POKEMON - LEGEND OF THE EXILE
Chapter 3: Chains of Darkness
On a day to mark the end of times forevermore
The lord of darkness returns to start a new war
The Exile is destined to gather the shards of earth
Bringing upon us a wave of destruction and death
High atop the shadowed summit of Mount Coronet, looming amongst the descrated stones of the Spear Pillar, dwelled the monstrous beast who cast a hellish shadow across the breadth of the world. The serpent-dragon gazed upon the carnage done in his name with savage pride, his deathly-gray flesh ringed with scarlet red. The Exile beat its six grand black tentacle-wings in the turbulent winds of elevation, thick tendrils that brimmed with utter malice to their crimson spike tips.
Six golden spikes protruded from the sides of its lower body like the stumps of hewn-off legs, while six writhing golden claws emerged from the wyrm's upper spine; six tentacles, six spikes, and six claws framed the nature of the beast. A pair of gleaming blood-red eyes burned in savage pride from within the Exile's golden helm, his cruel smile obscured in shadows beneath his crescent lunar crest.
From this shrine upon the crux of Sinnoh, the Exile sent forth his armies into the world, laying waste to the civilization of mankind, scorching away every last pillar of cold, unfeeling light. A tentacle felt for his torso, tracing the thin scar of the ancient wound that had cast him down into the void so long ago. The Exile had waited two thousand years for his vengeance, and he would not be denied it with the Griseous Orb- key of his salvation- in his possession.
Shadows hovered at the tips of his tendrils like finest thread, weaving itself into the garb of his wraiths. Lifting his maw to the heavens, Giratina let loose a savage cry, lost in a rush of exhilaration. For their misdeeds, for their eons of Pokemon repression, mankind would be brought to justice. The sky would be torn open, and the world would be restored to true chaos once more...
Through all of this, he could feel the burning gazes of his four trusted lieutenants, the messengers of his wrath.
On the far left stood Lord Horizon, the White Tyrant, the Tyranitar who had once held the title of Cipher's king of Shadow, the indomitable conqueror of the desert. The Tyranitar's scales were drained of all life, all color; truly, he was the epitome of authority by strength.
Beside him stood Scarlet Streak, the Red Dragon, a maelstrom of a Garchomp, unshackled from Sinnoh Champion Cynthia's hold. Her scales were stained red from a thousand kills beneath her webbed golden claws. She was a bloodstain on a monochrome world, a terror fit to master earth and sea.
Next to her was Darkrai, the insidious Black Prince, the architect of the meteor that Rayquaza had shattered and of the dark storm that nearly felled Temporal Tower.
On the far right stood Mewtwo, a genetic abomination, a cold-hearted slayer, born of man's darkest ambitions, sunken eyes that blazed like dark suns. In his hand, he held the bronze staff that had broken the seal on the Exile.
Tyranitar, Garchomp, Darkrai, Mewtwo-- at their paws, the old world would be reduced to rubble and dust.
The Lapras herds that roamed the vast oceans served the humans to their core, bound in animalistic servitude for the protection of their 'endangered' species status. It was hundreds of years too late to claim their hearts, thought Giratina savagely, and thus they must be destroyed. But the Gastrodon herds, the ones who could ferry his troops across the sea, hundreds of miles from Sinnoh to Hoenn in days... they were his to command.
But his greatest triumph was in seizing the Orbs from Mount Pyre; all was going according to plan. For Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza were the spirits of nature itself. And who could bind them but a true champion of the world? To command them was to command the wilderness. And with Hoenn seized, it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world followed suit.
There was the faintest sound of clattering footsteps against the distant tiles, from the mouth of Mount Coronet's caverns. Pausing in its weaving, Giratina listened with feverish eyes as his four lieutenants moved to confront the new arrivals. "Halt," growled Tyranitar, slamming the tip of his staff into the floor, the mysterious visitors shuddering back from the lieutenant's foul voice. "Who are you, and what business do you have with Giratina the Exile?"
Ashes, ashes, all the world would burn to ashes... "W-we bring prisoners," whinnied a fearful voice, its hooves clicking against the ground. "Sirs, we are Ambush Squad 17. As ordered, we waited for a group of four Pokemon, and took three of their number captive!"
A murderous snarl was building in Garchomp's throat, her eyes gleaming gold. "Let them pass," hissed Giratina venomously, whipping around to face the abduction team and his lieutenants. His spiked tail lashed against the floor tiles, and both ambush team and lieutenants shuddered. The Exile's red-spiked tentacles hovered menacingly like a scorpion's vicious tail, prepared to strike at the slightest move. "Now speak," hissed Giratina, a sinister growl rolling in his voice as he turned his malevolent gaze on a Spiritomb, a Ponyta, and a Dusknoir. "Why have you come?"
At it's master's terrible voice, the Spiritomb quailed and retreated into its Odd Keystone. "Lord Giratina, we have brought prisoners," neighed the Ponyta, bowing its head and pawing at the ground before the great spirit dragon. "Four Pokemon came to the Cave of Origin, just as you prophesized. We easily subdued and captured three of them!"
At the filly's words, the Exile's eyes flared like red-hot coals. "Three is enough- show them to me," he rasped, his tentacles worming forward as if to take the patrol's prisoners himself, his voice trembling the stones of the Spear Pillar. Gulping, the Ponyta and the Spiritomb looked to the Dusknoir, who shuddered in the presence of his master. The Exile and his lieutenants gazed hungrily at the Dusknoir as the mouth on his belly slowly creaked open wide.
Three unconscious bodies tumbled out onto the cold stone floor, quivering mounds of fur before the Exile's aghast gaze- an Umbreon, a Raichu, and a Leafeon. The three abductors glanced down at their prisoners, then exchanged fearful glances at Giratina's smoldering features. Behind the three, a low growl of distaste began to roll in Tyranitar's throat, an angry buzzing rising from the other lieutenants as the Exile gazed aghast at the tawdry offerings that his underlings had brought forth.
"These are not the Four Virtues!" screamed Giratina, thrashing his tentacles against the floor of the Spear Pillar, toppling several of the ancient stone columns with a crash, his gaze burning into the abduction team. "Idiots! Incompetent, worthless slaves!"
The great dragon struck the ground again, and even the lieutenants exchanged nervous glances as more columns toppled into the rubble. "Get these useless bodies out of my sight," seethed Giratina, whirling around and lashing his tail against the floor, his eyes the color of blood. "Now!"
--------He could see Thalia and Insyte curled up together in the center of an luscious green field, murmuring soft words to each other. He could see Rush and Ferricia a few feet away from the duo, scanning the lush-green meadow and the lurid-bright blue skies. From where he lay crouched in the grass, belly in the mud, he strained to hear his allies, his tail shaking.
"Whatever you do, we've got to keep him happy and satisfied," said Rush in an undertone, and Sparktail's heart skipped a beat. "Don't let him know a thing. Tiptoe around him if you must. Let him think that there's no cause for alarm."
"I don't want him to know this," began Thalia, looking to Insyte and to Rush with teary eyes. "But he's ruined everything. No matter what happens, no matter what he does... He's causing so much grief, but I can't even tell him! What should I say?"
"I neither know, nor care, about what lies at stake," replied Insyte with a yawn, curled up on the ground between them. "But I do know this: He's slowing us down, and trying to play nice just screws us up more. We can't let him get in our way, no matter what."
The Raichu stared as Thalia and the others nodded in agreement, lost and confused. Stumbling to his paws, he turned to flee, lest the dread inside him tear him apart. But then the ground beneath him gave way, and he found himself tumbling down into a mighty abyss.
As he fell down into the darkness, he caught sight of a face looming high overhead. Mangled, gaunt, and empty, the eyes of Slick Silversky gazed down upon him, both sorrowful and condemning at once. The Raichu cried out as he fell. He couldn't escape. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't get away...
Sparktail woke to darkness, his head throbbing with dull pain. Groaning, he pushed himself upright, floor sapping his body head, a heavy weight dragging his shoulders down. A long chain ran from cuffs on his paws, tail, and neck to a sturdy ring on the wall behind him, his head still spinning.
His eyes widened as he felt the collar on his neck. He'd been taken prisoner? Scanning the room, he listened for Thalia's breath, tasted the air for her scent. No, Thalia wasn't here. Faint memories flashed through his mind: dogs dragging him away, rows of unyielding metal cages, a heartless voice, a gleaming syringe. Once again, he'd been taken prisoner by merciless hands, taken from Thalia.
Panic shot through Sparktail's body, and he began to claw at the rigid iron collar around his neck madly, violently tugging at the strong chain which bound him. But he was too weak to break free, and the pain in his skull only grew stronger as he struggled.
Defeated, Sparktail collapsed back against the wall, surrounded by the sorrowful laments of faceless prisoners. Trying to illuminate his surroundings, he managed to generate only the tiniest spark to make his tail glow. Horrified, he realized he couldn't even feel his own body's current.
In that faint, flickering light, he squinted toward the supporting column in the middle of the square room, making out four arching doorways, one on each wall, four buried in rubble. Then, the light from his tail faded, and once more, he was left blind in darkness.
The air was thick with death, disease, sweat, blood, and filth, making his eyes and nose water as the despairing cries of the imprisoned filling his ears. Where was he? How long had he been here? Would he ever get out? Closing his eyes, breathing through his mouth, he tried to hold his head together and struggled to remember, to sift through his memories, to extract reality from the dreams.
--------Collapsed and beaten, sprawled on the ground like the rest of her teammates, the Leafeon stared up at the young man in the tan-and-blue jacket, the one who had protected her, the one whom she had feared, who now lay dying on the grass.
"Remember this day well, Slick Silversky," hissed Giratina as his tentacles flared outwards, his eyes turned up towards the bloody heavens. "Remember me in the afterlife, how you and all of Hoenn were crushed into nothingness for all your meaningless resistance."
"The darkness shall never leave you. There can be no memory without guilt, no truth without sorrow, no peace without surrender. You will never escape your fear... In time, all things are swallowed by the shadows..."
As the Exile flew off, Thalia struggled to her paws, stumbling over to her trainer's side. Desperately, she pressed her paws to his chest wound, his heartbeat fading, his blood soaking into her paws. No! No! How could this be? How could this happen to Slick?
Why did she always play around? Why didn't she ever do anything nice for him? Not once had she ever called him master. Not once had she ever shown her gratitude for taking her in, for accepting her. And now, he would never know.
Tears ran down her cheeks and soaked into her fur as she pressed against Slick's arm, silently, helplessly, until his eyes closed and he moved no more.
Slowly, Thalia woke to the darkness of the prison. The stench of her cellmates filled her mouth and nose, the chains on her paws rattling. Through her tears, she squinted into the bleak darkness, trembling. She could see nothing.
She was cold, so cold, cold as wintry night. Her leaves yearned for the sun's touch. "Sparktail! Where are you?" cried the Leafeon, tugging frantically at her bonds, at the steel cuffs and collar that held her in place. No reply came; all she could hear were her fellow prisoners.
Defeated, she sank to the floor, brown eyes losing focus. Even without the chains, the darkness stripped away her pride, her courage, leaving her a ragged, withered mess. Without warmth, without light, without the sun's gentle caress to nourish her, she was helpless as a cub, here in the darkness that she had never known. "I don't get it," she whispered, lying in the dust. "How did I get here...?"
"New prisoner, eh?" said a deep voice from the Leafeon's other side. Slowly sitting up, she could just barely make out a Blaziken's beak and avian eyes. "It's a shame you're young, you know. There's no escaping this hell. Once you're in, you're trapped for good."
All around the room, the other prisoners let out murmurs of ascent. "N-no," croaked the Leafeon, shaking her head. "I... I won't believe that..." Her body shuddered with sobs as she tried to get up. "There's always... always a way out! N-no matter what..."
"Not this time, lassie," replied the Blaziken, pointing across the room. "If you don't believe me, gal, then look over at that pillar. Even gods and kings are just as powerless as the rest of us here."
Wiping her eyes dry, the Leafeon squinted into the shadows, past rock and rubble and captive, towards the tall stone column that reached from floor to ceiling in the center of the dungeon. Her mouth fell open.
Curled on the floor at the base of the pillar lay a mighty Arcanine, chained by the neck and paws to the center column, his striped fur stained with dried blood. And as she stared at the once-proud beast, she realized that the Arcanine's body was utterly still.
--------Out from the trees he ran, his eyes gleaming like the night terror he sought to become. He savored the faint, bitter taste in his mouth, thick but rich. "Firaga!" shouted the Umbreon, sprinting forward towards the Charmeleon who had tormented him all his life. "Come and face me!"
The Charmeleon whipped around at the sound of Insyte's voice, his eyes widening in shock. "I-Insyte?!" yelped Firaga as Insyte slammed into him, lashing out with claws and fangs, digging deep into the fiery lizard's orange flesh.
The Umbreon's bloody gaze narrowed to vicious slits of hatred upon the Charmeleon who lay on the ground before him. "Still think I'm too weak?" snarled Insyte, whirling around and bringing a vicious iron tail smashing against Firaga's forehead, sending the Charmeleon sprawling to the ground once more. "What's wrong, Firaga? Get up and fight!"
The Charmeleon's bruised face paled in fear at Insyte's words, barely noticing the trickle of blood rolling down his forehead. "What have you become?" whispered Firaga, slowly crawling back away from the Umbreon in horror. "What have I done?"
"I've become someone to be reckoned with," hissed Insyte, firing a burst of jet-black energy at Firaga, sending the Charmeleon skidding back three feet against the ground. "I'm the backlash that you've had coming for a while now... someone who won't tolerate you any longer!"
The world slowly came into focus, black and cold as wintry night. Insyte rose to his paws, the shifting of the chain linked to the iron collar around his throat an eerie sound which sent shivers down his spine. His jet-fur was matted and gnarled, his lunar rings gold like glowing pus.
The Umbreon looked around the room, his scarlet gaze flicking to the other prisoners. Then, his eyes narrowed as he saw his bloody shackles, chaining him to the wall. Letting loose a screeching cry, he began to thrash about in his bonds wildly, bashing his fettered paws and bedraggled tail against the ground in fury.
"Don't waste your energy," said a husky voice nearby. Insyte halted at the other captive's words, though his fur still bristled with fury, and his vision remained tinged by scarlet red. Taking a deep, hard breath, the Umbreon raised his gaze towards the sound of the speaker to see a Ninetales shackled to the prison wall. "You'll never escape. Trust me. I'd be out if it was possible."
"Shut up, fox!" hissed Insyte angrily, kicking at the Ninetales before continuing to struggle against his chains. His rings glowed an eerie gold in the darkness, his eyes narrowed to red slits with every tug of his chain. ""I won't... give... up--not... ever!"
"Oh? But you gave up a long time ago." The fox's mouth hung open slightly, a red tongue sliding over the tips of of her sharpened teeth as a pair of weary scarlet eyes gazed at Insyte with the faintest hint of subtle disdain. "You gave up on everything."
Something in her voice caught the Umbreon's attention, a faint accent. "Who are you, vixen?" said Insyte, his chains shifting. The Ninetales gazed back at him silently, tauntingly. "Your voice... I know you from somewhere, from before all this."
"One night, you stormed off into the woods as a furious child," said the fox, calmly rising to her paws. "You nearly abandoned your trainer and your team, on the spur of an impulse. Tell me, Insyte, what is is it like to be so blinded? So moonstruck?"
The Umbreon froze, his heart skipping a beat. How did she know? Memories flickered before his mind's eye, too faint to piece together, only hinting at the truth. "So that was you," breathed Insyte, stepping back from her, scowling. "You tried to kill me... The rockslide trap... Damn you!"
The fox's eyes flickered with spite. "Oh, now he remembers. Such irony that landed us here. I stood up to a power that could not be stopped, and I got what I deserved. Now, as for you? Your cowardice speaks for itself. I'm sure that you deserve this hell, every bit as much as I do..."
Far on the other side of the Sinnoh region, three Lucarios sat cross-legged in a circle around a flickering campfire in a vast field of barren earth, gazing pensively into the alluring flames. A waning moon hung in the somber night sky overhead, illuminating the glitter of stars scattered across the heavens.
Shivering in the cold night, an Absol crouched in the shadows of the nearby trees. Moonlight illuminated the Absol's long, straight horn, the blade that was both his birthright and his curse. Both warriors looked battered and exhausted.
The two warriors watched as the eldest of the Lucarios reached into a leather pouch on a drawstring bag around his neck and tossed a pinch of red dust on the fire. As the stardust floated down into the licking tongues of flame, the campfire flared up into azure light. "This had better work, Trident," warned the Absol, recoiling from the flames. "I must find them..."
"I can promise nothing, Lute; but trust in our power," said Trident, not taking his gaze from the blue fire as the three Lucarios joined paws, forming a circle of linked arms around the crackling flames. "Great Aura, guide us in these darkened times, and fill us with your shining hope."
"We are blessed to be one in the aura," chanted the other two with a reverent air, bowing their heads. Aura pulsated from each of the three Lucarios, rippling the air with their mystic blue light. "Light and shadow, one and the same, forevermore."
As the Aura converged upon the campfire, the flames flared up one last time, and then vanished, leaving only a crystal-blue array of light hovering in midair where the flames had burned. A shiver ran down the Absol's spine, his features still concealed in the shadows of the trees.
"I see a lake concealed by darkness," intoned the youngest Lucario as the three brothers stared into the enigmatic field of streaks. "I see a world that has fallen from grace, a spirit undone, a shadow wandering in a field of death.."
"I see a tide of shadow, a silver beacon," said the second Lucario, an old glass bottle resting in the dirt by his feet. "I see blackened ashes blowing in the wind, blooming into despair. I see a fallen star, the hands that have ceased."
"I see caverns and mausoleums, chains and iron bars," said Trident, his eyes glowing. "I see warriors marked by the spirit of the sword, locked away in a great laybrith resting beneath a false forest. I see mouse and cat, fox and hound..." The Absol leaned in towards the Lucario. "I see... Turnback Cave."
Lute struck the earth with a paw angrily. as the Lucarios ended their trance. "Well, there's no way out of this," muttered Lute under his breath, his snow-white fur bristling. "All right. Elias, over here, please! Sludge bombs are about to hit the fan. We're heading to Turnback Cave!"
"Turnback Cave, home of the Black Prince?" replied a voice. The three Lucarios exchanged glances as a Sceptile with a pair of tightly-woven leaf blades strapped to his back emerged from the trees, followed by a weary Manectric and a dull-eyed Houndoom. "The others shall not be pleased, good Swordian. But if you believe it is Turnback Cave you seek, then we shall follow."
The Manectric and the Houndoom nodded in agreement. The Lucarios stared at the Sceptile, while Lute simply nodded and turned away. "Elias Elkwood! As I live and breathe!" exclaimed the youngest Lucario, standing to greet the warrior. "It's an honor to meet you in the flesh. You're a bit of a legend."
The Sceptile looked rather amused as the Lucario eagerly shook his paw. "You are kind, Lyther del Rio," said Elias, his eyes glinting in the firelight, one paw at the leaf-blade on his back and the other at the crystal pendant on his neck. "Now, let us set out. We have allies to rescue."