Tag Archives: Kagura

NaNo 18, Day 9: Ninja Daughters Are Prepared!

(Note: I goofed in last time’s post. I thought the Reflection Caves were next, rather than realizing those were the Connecting Caves outside of the gym. I’ve edited the previous blog post to correct this.)

The next morning dawned bright and clear, and Evangeline happily rode her new bike out of town…at least as long as the paths were going to let her. (Nurse Joy had given her a warning on her way out the door.) Route 10 was labeled as Menhir Trail, and it wasn’t a very long road at all according to the map. Of course, neither was Route 9 and look at how long that had taken her. It was littered with strange stones and tall grass–not ideal for navigating with her bike. But it was fun to ride it a little on her way out of town, as thanks for one of the citizens.

She stopped as she passed under a wild berry tree. This seemed like as good of a place as any to switch over to being on her feet. She reached up and snagged a fruit to snack on as she walked.

“Hey, that was mine!”

Startled, Evangeline jerked to look behind her. Stepping out of the tall grass was a brown mammal-type Pokemon, it’s fur striped in a different pattern than Ella’s had been, its ears much bigger. She didn’t need her Pokedex chiming into recognize this newcomer. It was an Eevee.

He growled at her, crouching down like he was prepared to tackle her. “That was my berry!” he repeated himself.

That berry had been way too high for him to reach. But if wanted a fight… “Kagura, help me out,” she said, releasing the sword-shaped Pokemon out to battle.

It wasn’t a hard fight–the Eevee wasn’t as tough as he was making out. But it took effort for Kagura to hold back enough to just weaken him enough for the Pokeball to work. Evangeline held her breath as the ball swayed precariously, the Eevee obviously not happy about the containment. But it was enough. The ball’s button clicked shut in a sealed lock.

“Yes!” she squealed, hugging Kagura. “Thank you, Kagura.” The Ghost-Type flushed and returned to her ball. With a lot of consideration, Evangeline sent one of her more established team members back to the computer storage, letting her hang on to the Eevee’s ball. She released it back out, reaching into her bag for a potion.

He growled at her. Rolling her eyes, Evangeline reached over and held out the berry. “Here,” she said. “Eat this while I treat your scrapes and bruises.”

That got him to stop growling, though it was in shock. “But…” he trailed off, taking the berry in his mouth as she sprayed the potion on his paws and body. “But you didn’t have to give it to me now.”

Reaching up to the tree, she pulled out another berry for herself. “There’s plenty to go around,” she pointed out to him as she took a bite.

His ears wilted. “Not around here…” he complained with a grumble. She offered him another berry and he took it before continuing, “There are so many Eevee, and lots of bird types too.”

Ahh, that explained his crankiness. Covertly feeling his belly, she decided one more berry couldn’t hurt and fetched it for him. “Well, with me, you won’t go hungry,” she promised. “I take good care of my friends. So what do you say? Want to go back to the grasses, or with me on my journey?”

He snorted. “Like that’s a decision. I’m sticking with you.”

Evangeline bit the inside of her cheek. He was so spunky compared to the normal Eevee! “How about Rei, for a nickname?” she asked. She had to explain that what it meant in her home language, but he agreed. Evangeline let him rest inside of his Pokeball now that his stomach was full, shaking her head in amusement at the newest addition to her crew.

Rei (Eevee)

There were only a few other trainers out and about this early, psychics and tourists, but plenty of wild Pokemon were making themselves known. Evangeline wasn’t surprised–it seemed the shortest routes were the busiest! The mysterious stones were taller than she was, very much so, and were like great planks, laid out in a pattern. She carefully touched on as she circled it, feeling chilled at the contact.

She had just passed through a row of hedges when a familiar, eye-searing shade of orange appeared. Hissing between her teeth, she tried to go duck behind the hedge, but it was too late. “Stop right there!” he ordered, running up to her and glaring at her from behind his orange sunglasses. “I remember you! You’re the one who foiled our fossil-finding plans!”

“If you want to call them plans,” she muttered.

He glowered at her, standing up straighter. “And now you’re here, standing around these stones. Do you have any idea what they even are?” His tone was patronizing, derisive. She flinched, which only made him even more smug. “Of course you don’t. You know nothing about the legend of three-thousand years ago that says…” He paused, looking upwards. “Wait, what does it say?”

Evangeline snorted before she could help herself. His effect was ruined, all without her having to do anything.

Swiping angrily at the air, he tried to take back his threatening air. “Oh, whatever! Who cares about all that? It’s time for me to get revenge…with style.”

She grimaced. So a battle it was. Rather than let him try to get the advantage, she selected the appropriate Pokeball. “Kagura, let’s go!”

“Houndour, finish her this time,” he ordered, releasing his own Pokemon.

If only for this guy’s dignity, she wished she could say it was a difficult battle. But it really, really wasn’t. Between Kagura, Hikari, and Etienne, she wiped the floor with his Houndour and Golbat. He reeled back at his defeat, staring at her in shock before it turned to his standard glare. “What? How could I lose again to some punk like you?”

Evangeline crossed her arms, glaring at him. “Substance over style, maybe? All I see is a fashion disaster who can’t even battle well.”

Outraged, he held his hand up to his chest like he was seriously affronted by what she said. “What are you, some kind of Trainer prodigy or something?”

“Or something,” she muttered. But she wasn’t going to explain to (what was effectively) a terrorist!

A beep came from the guy’s wrist. He walked away, tapping at a Holo-Caster as he held it up. She couldn’t see his message or call–that wasn’t how the system worked. All she could hear was his side. Not that he gave away much. “I see… Roger that!” He turned to look at her over his shoulder, sneering. “Time for me to scram, kid.” And he suited action to words.

“Kid?” she repeated, offended herself. She was sixteen! And a certified trainer, one with badges under her belt. (Well, ten year olds used to journey in her home region,  that nonsense was shut down ages ago.) But she didn’t chase after him, not wanting to risk this going from battling an annoying group of thugs to something a lot more dangerous. She had to settle for muttering and adjusting her bag strap. Alerting the police to these jerks was the first thing she was doing, as soon as she got to the next town.

Her bike alongside her, Evangeline tried to navigate the rest of the path in peace. Or well, relative. There were other trainers to fight, lots of wild Pokemon to stir up. And two more of these Team Flare goons to defeat. The first girl went down with very little effort. It was the second and her Gulpin that caused the issue. It didn’t take a genius to recognize it as a Poison type, and Evangeline’s maternal line were experts in them.

It was a value she definitely recognized as she managed to chase off the second girl. “Etienne, Hikari, come here,” she ordered the two poisoned Pokemon, kneeling down as she dug in her bike. Ettiene limped over, his eyes glossy, and Hikari managed to flutter over, looking wilted and dim in color.

She pulled out the white plastic case that had been her mother’s gift to wish her luck on her journey. Flipping the lid open, she grabbed two syringes–one large and thick at the needle base, the other much more delicate and technically meant for the smallest of Pokemon. She had to hope these would work. A pair of latex gloves went on, actually two gloves per hand for safety, and she grabbed two sterilization packs as well. Grabbing the type of antidote needed for sludge-type Pokemon and their particular strains of poison, she inserted Hikari’s syringe first since it wouldn’t take more than a little to dose her.

One wipe carefully cleaned Hikari’s arm, and she inserted the needle with care. The relief on Hikari’s face was almost immediate as the poison’s effects stopped causing her pain. Using the wipe to clean her hands, it took her the rest of the bottle to fill Etienne’s syringe. She decided to apply the poison the same way that she would to a Rhyhorn or the Pontya line–going for the top of the shoulder. Etienne cringed a little as she was forced to throw her weight behind the needle to get it through his skin, but sighed as soon as she pressed the plunge.

“There…” she whispered to the two of them. “That should get you to the Pokemon Center in Geosenge Town.” They nodded and were easily recalled to their Pokeballs, just as the sky opened up to begin to drizzle. Glancing up, Evangeline reached into her bag for her raincoat, but she didn’t bother pulling it on. Instead, she draped it over her head and her bike handles so it would stay on as she jogged towards the stone arches in the distance. The sooner a nurse saw her Pokemon, the happier she would be.

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NaNo 18, Day 6: Cyllage City Gym Battle

Evangeline stumbled to a halt once she saw the inside of the gym. It was like a cave that had been expanded and stabilized for the purposes of the gym, without losing any of the natural wonder. A waterfall in the back led to a pool of water that no doubt drained underground into the sea. The caverns inside were high, leaving plenty of room inside for a gym… or in this case, for a rock climbing wall. A series of rock climbing walls, one on top of the other in some imitation of a tower. (She’d know, Johto was famous for towers.)

“He is so lucky I’m not afraid of heights instead of bugs,” she muttered, hands on her hips as she looked up.

Nearby, a man coughed to smother his laughter. She looked at him, and he gave her a shrug. “Gym Leaders,” he said as if that summed it up. And in a way, it did, and made this seem relatively normal as a result. She still made a face at him and walked over to see what all she needed. He helped slip a safety harness in white and grey over her hips (though she buckled herself), and slipped a white helmet on her head while she put her hat in her bag. “Do you know how to climb?” he asked, gesturing to the wall.

“It was part of trainer certification, though it wasn’t nearly this much of it,” she assured him, eyeing the long series of walls with unease. “Please tell me there are break-spots?”

“Of course,” he said with a grin. “You might have to battle on them, but there are plenty of breaks with water and benches to catch your breath at. We’re not completely insane. Grant got a little enthusiastic, but he’s also a fitness nut. We had to remind him what normal people are capable of.”

“Trainers are normal people?” she asked with an innocent flutter of her eyelashes. That got her a spark of laughter, and with a grin, she set the harness on the line and started her first climb. Like the helper had promised, there were ledges for her to stop at, whole paths even, and helpful mats that indicated where to jump down and unclip from the wall and move somewhere else in order to continue her advanced upward. Despite the seeming insanity of it, there was logic there. And it wasn’t that much different from the platforms and steps that were the inside of her father’s gym, so she really couldn’t complain too much. (And at least it wasn’t a spider’s web!)

The battles were against the techs who also served as trainers learning under Grant. Some were younger, like her, but there also a few of the hiking types who probably were around as much for the caves as they were the Pokemon battles. Kakashi, with a little help from Haruka, took care of them without breaking a sweat. Although, Evangeline wished she could say the same. She felt like she had to be dripping with it by the time she reached the top, sitting down on the ledge with a whoosh of breath at finally reaching the platform. A bottle of sports drink tapped her shoulder, and she took it with gratitude to sip it. “You do this every day?” she asked in disbelief as Grant sat down next to her.

“Most days,” he corrected her with a sheepish shrug. This close, she saw that this eyes were actually a clear, crystal blue. Interesting. He was twisting the cap to her drink around his fingers as if fidgeting. “Though I prefer if I’m climbing outside. But sometimes I have bike races, like today. Sometimes Viola calls up and I get be hassled into pictures for the day, for some reason I barely understand.”

“Been there…” she muttered, turning to look over the cavern pool and falls.

Grant snorted in amusement. “Yeah, Viola’s a character.” He looked up towards the cavern ceilings, where pitons held lights that shown down on his gym, carefully wired to case the least damage as possible and yet still be aesthetically pleasing. Additional steel beams insured that the roof was stable and not likely going to come crashing down on their heads. “As long as I can spend time with my Pokemon, I call it a good day,” he continued.

She smiled softly into her drink, feeling a bond with this gym leader that she hadn’t really felt with anyone else aside from Professor Sycamore since she reached Kalos. “Smart way to view your time, I only wish more people looked at life that way,” she said, and stood up. “Come on, let’s get to the battle.”

He smirked, offering her the bottle cap. “Not too tired?”

She took it from him, finding a smidge of bravery to tap him on the tip of the nose with it. “I don’t climb mountains every day, but you could say Gym battles are in my blood,” she said with sly smile.

The expression seemed to surprise Grant, who blinked and flushed before backing off to his side of the field. “Right. Amaura, let’s show her what we’ve got!” he called out, throwing out a Pokeball. His Amaura was a little bigger than Etienne, female, and full of confidence.

“Kagura, you’re up,” she said, releasing the Honedge. The Ghost-Type twisted in the air, singular eye blinking as she took in her opponent.

For once, the battle was a challenge. Grant didn’t just expect to blow past her defenses despite her type advantages, and he was smart with what he did. She ended up pulling back Kagura for Hikari to finish the fight against the Amaura. Grant grinned and tried to press his advantage with Tyrunt. Evangeline considered it a good head’s up for Xavier’s capabilities if he ever got the fossil turned around. She didn’t bother with games, sending in Kakashi to wrap it up.

Grant tucked his hands into his pocket as the battle ended. “Well, that was…” He shook his head and laughed, reaching out to take her hand. “One of the best battles I’ve had in a while!”

She grinned, accepting his hand. “Agreed,” she said. “I hope my Etienne gets to the same level as your Amaura. He’s still going through some growing pains.”

Ducking his head a little, Grant managed a sheepish smile. “Yeah, she gets enthusiastic.”

“Will you have to retire her soon for a new one? I know the fossils must make that difficult…” she asked curiously.

But then Grant looked at her oddly. “You know that Gym Leaders trade out Pokemon to maintain difficult?” he asked in disbelief. “Most people assume these are my personal team.”

Evangeline bit her lower lip. Oh damn. Damn, damn, damn. She got too comfortable, and a lifetime of knowledge on how to run a gym had slipped out. “I just assumed… I mean, Gym Leaders are professional battlers, you’d be able to outstrip someone who was just starting out if you didn’t try to maintain levels along the journey, right?” she asked, her voice weak.

“That’s the logic of it,” he agreed, his eyebrows still raised. “The League sets those across all the regions.” He snapped his fingers. “Oh, speaking of the League, you’ll be wanting your badge to prove your victory here in Cyllage.” Out of his multitude of cargo pockets, he pulled out the badge, pausing and flushing. “I know it isn’t the prettiest in the region. I redesigned it, but there are limits to the changes you can make.”

Accepting the badge, she twisted it around. “I mean, I can tell where I got it from,” she said honestly. “It reminds me of rock climbing, and of the beaches here at the same time. It isn’t as literal as Viola’s… But I think that’s a good thing.” It was a little more modern art, a little more classic. Plus, not going to give her nightmares.

Judging by his smile, Grant appreciated the praise for what it was. “If you want to climb down, I won’t stop you, but there is a skid path down, if you’d rather,” he said, pointing towards the other side of the platform than she climbed up. “It’s an easier trip, but watch out, its fast even going at a walk.”

She raised her brows at him. “You tried to ride your bike down it, didn’t you?”

He shrugged. “I was bored, and it was raining outside. Gotta keep the other Trainers jumping.”

Shaking her head, she laughed. “Take care of yourself, Grant,” she scolded, waving over her shoulder as she headed towards the skid path so she could head out.

Grant raised his hand to wave back, trailing to a stop as she disappeared from sight. “You too…” he murmured, his eyes lingering. Such a little mystery, that Evangeline. He recognized her pictures as Viola’s latest obsession, and he knew the media were trying to create a buzz around her. But they might have mislabeled her, too eager to cast her as the unknown talent. He wondered if maybe he ought to give Sycamore a call… Nah. Shaking his head, he smiled at the air. It’d be more fun to find out on his own.


NaNo 17, Day 20 & 21: SNORLAX!

(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.

Kagura (Honedge)

 

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.

Theo