Written by Steven Loon
Original version written: August 20, 2010
Chapter 1 - The Incident
An old, dilapilated tower loomed up from the ground, surrounded by scorch-marked ruins that had once been the human city of Violet. Shoots of grass poked out from the vast network of cracks in long-destroyed pavement as nature slowly reclaimed this oldest of all cities. At the foot of the old tower, an ancient stone bridge spanned a vast pool of murky water, perhaps once a place of reflection for all. Padding down rubble-strewn streets, an young Eevee and a Pichu took in the collapsed wooden timbers with eager eyes. Crossing the old stone bridge ,they were explorers at heart, Holly and Theron, traveling into the unknown on a grand adventure!
Then, as the duo approached the tower's entrance, its old wooden doors open wide, the Pichu caught sight of an gargoyle head mounted over the entrance, glaring down at him. He let out an involuntary whimper, his tiny body quivering with fear. Blinking, the Eevee girl stopped at the entrance of the tower and glanced back over her shoulder to her friend, frowning. "Come on, Spark, what's there to be afraid of?" she asked cheerfully, flicking her tail towards the wooden tower. "No one's lived here for ages."
"But Holly... it's all dark and scary," gulped Theron, following Holly's gaze towards the ominous tower that gently rocked from side to side. Beyond the wooden gates, the tower was decorated with multiple wooden sculptures, with a massive wood pillar gently rocking from side to side as the tower swayed in the wind. "Who knows what's hiding in there?"
Holly shook her head in mock disapproval. "Aw, Theron, are you afraid of ghosts or something?" teased the Eevee gently. "Tell you what! I'll race you to the top of the tower!" Before the Pichu could protest, the Eevee vanished into the structure's interior.
"W-wait! Holly, come back!" cried Theron, running after the Eevee into the darkness.
here were no lights within the pitch-black interior of the tower. Though the walls had numerous slots between their wooden planks, no light shone through them. The only light in the entire tower was that which flooded in from the entrance.
"Cool," exclaimed Theron, scurrying up to a wooden sculpture of a Bellsprout. "It looks just like a bellsprout!"
Holly chuckled. "Yeah, it does. Supposedly, this tower was built by humans."
Theron looked around the tower, marveling at the architechture that had gone into the building. "It's so... huge!"
"Hee hee, you ought to see the Bell Tower," chuckled Holly. "It's even higher..."
The two climbed up a wooden ladder to the second floor. More sculptures, some of Furrets and Pidgeottos, were present. Theron noticed candle holders now, some containing misshapen lumps of wax; others were empty. What had these humans been like, they who could build such grand and beautiful structures?
He glanced at Holly, about to ask a question about what humans were like (not that she knew any more than he did). As he turned, however, Theron noticed a pair of eyes and a fanged, laughing mouth in the shadows behind Holly. It blinked, and then flew at the Eevee. "Holly!" screamed Theron. "Behind you!"
Holly's eyes widened. She whipped around to see two disembodied shadow claws hurtling at her. "Aieeeeeee!" screamed Holly as the Haunter grabbed her.
"Kekekeke!" cackled the Haunter madly, flying around thepillar wildly, clutching Holly. Theron looked around, and several more pairs of eyes and laughing, fanged mouths appeared, followed by skull-like masks and thick cloaks. He ducked and jumped as Gastlys and Duskulls flew at him from every direction, terrified. "Holly! Holly! Holly!"
The haunter swooped low at Theron, licking the pichu. As Theron fell over, twitching and squealing, the haunter gave another cackle. "Gahahaha, my sweet! Now away we gooooo!"
"Ahhhhhhhhh!" shrieked Holly, desperately struggling to break free from the haunter's grasp as it pulled her through a wall and out of Theron's sight. "Spark! Help! Help! HELP!"
"No..." groaned Theron, his tiny body rocking back and forth gently, surrounded by laughing Gastlys who hit him mercilessly with shadow sneaks. The Duskulls slowly danced in a circle around the Pichu, giving off deep wails of lament. "Holly... Holly... Holly..."
"So, you are the one they call Theron?" hissed a dark, sinister voice. The Pichu opened one eye to see a mysterious black object looming over him. There was a round band of pink eyes around the upper, larger section of the object's body, and a white pattern etched on its lower section. "Kekeke. Foolish Pichu, coming to the Sprout Tower," hissed the Claydol. "And foolish Eevee, who brought you here!" The creature's hands flew around in circles around its body, and then pointed at Theron. "Hah!" crowed the Claydol as it brought its ceramic palms together, firing a psychic attack at the young pichu, who let out an excruciating scream of pain as the flare of energy blasted his tail, filling his young body with agony-
"Stop!" snarled an voice emanating an aura of ancient might as a white-furred beast sprinted across the wood-plank flooring towards the fear-stricken bandits who surrounded Theron. The canine warrior lunged at the Claydol as the tiny mouse's eyes flew open, the phantoms in the air around him beginning to quiver at the sight of the lone hero. "Get out of here, now," snarled Theron's mysterious rescuer, skidding to a halt between the Claydol and the Pichu. "All of you! You sadistic fiends!"
The Pichu raised his gaze towards the unknown figure, his eyes registering a glimpse of dark-gray features beneath the snow-white fur. The Claydol gave a furious clicking noise, the pink cells on its upper section glowing crimson with rage. "I swear by the runes," spat the monolithic construct. "When the Invader returns... you shall be the first to fall!"
Chapter 2 - Crippled
Insyte sat patiently upon a gilded pedastal as the doors of the Great Hall flew open, revealing the warriors Lightning and Leaflight in all their glory. Lightning carried a sword, a beautiful sword of finest steel which glowed with light, and a mystical energy clung to it when Lightning drew it. One edge of the blade was ever so subtly red, while the other edge was just as subtly blue. It was a relic of the war, this weapon, from the eight-piece diamond symbol on the center of the golden hilt to the ancient verses etched upon its perfect steel facets. Whether by bolt or blade, Lightning's power was a force not to be underestimated.
Beside Lightning stood Leaflight, Lightning's truest friend and mate. The Leafeon's heart was light and free as she stood beside the Raichu, her fur the color of whitewood. Her ears and tail, the leaves adorning her wrists and brow- all were emerald green and vibrant with life. A pair of blades- one tinted red and one tinted blue- were strapped to her back in an X, bound in simple but comfortable leather. As her chestnut brown eyes fell upon Insyte, an anxous smile played across Leaflight's mouth. They hadn't been here in nearly two years, not since the end of the Exile's War, and the Flareon seemed to have changed greatly in that time. And when he looks at us, wondered the Leafeon silently, what changes does he see?
"It's been a while, Insyte," chuckled Lightning, shaking his head and grinning as he and Leaflight strode across the smooth floor and approached their old ally, his dark-green eyes flicking around the gilded walls with a hint of tension. Feeling out of place in this chamber of gold and steel, Leaflight shifted uncomfortably and blinked at her mate, expressing what couldn't be said in words. "This is definitely a beautiful city here," continued the Raichu, catching and returning her uncomfortable wink as he spoke. "I must say I'm really impressed."
"Thank you, Lightning and Leaflight," spoke the Flareon nervously as he gazed upon the Raichu and the Leafeon, his obsidian eyes darting to the blades they carried. "I trust that the two of you have had a safe journey?"
"Uh, what's with all the... formalities, Insyte?" asked Leaflight with a nervous chuckle, tilting her head slightly as she looked at the old hero. Why was the Flareon acting as if they had never met before? "Come on! We're old friends, right?"
Insyte's eyes darted between his own red-and-cream pelt- glossy and groomed as his title demanded- and the Leafeon's fur, which still bore the scent of adrenaline and the dust of battle. "It has been slightly over two years since the end of the war," continued Insyte, gazing past Lightning and Leaflight with silver-gray eyes. "In all of that time, there have been great things accomplished at the paws of us both."
The smile slowly faded from both Leaflight's and Lightning's features. "Yep, great things've been done," agreed Lightning, and Leaflight noticed one of his paws itching to reach for the hilt of his sword. "But if you don't mind, could we please skip the rituals? I mean, well, we haven't crossed an ocean and half a continent for, um, 'pleasantries'. Let's get discuss the FEARs."
"Yes, yes, the FEARs," repeated Insyte anxiously as he slowly rose to his glossed paws before stepping down from his polished pedastal, a sweatdrop forming on the side of his head before dissolving into steam. Lightning and Leaflight exchanged nervous glances as the Flareon began to pace around the room. "Roughly three weeks ago, we received intelligence from Lieutenant Canius of the prescence of certain red-eyed creatures roaming the land. Upon further investigation, we met with a Quilava and a Vulpix in the Blaze Caves to the north, who spoke of a red-ringed Umbreon with the power to trap its prey in their own fears. Not too long after, the investigation team came across a message etched into a tree trunk." Insyte halted in his step to lock eyes with Lightning, and the Raichu was startled by the worry in the Flareon's gaze. "The message read, 'we are FEAR, and this world is ours,'" recited the old hero. "And etched beneath the message, there was an Umbreon, and someone took great pains to dye its rings and eyes red."
"A... red-ringed Umbreon?" asked Leaflight curiously, leaning back on her hind legs. She thought about this carefully- no wonder Insyte was so distraught. He was thinking about the days of his dark past as Slick's Umbreon, before his transformation into a Flareon at the Silver Conclave. "Well... that sounds troublesome."
"Correct," said Insyte, continuing to pace around the room. "One week ago, the team arrived at the Madman's mansion in the Nightmare Grove. Within the old dwelling, we found the remnants of terrible experiments, fiendish creations and biological atrocities, volumes upon volumes of notes, disused machinery. And we then discovered within these notes, a description of a red-ringed Umbreon and its abilities, not unlike the mysterious story the Quilava had told. There is some connection between the mad scientist and the FEARs, and we quickly sent for the two of you, for you both have fought them."
"I'm sorry- I actually don't know much about the FEARs, or about the Madman," replied Lightning, his ears twitching as he glanced sideways to Leaflight."I didn't fight this Umbreon; I really hadn't any idea what sort of conflict I'd stumbled into."
"I don't know anything about the Madman either," admitted Leaflight sheepishly, glancing between Lightning and Insyte. And it was true. It was only by chance that they both crossed paths with the band of Pokemon who confronted the evil scientist of Nightmare Woods. "To be honest, I kinda just... fell through the roof. All the fighting was done."
"Surely, one of you must know something," said Insyte desperately, his eyes darting between the two. "Didn't you... help stop the Madman?"
"But Insyte, we don't know anything about these... 'FEARs'," countered Leaflight. "We never fought this Umbreon. By the time we got involved, we were fighting the scientist." She glanced sideways to her mate. "Isn't that right, Lightning?"
Glancing around Insyte's ornately decorated hall, the Raichu shifted uncomfortably. "Yes, we never fought anything like that," said Lightning finally, taking a deep breath and crossing his arms. "We'd have remembered something like that."
But a shadow had crossed his features for the slightest second, illuminated by candlelight- and Leaflight noticed, even if Insyte hadn't. "We're still both good warriors, and we could stick around if you want," added the Raichu, and the Leafeon could scent a flicker of anxiety on him. "Corundia's at peace, and it won't need us for a while."
Insyte bowed his head with an awkward regality, and both Lightning and Leaflight exchanged glances. "Your effors would be immensely appreciated," said the Flareon, gently blinking his eyes. "Thank you. I'll give you shelter, food, anything else that you might require. Just help me protect this city."
A mysterious Umbreon... the FEARs... the strange formality that clung to Insyte's every word... The Sytadel had changed greatly since Lightning had last visited it. Conflicted as he tried to make sense of his old allies' words, Lightning walked down the hallway, through the corridors, and emerged from Insyte's keep into the glowing sunlight.
No sooner had he stepped out of the two large titanium doors of Insyte's castle did Lightning see a long-horned Absol carrying an unconscious Pichu down the dirt-paved road by the scruff of its neck, his eyes narrowed with a stern expression. At once, the Raichu's eyes widened in alarm as he sprinted towards the warrior, his heart pounding with growing dread. "Lute! What's going on here?" asked Lightning sharply as he slid to a halt several feet from his old ally. "And... is that little Theron?"
Lute blinked confusedly for the briefest moment, then nodded and lowered his head to gently set the Pichu down on the ground. "I'm afraid so, Lightning," growled the Absol, the long swordlike horn which had set him apart from birth seemingly dull with his disgust. "I found him all the way in Violet City, getting mauled by the Obelisk."
Lightning knelt down beside the unconscious Pichu, staring at the bruised and battered mouse's body. Tufts of fur were missing from the youngling's pelt, and the Pichu bore scratches and burns all over his body. "Oh no," breathed Lightning as he carefully rolled the injured Pichu over, inhaling sharply in alarm at the exposed sight of the victim's horrifically maimed tail. "His... his tail!" Horrified, the Raichu glanced up at Lute with a grave expression in his jade-green gaze. "I... Lute... do you know what this means?"
"Indeed, Lightning," responded Lute quietly with downcast eyes. "Never shall he dance the dance of sparkls and light...."
"Theron," called a voice, strong and vibrant in its tone. "Wake up, Theron..."
The world slowly materialized itself in a blur beyond Theron's vision as the lone voice called out to him, drawing him from the realm of darkness and into the light. As his surroundings gradually came into focus, Theron found himself tucked in a a field of white, his body restrained by countless bandages as he gazed up into a pair of emerald-green eyes. "AIEEEE!" cried out the terrified Pichu, who would have retreated as far from the Raichu who stared down upon him if he could have moved but a single muscle. Memories began to flicker in his mind. The Claydol. The mysterious rescuer. The ghosts, chanting out for his death. Holly taken and whisked off into the unknown... Holly... Holly!
"Shhh, Theron," murmured the Raichu softly, placing his paw on the Theron as the Pichu broke into sobs and weeping, almost as if to comfort the little mouse. "It'll be all right... don't be afraid... we'll be here to protect you."
Minutes began to trickle by, an eternity seeming to pass as the Pichu's sobs began to increase, and then gradually started to subside. The older mouse took a soft white towel from the metal railing of the hospital bed on which Theron lay, and began to dry the tears which streamed down from the Pichu's eyes. Yet for each and every second that passed, Theron could feel the clashing anxieties worsening and lessening, rising and falling as the light of inescapable truth shone upon him. Holly was gone. Holly was gone. Holly was gone.
"Theron... do you know who I am?" whispered the Raichu after nearly a full hour had dragged itself out into nothingness, an entire cycle of sixty minutes vanished into the past as Theron let his emotions flow out and the Raichu comforted him.
Feeling weakened and drained of emotion, Theron raised his reddened eyes towards the Raichu, his heart beginning to race as he felt the lightning mouse's aura of power and shimmering light. Something about the mouse echoed of ancient determination and steadfast hope, a confidence concealed beneath the pity which glowed in the jade-green eyes. As Theron's eyes fell upon the hilt of the brilliant sword strapped to the Raichu's back, a name arose to the surface of his mind. "You're... Lightning," whispered the awed Theron, reaching an tenative paw towards the hero as if to touch his golden brown fur.
Lightning gently pressed Theron back down against the soft white bed. "Don't move too much, little one... you were badly wounded by your attackers," said the warrior, shaking his head. "You need to rest."
"But... but," croaked Theron, his eyes darting around the sterile hospital room. "Where am I? Where's my friend?"
Lightning frowned. "I- I'm sorry," said the Raichu quietly, his eyes sadly flicking to a place on the bed behind Theron's shoulder. "I don't know what happened... I wasn't there to drive off your attackers. You're lucky to be alive... I'm sorry."
"No... no... they didn't take her, they couldn't have," whispered Theron fearfully, an ominous dread rising in his heart. And yet, something in Lightning's sorrowful gaze told the Pichu that there was a far more terrible tragedy that had befallen him. With horror and bile rising in his throat, Theron's eyes fearfully followed Lightning's gaze to find a bloodied stump where once his jet-black tail had been, bandaged with bone-white gauze in the absence of his tail. "Arceus! No! No! NO!"
"Shhh..." murmured another voice, another set of paws reaching out to comfort him. "It'll be all right... It'll be all right."
"Why? Why, Holly?" sobbed the Pichu, his eyes sealed shut with grief. "Why did they take you?"
Chapter 3 - Healing Touch
For the next few days, Lightning visited the young Pichu in the ward. He comforted this infant electric mouse whose name was Theron, who had lost everything. As the meetings in Insyte's chambers grew more tedious, Lightning's visits to Theron gradually increased in length and frequency. He felt drawn to this young Pichu by some mysterious bond, this Pichu who had become a part of Lightning's life. And Theron accepted Lightning's comfort gratefully, sharing with Lightning all that composed Theron's life...
"Theron," murmured Lightning as he approached the Pichu one day. "It's me, Lightning. Theron, can you hear me?"
"Y-yes," said Theron softly. "Lightning... you're always there for me. T-thank you."
Lightning gave a sad smile. "It was the least that I could do, my young friend."
The pichu looked up into Lightning's eyes, knowing that he could trust the Raichu. "Lightning... I'll tell you about the pokemon who attacked me." Lightning listened patiently as Sparktai shared how he and Holly wandered off to explore the Sprout Tower, drawn by their intense curiousity. He spoke of the ghosts and the Claydol who attacked them. And when Theron mentioned how Holly was carried off, Lightning's eyes began to fill with tears. Theron hesitated, stunned by the powerful effect his words had.
"Please... please continue, Theron," said Lightning. "And the Claydol... describe him."
Theron nodded and shared all that he remembered about the Claydol, pouring out his memories in a flood of grief and tears to this hero who he admired, idolized, and trusted. "And I don't know where it took Holly... Oh, Lightning, I miss Holly so much..."
Lightning was silent for a few minutes. Then he patted Theron on the back, saying, "Theron. I believe I know who this Claydol is, and how to find him. I promise to you that I will do all that I can in my power to stop the Obelisk, and to save Holly."
"Thank you, Lightning," whispered Theron, feeling the comfort of Lightning's words. He closed his eyes as his consciousness slowly slipped away. "Thank you..."
Lightning and Leaflight emerged from the keep, the sky slowly darkening into dusk. The sun had dipped beneath the horizon, and the world was settling down into the darkened shadows of night. And yet, the Sytadel was still as lively as ever. As he and Leaflight made their way down to their hut, Lightning watched the dances of the Duskulls, listening to the soft barks of Poochyenas and the feathery beating of Murkrows' wings. He glanced at Leaflight and smiled gently, placing a paw on the Leafeon's flank. "It's strange to think that the Sytadel has grown so much in three years," said Leaflight thoughtfully, her eyes flicking up and down the cleanly marked dirt-paved road.
"Yeah," said Lightning absently, his eyes staring off into space, as if his mind was elsewhere.
Leaflight tilted her head sideways as she looked at Lightning. "Are you still thinking about Theron?" asked the Leafeon.
Lightning nodded, his expression twisted into a frown. "I'm... worried about him," said the Raichu, his ears twitching. "He's just so young..."
Leaflight nodded, her eyes clear and passive as she looked at Lightning. "I'm sure he'll be fine," said Leaflight, brushing against her mate's arm with a vine. Lightning smiled and nodded, and the two continued down the street.
In the shrouding darkness of the hopsital ward at night, the Pichu felt cold and alone in the world as he lay helpless within a layer of tightly wrapped bandages. His dark brown eyes gazed endlessly upon the opposing stone wall, his pupils tracing out every hill and crevice upon its bleak and lifeless surfaces. The faintest sparks of static crackled from the electric mouse's right paw to just barely illuminate a tiny area on the hospital bedsheet, revealing a patch of white fabric for the briefest moment. Yet in the blink of an eye, the electricity had long dissapated into the air, the place where it had flickered once more cold and dark. This was the true cruelty of the Obelisk's deeds, for the loss of Theron's tail was the loss of his lightning. Weak, cold, empty, and afraid, the Pichu closed his eyes and descended into sleep.
A mysterious yet small being flew through the sky upon the amber wings attached to its backside. The Pokemon's body was golden, and its red ears were like that of a Delcatty's. The Pokemon let out a joyous cry as its brilliant blue eyes swept across the heavens and the earth. It soared around in a wide arc, and then descended in a spiral towards the lush green lands far below. Far beneath it, a city of glass and steel and concrete stood proudly on the edges of land and sea, rapidly growing larger as the Pokemon made its descent.
Suddenly, the Pokemon's eyes widened in fear, and flew aside as an enigmatic tension suddenly filled the air. The Pokemon gazed up sadly towards the heavens as powerful winds swept across the earth from either side, blowing thick, billowing clouds into a thick double spiral that blocked out the sun with alternating arcs of black and white. Two massive beasts emerged from the clouds, one with fur of purest white and one with armor of shadowed black. The first Pokemon sighed softly in grief as the two flew at each other, exchanging blasts of scorching flame and streaking lightning, devastating heaven and earth in their mighty battle...
"Theron," murmured a kind and soft voice like crystal-clear water, washing away the shattered fragments of Theron's dream. The Pichu let out a terrified cry as his eyes shot wide open, his heart still pounding from the visions he had seen. A tall Pokemon with a white silken cape and verdant green hair reached towards him with a smooth green hand, her soft blue eyes filled with pity and compassion as the Pichu trembled in fear. "Hush, little one," murmured the Gardevoir as her palm glowed with a gentle emerald light, lighting up the Pichu'd body. Slowly, little Theron's fear and anxiety melted away, and he closed his eyes once more as the green light filled him with a healing light. "Be calm... and I will bring you new hope."
The Gardevoir took her hand from the Pichu's bandaged back, gazing upon the electric mouse as her pure spirit brought a wave of calmness emanating through Theron's body, a feeling of serenity that was both refreshingly cool and comfortingly calm at once. She stepped back from the hospital bed and bowed her head silently towards the Obelisk's victim. "Don't lose hope, Theron," said the Gardevoir softly, the slightest tremble in her voice as she spoke. "Remember always this night, when you were saved from death in your darkest moments of despair... and know that Kyria the Healer is watching over you."
Aluxiver Legacy, Chapter 4 - Wild Warrior
No sensation could compare with the uplifting joy in little Theron's heart which rose at the announcment of his discharge. Six lunar cycles had dulled the horrors of the Pichu's incident in the mists of time, however infinitely slow their duration had felt, and the Obelisk's vicious assault was fading into silent memory. Theron stepped out from the medical ward and into the open, blinking in the dazzling sunlight shining down upon him, his lungs expanding with refreshingly clean air. The young mouse twitched his black triangular ears eagerly, his maplewood eyes taking in the surroundings of the Sytadel which he had been denied for so long. From the long streets of neat branch-woven huts, to the cheery Bellossom herds frolicking in the lush meadows in the distance, a city of light filled Theron's eyes with radiance.
Yet Theron's initial wave of excitement quickly dissapated into darkness as memories of Holly materialized themselves in his mind. Beyond the illumination of the Sytadel, the jet-black clay body of a clockwork machine descended upon him. Plumes of violet energy flickered on the edge of his vision as a soaring wind was taken away, the echoes casting scars upon the Pichu's soul, Holly's panicked cries of terror ringing in his ears. What befell the cheerful yet kind-hearted Eevee on that terrible night six months ago, when the Obelisk took her captive?
"Youngling, might you know the way to the Chatter Inn?" growled a deep yet civil voice, badly startling the Pichu into a leaping squeak. Quivering with fear, Theron slowly raised his eyes towards the sound of the speaker's voice to see a lone canine creature with a thick pelt of snow-white fur, shuddering at the wicked razorblade tail and the long swordlike horn extending from his forehead. The claws, hornblade, and tail were as dark gray as dampened snow, and a pair of vivid orange eyes burned deep into the electric mouse's memory. Yet beneath the ferocity and the infinitely acute of the fearsome warrior, a tempering civility lay within the Absol's very core. "Well?" growled the warrior, cocking his head sideways.
"I... I d-don't know, sir," mumbled the Pichu fearfully, stumbling back from the Absol. "I just got out of the hospital..."
The Absol hesitated for a moment process the electric mouse's words. "The hospital, eh?" commented the Absol thoughtfully, eyeing Theron's stump of a tail. "Such a young Pichu to have been injured... Might you be Theron?"
"Y-yes," squeaked the mouse as the Absol eyed him closely. "But... h-how do you know my name?"
"Well, little Theron... my name's Lute... and Lightning spoke of you," said the canine, raising his gaze towards the sky with a sigh, taking no notice of Theron's startled gasp. "Hm, it looks like it's going to rain," added Lute, his eyes narrowing as he rose to his paws once more. "I'd better find that inn soon. Nice talking to you, Theron." With a set gleam in his eye, Lute gave the speechless Theron a nod, and then padded off down the street.
The Pichu blinked and stared towards Lute's gradually retreating figure, watching the hero striding off into the distance in wordless confusion. A distorted blur still shouded Theron's mind in a mental fog of chaotic thoughts and memories. The name of Lute was legendary to his ears, an invocation of awe and hope which had raised a lowly pup to a fearsome warrior. Was it possible that Theron had truly stood in the prescence of a legend, and heard the voice of a hero?
Memories of Holly again rose to the surface of the young mouse's mind like a swell of sun-warmed wind, and with the Eevee's last desperate cry came the terror of his own helplessness. Fraility clung to every fiber of his being, casting the truth of weakness upon his spirit. If only he had the strength of Lute, the determination of Lightning, the experience of Insyte...
"W-wait, Lute," cried Theron, sprinting down the street after the long-horned Absol frantically. At the sound of the Pichu's cry, Lute stopped dead in his tracks only a few steps away from the corner of the street, and slowly turned around to face the rapidly approaching mouse. "I... I w-want t-to talk to you..."
Lute raised an eyebrow at the Pichu. "The Swordians will be looking for me," said the Absol with the hint of an edge in his voice, tilting his head at an angle, flicking his tail awkwardly. Theron quivered in fear, but stood his ground. "Make it quick."
"I... I want to join the Swordians," whispered the Pichu timidly. Fraility clung to every fiber of his being, exposing his weak physique beneath the sparse fur. If only he had the powers of heroes...
"Didn't catch that," growled Lute, his eyes gleaming like rubies. "Louder."
The Pichu closed his eyes, taking a deep breath to calm his nerves. "I want to be a Swordian," said little Theron, raising his voice from a squeak with all the nerve he could muster. "I- I don't want anyone else to have to protect me. Please, sir.. teach me to be a hero."
Theron wasn't quite yelling, but he'd never before spoken so clearly in his life. Lute stared at the Pichu- this was such a tiny Pokemon to train. "Very well," said the Absol, nodding slowly. "But before I accept, understand this: This is not, has never been, and will not be easy training. Discipline is key- I will be harsh, and I will not give special treatment. You will be attacked, confronted, and hurt- and only then can you become stronger. Understanding this, do you still wish to become a Swordian apprentice?"