized that Reiga had been right once more. "How long? Was it my tail? Tails are always the hardest part!"

    "Hmm, it wasn't the tail. But to answer your question, I suppose I've always known. Well, suspected anyway. And it wasn't because your disguise failed, per se."

    "Then what?"

    "If I had to put my paw on it, it was because of your creative additions." Chocola was squinting evilly at him now. "Now don't get me wrong, your changes were," Vanilla coughed, "very appealing. But it was your eyes. It's likely only another eevee would notice, but your irises were always the same deep, sky-blue as they are now. Eevees, on the other paw, almost always have eyes that are a purplish-brown color."

    Chocola sat back in embarrassment, she's made such a rookie mistake. And to top it off, she'd been living in her own worst case scenario for no reason whatsoever. The whole situation was just...

    Sighing, Chocola let out a giggle before she summed up the situation. "Next time, just promise to tell me if I'm doing a disguise wrong, okay? It'll save us both a lot of misery, I'm sure.

    Thinking back to the fact that he was forced to tell his story only after she'd been mistaken for him, he had to agree. "Sure, I'd be happy too!"

    Crises averted, and Chocola couldn't be happier. She'd almost never planned to get this far, honestly. Almost.

    "Oh, wait!" the zorua started excitedly. "I've got one more thing to show you!" Diving under her bed, she pulled out a small box that had been tucked away beneath.

    Placing it between them, she turned it so that the opening faced Vanilla.

    "I've never shown this collection to anyone else..." Chocola added before prying off the lid.

    Inside, there were a multitude of tiny blackened orbs, all of them around the same size, and all of them perfectly round. Two of them, however, were bound in string. "Hey, these look just like the gem we found today!"

    "Yep." Chocola admitted, pulling the two bound gems out of the box. "This is the one from today." She said as she moved the one in her left paw forward.

    Vanilla had to take her word for it. Even in the direct moonlight, is was still too dark for him to discern any differences between the two.

    "Here, take it." She said while offering him the gem.

    "Are you sure? I didn't do much to get this one. You were the one that dove after it."

    "Well, you did dive right after me, I guess, so I owe you one, but that's beside the point. I'm giving this to you under one condition."

    The eevee tilted his head in confusion as to where the conversation was heading. "Oh?"

    "When the day comes where you have to leave, I want you to use this so that you always have something to remember me by. Can you promise me that?"

    "Of course, Chocola." Vanilla said sincerely. "I doubt I'll ever be able to forget you, even if I wanted to." He continued with a smile. "But I promise that I'll always remember you."

    With that, Vanilla accepted her offering. "And I'll wear this one, so that way, we'll both have a promise to keep!"

    "What about all of the other ones?"

    "Guess we'll just have to make more friends!" Chocola stated, giggling once more. She doubted she could remember the last time she'd felt this way but was glad that she had an official token to remember this moment.

    Closing the box and shoving it back under the bed, she turned to find a shadow towering behind Vanilla.

    "What's this?" Reiga said in a commanding tone. It didn't sound like a question. "I seem to have found two Pokémon that are supposed to be in bed..."

    Taking the hint, the two foxes kept their rebuttal short. "Sorry, Ma'am!"

    "Darn right, you're sorry! Now, off to bed with you, for real this time!"

    Replies of "Yes Ma'am!" and "Right away Ma'am!" were offered in stereo as Chocola dove beneath her covers, and Vanilla dashed out of the room.

    "That's what I thought..." Reiga finished as she left to return to her previous task.

    'Unlikely to separate your C and our V now. Deviation? Regardless, the next phase is ready, despite difficulty. -R'

    ~Training Montage~​

    After breakfast and morning chores were done, Chocola decided to leave their next adventure to Vanilla. Needless to say, she was only mildly surprised he didn't immediately suggest treasure hunting.

    "Are there any guilds around here we can ask about getting stronger?" Vanilla asked.

    Chocola held up her nose. "Please, we don't need a guild! If they were so strong they wouldn't need the help of my dad all of the time."

    Vanilla had to admit that that made sense. Sort of. "Well then, what do you suggest?"

    "Hmmm..." Chocola said while rubbing her chin while deep in thought. "I know! I can help train you!."

    "You know how to fight?"

    "Well, no." She admitted. "But I've watched daddy enough times that I must have learned something, right?"

    Not two hours into Chocola's 'training' did they realize the truth.

    Chocola shook her head in frustration. "Aww, why isn't this working? I could have sworn I knew more of daddy's tenets..."

    "It's alright, Chocola." Vanilla said as he attempted to shake the dizziness from his own head. The last attempt had left him spinning away from his makeshift target. The tied up stick simply stood there, mocking him. "Can we ask Reiga?"

    "No!" the vixen shouted. "I mean, no..." She finished softly.

    "Why not? She's worked with your father for years, correct? She should know some of these tenets. She's also from the human world, and there are many legends explaining how human-trained Pokémon learn to excel at combat. She should know a thing or two, at least."

    "Because well, I don't want to face her smug grin when she turns out to be right again..." Chocola muttered.

    "I didn't catch that last part..." Vanilla meekly admitted.

    "I just don't want to ask, all right! First, she'll gloat that she knows more than me about this stuff, and about dad, but then she'll top it off by berating me about how I've avoided studying daddy's teachings!"

    "Oh, I didn't know."

    Chocola sighed in exhasperation. She shouldn't get mad at the eevee. It wasn't his fault she hated studying. "Look, we can keep it as a final option, okay? There are still plenty of Pokémon we can ask in town. I'm sure they'll help."

    "You're sure 'who' will help with 'what'?" Reiga said as she entered the back yard with a simple wooden rake.

    "We were hoping that some Pokémon in town would be willing to assist me with my problem."

    "Vanilla, Ixnay on the ellin-tay eiga-ray!"


    "Well, Miss Reiga," Vanilla started, ignoring Chocola's plea, "I still need someone to teach me how to get stronger. But with that group of Pokémon still hanging around looking for eevees to round up, I don't think it's a good idea for me to wander around town..."

    "I wouldn't worry about that, Vanilla. The townsfolk wouldn't just hand you over without a fuss."

    "They wouldn't?" Vanilla asked for clarification.

    "Of course not. Since you've been here, the populace has been enjoying a peaceful few days of not being terrorized by little foxes named Chocola."


    "And word's spread that you are the reason, dear Vanilla. So no, they wouldn't give that, or you, up for all the world." Reiga teased. "Now if you're going to go, you'd better hurry. Take too long, and you won't make it back before lunch."

    "Thanks, Reiga!" Vanilla said as he sprang up to leave. Anything was better than throwing himself at the bundle of sticks that made up his surprisingly agile target. "Come on, Chocola!"

    "Coming, Vanilla!" Chocola called out before passing Reiga. "You just love taunting me, don't you?"

    "Little, Chocola, you have no idea..." Reiga admitted with the smug smile Chocola knew was coming. "Now then, off you go! Adventure awaits and what-not."
  7. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~New Direction~​
    "Why hello there, Chocola!" Pakki said as the zorua entered her shop. "Here to pick up more groceries?"

    "Hehehe, Nope! Not this time!" Chocola grinned as Vanilla followed her into the store. "We're here for information!"

    "I don't really deal in selling info, you know..."

    "Would you please make an exception, Missus Pakki?" Vanilla pleaded. "This is kind of important."

    Pakki sighed. "Well, how can I say no to a face like that, huh? What exactly are you two looking for?"

    "We were hoping to find a Pokémon willing to train other Pokémon on how to fight!" Chocola exclaimed.

    "Don't worry, Missus Pakki, we're more looking for how to defend ourselves from mean Pokémon than anything else." Vanilla added at the shocked, slash horrified, look that appeared on the pachirisu's face.

    Vanilla's speech doing only a little to calm her down from the thought of a weaponized version of Chocola running amok, Pakki replied. "Sorry, little Vanilla, but I don't think I can help."

    "What, why?" Questioned Chocola.

    "Well, it's not as though I don't want to help you all," Pakki answered with at least a little honesty. "It's just that I don't know of any Pokémon around here that are taking on students at the moment. Not unless you wanted to join a guild, anyway. But if you were thinking about that, you wouldn't be asking me about finding a master, now would you?"

    "Darn." Chocola said as she headed for the exit.

    "Thanks anyway, Missus Pakki." Vanilla sighed in frustration as he followed his friend.

    Leaving the pachirisu's store behind, the two were left with a dilemma. "Now what?"

    Vanilla sat down for a moment while he recalled the rest of their trip. "Well so far, we've got seven 'don't know's', one primeape that only works with fighting types, and a guild that specializes in carpentry, and the tiny police station that should really consider hiring more than one officer if they want to reliably cover the whole valley. Are you sure that was everyone?"

    "Everyone worth talking to, anyway. I could have sworn that the Mighty Oak guild handled more than, well, oak..." Chocola said in defeat. "I guess, if you really want too, we can go back and ask-"

    "Why, if it isn't the one and only Chocola. I feel as though fate is smiling upon me, just as your very presence is guaranteed to bring a smile upon this very face of mine."

    "Ugh. What do you want, Clementine?" Chocola asked while rolling her eyes.

    "Do you think so little of me, my dear, sweet Chocola, to assume that I'd need some ulterior motive in which to engage you in conversation?"

    "Yes." The zorua said flatly.

    "If you must know, I'm attempting to come to your aid, Dearest Vixen." Clementine declared.

    "Oh. Joy."

    "Indeed! I've heard of the difficulties you've faced on your quest to find a strong Pokémon, for whatever reason, and as it just so happens, I have a means of assisting you."

    "Why should we trust you?" Chocola tried to make her disdain more apparent.

    "I think we should at least hear him out, Chocola." Vanilla interjected. "It's not like we've had a whole lot of options to choose from recently."

    "Fine. Get on with it, Clementine."

    "Ohoho, my dear Chocola, not so fast. If you want information to help your, um, eevee friend there, I'll need something in return."

    As much as she hated wherever this line of bargaining might go, Chocola was finding it hard to ignore the sad pleading look on Vanilla's face. "Fine, whatever. But it better not be anything gross, or so help me..." She said as the shadows around her seemed to grow.

    "Please, Chocola, I am a gentle-fox, above all else. My only request is that, when you go on your little soiree, you take me with you."

    "What? Why?" Now the vixen was really confused.

    "And miss out on a chance to spend the day with my favorite fox?" Clementine said teasingly. "But I digress, my real reason for going is that I, too, wish to meet with her."

    "I should have known."

    "Yes, I wish to gaze upon the Pokémon whose body is rumored to be terrifyingly beautiful to behold! Or was it a beautiful terror? I'm not sure there is much of a distinction. Anyway, do we have a deal?"

    "Fine..." Chocola reluctantly agreed. It wasn't as though it was really her choice, but she was willing to make the sacrifice if it meant that Vanilla got what he wanted.

    "That's the spirit! The reason that none of the townsfolk wished to recommend her, is that she has a very sordid relationship with the town. She did try to destroy it once, after all."

    "Wait, you don't mean..."

    "Your intuition is astonishingly correct, Dearest. The Terror of Jocundale still lives atop of the Everpeak. Presumably to stare down upon us in a brooding manner, or so the stories go." Clementine added, oblivious to how bad it sounded.

    "And what makes you think she'd help Vanilla? My father defeated her a long time ago."

    "That is precisely why, my dear Chocola, she will help you now." Clementine declared with a sly smile.

    "Wait, didn't you say that the Everpeak was dangerous?" asked Vanilla.

    "Yep, and so is the Pokémon we need to talk to, Vanilla." Chocola replied, cautiously glancing toward the Everpeak. "If we're going to do this, we'll have to meet with the one and only Mewtwo."

    "That's correct." Clementine surmised. "So? When do we leave?"

    ~Everpeak Ascent~​

    Both Chocola and Vanilla were waiting out in front of the vixen's house in the cool pre-dawn air. If Clementine didn't show up before sunrise, they were going to leave without him, promise or no.

    "Well, why we wait, did we get everything packed?" Chocola asked.

    "If you mean all of the snacks, then yes." Vanilla answered as he peered into his bag.

    "What? Why didn't Reiga pack the rope like I asked?"

    "Probably because none of us possess thumbs..." Vanilla observed. "Will we need it?"

    "Probably not. But we'd sure look cool carrying it all of the way up the mountain, right?"

    "I guess so... Oh, hey, I think I can see Clementine!" Vanilla said as he waved at the tailed figure down the trail, the figure's fur color somewhat hidden in the sullen red light of morning.

    "Good morning, dearest Chocola! I hope this early hour has treated you well." The vulpix greeted upon his approach.

    "Morning, Clementine!" Vanilla replied when Chocola didn't.

    Not wanting to spend the day being the only one talking to, or rather, trying to ignore, the vulpix, Chocola thought she better lay down some ground rules. "Alright, Clementine, if we're going to do this, I need you to do three things."

    "Anything for you, my dear." Clementine said with a curt bow.

    "Okay, first off, no more trying to make a pass at me. Keep it up and I'll mirage you right off the mountain, got that?"

    "Ever so harsh, Miss Chocola..."

    "Second, none of the mushy stuff. No poems, or love-songs, or anything like that."

    "But-" the vulpix attempted to dispute.

    "No. You wanted to come. These are my rules, so either you follow them or you go back home."

    Clementine sighed. "As you wish, dear Chocola. And might I ask what the third item is?"

    "You have to acknowledge Vanilla. He's my friend, and you'll treat him with the respect he deserves."

    "Oh, my apologies, Chocola." Clementine acknowledged as he sidled up to the eevee, embracing him in an almost brotherly hug. "Why, by the end of this journey, I surmise that we'll be the best of companions!"

    "Um-hmm..." Was all that Chocola said in response as she turned to don her bags. "Well then, now that that's out of the way, we can go!"

    The group was mostly quiet as they traveled to the base of the mountain. Usually, the only things stirring at this hour were the wingull delivery-birds and the morning chill.

    "Alright, Clementine. We're here." Chocola started once they reached the base of the mountain. "So where, exactly is this mewtwo supposed to be hiding?"

    Clementine looked up towards the top of the mountain. Wisps of mist were gently rising from the surface as the sun began warming up the rocks on the eastward face. "Ah, yes, well. Do you see that shadowy area between those two upper ridges? This mewtwo is rumored to live near there. Once the sun rises a bit more, we should be able to see the ledge a bit better, my dear."

    "Hmm, well, I think the route I was planning does get us close, but we may have to improvise once we get to that steep section up there." Chocola stated whilst pointing towards a point on the shadow's meridian, where the slope began to steepen into cliffs. "Think you can handle that, Vanilla?"

    The eevee gulped at the sheer enormity of the landmass before him. One thing was for sure, the mountain was much more impressive up-close than any other time he'd ever seen it. Just looking at it was enough to summon a rising panic from within, whispering that the ground was best when even and flat beneath his feet. However, Vanilla had a mission to see through, and he'd never let a little uneasiness keep him from his goal. "I'll manage."

    "All right then," Chocola began, "I'll lead the way."

    And with that, the three started up the narrow, winding path that marked the beginning of their assent.

    "So, Dearest Chocol-" Clementine attempted as he sidled up next to the zorua.

    "Not now, Clementine. We've got a long way to go, and I just don't feel like dealing with you just yet..."

    "As you wish, Chocola." Effectively shut down, the vulpix backed up until he was shoulder-to-shoulder with Vanilla.

    Clementine looked at the eevee. What could his Chocola possibly see in the tan and cream-colored fox? It obviously wasn't strength or anything, was it? By the vulpix's standards, the Pokémon standing next to him didn't seem to have any outstanding features at all, yet here he was wearing matching necklaces along with the only girl who never failed to refuse Clementine's advances.

    "Do you like it?" Vanilla asked, upon noticing that Clementine was staring at his necklace.

    "I suppose so... Though, I couldn't help but notice that Chocola is wearing one just like it. How did you manage that?"

    "She gave it to me!" Vanilla said while sporting his trademark grin.

    'Ugh, the things I put up with...' Clementine thought to himself. Whispering, he rephrased his question. "No, I mean, how did you get into her good graces? What was your approach? Your angle? Come on, you can tell me."

    "You want me to tell you how I became friends with Chocola?" Vanilla was a little confused at the question.

    Clementine just nodded a somewhat-frustrated yes.

    "Well. When she found me, I had kind of messed up another Pokémon's flowers, and instead of letting me get in trouble, she helped me get away before the other Pokémon noticed. We helped fix the mess up later, of course, but after that, we just sort of went on one little adventure after another. Although, now that I think about it, I'd consider us friends from the moment we met."

    "Hmm... Sort of a reverse damsel in distress situation, huh? Never thought of that, though I guess a tomboy like her would be into that. Surely that can't be the only thing, though." Clementine stated while shaking his head in agreement with his conclusion.

    "What? Um, I'm not sure I follow."

    "Don't worry about that, friend. Just talking to myself. But, I think I'd like to hear more about you. Where are you from? I think I'd recall if a new eevee family was in town."

    "Oh, um, well... Hey look at that!" Vanilla said as he neared a crest that overlooked the valley below. "I'm pretty sure I can see my house from up here!"

    Clementine was pretty sure that the eevee was trying to pull the wool over his eyes, but his dumb grin was hard to read. Only after he looked at the region Vanilla was pointing to, did he discover the stall tactic. The other fox had just gestured to at least half of Exile. "Very funny. Well, I'm sure you know that whatever secret you're hiding can't remain one forever. Nobody keeps secrets from Clementine for long..."

    Vanilla just rubbed the back of his head while laughing unconvincingly.

    "Hey!" Chocola shouted back. "What's with all of the whispering? You not filling Vanilla's head with the weird stuff that goes through your own head, are you?"

    "What? You know me better than that, don't you, Dearest Chocola?"

    "No, I really don't. Now get your rear ends off the ground and let's get a move on! We've still got a long way ahead of us before we can even think about stopping for snacks."

    "Aww..." came three replies, two from the males and one from Chocola herself once she realized what she had just said. But nevertheless, the trio decided it was for the best if they soldiered on as planned.

    As the group ascended, they found themselves clear of the timberline, and as the trees dropped further down, and away, with every step, so too did the temperature fall. To make matters worse, it appeared as though the weather was struggling to stay decent.

    Vanilla was certain he'd never really appreciated his own fur before. The wind was picking up, and its biting chill seemed to enjoy nipping at his nose.

    "How are you doing back there, Vanilla?"

    "I-I'm fine..."

    "I'm also doing well, dearest Chocola!"

    "I don't care about you, you're a fire type, remember?"

    "As observant as always, my dear."

    Before she could reply, the sun's light was masked by cloud cover. Worse still, the clouds' undersides seemed to be precipitating something. With the current frigid temperature, that could only be one thing. Snow.

    "Oh, no..." Chocola said as she stopped in her tracks.

    "What's the matter? Is it time for a rest?" Vanilla asked as he caught up.

    "I-I think we should turn back, the weather's getting bad..." Chocola said, worried how long it would take them to reach a safe haven.

    "Are you sure? We've come so far already, and time is of the essence."

    "I'm afraid I agree with your Vanilla, my sweet. It would be a shame to come so far without something to show for it, yes?"

    Chocola wanted to see the mewtwo as well, but even then, she also knew that the Everpeak's storms were the stuff of legends. It was odd that there was a storm like that at this time of year, but that was beside the point. "Well, we might try going a little farther, but if those clouds get too much closer, we'll have to find shelter."

    "I can be your bastion against the cold, my dear. All you have to do is ask." Clementine suggested with a syrupy smile.

    "I appreciate the offer, but it isn't the cold that worries me..." Chocola stated. A gust of wind blowing down on them suddenly as if to make her point.

    Heading off down the trail, the wind only grew more chaotic, whipping about in every direction but what could possibly be considered a safe one. The mountain trail wasn't necessarily steep here, but no one knew how long it would take them to recover from a fall. Not wanting to think about what would happen if they didn't recover, the group pressed on. As they came around a significant bend in the trail, a break in the cliffs ahead revealed a small copse of short trees standing in the distance, seemingly unfazed by the winds.

    "Come on," Chocola indicated to the other two, "Over there!" She shouted over the wind.

    Not too soon, too, as the very first flakes of snow began to sink to the ground in surprisingly large, wet clumps.

    The small patch of timber was just off of Chocola's trail, but the group managed to reach the windbreak without losing their footing. While the windbreak seemed a gift from Arceus itself, their other discovery was beyond such divine interventions. Once inside, the temperature also improved, if only a bit.

    "Oh, wow! A hot-spring!" Vanilla observed. "I've heard about these!"

    "I guess the wind was keeping the scent scattered." Chocola added after wondering why she hadn't noticed the strong-smelling mineral water before now. "Well, I suppose this is as good a place as any to take a break."

    Vanilla was all too happy to shed more weight from his snack-bag, even if it meant that he was only changing where he was storing it. "Say, Chocola, how much farther do you think we have to go?"

    Grabbing one of her own berries, Chocola peered beyond their wooden veil, where the snow was already beginning to pile up on the ground outside. Going back now would be difficult, to say the least. Looking up the side of the mountaintop, however, revealed that they should be quite close to mewtwo's location by now. "Well, we'll have to wait out the storm, but I think we're almost there."

    The zorua's observations were interrupted by Clementine, who had wandered by the other side of the hot springs. "Chocola, dearest, you should probably take a look at this!"

    'What now', was all she could think as she wandered over. Not twenty paces beyond the trees, there appeared to be a gap in the rocks, just beyond the trees. While normally it would have been of little interest, it didn't take Chocola long to see what caught the vulpix's eye. Beyond the gap, the snow was no longer falling.

    Each flake appeared to be frozen in mid-air.


    "What do you think is causing it?" Vanilla asked as he pushed a suspended snowflake to the side. The little puff of snow was cold and wet to the touch, but it refused to move farther than he was willing to push it.

    "I think this is really more of a who, than a what, Vanilla." Chocola observed. "But to answer your question, only a really powerful psychic move could manipulate this many objects at once."

    "A psychic move?"

    "Yep," Chocola answered, "Which probably means that Mewtwo is close."

    "Do you think she'll accommodate us, dearest Chocola?"

    "Oh, now you start having doubts?!" The vixen glared at Clementine.

    "I don't think it'll be a problem. I think she is inviting us in." Vanilla interjected.

    The vulpix scoffed. "And how, pray tell, do you know that?"

    "Because we're already well within her range, and she hasn't attacked us yet."

    Clementine looked around at all of the suspended snowflakes hovering around them. If the mewtwo was indeed holding them all in place, there was no way she didn't know that the three of them were trespassing. The eevee was right, they were expected to continue. "Well then, best not keep the lady waiting, yes?"

    When the narrow passage widened out into a shelf of grass-covered rock, the group found the creature they had been searching for. Her eyes were closed in concentration as she hovered in cross-legged meditation, her deep-purple tail waved languidly behind her.

    Upon the trio's approach, mewtwo floated into a standing position, her now-open eyes aglow with raw psychic power. <Who dares believe themselves worthy of entering my domain?> The telepathic push rang inside their collective heads.

    Silence filled the tense air for a few moments before Vanilla broke the silence. "Our apologies, Master Mewtwo. We don't know what would qualify as worthiness to you."

    <You came not to test your mettle against one such as I? No. I sense you each have your own reasons for your approach. One, a noble cause, another for personal reasons, and yet another, well...> the mewtwo used telekineses on Clementine, lifting him into the air with a yelp. <I believe I know what you want...> She finished, bringing the vulpix face to face.

    "Clementine!" Vanilla shouted before the telepathic link that the group had been sharing had cut out and the same power that held their friend aloft locked them in place.

    The link must have remained connected to the vulpix, because it appeared as though he and the mewtwo were still conversing. "Oh!?" Clementine started excitedly. "Yes, that's- Oh, oh my!?" he continued. The airborne fox's fur stood on end with whatever the last topic had covered. "But that's-!?" was the last thing spoken aloud before the mewtwo placed Clementine back on the ground.

    "Um, uh I, uh, I need to, um. IthinkIleftmylaundryonbackhome, bye!" Clementine stuttered out before making a beeline out of the psychic bubble.

    <Now that that's out of the way,> the mewtwo stated, through a new telepathic link while releasing the two from her grasp, and before the two remaining could question anything, <I am Mawe, and I believe you have a request, do you not?>

    "Before we get to that, and as much as I find it entertaining, is Clementine going to be alright? I've never seen him so shaken up before." Chocola interrupted.

    <I'm positive, the orange one will recover, in time...>

    Vanilla looked a little bit more relaxed, or was it relieved, upon hearing the news. Chocola couldn't help but admire the fact that her friend cared for those who'd barely give him the time of day.

    "Please, Miss Mawe, I was hoping that you would know how to become stronger. I need to be able to save and protect those I care about!" Vanilla declared with a deep bow. "Please! I beg for your assistance!"

    <There is no need to prostrate yourself so, but, it is power you seek, yes? While I don't consider myself disciplined enough to train another, there might be another way...> Mawe started to glow, her psychic power seeming to liquefy the ground beneath her. The small tremor was enough to upset the two foxes' balance., but the result of the mewtwo's actions became clear. Something began to emerge from the soil.

    "Woah! Evolution stones!? And so many..." Chocola exclaimed, practically salivating at the sight. She recognized most of them through the various descriptions she'd heard, but there were some she'd never seen before.

    <The easiest way for a Pokémon to gain power is through evolution. Being an eevee, you have the luxury of choice. Before you lies one of every type of evolution stone, each as capable on its own as the Legendary Stone of your people.> Mawe presented the assortment in a constant streaming cycle between the pups and herself.

    Vanilla had never really thought about evolution before now. Normally, being the firstborn of his family, he'd get his father's job after evolving into an umbreon. If he'd been exceptionally lucky as a subsequent sibling, he might even snag a different evolution as one of the other council positions, should they retire. The Absol Brothers, had changed that, though, hadn't they? They were dark types, like his father, but to beat them, he'd either need to be a bug-type, fairy-type, or fighting-type. Vanilla found himself leaning towards the fighting stone.

    <But I should warn you. Choose wisely, as there is no going back once you've made your decision. Evolution, such as this, is permanent. Making the wrong choice could doom those you care about when they need you most.>

    Vanilla hesitated. He looked back at Chocola, who had had her own crises of identity only a few days ago. Could her really tell her it was okay if she could change her form at will, even if he wasn't willing to give up his own form? And what of his own future. Could any of the stones guarantee him a win against the absol? And what of the Council? Of what he believed to be his three real choices, at least one of them would ensure that he never became a member of the Eevolution Council. What would he do then? There were great many more things to consider than what he'd thought of before this trip.

    Chocola interrupted his spiraling train of thought. "Whatever you choose, remember, Vanilla is Vanilla. I'll still be your friend, no matter what!"

    <What loyalty your friend has... So? Your decision?> Mawe said as she moved the three likeliest choices closer.

    He truly was grateful for Chocola's support. "I-I'm sorry, Miss Mawe, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass."

    "What!?" Chocola shouted in confusion. "After all of the effort we put into this, you just want to throw it all away?"

    "It's not that I want to, it's just, well, I feel as though taking power like this is wrong. I don't want to have it just given to me. Even if I choose the right one, I still don't know how to fight. I wouldn't know how to use my new powers properly, and frankly, that scares me a little."

    "But,-!?" Chocola started before cutting herself off. She didn't realize that Vanillas take on evolution was so different from her own. She could only ever evolve into a zoroark, so there was never a choice about it, but even then, she would still have the ability to change her form at will. To be stuck in one form forever? It was an idea that was bordering on terrifying. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to snap. If you think you should stay an eevee, then that's that."

    "Thanks, Chocola. I'm glad you understand."

    <Then is that your final decision?> Mawe asked.

    "I believe it is, Miss Mawe. There are just too many variables to risk everything on a gamble. We'll just have to find another way." Vanilla said as he turned to leave. "I apologize if we wasted your time and energy. Maybe, one day, I'll be able to compensate you for it."

    <Hmm, I may hold you to that...>

    And with that, the two foxes set about their return trip, thankful, at least, that the snow had stopped.

    As they journeyed beyond the psychic veil, Mawe turned to the edge of her cliff. 'I suppose she was right, there is hope for him yet... speaking of which...' <You know I can sense you, right?>

    Reiga appeared by the mewtwo's side. "My intention was not to hide from you, Mawe. Besides, I think being cryptic suits you..."

    <I'm not as fond of this round-about method as you are. Is there any particular reason why the boy is still unaware of the prophecy?>

    "Because Zaho wishes it, of course. He's afraid it may influence his actions in unforeseen ways."

    <But we're wasting so much time. If we could just tell them, we->

    "You're forgetting why you are here instead of with the others. We all have a job to do, and telling him of a possible future isn't yours." Reiga stated honestly. "Speaking of which, have you any news on that front?"

    A tiny green and white, vaguely Pokémon-shaped doll appeared in mid-air. <No, I have not. I'm sorry.> Mawe said before shifting the doll into Reiga's forepaws. <I can sense that a connection exists, but beyond that, nothing.> Mawe observed that the lucario was lost in her memories while looking at the doll's face. <What does this doll mean to you, anyway.>

    "That is for me to know." Reiga answered as she carefully tucked the stuffed toy into her satchel. "Although, I don't suppose I could stop you. If you tried to read my mind, that is..."

    <NO! Um, I mean, no. You must not tempt me with such things.>

    "Oh, you're just worried what Zaho will do to you if he found out you broke one of his tenets." Reiga teased.

    A chill ran up the mewtwo's spine. <That... is not entirely wrong.>

    "What about that thing with the vulpix? Didn't you read his mind?"

    <Please, there was no reason to read that one. His thoughts were written all over his face.>

    "Well then," Reiga said with a raised eyebrow, "there may be hope for you yet too, Mawe!" she finished before turning to leave herself. She had to make it home before the children did.
  8. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~New Goal~​
    "Hey, do you think that Mawe would give me some of those Evolution Stones if I asked nicely?" Chocola asked as they started their descent, easily following the tracks made by Clementine.

    "Maybe." Vanilla answered. "She'd probably be willing to part with the dark-type stone at the very least. Should we go back and ask her?"

    Chocola thought about it for a while. "Nah. I don't really want a dark stone in order to evolve. And, while I'd love to add them to my collection, I think they could do some real good if given to the right Pokémon."

    "How so?" Vanilla inquired, curious.

    "Well, for starters, not every Pokémon is born healthy. Since evolution makes a Pokémon stronger, even a sickly Pokémon can live a normal life if it's able to evolve."

    "Why don't their parents just ask for the Eevolution Council's help? With the Legendary Evolution Stone, you wouldn't need to find and dig out a specific stone for each Pokémon."

    "I don't know why they don't do that. All I know is that, with the number of evolution stones Mawe can dig up, she'd be able to give your council a run for its money." Chocola stated just before realizing what she just said. "Wait I didn't mean it like that!"

    Vanilla sighed. "I know you mean well, Chocola..."

    "Sorry. Well, speaking of which, now that we've turned Mawe down, what are you going to do now?"

    "I'm not sure, honestly. I think it's clear that I'm in need of more information, but..."

    "But what?"

    "Well, I don't think I can get it in Jocundale. For the speed with which news of the coup traveled here, one would think that additional details would have surfaced by now."

    "That's probably because stuff in Convocity doesn't really affect Pokémon here too much."

    "What do you mean?" Vanilla tilted his head in confusion.

    "Think about it. Before I found you in the floettes' garden, when was the last time you traveled outside of the capital?"

    "Honestly?" Vanilla pondered for a moment. "I can't recall leaving the Council's compound before."

    "Hehe, see? You eevee's all seem to live in a different world!" Chocola teased.

    "Hmm, you're probably right. If I want to know more about my situation, I have to go back to the source. I'll have to go back home..."

    Chocola found herself thinking of excuses. Maybe she could convince him to stay, or remind him to train with Reiga. Any excuse to keep Vanilla there in Jocundale valley would work, She was certain Vanilla was too nice to turn down an offer to stay, and yet...

    The air was quiet save for the crunch of the snow beneath their feet, now thinning out as they left the higher elevations. "D-do you think I can come with you?" Chocola asked simply.

    "Absolutely not!" had been Reiga's swift response once they had returned home. "I was ordered by your father to keep tabs on you and I can't do that if you put yourself in the middle of a civil war!"

    "It's not a war, it's only a coup!" Chocola argued back.

    "That's not important, Chocola!" the lucario shot back. "Your father wouldn't approve of it either way."


    "No 'but's missy. The answer's still no!"

    "Ugh!" Chocola shouted shortly before being told to go to her room.

    Upon returning from her enforcement of Chocola's temporary punishment, Reiga returned to the living room. "I'm sorry you had to see that, Vanilla. I know she means well, but her father would never allow her to go with you. After he's lost so much already, Zaho can't afford to lose his only daughter too. I'm sure you can understand..."

    "I sort of do understand, Miss Reiga. I know that going back is dangerous, and frankly, I don't think I could stand the thought of Chocola getting hurt at my expense, either."

    "Thanks, Vanilla." Reiga said as she patted him on the head. "I know it's only been for a short time, but I know we've both enjoyed your company. If this works out, I'm certain you could come back and visit anytime you want."

    "Thank you too, Miss Reiga, for supporting me this entire time!"

    "So? When do you plan on leaving? I'm sure I could arrange transportation if you'd like."

    The eevee thought for a moment. "I'd like to leave as soon as possible, but I'm not sure I can accept your offer. I'm certain those two Pokémon are still after me, and I wouldn't want to attract too much attention to myself before I can come up with a plan."

    "Well then, in that case, I recommend leaving early tomorrow." Reiga suggested. "That way you can cover a decent amount of distance before too many other Pokémon are awake. If they're still looking for you around here, you might be able to escape their search area without their knowing."

    "Okay, I will!" Vanilla acknowledged excitedly.

    "Anything else you think you'll need for your trip?"

    "Hmm, now that you mention it..."

    ~Return to the Capital~​

    "Are you sure about this?" Reiga asked as she helped Vanilla with his pack.

    "As sure as I'll ever be, I suppose." Vanilla admitted as he glimpsed a vixen-shaped shadow move around the upstairs window. "A shame Chocola can't come too, will she come down and see me off at least?"

    "I'm afraid that our Chocola isn't one for goodbyes. Just finish what it is you set out to do and visit us as soon as possible, okay? We wouldn't want our little zorua to get lonely now, would we?"

    "I guess not!" Vanilla laughed before sighing to himself. He wanted to see his friend one last time before returning home, at the very least. Who knows how long it will be until they can see each other again. "Well, then, I suppose it's time for me to go. Thanks again for everything, Miss Reiga."

    "You're most welcome, Mister Vanilla." Reiga finished with a curt bow.

    As the fox made his way down the path to the road, he looked back just in time to see the shadow in the window shift once more. "I'll be back as soon as I can, Chocola, don't worry!" And with that, he put his home of the last week behind him.

    The first leg of his journey was much the same as the route towards the Everpeak. No sense in taking the direct route back to the capital if there were Pokémon still looking for him, after all. The only difference between then and now is that it felt quieter without anyone to keep him company, even if the trip to the mountain had been rather quiet the day before.

    Early morning turned to sunrise, continued to late morning and, soon enough, Vanilla felt his stomach grumble. "Time for breakfast." He said to no one in particular.

    Doffing his pack and opening it, a smile broke out across the eevee's face. Reiga had managed to sneak some sandwiches into his bag. A simple, yet filling, jam-filled variety, but after Vanilla finished the first triangle, he heard a stomach growl.

    It wasn't his.

    "Hello!?" Vanilla asked the still-lingering shadows in alarm. "Who's there?"

    "Ugh! I give up!" Cried a familiar voice as its source crept out of the nearby bushes.

    "Chocola!? But you're-"

    "Save it, fluff-ball. I'm soooo hungryyyy." The zorua pleaded, hungrily eying the eevee's snack.

    "Here," Vanilla said, taking the hint and offering Chocola the other sandwich. "Reiga made extra."

    Chocola made short work of her breaded triangle, practically inhaling it.

    "I thought you were prevented from coming along?"

    "Oh, well, yeah, obviously. But being told I couldn't do something hasn't stopped me before. Besides, I can't pass up an adventure!" Chocola beamed.

    "Won't Reiga, or your dad, get mad at you for disobeying their orders?"

    "I hope so! If daddy wanted a say, he should be home more often. And it's not like Reiga's my mom. She can only suggest what I'm supposed to do. I just choose not to listen!" Chocola said with a smile as she started picking through Vanilla's pack in search of more food. All she could find were a few bluk and cheri berries.

    "Hey don't eat those!"

    "Why not?"

    "I, um, kind of need them for my disguise..." Vanilla admitted sheepishly.

    Chocola tilted her head to the side. She was no stranger to disguises but failed to connect the dots on this one.

    "They're looking for eevees right? I thought I'd disguise myself to sneak by if I had to." He explained.

    "Sneak by as what, a berry bush?" the vixen giggled.

    "No? I'd use the berries to dye my fur, so that I looked like, well, you."

    Chocola felt a massive grin spread across her muzzle before breaking out into a rolling laughter.

    "What's wrong with that?"

    "Oh, boy! That's the best thing I've heard in a while, Vanilla. I don't think anyone's tried disguising themselves as a zorua before!"

    "Well, what else am I supposed to do? I don't exactly have enough tails to pull off a vulpix look. I mean, I guess there's fennekin too, but I don't think I can fake the ears..."

    "Hehehe! Then it's a good thing I came along after all." Chocola said with an evil smirk.

    "Why? Do you have a better idea?"

    "Just shush! And stand still!" Chocola added while trying her best to concentrate. She'd never tried this on anyone else before.

    The lingering morning shadows seemed to deepen until they consumed the area around Vanilla. The swirling black clouds turned translucent shortly before wispily fading back into thin air.

    "There..." Chocola declared a little woozily.

    "Chocola!?" Vanilla shouted in concern.

    The vixen just waved him off instead of replying. Holding her paw out in front of her and gesturing that Vanilla do the same.

    Much to his surprise, his paw was now a very dark grey color. Turning and twisting himself to get a look at his new form confirmed that he had undergone some sort of transformation. Only his colors seemed to be far less saturated than that of his zorua friend.

    "Do you like it?" Chocola asked once she'd recovered from her ability.

    "This is great, Chocola!" Vanilla replied while testing the poofy-ness of the tuft of hair atop his head.

    "Yeah, well don't get too used to it. I'll need to practice that one a bit more. Right now, I doubt it will last until lunch..."

    "That's more than enough to fool any pursuit, I think. Thanks, Chocola!"

    "It's still kind of a work in progress, though, so don't move too far away, and don't move too fast. But other than that, we should be good. What's the rest of the plan?"

    "Well..." Vanilla started as he closed his pack up before Chocola could eat any more berries. "We continue down this path until..."

    'I told you that wouldn't work... -R' Riega wrote into the stick she'd procured after discovering Chocola's ruse. The shadow was still up there, pacing her charge's room. Sure she could erase it, but something stopped the lucario from doing just that.

    Zaho wouldn't be happy, of course. But there would be little she could do to prevent the vixen from escaping again. Besides, better that they find each other now rather than try and look for each other in a place like Convocity. They worked well enough together, so they should have a better chance of success now, right?

    'We can't afford to misinterpret the prophecy this late in the game.' Reiga thought to herself as she picked up the doll from her bedside table. She had a lot riding on this venture, she always had.

    The doll had been a gift once. From her trainer to her when she was just a riolu. She had lent it to Mawe on the small hope that some sort of psychic link still existed between it, her trainer, and herself. A backup plan of sorts in case the prophecy turned out to fail in its execution. Ultimately, it had been a dead end.

    Just like they all would be should Zaho's plan fail...

    "Best of luck, you two." Reiga wished the two foxes from afar. "You'll need it..." she finished, fearful for what the future may bring.


    Chocola kept Vanilla disguised as much as possible while they made their way to the outskirts of Jocundale Valley. The disguise likely didn't fool any locals, but they played along anyway, which made the trickery all the more entertaining for the two foxes involved, giggling to themselves after each traveler had passed by. Their own little joke.

    They quickly learned that they'd have to hide from the path if Chocola wanted to recharge her ability, but otherwise the trip was fairly entertaining, at least for them.

    Every Pokémon they passed likely had business to attend to, of some sort or another, but almost none of them paid any interest to the two mischievous zorua that seemed to giggle at everything.

    By the end of the day, they'd finished off both a good amount of distance and their snacks. With night closing in, they decided that foraging would have to wait for morning. For now, they'd just have to find a place to camp out and rest.

    A small clearing became the duo's grassy home for the night. After a quick breakfast and a resupplying forage run, they found themselves back on the road once more.

    The second day provided almost as much entertainment as the first, but the novelty of tricking Pokémon into thinking there were two tricksters was quickly wearing off. Between that and the fact that one side of the path was covered in some sort of nasty-smelling, thorny vine, boredom was a fairly real threat.

    Luckily, it only lasted until around noon when the two came across something that piqued their interest once more. A large green shape seemed to be blocking the path. Or, at least, most of it, since there was still plenty of room to go around whatever it was.

    "Hey, check it out Vanilla!" Chocola exclaimed as she jumped on top. "It's a snorlax!"

    "What's he doing down here? And on the path no less?"

    "I dunno..." The vixen replied as something caught her eye. "Hey wait-!"

    "What is it?" Vanilla asked as he leaned on the snorlax to get a better look.

    "I think there's a cave behind him!"

    "Which raises the question again, why go to sleep here, of all places?"

    "Maybe... he's hiding something?" Chocola thought aloud before jumping up and down on the creature's belly. "Hey, Mister Snorlax! Wake Up!"

    "Chocola, that's rude!" Vanilla scolded.

    "Hehehe. Sorry. It's not like he woke up, though..."

    "That may be, but would you like it if someone woke you up by jumping all over you?" Vanilla explained while he stepped away from the slumbering Pokémon.

    Chocola jumped down as instructed, a little disappointed that she'd never find out what was behind the unconscious creature. "When do you think he- Woah!?" The ground shook beneath them just as Chocola stepped on the ground, causing her to nearly fall on her face. "Whoever's using Earthquake can stop now..." Chocola pleaded as she tried to recover without success.

    Vanilla noticed that the shaking wasn't just a local phenomenon. Whole flocks of flying Pokémon could be seen taking flight as far as the eye could see. "That's no move, I think it might be an actual earthquake!"

    Just as suddenly as the quaking started, it stopped. "That was rough..." Chocola observed as she dusted herself off. "Aww, the snorlax slept through that!?" She complained once she noticed that the unconscious Pokémon was blissfully unfazed.

    Before Vanilla could reply, a cry broke out further along the path. Someone was in trouble. "Come on!" he shouted while darting off in the sound's direction.

    Chocola chased after him. "I thought we were trying to lay low!" Chocola cried.

    Ignoring her, Vanilla kept running. It wasn't long before they found the source. "Someone, anyone, help! T-the bridge- My friend!" the little swinub called out.

    "What can we do?" Vanilla asked in a huff as he approached the piglet.

    "Um, follow me!" she said before taking off down one lane of the crossroads. The bridge along the path had apparently been damaged in the earthquake, a full half of it had fallen into the fairly turbulent river below. "I brought help, Ramen! Just hold on a bit longer!"

    Down below, a shinx stood upon a small strip of land that had become recently displaced, and as such, was quickly being worn away by the current. "No offense, Pancake, but I was hoping for someone a little more, well helpful!" He called back up with obvious sarcasm. "I don't suppose either of you can trick me back up top, can you?"

    "Ugh, that's not how mirage's work!" Chocola shot back.

    "That's what I thought... Pancake, if you would be so kind as to find a large flying type, or someone who knows surf maybe, that would be gre-" Ramen was cut off by a large section of his rapidly dwindling island falling into the river.

    "There's no time!" Vanilla said as he scanned the area for something, anything they could use. Spotting something he might be able to use, he called out to the others. "Come on, I have an idea!"

    "This is a tree." Chocola observed flately. The flora in question was a fairly massive piece of timber. "What exactly are we supposed to do with this? It would take us hours to get through it, even if we had cut!"

    "The same thing that happened to the bridge also took out the support on the other side, right?" Vanilla said pointing to the nearly washed-out roots. "If we all work together, we should be able to bring it down!"

    "Hold on, Ramen!" Pancake said before taking position at the base of the tree and started pushing.

    Vanilla and Chocola stood to the swinub's sides to assist, but no manner of pushing seemed to budge the oak.

    "Ugh, it isn't working!" Pancake said in frustration.

    Thinking quickly, Vanilla came up with a new approach. "Quick, Chocola, help me dig out some more of the roots! Pancake, was it? I need you to run pack there and tackle the tree as hard as you can. Once it starts moving we'll all attack the tree at the same time!"

    Chocola followed Vanilla's lead as the swinub reared up for her attack.

    "Um, guys?" The shinx called out from below, more of his dry ground vanishing before his eyes.

    "Just a little bit more!" Vanilla called out. Each tackle from swinub making the tree wobble ever so slightly.

    A few more hits and the oak was swinging back and forth at a regular interval. A few deep snaps from below ground indicated that a few unexposed roots were feeling the strain.

    "Now!" Vanilla signaled, running back towards the swinub's launching point.

    Together with Chocola and Pancake, Vanilla lead the final charge, using the full momentum of their bodies to barrel into the wood.

    More loud snaps and a shifting of the earth finally toppled the mighty tree. Nearly crashing into the stranded Pokémon they were trying to rescue.

    "Hey!" Ramen called out.

    "Just shut up and climb on!" Chocola yelled back.

    Not wanting to argue, the shinx jumped onto the nearest branch just as the last bit of his island sank into the water. The water now pulling at the fallen tree threatened to pull it into the river as well, and forced Ramen to increase his pace.

    Once on dry ground, the shinx was practically tackled by his worried friend. "Ramen! You're all right!"

    Turning to his resuers, he started to thank them for his rescue."I guess I am! I suppose I should apologize for doubting... you... two...?" he paused in confusion before he could finish.

    Vanilla's disguise had just ran out.
  9. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~City Guard~​

    "...And that's why we think a disguise is necessary." Vanilla finished describing his situation to the two newcomers.

    "Wow, that's pretty rough." Pancake thought aloud.

    "No kidding." Ramen agreed. "So you haven't been back to the capital since the coup? That means you don't know..."

    "Know what?"

    "It's hard to explain really. Everyone's tried to get on with their lives. The absol haven't changed too much in town, other than upping security. Other than that, though, something just feels off, you know?" Ramen attempted to explain.

    "What about my family? Where are the council members being kept?"

    "Nobody knows." Pancake admitted. "I mean, everyone suspects their just being held in a secret dungeon or something, but no-one outside of the Absol Brother's support teams would know much, sorry."

    Vanilla sighed in frustration. "Don't be. It's not you guys' fault."

    "Is there anything we can do to help?" the shinx asked. "It would be the least we could do for saving my butt!"

    "All I ask is that you don't let anyone know that it was an eevee that helped save you. My only advantage at the moment is that absols and company don't know that I'm here."

    "Your secret's safe with us!" Pancake promised.

    "Watch your back out there, then." Ramen suggested. "If the rest of the Council was like you, we might not be in this mess!"

    "Thanks, I guess..." Vanilla said as he turned to his friend. "How are doing, Chocola? Ready to head out yet?"

    "A few more minutes, I think, then I'll be charged enough to get us into the city, at least."

    "We'll be headed out then. We have to tell someone that the bridge to Loamwood Town isn't safe anymore." Ramen said as he turned to leave.

    Pancake followed closely behind. "Thanks again! Good luck!" She shouted before leaving.

    'I hope we won't need it...' Vanilla thought to himself as he reflected upon recent events. Briefly, he wondered what damage the earthquake had done to the rest of exile.

    "You doing all right?" Chocola asked him after seeing his furrowed brow.

    "I'm just worried that, well, I may have to call this whole rescue thing off."

    "What!? Why?"

    "It just wouldn't feel right trying to sneak into the capital if everything's damaged from the earthquake. Can I really put my own problems over Pokémon who need help now?"

    Chocola thought to herself for a moment before answering. "Listen Vanilla, I know you're a softy and will probably try and help every Pokémon we come across, but you can only do so much on your own. You heard Ramen, everyone is scared of what's going on. By freeing your family first, they can start helping all of those you would never be able to reach, let alone help. Isn't that how this 'big picture' stuff is supposed to work?"

    "Well, yeah, but I think I'd still feel a little bad about it..."

    "Hehehe! Like I said, a big softy!" Chocola teased.


    The vixen got up with a long stretch. "Now that that's over. I say we get you into town!"

    Vanilla nodded in agreement shortly before Chocola hit him with her disguise once more.

    Approaching Convocity's outer edge, the foxes found that the city had received no visible damage, at least as far as they could tell from the outside. The city's gate was, however, guarded. A bastiodon was keeping a close eye on the passing Pokémon, stopping anyone he saw as being out of line or suspicious.

    "What's Dion doing out here?" Vanilla asked aloud.


    "The bastiodon guarding the gate. He was one of the Pokémon in charge of the council's security back before, well, you know..."

    Chocola realized that he was talking about the coup. "How would I know? I'm sure he has a reason, or whatever, but he does look to be doing a pretty good job, though."

    "What if he recognizes me?"

    "Hehe. Not through my disguise." Chocola boasted before noticing that her claim did little to alleviate her friend's fears. "Look, if you're that worried about it, let me do the talking. If there's anything I've learned, it's how to cause enough of a distraction for you to sneak by, at least."

    "Right. Of course..."

    The other Pokémon passerby gave them little notice as they approached the gate. It was almost as if the two foxes were invisible while they looked like zorua. The guard, however, was another matter entirely.

    "Halt there, zorua. State your business." Dion ordered.

    "Halt? Halt!? We've got important business to do in town, and that's that." Chocola stated confidently.

    "Hah, coming from a little zorua like you, I find that hard to believe..." the bastidion countered.

    "Hey! I'm trying to be truthful here!"

    "Prove it." Dion said flatly.

    "Er, well... Look, if we wanted to sneak by, wouldn't we try and look like some other Pokémon? We could, but we didn't, cause we're trying to be good!"

    "Oh, uhhh, maybe you have a point there, miss." Dion said relaxing his stance, if only a little. "Sorry to trouble you in that case. Welcome to Convocity!"

    "Hehehe. That's better! Thank you!" Chocola exclaimed as she skipped through the entrance.

    Vanilla attempted to follow her lead, albeit without the skipping.

    "Wait up, zorua!" The guard ordered of Vanilla, causing him to freeze in his tracks.

    Dion leaned closer to Vanilla, his stare seeming to cut right through the disguise. The eevee was doing his best not to break into a panic at the guard's proximity.

    "You look like you've got a good head on your shoulders boy. Keep an eye out for your sister before she gets herself in trouble, will ya?" Dion finished with a hearty laugh.

    "Oh, I'll try?" was all Vanilla managed before darting into the city proper. Only once both he and Chocola were out of site of the gate, did he let out the breath he had been holding in. "That. Was a close one..."

    "Please, Vanilla." Chocola said, rolling her eyes in rye amusement. "It was a piece of pie, or whatever it is that Reiga calls things that are easy."

    "Right." Vanilla said simply.

    "Well, then. Now what do we do?"

    Vanilla thought about it for a moment before continuing. "We've got time before sunset. We might as well make our way to the Council Grounds and see what we can learn."

    "Alright then!" Chocola said in honest excitement. "Lead the way!"

    ~Espionage 101~​

    Chocola yawned. Somehow, sitting in one spot was even more boring than walking around the complex a few times. "Ugh... Why can't we just use the secret passage that you used to escape again?"

    "I told you, I don't remember where it is. It was dark and I was half asleep when I stumbled out of it."

    "Fine, but can we hurry this up? I don't know how much longer I can hold this mirage." She said while gesturing lazily in Vanilla's general direction.

    Thankfully, they'd only had to stop and recharge once since entering the city. But after failing to locate his secret tunnel, they'd been forced to camp out near the main entrance and hope they could get a better grasp of the situation.

    The only problem with that was that their supplies were limited. With no answers, they'd have to leave town and set up camp before it got too dark to see.

    "Alright, Chocola, let's head-" Vanilla started, only to interrupt himself as he saw something, or rather someone, that might prove useful.

    "What are you looking at?" Chocola asked in confusion.

    Vanilla gestured towards a group of Pokémon that had just left the council grounds. "See that kangaskahn over there? That's Ganna, the head maid, or at least she was, the last time I was here. Either way, if there's anyone who knows anything about what's going on inside, it would be her."

    "Are you sure we can trust her? I mean, why would she help you if she's working for these absol now?"

    "She's probably still here because no other Pokémon can do the job she does, just like that bastiodon guard at the gate. I think that, whatever the absol did, it looks like it left them a little short-pawed."

    "If you say so, Vanilla, I'll trust her too. At least a little bit, anyway."

    "Thanks, Chocola. We'll need to follow her then, I don't exactly know where she lives..."

    The vixen shrugged. "Why am I not surprised?"

    "This is our last chance to back down, Vanilla. If you want to, that is..." Chocola whispered from her shadowy hiding spot next to the path.

    "I don't have a choice." The disguised eevee whispered back before walking towards Ganna's home.

    After knocking on the door, Vanilla backed up a bit and waited for an answer.

    "Who could possibly be visiting at this hour?" Came the muffled response through the door, just before Ganna opened it. The kangaskahn stood in the gap as the interior light shone over her shoulder. "What do you want, little one?"

    "Missus Ganna! It's me Vanilla!"

    The kangaskahn's eyes narrowed with suspicion. "Those are dangerous words, zorua. This better not be some sort of game."

    Vanilla mentally slapped himself for not taking the disguise into account. "No, wait! It's really me! My mom's name is Caer, but everyone calls her Cream! Does that help?"

    "Afraid not little one. Just about everyone knows that."

    "Oh, umm, umm. Wait! When Pickle was born, my mom had a blanket made for him. It was green with darker green stripes for its pattern! Please, you have to believe me! If you'll let me and my friend come inside, we can explain everything!"

    "Vanilla! My hiding doesn't mean anything if you shout out that I'm here!" Chocola said as she exited her hiding spot. It looks like Vanilla was trying the honest approach. Again.

    "Hmm. Alright. But no funny business." Ganna said while stepping to the side to let the two foxes through. "Come on, now. It's best not to linger outside after dark these days."

    Once inside the warm home, the two guests shook the evening chill off of their coats. Once the door was closed, and with it, confirmation that the coast was clear, Vanilla gave the go-ahead for his friend to remove her mirage.

    "Oh, my-!" Was all Ganna could say at the sight of the transformation in front of her. "It really is you?" She finished after she finally recognized the eevee beneath. "But how?"

    "Well, I had the help of some friends!" Vanilla said as he shared a glance with Chocola.

    "I can see that! Come here and let me get a good look at you, Little Prince." The kangaskahn ordered.

    "Hehe. Little Prince." Chocola snickered to herself. She was going to have to have some fun with that one at some point.

    Lifting the eevee with her forearms, Ganna let out a low whistle. "I've got to say, Vanilla, your time away has done wonders for you. Is that muscle? Hardly anyone would recognize the shy Little Prince now, disguise or no, I suspect." She said as she gently lowered him to the ground. "And with friends in tow, no less."

    Vanilla enjoyed the praise, it seemed, but his ears lowered when he remembered his true purpose for the visit. "I'd like to catch up more, Missus Ganna, but I-I need to-"

    "Ah, don't you worry none. I suspected I can guess why you're here, but before we get into that, I think you two'd best follow me. I've got dinner prepared and I'll not have it go to waste. We can talk all you want about the situation afterwards. Will that work?"

    "Yes, Ma'am." Came the stereo reply. Neither Chocola nor Vanilla had had much to eat since they entered the city.

    ~Since You've Been Gone~​

    Ganna wouldn't allow any sort of political talk at the table, so instead, Vanilla regaled her and her son with tales of his adventures since he had fled. Pickle seemed to enjoy them, at least when in between bouts of playing with his food, but the look of worry, mixed with something else Vanilla couldn't quite identify, never left the older kangaskahn's face.

    Once the meal was over, and the dishes properly cleaned, a task that Ganna was surprised to see that Vanilla had acquired, Pickle was sent off to bed, and the conversation could finally turn to more serious matters.

    "Before we get started, I need to know what you two know about the coup." Ganna asked.

    "To be honest we don't know much. We only know that the Absol Brothers are behind it for some reason."

    "Hmm, then I suppose I should start at the beginning. It all started a few months ago, according to the rumors, when Perihelion had a vision of a terrible disaster. He, together with his brother Absolution, approached the Council in an attempt to mitigate whatever disaster that Peri had predicted."

    "And the Council refused? Why?" Vanilla questioned.

    "I don't know. Nobody does. After the coup, your family, along with the rest of the council members and their families were taken to a part of the council grounds that we're no longer allowed in."

    "Then, my family...?"

    "I'm fairly certain they're alive, as we're still being ordered to bring regular meals to the guards so that they can deliver them. But as to their condition, I cannot say." Ganna continued. "All I know is that of the eevee who managed to escaped that night, you are the last one who remains free."

    "That's kind of my reason for returning, I think. It isn't right that any Pokémon should be locked up like that."

    "That may be, but I don't think you should risk yourself to do so Vanilla. As long as you are free, you can't be used as a bargaining chip for whatever scheme this whole mess has been set up for."

    'What did she mean by bargaining chip?' Vanilla thought for a moment. If it required the use of the evolution council members, then that was all the more reason to see to their freedom. "I'm sorry, Ganna, but I've already made up my mind on this. I have to at least try."

    Ganna looked long and hard at the eevee. To her, he was an entirely different Pokémon than the one she'd help take care of only a few weeks ago. Now he was motivated like she'd never thought possible. His mother would be proud. "Then you'll want to talk to Perihelion. If there's anyone capable of stopping this madness, it's him."

    "What" Chocola interjected. "Why would we try and talk one of the two jerks who started this thing? It sounds to me like they've already made up their minds!"

    "Absolution is the mastermind behind this coup, little one. His brother has become a pawn, same as you would be in the event of your capture. That poor soul probably wouldn't have even approached the council with his premonition had it not been for his brother's influence."

    Even so, Vanilla wasn't sure he could be trusted not to hand them over the first chance he got. "Then why would he help us?"

    "Because he's just as much a prisoner as your parents are. You just have to find a way to convince him of that, and he might very well assist you."

    "That sounds like a long shot, honestly." Vanilla surmised.

    "No offense, Little Prince. But, in your current state, you are no match compared to those who've been fighting their whole lives. You need allies, that much is certain."

    Vanilla shrugged. "I can't argue with you there. I suppose it would be good to have one less enemy to fight."

    "If that's settled, then great, but aren't we getting ahead of ourselves?" Chocola interrupted once more. "We still don't know how we can get inside, let alone how to find this Perihelion before we're surrounded by guards."

    Ganna thought about it for a while, before she finalized a plan. "I have an idea about for that, but it can wait until later. The real problem is what you're going to do once inside. I can't help, and guards patrol the halls now, and as clever as your disguise is, it won't hide you if you aren't supposed to be there in the first place."

    Nothing further came to Vanilla or Chocola on that front. The vixen had some ideas, but none of them were meant for use on other Pokémon. The only reason the disguise, as it was, worked on Vanilla was because she was familiar with her own form. She didn't know how long it would take before she could mirage another form over her friend.

    "Suppose we'll just have to do our best to avoid being seen." Vanilla concluded.

    "Then I suggest you come up with an escape route, wherever you go. If you have the choice between fighting or fleeing, you'd better not choose to battle." Ganna said sternly.

    "Frankly, Missus Ganna, I hope we never have to make that choice..." Vanilla agreed.
  10. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    With a new day, Ganna found herself pulling a cart full of laundry through to the council grounds gate.

    "Good Morning Ganna. Whats this?" called out a machop guard.

    "You call it good morning, I call it laundry day." Ganna said with the tired sigh of someone who hates describing her work to Pokémon who don't really care. "We've got to swap out the linens every so often if you don't want the place to get gross."

    "Eh, you know the drill, Ganna, we still gotta inspect it."

    "Be my guest..." Ganna said as she took a step back from the cart.

    The machop and his partner, a croagunk, shifted through the cart. Finding nothing, they waved the kangaskahn through.

    Before she could pass though, the machop noticed something. "Hey where's the little one?"

    Ganna lowered herself until she was face to face with the guard. "Pickle's resting, and I'd like to keep it that way, if it's not too much trouble." She said standing back up. "Unless you want the honor of telling your boss why he has to deal with a wailing child in the complex...?" She taunted.

    The guard blanched, thankfully keeping his mouth shut and silently giving Ganna a pass.

    As she left earshot of the two guards, the croagunk turned to his partner. "I thought her kid was too old for that babying stuff?"

    "Heck if I know, kangaskahn are always weird when it comes to their kids..."

    With that their vigilant watch continued.


    Ganna had made her way into the central council building and into one of the more secluded worker-only sections of the complex before giving her signal.

    Chocola exited the kangaskahn's pouch first. "When you said we wouldn't like it, you weren't kidding..." She said, shaking off how weird the experience felt.

    "I don't know," Vanilla admitted as he reached the floor. "It was odd, but warm."

    Chocola just gave him a 'what is wrong with you' glance before looking back up to Ganna. "Alright, we're in, now what?"

    "You'll likely find Perihelion in one of the council-members' offices. Either the dark, grass, or normal offices. That area will be heavily guarded, so watch yourselves."

    "Thanks, Missus Ganna. Anything else?" Vanilla inquired.

    "Just a reminder to stay away from the Forum Chamber. That's where Absolution's going to be. Other than that, all I can say is good luck. This is as far as my support can go."

    "Tell the little one thanks for us too!" Chocola added. "You ready Vanilla?" She said as she peered into the hallway.

    "I don't have a choice..." He replied simply, bowing his thanks to the kangaskahn once more before heading out the door to follow Chocola.

    Once in the quiet hallway, Vanilla found the zorua on alert. "Where are we headed?" she asked while scanning their surroundings.

    Vanilla had to think about it for a few moments. "Hmm, we'll need to go up two floors, then circle around until we get to the Normal Office. That one's closest."

    Once she'd ensured that the coast was clear, she turned to her friend, "Alright Vanilla, I do have a mirage I can use to hide us, but from here on out, you have to get as close as you can to me, okay? Like, really close. When I move, you move, and when I stop, you stop. Got it?"

    "Okay, but if you had a skill like that, why did we use the disguise?"

    "Because it requires us to be absolutely still, or the illusion could break. Also, I can only extend it so far away, so watch you tail." Chocola stated matter-of-factually. "Besides, the disguise was fun!" She finished before giving a 'follow me' signal.

    They hugged the walls as closely as they could as they traversed the hallways, stopping and waiting for any signs of a Pokémon as they crossed paths along the way. The route to the stairs was relatively vacant compared to how Vanilla remembered it. To him, the barren halls felt unnerving, for some reason.

    Thankfully, Chocola was in her stealthy element, stopping the eevee before he ran into a patrol at the top of the stairs. Security was light inside the dome, but that didn't mean that they were free to move about, it would seem.

    Under Vanilla's silent direction, Chocola took a circuitous route to the Normal Office. Without further encounters, they reached the room, only to find it empty, though not to Vanilla's surprise. He fully expected to reach Perihelion in the Dark Office, truthfully, as it would probably suite the absol's needs better.

    Why the absol would be spending his time anywhere but the Dark office was beyond the eevee, but regardless, Vanilla's father's office was the nearest to their current location.

    Sticking to the long route, Chocola was forced to halt their progress and throw up her mirage after coming across a second patrol team. Neither of the two guards had made a sound upon their approach, and nearly stumbled directly into the trespassing foxes. It was only when one of the guards sneezed that Chocola realized how close they had been to catastrophe.

    Even a few moments after the danger had passed, and the guards had made their way out of earshot, Vanilla found his pulse still erratic. It was only after Chocola dropped her mirage and stepped away from their hiding spot, before Vanilla managed to calm himself.

    Chocola turned and looked at her friend when his step faltered for a moment. The eevee in question signaled that he was okay, though maybe a little embarrassed, before she returned to the stalking.

    The Dark Office was also vacant, but unlike for normal types, it had been thoroughly trashed. There was all manner of parchment strewn about everywhere one looked.

    "What happened here?" Chocola whispered.

    If Vanilla was being honest, and he usually was, it could mean any number of things. His father could have been in here during the coup, for instance. But surely, Ganna and the rest of the assistants wouldn't tolerate such a mess for so long.

    The other thought that came to mind was that maybe someone was looking for clues as to where he, himself, might have been hiding these last few days. In the end, all Vanilla could do was shrug an 'I don't know' before the two of them made for the final target.

    Vanilla sincerely hoped they wouldn't have to case every one of the offices in their search. There were sixteen more of them to search from, and each additional room increased their chances of getting caught. Barring that, taking too long would also increase the chances that they would miss the absol altogether.

    Acknowledging their dwindling chances for success, Vanilla gave the signal for them to press on.
    Barring interruption from further patrols, the duo had one more obstacle ahead of them. The good news was that the lone guard being stationed outside the Grass office meant that there was probably someone important inside the office. The bad news was that there was a stationary guard that they couldn't simply hide from. If they wanted in that room they would have to go through the tyrogue standing watch.

    Still behind the veil of her mirage, Chocola turned to Vanilla with an ever-widening grin. The eevee was pretty sure he wasn't going to like whatever the vixen had planned, but he gave her the go ahead anyway. What choice did he have?

    Slinking along as close to the wall as possible, the two of them approached the door as near as Chocola dared. Turning towards the opposite wall she inhaled. Throwing her voice, the zorua made it sound as if the empty space down the hall was trying to get the guard's attention. "Hey! You!" her disembodied voice called out.

    Had Vanilla not seen it, he'd believe the voice came from a particularly eerie ghost Pokémon. As unnerving as it was to Vanilla, the effect seemed to have double the effectiveness on the guard.

    "H-hello?" The tyrogue called out. "Is anyone there?"

    Chocola turned and through her voice down the hallway opposite of the office door. "No! Over here!"

    The poor fighting-type was visibly shaking now. "C-come on guys! This isn't funny!" He said, hoping that this was just some sort of joke being played on him by the other guards. "I knew I shouldn't have told them how creepy this place feels when it's empty..."

    Before Chocola could deliver her scary coup de grâce, she was interrupted by the sound of a squeaky wheel coming from the branched hallway.

    "Who g-goes there!" The tyrogue challenged, regaining at least a little composure upon sighting a physical entity.

    "Ugh, it's just me, Dumpling." The very bored-looking audino stated as she pushed along a cart topped with a tea kettle and an empty cup. "Same as always..."

    "Oh! Of course, Teiya. Perihelion's tea time already?"

    Chocola recognized an opportunity when she spotted one. While the two were conversing, she motioned for Vanilla to follow, and within moments they had successfully hidden themselves away inside the lower section of the cart.

    As the audino wheeled them into the room, Chocola overheard the guard ask Teiya if she'd seen any other Pokémon around. The urge to giggle almost proved to be too much, but the serious look on Vanilla's face stopped her.

    "Good morning, Teiya." Perihelion greeted her while barely looking up from the scroll he was reading.

    The audino simply poured a cup of tea from the kettle.

    "Ahh, Roserade Select," the absol said as he inhaled the warm scent emanating from his cup "what would I do without you?"

    "Will that be all, Perihelion, sir?"

    "Yes. Thank you. I'll call for you If I need anything."

    "As you wish, sir." Teiya said as she exited the room.

    One more inhale of the tea's aromatic blend and Perihelion was almost ready to get back to work. As he began sipping his tea, he caught movement out of the corner of his eye, nearly startling him enough to choke on his tea.

    "Finally! You are Perihelion, right?" Said the little zorua that popped out from underneath the tea cart.

    "Woah! Mister Perihelion, are you all right?" Called the little eevee who tumbled into sight after the vixen once he'd noticed the absol's fit.

    The absol in question waited until he'd cleared his throat and inhaled a lung full of air before responding. "What are an eevee and a zorua doing here of all places?"

    "It's me, Vanilla, Mister Perihelion!"

    Looking at the tan intruder closer, the absol could just make out the family resemblance. He'd been introduced to the eevee only a few times before, but there was no doubt that this pup belonged to Caer and Fayd, the former holder Dark Seat on the Eevolution Council. The same eevee his brother was so desperate to find.

    "You really shouldn't have come here, little Vanilla. But if you've made it this far, then I can probably guess as to why."

    "I want you to help us free my family and the families of the other council members."

    Perihelion stared at his cup for a few moments. "I'm sorry, Vanilla, I cannot help you."


    "What you ask would have me oppose my bother. To go against his followers!" the absol interrupted. "And then there's the prophecy to deal with..." Perihelion finished as his eyes focused on some far-off image.

    Vanilla approached the short desk the absol had been sitting behind. "You mean, your vision didn't have anything to do with that earthquake yesterday?"

    The absol let out a short, sad laugh. "If only, little one. No, I'm afraid that even I don't fully understand what I saw, only that it was far, far worse than any mere tremor..." Snapping himself out of his vision, he continued. "And your council rejected our pleas! They would leave us defenseless!"

    "Calm down." The zorua said simply, hoping that the door was soundproof.

    "Please, Mister Perihelion, you and I both know that keeping everyone locked up is not the solution."

    "But, we-"

    "I promise, I'll do everything I can to get the council members to heed your warnings, Mister Perihelion. Keeping them locked away will only hurt your cause."

    "I- Sacrifices must be made for the greater good..." Absol said weakly.

    Vanilla walked around the table and sat down next to the absol. "Is that your position? Or does it belong to your brother?"

    Tears were forming in Perihelion's eyes. "I just want to do what's right!"

    "As do I." Vanilla said simply, placing his paw on the larger absol's foreleg.

    Perihelion calmed a bit. In truth, he wanted to believe in the eevee sitting next to him. But things had already progressed so far. "You would still have me betray my brother?"

    "No. I'd prefer it if he stood down and let the council do its job, no fighting involved." Vanilla said with a genuine smile. "I'm not very good at confrontations anyway!"

    "Heh, I suppose not. Even so, Absolution's word is final. I cannot help you against him, or his closest followers. He does not listen to me in matters that do not concern future events."

    "I see..." Vanilla said as his ears drooped. "What about the council-members. Can you at least help me get them to safety?"

    "No." Perihelion said, seeming to depress the fox further. "B-but I can tell you where to find the key to their freedom, at least." He admitted finally.

    "Please, Mister Perihelion, that is all I ask."

    The absol sighed. "Leshari. She's a luxray that follows my brother's every command. Around her neck, you'll find the key to the prison, located underneath the storehouse on the northern corner of the complex."

    Vanilla withdrew from the absol. "Thank you, Perihelion! I promise I'll talk to them about your vision. Heck, with the earthquake happening so recently, they'll probably take you seriously."

    "I hope so, young Vanilla. For all our sakes..."

    Turning to leave, Chocola leaned closer to her friend. "You sure about this? How can you convince the council to turn to the absol's side after what he did?"

    Vanilla didn't even have to think about it. "Honestly? I'll probably have to threaten their biggest bargaining chip..." he mumbled, leaving no room to question his response.

    Before Vanilla reached the door, Chocola stopped him. "Wait a moment, Vanilla, I've got something for the guard!" she finished with an evil-looking grin.

    Opening the door as slowly and quietly as she could, Chocola found the agitated guard through the crack. Readying herself to throw her voice, she aimed as close to his head as possible. A loud "Boo! Was all it took to send the little tyrogue running in terror.

    "Wasn't that a little much?" Vanilla asked, questioning her antics.

    "Probably, but it was worth it! Now come on, while he's distracted!" she finished before leaping out into the hallway.

    After Vanilla followed, Perihelion was left to himself. Something like this had always been bound to happen, no matter how much he wished it otherwise. In all honesty, he sort of envied the courageous little eevee. An eevee, whom he could have sworn was as timid as the rest of them only a few weeks ago. Whatever he'd found in that short time had changed him.

    The only thing the absol had ever discovered of himself, had been the 'gift' of foresight. But even that was almost too much for him to bear alone.

    ~Stone Room~​

    Leaving Perihelion to behind wasn't something Vanilla wanted to do, but if they couldn't convince the absol to turn against his brother, then there was nothing they could do about it.

    "Any idea where this luxray is?" Chocola whispered once she was certain no-one was within earshot.

    Vanilla shook his head to say 'no', but stopped himself. If this Leshari was one of Absolution's top supporters, then it would make sense that she'd be close to the center of his operation, close to him. Not wanting to risk talking, Vanilla simply pointed forward, then up. If they wanted to get close to the luxray, they'd have to go to visit the Forum Chamber.

    But to do that, they'd have to go through the room that housed the Legendary Evolution Stone.

    Navigating the office level was a breeze for Chocola now that she knew the guards' patrol patterns. She'd briefly worried that they'd accidentally run into a guard on the stairwell, a place her mirage would be less likely to work, but fortunately her fears seemed unfounded.

    Upon reaching the next floor however, the duo discovered that there didn't seem to be any guards at all, not even a few stationed in front of the Legendary Stone's viewing room.

    Entering the stone-room and verifying it was clear, Chocola took the opportunity to gaze upon the ultimate shiny. "It's beautiful..." She said, nodding her approval while gazing into the dull-gray translucence of the rock.

    "That's nothing." Vanilla said as he reared up and placed his paw on the stone.

    Chocola could protest, after all, Vanilla did just get done rejecting his own evolution, she was cut off when the stone began to glow. What was once dull, now shone with a nearly brilliant white, at least until the eevee removed his paw.

    "Neat, huh?" Vanilla finished with knowing grin.

    "But, but, you didn't evolve?"

    "Nope. The stone helps others to evolve, only when an eevee, or one of it's evolutions touches it. If another Pokémon touches it at the same time, and their type is compatible with the evolution, then they can evolve too. Granted, there's usually a little more ceremony involved, but since it's just you, I thought you'd like to see!"

    "Thanks Vanilla! Can you do it again?"

    "Maybe later. We still need that key."

    As Chocola made a visible display of her dejection at not seeing the shiny in action again, Vanilla thought back to Perihelion's words. Things started clicking into place, at least concerning why Absolution was looking for the escaped eevees. Without the Legendary evolution stone, it would be difficult to maintain balance between the Pokémon types. And if the Father, the umbreon, refused to work with the absol, it would put all dark-types at a disadvantage.

    If Absolution got his paws on Vanilla, his father would have no choice but to go along with his plans. As long as he remained free, the absol would find it difficult to get any support. Not just from the other Dark-types, but from any Pokémon who realized that balance must be maintained.

    Suddenly, Vanilla thought that it wasn't a very good idea to be wandering around, what was essentially, Absolution's stronghold.

    Too bad the freedom of others outweighed the risk. He needed that key. "Come on, Chocola. It's only a little further to the Forum. We just need to sneak up to this Leshari and find a way to steal her key without her noticing."

    "Leave that to me." Chocola said with a wink. "I've still got a few tricks to play!"

    Getting in position at the hallway entrance, the pair crouched closely together, much like they did on the earlier floors. After all, their sneaking had worked so far, why change a good thing?

    Passing a few doors, the stairs appeared just ahead when Chocola felt Vanilla lag behind. To her horror, she found the eevee sound asleep behind her.

    So enthralled with her recent memory of the stone, and her stealth work she'd missed something vitally important.

    Hypnosis. The hallway leading up to the Forum was practically saturated with it.

    Chocola tried prodding Vanilla awake, but her actions were in vain. Even if she could wake him, he was likely to fall asleep again before they could escape.

    What was worse was the sound of a static discharge emanating from the Pokémon coming down the stairs.
  11. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    Vanilla found himself wandering the halls of the Central council building, only, everything felt as though he were walking through a thick fog. Details escaped him, both for the other Pokémon he was forced to walk around and even the structure itself. For some reason, however, he couldn't being himself to focus on anything.

    No matter how far he seemed to walk, the hallways never seemed to end. To Vanilla, that didn't really make any sense. Sure it had winding hallways and Pokémon have been known to get lost within its halls, but the Central Council Building was practically his home.

    It was then that he realized that, even if he did try to focus, nothing became clearer. Even the Pokémon were a dull image of themselves. Trying to touch one of them caused it to fade from existence, startling him a bit.

    Upon the realization that none of the images present were actually Pokémon, Vanilla's memory started up again. He wasn't supposed to be alone here was he? "Chocola?" He recalled. "Chocola, where are you?!"

    Vanilla took off down the hall, no longer trying to dodge every Pokémon shade along the way.

    "Wait, what am I doing?" Vanilla said to no-one in particular. "The hallway's endless, what's running going to do?" Stopping in front of one of the office doors, he swung it open. Only, there was nothing on the other side.

    The wall was blank, devoid of everything but some vague representation of a surface. Vanilla stumbled back in utter confusion.

    "What?! T-that doesn't make any sense!" Vanilla shouted into the distance. Forcing himself to think about things made him realize that nothing was making sense. The last thing he remembered clearly, they'd been on their way to the Forum.

    That either meant that, either Chocola had started some sort of cruel joke, which didn't really seem likely given the circumstance. That only left one other likely scenario.

    Vanilla nipped his paw experimentally. He'd heard somewhere that pain was the key to waking up from a dream, but it didn't seem to work here.

    "That won't work here, little eevee." Said a voice in the distance.

    "Although we must admit that you've figured it out faster than most." Admitted another voice on the opposite side.

    "So this is Hypnosis." Vanilla said, attempting to keep both directions under observation.

    "We'd hoped to get the intruder, but nabbing you is even better." Said the dark shape to the right.

    "Leshari will have to keep her promise now..." Said the white shape on the left.

    "L-Leshari? The luxray? We're actually looking for her..." Vanilla stated, not quite sure why. Wasn't he supposed to steal something from her?

    The dark one resolved into a black meowstic. "Oh, look Shirii, I bet this one thinks he can negotiate..."

    'Negotiate? For what?' Vanilla thought to himself.

    "It wouldn't be the first time, Kiroi..." Answered the newly revealed white meowstic. "Too bad for him. No-one's ever escaped our Dual-Hypnosis."

    "And no-one ever will, dear Sister."

    "Hey now, don't count me out!" Vanilla shouted. "I-I can't stay here forever, right? You have to let me wake up sometime, don't you?"

    "You misunderstand, eevee. We don't have to. You'll only sleep until we find the one hiding you." Shirii, the white meowstic, stated.

    'The one hiding me...-? They haven't discovered us yet. Then there's still time!' Vanilla concluded as he tried to think of a way out of this mess. He'd have to think of a plan quick. If they knew that he was being hidden by another Pokémon, it was only a matter of time before they found Chocola.


    Meanwhile, outside of the dreamworld, Chocola tucked herself as close to Vanilla as possible before throwing up a quick mirage to cover them both.

    "I know you're here..." the luxray cooed after reaching the bottom of the stairs. "Now be a good Pokémon and turn yourself, or selves, in."

    Chocola remained silent. Zorua don't give away their positions unless they have to, and she still had Vanilla to worry about.

    "Don't believe me, hmm? I know you're there because my meowstic put someone to sleep in this very hallway. The fact that you are not visible means that you are awake, which, frankly limits what you actually are. I suspect a zoroark, but I doubt He'd be interested in anything here..." The luxray observed while walking down the corridor. "Though I suppose that's not important, is it? At least, not compared to the fact that you're not alone..." She taunted.

    As the luxray, whom Chocola guessed was most likely named Leshari, drew closer, the zorua dug into her bag of tricks and put up another mirage, this one much larger and more complex than the one she used as cover.

    The luxray's pace quickened. Chocola could feel her fur bristle with electricity as the electric Pokémon stepped past her.

    Reaching the portion of the hallway that branched back into the viewing chamber, Leshari realized that something was off. She'd walked that hallway dozens of times of times before, but never that quickly. Not at that pace. There was something wrong with her perception of the hallway's length.

    She'd fallen for some sort of trick. "I wonder, how long do you think your illusion can last under a full assault!?" Leshari shouted angrily as she charged up for an electric attack.

    Chocola hugged Vanilla closer, silently wishing enough for the both of them that the eevee would wake up.


    "Um... No." Vanilla said flatly.

    "Oh? I doubt a little eevee know about our technique that we don't?" Kiroi said antagonizing.

    'Dang, they called me out...' Vanilla mentally berated himself before trying to find something he could use from their shockingly short conversation. "Do you wanna bet on that?" he gambled.

    Kiroi looked at his sister questioningly. Shirii just shrugged. "Why not? We've got nothing to lose."

    "Alright, fine, eevee, what are your terms?" Kiroi asked.

    'Dang again!' Vanilla, realizing that he really should think these things through a bit more. 'Wait a minute! Thinking it through, thinking it through...'

    "Well, we're waiting..."

    "Um, I challenge, um, you both, to a game of checkers?"

    "What? Really? You can't be serious..." Shirii said shaking her head. "You can't possibly win against the both of us."

    "Fine then," Vanilla admitted, "How about two games, side by side? If I win, or tie, at least one of the you have to let me go!"

    "And if we win?"

    "T-then I stop struggling and let you capture me."

    "Deal." Kiroi said before his sister could object. "Anything else?"

    "Oh, um yes, actually..."

    "So I can just think of something, and it'll pop up?" Vanilla asked as the meowstic summoned two tables equipped with checkerboards. Red and black disks materialized out of thin air and softly dropped onto their respective squares only a moment later.

    "Of course you can, dummy." Shirii replied with a roll of her eyes. "This is the dreamworld."

    "But don't think that you can defeat the both of us with anything you can drum up, Eevee. There's nothing you can throw at us here that we haven't seen before..." Her brother replied before Vanilla could do anything with the new information.

    "Oh, I wasn't thinking about anything like that, only this..." Vanilla acknowledged as a solid divider appeared between the two tables. "That way, there's no cheating."

    "You do realize we're psychic types right? We don't need to see each other to communicate."

    "Oh, well, if you think you need to cheat to beat me, then I guess there's no helping it." Vanilla said with the sweetest smile he could manage. "I'm sure it would impress all of your friends that you had to gang up on a little eevee in order to beat him at something as simple checkers..." He finished, going in for the kill.

    "Why you... Fine. No telepathy! Let's just get this over with already." Kiroi growled.

    "Okay," Vanilla said while sitting down at Kiroi's table, "you go first!"

    Chocola was glad she'd put up the perception filter when she had the chance. It was probably the only reason that she hadn't been hit with one of the luxray's randomly-thrown thunderbolts. The problem was, Leshari only had so many more places she could attack before she hit the zorua.

    Leshari was laughing maniacally now, taking great pleasure in whatever mind game she thought she was playing. "Oh? I think I'm getting close!" She said as she fired off another bolt of electricity.

    The bolt mostly struck home, sending a surge of energy through Chocola's tail, and through it, the rest of her body. She bit her tongue to keep herself from making a sound that would give away her position.

    At least Vanilla was seemingly uninjured, though that may not remain the case for much longer. Chocola needed to think of something fast.

    Another randomly thrown bolt struck the wall on the other side of the hallway, the flash causing Chocola to wince even at a distance.

    It was then that the zorua realized she was still biting her tongue, even though she was in no danger of making a sound. A sudden thought entered her mind, and as Leshari charged up another shot, Chocola hoped her new plan would be enough...

    "Are you gonna move, or what, pup?" Kiroi asked after having placed his own piece a few moments before.

    "Shh, you're breaking my concentration..." Vanilla stated as he concentrated on the board.

    "Whatever, you're the one whose on the clock, not us. How do you plan on beating both of us before Leshari finds you and your friend, huh?"

    Vanilla looked up from the board and tilted his head to the side. "Oh! Right. I might as well get the other board started then. I'll be right back!" he finished as he hopped around the wall to Shirii's table.

    "I guess I'm first on this one, huh?" Vanilla said as he approached the board.

    "That's generally how it works, Eevee..." the meowstic said in disdain. She'd apparently summoned a comfortable-looking cushion in Vanilla's absence.

    "Right, right... um, this one!" Vanilla said as he made his move.

    "Finally." She stated as she made her own turn. "Your move."

    "Oh, wait! I still have to make my move on your brother's board. I'll be right back!"

    "Whatever..." She replied rolling her eyes. The longer he was willing to drag this out, the less she'd have to suffer through Leshari's praise for their boss.

    The opening moves out of the way, the games were on.

    Leshari smirked as heard the muffled 'yip' down the hallway. It looked as though one of her attacks had managed to strike home, after all! She would have preferred to bombard the area with her strongest attack, but Absolution's orders were clear. If the eevee was here, and she had no reason to believe anyone else would be sneaking around, he was to remain mostly unharmed.

    'But that didn't mean the same rules applied to his associate.' She thought to herself. Charging up another thunderbolt, she put a little more juice into it than was strictly necessary. "This game has gone on long enough!" She shouted as she aimed for the source of the earlier noise, and fired.

    Both games were moving at a much faster pace now that Vanilla had a rhythm down.

    "Aha, your move!" the eevee exclaimed with his ever-present grin.

    After making his own move, Kiroi watched the eevee nod his head before moving to his sister's side of the partition. Looking at the board, it was fairly obvious that he was winning, so what, exactly, was the little fox smiling about?

    "Hey sis?" Kiroi called out

    "Hey, no cheating!" Vanilla called out.

    "What part of 'psychic Pokémon don't need to speak in order to talk' don't you understand?" Shirii berated the fox. "What do you want, Kiroi?" She said, sounding a little bemused. An oddity, for his siter, for sure.

    "I just wanted to know how you're doing over there."

    "It could be going better..." She admitted.

    "What!? He's actually beating you?" The black meowstic asked incredulously as Vanilla returned to his side. Granted, she'd never beaten him in any of their games before, but that didn't mean she was a slouch.

    "What of it? He's better than I thought, alright!" She shouted over the wall. "Besides, I think I know how to turn it around.

    "You'd better..." Kiroi mumbled after he and Vanilla had exchanged their turns.

    A few more turns in and Kiroi heard his sister ask a question. "Why not?" It must have been directed at the eevee, because it was quickly followed by an "Oh? Oh! Right..."

    The meowstic let his curiosity get the better of him. "What's going on over there?"

    Vanilla gave Shirii a conspiring grin and held his paw up to his muzzle in a silencing gesture.

    Shirii didn't know exactly why the eevee was helping her, but she didn't really care. If he wanted to lose both games, that was his problem. "It's nothing Kiroi. Don't worry about it." She said, only slightly wondering why she was playing along at all.

    Kiroi was eyeing Vanilla suspiciously when he returned to his end of the table. "I thought you said no cheating?"

    "That's correct." Vanilla replied simply before moving his piece.

    "Hmm." Kiroi said before touching one of his pieces. "I wanna raise the stakes."

    "...Oh? What do you mean?" Vanilla asked. His plan was already complicated enough.

    "Yeah. If you win both games, no ties, not only will we let you go if you win, but we won't help Leshari chase you down afterwards."

    "And if I lose?"

    "Then you have to give up that friend of yours that's giving her so much trouble." The meowstic added tauntingly.

    "I don't know..."

    "Come on... You do realize we could just use hypnosis on you once you wake back up, right? At least this way, you still have a shot at escaping."

    But on the other paw, Vanilla would have to chance betraying Chocola to the enemy. The meowstic was right, though, they'd never agreed to not attack him the moment they let him go, and there was no way they'd fall into this trap again.

    "Okay..." Vanilla agreed while Kiroi made his move. "It's a deal."

    Walking back over to Shirii's table, Vanilla copied the move that the male meowstic sibling had just made. So far they'd been playing against themselves, practically guaranteeing him a win, so why had he felt the need to help the sister? Now he was going to have to alter his plan, or give up his mission...

    Chocola had never been more thankful for a working plan before. Granted, the crazy luxray had blown a hole in the opposite wall with the subsequent blasts, scattering debris in all direction, but at least those thunderbolts hadn't been aimed at her.

    Once Leshari recovered from her attack, it would only be a matter of time before she realized she'd fallen for another trick, and Chocola was quickly running out of options.

    The only thing she could do now was hug Vanilla tighter, and hope he'd wake up on his own.

    Kiroi wondered when, exactly, the tables had turned on him. At least now the eevee's happy-go-lucky smile was gone, replaced with a stern look of concentration.

    He was losing now, but his sister seemed to be winning, if her excited voice was any indication. The pup seemed to be helping her still, but it mattered not, so long as at least one of them won.

    Vanilla returned and brought Kiroi's piece count to one, a king. The eevee still had two of the same and an additional, regular piece to work with, which would mean that this game was a forgone conclusion.

    Kiroi would lose, but that didn't mean he'd go down without a fight. Now was the time for an all-out offensive.

    Only a mere sixteen moves later, though, and his fight was done. Kiroi'd been corralled into a corner made by the one normal piece still on the board.

    "That's game." Vanilla said while wiping imagined sweat from his brow.

    "But what about Shirii's game?"

    "Oh, I resigned ages ago..." The meowstic in question answered as she came around the divider.

    "B-but why?" Kiroi said, a little taken aback. "I thought you were winning?!"

    "Yeah, yeah. If you haven't figured it out yet, I'll explain later. For now, though, we promised to release the pup."

    "Really?" Vanilla asked, excited to finally be free from the dream realm.

    "Fine, a deal's a deal."

    Vanilla rushed up to hug Shirii, "Thanks so much, Miss Shirii!" he said before releasing her and bowing to her brother. "And you too, Mister Kiroi. It's been fun!" He exclaimed before tilting his head in the realization that he didn't actually know how to wake up. "Um, how do I-?"

    "Like this." Shirii interrupted him with a bop on the nose. Both Vanilla, and the realm around them vanished in an instant. "Cute kid." She finished.

    "Sure, yeah, but what was that all about? What are we going to tell Leshari?"

    "First, we're not going to tell that cat anything. Second, the kid had been playing us from the start."

    "What?!" Kiroi said, stopping just shy of using hypnosis again. "Wait. If you knew he was cheating, why did you help him?"

    "Well, I'm not really sure, honestly. Sure the pup's polite and all. But I guess when I figured out his game plan, I just sort of went along with it."

    "And how, might I ask, did he manage that?"

    "He set it up so that we were playing against each other, dummy. All he had to do is act as the intermediary and shuffle our moves to each other's boards."

    Kiroi looked at his sister with a questioning glance. Partly because he didn't think he'd actually fallen for such a simple trick, and partly because he still didn't understand why his sister acted the way she did. "Then, why?"

    She thought about it for a moment before answering. "Maybe I just wanted to win for once. Or, maybe after getting to know Vanilla for a bit, leaving him to Leshari just felt, well, wrong?"

    He had to admit he hated working with the Luxray too. Besides, maybe the eevee was a cute kid, like his sister had said earlier. "Maybe you're right..." He acknowledged. Heck, even though they were supposed to be enemies, the kid treated them better than their boss ever did. "So, uh, wanna bail on this party?"

    "Do I ever."

    Vanilla coughed and groaned upon waking up, the former from the dust, debris, and ozone in the air, and the latter from his groggy awakening.

    Chocola hugged him, happy to have him among the living, and also because her game of 'hide the foxes' was now officially over.

    Leshari was busy screaming some sort of expletive and no longer taking any chances with a distance attack. Charging forward, her bared fangs crackled with electricity as she made her way towards the duo's location.

    With all of her might, Chocola pushed herself, and the still-loopy eevee, off of the wall, out of her mirage and into the middle of the hallway.

    Before Leshari could finish changing her course, Chocola let out her surprise attack. Jumping up, and sending every terrible image she could imagine towards the luxray, she finished her astonishing attack.

    It worked. The luxray stumbled in her attack, missing a step entirely. She'd flinched in surprise.

    Gently smacking Vanilla fully awake, Chocola pointed to the newly remodeled wall. "Run!" was all she shouted before taking off herself.

    Vanilla didn't have to be told twice. Soon, only Leshari was still left in the hallway.
    "I'm so glad you're awake!" Chocola started as they fled the corridor. "What's the plan?"

    "Um... Same as the old one?" Vanilla suggested as he finished attempting to clear his head. The current environment wasn't going to let him get a moment of respite, however. "We still need to get that key so that we can free everyone."

    "Oh, is that all?" Chocola stated sarcastically as she approached the door. "Hey, I know, let's just wait here and see if the angry luxray will help. We'll just ask her for the key!"

    Chocola put a paw up to her ear in a mock listening gesture. "Oh, wait. She's too busy screaming at some meowstic to hear us right now. Guess not."

    "I didn't say it was a good plan..." Vanilla admitted. Every seemed to be going from bad to worse with every passing second.

    Dashing through the small rooms that emptied into the hallway, Chocola just wanted to put as much distance between Leshari and themselves as possible. "I suggest we cut our losses and- Woah!" she finished as she nearly barreled into a familiar drifloon.

    "This way!" Vanilla shouted, opening a door into the passageway that led to the Stone room.

    With the route upstairs blocked, and the ghost Pokémon nearby, their only hope was to take the stairs leading down.

    "Ah, ah, ah..." An infernape declared as it appeared in their path, wagging one of its fingers in a 'no' gesture. "Can't let you do that!"

    The drifloon cut them off from the side rooms as the two foxes backed up from the infernape. "Looks like we got here just in time, Monmon. Where's the boss?"

    "I'm here." Leshari growled as she entered the room, a bit out of breath from her tirade. "About time you show up." She said, acknowledging her lackeys. "But as for you two," The luxray indicated to the surrounded duo, "I've had enough of your games. I was supposed to bring you back unharmed, but I'm sure Absolution will understand if I deliver you in mostly one piece..." She finished with a shadowy grin.

    Vanilla, despite his rising fear, noticed movement behind the Luxray. "Um.. We surrender?"

    Chocola was about to question his sanity when she noticed it too. "Oh, um right. Truce?"

    Leshari didn't take the bait. "Afraid not, whelp. I've had it up to here with you and your friend's tricks, ever since that thing you pulled back in Jocundale. No, I've been saving something special for you, vixen.

    As Leshari approached, she bared her fangs, practically salivating at using them on the pair.

    "Um, boss?" Monmon started once he noticed it too.

    "What!?" She growled at him, only to see that the monkey was pointing behind her. Turning around, she found herself overshadowed by a glaring, furious kangaskahn. "Oh-" was all she managed before getting hit with a rather large chunk of former wall.

    Admiring her work for a moment, Ganna turned to the Leshari's two lackeys. "You got a problem with that?"

    "You think you can just-!?" the drifloon started before he found Monmon's paw covering his face.

    "What Latte meant to say is that we don't want any trouble. We were just following orders..." The simian said as he started backing up, pulling the drifloon with him.

    "Good. Then get this one out of here before I do." The kangaskahn said leaving no doubt about how serious she was being.

    Shaking the shock of the last few moments off, Vanilla stopped them from picking their leader up. "Wait, we still need her key!"

    Monmon stopped where he stood. Looking back at the kangaskahn, she nodded. Slowly, he removed the lanyard that was fastened around his boss's neck, and set it on the ground before taking off as quickly as he could with the unconscious Pokémon draped over his shoulder.

    Once they were out of earshot, Latte drifted closer to his partner. "What was that about?" He whispered.

    "Rule number one when dealing with a kangaskahn. Never threaten children around them..." he whispered back before disappearing down the stairs.

    Back in the thrown room, Vanilla greeted their rescuer. "Missus Ganna! You came back!" he said as he gave the larger Pokémon an affectionate hug.

    "I thought you said you couldn't help us?" Chocola asked. Though she was thankful for the help, she was skeptical.

    "Let's just say that I had a talk with the other workers. I was about to pass the word on to the ones up here when I heard the commotion. Looks like I showed up just in time!"

    "Wait, how did you get up here ahead of us?"

    "She probably took the outer ramp." Vanilla stated.

    "Oh, right, the one with all of the stationary guards stationed everywhere." Chocola remembered. Not even her mirages would have helped them with so many Pokémon out in the open.

    "Yep, that's the one. The guards don't bother the workers too much once we're inside the compound!" Ganna said with a hearty laugh before turning her attention to the item Vanilla was clutching. "I'm assuming that key's the one that unlocks whatever's holding the Council Members? I guess that explains what Perihelion was doing outside."


    "Yeah, he was dismissing the guards along the way. I thought you'd turned him to your side?"

    Vanilla looked worried. "No, when we left him in the grass office, he said he couldn't help us. He only told us where to find the key."

    "Then why would he dismiss the guards from what is likely our best escape route?" Chocola chimed in.

    "I don't think he did that to help us..." Vanilla thought aloud before handing the key to the kangaskahn. "Take this Missus Ganna, and free the others, please."

    "What!? Why? We've almost finished our mission, haven't we?" Chocola asked.

    "It's Perihelion." Vanilla stated. "He didn't believe that he could face his brother, and I think that's still the case, yet he's going anyway. If there's the slightest chance that I can help him get through to Absolution, then there won't be a better time to do it."

    Chocola looked to the kangaskahn, and then back to Vanilla. "Fine. I can't let you get into trouble without me!"

    Ganna hugged the key tightly. "Are you sure? The absols' fight is not your own. No-one will question you if you choose to free the others instead."

    "I would." Vanilla declared simply. "Can I leave the freeing of prisoners to you?"

    The kangaskahn was reluctant to leave these two in danger so soon after the luxray incident, but even she knew how impossible it would be to fight against the determined look in their eyes. "Yes. You can count on me."

    "Thanks, Missus Ganna!"

    "Yeah! Thank a lot!"

    "Take care you two..." was all Ganna could manage as she watched the two dart off. "Your parents are going to be absolutely cross with me..."
  12. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~Forum Chamber~​

    In truth, Perihelion had dreaded, yet anticipated this meeting. Before his ability to see into the future had been discovered, his brother, Absolution, had always been a straightforward Pokémon. His place as the future head of the Absol family had been questioned ever since, and, in turn, he had grown cold and hostile.

    Absolution resembled everything his brother wasn't, and it was Perihelion had let his brother dictate his actions. Until now. Peri hated sending those two pups to draw off Leshari, but she would interject herself into their meeting otherwise. At least he'd given the two foxes a way out, provided they made it that far.

    Besides, there was always the possibility that he was successful in talking his brother into giving up the position, in which case their capture would be brief. So why was it that he felt so terrified?

    "Brother?" Absolution asked as Peri entered the Forum. "What brings you up here today? Have you found it?"

    "N-no. I haven't..."

    The older absol eyed his younger sibling in silence. "This wouldn't have anything to do with the intruders downstairs, would it? Leshari's dealing with them now, though it would be nice if she'd avoid tearing the place down in the process..."

    "Sort of..." Perihelion started before sitting down in front of his brother, just out of striking distance. "I've decided I'm no longer going along with, well, this."

    Absolution arched his brows just moments before breaking out in an uproarious laughter. "Ahh, when did you develop a sense of humor?" He said mirthfully, wiping away a tear from his eye. "Well then, I suggest you get back to finding the-"

    "N-no, Brother! This is no joke." Perihelion said before attempting to swallow his rising anxiety. "I can't do this anymore..."

    "Do what anymore? If you need help in your search, you should just ask."

    "This isn't about that. We- We should never have attacked the eevees, taken over their council, or locked them up and attempted to force them to help us. None of it."

    Absolution had dropped all pretense of insincerity. "Then how else are we to prepare for the future, your future, brother? You know as well as I the Coucil rejected us."

    "But maybe they would listen if we only discussed things further? If we brought back proof?"

    "Proof? Proof! They would have us burned to cinders before they believed your predictions!"

    "We can't know that!"

    Absolution rose from his position. "You know as well as I that this line of thought is a dangerous position to take..." he said as he began circling his brother. "What if they listened, only to ignore our preparation requests, or took so long to heed our advice that they failed to act until after numerous Pokémon are lost to the rifts, hmm? What then?" The older absol turned away. "No, you know we couldn't take any more chances after our initial failure. So why?" He finished, turning to face the younger sibling, only to see his pleading eyes. "My Arceus, who have you been talking too, to fill your head with such ideas?"

    "T-there's no one..." Perihelion attempted meekly

    "No... you've spoken to our intruder, haven't you... Yes, that's it. Who was it? Tell me!" Absolution demanded.

    "NO! I mean, no. No-one talked me into this, brother. Ever since that night of the coup, I've felt, well, wrong. I-I can't sleep, I barely eat, and, and I can't justify locking up the eevees anymore!"

    "Hmm... And your sure your, condition, isn't just due to your vision?"

    "I'm certain. Please brother, what good will it do for us to save Exile if it's inhabitants only have hate for us?"

    "So that's what this is about? I hate to break this to you Peri, but they already hate our clan. They always have."

    "No..." Perihelion started before remembering his conversation with Vanilla. "No. I don't believe you. If you'd just stand down, you'd see that you're wrong. Staying here like this will only make things worse, can't you see that?"

    Absolution contemplated his brother's words for a moment. "So, you would have us give everything we've accomplished up? Just place all of our bets on the off chance that the Council will listen this time?"

    Perihelion nodded. "Yes! After the earthquakes, I'm certain they'll understand. They have to."

    Absolution stared at his younger for a moment. "Fine..."

    Perihelion nearly jumped at his brother's words. This was the best possible outcome he could have hoped for. "Oh, I knew you'd see reason brother!" Perihelion said while getting up to go. "Come! You'll see. Once we free the others and put this whole coup behind us, we can go back to the way things were!"

    "I'm sorry, Perihelion." The older stated as the temperature in the room plummeted.

    The younger suddenly found that he could no longer lift his paws from the floor. They had frozen in place before he'd even felt the chill, and the ice seemed to be expanding. "Brother, why?" He asked in confusion.

    Absolution was wrapped in a veil of snow and ice. "You would have me throw away all that I've worked for? To go back to the way things were?" He laughed. "Things have never been better, brother! And since it's evident you aren't going to back down, maybe it's time that you sat things out. Maybe once your prediction has passed, you'll have had time to rethink your position..."

    "Brother please!" Perihelion pleaded.

    "Goodbye, Bro-"

    "STOOOOP!" Vanilla interrupted, braving the cold long enough to charge the elder absol's side.

    The blizzard stopped.

    "Mr. Perihelion! Are you okay?" Vanilla asked, his breath visible in the chilled air.

    "Y-you shouldn't be here, little one..." The absol answered through chattering teeth.


    "An eevee! Here?" Absolution interrupted. "How did you escape the... Wait a moment, I know you..." An evil smirk spread across his face as the memory clicked into place. "How fortunate! Brother, it seems you've lead Fayd's son right to me. How thoughtful."

    "No! Vanilla, you must flee!"

    The eevee hesitated. Perihelion was stuck, and there was no telling what his brother would subject him to. He couldn't just abandon the absol. Could he?

    His hesitation was all Absolution needed, and before Vanilla could act he found himself pinned underneath the older brother.

    Chocola watched on in horror was the events unfolded. There was no helping the younger brother without dealing with the ice, but if she could only get close enough to stun the older one with her sneak attack, she might be able to free Vanilla. Throwing up her mirage, she circled around Absolutions field of vision.

    "Now that I have you, your father will be forced to do my bidding, just like the others."

    "Please brother! This isn't the-" A quick strike to the back of the neck was all it took to silence Perihelion.

    With his brother incapacitated, Absolution turned his attention back to the eevee he'd pinned down already. "Oh, don't give me that look, He'll recover. Eventually. Besides, you have something to be thankful for in all of this."

    "And that is?" Vanilla asked as he struggled defiantly from the floor.

    "Your very presence will no doubt lessen my brother's suffering. Once the council learns that they have no more means of resistance, we can begin my work."

    "And that is?"

    "The one thing my brother got right, destruction is coming, little eevee, rest assured. Currently, we lack the means to defend against such an event, but with the power of the Legendary Evolution Stone at my command, we might still have a chance."

    "So that's your plan, just evolve all the Pokémon in exile?"

    "Oh, not all of them. I'm well aware that some can't evolve, such as my kind. There are also those who may refuse to follow my lead, but well, I don't think we'll have to worry about them for long." Vanilla started laughing. "What?"

    "You'll fail, Mister Absolution. You may have captured me, but the others will be long gone. I've let all of the other council members go!"

    "Very well, I've beaten them once, I can do it ag-!" Absolution attempted before Chocola dropped her mirage in an attempt to use Astonish. "There you are!" He finished as he turned to the zorua and hit her with a Thunder Wave.

    Chocola dropped to the ground, paralyzed. "B-but how?"

    "Please, your unique talent only goes so far. You're not the only one who knows how to manipulate shadows, you know." As if to make his point, Absolution inhaled, and the shadows in the room grew to unimaginable reaches as he did so. "Besides, this one could hardly have reached this place on his own..." the absol stated, indicating the eevee he still held beneath his paw.

    Vanilla continued struggling in a vain attempt to free himself. "Let her go! She has nothing to do with this!"

    "Aww, how sweet. I'm touched, really. I hate to break it to you, eevee, but there's nothing you can do for your friend. Just as there's nothing she can do for you." Absolution declared, to which he only received a cold stare from the Pokémon below.

    It was then that he was hit with a ball of condensed shadow. Chocola had never attempted it before, and as such, it hit with very little power.

    "Are you quite done yet?" The absol taunted.

    "L-leave him alone!" Chocola said fighting through her paralysis, throwing another weak ball towards Absolution.

    The larger Pokémon simply took the blow, barely flinching in the process. Picking Vanilla up, he rubbed the smaller Pokémon into the ice that secured Perihelion until the eevee's fur began to stick to it as well. Satisfied with his work, he turned to the zorua.

    "Leave Chocola alone!" Vanilla cried out.

    Absolution stepped right up to the zorua, easily overshadowing her. "I'm not afraid of you!" She declared.

    "You really, really, should be." Was all that Absolution said before he sent her flailing towards one of the support pillars.

    Again, Chocola attempted to rise and fight, and again Absolution approached her and sent her flying across the room.

    Vanilla was doing all that he could to free himself from the ice. His fur was stuck fast, he only needed some leverage. Struggling as best he could, his own body heat seemed to be melting the ice, if only a little. Eventually, he was able to free himself, but, being no longer supported by the ice meant that he was forced to hit the floor rather hard. Though the pain was not nearly as bad as what his friend was suffering.

    After the third swipe, the absol turned to the recovering eevee. "What do you think we should do, Little Vanilla? Torture her some more? How much damage do you think it would take until she breaks?"

    Vanilla simply threw himself over Chocola before another blow could hit its mark.

    "Really? Look, Vanilla I appreciate the sentiment." He said, wedging the eevee away from his prey. "But I'm afraid I can't allow for your noble sacrifice, just yet." Tossing the eevee aside, he turned back to Chocola. "Any last words?"

    "Run, Vanilla... Get out..." She managed weakly.

    "Oh, how touching. She really does ca-" Absolutions words were cut short by the harsh, blinding light burning behind him.
  13. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~End Game~​
    To a lesser degree, a light surrounded the zorua as well, and Absolution found himself backing away from her subconsciously as the brighter light surrounded her friend.

    "What's happening!?" He queried, though not exactly expecting an answer. The light was familiar, as it should be, Absolution had seen plenty of evolution ceremonies in his time, but this was somehow, different.

    At the source of the light was Vanilla, though it didn't make sense. Eevee are no stranger to evolution, but there had been no contact with an Evolution Stone. There was nothing like that kept inside the Forum Chamber.

    The whys and hows would have to wait. Absolution didn't have the luxury of letting this eevee gain the upper paw. Just as the light began to dim, he charged up his next attack. Ensuring that his aim was true, the absol unleashed his strongest Shadow Ball yet.

    The first thing that Vanilla noticed was that everything was so very bright. The light made everything look small, yet without any loss of detail. The next thing on the list of things to notice was that he was no longer bound to the ground.

    Things were moving slowly, but that somehow seemed normal. It gave him time to appreciate the changes he now felt.

    Looking at his front paws, he found four orbs floating around them, each a different combination of color. Further up his foreleg, he discovered that his fur seemed to be growing into some sort of indistinct cloud as the strands faded into the very air.

    A dark spot filled his vision, growing as its distance decreased. Instinct drove him to manipulate one of the orbs, the marbled white one, and suddenly the dark spot was no more, it's energy redirected violently around his impromptu shielding.

    'Fascinating!' Vanilla thought to himself as he wondered what the other three spheres were for.

    Once the problem dealt with, the marble shifted away from his paw and into line with the other twelve orbs that orbited his frame. As another orb replaced it, this one filled with green swirls, Vanilla made a new discovery. His ears, and lower torso also ended in the same wispy nothingness he'd found present on his legs. When had that happened?

    Another sphere of black formed in his vision. That wasn't normal, was it? He'd have to put a stop to that. Looking to the four spheres in front of him, he chose the one filled with brown, strong-looking, geometric shapes.

    This time, the ground erupted underneath the growing black sphere, sending its creator to the side of the room that was the furthest away from a little light nearby.

    Vanilla recognized the little light as his friend, but an explanation as to how or why he felt as such eluded him. The real question was why the room seemed to be growing colder.

    Swirls of icy shards twirled around a white Pokémon, probably the same one displaced by the rocks earlier, the origin was of no real consequence here. The only thing that mattered was that the shards were threatening his little light.

    Choosing the brilliant orange orb, the ice in front of it vanished into steam in an instant, the short blast sending the opponent hurtling into the wall behind him. Vapor rose from the surrounding rock as temperatures attempted some form of equilibrium, and the sound of something collapsing drew Vanilla's attention.

    No longer bound by ice, another white Pokémon slipped into the haze below. Vanilla felt concern, but none of the four spheres he had at his disposal seemed likely to help. Grabbing the swirling purple orb, he discharged its energy. Nothing seemed to happen, but the ball turned gray and moved to the reserves anyway. Maybe its replacement would be of more use.

    As soon as Vanilla floated nearer to the collapsed white Pokémon, he felt his opponent gain ground. It was almost certainly an attempt to prevent him from using another orb effectively. Though he wasn't sure how he possessed such information, it didn't matter as much as the electrical energy crackled behind him. Thunder wave, most likely.

    It would seem his green orb, the first he'd received from the elemental reserve, was next in line. Thick, yet flexible vines tore through the tile and seized the opponent's rear paws, instantly altering his trajectory. The white Pokémon hit the ground, hard, his attack interrupted long before it could connect.

    Recovering from the fall, the white Pokémon was breathing heavily now, and seemed to be having trouble seeing out of one of his eyes. The other, fully functional eye glowed with both hatred and fear.

    "What are you!?" Absolution questioned in desperation.

    "Curious. An odd question. I'm still me, aren't I? That would make the most sense, and yet, I'm no longer the old me, aren't I? Therefore, to answer your question, I am the same, and yet I am not."

    "B-but you've evolved!"

    "That would be apparent."

    Absolution was only buying time to think about his next course of action. Certainly, Vanilla's change had to have been caused by something, he only needed to discover what it was, then maybe... "How?" he asked.

    "To be honest, I'm not really-" Vanilla started before his opponent used Shadow Pulse to remove his bonds.

    The evolved eevee wasn't the only thing glowing in the room, Absolution had noticed. His friend, the zorua, was glowing slightly too. Or rather, it was the stone around her neck that was shining. 'That must be it, the key to this whole ordeal!' The absol thought before breaking through the vines with his attack. 'If I can finish the zorua off, it might be enough to subdue the whelp!' he thought as he dashed off.

    The eevee, however had made his move even before he had finished his sentence. Using the misty blue orb, the absol suddenly found himself at the receiving end of his own Thunder Wave.

    The paralysis sent him tumbling to the ground in a heap. Struggling to move was just about the only thing he could do. "No!" Absolution shouted. He'd been so close.

    "This fight is over. That much should be obvious?"

    "It will never be over!" Absolution shouted as he attempted to charge a Shadow Ball. His target was the zorua, but, before he could finish his last-ditch attack, a harsh beam of pure, psychic light smashed into him from above. Not even a dark-type was immune to the level of energy he was being bombarded with, and soon, the absol's ball of shadow slipped away along with his last scrap of consciousness.

    "Is it clear, Fryt?" The wyveon asked upon the return of the whispeon.

    "It is, Skayl." The ghost type eevolution responded.

    Together with Hayz, the soareon, the three were the only ones who could scale the exterior of the Central Council Building faster than their ground-bound brethren. With the all clear from the incorporeal member, the three entered the Forum Chamber and were astonished at what they found.

    Both absol brothers, a zorua, and their own Vanilla lie unconscious on the ground. What astonished them more than that was the sheer level of destruction evident in the room. Pillars of stone erupted through the floor, some of the stonework seemed to have melted in places, and that wasn't counting the general disarray from all of the other superficial damage.

    "What happened in here?" Was all Hayz could ask as she dropped down near Vanilla. Miraculously, he was more or less unharmed.

    Disregarding the absol for now, Skayl checked on the zorua. "This must be the one Ganna mentioned..." The poor thing was pretty beat up. It didn't look like she was in any danger of dying, but to leave her in this state would be cruel. "Fayd, go find an audino or a chansey for this one. And please make haste, if you would."

    "What about these two?" the ghost asked of two absol.

    "The others'll be here soon enough, now go!" Skayl repeated.

    When they had been released by the loyal servant kangaskahn, the eevolutions had expected a fight, but by the looks of things, the fight had beat them here by a good margin. The only problem was that none of the damage made any sense. Neither of the pups could manage these kinds of attacks, and even the brothers' known attacks didn't account for either the rock-type or the grass-type debris that was present.

    "Do you think we'll be okay?" Hayz asked.

    "Um, yeah? I'm sure this one'll be fine after she gets a good night of sleep or two." The wyveon proclaimed while gesturing towards the zorua.

    "No. That's not it. I was wondering if we could take on whatever it was that did this..." the flying-type said as she gestured around the room.

    "What do you mean? You think some other Pokémon attacked everyone here and wrecked the place?"

    "Well, yeah. Look at it from here..." Hayz suggested as she hovered to the Forum's center. "All of the damage seems to come from here."

    Sure enough, there seemed to be an epicenter. But that led to a new question. "Then what's Vanilla doing at the center of it all?"

    "I'm not sure."

    "Well, let's hope he was able to get a good look at it. A Pokémon that's that strong is likely not one that we should wish to cross."

    The other members arrived in a trickle, based on how practiced they were at traversing the outer ramp. They too had expected a battle, only to find the remains of one. Orders were given to apprehend the absol. Both of them.

    It was then that Vanilla managed to break through his exhaustion. "No, not him." He said weakly as they attempted to bind Perihelion. "Not him..."

    Before anyone could react to the outburst, Cream broke into the room in a blitz. "Vanilla!?" Word had apparently spread that her son was inside the Forum. Wasting no time, she was at his side in an instant. Picking him up, her embrace was almost enough to threaten asphyxiation. "Oh, Sweetie! I was so worried!"

    "...I'm glad you're here, mom." Vanilla attempted through his mother's tight grip. Her hold had managed to knock some of the sleep from him, at any rate.

    Cream continued to hold her son until the absol had both been carried out, one of them bound, and the zorua's wounds had been tended to.

    Once his friend was confirmed to be safe, Vanilla could finally let his worries fade away.

    He was home. Home at last.
  14. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    When Chocola awoke, she winced. Every muscle, joint, and bone seemed to be sore. What had she been doing to get like that? 'Oh right, chasing after Vanilla...' she winced again at the thought.

    She seemed to be tucked into a bed at the moment. It was probably the softest one she'd ever been in, not that she'd slept in many. If it wasn't for her soreness, she'd probably be pretty comfortable right now.

    "Ah, I see that you're awake." A dark figure said from across the room.

    Chocola didn't want to open her eyes for fear of the action causing further pain, but she relented. Standing at the foot of the bed was an umbreon.


    "The Dark-type Council seat? Yes I am. You may call me Fayd."

    The zorua laughed a bit, only to immediately regret it. "Ow!" She pause to take in a breathe of air. "I was going to say, Vanilla's dad..."

    "Ah, yes. I suppose that is also accurate. You should know that he wanted to be here when you woke up, but I'm afraid that he's occupied at the moment."

    "Where is he?"

    "He's currently giving testimony for the rest of the Forum." Fayd paused as if to examine the zorua's condition, before continuing. "If you're feeling up to it, I can escort you up there. Everyone's been looking forward to hearing your side of the story as well."

    She flexed her paw experimentally. She wasn't injured, thankfully, and still possessed full range of motion. "I think I'm okay." Chocola stated as she squirmed out from beneath the covers, every action becoming less painful than the last. "I must have really had a number done on me..." She tried to say humorously.

    "If you don't remember, then perhaps it is best to leave out those particular details. What's important is that you are well." Fayd stated as he helped Chocola to the floor.

    "I suppose so...?" the zorua stated as she tested her ability to stand.

    "Good. Well, If you would follow me, I'll explain what's expected of you in the Forum."

    "Wait, if there's one of these important meetings going on, and you're one of the important members, shouldn't you be up there instead of helping me?" Chocola inquired.

    The question caught the umbreon off-guard. "Well, due to nature of my son's involvement, I've preemptively abstained from any votes that this event may invoke. Also, you are a dark-type Pokémon, so it is my duty to ensure your well being. Besides, I've heard all that Vanilla has to say on the matter." Fayd turned and gave the zorua a smile. "I must say that he's spoken very, energetically, about your actions."


    "Not that I wish to downplay your heroics, Miss Chocola. But before the coup, Vanilla was always, well, taciturn. Withdrawn. But, in meeting you, he's changed, and for the better if this event is any indication. For that, I am truly thankful."

    'That might explain a few things.' Chocola thought to herself. It was nice to know when you've had an effect on someone, but at the same time, it was an odd feeling.

    Not missing a beat, the umbreon continued. "With that out of the way, let me give you a briefing on the sort of questions that'll be asked of you..."

    When they reached the forum, Vanilla was still giving his report to the council. Even as so many Pokémon watched on, including the two caged absol, the eevee carried on as though this were an everyday occurrence, his report accentuated by his movements. Each action designed to further drive home his narrative.

    "About time you appeared, husband." A lightly-colored eevee said as she approached Fayd. "It turns out that he's a natural, just like his father." She said with a smile.

    "So it would seem." The umbreon noted.

    "Oh, Miss Chocola. I'm glad to see that you're awake! I'd like to thank you for keeping my son out of trouble, but it seems as though you two can't get enough of it." She said with a wink. "He's grown so much since he left, If I wasn't his mother, I'd scarcely recognize him..." the eevee finished, her voice full of motherly adoration.

    Vanilla had made eye contact with Chocola just as he started discussing the moment they had entered the forum. She had to admit, he really seemed to be in his element here.

    His tale continued much like she remembered it. But then, just as he reached the part where Vanilla had tried to protect her from Absolution, his story stopped. As he did so, he looked towards Chocola with a tilt of his head, as if to pass her a silent message that his miracle was to remain their secret.

    As he finished his tale, questions were asked, to which Vanilla answered with all the honesty he possessed. That is, until questions about the final battle were raised.

    "I'm afraid I don't remember anything after I was tossed aside." He finished with his ever-present smile.

    Thoughts of 'he's pretty good' and 'he's playing a dangerous game' crossed Chocola's mind simultaneously. Maybe she was rubbing off on him more than she'd thought.

    As the questions ended, Vanilla was dismissed from the forum. Discussions sprang up amongst the delegation as he left the podium.

    "How was it?" Vanilla asked as he reached his family.

    "You did wonderfully, Vanilla!" Cream said as she embraced her son.

    Fayd simply acknowledged his approval with a nod.

    Chocola, on the other paw, knew he had already hidden something, and that his question referred not to his story, but to his act. "Not bad, Vanilla." She said, giving him an approving grin.

    At her answer, Vanilla practically tackled her in a hug, but pulled away immediately as she groaned in pain. "Oh, Chocola! I'm sorry, did I injure you?"

    "No, furball. I'm just a little sore still..."

    "Oh, right..." He stated, visibly relieved.

    Before Chocola could ask her friend what was going on, she was stopped by an announcement from the council.

    "Would Miss Chocola, of Jocundale, please take the stand as witness?" A sylveon sitting next to an old eevee called out.

    "That's your cue." Fayd indicated as he gave the zorua a gentle nudge.

    Making her way to the little stage set between the council's tables, Chocola's anxiety seemed to grow with every step. She'd never had so many eyes on her before, at least not from those expecting something from her.

    Nervously, she looked back to the Forum's entrance, where Vanilla stood with his family.

    Her friend only nodded his encouragement, mouthing 'You'll do fine!", while waving his paw in a silly motion.

    'That's easy for you to say.' She thought as she pressed forward.

    "Miss Chocola. We understand that you were unconscious until very recently, only waking up after we'd initiated this Tribunal. Is this correct?" The sylveon questioned.

    She tried to say yes, but the words weren't coming out. What was wrong?

    Turning back to her friend, Vanilla just made exaggerated motions of inhalation and slowly breathing out. 'Breathe.' He mouthed.

    Taking his advice, she took in a deep breath and carefully exhaled.

    "Miss, Chocola?" The eevee asked.

    She cleared her throat before speaking. "Yes. Sorry, I guess I still haven't fully awoken yet..."

    "And you believe you're well enough to give your testimony here today?"

    The zorua could always appreciate additional rest, but she didn't make her way all the way to the top of the building to back out now. "I believe I am, yes."

    "Alright. Since you were not here for the opening of this Forum, I'll explain it to you." The sylveon continued. "I am Lady Cordon, Second to Lord Stok, we are gathered here in order to understand the events that happened during the course of the coup attempt. Admittedly, we were indisposed at the time, so, we are forced to turn to others for answers. It is our understanding that you were present during the final hours of the confrontation. Is this correct?"

    "Yes." Chocola stated simply.

    "Now that that's been established, Miss Chocola, would you care to brief us on all that you remember during your infiltration two days ago?"

    She'd been asleep for two days!? She'd never slept that long before. What had happened to her?

    "Miss Chocola?" Lord Stok asked again. "If you are still feeling unwell, we can postpone this part of the proceedings until a future date." He suggested.

    "I- um. No, I'm fine, I just wasn't aware how much time has passed, is all..." the zorua admitted. Sighing heavily at her own interruption, she started her recollection of the sneaky operation she and Vanilla had both taken part in.
  15. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    The sentencing was over, as was their adventure. Absolution was to be banished to Oust Isle, Perihelion would be monitored for an indefinite period of time, and Vanilla had been reunited with his family. All in all, everything had worked out.

    And yet, all Chocola could feel was a bit of pensiveness. Even as the rest of the gathering partied on, with Vanilla as its center of attention, the zorua found herself on the outer perimeter of the celebration.

    Watching on, Vanilla seemed to be better at mingling than he was at giving testimony. Even now he seemed to be jovially conversing with both Lord Stok and Lady Cordon. Here, it seemed, the eevee was more in his element than ever.

    Every now and then, some interested party would approach and congratulate her on her own accomplishments. For some reason, however, Chocola found that each conversation wore on her nerves. Maybe fancy parties just weren't for her?

    Vanilla still wore the silly smile he always did. He was home.

    So why wasn't Chocola happy for him? He was her friend, wasn't he?. Of course he was. They'd saved each other enough times for there to be no reason to question that.

    Maybe it was just that, with the adventure over, it time for her to head to her own home?

    "Thinking of leaving so soon?" Cream caught the zorua before she could make her escape. "Before you go, do you mind if we talk for a bit? We never really had any opportunity to do so properly."

    "Um, I guess so...?" She looked at Vanilla again. At least he didn't seem to be awkward around adults.

    "I know just the place." Cream suggested. "Come with me, I think you'll enjoy it."

    At the rate things were going, Chocola was doubtful of the claim. The newness of the city could only hold her interest for so long, but not wanting to displease her friend's mother, the zorua followed along.

    Cream cut a path around the outskirts of the party, eventually entering a tiny corridor that was partially hidden by one of the columns in the back of the Forum Chamber. The path led outside, to the backside of the building. From there, the eevee revealed a set of stairs that cut around the top of the dome, leading to the very top of the building.

    Upon reaching their destination, Cream indicated that her follower was to sit beside her. Chocola did as instructed, and was surprised with a nearly aerial view of Convocity's nocturnal skyline.

    Breathing deeply, Cream took in the cool night air. "This is probably my favorite place in all of Convocity." She declared.

    Chocola had to agree. The little warm, orange fires that Pokémon used to light up their evening contrasted the cold blue stars of the night sky perfectly.

    "I like your necklace." Cream said as she pointed to the stone around the zorua's neck. "It's quite lovely." She added.

    "Thanks, I-" Chocola stopped. The stone wasn't black anymore. It was filled with every color imaginable, and in the middle, there seemed to be a little twisted ribbon to match. When had that changed?

    "I've noticed that my Vanilla has one too. Did you give it to him?" Cream asked, ignoring the zorua's slight shock.

    "I um, yes Ma'am. Although he was the one who helped me find that one."

    "So I've heard..." Cream said, referring to the stories her son has, no doubt, already told. "I actually met Vanilla's father up here. I had intended to sneak away from a party much like the one below. So I came to visit my favorite place, and low and behold, I found Fayd taking my favorite spot! Oh, I was so mad at him for that! He'd actually been up here before that party had began, all to look at the stars before the sun had even set."

    Tilting her head to the side, Chocola couldn't help but wonder why she was being told, what she was certain was, such a private story.

    As if to answer her unspoken question, Cream continued. "I'm not really sure why I'm telling you this. I just wanted to thank you for all you've given my son. You were willing to throw your life on the line for him, and there's nothing I can do to repay you for that."

    "Aww, Missus Cream, you really don't have to-"

    "No, I have to at least try! When I forced him to leave, I abandoned him into a cruel, mysterious world. And you saved him. For that, I'll always be grateful."

    Chocola was silent. Vanilla's mother was pouring out her soul, and here she was still contemplating disappearing back home.

    Cream picked up on the silence. "You were planning on leaving, weren't you?"

    Ears, drooping in admittance, Chocola looked away from the skyline and at her own tail.

    Another silence filled the air. "You could try it. I'm sure you'd likely succeed with your skill set." Cream admitted. "But I think you'd regret it, in the end..."

    The zorua looked at the eevee in confusion. What did she know about how Chocola would feel? She didn't even know how she would feel.

    "I'm guessing by that look, you want to know how I would know. Some would call it 'mother's intuition' or something equally supernatural. But in truth, I've seen the way you two interact. You two can't stand being separated for long."

    "He's got a funny way of showing it..." Chocola grumbled as she recalled the fact that Vanilla was living it up downstairs.

    "It's funny you should say that..." Cream said with a grin. "Did you notice that, even though he's been preoccupied with the other patrons tonight, he's never once let you out of his sight? Every conversation he's had or joke he's participated in, every one of them, he's always made sure his back was never turned towards you. Even if his focus is directed elsewhere, he always checks back to see if you're still there, Chocola. He's probably looking for you right now."

    Chocola leaned back, a little dumbstruck. Was that true? The entire party, she'd always had had a line of sight to her friend, hadn't she? But what did that have to do with her not liking the idea of leaving?

    Cream turned to leave. "Want to know a little secret?" She asked without waiting for a response. "You know that everything I've said is true because you haven't taken your eyes off of Vanilla, either..." Cream finished with a knowing smile before heading back downstairs.

    Very nearly panicking then and there, Chocola found herself alone with her thoughts and thankfully decided against anything rash while sitting atop of a very tall building.

    Was it true? With all of the adventuring, Chocola had somehow managed to avoid thinking about it. There were just so many things to consider. At first, she didn't want to end up pushing her only friend in that direction, but then how did everything turn out that way, anyway? And if so, then why was she feeling so anxious, especially now that she realized that he felt the same way too? Didn't he?

    Her heart almost stopped when she heard her name being called by the very eevee she couldn't seem to get off her mind. Everything was most certainly true.

    "Oh, here you are!" Vanilla exclaimed with a genuine grin on his face.

    Shaking herself stoic, Chocola hoped that it looked like she was shaking off the chill. "Right, I was just looking at the stars is all. I think that I'm just not one for crowds." She admitted. "What's up?"

    Vanilla didn't answer right away. Instead, he sat down next to her and took the sights in himself. The view was impressive. No wonder his mom recommended it. "Nothing's wrong, exactly..."

    "Then what?"

    Turning to his friend, Vanilla's ears drooped a little. "I have to come to a decision, but it isn't one I want to take lightly." He said cryptically.

    Chocola could only sit there, filled with both intrigue and fear, as she waited to hear what Vanilla was going to say next.
  16. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017

    "What!?" Chocola said, more than a little dumbstruck. She punched Vanilla in the shoulder with a bit more force than was absolutely necessary.

    "Hey, it's not like I threw the offer in his face. I just told Lord Stok that I needed time to think about it! So why are you still hitting me!"

    Because she knew what it meant to throw away an offer like that. She could hardly believe anyone would pass up the chance to become the next Normal-Type Council seat. Even if the council members were more or less equals, the eevee sitting at the table was the one in charge of the council's operations, more or less. That's why the position was given the title of lord along with an elected second in command. But Chocola had to admit that she was probably just mad that Vanilla wasn't talking about something else.

    "I- Sorry..." Chocola said as she helped the eevee back up. "I was, distracted..." She admitted, somewhat flustered. "So, what are you thinking?"

    "I don't know... I mean, I'm not sure I'm ready to take on that kind of responsibility."

    "And exactly which part of nearly-singlepawedly stopping a coup was your responsibility?" Chocola teased.

    Vanilla just raised an eyebrow at the vixen. "That was different. I was trying to help my family, and we just kinda got pulled into everything."

    "Yeah, so?"

    "So? So, I've learned more about the outside world during the last two weeks than I have during the rest of my entire life! How can I help to rule effectively if there's still so much more I can learn, and I know for a fact that the kind of lessons being taught out there aren't the kind of ones that can simply be taught. And besides..." Vanilla hesitated.

    Chocola wasn't going to let him finish on that note. "Besides what?"

    "Besides," he repeated, "You wanted to explore the rest of Exile, didn't you? I kinda wanted to know if I could go with you...?

    "What?!" the zorua exclaimed. She'd spent so much of her time helping Vanilla with his dreams, that she'd nearly forgotten her own. "Of course you can come! Why would you think otherwise?"

    "Well, It's just that, I didn't know how you felt after you got hurt. You were trying to protect me and, and..." Vanilla grin had vanished.

    Chocola pulled him into a hug before the sudden outburst of emotion could affect her too much. "That's what this is about? Silly fox..." She cooed into his ear. "I may have been beaten up, it might have even been pretty bad, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

    "Bu-But I don't know i-if I can see you get hurt again..."

    She held Vanilla out at a forepaw's length and looked him in the eye. "If you're serious about this whole adventuring thing, you're going to have to realize that that's always a possibility. We knew that what happen could happen before we ever entered the room that night, and we went in anyway. That's what adventurers do, Vanilla." She pulled him into another hug as he began to calm down. "Besides," she added, "we seem to be pretty good about it all things considered."

    "What, like that fact that we don't really know how to fight?"

    "Hehe, or, like how we always get into more trouble than bargained for?"

    Vanilla took a deep breath. "Thanks, Chocola."

    "So what are you going to tell that Lord Stok guy?"

    "I don't know... He was pretty adamant about it. Of the council members, his seat is the only one that's allowed to choose the next in line for succession. Lady Cordon has been trying to convince him to pick someone for years. But with the coup, he's finally decided that it's time to retire."

    "So it's not a matter of if, but of when..."

    "Precisely." Vanilla groaned in frustration as he tried to work out a solution.

    Chocola was reluctant to pull him out of his reverie, but she had something on her own mind. "Speaking of the coup, and how we stopped it, what exactly happened back there? And why didn't you want to tell anyone about it?"

    "Oh, right. That..." Vanilla sighed. "I'm not really sure, to be honest. I'd imagine it was something akin to an evolution."

    "But you're still an eevee?" Chocola said poking his side. "Aren't you?"

    Vanilla laughed as she hit his funny bone. "Hey! Stop! And yes, I am still an eevee."

    "So you get to have some sort of temporary evolution that gives you crazy awesome powers and you don't want to tell anyone?"

    "Well, since we don't know exactly what caused it, and because possessing such power is probably, no-. It's definitely very dangerous. There's so little we do know about what happened that it's for the best that as few Pokémon know about it as possible."

    Chocola thought about that for a moment. It made sense, of course, but there was one thing that still bugged her. "But Absolution knows..."

    "Yes, but he also probably knows that no-one will believe he was beaten by some super-eevee that could use multiple elemental attacks."

    "Hehehe! Are we calling it 'super-eevee' now?" she teased.

    "Nooo..." Vanilla blushed in embarrassment. "I just haven't put a bunch of time into naming whatever it was."

    "Well then, here's to hoping you can come up with a better name while we explore Exile!" Chocola said as she patted the eevee on the back. "When do we leave?"

    "I don't know." Vanilla surmised, shrugging. "How long do you think it will take to pry me out of Lady Cordon's ribbons? After learns that I told Lord Stok that I can't take his place, that is."
  17. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017
    ~Journey Home~​
    What was supposed to have been a simple farewell, as Chocola and Vanilla started their journey anew, had turned into quite the procession as they made their way to Convocity's outer gate.

    Nearly all of the Council was present to offer the pair a hero's farewell. Perihelion among them, apparently under the orders of Lord Stock himself. Lady Cordon would have joined them, but it was likely that she was still furious at Vanilla for his proposal. Though whether she was more angry at the young eevee for his proposal or Lord Stok's acceptance of it, none could tell.

    Chocola, of course, found the whole ordeal immensely amusing. "Hehe! You're going to have to tell me what did to convince them to follow through with this."

    Vanilla agreed to tell her later. After all, it would be something to talk about during the trip. For now, he only wished to deal with his mother.

    "I-I never thought I would be saying goodbye again so soon." Cream said as she tearfully embraced her son. Of those present, she'd taken the longest to convince that Vanilla's intentions were for the best.

    "At least this time, it's on our terms." Vanilla observed. "And maybe this time, I won't have to run as far." He quipped.

    Cream could only laugh and hug him tighter before finally relinquishing her embrace. "You be careful out there, okay?"

    "Yes, Mom. We will."

    Turning to Chocola, Cream continued. "That goes double for you missy. I want both of you to return in one piece."

    "Yes Ma'am!" Chocola promised.

    It was Lord Stok's turn to approached the two adventurers. "I too look forward to the day you return. I expect great things from you both. Convocity will always welcome you both should you decide to suspend your journey."

    Cheers of 'Good luck!' and 'Safe travels!' rang out from the gathered crowd. It was time to leave. Making their way into the distance, Chocola and Vanilla waved their goodbye's one last time before turning away from the city once more. They had no immediate plans to return, so it was likely going to be a while before they saw the city again.

    Cream watched until they disappeared from sight, wondering, not for the first time, if she'd ever see her boy again.

    "Those two will be fine." Perihelion stated, startling the eevee in the process.

    "Oh?" Cream asked, still a little suspicious of the absol.

    "I had a chance to talk with both of them before-..." Perihelion hesitated. "Despite the odds being strictly against them, those two succeeded where I could not. And I'd like to believe that, with them, a new era begins..."

    Cream stood there a while longer. "Thanks, Perihelion..." She said, drying her eyes.

    Lord Stok gave the absol an order to follow. "Your thanks are unnecessary, Caer. I have much to atone for. Showing support when it is needed is the least I could do." Perihelion finished as he turned to leave.

    In any extent, the absol was right. Of that, Cream was sure. After all, they've already performed the impossible once, what more could she ask for?

    "Finally. I'd never thought I'd get tired of a city!" Chocola exclaimed as she took a moment to really stretch her legs. "So, where to now?"

    "Well, I thought we'd head straight back to your house so that you could apologize to Reiga."

    "Um, better idea. How about we do anything else?"

    "Hah! No. You'll have to apologize to her at some point. Might as well get it done early so that we can fully focus on all of our future adventures."

    Chocola sighed. "Fine. But can we not take the direct route, at least?"

    Vanilla thought about it for a moment, though more for effect than actually needing to think about it. "...I don't know... Reiga might be pretty mad..."

    "Please? I need time to think about my excu-! Er, my apology!" Chocola pleaded.

    "Okay, fine. We can take the same route we used earlier, I suppose." Vanilla finally conceded.

    "I was thinking more along the lines of going through Loamwood Town first."

    "Only if you want to try swimming across that river. With everything going on in with the Council, they've only just started fixing the bridge. The route's closed until they've finished."

    "Dang." Chocola huffed in disappointment before recalling something. "Oh! Wait, hehehe..."

    "What?" Vanilla asked, both concerned and curious.

    "Oh, nothing. At least, not until we run into him again." the zorua teased cryptically.
    ~Briar Sink~​

    They didn't have to go far before Chocola found what she was looking for, or rather, what she could no longer find. Just beyond the collapsed bridge where they had rescued a shinx only a few days prior, they reached the spot where they'd discovered a snorlax. Only this time, the rotund Pokémon was nowhere to be found.

    "Hey! That snorlax is gone!" Chocola exclaimed as she ran ahead. "That means we can explore the-!" She stopped in her tracks.

    "What's wrong?" Vanilla asked at his friend's sudden dumbfounded look. Looking into the hole that the snorlax had been sleeping in front of, he understood why. "Oh, my. We'd best hurry then, Chocola. We don't want to waste an entire day exploring your cave now..."

    "Har, har... Gah! I've never even really met the snorlax, and yet, I already have an immense dislike for the guy!" she shot back as she gazed into a cave that was barely large enough to hold a medium-sized Pokémon. "He should know better than to stand in between a girl and her treasure. Twice!"

    "I'm pretty sure that there isn't any-" But before Vanilla could finish, Chocola had taken off in the direction of the larger Pokémon's tracks.

    "Come-on Vanilla! He can't have gotten far!" She yelled back as she ran.

    Vanilla let out a deep sigh before giving chase. "So it begins..."

    The trail followed the path for a few hours before veering off the trail and into a location that had once been lined with dangerous-looking plants. Large swaths of the thorny vines on both sides of the Pokémon's footprints had all but vanished.

    It wasn't long before Chocola found her quarry. Lying in the middle of a clearing, no doubt created by the Pokémon lying in the middle of it, was the snorlax.

    "Oh, come on! Really!?" Chocola shouted in exasperation. "He's already asleep!?"

    "That's generally what their species is known for..." Vanilla observed. "Though maybe this was his equivalent of a midnight snack?" He noted, seeing as how there were still some of the plants left encircling the area.

    Chocola jumped on top of the snorlax in an attempt to vent her frustration with the Pokémon, but she stopped herself. She perked her ears up, listening.

    Vanilla noticed her behavior too. "What's wrong this time?" he asked.

    "You don't hear that?"

    "Hear what?"

    The zorua only 'shushed' him before jumping down into the soft dirt. Still following some unperceived sound, she reached the edge of the clearing. With nowhere else to go, she began to dig.


    "Help me dig, Vanilla. I think there's something nearby."

    Before the eevee could ask for clarification, she answered his unasked question.

    "I think it's a shiny!"

    "Do the shinies normally talk to you, or-!" Vanilla started before being caught off guard. As he approached his friend's rapidly growing pit, he realized that the dirt was shifting beneath him. "Chocola?" was all that he could ask before the ground opened up, swallowing them both.

    Even as the dust began to settle it was still thick enough to cause Chocola a brief coughing fit. Being the first one on the ground, she'd managed to roll away from the rest of the debris.

    Vanilla had not been so lucky. Wasting no time in digging him out of the pile of rubble, her quest for shinies had long been forgotten.

    The eevee found himself waking up to a shadow hovering over him, animatedly blocking the light filtering through the dust. "Chocola?" he coughed.

    "Vanilla!" She practically squealed. "Are you all right?"

    Taking in the cavernous surroundings, it took a moment for his eyes to adjust. He was covered in dust, but taking a step to better shake himself off proved to be a bit too painful. With a yelp, he found his leg had been damaged, either by the debris, or the fall itself. "Guess we're not going to be saving those Oran berries for later then..." he said, wincing through the pain.

    "I'm sorry Vanilla! I don't know what came over me!"

    "Heh," he started as Chocola searched through her bag for the medicinal fruit. "And here I was thinking I didn't want to see you get hurt during our adventures."

    "Not funny, Vanilla. Now hush up and eat this." She ordered whilst handing him a small blue berry.

    Not wanting to wallow in pain any longer than he had to, Vanilla didn't argue. While munching on hard fruit, he took in the surroundings. They had descended into a cave, the light of day filtered through the hole they had fallen through. A small stream cut through the rocky floor, but the roof seemed to be composed of more roots and dirt than stone. "It looks like snorlax's snack weakened the roof..." the eevee observed.

    "Doesn't look like we can climb back up either." Chocola noted. "These roots are way too thin to support either of us."

    The cave itself narrowed rapidly as it followed the stream's path, essentially making their entrance a dead-end for anything other than a water type. "Guess that means we go that way." Vanilla hesitatingly recommended. If his sense of direction was to be trusted, whatever had been calling to Chocola also lived in that direction.

    "We could try calling for help?" the zorua suggested.

    Vanilla thought about it for a moment. "Unless our snorlax friend is a light sleeper, I don't think anyone else is close enough to hear us." Vanilla stated, though he was more worried about who else might overhear. Whomever, or whatever, it was had already managed to draw them into a trap of sorts, after all.

    "I suppose you're right." Chocola said as she gave one of the lower-hanging roots a test-tug. It promptly snapped at its tenuous connection with the ceiling. Using them to climb out was a non-starter, and they both knew it. "How are you holding up?"

    Looking at his foreleg, it had swollen slightly, but where there had been pain he now felt a dull ache. Testing it, Vanilla managed to stand, but decided it was best if he kept most of his weight off of it. "I'll manage." He said, a little shakily.

    Looking at her friend with worry wasn't going to get either of them anywhere. "Come on then, no sense waiting around here..." Chocola declared as she saddled up next to Vanilla, just in case he needed the support.

    "Thanks Chocola, but I'm fine. Really." The eevee assured her.

    But the zorua didn't buy a word of it.
  18. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017

    Traveling along the stream, the tunnel was rather linear. Only a few bends along the way, but at no point were there any side tunnels to explore.

    "Do you hear it now?" Chocola asked.

    Vanilla nearly asked her what she was referring to before remembering the whole reason they were down inside of the cave in the first place. He was about to dismiss her antics as Chocola being herself when his ear twitched.

    At first, he'd dismissed the unsteady beat as a symptom of his current affliction, a simple pulse that nearly matched what he assumed was his own heartbeat. But now, it was if the air in the tunnel was halfheartedly pressing down on him with every thump. Every step forward seemed to raise the amplitude by an almost negligible amount.

    Trying not to let panic set in, Vanilla acknowledged that his friend wasn't entirely crazy. "Y-yeah, I think I hear it too..."

    "What do you think it is?"

    Before the eevee could answer, they saw light pour into the tunnel from somewhere up ahead. Pressing on, with Vanilla continuing to ignoring the pain in his leg, the duo soon found themselves in front of a spacious hollow with a hole in the roof. Unlike their makeshift entrance, this one was far older. Instead of vines, there were sturdy tree roots that lined the walls all the way to the floor.

    "Maybe we can get out here?" Vanilla stated as he scanned the walls for suitable ledges.

    Chocola seemed to ignore his observation, as her attention had turned elsewhere. As the stream opened up into a pool, she found herself staring at the monolith embedded in the pool's center.

    Noticing his friend's distraction, Vanilla turned his attention towards the pillar as well. At first glance, it was nothing more than an odd cave formation, but now, well, it seemed as though they'd found their shiny.

    "What do you think it is?" the vixen asked as she skirted the water trying to get a better look.

    Vanilla noticed that the shallow water seemed to rise and fall with the same pulsating beat as the rest of the cave. "I'm not sure..."

    Testing the water, Chocola determined that it was rather cold, but not deep enough to dissuade her investigation of the pillar. "I think it's glowing." She noted. "Maybe it's some sort of legendary evolution stone?"

    As she approached the stone, the glow increased in intensity, and soon Vanilla could see it too. "Hmm, I don't recall the Legendary Evolution Stone ever glowing without a Pokémon touching it first."

    Curiosity getting the better of her with every step, she found that the glow seemed to be fairly localized within the stone. As she wandered around the base, the glow seemed to follow.

    To the eevee on the shore, however, the movement of the stone's internal light was enough to stand his fur on end. The unnatural glow certainly had a ghostly demeanor to it. "I-I think we should leave it alone for now. We can always come back and-" Vanilla was cut off when Chocola suddenly reared up and placed both of her front paws on the stone.

    "It's warm." She noted just before the stone itself began crackling with energy.

    The air inside the room became violently charged with energy, all of it seeming to focus upon Chocola at its center. Arcs of lightning carved out previously unknown runes that had been hidden underneath the pool. The strange blue bolts darted about but eventually pooled together in a floating sphere above the pillar.

    Scarcely audible against the torrent of electricity-like energy, Vanilla called out to his friend. But it was to no avail. As the energy finished gathering above the stone, it exploded into a column of light that encapsulated the zorua.

    The burst lifted Chocola off of her feet, and for a brief moment, her eyes glowed white with whatever power had just entered her body. With the transfer of power complete, the stone shattered violently, with enough force to send both foxes airborne.

    Vanilla recovered first. He felt a little blood trickle from various places and judging from the status of the demolished stone, his injuries were likely sourced from the stone's blast itself. Thankfully, nothing felt too serious, at least not moreso than his other immediate concern. Rushing to Chocola, he found her lying relatively unscathed, with the exception of her unconscious form lying there with her eyes open, the light still pouring from them.

    No visible injuries save her eyes, it appeared to Vanilla that she seemed to be in some sort of sleep state. To be honest, he'd never seen anything quite like it before. After repeated, yet failed, attempts at waking his friend, he found his panic rising.

    Just as he started running worst-case scenarios in his head, trying to figure out how they were going to escape this mess, he noticed tears in Chocola's eyes.

    Leaning closer, he could only make out that one word. "Mom..." She breathed, sounding both confused and elated as if the light were invoking a memory.

    He knew nothing of her mother. But if there were some answers to be had, or even a cure for her condition, he knew who he would have to start. His new destination was the old destination, Vanilla would have to take his friend home. From there, he would get some answers.

    Realizing that this was no time for panic, the eevee steeled himself for the work ahead. His own injuries would make the work somewhat difficult, but he would just have to manage. His friend needed him, all he had to do was find a way out of the cave.

    The first thing he did was locate a few promising branches that stuck out from the walls. A quick tackle made short work of them. Gathering three of them, two long and one short, he placed the three sticks around his friend.

    Reluctant to leave Chocola behind, but not having another option, Vanilla left his own pack nearby and took off down the tunnel towards the spot where they had fallen. That was where he would find the last few pieces he needed to complete his plan.

    Ignoring the pain was difficult, but saving Chocola was more important. It didn't take long to reach the entrance, and it took him even less time to secure a few promising vines. Chewing the thorns off, and twisting the strands together as best he could, Vanilla formed a crude rope. Looping it around his neck, he took off down the tunnel towards the hollow.

    Vanilla was both relieved and pained to see his friend still lying where he left her, but he got to work anyway. Tying the branches together, he fashioned a harness that he could use to pull Chocola up after him. With a little work, he even managed to tie her to the supports in a way that would keep her from falling off of the structure.

    Now for the hard part. The eevee wasn't exactly an experienced climber, at least not before he'd met the zorua. But this climb would become far more difficult that any he'd had before, since Vanilla would be forced to drag her stretcher behind him. After each step, he'd have to secure himself in such a way that allowed him to pull Chocola up behind him.

    And after all of that was done, there was still the long trek home.
  19. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017

    The autumn rains were in full swing. Reiga liked the calming atmosphere, dispite the fact that her boss was still in the kitchen. Thinking about it, the lucario couldn't seem to rememer the last time he seemed to relax. Reiga had just finished washing some plates when Zaho suddenly shot up from his seat, head tilted in alert.

    "Someone's here..." the zoroark declared.

    One of these days, she was going to have to ask him how he did that. For now, she simply focused in on the intruder's aura, only to discover that it was someone familiar.

    "Well, Reiga? Anyone we know?"

    "Something's wrong..." the lucario observed, barely audible. "Chocola?!"

    Before she'd even finished her sentence, Zaho had already started for the door.

    He'd made it. He'd finally made it. Vanilla could see that someone was still awake inside, so it wasn't too late. Ever since his friend had entered her current state, he'd lost all track of time. Concentrating on bringing her here, the eevee couldn't recall the last time he'd slept, or even eaten.

    As he reached the front step, Vanilla attempted to call out, but no-one seemed to respond. Was it the rain? No, it had something to do with why he couldn't hear his own voice. His mouth was so dry he could barely make a sound. He was about to tilt his head up and let the rain do its work when the door opened up.

    Expecting Reiga, Vanilla found himself a little disappointed that she wasn't the one to open the door. Instead, he found himself staring up at a Zoroark. His mind still a little rattled, the eevee couldn't discern what that meant, but it was probably a good thing, right?

    The zoroak's glaring eyes darted away from him and onto the form laying atop the makeshift stretcher, where they widened in surprise. "Chocola!" He shouted, kneeling by her side in an instant.

    Slowly, Vanilla faced the taller fox. There were so many things he wanted to say, but all that he managed was, "Help..."

    With a swift swipe, his daughter was free of the vines and tucked away in his arms. Turning to the eevee, he let his anger get the best of him. "What in all of the Human hells have you done?" he yelled before heading inside out of the rain.

    Reiga had been standing in the doorway, observing. It was impossible to mistake what had happened to the zorua. "No. It's far too soon..."

    "You were right..." Zaho had been forced to admit. "Reiga, fetch the salts." He asked hastily as he pushed passed her.

    Hesitating for only a moment, she followed her orders, even if it wasn't likely to do any good.

    Vanilla found himself sitting there in the rain, alone. The door still stood open, so he wiggled out of his partially destroyed harness and dragged himself inside.

    He didn't even bother shaking himself dry, he was so drained. The two adults seemed to be moving in a blur, moving throughout the house and consulting a few manuscripts as they did so.

    Vanilla found himself ignoring them once he laid eyes on Chocola, laying rather peacefully on the couch, all things considered. Her eyes still a beacon of energy, with no evidence of a thought behind them. He almost couldn't bring himself to look into them, yet he couldn't seem to pull himself away either. He found himself drawing closer to the vixen, whom, despite the adults' best efforts, was still unresponsive.

    Upon reaching the couch, he reached out to Chocola. It was a small comfort, knowing that she was finally in the care of others, but what else could he do? Still cold, wet, and weary, the results of the last few days weighed upon him, and without warning, Vanilla succumbed to his own fatigue.
  20. Tolerance

    Tolerance Swimmer

    Level 1
    Jan 10, 2017

    The first thing Vanilla felt was the sun on his face. It's penetrating light was both delightful and warm. The gentle movement of his bed, mixed with the clear, refreshing air, the eevee felt the need to stretch.

    When he realized that he couldn't fully stretch, he was startled fully awake. "Wha-!?" Quickly, he tried to remember what it was he was supposed to be doing. "Chocola!"

    "Shhh," replied a familiar voice. "Take it easy, Vanilla. It's alright."

    "Reiga?" Vanilla asked, a little dumbfounded. The last thing he remembered was trudging through the rain, trying to get Chocola home. Now he was talking to the guardian that lived at her house? That must mean that he accomplished his mission, at the very least. But it didn't exactly explain why he was bandaged up while sitting in the back of a moving cart. "Where are we? Where's Chocola."

    Having no intention of stopping the cart, Reiga just looked back to make sure that her passenger wasn't doing anything rash. He wasn't pulling at his bandages, so she had one thing less to worry about. "Chocola is being cared for by her father, Zaho. Before we discuss things further, such as where we are, or where are we heading, I feel that apologies are in order."

    Vanilla wasn't sure what to say, he vaguely remembered someone being mad at him, but he wasn't entirely sure why. Had he done something wrong in bringing Chocola home? "I'm-" The lucario cut him off.

    "Hold that thought, I didn't mean for you to apologize." Reiga sighed. "I'd spent all day trying to think about what to say when you woke up, and now that you're up, I can't think about what I want to say..."

    The eevee held his tongue.

    "When you came back with Chocola in that state, Zaho may have been a little harsh. Worse than that, was the way we ignored you in the moments immediately following. We were so concerned with Chocola's condition, that we failed to notice your own. For that," Reiga stopped the cart and turned to Vanilla. "I-, We both owe you an apology. If we had our heads together, we would have realized our error in tending to the Chocola's condition first, as her's were the lesser of your twos' injuries."

    He felt as though a weight had been lifted off of his chest. "So does that mean that she's going to be okay?" Vanilla asked, his voice filled with hope.

    Reiga bowed slightly before resuming her cart-pulling, her demeanor remained unchanged. "Unfortunately, that remains to be seen. That's partly why we are on the road, to see if something can be done..." Vanilla's silence was all that she needed to know. "But, I assure you, bringing her home was the best course of action. You might even be able to help, provided you tell me everything that happened since you left with Chocola the other day. If anything unusual happened, especially anything regarding an odd-looking stone, it may help us in keeping Chocola safe."

    For some reason, Vanilla's mind jumped to the stone hanging around his neck before he realized that the lucario was probably talking about the weird stone pillar that seemed to be the cause of his current troubles. "Why would that stone do something like that to her?"

    "Chocola's family suffers from a curse, of sorts. I'll explain it in a bit, but since it sounds like you know exactly what I'm talking about, I'd like you to tell me everything you know about it. No detail is too small if it has a chance at helping her."

    Thinking about where to start, Vanilla figured he may just as well start at the beginning. "It's a long story..." he admitted.

    "Then it's a good thing you need your rest, then. We've got plenty of time until we arrive at our destination."

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