(Technically, I wrote a fair chunk of this yesterday, but not much original stuff, and my head was hurting too badly for more than transcribing from the game.)
After Cassius left to go back to work, Evangeline gathered her team and went poking her nose around town. There wasn’t anything else particularly exciting, aside from the large castle on the north edge of town, Shabboneau Castle. Large and made of solid stone, it had a blue slate roof and even a draw bridge entrance, which shouldn’t have been as impressive as it was. According to signage, it was open for visitors too, which was nice. She wondered if this is what Professor Sycamore was talking about checking out…
Inside, though, was someone familiar. Shauna turned and waved her over with a beam. “Hi Evangeline!”
“An acquaintance of yours?” the man next to her asked dubiously, shaking his head as Evangeline approached. “Two visitors to Shabboneau Castle? I can’t remember the last time we’ve been so busy!”
“Hopefully we aren’t imposing,” Evangeline said softly with a polite bow of her head.
He shook his head. “Let’s see if I still remember the spiel… This castle, chateau if you will, was a manor house of a noble family. It may be a little run down, but that’s because there’s history to this place. During that history, the owners of this castle gave away a lot of their stuff to everyone, so that’s why it feels so empty. The end.”
“That’s it?” Shauna complained, tucking her arms behind her head in annoyance. “Don’t you have anything related to Mega Evolution?”
Seeming to think about it carefully, the gentleman nodded. “That’s it.” He frowned at them both in confusion. “What in the world is Mega Evolution?”
Before Shauna could stammer out an answer (and Evangeline shush her since she wasn’t one-hundred-percent certain the professor wanted them talking about it to everyone), one of the townsfolk came running in. “Sir!” he called out. “It’s back again!”
“Is is that time of year already?” The look of exhausted exasperation settled into well worn lines on this poor man’s face. “Well, there’s nothing I can do about that now…” He looked to her and Shauna apologetically. “I need to go to Route 7, but please take your time and have a look around.” With a nod of his head, he excused himself to follow the boy out the door.
“I wonder what that’s about,” Shauna said, tilting her head. She then turned to give Evangeline a grin. “Why don’t we go to Route 7 too?”
Shaking her head at her enthusiasm, Evangeline looked around the entrance foyer. Marble floors, blank stone walls… “Let’s browse around here first, in case there’s a clue he doesn’t know is a clue, but then I guess we might as well,” she compromised.
Together, they wandered the halls publicly available. The owner was right, the castle was very empty. If anything of use had ever been there, it was long gone. Evangeline couldn’t help but feel a little sad for him. She knew how expensive huge buildings like this could be to upkeep. She couldn’t imagine how worse it would be if they weren’t re-purposing the chateau as a gym or something similar.
In the end, Evangeline had no reason not to listen to Shauna. She let herself be dragged down Route 7, Riviere Walk, reluctantly. Really, was this any of their business? It had to be embarrassing…
A loud, rumbling sound echoed down the road.
Covering her ears, Shauna glared up ahead. “Evangeline! What is it?”
“I don’t believe it…” Evangeline said in disbelief, picking up her feet to confirm what she thought was happening.
Sure enough, a familiar sight greeted her. The owner and boy from town were gathered around the entrance to a wide walking-path bridge. Unfortunately, a huge amount of teal and cream Pokemon blocked the way, snoring loudly.
“A Snorlax?” she said in disbelief, alerting both men that she was there, but for the most part, they ignored her to talk to each other.
“Here we go again,” the owner said, pinching the bridge of his nose as if fighting off a headache. Considering how loud the Snorlax was, he might be. “It’s sleeping so soundly, the end of the world wouldn’t wake it.”
“Look! It’s practically a mountain, right? It’s blocking the road completely.” The boy shook his head, staring at the Pokemon that was almost hanging over the edges of the bridge. “Of all the places for it to take a nap.” Turning to the owner, he said with a sigh. “Come now, sir. Use the Poke Flute.” Except his eyes grew wide as he straightened up. “Oh wait… Do you even have it anymore?”
The owner snorted. “Nope, I handed it over.”
“Or you could say it was taken…” the boy said bitterly. “By the owner of the palace.”
Shauna caught up just in time to hear the end of the conversation. “What? Huh? What’s a Poke Flute?” she asked, breathless, as she tried to get caught up.
“Basically, the Poke Flute is what we need to wake up Snorlax.” The owner of the castle waved his hand. “But the Poke Flute is currently at Parfum Palace.”
“Oh, that’s it?” Shauna huffed and waved her hand as if to dismiss their worries. “All we need to do is to go get it then!”
“I don’t think it’s that simple,” Evangeline muttered, moving to where she could look at Snorlax. Maybe there was a way to get him moved without waking him…
Shauna didn’t give her a chance. Grabbing her by the wrist, the petite brunette dragged the violette behind her. “Come on, Evangeline, let’s go! The Parfum Palace is just past Route 6. And maybe at a place like that, we might learn something about Mega Evolution!”
“You hope!” Evangeline protested, getting her feet underneath her before Shauna was literally dragging her. Sure enough, there was a Y in the road back that they had passed, and Shauna let go as they started walking north.
Route 6, Palais Lane, was literally a path lined with trees and bushes…and Trainers stopping to see the sights. It kept both Evangeline and Shauna busy, since it wouldn’t do much good to point out to them that Route 7 was blocked. Most were tourists or backpackers, so she doubted it was going to inconvenience them by more than a day or two anyway. Annoying, but nothing to raise a fuss over.
The Parfum Palace itself walked the fine line between majestic…and gaudy trash. Evangeline bit the inside of her lip to keep from saying that though as she looked at elegant gardens and paths. Golden gates blocked the way inside, but even from here Evangeline could see that it was made of similar materials as Shabboneau Castle, only with the building laid out in a different shape with architectural features from a more recent point in history.
A man who wore a three piece suit like a uniform, tails and all, stood next to the gate. When Shauna and Evangeline approached, he cleared his throat and held out his hand, the image of a butler. “The entrance fee will be 7.50* euro per person.”
Shauna sputtered indignantly. “You’ve got to be kidding! It costs money to go inside?”
The butler cleared his throat awkwardly. “You see, the owner of the palace follows the school of thought that you can never have too much money.”
Evangeline grimaced at the very idea.
“Yeesh! This is how the rich get richer!” Shaking her head in disgust, Shauna reached into her bag and counted out the appropriate coins. “Here’s your entrance fee.”
“The proceeds from the entrance fee help pay for repairing and restoring the palace…” he offered apologetically, and then cleared his throat awkwardly. “Probably…”
Shaking her head, Evangeline also pulled out her entrance fee to pay her way forward. He bowed over the received coins, and flipped the switches to open the gates. The front entry way had been entirely paved over in stone, making Evangeline tilt her head. She knew historically, there should be more gardens here. She wondered why he had paved the whole thing over…
Inside, she stumbled to a halt as she took in decor. Gaudy gold and red, with absolutely no taste level at all, that didn’t mesh with the palace at all. This was the guy who believed you could never have enough money? Ugh.
Speaking of… There was a slightly overweight man in clothes that, while possibly brand name, certainly hadn’t been tailored to him, pacing frantically across the front room. “Where is it?” he cried anxiously. “Where could it be?”
“Where is what?” Evangeline asked, stepping forward to see if what the problem was.
“My Furfrou!” he wailed, dramatic tears falling. Just so he could dig a silk handkerchief, of all things, out to dab at the corner of his eyes. “My beloved little Furfrou has disappeared!” He swept off into the main hallways, still crying piteously.
Shauna took a few steps after him, missing how Evangeline wrinkled a nose over his theatrics. “It disappeared? Hey, Evangeline, we should help look.” Turning around, she shrugged a little. “I mean, if my… If my Pokemon was missing, I’d be sick with worry!”
This was going to be like keeping a Meowth from getting distracted by shiny coins, wasn’t it? “Alright, let’s see if we can find it while we look around for info on the Poke Flute or Mega Evolution,” she suggested, seeing no reason not to double task.
They split up to go down separate hallways. Evangeline actually stumbled into the kitchen, where preparations were going on for a late dinner. The head chef in particular was violently chopping aromatics to put into a pot. “Just because the parents were great, it surely does not mean their children will also be great,” he growled. “In fact, the opposite is often true!”
“Awww, come on, don’t drag the boss’s parents into it,” one of the sous chefs teased as he checked something roasting in the ovens–it smelled like chicken.
For her part, Evangeline quickly ducked out, leaning against the door and slouching. No, great parents didn’t mean anything. All it did was give people ammunition to use against you. If you weren’t as strong or as clever as them, then you were a disappointment. If you were, well, what did anyone expect? She shook her head, refusing to linger on old hurts.
The rest of the palace, while still gaudy, didn’t turn up anything, aside from an impressive hall of mirrors that had a line of doors leading out to the balcony. She wondered how many people ran straight into them without realizing they were there. Going back downstairs, she met back up with Shauna at the back doors. A stone bridge gave a dramatic entrance to a series of hedge mazes, with statues of legendary or near legendary Pokemon and Pokeballs scattered through out them.
Shauna scanned the mazes, then turned back to Evangeline with a firm nod. “I’ll have a look in back!”
And avoid getting lost in the mazes. Evangeline nodded in agreement, trying not to show her amusement. It really was for the better. Looking for a missing Furfrou was hard enough without having to look for a lost Shauna too. She wondered the mazes on her own, finding items other people had dropped, but no Pokemon.
At least, until she got towards the northwest corner. A Furfrou, fur cut into a sun-hat type shape with sections dyed pale yellow, flew past her on speeding paws, yipping the whole way, “No, no, no!”
On it’s tail was an exhausted Shauna. “Please don’t run away!” she shouted, coming to a stop and resting her hands on her knees as she panted for breath. “Evangeline, give me a hand!”
“Sure thing,” she said, reaching for the Pokeball she wanted. “Antoine, come on out!”
Her own Furfrou came out with a shake of his fur. “What do you need?” he asked, crouching down as if to pounce.
“Help tracking down your fellow Furfrou,” she said. “It’s around here somewhere, and seems a bit distressed.”
“I’m afraid of asking…” he growled, but sniffed around, catching a scent and leading the way.
“Wow, good thinking! I didn’t know you had a Furfrou too,” Shauna said.
Evangeline shrugged. “I didn’t think bringing him out would help until we had the area narrowed down. The other one’s scent is probably all over the place, so he’d need a really fresh trail to track.”
Shauna nodded, putting her hands behind her head again. “You know, we should try and corner it, at least until we can talk it down.”
“That’s a good idea,” Evangeline agreed, glancing around. They were at a three way crossing. “Here, you stay here in case it doubles back, Antoine and I will try to get around it and push it into a corner.”
What followed was pure chaos. The Furfrou was fast, and wasn’t listening to anything anyone said. It took ages for Evangeline to find an appropriate dead end, and then to get Shauna and Antoine stationed to actually corner it into it.
It whined, lowering to lie its head on its paws. “I hate this cut, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.”
“Awww, it’s a pretty haircut, though,” Evangeline tried to coax it into feeling better.
“I look like a girl!” it…or rather, he…said, covering his eyes with his paws.
“The things humans do to us…” Antoine grumbled.
“Oh hush, you’ll have a say before I go clipping and dying your fur, and it makes you faster,” she reminded him, ruffling the thick bangs on his head.
“Phew, well done!” Shauna said as she approached. “We finally caught it! Evangeline, you’re amazing. We caught it because you understand how Pokemon feel.”
“And a whole lot of luck,” Evangeline muttered, but it turned into a yelp when she was shoved to the side by the middle-aged man.
“Oh! My dear Furfrou! My beloved FurFrou!” He ran over to the Pokemon, fussing over it as much as he could without getting in the dirt. At last, he focused on the two girls he had shoved into the hedges. “Could you be the two responsible for my wonderfou reunion with my dear Furfrou? How wonderfou indeed! It’s marvelous, simply marvelous! A situation like this demands fireworks!”
“Fireworks?” Evangeline repeated.
“We shall put on a show–boom, boom! My Pokemon and I are reunited, our bond has been proven.” He nodded as if it was a great trauma they had gone through rather than his Pokemon fleeing to the gardens over a bad hair cut. We’ll commemorate this joyous occasion with a tremendous fireworks display!” He paused and looked over the two girls. “And it will also serve as a reward for the tiny bit of trouble you went to.”
“Tiny bit!” Shauna repeated, indignant. “We chased him all over the gardens!”
The man ignored her. “Rendezvous at the balcony.” He looked at Evangeline, and leaned forward to speak in over-exaggerated syllables. “Do you understand? Ren-dez-vous.”
Her spine straightened, realizing what was happening. She didn’t have traditional Kalos features. Purple hair and teal eyes aside, her bone structure and height gave her away as being of Kanto and Johto descent. She narrowed her eyes at him, refusing to dignify his passive racism with any more of a response.
If he noticed he’d offended her, he blew right past it, literally, shooing his Furfrou ahead of him as he went to go back towards the house. “You can reach the balcony from the hall of mirrors on the second floor,” he called over his shoulder.
“Maybe Fufrou would have been better off if we hadn’t found him…” Shauna muttered, and Evangeline snorted in agreement. It seemed to encourage Shauna to rant. “If I were a Pokemon, I would hate to have a Trainer like that!” She sighed. “But I really like fireworks, so let’s make the best of it.”
“Sure,” Evangeline agreed reluctantly, leading the way back out of the maze. Unlike her, Shauna hadn’t gone up to the second floor, so she also had to lead the way up to the balcony he mentioned. Once there, the maze stretched out before them, a picture of perfection. Evangeline had to give his gardeners credit.
“Um…” Shauna interrupted the silence awkwardly. “You know… I really hope we get to be great friends, Evangeline… We haven’t even seen them yet, but I know I’ll never forget these fireworks! ‘Cause I watched them with you.”
“That’s really sweet, Shauna,” she said with a sigh, feeling a little lighter. While she may be new to this friendship thing, it was sweet of the other girl to try and take her mind off of what happened in the garden.
Any further conversation was cut off by the firework display. Gold, red, and blue, they lit up the sky like flowers of light that faded into starlight.
“Wow! That. Was. AMAZING!” Shauna said as they tapered off, bouncing in place. “I never ever want to forget this, so I’ll keep this memory in an album in my heart!”
“You’re a bit of a romantic, aren’t you?” Evangeline mused, but she cut herself off from saying anything else as the owner of the palace and his Furfrou joined them, the butler trailing along behind them.
“And that was my wonderfrou fireworks show for my Furfrou! I assume you’re satisfied with that,” he said with a dismissive way of his hand.
Shauna opened her mouth to agree, but Evangeline gave her a nudge with her elbow. “Ow!” she yelped. “What…? Oh! I almost forgot!”
“The Poke Flute!” Evangeline hissed back at her, just in case she got side-tracked again.
“That’s right, we need the flute to wake up Snorlax!” she told them earnestly.
The man sighed, rolling his eyes upward. “The Poke Flute, huh?” He snapped his fingers with command. “Go get it.” The butler bowed and took his leave with long strides. While he was away, the owner of the palace explained haughtily, “It was the Shabboneau Castle’s treasure, but I took it as payment for a loan. A rich guy like me and a common person like that just didn’t go together.” The butler returned promptly, and he gestured impatiently. “Well? Give it to them.”
The butler stepped forward and bowed a little as he held up a wooden case. “Here is the Poke Flute.” Bowing back, Evangeline took the case and tucked it away so it would be safe.
“Listen you two!” the palace owner barked, obviously not done yet. “Always return what you borrow. That’s very important.” Nodding firmly, he took his exit with a flick of his wrist to dismiss them. Sighing, the Furfrou sat at the feet of the butler rather than following.
Shauna muttered to his retreating back, “I want to make lots of memories on my journey. But I think I’ll try and forget about him…”
Clearing his throat, the butler said, “You can’t imagine how stressful running this place is for him.”
Evangeline snorted, still stinging from his treatment in the garden. Nodding to show she agreed with the contempt her friend showed, Shauna said, “That may be so, but… Oh that’s right!” Snapping her fingers, she leaned forward to whisper conspiratorially, “Mr. Butler, do you know anything about Mega Evolution?”
Rubbing his chin, the butler thought for a second and then began to slowly speak, as if drawing the specifics from a mental catalog, “I remember reading a book on that subject in the palace library. It had something to do with what you’d now call a Trainer holding a mysterious stone high and making Pokemon evolve even further.”
“Well, that’s more than what we had,” Evangeline said. “Thank you.”
He nodded to them both. “If you shall excuse me, I will take my leave.” With a brief bow, he took his exit.
Shauna shook her head in wonder. “The owner of Shabboneau Castle used to be friends with that guy who took his family’s flute! Can you believe it? Isn’t that crazy?”
“I think that man would take his grandmother’s fillings if it got him a little more gold,” Evangeline said dryly.
Giggling, Shauna skipped her way to the doors.”We have to be sure to give that flute back after we wake up Snorlax,” she said with authority.
“Why do you think I took it?” Evangeline teased, only to squeal and take off at a run as Shauna chased after her in mock-anger.
Both girls stuck together as they traversed back to Route 6 in the dark, using flashlights to lead the way. That didn’t stop them from stirring up wild Pokemon, in Evangeline’s case a sword-like Pokemon called a Honedge that she dubbed Kagura.
At last, they returned to the bridge, where both the owner of Shabboneau Castle and the townsman were waiting still by the snoring Snorlax. “Oh, it’s you two,” the castle keeper said. “Did you actually manage to borrow the Poke Flute?”
“Right here,” Evangeline said, pulling the case out of her bag.
“Thanks!” he said, sounding like he was truly grateful
Shauna grinned at him. “Well, you’re the only one who can play it, right?”
He smiled back at her and nodded, then looked to Evangeline since she was closer to the bridge. “Snorlax can be grumpy when it wakes up–it might attack! I’ll play the flute right now, but are you ready to stop it?”
“As ready as I can be,” Evangeline agreed, reaching for a Pokeball.
Nodding at her, he sighed as he opened the case, pulling out the relic. “Feels nice to have this flute in my hands again,” he mused under his breath. “Okay, I guess I’ll start playing.”
The melody was almost too soothing to wake someone up, especially since the Snorlax had been snoozing through all their conversations. But it appeared to be enough. The giant Pokemon stirred with an irritable yawn, and scowled at the gathering of humans. Evangeline quickly stepped forward so it would focus on her, letting out Henri. The bird was too fast for the slow but powerful Pokemon, and burned Snorlax on contact.
It got to a point when the Snorlax was close to being defeated, and Evangeline made a snap decision. If this was a yearly problem, the best way to stop it would be to remove Snorlax from the equation. She had one Ultra Ball on her, which should be enough for the Pokemon’s immense size and strength.
It was enough. She breathed a sigh of relief and recalled Henri before transferring the ball to her computer until later.
“Awesome!” Shauna cheered with a cheerleader-like wave. “You caught Snorlax! That’ll keep you from having trouble again!”
Before anyone else could comment, a Furfrou barked, running down the road. “Oh…” Shauna breathed, dismayed.
Sure enough, the palace owner was on his Pokemon’s heels. Perhaps sensing the unease there, Shabboneau Castle’s owner also stepped forward to meet his contemporary.
Crossing his arms behind his back, the Fufrou obssessed man said, “The only thing I can do with that Poke Flute is put it on display. But you’ve been playing since you were little, and the tone is lovely. It seems like my Furfrou likes the sound of that flute. Not as much as it likes my beautiful, wonderfrou fireworks, of course.”
If his experience gave the player a clue, it didn’t show on his baffled expression. “Uh… Yeah… I guess so…”
“Still, you’re playing sounded better back in the day.” The palace man waved a hand dismissively, but there was a faint smile on his face. “I’ll let you take care of that flute, so be sure to practice more.”
He left just as dramatically as he always did, Pokemon and butler trailing behind him.
“Well what do you know…” the two from Camphrier Town said at the same time, then exchanged looks and laughter. They walked off in the direction of town, clapping each other on the back.
Shauna stared after them. “Was THAT supposed to be an attempt to patch things up? Well, whatever!” Crossing her arms, she winked at Evangeline to cover up her confusion over the end result. “All’s well that ends well. I wonder what lies past where Snorlax was sleeping…”
“We’ll have to find out tomorrow,” Evangeline said with a frown. “It’s late, and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather back track to town and sleep at the Center than camp out here, since it’s so close.”
“Good idea,” Shauna agreed, and together they walked back towards town to continue their adventure in the morning.