POKEMON - LEGEND OF THE EXILE
Chapter 20: Wounds of the Past
Forged of fire and earth and sea and sky
Bound by time and space and spirit nigh
The hero reborn gives his triumphant call
From thunderstruck oak the shadows fall
A bleak and blood-red sun rose over the battle-scarred shores of the Silver Conclave, illuminating row after row of straw mats on which the bodies of the wounded and the slain rested, the lives of the innocent and the brave gathered tightly amongst the fallen. As the sorrowful morning light touched Lugia's abandoned perch with its melancholy rays, Sparktail's heart skipped a beat as he recognized a familiar face amongst the wounded.
"Altaria!?" Sparktail stared at the Herald who lay sprawled out on a straw mat, her soft cloudlike wings matted against her azure body. His breath shuddered-- first Ferricia, and now Altaria. "No, no... You collapsed when we landed--" What was going on? Why was Altaria here?
"Let her rest," said a soft voice. Startled, Sparktail whirled around and glanced up to see Kyria approaching, the Gardevoir from Lyther's camp. "Altarias have always been a fragile race, and the Herald is no exception," continued Kyria quietly, her fingers tracing the shadows underneath the Herald's eyes. "Few of her kind would stll be alive at this point."
Growing thoroughly ashamed, Sparktail stared down at the Herald. Why hadn't he paid any attention to Altaria? "For her to be in this condition, I suspect she spent the last few weeks in rugged conditions; a hot desert, perhaps, or a violent part of the sea. Her throat is parched, and she is little more than skin and bone. Overall, she has not had enough rest." Breathing hard, the Raichu turned away-- he couldn't stand to see the state the Herald had ended up in, after all she had done for them.
"You are Sparktail, yes?" asked the Gardevoir finally. "Please come and follow. There is someone who has been asking to see you." Glancing back to Altaria guiltily, he followed after Kyria as she turned around and wound her way amongst the wounded victims towards a lone patient on the edge of the makeshift hospital, the unease growing with every step he took. As his eyes fell upon the Pokemon who lay helpless upon the mat before him, the Raichu let out a horrified gasp.
"Elias," gasped Sparktail as he stared at his old comrade from a long-gone future, a pit of horror opening in his stomach. A paw traced upon the fist-shaped wound where the Sceptile's flesh haded been blackened to ash and charred skin, the knuckles of Sceptile's assailant imprinted in scorched bruises upon his body. "No- Elias-"
"Sparktail- you're alive," croaked the Sceptile, his features contorted with a painful smile as he struggled to sit up, the sheer rawness of his wounds too great. "You- you're alive..." With a ragged breath, Elias reached up to place a hand on the Raichu's shoulder. "Then- then Insyte succeeded. In- in his mission... And- my mission- I failed it."
"No, no- don't say that." Sparktail sank to his paws, staring at his dying friend. "Y-you didn't do anything... I'm the one who screwed up. I'm sorry... that I wasn't here to protect you. I... You've always done so much-- and I let you down-"
"Stop, Sparktail," cried the dying Sceptile softly, a feeble hand reaching for the Adamant Orb pendant on the Raichu's neck. "You all did what you had to do... and so did I. I did my duty... and I paid for it dearly. In the end... we can only blame Giratina... and I would give- I did give- every last breath I had... to bring him down."
"Elias," croaked the Raichu, his paws reaching out towards the old warrior pleadingly. Slick was dead... everyone was dying... Ferricia was gone... He couldn't understand what was going on... even Thalia seemed to be drifting away, and he didn't know what to say to bring them back. "Don't... don't die... don't leave me here!"
"You're never alone," whispered the Sceptile. "No one is ever alone... not even in death... not as long as they have hope. You must be strong... because Rush is counting on you." He trailed off, eyes staring up to the churning sky. "River... Saffron... are you proud of me?" And with that, the spark of life faded from Elias' eyes forever.
High atop the Conclave's uppermost heights, Lugia and Shaymin gazed sorrowfully upon the ravaged slopes of the Silver Conclave, the war-torn island littered with the bodies of the dead and the dying, the air filled with the melancholy cries of the mourning. From shore to shore, all of Lugia's precious sanctuary lay in shambles, the waters which lapped at the island's beaches turned murky and the rocky ridges further inland marred with a swathe of scorch marks.
"I... I'm sorry, Lugia," whispered Shaymin as he lay slumped against the Silver Summoner's side, his eyes transfixed to the expanse of destruction that surrounded them. "I... this is just... this is terrible... I shouldn't have asked you to open-"
"No, Shaymin, you were right," said Lugia softly, his eyes pensive and calm even as he beheld the aghast world below. "I had to take a stand. If Giratina would do this to me, then the world suffers a thousand times more. For the sake of fathers and mothers, for brothers and sisters, for all who should live in my protection, we need to fight."
To this, Shaymin began to cry and buried his face in his red scarf, shielding his weeping eyes from the world's sight. "My daughters, Lugia," whispered the Seed of Prosperity through his tears. " I haven't seen their shining faces in so long. Do they remember me? They're now living through two successive wars, one right after the other. You don't suppose... Giratina ever attacked the Shay Plains?"
Lugia rose to his feet and approached the edge of the overlook, his deep blue eyes sweeping across his ruined domain once more. "Giratina is a beast of war, and would never attack a city unless he had something to gain," said the Summoner finally. "Your daughters are surely safe... but if we don't stop Giratina now, Shaymin, then they'll feel the brunt of this war!"
Staring into the bleak fog, Insyte sat alone on the rocks, the phoenix orb's flames swirling by his paws. Surrounded by melancholy and mourning, the Flareon still saw the echoes of his parents' final moments. He felt no warmth or brightness in his heart tonight; for he had lost the ones whom he had never known.
In Insyte's dreams, all was black and white. In his dreams, there was fire and there was ice. In his dreams, there was only good and evil, chivalry and cowardice, honor and treachery. In his dreams... his parents were not yet dead.
"Your mother and I waited for you," Lunus said to the Flareon softly. "We never thought we would see you again." The Umbreon bowed his head in grief. "For so many years... we regretted our mistake. We wished we had not done as we did... We deserve nothing more than your ire."
A tear formed in Insyte's eye, sliding down and soaking into the scarlet fur, a haze of vapor and mist. "I don't hate you," whispered the Flareon. "I only wish I knew you better."
The Umbreon smiled sadly. "We robbed you of your true path... and we have paid the price for it. Go forth, my son... and take what is yours."
"My true path...?" Insyte stared at his father through his tears; but the Umbreon was fading now, disappearing into the void. "Wait! No... Come back..."
Days passed-- perhaps three, five, a thousand; the Raichu had lost track of time long ago. Sparktail found himself wandering along the rocky shores in lonely silence, watching the murky tides crash upon the waves, Elias' ashes sweeping out over the sea. In the distance, he could see smoke and the dull glow of flames, Giratina's machine of war still roaring onward.
It was only then that he remembered that Jirachi had been captured. Too many events had happened at once, and he hald almost forgotten; but yes, Mewtwo had taken the Star of Wisdom with him. Just one of the Four Virtues left, thought Sparktail. Virtues... Columns... the Exile. It all seemed so abstract now, pale ghosts in the wind.
And Jirachi had been right about him, though he was loathe to admit it. A skilled warrior like Rush would have been able to defeat Mewtwo and save Jirachi; but he had rushed at the terrible Pokemon like a fool, letting anger overwhelm him. The Raichu still remembered how Mewtwo had toyed with him, taking every last bit of strength from him; only Thalia had saved him. He sat down in the gray silt, staring into the waters for a reflection that wasn't there.
"Ah, there you are," said a voice from behind Sparktail, who slowly turned around to see Shaymin standing there, his sapphire-blue eyes aglow. The Seed of Prosperity adjusted his cherry-red scarf with a forepaw as his eyes fell on Sparktail's lashing tail. "Ah, but perhaps I should've spoken to you sooner. Let's walk together." Hesitating, the Raichu nodded slowly and followed after the Sky Warrior.
After a few minutes of silent walking, a Skarmory swooped down from the sky and landed in the sand a few feet away, prompting for Sparktail to halt in his tracks. Shaymin's eyes lit up, and he padded over to the armored bird with anticipation in his eyes. "You have news for me, I take it?"
"Yes, your Excellency, I do have a report to make," replied the Skarmory, bowing its head in respect. "Giratina and his forces are advancing on Goldenrod City in the west, and on Saffron City in the east. I estimate that each army is about five hundred strong."
"Ah, good," said Shaymin in relief, dipping his head towards the Skarmory. "Perhaps he will be too drunk with victory when we make our stand. Thank you, Falchion. You may return to your patrol."
"One thousand Pokemon," whispered Sparktail,, staring as the Skarmory flew off in a rush of steel wings, following after Shaymin as the Seed of Prosperity began down the beach again. "They'll destroy everyone in their path. How is that a good thing?"
"At the rate things were going, I was afraid they'd already be at Goldenrod and Saffron," said Shaymin calmly. "It is very regrettable that we cannot help the humans... but we do not havet the strength to aid them. Before we can exert our power, we must have some power to begin with, yes?"
"But...." Sparktail trailed off, not sure how to say what he was thinking. "All those Skarmories you're sending out to spy on Giratina, they could fight... right? I mean... I thought that was the whole point... to save humans?"
"That is not our war," said the Virtue without slowing. "Our war with Giratina is a much older feud, Sparktail. We are Pokemon; we are as different from humans as one can imagine. Our war is to protect Pokemon from Giratina, and only to protect humans insofar as they protect Pokemon. The more humans who die, the more Pokemon who live, no?"
He knew he should protest that. It didn't sound right, it simply didn't. But he couldn't seem to form the right words; Shaymin's argument was so... so fluid that he didn't know where to begin. "So, Sparktail," said Shaymin, voice softening as they padded along the rocky shore. "Do you know where we are?"
The waves still bore the stains of the Conclave's battle, just faintly enough that one might feel sickened but not know why. "We're at the the Silver Conclave," said Sparktail quietly, staring at the ground. "The island where Lugia lives."
"Of course it's an island," said Shaymin, almost amused. "But do you know where the Silver Conclave is in the world? Aside from being somewhere in the ocean, that is." When the Raichu could give no reply, he added, "Have you ever heard of the Whirl Islands, perhaps?"
The question was so strange that it managed to distract the Raichu from his grim thoughts. "I... I think so," said Sparktail slowly, staring out to sea. "Four barren islands... parents would get their kids to behave by... threatening to dump them there, I think." He paused. "So the Conclave-- we're on one of the Whirl Islands?"
"The Silver Conclave IS the Whirl Islands, dear boy," chuckled Shaymin, shaking his head. "Now come, follow me." He led Sparktail away from the shore, to the mouth of an narrow tunnel, dimly lit by glowing silver rocks shaped like eerie pale candles. The Raichu shuddered slightly as they padded into the cavern passage, feeling as if the walls might close in on him at any moment. "Ah, Sparktail- let me tell you the true story of the Silver Conclave..."
"Long, long ago, there was once a single island in the Bay of Olivine. At night, the island's stones would glow like the moon, and sailors guided often used it to guide their ships at night. Over time, man came to understand that the island possessed tremendous amounts of a highly durable ore that reflected light. Though originally mistaken for silver, it is actually a natural form of steel and does not tarnish in seawater. Human scientists developed a complex name for this metal; but for simplicity's sake, I shall simply call it 'Divine Silver'. This is where the island earned its name."
"Long, long ago, there was once a single island in the Bay of Olivine. At night, the island's stones would glow like the moon, and sailors guided often used it to guide their ships at night. Over time, man came to understand that the island possessed tremendous amounts of a highly durable ore that reflected light. Though originally mistaken for silver, it is actually a natural form of steel and does not tarnish in seawater. Yet while human scientists referred to it as 'argeskeilite', we still call it Divine Silver. This is where the island earned its name."
"Centuries later, when the Brass Tower in Ecruteak City burned to the ground, its patron guardian- Lugia himself- fled to the ocean, and took sanctuary on the Silver Conclave, becoming the island's protector- and the Skarmories became his children. And yet, the Skarmories possessed one weakness: Because they fed off the fish in the surrounding oceans and nested in stone nests, wild Skarmories rarely left the island of their own accord. And as a result, the steel-feathered birds never adapted to flight during storms."
"One dark and stormy night, the Conclave and its mines became the battleground of two opposing armies, one of Centria in the west, and the other of Johto in the east, who were bitterly at war with each other. To protect the Skarmories- to protect his children- Lugia sent the Skarmories out into the world, to flee the Silver Conclave... But their wings were too heavy, and thousands of them sank. Only a few survived to the mainland."
The Seed of Prosperity trailed off. "And then he destroyed the Conclave, sinking it deep into the ocean, and taking refuge deep in the underwater laybrinth under the great island. In the end, the only remnants of the Silver Conclave left were four tiny islands, surrounded by the whirlpools left by the storm that sank this island. And ever since then, Lugia has waited for the right time to resurface."
Throughout the tale, Sparktail's thoughts began to float back towards the rising death beyond the Conclave's protection, the horrors of death and destruction borne by Giratina and his vicious minions. More innocents could be dying with every step he took, falling before the Rhyperiors' crushing blows, the Mismagiis' vicious shades, the terrible flames of the Magmortars and the rain of death from Spiritombs. Above it all echoed the cruel laughter of Mewtwo and Giratina the Exile, and it sent a shiver down his spine.
Finally, they came to a small cavern with a shallow pool of water in the center, surrounded by a low wall of stone slabs. "We are here," said Shaymin, hopping up onto one of the slabs. "I have been here five times now; once with Lyther, one with Rush, once with Insyte, once with Thalia, and now once with you. Here we may speak, and I shall answer as many of your questions as I may."
The Raichu let out a relieved sigh- the cave was not as cramped as the tunnel, and the mysterious waters seemed to glow, illuminating Shaymin's sillouette. "Well- um- thank you," said the Raichu, letting his satchel slide to the ground, taking a seat on a stone slab beside the Virtue. Empty words, empty thoughts. "But I... I don't really know what to ask."
"Ah, then I shall ask questions for you, and answer them accordingly," said Shaymin, his eyes shining. "Lugia has heard of your role in freeing the Titans of Hoenn and during the recent battle here, and he has deemed you worthy in his grand plan to thwart the Exile's path of conquest."
That caught the Raichu's attention. "Wait. Why me?" And there was something else about Shaymin's words that was odd. It sounded very heroic the way that the Virtue put it, but he hadn't felt like a hero at the time- he'd barely held himself together, really.
"Let me explain," said the Seed of Prosperity, beginning to pad in a circle around him. "You were one of Slick Silversky's heirs, along with Insyte Faldem, Thalia Leaflight, Rushing River, and Lyther del Rio. You see... your former master was very much spiritually gifted in his youth. And those of you who were dear to him inherited his special gifts."
Spiritually gifted? "Slick gave us special training," said the Raichu slowly, staring at the ground. "He gave us skills that... other trainers might not bother with." Almost instinctively, his paw moved to grasp the base of his tail like a sword. "Is that what you mean?"
"Nay- it is far more subtle than that," replied the Virtue, shaking his head. "Any unit, Pokemon or human, can learn to fight by the proper style, given enough time, It is not the skills you gained from Slick that matter now, Sparktail- but the training itself. Through that special training, your master established a bond with each of you; and in that bond, his spiritual gifts passed onto all of you."
The Raichu fought down the impulse to make a quick retort and tried to think Shaymin's words over. It was silly to think about it, but it was true- he'd felt some sort of faint connection to Slick, during all those afternoons in the forest, practicing swordsmanship with a dull bread knife. But that wasn't odd for a Pokemon and a trainer.
And then Sparktail thought back to the battles at the Mirage Tower, at the Cave of Origin, at the Sky Tower; and he began to wonder if Shaymin was right. Had Slick really been some sort of messiah, gifted in some way? And had his bond with Slick really been so special that part of Slick's own spirit had passed into him? The Raichu glanced to his reflection in the faintly glowing pool, wondering if he might catch a glimpse of Slick.
In the midst of this, Shaymin continued speaking again, and the Raichu glanced back to him. "Listen closely, as your teammates listened to me before you," said the Seed of Prosperity, his eyes glowing. "We have no blacksmiths and no forge; we have no hammer and no anvil. Yet we shall arm you, all the same; we shall arm you with weapons of light."
Weapons of Light. Lugia had used that same phrase, on that day when they'd first arrived at the Silver Conclave. "What exactly is this- um- weapon of light?" asked the Raichu hesitantly, taking a deep breath, trying to remember what he'd heard from Lugia. "I- I know Lugia mentioned it, but, well..."
Shaymin frowned- maybe none of the others had to ask- but the Virtue seemed to take it into stride. "Lugia holds power over spirit and dreams, just as Groudon controls the land and Kyogre controls the sea," replied the warrior. "From the fabric of light itself, he shall create weapons for each of you; and each weapon shall be suited to your skills, that you might express the skills that represented your bond with Slick. Through those weapons, through those skills, I believe that you shall all triumph."
He didn't quite get it, but he wasn't sure what question would get him the answer.
As Sparktail approached the Virtue, his hind paw slipped, and he accidentally tumbled into the shallow pool with a splash. "Now, now!" chided Shaymin lightly as a coughing, spluttering Sparktail flailed upright and waded back to the rocks, silvery water trickling down his soaked fur. "These waters are for contemplation, not for bathing."
"Sparktail! There you are!" called out a pair of voices in the distance. Brushing water from his eyes, the Raichu squinted across the cavern as Thalia emerged from the far entrance with her pack, hurrying down towards him and Shaymin. "Oh jeez- did you fall in, too?" gasped Thalia, coming to a stop at the water's edge, her mouth covered with a paw to muffle her giggles. "Goodness! You're like a wet dog- ah, here, let me help..."
Amused, Shaymin watched as the Leafeon reached down with her vines to help the dripping Raichu climb back up onto the rocks, where he sat as Thalia helped him wring out his wet-slicked fur. When the Raichu's fur was sufficiently dry- closer to damp than drowning- he gave Thalia a quick hug, then reached for his satchel again.
Stepping back, they stared at each other quietly, nervous and yet peaceful at the same time. "Somehow, we're still here, breathing," said Thalia with a small smile. "But, that's how it should be, right?"
"Rush, Lyther, and Insyte are waiting for us," said Shaymin. "The time has come for you all to take up the Weapons. Come, follow!" With that, he padded off into another long tunnel which led downwards, with Sparktail and Thalia following close behind.
Sparktail, Thalia, and Shaymin emerged from the other end of the tunnel into a large cavern of glittering silvery stalagmites and stalactites which lined the straight pathway, a set of carved steps leading up towards a low square platform of jet-black stone on which stood a chrome-red archway with an ancient bell hanging from its top, a large basin of crystal-clear water just beyond the platform which gently rippled at the base of a shining waterfall of churning froth and foam.
Lugia hovered above the glowing pool as Lyther silently stood by with a wooden spear in his paws, Rush standing opposite across from the Lucario. A flicker of anxiety ran down Sparktail's spine as he and the others ascended the square platform, passed under the archway, and stepped down towards the edge of the glittering pool to stand between Rush and Lyther, their eyes on the steady beating of Lugia's sleeked wings.
"So, you have all gathered here once more," said Lugia as they all stared up at the mighty Column. "Welcome back to the Conclave. Sparktail and Thalia, you have my gratitude for freeing my brethren. Insyte, Lyther, you have done well to unite our allies. Surely, Slick would be proud of you... as would Ferricia." Sparktail noticed Rush closing his eyes, the glint of tears forming
A few feet away, Insyte stared into the water, calm and steady, rippling with contained power. "We have come too far to turn back now, to give into the grief for our loved ones," murmured Insyte. "We must continue this battle, for their sakes."
For Ferricia. For Elias. For Insyte's parents. For Slick.
"Indeed, Lugia," called Shaymin, stepping forward with an almost excited energy clinging to his snow-white fur. "Let us go forth and seek out Giratina, and show to him that we are not afraid! That we will stand strong, and we are not afraid to fight him-"
"Quiet, Shaymin," growled Lugia, whirling around to face the six Pokemon standing by the pool with crackling white wrath blazing in his violet-feathered eyes. "The Conclave was under attack! The war is no longer a mere possibility! It is a threat that came to my- to our very doorstep! We must fight for every inch of ground and every breath we take! The Vulcanite League is rising against us with all force, Dialga has fallen to darkness, and those who might stand in battle beside us lie scattered across the lands!"
Sparktail exchanged anxious looks with Thalia as the Silver Summoner's voice echoed throughout the chamber, the force of the sound waves enough to ring the bells which hung from stone pillars on either side of the waters and the Tidal Bell which hung from its archway. "Is it just me, or does... does Lugia seem irritated at Shaymin?" whispered the Leafeon, her leafy ears twitching nervously.
"Lyther, Rush, Sparktail, Thalia, and Insyte," called out Lugia, his wings seeming to beat out with steadily increasing force as his eyes brimmed with divine fury. Light flashed in front of him, materializing into a sphere of stately silver. "The time has come to summon forth the weapon of light. With the three Orbs of nature, the two Orbs of dimension, and the two Orbs of heroes, we shall find the light. Bring me the Orbs!"
A shiver ran down Sparktail's spine. One by one, they took out the Orbs and held them up toward Lugia. From Insyte came the Phoenix Orb; from Lyther came the Adamant and Lustrous Orbs; from Sparktail came the Blue Orb; from Thalia came the Red Orb; from Rush came the Delta Orb.
The five Pokemon watched as Lugia's eyes flashed bright white with holy might, and a seventh Orb filled with swirling silver mist appeared. The six Orbs floated up into the air to join the Dream Orb. Lugia raised his maw to the roof of the cavern, and released a shrill cry.
The seven Orbs began to shine bright with pristine white light, emanating sweeping waves of energy to rival the intensity of the sun as they began to revolve around in midair in a shining circle. The ruby-scarlet Red Orb, the sapphire-azure Blue Orb, the emerald-green Delta Orb, the diamond-crystalline Adamant Orb, the pearl-polished Lustrous Orb, the stately-silver Dream Orb, the brilliant-golden Phoenix Orb-- faster and faster they spun until the Orbs' colors melded into a magnificent cyclone of light and Sparktail could no longer distinguish them.
"Fire and water and earth and sky; time and space and spirit nigh," bellowed Lugia. The ancient hero gives his call; by light and life, the shadows fall!" As he finished, the swirling mass of light transformed into a glowing gate in the shape of the familiar diamond symbol, and the Pokemon below all threw up their paws to shield their eyes as illustrious song rang forth from the bells on the wall.
"Each of you is a warrior of great worth now," said Lugia, his voice like quicksilver as he gazed across the cavern, sending a chill down Sparktail's spine. "Each and every one of you has proven yourself worthy of my blessings. By the Divine Wind... I bestow the weapons of light upon thee!" At Lugia's cry, the eight-piece gate was flung open, releasing five brillinat stars that flew upon the five Pokemon gathered at the water's edge, leaving the Orbs to splash down in the shining pool.
As the first of the brilliant stars flew into Sparktail's paw, lightning swept through his body with a warring cry, filling his green eyes and bursting from his cheeks in massive sparks, sending a rush of electricity from his ears to the tip of his tail. The shining star in his paw flared with golden light and began to lengthen into the shape of a jian, the fluid light forming a padded handle with a handguard like wings. As the light faded, Sparktail stared up towards the tip of his new sword, the hilt bearing the eight-piece diamond insignia.
Shining in the shadows of the dark cavern far beneath the sea, the second star flew to Thalia's paws and transformed into a pair of slender swords who mirrored each other in shape and design- save for the colors of their hilts. She gasped at the twin swords, each clean as a polished mirror's surface. Etched upon one blade was the name "Shensing", its hilt blue as midnight and inlaid with streaks of red; the other sword's hilt was fiery scarlet with azure veins to match its twin, and upon its flat was the name "Hador". Her heart quivering eagerly, Thalia set her paws to the ridged hilts of the two blades and snaked her vines down from the bud at the nape of her neck, securing the hilts to her paws. Rearing up onto her hind legs, her eyes widening, the Leafeon gave her new weapons a few experimental swings with a satisfied purr.
The third star seemed to blaze like the sun as it swept upon Insyte and consumed the hero in roaring light. The Flareon's eyes widened and flickered to gold as the silver light flared bright and flowed into his paws, filling his muscles with a satisfyingly burning sensation as the claws of a lion emerged from the canine paws, each black and slender with deadly barbs that could pierce a dragon's scales. The mighty talons curved to razor tips, glowing ever-so-faintly as the Flareon's entire body erupted into triumphant flame.
The fourth star came crashing down upon Rush with all the sheer might of a giant's strength, erupting with an wave of rolling sound that shook the earth like a gong as the light wrapped around the mighty warrior's wrists. Dumbfounded, the Swampert stared down at his powerful blue hands, the glowing silver light on his forearms becoming gold before transforming into gleaming arm-braces that ringed the muscular tissue from wrist to elbow, sturdy and secure. As the silvery light faded away, Rush rose up onto his feet and let a proud cry.
The final star trailed into a slender shaft as it shot towards Lyther, whose eyes widened as he reached out and snatched up the gleaming light and spun it around. His gaze and paws glowed blue with power as the silvery pole in his raised paw flashed white and solidified into a slender stave of azure crystal, tapering to an infinitely sharpened spearhead that glowed as Lyther twirled his new weapon around over his head. Springing past Insyte and Sparktail with a swift lunge, the Lucario roared as he thrust his crystal spear into a boulder, cracking it in two before whipping it back out undamaged.
As the five Pokemon turned back to stare up at Lugia and Shaymin, Sparktail's tail splashed at the glittering waters, crackling power swelling deep within him. A double-edged sword, an elegant pair of blades, noble lion claws, bracers of indomitable might, a lance of purest crystal-- together as one, Sparktail, Thalia, Insyte, Rush, and Lyther held their weapons aloft with pride. For amidst a war-torn world, beneath a bloody battlefield, five rays of hope now gleamed bright- a ray that might penetrate the shadows of the Exile.
END OF VOLUME II