Bubblegum Boys, Skeletal Star & Wishful Crown.
Drunken Memoirs, Grave Revelations and Sorceress’ Saga
This was not her day.
This was not her day at all
First, the lone Fennekin was just minding her own business, about to head on her way back to her burrow when the absolutely insufferable crowd of Andalusst decided that no, she was not
going to get back to her burrow, she was going to get swept away to the northernmost gate of the city instead.’Damn fucking crowds and their issue with knowing what the fuck personal space is and -- GUH!!’
Astra felt a bead of sweat run down her forehead as the wave of ‘mons that she was stuck in finally came to a stop and she could analyze her surroundings more easily. The sky above was slowly darkening, ominous clouds rolling overhead and the moon glinting in an almost eerie manner. Even if the sun hadn’t completely set yet, it was getting too close to pure darkness than Astra was comfortable with.’Wonderful, just wonderful, I have to get back to my burrow I have to--’
she looked up, distracted by a voice that belonged to none other than Robin, one of the leader’s of the Hunter’s guild.
“I know you’re all enjoyin’ the festivities right now, but there’s some work to be done,” he began, and Astra begrudgingly listened to him speak; there was no point in trying to force her way back out through the crowd.
“Out this north gate you’ll be able to see strange, towering monoliths. They’re just a short ways past the outskirts of the city.”
Astra paled, ’no way, no way am I going way out there!’
“The monoliths - Honehenge, as they’re called - attract explorers, adventurers and travelers that have fallen to their doom in the dungeons have a tendency to arrive there, as ghosts. Your task is to guide them back to Andalusst.”
Astra shook her head, her eyes darting around as the crowd began to wane. Just beyond the exit she could have sworn she saw a glimmering set of blue eyes in the trees, watching her, stalking her, making the hairs on her back rise. She would have pulled her trusty hood more closely to her figure, but alas during the day she hadn’t needed it and therefore hadn’t brought it along.
She took a few steps back, tearing her eyes away from the distant woods and glancing around. Those blue eyes popped up in a nearby alleyway, and she stumbled.’Fuck fuck fuck, I need to get back to the burrow,’
she turned, but the crowd had hardly dissipated enough for her to get through. Panic rose up in her throat like bile, and even if she knew, in the back of her mind, that it was just the slowly darkening sky and the shadows playing tricks on her, she couldn’t get herself to move, feeling that sickening gaze on her back.
The voice broke the stiff spell that had befallen Astra’s legs and she looked over, the smallest sliver of relief flooding through her when she saw some familiar faces. Ciela was already scampering over to her.
“Hi Tiny!!” Ciela chirped happily, the larger part of her tail wagging. Of course she would be oblivious to Astra’s inner turmoil, but the smaller vixen was thankful for the reprieve from her stressful thoughts.
“Hi Ciela,” she greeted softly, stiffening however when Ciela grasped one of Astra’s paws and led her over to the trio she had left, where naturally, Orianna and Gage appeared to be bickering. Dashiell - the Machoke - seemed rather peeved at their behavior.
“Oh and Ori painted a-a purple butterfly on my face but i-it’s all gone now! Then she and Cookie went apple bobbing but somehow the crate wound up on top of them, a-and then Cookie ran off!” Ciela chattered away, and Astra merely listened; the younger vixen had at least opted to release Astra’s hand when the Fennekin walked along next to her, “he looked kinda’ s-scary!! But it’s okay, he and Bubblegum came back, and why are you standing on your hind legs Tiny?”
Astra, momentarily confused, looked up at Ciela to find the young girl looking at her curiously.’Walking on my hind leg--- OH!!’
immediately Astra dropped to all fours, causing Ciela to blink at her.
“I-it’s not really important,” she muttered. Ciela stared at her for a moment, then hopped the rest of the way to her sister and friends. Astra followed after her, then sat in front of the four, looking up at them.
“So… um… what do you all think of this?” she asked, waving her paw in the general direction of the monoliths. Gage shrugged, and Dashiell rubbed the back of his neck.
“Well… it sounds simple enough I guess. We can do it um,” the Machoke looked down at her, and his brown eyes were oddly calming, “you can come with us if you want.”
Astra bit her lip. Should he say no, should she say yes…
Somewhat reluctantly she nodded her head, “yeah I’ll… come with you.”
“Right then, let’s get movin’,” Gage announced before immediately starting at a brisk walk toward the north gate. The other four hurried after him, as the male Smeargle was walking at quite a brisk pace.
Astra found herself struggling to keep up - but at least Ciela was struggling with her. Having shorter legs was certainly a disadvantage--’And there I go, walking on my hind legs again,’
she sighed, dropping to all fours once again, though hissing lightly at the pain that shot through her forepaws. Grumbling under her breath she stood back up on her hind legs, ignoring the glances that Ciela kept shooting her.
Astra found herself getting tired a lot easier than normal. Her sleep deprivation being at the core of the blame, but her stunted evolution was also a contributing factor. At least when it came to the spinal pain and difficulty breathing.
The unusually spooky surroundings, and constant sighting of a pair of burning blue eyes left her breathing uneven - even if the eyes weren’t really there, she still saw them, and they still seemed to burn her fur with their persistence. Her ears turned about the place it was the least she could do to remove her thoughts from the burdening discomfort. She listened to the various noises, alongside the gang’s footsteps and chattering.
They had just passed by under one of the monoliths when the witch paused. The buzzing background noise. It was gone. There were teams not too far away from them, but the sound, their voices; it was all gone.
As she paused so did Ciela, who gave her a curious glance.
“W-What’s the matter, Tiny? Why’d you stop?” the young vixen asked, and in turn the question prompted the Smeargles and Machoke to stop as well, glancing back at Ciela and Astra.
“I-It’s quiet… isn’t it?” hissed Astra, glowering around and standing on her hind legs to get a better look around. Though her face shifted from one of anger to worry when she faced away from the rest.
Quickly, Skeletal Star, and Bubblegum Boys caught on to what she meant. Their surroundings were entirely quiet even if they could still see other teams. Gage released a soft growl, and soon enough the group quickly huddled together. Ciela managed to somehow usher Astra into their protective circle, wrapping her paw around Astra’s.
“We better stay together,” Dashiell announced, looking around, “there’s a Haze settling in. Stay close to me.”
“Yes, Orianna, for the fifth fucking time I have a good grasp on Ciela’s hand!” Gage snapped, looking around Dashiell to glare at Orianna. She glared right back at him, and Dashiell sighed.
“C’mon you two, cut that out,” he complained, looking down at Orianna, “you know Gage would never let anything bad happen to Ciela, Ori.”
“Yeah well-- I know but…”
Ciela frowned. Not only was Orianna being really worried about everything, Astra seemed rather tense at Ciela’s side. She pulled the Fennekin closer, completely oblivious to the fact that Astra stiffened all the more.
“Don’t worry Tiny I-I’ll protect you!”
Though there was a serious look dominating her features, Ciela took some pride in knowing that her words had at least gotten Astra to relax somewhat. Every now and then Ciela would pick up on whispering sounds, and soon enough her own eyes were shifty. She clung to Gage’s hand more tightly, a whimper escaping her.’Th-this is s-scary...’
Gage squeezed her hand back, and when she looked up at him he was giving her a small, genuine smile.
“Don’t worry, sweets,” Dashiell spoke, and Ciela’s ears twitched under her hat, “it’s just the ghosts playing tricks on us. Trying to scare us. Right Astra?”
“Huh-?! Uh-- yeah,” Astra agreed, though her expression appeared unconvinced when Ciela looked at her, “just the ghosts playing some mean tricks, that’s all.”
As they walked, a scuttling sound became prominent. Ciela squeaked when she was jerked to a stop by Gage, who promptly pulled both her and Astra in front of himself, his arm half coiling around them.
“Hey! What are you doing?!” Astra demanded, glaring up at Gage.
“Don’t complain, if I fuckin’ put you behind me I won’t be able to see if somethin’ takes you, y’know?!” Gage snapped back, baring his teeth at Astra as she bared hers at him all the same.
Ciela’s ears flicked around under her hat some more; the scuttling sound seemed to be coming from everywhere. The moonlight from above that was stuck constantly filtering through clouds made the shadows dance threateningly.
Ciela sniffled, forcing herself to focus on the scuttling sound, ’i-if I just listen closely th-then I’ll b-be able to guess where it will come from--’
A horrible, horrible screeching noise erupted suddenly from the haze, making Ciela’s ears hurt, and her skin crawl. She felt so weak suddenly, like she had no defenses, and her fright was so strong is silenced her.
From the Haze a critter with an oddly glimmering, pale shell came shooting out. It was screeching at the top of its lungs, and Ciela recognized it as a Kabuto from the way it’s piercing red eyes illuminated the bottom half of its body.
Orianna yelped in surprise and her tail paint flickered to brown - a similar shade to her and Ciela’s father - and her left arm bulked up considerably. As Astra let out her own, loud hiss, the Kabuto’s Screech halted and it scurried back into the Haze. Fire was spewing out of Astra’s maw.
Ciela, alarmed, looked over at the Fennekin to note that her claws were extended as well, and for a brief moment markings flashed over her body. The temperature around her spiked and Ciela jerked her hand away, startled.
It felt so similar to when too much fire built up in Ciela’s body and it left her uncomfortable, and then she was distracted from Astra’s obvious fear by the Kabuto’s renewed shrieking as it charged toward the group once again, eyes flashing furiously.
To Ciela’s horror the Kabuto was making a mad dash right for her, waving its little claws in the air as it ran along on its other four, screeches still pouring from its mouth. The Kabuto lunged.
And was slammed right into the ground by Dashiell’s foot.
Finally Ciela found her voice and let out a shrill shriek of her own. It was startling to her how something so small could really be so terrifying, and Gage wrapped his free arm around her.’Wh--wh--wh-wh--’
Ciela choked on a sob while the Kabuto flailed and hissed and spat under Dashiell’s foot.
Orianna breathed heavily. How peculiar that Gage was able to keep his cool despite what had just happened.’Ciela is crying,’
the female Smeargle noted, looking around Dashiell at her sister, ’o-of course she would be. The Kabuto just-- it went for her!’
Her arm reverted back to its original size and her tail paint glimmered momentarily. When the light faded, the paint on her tail was violet and lavender once again.
“It’s fast but… I guess can’t see all that well,” Dashiell muttered, and Orianna picked up on flickering lights. Her golden eyes widened.’Oooh I don’t know if I can take much more of this place!’
she inwardly whined, huddling closer to Dashiell. He looked down at her and she gestured toward the area ahead of them; a white silhouette was weaving in and out of the Haze, and Orianna swallowed.’What is that? It better not be after us. Oh gosh this is so terrifying I hope Ciela can sleep tonight,’
Orianna shuddered violently when an eerie voice spoke over the area, ’nope, nope that’s it, I’m done, can we just go now?!’
As she thought this a Froslass floated ambiguously out of the Haze. Her sleeves were long and drifted out behind her, and she herself looked to be made of lace. The bottom of her dress appeared to be cut in a lace-like pattern, and she even wore a veil over her head. Her colors were not ones that Orianna normally saw on a Froslass, but they were no less pleasing, and from where she was Orianna couldn’t see how the bow on her back was fashioned.
She released an icy looking breath and the Haze immediately began to fade. Her luminant white eyes looked up at one of the monoliths. Orianna’s eyes followed her gaze and she watched in discomfort as a shadow seemed to… slide off one of them.
“Please release my little knight,” the Froslass said, her voice surprisingly soothing, “I’m terribly, terribly sorry if he scared you. He mostly does so due to his smaller size, and relies on his loud voice to deter others.”
For a moment the five ‘mons were silent, until Gage finally snapped out of his trance, “er! Well, uh, no problem I guess but uh… wow you’re-- er…” he coughed lightly into his hand and Orianna felt a tinge of jealousy at the fact that he had been about to compliment another female.’What would I need to be jealous for?!’
she looked down at the ground, blushing softly, ’geez...’
The Froslass tilted her head, drifting just a tad closer. Orianna looked up at her to see she now clasped her hands in front of her.
“My name is Karishma, and he is Johfrit,” she gestured to the Kabuto with what appeared to be a smile on her mouth, “the Honehenge is not a place for children to be.”
“We’re not children!” Astra snapped, then looked at Ciela and amended her words, “I mean, well, not all of us…”
Karishma laughed softly, “I beg your pardon, but I am considerably older than you. You are all but children to me.”
Astra seemed to pout, and a quiet laugh rippled through the other four Pokemon.’A-at least Ciela’s calmed down,’
Orianna thought, then looked down at the Kabuto, ’actually… little Johfrit here seems to have calmed down as well...’
“So uh, Karishma - um, I’m Dashiell, by the way, and this is Astra, Ciela, Gage and Orianna uh -- anyway, I was gonna’ ask, how did you end up getting stuck at the Monoliths? I mean ‘cuz we were told that usually uh… adventurers that get lost in the dungeons they uh… end up here…”
Orianna did her best to stifle a laugh at the obvious smitten tone in both Dash’s voice and expression, ’gee, don’t make it so obvious big boy~’
A solemn expression came of Karishma’s face and she looked up at the monolith once more; the one Orianna had seen the shadow slide off of.
“I did not come to be as you might think. Then again, the details are hazy, even to me, but I know I did not die,” she released a sigh, “I am afraid to leave the monoliths because of the shadows that stalk me. I wish not to bring my banes and misfortunes upon others.”
“W-well um… are you bound here?” Astra piped up, and Orianna peered around Dashiell to look at the Fennekin. Karishma raised a hand to her lower jaw, then shook her head.
“No I don’t… believe I am.”
“Then your stalkers could be but, that doesn’t mean you are,” the witch said, her tone firm. Karishma tilted her head to the side. She appeared hesitant.
“Why don’t you come to Andalusst with us?” Orianna finally asked, tired of being silent, “I mean the monoliths are a good distance from Andalusst, so if you come with us, then the shadows that stalk you are unlikely to follow, right?”
Still, Karishma was hesitant.
“Um um, miss Lacy lady um… I don’t think y-you’ll ever stop being afraid if you stay here.”
Orianna blinked at her sister. Karishma’s white eyes focused on the young Braixen and she continued, “a-and you have um, um your l-little knight, right? And and he kinda’ scared us, and he scared others away too right? S-so he can protect you!”
The Froslass’ gaze softened and she drifted closer to the group. Orianna could feel the temperature slowly dwindle into a lower temperature, and Dashiell shivered; Karishma too seemed aware that her presence made the air colder and she stopped floating about four feet away from the group.
“Please release my little knight.”
Dashiell turned bright red in embarrassment and - with a sputtering of apologies pouring past his lips - he lifted his foot up off Johfrit. The Kabuto made no sound but instead scurried to sit under Karishma, his eyes glinting as he propped himself up on his crab-like back legs.
Gage knew it was going to take a while to convince Karishma to leave the monoliths. Even with Johfrit’s help, the Froslass would always periodically stop, look back over her shoulder, and stay still.
The Smearlge was no stranger to seeing things that weren’t there, to sleeping with one eye open. He could understand how the Froslass felt, and from the way Astra seemed almost determined to get the Froslass away from the monoliths he had a feeling she understood how Karishma felt as well.’I can smell ‘em though, the shadows she talked about,’
Gage mused, watching as Dashiell picked up Ciela. Gage’s brows narrowed back, ’sweets is still rather frightened. I don’t blame ‘er. And Orianna--’
He blinked, looking around for the female Smeargle. For a moment he panicked, worried she had gotten spirited away, but when he turned around fully to face the direction that led back to Andalusst, he saw that Orianna was standing impatiently by one of the monoliths.’Oh. Guess she’s eager to get out of this place.’
Johfrit was busy chattering away to Karishma, and was pulling on her long lace-like dress. She hesitantly followed him, and soon enough they all made it to the monolith where Orianna was.
Karishma however faltered once again, and looked over her shoulder, earning a grumbling squeak of protest from Johfrit.
Gage knew that expression.
She was terrified.
Not really because she was afraid the shadows that stalked her would follow, but because the monoliths were all she knew. He knew that expression. He knew it was the same one he had when he was brought into Andalusst the first time, out of the wilds, away from what he knew.’Fuck it all, I have to do something about this,’
the male Smeargle approached Karishma and grabbed one of her hands, startling her into looking at him. Though the air was chilly around her, Gage was rather unbothered by the lower temperature.
“Y’know I have an idea ‘bout how you feel…” he began, pulling Karishma gently forward, “leaving the place you know and goin’ somewhere you don’t understand is scary,” he pulled her forward more, though Karishma was stiff. Gage’s lips pressed into a thin line and he continued, “you won’t feel like you belong. You’ll be different, you’ll be expected to know things you don’t,” here he paused, glancing over his shoulder at Orianna and she immediately averted her gaze to the dirt. Gage looked back up at Karishma, offering her a small smile, “but that’s okay, y’know… you can still learn.”
The Froslass was hesitant, though when Gage gave her a little pull next she floated past the monolith and drifted along next to him.
No sooner did Gage get Karishma away from the monolith was there a ferocious, bloodthirsty howl that tore through the Honehenge. The seven Pokemon froze in their places for a brief moment.
Astra was the first to bolt, her tail puffed out completely. Dashiell grabbed Orianna and ran next and Gage was hot on his heels with Karishma and Johfrit.’Holy fucking shit what was that that was real fuckin’ loud and angry holy shit holy fuckin’ shit man that scared the bejeebers out of me holy hell--’
he cast a wary glance at Karishma, noting the expression on her face. She didn’t look afraid she looked… feral, almost, her eyes wide and pupils dilated. Like the adrenaline was rushing through her.
The group didn’t stop sprinting until they made it into Andalusst, and even then Astra continued sprinting. At least Dashiell had a firm grip on Ciela, though the small Braixen called out after Astra.
“Shh, shh sweets, I think we should just let Astra go,” Dashiell insisted, “I mean she’s… she’s pretty shaken up over that howl.”
“Yeah… anyway, we better get back to our place. Hangin’ around here is just givin’ me the creeps now,” Gage announced, gesturing to Karishma and Johfrit with a finger, “c’mon, you two can stay with us.”
“Oh, that is most kind of you,” Karishma said, hands clasped politely in front of her and Johfrit walking along underneath her. Gage thought it strange that the Kabuto had two extra legs, but he supposed he wouldn’t ask about it. Must have had something to do with the Kabuto’s heritage. Dashiell and Ciela went over to Robin, pointing out Karishma to him. The Banette nodded his head ever so slightly, and then listened in as Dashiell told him something else.’No doubt that Astra helped out too--’
he blinked, catching a glimpse of yellow out of the corner of his eye, ’wait did she double back?’
The Fennekin indeed had, and though the stiffness of her body spoke volumes of how uneasy she was, she approached Robin anyway and got a coin for herself as well.
“You know you could stay with us for the night--”
“I-I’d rather not,” Astra interrupted hurriedly, causing Gage to give her a look and Dashiell’s brow to furrow, “I need to get back to my burrow. Stat. I-I’ll see you guys around, I guess.”
With that the Fennekin took off, and Ciela stared after her somewhat sadly.
“Tiny shouldn’t have to be afraid by herself…” the small Braixen muttered, and Gage’s gaze softened as he watched Astra run until her form disappeared.’If only she knew.’
The group of seven now bumped down to six made their way back to the Tellurium’s boarding house. Lucian was more than happy to welcome Karishma and Johfrit into the home, even if the expression hardly showed on his features. It took Gage and Dashiell a moment to find a place where both Johfrit and Karishma would be comfortable, but the two seemed perfectly fine staying downstairs in the woodcarving area with Brass.
The Golurk was quite thankful for the company.
With the day’s duty done, Dashiell and Gage retreated upstairs to the room they shared to get some much needed rest.