Pokemon Fan Fiction / Pokemon Fan Fiction / Fan Fiction ❯ Dragon Realms ❯ Secrets of the Grave ( Chapter 15 )
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Secrets of the Grave
"All clear?" Nala whispered, glancing around.
"From my point of view." Riot called, landing quietly behind the wall.
It's wasn't a very comforting feeling to be leaving the safety of the underground shelter. Heading straight into danger was nothing new to the two, but going up against an enemy that could not die was a whole other thing.
Sciion the Sneasel joined the pair at their hiding place, with a brown backpack strapped firmly on. The party was the edge of the deserted town, and beyond that lay the haunted forest and the shrine within.
"Ahead is Ilex Forest, as you probably know." Sciion explained. "I have a few bottles of Holy Water with me, but let's try to avoid contact as much as possible. The main trail however, has mostly been overrun by the zombies."
"And how do we get around them?" Riot asked.
"I know of a side path that I frequently used. I can't guarantee that it's zombie free, but it is shorter." He continued. "Those things seem to attack by smell and sound, so we'll have to move quickly."
"Sounds like a lot of trouble. Shouldn't I just fly us over the forest?"
"Unfortunately the canopy is too thick for us to enter from the sky."
"Let's do it the hard way then." Nala muttered, patting the pistols strapped by her sides. "As long as we get to the shrine, because I have a strange feeling I know what to do."
"The bell?" Riot suggested.
"Exactly what I was thinking. Ready?" Nala replied.
"Yes, go now!" Sciion agreed, dropping to all fours and breaking into a sprint.
Nala carefully followed, along with Riot flying close to the ground. The path turned out to be a narrow dirt trail surrounded by trees on both sides. It was too dark to see very far past the trees and Nala's heart was pounding wildly.
Suddenly, a pair of dusty yellow claws reached out from the right and grabbed Nala's back. She screamed in panic, but Riot knocked the Electabuzz zombie away with her tail. A second undead creature, a Magmar, sprang out from the other side of the path, arms outstretched.
Nala landed a firm kick to its lower jaw, causing it to stumble. She whipped out a pistol and fired an energy burst into the zombie, which Riot finished off by slicing it in half with a Wing Attack.
"Thanks." Nala breathed.
"Hurry! There might be more coming!" Riot urged.
The two had lost sight of Sciion in those moments of panic and followed the path themselves. All around, loud thumps and footsteps sounded as the resident creatures were alerted to the intruder's presence.
"Not good. We'll need to retreat!" Riot growled, using her Whirlwind ability to knock a couple of Primeapes away.
"No, just help me get to the shrine." Nala insisted. "I just have a really strong hunch. Besides, Sciion might already be there!"
"I hope that hunch of yours is a good one…."
"I think we're pretty close." Jade commented.
He'd been flying along a rocky valley, following a fast-flowing river upstream for several hours now. Huge mountains stood on both sides, forming a mountain range that practically went above the clouds. It was hard work too, searching in the hot, midday sun.
I don't even know what to look out for in the first place. Jade told himself. But I hear their calls and…wait!
Up ahead, Jade spotted an odd rock formation on the cliff's edge. It was roughly the shape of a Charizard's head, with the jaws pointed upwards and opened in a 'roar'. Jade flew closer to get a better look, but the winds suddenly blew up in a violent gust.
"Whoa! Hey! What the?!"
The bright and sunny day abruptly changed into a dark and cloudy one. Thunder boomed and rumbled in the skies. Accompanying lightning forked down in the distance.
Moments later, the rain began pouring.
"Damn! Rargh!!" Jade was able to make his way to the side and take shelter in a covered alcove.
[Hmmm….even I wasn't expecting a change as abrupt as that.] Lombadra muttered.
Amidst the crackling of the thunder came a sudden howl….a Charizard's cry of pain.
Jade stuck his head out and found the source, a Charizard on the other wall whose tail flame was a dead giveaway. From what he could see, the Charizard was desperately clinging onto some small rocky outcropping.
He had apparently rammed against the sharp rocks as there was blood on that orange dragon's right shoulder and wing. The wounded figure was also being horribly drenched.
"Heyy!!" Jade shouted against the howling winds of the storm.
The other Charizard briefly looked in his direction. Then, his grip failed and he slipped, plunging straight towards the river below.
Jade barely even thought about his actions before leaping out of his cover and diving down after the injured Charizard. Immediately, the winds and rain were beating mercilessly against his body. Yet, he kept his wings folded in an attempt to pick up speed and reach the fallen Charizard in time.
Even if I get to him, I might not have the strength to lift him. Jade realized. But perhaps there is a way…
He then steered his fire elemental form away from his quarry, while picking up speed. Jade waited until he had passed the falling dragon, then spread his wings and swerved to the side…back towards the falling Charizard.
Jade grunted as the Charizard's weight slammed into his body, temporarily knocking him breathless. Despite that, he forced himself to keep a tight grip and fly to safety. He had flapped his wings madly to beat the winds despite the fact that they were already sore and aching.
Water stung his eyes as Jade fought off both the cold and the wave of exhaustion.
The wounded Charizard moaned softly, but Jade kept his grip. Now that he was closer, Jade realized that this Charizard was female.
"Hang on lady, I'm gonna get you out of this." Jade said in the most assuring voice he could muster.
It was difficult to be optimistic though. High walls stood on both sides and Jade was barely maintaining his current altitude. There was little chance that he'd be able to lift them both out of the canyon.
[Look for an alternative then!] Lombadra's voice sounded, almost as if he could read Jade's thoughts.
Then, Jade spotted a cave, seemingly carved into the rock just above the water's surface. His strength was quickly fading and Jade knew he had only one shot to make it.
With a final boost of energy, he launched his body towards the cavern.
Everything went blur from then on. All he could remember was the rain, the sounds of thunder, Lombadra's shouting and finally, his head ramming against something hard.
All was quiet over the reefs of the Lapras village.
However, the silence was soon broken by the sounds of dark figures swimming through the waves. Soon, fins emerged from underwater, followed by the ominous forms of Aqua Dragons.
These were the water elemental Dragons of this world, standing at about 5 feet each. They took the shape a common quadruped lizard, only with a greenish 'sail' along their backs (similar to an ancient reptile know as Dimetrodon). The rest of their bodies were covered in sea-blue scales. There was a single sharp horn on the edge of their snouts.
Finally, their fingers and toes were all webbed, allowing them to swim more easily in the water.
Many also wore pieces of jewelry like gold rings on their horns, fins, or noses. The leader, besides being larger than the rest, was more prominent by the blue bandana he wore bearing the skull and crossbones symbol of the pirates.
"This time, we show those lousy Lapras once and for all." The leader hissed.
"Captain, it seems really quiet here." A subordinate remarked. "Shouldn't there be a whole lot of screaming and chaos by now?"
"So fan out and comb the area. We'll take whatever we find as usual."
The lead Dragon hung back and waited while his men searched the village. Soon, the second Aqua Dragon returned with his report.
"Seems the place is completely deserted Captain." He said. "There's still stashes of food in the caves, but the Lapras are nowhere to be found."
"Humph, they all took off and left?" The leader huffed. "I was looking forward to having a little fun first."
"Check this out! I've never tasted seaweed like this before." A Dragon nearby was handing out a claw-full of seaweed to his companions.
"Yeah and there's a whole lot of fish too." Another laughed. "Man, they must've taken off running so fast they forgot to pack."
"Hey over here!" Came a shout.
A large crowd was gathering towards the southern end of the village. Hooked to the rocks there was a gigantic statue of a Lapras. It had been constructed out of a mixture of wood, coral and metal, wielded together by sections of ice.
The whole thing was easily the size of a luxury liner and required a dozen of the strongest dragons to move it.
"Well well, looks like they left us a present." The leader chuckled. "Seems that they really have left after all?"
"Why'd you say that boss?" A nearby pirate asked.
"Simple, they're running away and leaving an offering for us. What fools!" The leader replied. "Still we have their home and hunting grounds now. Why bother chasing after them when they'll have little chance of surviving out in the open sea? It's just not worth the effort."
"Yeah! Heheh!" The pirates cheered. "It's all ours now!"
"So don't just float there you fools and get all this stuff back to our hideout." The lead Dragon barked.
"There it is!!" Nala pointed.
Fighting their way through the zombies, Nala and Riot had finally reached the clearing where the shrine stood. It seemed the same as before, a green miniature temple with its front doors hanging open.
A green bell was hanging within, giving off an odd glow in the dark.
"It must have something to do with this!" Nala sprinted towards the bell while Riot continued firing Hyper Beams at the approaching zombies.
Like before, it emitted a strange ringing noise.
"Nothing's happening!" Riot warned. "And they're still coming!"
[No….something has opened.] Erizar's voice sounded.
"What?" Nala asked as she raised her guns to fire.
[Do you remember the very first time you sounded the bell? Try to replicate the same tune.]
"And how am I supposed to do that when all I did was this!" Nala tugged the string a little more lightly this time.
The ringing begun again, but this time continued on for longer than before. All around, the zombies started moaning and attacking more viciously. Riot had to dodge a swift swiping attack from an Electabuzz before knocking it back with her tail.
"Did I get it?" Nala wondered.
"We'll know if we live long enough!" Riot muttered.
The zombies were too numerous to hold off much longer and the pair were losing ground fast, forced to back further and further away. Then came a grinding of stones as a hidden trap door behind the shrine slid open.
"Down there!" Nala ordered, making a break for the opening. "Damn, I wonder if Sciion made it too?"
"I'm afraid we don't have time to wait and find out! Hurry!" Riot urged.
Nodding, Nala sprinted down the stairs hidden within the trap door. Riot landed with both feet on the ground, holding her arms/wings up high like a bird running with its wings spread apart. Moving in this position was slow and awkward for her, but there wasn't much of a choice.
The Aerodactyl sent off a Hyper Beam, tearing through a Smeargle and knocking back several others behind it, before going down the stairway as well.
Fortunately, none of the zombies made it through as the heavy doors begun close. A furred yellow Electabuzz paw reached through just as the doors slammed shut, severing the zombie's arm and at the same time plunging the entire room into blackness.
Panting in the dark, Nala flicked on a flashlight at her belt and strapped another torchlight to Riot's forehead. It was much colder as the two descended and Nala started shivering.
"Grrr…why did I have to wear shorts?" Nala muttered, wrapping her green jacket around her body. She could even see the vapor of Riot's and her own breath condensing.
"Well, nothing much we can do about it." Riot replied. "Better to keep moving on."
There was definitely something bouncing up and down on his upturned stomach. Moaning, Jade opened his eyes to find a Charmander staring into his face.
"Hi there!" The small lizard waved. "You're finally awake."
"Dan! Don't jump on him like that!" A female voice yelled.
Jade now became more aware of his surroundings. His Charizard form was inside a brightly lit cavern and lying on a bed of straw. Another figure moved into view and Jade recognized her as the Charizard he'd saved earlier.
"I hope you're feeling better." The dragoness asked. She had bandages wrapped around her injured right shoulder and wing as well.
"Well, I'm certainly up and running." Jade pulled himself into a sitting position.
"I'd like to thank you….for saving my life back there." The female Charizard said, kneeling down.
"Oh, it was my pleasure." Jade beamed.
"I think he likes you sis!" The Charmander interrupted.
"Shut up!" His sister growled, giving him a whack on his head for good measure. "I don't mean to sound rude after what you did for me, but I'd like to know what you were doing out there."
"I'm a traveler searching for the Charisific Valley. And I was sorta following my instincts." Jade replied, seeing no harm in telling her.
"Your instincts have served you well, because this is it." The female helped him up and walked with him to the cavern's entrance.
Jade gave off a gasp as he looked down. The cavern had been cut into the wall of a steep cliff. Beyond that, more mountains were visible all around, with a huge river running between the two land masses of the valley.
"Then that Charizard-shaped rock I saw…" Jade started.
"Yes, it serves as a hidden entrance to this valley, supposedly protected by the magic of ancient Dragons." She gestured towards a large opening in one of the nearby mountains.
That particular structure was so wide and tall that its peak went above the clouds. It was the other side of the seemingly impassable mountain range Jade had seen earlier.
"Diane, you shouldn't be telling all that stuff, to an outsider especially." A voice snarled. "And bringing him here in particular…..humph."
An older rugged Charizard was perched on a ledge outside. If compared in human years, it would make the new figure about 30, as opposed to Diane and Jade in their early 20s.
"He helped me out back there and was hurt. This was the least I could do to repay him." The female, Diane, replied.
"With all that's been going on, you never should have left the valley in the first place." The older Dragon muttered.
"I was trailing some suspicious character from the Ancient Stone Circle when that storm suddenly came up. Which is more than I can say for you Shugo, sitting on your lazy butt the whole day!"
"And how do you know HE wasn't the one you were following in the first place?!"
"Simple, the intruder wasn't a Charizard." Diane snapped. "I couldn't see him clearly, but I know that much."
"Impossible, the ancient spirits would never have allowed him to pass."
"What about them?! The world around us is changing rapidly while we cling desperately on to old traditions and theories. I'd say Elder Tsung is the one behind all of…."
"Just shut up and don't bring the Elder's name into this!" Shugo roared.
"You know perfectly well that there are suspicions about him, but you just can't bring yourself to admit the truth."
"Elder Tsung is my master and will always be!" Shugo gave everyone a furious glance before flying off.
"Ugh…I'm sorry you had to witness that. My cousin Shugo can be like that sometimes." Diane sighed. "Oh, I don't even know your name yet."
"Call me Jade." The Charizard chimera nodded.
"Well Jade, I'm afraid you've stumbled in on uncertain times." Diane explained. "The abnormal weather conditions are one of the strange occurrences. And the other being the mysterious disappearances of many of our numbers."
"Yeah those include many of the valley elders too." Dan added in, jumping up and down to get more attention.
"Shugo's father was amongst the most recent disappearance cases." Diane continued. "And Elder Tsung is the last of our leaders left."
"Whoa, this certainly was a bad time to drop in." Jade whistled.
[Don't forget your actual mission here.] Lombadra's voice sounded. [Looking for the Spirit Crystals.]
Startled, Jade ran a claw over to his belt pouch and opened it to make sure Lombadra's Spirit Crystal was still there.
"Hey! You've got one of those too!" Dan gasped excitedly. "Elder Tsung has one just like it."
"Hmmm, they do look quite similar." Diane agreed. "Except for color of course. Where'd you get it Jade?"
"This is…erm…a family heirloom." Jade blurted out.
[Oh thanks a lot.] Lombadra muttered sarcastically, directing his thoughts privately towards Jade.
"Interesting." Diane grinned.
"Say, is there any way I could meet your elder about these crystals?" Jade queried.
"I'm afraid that's not possible right now." Diane replied. "With all the disappearances lately, the Elder has been on high security alert and only meets with specific personnel."
[That could be a little setback.] Lombadra commented.
"I see. Well…" Jade put a claw on Lombadra's crystal, unsure of how to proceed next.
"Hey, how about I show you around the valley?" Diane suggested.
"Wow really, that would be cool." Jade smiled.
Nala and Riot soon found themselves lost in the winding maze of hallways. The entire place had been constructed out of a featureless gray stone that had gotten very dusty over the ages. It was a plain and simple design, fours walls and the occasional T-junction, but the pair remained weary for any kinds of surprises.
They met with no resistance, but the two eventually stumbled upon a suspicious path.
"Looks like someone besides us has been here recently." Nala gestured. "The dust has been stirred up here and there."
"Seems that we should follow this path then." Riot agreed.
Both heads snapped up to a clicking noise in the distance. Someone was running further down the corridor.
"Hey! Who's there?!" Nala drew her guns and sprinted forward.
"Wait Nala! Remember to watch out for traps!!"
The warning came too late and Nala felt a stone shift beneath her foot. The next instant, she was plunging down into the depths with Riot's voice echoing from above. Her lighting went wild as she spun around, completely out of control.
Nala's mind raced. She needed some way to slow her fall, but unlike Riot, she couldn't exactly fly.
That was when she realized she still had her twin pistols clutched firmly in her hands. Nala spun in mid-air, so her weapons pointed downwards, and started firing.
The purple energy beams emitted from the guns revealed the pit as a narrow rock tunnel. She could also hear rocks shattering below as her shots blew them to pieces.
Nala didn't know if she'd been screaming or not, but as the ground came into view, she let off a fierce cry and worked her weapons wildly. In the last moments, Nala stirred up a huge cloud of dust before curling up into a 'ball' and bracing for the impact she knew was coming.
"Nala! Nala!" Riot furiously banged on the hidden door, which had now shut itself tight. She didn't have much time to consider a more appropriate course of action, for walls suddenly begun to shift around.
Screeching in surprise, Riot dodged back and forth, avoid the moving pieces from the walls, floor and ceiling. If was as if she were stuck within a 'block puzzle' with the owner randomly shifting the pieces back and forth.
Riot jumped up onto a higher section just as a hole opened beneath her. Unfortunately, another stone piece slid out and knocked the back of her head. The blow wasn't very bad to someone literally as hardheaded as an Aerodactyl, but it threw her off balance and straight into the hole.
The prehistoric Pokemon rolled down a series of steps before landing on top of a familiar black cat.
"Ow! Huh? What are you doing here?" Sciion blurted out. "I mean, it's good to see you're all right, but that was quite a fright you gave me."
"I was about to ask you the same question." Riot muttered, lifting her right wing off Sciion's body to allow him to move.
The grinding sounds of the shifting stones had finally stopped, fading into the darkness of the tomb.
"Hmm…they've stopped." Sciion remarked. "That's a relief."
"How did you get down here, may I ask?" Riot said. "Did you ring the bell of the shrine too?"
"The bell? I got cut off and never made it to the shrine." The Sneasel explained. "I was running from the zombies and crawled into a hollow log in desperation. Then, I felt a hidden tunnel in the rotting bark and crawled my way in to here, where I ended up in this maze of corridors."
"I see. I got separated from Nala too."
"I hope she can fend from herself then." Sciion replied grimly. "Navigating these corridors is a nightmare."
"You don't really seem to know this place well. I thought you were familiar with the shrine."
"I'd heard that there was at least a storage cellar beneath the shrine, but not something as intensive as this." Sciion gestured towards the ceiling.
The cat held a flashlight of his own and showed Riot the straight corridor ahead. Behind that was a T-junction, one path from which Sciion had come from, and the other being the stairway which Riot had entered from.
"But since I happened to have had the good fortune of meeting you, perhaps you could help me solve this puzzle over here." Sciion suggested.
"Well, there's a chance it might lead us to Nala and perhaps the source of all the undead too." Riot agreed.
Sciion led her down the path and to a large stone door at a dead-end. At either end of the colossal door stood a stone pedestal with a circular orb embedded into it.
"You see those odd looking characters on the door?" Sciion pointed. "That's an ancient language, which goes something like this: Two may come, two may pass. Two together and not alone. Two to take the time as one, two to leave the time as one."
"Some sort of riddle?" Riot stared.
"Look more closely at those pedestals. They're designed to reassemble sundials, the ancient 'clocks' that told time according to the shadow cast by the sun's rays."
"Hmmm…perhaps those pedestals are the key to opening that door?" Riot suggested.
"That's exactly what I was thinking." Sciion nodded. "Let's each take one pedestal and press that orb on them. However, we should hit them at the exact same time."
Riot flapped over to the nearest pedestal and waited while Sciion got into position.
"Give the word." Riot called.
"Right." Sciion replied. "On three. One….Two…Thr…"
A sudden burst of radio static caught both explorers by surprise.
"Sciion! This is Raguragi. What's the status of your mission?" A rough voice came over a com-link, apparently held by Sciion.
It took Riot a couple of seconds to recognize the name Raguragi. During one of their conversations with Kris, their group leader had mentioned Raguragi was the enemy leader who'd kidnapped Yusia.
By that moment, both Riot and Sciion had already pushed down on the orbs. Sciion's eyes went wide with the shock of being discovered.
Riot removed the wing she had on the orb and turned to attack Sciion. That turned out to be a grave mistake, for the next instant, a set of metal bindings sprang out around her. In the blink of an eye, the metal bars had formed a 'net' around Riot's body.
The Aerodactyl's legs and tail were squeezed against her stomach while her head was pushed against her chest. Her wings were left sticking out of her prison, which formed into a circular shape, like a metal ball.
However, there was no way Riot could use her wings to free herself, nor get any other limbs into an appropriate position.
"Rarrgghh!! Garghh!!!" She howled.
At the same time, the thick stone doors slowly begun to slide open. Sciion stood starting, turning his head from the door to Riot.
Then, he slowly took his claw off the orb he'd pushed into position. And nothing happened on his side.
"Interesting, seems only one trap can be activated at a time." The Sneasel chuckled evilly.
"You…you've been working with Raguragi all along!" Riot grunted, struggling in vain.
"Indeed, you are correct." Sciion grinned.
"Sciion? You there?" Raguragi's voice came over the com-link again.
"Right here." Sciion responded. "I've managed to get the gateway open and will be at the source of the ghost energy soon. Just got to take care of a minor nuisance first."
"Don't waste too much time." Raguragi ordered as the link clicked off.
"You!! Rarrrrr!!" Riot hissed, beating her mostly immobilized wings against her 'cage'.
"And as I said, I'm going to take care of a minor nuisance." Sciion produced a large blade from his backpack. "Hargh!"
He leapt up and stood on top of Riot's head, lowering the blade to her wing joint. Riot roared in pain as the Sneasel sliced right through the bone and flesh within her wing, severing it completely.
Riot shook her body desperately as Sciion calmly repeated the act on her other wing. He then went on to cut off both her trapped legs and her tail to end it. And Riot was helpless to do anything but watch and scream.
"All this is so you won't move about too much once you become one of the undead." Sciion held the bloodstained blade up and calmly licked it off. "Since, well, you know a little too much now. And that unfortunately means I have to terminate you. But don't worry, I promise to kill your partner just as swiftly."
"You….leave….Nala….alone…." Riot managed.
"You wish." Sciion laughed, extending his long, sharp claws.
The last thing Riot felt was those claws creeping across her neck….before they made a surprisingly clean cut into her throat.