TEEN: The Hour of Twilight

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Thread: The Hour of Twilight

  1. #1
    Hi Ray Maverick's Avatar
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    Post The Hour of Twilight

    (Taking place in a Pokemon-only world, this is a creative take at Pokemon. Be advised - this may involve significantly more serious themes than those shown in-games or anime/manga, although it's still pretty much suitable for the Teen rating)


    Megaera Express
    Graves


    At that time of the day, the sun was roasting the arid lands mercilessly. The temperature of the desert during daytime was enough to repel any life other than the Pokemon of the rock and fire types. Nobody wanted to cross this desert, and those who did want to cross, they did it with Megaera Express. It was a newly designed vehicle of fast travel that resembled the trains of the 19th century, only it worked much differently.

    Two Pokemon that weren't aboard the Megaera Express had crossed the desert, following the railroad to the north. Once they were half across the dead lands, they settled behind a rock spire of a mountain that shot upwards from the ground like the end of a spade. Its shadow was the most welcome thing, besides water, in that desert. Sitting in the shadow of that big hunk of rock, the travelers stayed quiet, waiting and waiting, occasionally checking the portable clocks that were tied on their wrists. One of them was a Monferno in a black fireproof cloak with a hood and white lining all the way down its ends. A belt with a compass and a red sash were fastened on his thin waist. His tail was cut off, the cloak covering his back entirely. He seemed like the Pokemon who had lots of energy to spare, as he was going through the vivid age of youth. His arrogant grin lit his entire face up.

    The one besides him was a Scrafty, evidently older than his partner, though their minds were at the same age. He had a permanent sly expression stuck on his face; one didn't need to look at his species to tell he was a thief. Like his partner, he was wearing a black cloak with a hood and trousers that crawled around him every time he started walking. The red sash fastened on his waist concealed a belt with multiple sheaths full of daggers. He was turning his head to the south every two minutes, peering nervously at the railroad, where they had come from. These two Pokemon expected the Megaera Express would be coming shortly, its destination Alamagna. But it wouldn't be going any further. Massive rocks were blocking the railroad, precisely put to be visible from a distance, so the train could stop in time. No wondering whose doing that was.

    "Yo, Graves," the Scrafty called in a shaky voice, after he peered behind the rock the last time. "I think the train's coming."

    The Monferno named Graves stayed sat down, with his lazy gaze fixed forward to his yonder. He was holding his empty belly and had the most bored of expressions. "It's just your imagination, dude."

    "No, no, Megaera's really coming!"

    Graves was forced to stand up. "You'd better be right! I'm gonna claw your eyeballs off if you made me get up for nothing," he yelled and they both chuckled. As the Monferno peered at the desert of the south, he saw the massive cloud of sand that many feet were shooting up, and in the middle, a shadow the size of the train. It was truly Megaera.

    "At long fucking last! Man, Steve, I'm tellin' you, I was startin' to sweat," he exclaimed and bolted down the hill, where they had placed the rocks that blocked the railways. His partner followed after him and stood beside him, grabbing the lining of his cloak and putting one foot on a rock. He thought he looked cool in that stance.

    "You, sweat? No way!" he said with doubt. He was right to doubt his friend's sayings, as he was a Monferno. A fire type, who didn't sweat. They both put their hoods on, which engulfed their faces in darkness; they were low enough to block the sun that was hitting them directly.

    "Focus, our royal cargo is comin’." He chuckled at the thought.

    The shadow on the cloud became bigger as it neared them, until the train itself was visible. Megaera was a wooden train with many wagons, but instead of steam, it was moving with the incredible power of Pokemon themselves – the reins of multiple Dodrios were tied on the lead wagon, more than fifty of them, and they were able to drag the whole train with them at an awesome speed. As the train approached, the two outlaws could see see the driver: a Hypno who was using his psychic powers to grasp all the reins of the Dodrios. When the driver took notice of them, the whole train started slowing down as he pulled the reins back.

    Graves had a wicked grin on his face, looking at Megaera with a nerve that was still unmatched in the desert. The Scrafty next to him laughed when he saw the expression of the Hypno as Megaera stopped completely. Many heads appeared from the sides of the train, looking outside the windows.

    "Move those rocks outt’ the way! What is the meaning of this?!" the Hypno shouted.

    "Heist, ever heard of it?" Graves asked bluntly; he loved announcing his robberies in such a way, and he had done it many times in the past. Though this wasn’t exactly a robbery. The Hypno started laughing, slapping his hand on his knee.

    "Please! You two pups can't rob a grocery store!"

    Meanwhile, the two thieves had walked past the tamed Dodrios that were occasionally letting out shrieks, wondering why they had stopped before their destination. They were wild Pokemon, not capable of speech. As they neared the Hypno on top of the first wagon, the psychic Pokemon raised a warning hand.

    "One more step and I'll fry your brains."

    "One more word and you die," Graves said in the same, bored tone, as he kept walking to the lead wagon. The Hypno started laughing again, but his laughter was abruptly cut; a dark figure was standing behind him, hugging him. Big black claws emerged from the driver's belly and hot blood dripped down it. He looked at them aghast, acknowledging his death before he was thrown out of the wagon, on the hot sand of the desert. Some of the passengers had started screaming, some even jumped out of the windows. The Hypno didn't even have the chance to look at the Zangoose in a cloak identical to Graves' and Steve's, with a hood concealing his face.

    "Williams!" Steve shouted, "right on time, eh?"

    The reins that bound the Dodrios had fallen on the ground after the Hypno's powers had faded, but the birds stayed where they were, thinking they were still imprisoned. Graves didn't greet their mate; instead, he picked up four reins and led their Dodrios away from the herd, tying them to the wagon tightly. Then, he shot a tongue of flames to the other Dodrios. They quickly scattered, screeching, sensing the danger. Soon, many of them had disappeared in the horizon. The four remaining ones were still tied in front of the wagon.

    "Make haste," Williams the Zangoose ordered Graves, who smirked in annoyance. He stared back at him. The Zangoose had deep, lifeless black eyes, spiky facial fur and perky ears; a thunder-like scar ran down his left eye. His abrupt, unsmiling demeanor often scared people, but not Graves and his gang. Sometimes he forgot who was the boss, but Graves forgave him for that. Williams was several years older than both him and Steven, and he was definitely the most mature of them.

    "I'm just freeing the poor Pokemon," Graves replied, "we claim to be free folk, don’t we? They don't deserve this life."

    "How about speeding up their liberation, ‘cause we’ll soon drown in terrified passengers? Have you taken leave of your wits, Graves?”

    "Chill, Willy," said the Scrafty as he jumped on the Hypno’s platform.

    "Yeah man, they're in good hands, don'tcha think?" Graves followed them inside the first wagon through the door. It was empty of passengers, as it only carried papers - the Post, no doubt. Letters and stuff, all useless to them. “How’s our Princess?”

    "My sister is sick of waiting,” Williams replied.

    "I’m sure she’ll be happy to see me," Graves said with a smile drunken with the remembrance of the beauty, the fourth member of their gang. She, along with her brother, had boarded the Megaera Express, Williams in disguise.

    They passed through the papers of the first wagon quickly, then walked to the next, which was full of frightened passengers. Graves raised his hands in the air.

    "Calm down, nobody's gonna get hurt. We ain't here to steal from you," he shouted and walked past them along with the others. He did that to every wagon he passed through. Some Pokemon attacked them, but Steven put them out of commission with his bare hands by hitting their pressure points. At the door of the very last wagon of the train, which was empty, an exceptionally beautiful young Weavile was standing, a red sash identical to theirs fastened around her thin waist. Graves' face was brightened with a cocky grin the moment he saw her.

    "Lookin' beautiful, Princess Diana," he said, grabbing her cold hand and bringing it inside his dark hood in order to land a hot kiss on it. He noticed she was flattered by the blush that crept up her cheeks momentarily, but she hid it quickly.

    "Knock it off, Graves," she exclaimed, wrenching her hand away from his. "We're doing business here.”

    "Right," the Monferno said and got serious out of a sudden. All this time he had ignored William's black stare that condemned him from having a little fun with his sister, but now he would grant him the favor of staying away.

    "My dear husband-to-be is locked up," the Princess said in a wicked tone. Graves was sure she would rather be rid of her husband-to-be as soon as possible. “Don’t worry about my guard,” she looked up to Graves innocently, “I killed them all.”
    The Monferno let out a gust of laughter and pinched her cheek. “You’re the bomb!”

    "Aw man, this should be fun," Steve exclaimed, staring at the door behind the Weavile impatiently.

    "You heard her, this is serious," the Zangoose yelled at his face. Graves walked besides Princess Diana and her brother, knocking open the wooden door with a kick that blew it off its hinges. This wagon was completely covered in red cushion and leather, along with golden furniture. The drawers were calling to him. ‘Graves, help us, the gold we carry is so heavy,’ he clutched, quietly promising to free them of that burden once they were done and over. Bodies of multiple Pokemon with white capes lay on the floor, staining the carpet with blood. The Protectors of the Princess, taken by surprise by the Princess herself.
    Somewhere to the back of the wagon, a desperate cry sounded. Behind the sofa, precisely, if Graves’s ears could be trusted. He knew what he would find behind the sofa. A little lordling, a craven who was to marry the precious Princess of Hesperia; one day, that coward would rule Hesperia, if he got to marry Diana. But of course, Graves and his gang couldn’t abide that. Especially Princess Diana.

    "Hey, Damian," Graves exclaimed in a cheerful tone as he walked through the wagon, "where are your Protectors? Did Diana free this train of them all?"

    Diana giggled and looked down on the stained carpet. She truly had lived up to her reputation - Princess or not, she was still a vicious little thing. Damian, meanwhile, didn't answer; Graves leaned over the handle of the sofa, to find a small Lopunny cowering behind. He grabbed him from the throat and raised him up, so their eyes were at the same height.

    "No!" he choked, "let me go, you maniac!"

    Graves started laughing, but his eyes flashed with fury. His temperature was rising, his pulsating energy infused into the rodent through his hand. "Handsome little lordling… you pissed us off, you know," he whispered, gritting his teeth. Their faces were so close, Graves could smell the perfume of mint the aristocrat was using; it made great contrast with his own foul breath.
    "Now, tell me... where is it?"

    His whole gang had bundled up behind him, staring at lord Damian with disgust, even Princess Diana who was to marry him when they arrived at Alamagna.

    "Wh-what?!" he stuttered, gasping for air. Williams brought his hand down in a vicious back hand slap that almost dislocated the Lopunny’s jaw; his mouth was bloodied and his teeth a mess. Graves had always warned his friend about being violent when questioning, but it was no use; the Zangoose was exceptionally strong and didn’t have a firm sense of his own power. Their captive whimpered and spat blood. The Zangoose crouched next to Graves to stare threateningly into the Lopunny with his black, lifeless eyes, the way he always did; he looked effectively scary, then.

    "You’re thinking us fools, aren’t you?" Williams yelled in his face. "Where is it?!"

    "The darkstar?" Graves added, as to get things going. His mind recalled the image of the dark gems called darkstars, the crystals with the awesome powers they were after. Not many knew of their existence, but those who did hunted them down like crazed animals.

    "I'm afraid it just left," said the lordling said, mustering his courage to give them a crooked, bloodied smile.
    "Graves!" Steve shouted and the Monferno turned to see the Scrafty pointing outside the window. A stream of sand was shot in the air by a Dodrio and its rider, soon to vanish from sight. Graves knew they wouldn’t catch him now. Fury took over him.
    "You will die," he said behind his teeth, "knowing that the deed was done by the Hashashin."

    Damian’s eyes opened wide to see him putting on the insignia of the Hashashin in the middle of his red sash. The Pokemon around him did the same, even Princess Diana, who tucked the insignia on her shoulder like a medal. The revelation struck the councilor hard. Hesperians knew Graves and his gang as nothing but pesky thieves and outlaws that robbed banks and trains. Nobody would expect them to belong to the Hashashin. And Princess Diana... the beloved daughter of Rosa, was amongst the Hashashin. And that one besides her? The Zangoose, he looked much like Angelo Imperatore... of course. The lost Prince. Prince Angelo II. The Hashashin are taking the Princess, just like they took the Prince years ago.

    These were the last thoughts of lord Damian, before the Monferno fried him alive with his breath. Graves smashed him against the wooden floor, breaking it and throwing his burning body on the rails below the wagon. He spat on the burning and screaming Pokemon below him, before turning away.

    "Princess Diana," he uttered in a serious manner that always made his peers silent, "are you ready to be one of us?”

    The beautiful Weavile nodded readily. Graves had waited for this moment a long time. He offered his hand to the lady and she grabbed it tightly, as if she wanted to break his hand. They locked eyes with each other, an intense gaze. The Princess first noted that his eyes were deep sparkling green, despite his species. His eyes were the only thing he inherited that he felt proud about.
    “Pledge to us, now… by doing that, you give your life for our sacred cause.”
    She nodded, already knowing what would follow.
    “Do you swear… to protect your brothers and sisters and their secret identity? To protect the Brotherhood from all those who mean to harm it?”
    “I do.”
    “Do you swear… to heed our Master with unquestioned obedience, and carry out his orders with no second thought, and never hinder us in any way?”
    “I do.”
    “Do you swear… to guard the ancient secret of the darkstars, and to kill those aware of it, but don’t belong to our Brotherhood?”
    “I do.”

    Graves gave her his half smile, noticing her beautiful ruby eyes. They looked each other in a tension that had nothing to do with the vows she had just said. "By joining the Hashashin, you join our gang as well,” he muttered finally, overwhelmed by her looks for just a moment. “What will your nickname be?"

    "My nickname? …"

    "Your nickname, sweetcheeks. Remember? We named your brother William." When the Master stole him from the clutches of Queen Rosa, the Zangoose wanted to rid of his name Angelo so badly, that in his haste, he accepted the first name their Master called him. He was no more than five years old then.

    "My name... I always liked 'Bonnie'."

    Graves let out a laugh, approving. "Bonnie it is!" Bonnie. Sounds catchy.

    "Welcome to the gang!" Steve shouted and patted the Weavile’s slender shoulder vigorously. He didn't seem much like a thief at all now; rather, he looked like a cheerful, harmless child.

    "Ugh, thank Arceus I don't have to go to Alamagna," the Weavile said. Graves laughed again, thinking of her having to cope with all the aristocrats of Stygia that had would be gathering in her wedding, and the party afterwards. Nope, these guys didn't know how to party.

    "Gang," Williams said, gesturing his head towards the door that led to the other wagons of the train. "Let's get going. If we are not giving chase to the gem, we ought to get back to Nevermore."

    "Right," Graves said with a smile brimming with the charm of his ancestor. The fury from before had melted, like the little lord’s life. He didn’t give a handful of coins for some crystal they had to chase and protect. The vows you had to say as an Hashashin were still just vows that Graves didn’t take seriously. Now, he was only glad Diana had joined them. Or rather, Bonnie. "Our Dodrios await, mates."

    Graves headed first towards the exit of the wagon, but he stopped next to the drawers and opened one. He and his mates grabbed handful of jewels; everyone, except Steve. The Scrafty had taken the food cart that supplied the royal cabin and filled it with gold and jewels. Graves didn't scold him, as he knew what would happen next.

    "Put your insignias away," Graves ordered them and they all heeded his command. Supportive or not, the people didn't need to know they were Hashashin. Once Steve had put the insignia of the Hashashin away, he bolted outside the cabin, pushing the food cart. Soon, the passengers let out cheers of joy and Steve returned with a fool’s grin on his face; the gang's number two rule was, help the people. Steve would always share their loot with them, or destroy debt papers when they robbed banks. The number one rule of theirs was, never steal or hurt innocents. As a thieving gang, they were only targeting the rich and corrupted, and as Hashashin, they killed those aware of their dark secret.

    The Pokemon on the train greeted them with cheers, right until they hopped on their Dodrios and faded to the distance, where the darkstar had gone off to. Then, the Pokemon realized that with no Dodrios and driver, the Megaera Express was stuck in the middle of the desert. But, like Graves would say afterwards, that was a small price to pay for the liberation of the Dodrios and the safe retrieval of the Princess. He could care less about some crystal that got away.
    Last edited by Ray Maverick; 12th January 2014 at 04:34 AM.

  2. #2
    Wordsmith Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    This is a damn solid introduction. Solid characterisation, good world-building, spiffy technical accuracy. I like how you mention a lot of places but don't bother to explain them - it gives the impression of a much larger world without throwing a lot of detail at us right off the bat. I didn't quite expect to enjoy reading about pokémon as sentient, distinct people, but there you go, I did.

    There's not a lot of constructive criticism I can give at the moment. How you handle the wider details that you hint at here will be the main thing I'd be looking out for - things like the politics and society of this world. At the moment what I will say is that if you're going to swear, swear. The self-censorship is kind of redundant since we need to understand what the censored word is to understand the sentence anyway
    Ray Maverick likes this.
    The Long Walk
    For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.


  3. #3
    Hi Ray Maverick's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    Thank you for the time you spent reading & replying to this. Each comment gives me courage to further the story ^^ As for the censorship, I posted this story on another forum, which automatically takes off any swear words. And, as I copy & pasted it here, the censorship followed naturally and I had no idea it could be undone. I fixed it now :D Swear words away!

    Stay tuned, mate.

  4. #4
    Precision F Bomb Eternal Shadows's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    Love this! Good characters, good writing. Good everything.

    Except from the fact I thought this'd be a Twilight fic e-e

    Just kiddin'! Keep on writing this awesome story!

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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    PLEASE KEEP GOING.

    I really love the gang so far!

    Graves seems like a Pokemon robin hood of sorts. I'd really like to hear at some point how he got his tail cut off

  6. #6
    Hi Ray Maverick's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    The Master's Dream
    Graves & Gang

    The window lids were shut tightly; the inside of the headquarters was as dark as it could get. Graves brought his fingers on his index and thumb on his mouth, as if he was going to whistle, then blew. Flames engulfed his fingers and remained there even after he raised his hand to light the room up. At first sight, it looked like a library. There were books on the shelves all around, even on the floor, old and new ones, either thrown or piled up. History, science, fiction, runic language, physics, philosophy, all kinds of books. Paintings adorned the walls where there were no shelves, though they all seemed to show the same, a light at the end of a tunnel, just with different shades of grey.

    As the flames flickered, his eyes quickly read past some titles of history books… From the Making, to the Age of Heroes, a massive tome bound with a black leather belt was laying on the floor, next to it two smaller books. One was titled The Great Sundering, A Speculation on How Our World Came to Be, and the other, The Exathian Realm's Breach, the Birth of the Two Empires Hesperia & Stygia. Graves hated history books ten times for every one time he hated books. Just reading a sentence of words was enough to give him a headache, although he knew of how. He quickly took his eyes off the books in distaste, then chanced to see some peculiar sort of garment: vambraces. They seemed like normal leather braces, staying idle on a shelf next to some books with colorful covers.

    The carpet underneath their feet was a grim green of a worn out thread with yellow lining, which led to the very far end of the single room. Graves’s feet seemed to heat up the wooden floor as he stepped around the carpet. He’d do well to avoid carpets. The heat pulsing from his body often caused cloth to go on fire. His cloak was fireproof, thankfully.

    The house was only one room. The far end of that room was darker, shadows flickering on the walls as the flames on the Monferno's hands trembled. There were a few steps, then a dark oaken desk with strange devices on it, one bearing the insignia of the brotherhood itself, but Graves’s eyes were fixed on the broad, shadowy figure of what he knew was the outline of a rotating leather chair. Two bright green eyes were staring back at them, reflecting the two candles of fingers he held out.

    The Master of the Hashashin was wearing his cloak and hood, Graves noted under the faint light of his fingers. He seldom removed them at all. It was much trouble to slide out of the garment and then back in. To either side of the desk, there were steps that led to the second floor, but Graves had never been there; he had not been through the window door behind the Master’s desk either, which led to a great yard with columns, a lake, and the great view of the mountains of the north.

    Master Shango grunted as by way of greeting them, then gestured for them to come closer. As they stood around his desk, they exchanged quick glances. Graves took notice of a clean, new notebook in front of the Master; it was open in the very first page, with big capital letters signifying a title. The Hour of Twilight, he read backwards, a pencil abandoned across them. He quickly lost interest.

    On each of the gang member's faces, something dark crept, a strange feeling of uneasiness under the eyes that seemed to be looking at everyone at the same time. From where the gang was, all they could see in the darkness was those eyes. Shango had green, beautiful eyes, where wisdom was carved deep into. Yet the gang thought they had an eerie feel to them too, as they seemed to stare past their physical form, into the very essence of their being. This wasn't the only thing that felt off, Graves realized: there was an ominous energy pulsating from the desk, a familiar one he felt every time he had entered this building. It was a tempting, deadly power.

    “Have you brought it?” the Zangoose's hoarse voice was worn with age, but it sounded bold enough for an old man, to Graves’s surprise. Shango leaned over his open book , his green eyes fixed on Graves. He and the Master had the same eyes. Deep green and sparkling, with a golden ring around their small black iris. From all times he had seen the Master, he hadn’t seen them like this before. An invigorating spark shone in his eyes, which was something new. Now Shango was fully awake; at other times Graves had met him, the weary Master would fall asleep midway through their conversation. Surprised, Graves wondered whether this was his imagination, or the Master was deceiving them all, or he had somehow woken up from being an old, sickly old man who occasionally fell asleep during conversation.

    “No,” Graves replied curtly, “a rider made off with it.”

    “Ah, such plot twists are to be expected,” Shango said quietly, almost with a tone of humor and sarcasm in his hoarse voice. He motioned his left hand to Bonnie. “You, approach,” he whispered. And she did, bravely, but not without hesitation. She went around the oaken desk to stand besides his chair, which he rotated to face her. He raised the same hand he motioned with, without moving the other. Two night-black claws protruded off the grey, worn out sleeve of his cloak. The Weavile shivered slightly as he touched her chin, forcing her head up. For a crazy instant, Graves thought the Master had brought the Princess here so he could kill her.

    But no. “Princess Diana. You look just like your mother,” he said softly, tenderly, letting go of her chin. “She was beautiful and foolish. I sincerely hope you are only halfway there to being the same.”

    “Tales say you almost fell for her,” Bonnie took the dare, eyeing him boldly. That was indeed quite the dare, talking about such things.

    “Tales say a lot of things. Jaime also babbles a lot, doesn't he?" Jaime was the Hashashin that was sent to the palace to train Princess Diana, to slowly endorse them in their ways so she could one day join them. Diana should have been suspicious of such a tutor, but Graves suspected it was something else that made her trust Jaime. He had heard of Diana developing a crush on Jaime when she was younger... that was why Graves was jealous of that guy. Jaime was talented, he was charming, he was knowledgeable and wise, but in the end, he couldn't rob a train... hell, he couldn't rob a freaking homeless guy.

    "You had best make sure you don’t believe anything you hear…" Shango resumed, "nor anything you see.”

    “I’d rather hear and see everything there is to see and hear, and then judge true from false,” Graves said loudly. The Master's gaze fell upon him, and for a fleeting instant, he thought he saw the curve of a smile in the darkness, but perhaps that was only his imagination.

    “You may as well, if you think you are an able judge…” Shango started coughing, bringing his left hand inside his hood to cover his mouth. Graves suddenly realized the Master’s right hand had not moved from the desk; he looked at it intently. The sleeve of the Master’s cloak allowed no sight of it. He remembered what Crystal had told them of Master’s right hand; it was the hand he killed with. Now, it lay idle upon the desk, unmoving. The fur had gone black, he noticed, the same color with his claws that were now normal sized.

    “Is your hand paralyzed?” Graves blurted, without taking his eyes off of it. A seventy year old Pokemon could expect such things to happen. Pokemon were never meant to live that long, yet Shango didn’t seem likely to die soon.

    “No,” the Zangoose uttered, without giving an explanation. The hand remained motionless on the desk. “I assume… the crystal is off to Stygia?”

    “Stygia? Why there?” Steven questioned, without worrying for his abrupt tone.

    “Where else would it go? I don’t think Lord Arstan wants any crystals near Hesperia, at this time,” Shango said slowly. “But it just might be that the rider was a member of the Dark Cult in disguise… I can expect that. Either way, the crystal will end to their hands. Where is the next stop after the point you stopped Megaera Express? That is where your chance to apprehend him will appear; for the rider will rest there.”

    "Eh? How'd you know?" Graves asked.

    Shango fixed his eyes on his grandson. "I grow tired of questions. You will do as I say."

    “Why us? Don’t you have anybody else to send?” Graves knew he was taking it too far, but he was sick of carrying out missions. He wanted to live free for once, rob trains and banks and make life hard for the rich. Being part of the Hashashin was never a choice of his.

    But he was suddenly afraid of the glimmer in Shango's eyes.

    “I will have none of this defiance,” the Zangoose said intently, “all men must pay their dues, and that includes you as well. I call you my family, and yet you question me... bear your insignia with pride, boy, that is all I will say. Perhaps you’ll thank me for it, one day.”

    Family, the word stung, echoing in Graves’s mind. His mother once got too close with a stranger, and a bastard was born, that belonged not to the Hashashin, yet the brotherhood claimed him after all. And his mother happened to be the very first daughter of Shango. He was often told of how he had inherited some of the Master's traits, but he just didn't see what he had in common with the old man, apart from the green eyes and the last name: Maverick. The Master had named him Maverick for lack of the male surname of his father. They didn't even know his surname!

    But belonging to the leading family of the Hashashin didn’t mean he got any additional privileges or appreciation. He wanted to shout that he would never wear the insignia of the Hashashin proudly, because it was not his choice to join them in their quest of slaughtering people who were after a silly, magical treasure. Yet despite that, he always got some nasty pleasure thinking he belonged to the secret Brotherhood of assassins. It made him feel special when he robbed and tricked people; like, ‘look, I’m an Hashashin, but I still loot you’.

    “We’ll do as you bid,” Bonnie said, with a small smile to accompany her words, glancing at Graves reassuringly. His face had gotten even redder than it usually was.

    “You are one of us, child, are you not? You’ve said your vows,” Shango looked at the Weavile Princess, who showed him the insignia of the Hashashin Graves had given her. She nodded. “Wonderful. You must soon return to our village, so you can be put through the trial. Now…” he paused, inhaling. Graves’s flames on his fingers flickered violently, as if a gust of wind blew through them. Something had changed in the room. “… listen carefully, all of you, Hashashin. The times that are coming will change the course history for our realm, I feel… our friend the Prophet would tell you as much, should you ever have the honor of conversing with him,” he said casually. The Prophet of the Dark Cult was no friend to the Hashashin, but he was a friend of Shango, strange as it seemed. Two leaders of two organizations with colliding goals, yet they were friends. There was even a painting which showed the two having dinner together on the Prophet’s palace in Alamagna. The painting showed two hoods, black for the Prophet and grey for the Master, leaning over a table with dishes. There was another painting on the wall, the very same painting, creating a mysterious effect of duplication as you looked into it. Graves had stolen this ‘Prophet and the Master’ from a disgustingly rich lord in Hesperia, sold it back to him for a thousand golden dragons, then laughed until he was on his knees, crying.

    "Wake from your sleep, now," Shango told them, "and go after the rider."

    “Aye, Master,” Steven said, pounding his chest with his fist. It was an honorable way of salute that showed respect and devotion; a habit that remained with the Scrafty even after he stopped serving the military of Hesperia, years ago, before he joined Graves’s gang.

    “Consider it done,” Williams spoke after all this hour. He was pointing one claw at Shango, and the gang knew that it was his way of sealing his promise. As for Graves, he only nodded in silence, and Bonnie did the same.

    The Master waved his hand to send them off. Graves turned to leave, but Master spoke again. “Not you, Samuel. Stay.”

    He hadn't heard his real name in a while. Samuel. He preferred the name the gang had given him.

    He exchanged glances with his mates. Steven shrugged and left, the others following quickly after. Graves turned to face the Master, who was leaning over his desk, both hands on it. Just three thin rays of light came through the massive shut window behind Shango’s seat, but they did little to brighten the dark room. “Sit,” the Master said, gesturing his hooded head to a red leather chair on the right side of the oaken desk. He sat, although reluctantly, staring at him suspiciously. This can’t be good, he told himself.

    “I sense you do not share our spirit,” he said, his piercing gaze locked upon him, studying him. “You do not share our cause, yet you have said the vows and made Diana say them too.”

    Graves remained quiet, his concealed anger shading guilt. His hood was pulled down, so the whole of his face was exposed to the Master.

    “You know, I was once like you,” the Master continued, “when I first joined the Brotherhood. I thought they were merciless, bloodthirsty assassins led by a ruthless Master who conspired and schemed their way to wealth and riches, a Brotherhood who swept away those in power in return for gold. I thought that’s what they were about, a selfish, shallow Brotherhood of cutthroats of great skill. But along the way, I discovered they were corrupted, in fact. The Hashashin I knew of had nothing to do with the real cause: the cause they were originally meant to follow. Oh, the cause is much different than earning a fortune through killing. What it means to be an Hashashin... that, I learned many years after I joined them. These taught me what it means to be an Hashashin,” something slid out of the sleeve of his right hand, which moved for the first time. Two crystals fell on the open notebook as he shook his sleeve, then letting it motionless again next to them. The strange energy pulsating in the room was much stronger now, Graves could feel it radiating from the desk, licking his face and shaking the fabric of his cloak. Two crystals, one empty, completely clear and transparent, and another, darker than black. The dark crystal seemed to be sucking the light in the room; on neither crystal could Graves see his reflection.

    “The darkstars,” Graves acknowledged. He knew there were two of those gems under the possession of the Master, that was no secret to the Brotherhood. The Monferno looked up from the gems, directly into Shango’s eyes. “How did these teach you anything? All I see is two rocks.”

    A terrible screech exploded in the air, making him curse and jump from his chair and look around the room. Black wings flapped, a black bird landing on the desk in front of the Master. It was a Murkrow with a pointy beak and perfectly round red, unearthly eyes that gazed upon him as if he was already dead. “Rocks, rocks,” the bird repeated after him.

    “Fowl,” Graves exclaimed in a hoarse voice, “you were here all this time?!”

    “No,” Shango replied. From his tone, Graves could feel his smile in that darkness beneath his green eyes. “He never is. He never was.” Fowl the Murkrow plucked on one of the dark rocks then raised his head to stare at the Monferno, almost with hostility. “Fowl is a product of my imagination,” Shango stated, scratching the bird’s head with his left hand. “Literally, as it happens.” He retracted his hand to cough in it, then leaned back on his chair. Graves sat back on his chair as well, eyeing the Master and his bird suspiciously.

    “You’re fooling me,” he declared. “I see him, he’s right here. I can catch him.”

    “Think before you speak, child.”

    Fowl screeched again, a sound which sounded like a gust of mocking laughter. “Death to the fool, feed him to the Mightyenas!” he sung. Fowl in name, foul in tongue. Graves often wondered who had taught him to say such things. The scariest detail of the bird was that he seemed to know how to talk all by himself.

    “I suspect…” Shango started, then paused. “You will come to respect the powers of these crystals. Did you know... the original cause of the Hashashin was always to guard them, and their secret, from the prying ears and hands of the wicked and greedy? Did you know... why we are assassins trained to take lives at any expense? To wipe those who know of these crystals, and mean to use them in a selfish way. To free the world of such people... the guardians of these crystals must know how to take lives. That is the sacred cause of our Brotherhood, to ensure that there is no one aware of such power besides us."

    It’s easy to preach you’re guarding them, when you’re using them in truth, just like what any of us would do. He stayed silent. Some things best stay unsaid, and besides, he wasn’t quite sure what these two crystals did, apart from making him feel uneasy with their radiating power. There was no sign that Shango was abusing the crystals in any way. Perhaps the Master was honest after all. His vulture screeched again.

    “Power! Power! kraa, kraa!”

    Graves stood up, suddenly feeling like the dark room of the Master was choking his breath in. “That’s what I’m doing, gramps. Looking after these precious treasures of yours. You said go after Megaera, ‘cause that’s where it’d be, so we went, but they fooled us. Well, I gotta bail now. I’m tired as hell."

    Shango’s dark stare was fixed at him for long seconds. He then nodded, waved his left hand dismissively, and without another word, he grabbed his pencil and returned to writing on his notebook.


    ***

    Graves snapped awake and rubbed his head groggily. He was still riding his Dodrio in the dark; it was a starless night in the middle of the desert. The others behind him seemed to rub their eyes too, as if they had just awoken.

    "I just had this strange dream," he heard Bonnie from somewhere behind. "The Master... I think I just met him. He looks like Jaime..."

    Graves blinked a few times. "Yeah," he muttered, "I had the same dream too."
    Last edited by Ray Maverick; 28th January 2014 at 05:53 AM.

  7. #7
    Master Exploder GastonGibus's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    "I just had this strange dream," he heard Bonnie from somewhere behind. "The Master... I think I just met him. He looks like Jaime..."

    Graves blinked a few times. "Yeah," he muttered, "I had the same dream too."
    "I had the same dream!"

    Very well done, sir! Well done indeed. Great characters, great setting, I really enjoyed it. My only issue, contrary to what Pavell said earlier, is the lack of description of certain things. Obviously, I wouldn't go and describe everything that is mentioned, but some things you mention just sort of... appear, without any sort of indication as to what they are or what purpose they serve.

    For example, you bring up this other group called "The Dark Cult," but there's no real indication as to who they are or what they stand for. While I suppose you're leaving that up to future chapters, a brief glimpse into who these people are would help, I feel. Right now, all I know is that they're apparently not friends with the Hashashin, except the leaders of the two groups are friends. Kind of like Magneto and Professor X, I feel.

    Also, the part with Fowl the Murkrow, while interesting, was a bit confusing as well. Again, I suppose it'll be explained later on, but it's still kind of jarring; well, in my opinion, anyways. Take it with a grain of salt.

    Other than that, I really like it so far. Eagerly awaiting the next entry! :D
    Last edited by GastonGibus; 27th January 2014 at 06:20 PM.
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  8. #8
    Wordsmith Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    I think I should mention your eloquence at this point. Whatever else this story may be, hard to read it ain't. You build scenes very vividly and avoid vague purple prose - it's well done. The exposition in Chapter 2 is generally well-handled, though I'll echo Gastly and say that for details of the world that are immediately relevant we could do with a little more explanation. The Dark Cult is a good example of this.

    I really don't know what to think about the Hashashin at this point (This isn't necessarily a bad thing). On the one hand they're rather thuggish and I wouldn't shed a tear if one of Graves' victims pulled his head off. But there's a hint that maybe they have more to them than all that. Shango is a curious one - you were very coy about revealing much about him at any one time.

    The one thing that did throw me was the Murkrow. One minute I'm thinking "Pet Murkrow, fine" and the next you just up and say "Oh, he's a figment of Shango's imagination" ... and that's it, it's there and gone. It almost comes across as a "weird for the sake of weird" moment
    The Long Walk
    For Joshua Cook, it's a long walk away from his dull life to the Pokémon League. But does he really want to be the very best? A coming-of-age story of adventure, friendship and growing up in the world of Pokémon.


  9. #9
    Moderator AceTrainer14's Avatar Forum Head
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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    Awards feedback:

    Graves is an interesting character, and I like the little world you have crafted here with specialist leagues, royalty and certain Pokemon being smarter than others. Our hero Monferno is a decently original character, has some good quirks and you kept largely within the bounds of him being the main. My main concerns would be there seemed to be a change in personality between chapters; he seemed jokey at the start of Chapter One, then willing helped killed and steal in the second half, but by the second he seemed to hate his job and felt forced into it, losing all the original humour. I think there should be some more guilt if he hates his work, and the humour was a nice part of the first chapter and I would like to see that continued. So my main suggestions would be to work on blending his personality together more and building on these aspects into one cohesive character, as at the moment it feels like two. And I shall also say that it would be nice if Graves was not in love with the only female character, as I got that impression; there are other ways to work in romantic subplots.

    So far though, I think you have a good character, one that will be great when his personality is more joint together, and I hope you continue the story because it is definitely an interesting one so far.

    ^^^^ The GalacticVerse Bibliography (Thanks to Blazaking for Banner) ^^^^

  10. #10
    .______. Elysia's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Hour of Twilight

    Yo, this be your post-awards review. Sorry for the late!

    I think, unfortunately, that you suffer from only having two chapters to judge from, so I have to extrapolate a lot to understand. As it is, you open up a lot of doors with Graves and don't quite have the time to go down them--he's a merc-ish character who acts like a heartless, magnificent bastard, but then he actually hates his job and is on the fence about the whole thing but we never get to see this go through?

    You have an excellent start here, but without seeing the follow-through, it's a little tricky to give a proper score here. Gonna have to read more to find out. Apparently-psychopathic guy who actually hates his job; it's an idea that's been around the block a couple of times before (but then again, so has every idea). I must say, you really hit the ground running. The train heist early on made for a brilliant introduction to the story, and Graves appeared as a fascinating protagonist early on. Nicely done here.

    I think the only thing that really hurts you here is lack of time to fully flesh out everything--there's no real way you can realistically do a character in two chapters. You do, however, send out a bunch of mixed messages (the "surprise, I hate my job!" in chapter two was kind of out of left field to me, but I may be wrong), and it seems like you're forcing Graves into the role of a heroic anti-hero when he might be better suited to an anti-heroic hero or something along those lines.

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