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  1. #31

    Default Re: Storm Island

    That should be expanded upon in the next chapter. And yeah, the writing was a bit wonky. We're in a weird place with Storm Island at the moment, as I'm the only writer for the time being, and I wanted to move on as quick as I could. Perhaps that was an error on my part.

    As for the Krokorok's nickname (native american in origin, by the way), the intention was that it was known in the previous chapter. If it wasn't, my apologies.

    Storm Island
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  2. #32

    Default Re: Storm Island

    Storm Island
    Chapter 13: Shadows of the Past

    "You think she'll be fine?" echoed a muffled, familiar voice. "She's not going to die, is she?"

    "No! It's pretty deep and it certainly looks bad, but at the end of the day, it's just a cut..." another voice said. "Look, don't put this on me! I told you to take care of her. I've done the best I can."

    There was the sound of a fist pounding on the table. "Damn it." the voice continued. "How long do you think she's going to be out of it?"

    "I can't say... I've never seen an injury like this or how it affects people. If she's strong willed, she'll pull through. If not... she's going to be here for a few weeks."

    "I hope so... We have to thank her."

    "So... the beast is gone?"


    - - - - -

    "Ooooh... My head..." Andrea thought to herself. She tried to vocalize the pain she was experiencing, but had difficulty doing so. She was weak, both in mind and body. She opened her eyes, being blinded by the bright lights above her. Her attempts at sitting up failed, but her movement caught the attention of a young woman in a nurse uniform.

    The nurse ran over to check on her. "Andrea?" she asked. "Can you hear me?"

    She groaned again, then nodded when words didn't come out of her mouth.

    "At least you're awake now..." the nurse said, then left the room in a hurry. A few moments later, she returned with a clipboard in hand, followed by Raven and Kamin.

    "Wh... where... what..?" she asked in a daze.

    "Save your strength, Andrea," Raven said. "We are back in Blackwood Grove."

    "I'm so glad you're okay..." Kamin said.

    She struggled once more to sit up, pushing herself towards the top of the bed. She ran her finger down the side of her face, taking note of the stitches that mended her cut back together. "Uuuuh..." she started. "How long?"

    "It has been three days," Raven said. "Leslie did good job taking care of you. Fever almost took you."

    "I'd stop poking that if I were you," the nurse said.

    "Andrea, I extend town's gratitude for helping take care of the beast," he said. "That was brave of you to stand in face of adversity with such a wound."

    "Yeah. You really surprised me back there." Kamin added. "When I met you, I thought you were some scared little girl, but I was wrong."

    Andrea let out an unenthusiastic, confused chuckle.

    He walked over and opened her hand, placing a miniaturized Pokéball into it. "I believe this is yours."

    She studied the Pokéball, then placed it on the table beside the bed. "That's... uhh... what?"

    The nurse placed her hand beside her mouth as if to speak to only Raven and Kamin. "She's still loopy in the head. I just wanted you guys to see that she's fine. She'll be with it this afternoon. I can't promise she'll be in a good mood, though."

    "Ah, very well. Come, Kamin, we let her rest."

    As she watched Raven and Kamin leave, she rubbed her finger down her scar one more time. "This... will this..?"

    "If you're asking if that thing will be visible after it's healed up... Most likely. But don't worry, you'll still be good looking if that's what you're wondering." She placed her hand on Andrea's forehead to check if the fever was subsiding, but it didn't appear to be doing so. "Look, try to get some more sleep. You've had a rough week." She took a few notes on the clipboard and placed it on the table beside her, then left the room.

    - - - - -

    Several days had come and gone since Andrea had woken up, days she took off to rest and recover. She had taken the time to inform those she knew about what had happened. Her father was proud of her for showing the level of bravery she did, but stressed that she should be more careful. Her mother on the other hand urged her to come home, citing her encounter at the Blackwood lumber yard as evidence that the world was indeed a dangerous place and that she wasn't ready for it. Larson used it to emphasize the importance of being a properly prepared trainer, while Professor Ansen saw it as an unnecessary risk unbefitting of a research assistant. Still, they were all grateful that she had made a recovery.

    Her reputation in the town had changed, too. Since helping Raven and Kamin at the lumber yard, the residents of the village had been much friendlier towards her, though some were still suspicious of her intentions. Still, she found time to relax, taking in what little local atmosphere was present as she planned her next move.

    She was seated inside the same recovery room she had been in the past few days, listening to a radio broadcast. Major topics included the arson of the Crimson Crawdaunt, the passing of Hurricane Adele and the upcoming preparations for the Dragon Festival at Castle Selgarde. As she listened to the radio, she was reading a book about aerodynamics, which was strange to find in the library of a backwoods town that barely resembled even the industrial era.

    A ringing came from Andrea's purse. She dug through it to pick up her phone and answered it.

    "Hello?" she asked.

    "Hey, it's Professor Ansen! I just thought I'd check up on ya."

    "Hi, what's up?" she asked.

    "How ya doin'? Feeling any better?"

    "I still feel like I got hit by a truck... But I think I'm alright."

    "Good," the professor said, then paused. "I want to apologize for freaking out over the whole thing. I shouldn't have done that, especially while you were recovering."

    "It's alright, I needed to learn a lesson."

    "Maybe, but that's in the past. I've put you back onto the assignment in Cinder Hill and given you an extension, since I imagine you'll still need a few more days to recover."

    "Thank you! I was worried I lost my chance there..."

    "You did... until I thought it over." she said. "Anyways, I'm going to let you be. Take it easy, okay?"

    "Will do," she replied. "Bye."

    She hung her phone up, then looked around and walked over to the sink in the corner of the room, staring into the mirror. She looked at the scar on her face, then reasoned that she had taken enough time to recover. She returned to the bed and began to pack up the things she would need for another day on the town. She left the small recovery room, going down the hallway towards the lobby of the Pokécenter. She tried to sneak by undetected, but the nurse noticed her.

    "Going somewhere, Andrea?" the nurse asked.

    "Umm... just going for a walk." she said.

    "With all of your belongings? C'mere." she said, motioning for her to come over to the front desk. "At least let me get a final look to see that you aren't getting an infection." She took a close look at the scar on her face, poking at the bottom of it. "Hmm... looks fine to me... Be careful, okay?"

    "I will."

    "Oh, if you're intending on leaving town... stop by and see Kamin first, will ya? He asked to see you this morning while you were asleep."

    "I'm not leaving yet... I have unfinished business." She left the Pokécenter, walking out into the foreboding darkness.

    - - - - -

    "Do you feel it, son?" Raven asked. "The darkness grows stronger."

    "I don't think I do..." Kamin said.

    The two were seated across from each other in front of a fire pit in the central room of their home. Raven was in a deep meditation, while Kamin was having difficulty focusing. Around the fire pit were six collections of scented candles representing the sacred forces that formed the center of Raven's spirituality; flames, stone, air, water, order and purity. The room was dim, lit only by the candles and the small flames in the fire pit.

    "I'm just not attuned, that has to be it." Kamin said.

    "There is no attunement. Everyone gifted by the Six Sacreds."

    "I must not be. I'm sure in all of the years of travelling you've done, you've met people your gods don't favor."

    Raven opened his eyes. "The gods favor all men, even those who do not understand the power they command."

    There was a knock at the door. Kamin stood up. "I'll get it." He opened the door to see Andrea standing there.

    Andrea saw the ritual the two were engaged in. "Is this a bad time?"

    "No, I think we were just about finished," he replied. "How ya feeling?"

    "The fever is gone, but I still have a headache. I think I'm fine."

    "Ah, Andrea. Good to see recovery is going well. Please, sit with us." Raven requested.

    She felt it would be a waste of time, but she didn't want to be rude to the people who've extended so much hospitality to her. She and Kamin sat down next to each other across from Raven.

    "I am doing ritual from homeland, designed to reveal evil spirits. Perhaps you may see what my son does not." He dipped his finger into the burning embers, covering it in ashes. "If I may have forehead, please."

    She looked at Kamin and shrugged, leaning forward. She closed her eyes and felt his meaty finger draw a peculiar shape on her forehead, well away from the cut on the side of her face.

    "This is Rune of Purity. Elder Paragon from my homeland use it to find the darkness and expel it."

    "Interesting," she said.

    "Join me in meditation."

    The three closed their eyes, silent as the night. A low, melodic humming came from Raven as he recited words she couldn't understand. Confused, she opened her eyes and looked around. The flames in the fire pit began to dim and blow around, but she felt no breeze.

    He broke from his strange language to ask a question. "Do you feel it? The darkness. It manifests."

    "I don't think I do..." she replied.

    "Hmmph," Raven started, opening his eyes. As his concentration broke, the flickering flames returned to their former strength. "Perhaps degree of skepticism interfere with Six Sacreds. A shame."

    "We're not as experienced as you are, father."

    "That is true," he replied. "What brings you here, Andrea?"

    She looked around at the candles and the fire pit. "This, actually. Over the past few days, I've been very curious about this forest. About where all of this darkness might be coming from and who those creeps out there might be."

    "Ah, the Cult of the Lost. Unfortunately, I not have all of the answers, but I have even greater fear. While you two can not feel it, darkness is certainly getting stronger. They must be connected."

    "Who are these guys, anyways? I've never heard of them until a few days ago." she asked.

    "The Cult of the Lost are people who've been taken away from us. Some go willingly, others are kidnapped. They're a bunch of whack jobs still loyal to some false king of Storm Island who's been dead for hundreds of years. Or they're loyal to the promises of power." Kamin said.

    "They control dark powers. Their rituals involve sacrifices of blood. They have been preying on people of forest since before I arrived on Storm Island, but we have been able to fight them off over time." Raven added.

    "Where do these people come from? Do they live in scattered villages throughout the forest?"


    "Have you guys searched any of these villages? Maybe a clue could be found."

    "No. Much too dangerous."

    "Hmm, yeah. That's true." She started tapping on her R-Kit's screen. "This thing on my wrist here might help, it can detect, scan and analyze all sorts of low level radiation and energy waves. I've used it before to scan crystals I found outside of Silvermist City and forwarded my data back to the Professor. Maybe if we found something these creeps have been using, it could help shed some light."

    "Hey, that's not a bad idea... Father, maybe we could take her to the obelisk south of town. We've seen some of the Lost out there over the years." Kamin said.

    "Are you up for it?" Raven asked.

    "I think I'm getting cabin fever from staying in that little room all day. I need to get out, even if it's only for a few hours."

    "Very well," he said, grabbing some sand from around the fire pit and smothering the flames with it. "We will take you to obelisk."

    "Thank you."

    - - - - -

    "I can not say for certain what the Lost use obelisk for," Raven said. "Their rituals far different than mine, and I can not draw comparisons."

    The group was approaching a tall and jagged yet polished black stone. The stone itself looked as if it had been there for thousands of years, but stood out from the rest of the forest and the surrounding rocks in the area. Just looking at it from a distance gave Andrea the sense that it had come from outer space, but she couldn't be certain until she had taken a closer look. The area around the stone was dead; there was no grass in a thirty foot diameter around the stone, and the leaves and needles of the nearby trees were wilted and brown. There were no indications of any Pokémon in the area. The soft dirt lacked footprints, and there were no other physical signs of any potential visitors.

    As the group got closer to the stone, Andrea's lantern began to flicker and falter. She eyed the two nervously, but approached closer still. Kamin's Houndour was providing enough light for her to see should her lantern completely give out.

    "Be careful around this thing. Last time I was around it, I began to feel a bit ill." Kamin said.

    Andrea timidly approached the towering obelisk, gently setting her flickering lantern on the barren dirt. She noticed that its surface was covered entirely in carved pictograms, but unfortunately none that she could recognize. While some obviously resembled people, Pokémon or other simple shapes like stars and rings, their meaning was lost on her. As she continued to study the pictograms, looking for anything she might recognize, she began to lose sight of what she was doing and feel light headed. She placed her hand on her forehead and took a deep breath to regain her focus.

    "You okay?" Kamin asked.

    "I'm fine," she said, returning to her study. On certain sections of the obelisk, she noticed small globs of purple, opaque goo. Curious, she raised her R-Kit to scan it.

    "Analyzing..." the R-Kit said in a robotic voice. "Unknown material detected. Organic properties present. Cell structure detected. Deeper analysis at a laboratory required."

    "Do either of you know what this is?"

    Raven knelt down to inspect the goo. "I have seen it in homeland. Elders call it 'Earthblood', found in caverns under Providence Bluffs. They did not know specifics. Used in ritual of purification and healing."

    "I'll send some to Professor Ansen," she said. She reached into her purse, grabbing a half empty water bottle. She poured the water out into the mud, then scraped some of the goo off of the obelisk and placed it into the bottle. She raised her R-Kit once more, scanning other areas on the rest of the obelisk.

    "Anomalous energy signatures detected. Energy analysis commencing..." the R-Kit chirped. "Analysis complete. Wavelength is measured to be 10 to the power of negative 16. Frequency in Hertz is measured to be approximate 10 to the power of 25."

    She backed away from the stone instinctively and quickly. "Ummm... If this is right, I wouldn't stand next to that."

    "Why?" Kamin asked.

    "Have either of you heard of the electromagnetic spectrum?"

    Raven shook his head. Kamin told of his brief exposure to it as he studied in school.

    "Basically... this thing is outputting radiation far more powerful than that observed in nuclear fission."

    "It can't be. I've stood next to this thing many, many times in the past and I haven't felt anything beyond a headache." Kamin said. Despite his skepticism to Andrea's claims, he heeded her words of caution and stepped back a sizable distance, just to be safe.

    "I know, it doesn't make sense. We should have died instantly just approaching it if that were the case..." she replied.

    "Any ideas, then?" he asked.

    "Either my R-Kit is wrong, or it has no affect on people, like microwaves or visible light. Still, it's curious... I'm going to have to do some more observations."

    As she continued to scan the obelisk and the surrounding ring of stones, a bright light could be seen in the distance. It grew closer and closer, revealing an old man who was travelling alone. He was wearing a tan, woolen vest over a white button shirt. His brown khaki pants were covered in numerous pockets, each stuffed to the brim with unknown contents. Sitting on his face were the thickest glasses that had ever been created, almost opaque, sporting a neon green tinge.

    Andrea noticed the man approaching, then backed away cautiously.

    "It is alright, Andrea. This man is friend." Raven said. "Dr. Egon, it has been many years."

    "It has," the man said. "You look as intimidating as ever. And you, boy... I fear I have forgotten your name, but my! Look how you've grown!"

    "Kamin, sir."

    "Ah, yes, yes... I was told that I would find you here." Dr. Egon said. "It has been a long time since we've worked together, Raven, but I know that you are still a capable man."

    "I pale in comparison to you," Raven said, bowing in respect.

    "You do," he said, lifting his chin upward and turning to the side. "Who is your associate here? Can I trust her?"

    "This is Andrea Dennison, a travelling research assistant. She's working for Professor Ansen in Blueleaf Village." Kamin said. "She's done some brave stuff out here, I think you can trust her."

    "Ah, is that right? I have met Professor Ansen many years ago, when she was Dr. Spruce's assistant. She is so sure of her work, but lacks true experience in the fields of science." He extended his hand politely towards Andrea. "She is young, like you. I can forgive her for that."

    "That's an interesting opinion..." she said, shaking his hand.

    "If I have offended you, I apologize," He tilted his head to the side and lowered his glasses to look at Raven. "What are you doing here, anyways?"

    "Andrea is curious about darkness, so we took her to observe it."

    "And what has our little scientist found?"

    Andrea grabbed the small vial of goo from her purse and handed it to Dr. Egon.

    Dr. Egon grabbed the vial from her and placed it up close to his thick glasses. He tilted it back and forth, causing it to slowly drain to the bottom end. "Ah! Ectoplasm! This is rare stuff, and not much is known about it. Perhaps I may collect a sample as well while we're here."

    "I've also found some strange energy signatures originating from the obelisk itself. They're radiation waves that extend beyond the limits of observed gamma rays present in nuclear fission and even in outer space."

    Dr. Egon took a look at the obelisk and took a few steps back. "And you're standing here, unprotected?"

    "It doesn't make any sense, does it?" Kamin asked.

    "No... perhaps you've stumbled on something that has escaped modern science for decades!" Dr. Egon said with excitement. "Or your measuring equipment is laughably broken. Or perhaps you don't understand how it works. That is the more likely scenario... Raven, I need the help of someone I can trust. My younger colleagues have determined that I am merely a crazy old man and have refused to help."

    "What is it?"

    "I have determined the location of the lost castle of Wolftree Keep. I was hoping you and your boy would join me in exploring it."

    "Wolftree Keep?" Raven asked, curious of the name. "I am no expert on island history, but Wolftree Keep destroyed in civil war."

    Andrea added, "Yes, I do remember hearing that in my history classes."

    "Wolftree Keep was indeed destroyed when the forces loyal to Prince Haynes were exiled from the forest. But I believe that the local members of the Cult of the Lost have rebuilt it."

    "Pardon my skepticism," Raven said.

    Dr. Egon reached into the pocket under his woolen vest and retrieved a yellowed piece of parchment. "One of my associates intercepted this message from a member of the Lost two weeks ago, meant for another village. Give it a gander."

    Raven grabbed the scroll and unrolled it. He read the single sentence, scrawled in brown ink. "Wolftree's demand calls for more gifts from the heart of purity." He lowered the parchment, then looked up at Dr. Egon. "This confirms suspicion of sacrifices."

    "I would say so, yes," Dr. Egon replied. "We must act with haste if we are to discover the true intent of the Cult of the Lost."

    "Where is Wolftree Keep?" Kamin asked.

    "I have not seen it myself, but my associate who intercepted that message informed me that it's about a day's walk northeast of Blackwood Grove, and a day and a half north of Murk Row."

    "I've never been to that section... Let's check it out, father."

    "Very well. We will return to Blackwood Grove to gather supplies." Raven replied.

    "Sounds dangerous... You sure we can do it?" Andrea asked.

    "Your safety is paramount importance. We will scout ahead without you."


    "You must recover!" Raven said.

    "No, I'm coming with you. I'm sick of people not believing in me. I'm not some frail, little flower." she insisted. "You might need all of the help you can get. While I can't offer much, the amount of data I could gather is far too much to risk not going."

    Dr. Egon stood back up, placing a sample of the purple goo that he had taken into his vest pocket. "It will be dangerous, young lady,"

    "I know. There's danger everywhere. But how do you think the first airplane pilot felt when she went down the runway just before she took off? Or the first astronauts? Nuclear physicists? They took risks to further our species. They understood the danger and how the pursuit of knowledge was more important."

    Dr. Egon smiled. "It's been a long time since I've seen someone so young and so passionate about learning. She is right. Science and research don't know fear nor do they understand danger."

    "I must protest," Raven said. "But if that is your wish, we will protect you."

    Dr. Egon clasped his bony hands together and rubbed them together eagerly. "Good! Let us travel!"

    Storm Island
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  3. #33
    Registered User Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    I keep expecting you to go all Lovecraftian and start describing everything as "singular", and possibly "eldritch". "Providence Bluffs" eh?

    It's almost as if the forest is a completely separate world. I suppose that's rather the point ... the story's taking on a bit of a fantasy tone to it. So far I'm buying it, though I am beginning to wonder how far this is going to go. I know there's just been a hurricane and everything, but if the group does find hard evidence of blood sacrifice I'd kind of expect the sensible thing to do would be to get the island police involved.

    This slower chapter was fine, actually necessary in my opinion. After all the action and weirdness since this arc started, a bit of a breather was needed.
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  4. #34
    Ice ice baby Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    The chapter was really good in showcasing Andrea's recovery after the events of the previous chapter as well as expanding more in regards for what´s to come. I keep getting surprised at everything that has been found since Andrea entered the forest and the plot and elements introduced just keep thickening. I don't have much else to say for this chapter aside from that except that I like how you give all of the professors different and varied personality.

  5. #35

    Default Re: Storm Island

    Storm Island
    Chapter 14: Wolftree's Legacy

    It had been several hours of relatively uneventful travel through the dark forest. While they had encountered several strange occurrences along the way, none were as interesting as what they were about to face if the rumors of Wolftree Keep's existence were true. Flickering shadows and eerie noises couldn't compare to what lay in wait, but just what lay in wait was up for debate. Perhaps the rumors were false and all they would see was a vacant clearing, or ruined foundations of the once mighty castle. But what if they were true? What were the Cult of the Lost truly up to inside?

    All of these questions eluded the travellers, even Dr. Egon. His main area of expertise was the paranormal, not the dark arts. Still, with Raven and Kamin filling him in with what they've learned over the years, he theorized that they were attempting to use the natural darkness of the forest as the basis of their rituals, which in turn fueled the very darkness that gave them sustenance. He theorized that the ruins of Wolftree Keep perhaps sat on a hotspot of paranormal activity, due to the bloody history of the area.

    "I wish I knew more, but I must admit that I have not given these loonies the attention they deserve," Dr. Egon said. "Perhaps I should have all along. They have a proficiency with the paranormal that I can not claim to have."

    "What's it like to study the paranormal?" Andrea asked.

    "Unlike anything else I've studied during my long life," he started. "The first thing you receive when you announce the subject of your research as a ghost hunter is a rude laugh. People don't believe in the stories they were told as children... But let me tell you, my research has led me to believe in them again. The night is dark and full of terrors."

    "Come on, though. Demons? Ghosts that steal your soul and send you to hell?" she asked.

    "Yes," he said with conviction. "Society's skepticism is precisely why you don't hear any documentation on cases of these events occurring. When you hear a story of a young girl being led away in the night by a haunted balloon, what is your reaction?"

    "I find it hard to believe, personally," she replied.

    "And that little girl's parents are accused of awful crimes. Nobody believes them." he said. "Meanwhile, their girl is trapped in purgatory, unable to return to life or embrace the sweet release of death."

    "I still find it hard to believe. That's always been a bunch of superstitious crap to me, something that's better left to faith."

    "I do not blame you. It took many years of exposure to this field of science before I began to believe it myself. Like you, as I assume you are, I was once a man of practicality. I believed what I saw, and I supported what I could replicate and study myself. I thought of faith in the unknown as a foolhardy way to live life, until I realized that faith in the unknown is exactly what science is."


    "Let me ask you, young lady. Do you believe that there is life beyond the stars?" he asked.

    "I do. It'd be incredibly naive to think that in all of this expansive universe, we're the only rock floating around a star to have gotten it right. But what's that have to do with faith?"

    "Do you have proof that there is life out there?" he asked. "You do not. Nobody does. Yet you still cling to the idea that we aren't alone, and the idea that we'll one day meet that other civilization. That is faith and science working together."

    "But once we prove things, do they not change from faith to fact?" she asked.

    "I have proven many things in my quest to study the paranormal, but I have more questions than I started with. I have faith in myself and my findings, I have faith in my ideals, and I have faith that one day, we will understand the things we find to be unbelievable, and perhaps even prove the existence of the gods that our ancestors worshipped. That is why I study, and that is why I find it important to challenge that which we believe in."

    She felt inspired by his words, having never thought of it that way.

    "I do not like most scientists. Most scientists pompous and full of selves. But I like you." Raven said.

    Dr. Egon smiled widely and bowed. "That means a lot coming from you, Raven." he said. "But, Miss Dennison, to return to your original question, what is it like? I find it very rewarding. I have helped many grieving families find closure with my research and my techniques. To help a sorrowful widow regain peace and happiness in her life is among my greatest achievements.

    "Do you get a lot of disrespect from your colleagues in other fields?" she asked.

    "Not just from colleagues in other fields, but within my own, too! Most view my methods as unethical or oddly contrived. They see me, as a brilliant mind, working on things they believe serve no purpose in life and look down on me with disgust. To them, I say poppycock!"

    "I see," she said.

    Kamin was lagging behind the group, appearing as if he was dying of the plague. "Not to interrupt this enthralling discussion, but... Shouldn't we have a plan for when we find this place?"

    Dr. Egon lowered his voice to a whisper, directing it at Andrea. "I see someone doesn't understand the true value of knowledge." He raised his voice again. "Very well, Kamin. Would you like to start with the plan?"

    Suddenly, Andrea's lantern begun to flicker. She smacked the top of it, hoping that a good whack would fix the problem, but the flickering persisted.

    "Stop," Kamin said. "Everybody get ready."

    "What's happening?" she asked.

    An ominous breeze blew down the path towards the group, completely shutting her lantern off. The flames sprouting from Hellhounds's back wavered in the wind, but returned to full strength as the wind died down. A chilling laugh could be heard echoing through the forest.

    Raven motioned for Andrea and Kamin to stick close to him. "Stay close. We stand together."

    The otherworldly cackling continued, getting closer to the group as they formed a square to protect each other. Another wind blew down the pathway, this time bringing with it a thick, black fog that reduced the group's already poor visibility. In the distance, a pair of white wisps of light appeared, weaving through the trees and even appearing to pass through some of them. A blue light formed under the white orbs, morphing shape into a devilish grin, lined with jagged spikes that appeared to resemble fangs.

    "I'm picking something up..." Dr. Egon said, pointing a flashing beacon around.

    "There it is!" Kamin shouted, being the first to spot it.

    As the gaseous cloud closed in on the group, a large, flopping tongue dangled from its mouth, dripping a foul smelling substance along the way. It passed over them, attempting to lick one of the unfortunate travellers, but was warded off by the Houndour spitting a stream of flames at it.

    Andrea tried to remain calm as she raised her R-Kit to study the creature, but she couldn't keep her shaking arm straight long enough. It was pointless, anyways; the screen on the R-Kit had fizzled to indecipherable static and the lights along the sides of it blinked randomly. "What is that?!" she shouted.

    "Most dangerous killer of forest!" Raven said.

    "Haunter!" Dr. Egon said. "And a beautiful specimen! I must get a closer look!"

    The group prepared for battle; Raven reached into his tribal satchel, pulling out a rustic-looking wooden Pokéball. He tossed it forward to reveal a large mole-like creature. Atop the creature's elongated head was a shiny, metallic growth that looked much like an industrial drill. The claws at the end of his stubby arms resembled spiked garden shovels. He was certainly an odd thing, distracting Andrea briefly before she returned to the matter at hand. She reached into her pocket and grabbed Sorrow's Pokéball, tossing it out into the field. She had good experiences with her so far, confident that she was a fine choice for the battle ahead.

    Dr. Egon didn't call out any of his own Pokémon. Instead, he tapped a button on his own R-Kit, causing the green tint on the lenses in his glasses to shine brightly, almost like night vision goggles. He retrieved another scanner from one of his many pockets and what looked like a coiled copper antenna from another.

    "Let me take the charge, father. I need the training." Kamin said.

    "Understood. I will support if I must."

    "Hellhound, we need to show this ghost that we're not easy prey."

    Hellhound listened intently at his master's comments, knowing just what to do. He lowered towards the ground, letting out a deep and chilling bark. He ran off into battle, the flames in his eye sockets intensifying as he studied the ghost's movements. He breathed a ravenous torrent of white hot flames in the general direction of the Haunter, missing as it phased from and back into reality.

    "You're not doing a good job of showing we're not easy! I need you to trap it!"

    Before Hellhound could react to his new orders, however, the Haunter closed in for an attack. It lowered its massive, drooping tongue towards the ground, cackling along the way. Hellhound ignored the order, instead breathing a focused blast of fire into the face of the oncoming Haunter. The Haunter emerged from the cloud of flames completely unharmed, its tongue sliding across Hellhound's back. Hellhound froze in fear and fell over, struggling valiantly as he tried to get back onto his feet.

    "Tomriin, my son may need help! Get ready!" Raven shouted. The large mole-like creature raised his metal claws, stomping forward in an aggressive and imposing manner.

    "No, I've got this," Kamin said. He reached into his pocket and pulled out Hellhound's Pokéball and another Pokéball that had a net-like pattern on its blue lid. After recalling Hellhound, he threw the other Pokéball out into the field ahead of him, summoning his Parasect, Scratches.

    Upon seeing the Parasect appear in front of her, Andrea immediately had flashbacks to the Silverridge Mines and hid behind Dr. Egon to use him as a shield. She wasn't sure what to be more afraid of, a giant bug or the ghost that was circling above them cackling like a witch.

    "Alright, Scratches, listen up!" Kamin said, kneeling down next to his stoic, zombie-like companion. "You're at a disadvantage here, so I need you to use that technique we've spent the last week working on. I need you to pull an Astral Strike out of the hat."

    Without a sound, Scratches raised his two massive claws and lifted off of the ground, teetering in the Haunter's direction like a demented crab. When it reached the area in front of the Haunter, it sat down again, motioning at the Haunter with a taunting gesture. The Haunter responded with an amused laugh and dove downward at Scratches, its wide mouth opening even further as it did so.

    "That might not be good..." Dr. Egon muttered to himself. "I do hope that Kamin knows what he is doing..."

    With little time to prepare, Scratches pressed his claws against the mushroom sprouting off of his back. The spotted pattern on the mushroom shifted almost like camouflage to resemble a crescent moon and a star inside it. His claws began to glow with white intensity as he struck at the encroaching Haunter. With devastating speed, Scratches lashed out at his target so furiously that the Haunter seemed to fall apart. The purple mist that it was made of fell to the ground and billowed around like a thick, dense cloud.

    "Well I'll be! Impressive work, Kamin!" Dr. Egon said with excitement. He reached into the pocket that ran alongside his leg, pulling out a small metallic box with a hinged top on it. He tossed the box out towards the cloud of purple mist as it began to swirl in a counter-clockwise motion and reform.

    "Thank you, sir, but we're not done yet, are we?"

    "I think we are," he replied, watching as the Haunter reformed into its previous shape. "This will be a fine research subject."

    With the press of a button on his R-Kit, the top of the machine flipped open and a blinding surge of light escaped. The once confident and menacing Haunter's expression changed to that of fear and horror as it was caught within the grasp of the box. It resisted and resisted, but the pull of the box was too much; the box quickly sucked the Haunter in, leaving behind a crackle of static electricity. He walked over calmly and picked the box up.

    "Interesting... Spirit ward in machine form," Raven said.

    "Precisely. I never would have been able to create it without your expertise, Raven." he said.

    Raven smiled. "We must continue, we have castle to find."

    With the threat neutralized, Andrea tried to steel her nerves and calm herself. Kamin recalling Scratches helped a bunch, as did her lantern returning to working order. She couldn't help but wonder what Haunter really was, and why it had such effects on her technological gadgets. She was determined to ask Dr. Egon when the task at hand was over. Perhaps he would know more.

    - - - - -

    The group continued their travels through the forest. They discussed strategy with each other, and what they would do if they did indeed find the legendary ruins of Wolftree Keep. Andrea suggested contacting her father and getting the Storm Island police involved, though Raven stated that he had tried before. It appeared that many people across the island, including the police, didn't take the situation in Blackwood Forest seriously. Kamin figured that only with serious proof of a murderous cult would the Storm Island police feel obligated to do anything.

    Every now and then, they would hear a frightening and loud roar of unknown origin, possibly indicating that they were getting closer to the rebuilt Wolftree Keep. The roar was unlike anything any of the four had heard before; Not deep like a lion's, not high pitched like a wolf's howl. This roar had a scratchy quality to it, with Andrea likening it to the roars the Azure Ridge History Museum used for their dinosaur exhibits.

    The roars weren't the only imposing presence they felt. As they travelled, the effectiveness of Andrea's lantern seemed to dwindle. At first she thought the battery might be dying until she remembered the advertised thousand hour lifetime on it. But that couldn't have been it anyways; the flames on Hellhound's back were as strong as ever, yet they seemed to put out less light. Raven theorized that they were getting closer to a source of great, unnatural darkness, something they all agreed on.

    "Is it alright if I admit that I'm scared?" Andrea asked.

    "Of course. We all are." Dr. Egon said. "We are journeying into the unknown, with no promise of our safety."

    "Then why are we doing it?" she asked.

    "Sometimes we must make sacrifices for the greater good. Sometimes those sacrifices are little more than time spent, other times it can cost someone their life. Let's hope it's the former."

    "You should know by now that the world is a dangerous place, Andrea," Kamin said. "That is what life is about, conquering your fears and the dangers associated with them. It seems like you haven't done much of that in your life, so perhaps getting mixed up in all of this was fate, something to prepare you for the road ahead of you."

    "I never could... My mother wouldn't let me. Everything was dangerous to her, even sitting outside under the sun."

    "Well, that's dangerous to me. I haven't seen the sun in over six months!" he joked.

    She didn't believe it. She grabbed his arm and rolled his sleeve up, comparing her skin tone to his. All her years of exposure to the tropical sun of Storm Island had left her with an olive tone, while Kamin was almost as pale as winter snow. "You aren't kidding..." she said with a laugh.

    Dr. Egon whispered to Raven. "Look at those two... They've known each other for only a few days, and they're already sharing a personal laugh."

    "It is good. My son not have many friends in Blackwood Grove. We will be sad when she leaves."

    "Such is the song of life, a fact I'm all too familiar with. Friendships, no matter if they're as short as a day, or as long as a decade, can be shattered in an instant with distance. Technology is changing that, but nothing can compare to the warm embrace of company."

    "Yes, that is true," he said. "Is why I am here. I came in search of lost love who travelled to Storm Island. I have yet to find her, but I have not given up."

    "A noble cause. It's a shame that you've found yourself pinned to the forest, protecting the people from it. Perhaps when all of this is over, you can resume your search."

    "I hope."

    Their conversations were interrupted by another roar in the distance, this one sounding much closer. Every few seconds, a deep concussive sound could be heard as the ground shook beneath them. Whatever had been making the noises they had heard for the past half hour was coming closer, and whatever it was was large. The sound of a tree falling over in the darkness in front of them put them on alert as they stopped in their tracks.

    Andrea turned her lantern off, hoping not to draw the attention of whatever was out there. Where she had been shining her lantern, dim violet lights could be seen in the distance, passing through the trees. A strange clattering sound could be heard as they waited in silence.

    "What do you think it is?" Dr. Egon asked.

    "I do not know," Raven said. He grabbed a rustic, wooden Pokéball from his satchel and called out Hono-eh, his Marowak. "We must be ready for anything."

    "Agreed," he replied. He grabbed a purple Pokéball with red gems studded to the top of it from his vest pocket and tossed it downward to the ground. "Illusia, are you up for the task?" he asked as another Haunter, distinct from the one they battled previously by its greenish tones, appeared.

    "Sorrow!" Andrea called out, extending her arm skyward. Sorrow appeared from the trees, floating down towards the ground in front of her.


    The group cautiously waited for what approached them. As the purple lights drew closer, they began to illuminate what was coming towards them. A large conglomeration of various bones arranged in the frame of a frightening dragon-like creature shambled through the darkness. It crawled on all fours, keeping its massive, bony wings folded at its sides. At the ends of its arms were large, hooked claws, polished to a razor sharp edge. It took a look at the group through its empty eye sockets and stopped in its tracks.

    "W-What is that?!" Andrea shouted.

    "My god..." Dr. Egon marveled, raising his scanner and clicking the button on it. "The rumors are true..."

    "Never in my years have I seen creature like this!" Raven said.

    The skeletal dragon roared at the group, shaking the nearby area with deafening, concussive force. As if signaled by the roar, three smaller creatures, also composed of a mish-mash of seemingly random bone fragments, scurried out from the bushes on both sides of the trail. These creatures were much smaller, but fearsome in their own right; what they lacked in arms was made up in sharpened bones. They glistened in the dim light that Hellhound's fire provided, reflecting almost like metal.

    "We can't take something like this on!" Kamin shouted.

    "We must stand now to protect residents of the forest!" Raven said in a commanding voice. "Hono-eh! We should deal with weaker creatures first! Use whatever means necessary!"

    Hono-eh grumbled through the skull over her head. She raised her arm into the air, summoning a polished bone, her weapon of choice, with a bright flash. She waved it in the air and twirled it elegantly before tossing it with a great burst of energy at one of the smaller skeletal creatures. The bone flew through the air in a curved motion, smashing into it. The creature fell apart, and the violet sparks that held it together evaporated into the air.

    "The creatures are fragile. Use to your advantage!" Raven suggested.

    Meanwhile, Andrea had chosen another of the creatures and ordered Sorrow to make an attack. "Use another one of your curses, Sorrow! You seem to be good at that!"

    "Brawwwk, curse! Sorrow!" she squawked. She hovered over one of the skeletal creatures, her eyes letting off a dark blue, ethereal smoke. Bright points of light appeared under her talons, forming an ancient rune that Andrea was unable to recognize. The rune shot downward at the skeletal creature, impacting it and knocking a few bones into the air, but the creature stood firm.

    The skeletal creature ignored Sorrow, instead focusing on Hono-eh. It skittered along the muddy path with surprising agility, jumping at her with its blade-like arms outstretched. It latched onto her back, attempting to break the skull that shielded her head open, but the best its blade-like arms could do was scratch it.

    On the other side of the field, Dr. Egon was focusing on the last of the smaller skeletal creatures. "Let's erase a bit of the competition, Illusia. Reaper's Grasp!"

    Illusia's cackling was chilling as she set sights on the final skeletal creature. Her mouth widened to a freakish size as she swept across the battlefield, swallowing the creature whole. With a large, cartoonish gulp, Illusia licked her lips with her massive, translucent tongue and laughed once more.

    "Too easy!" Dr. Egon exclaimed. "Now, we need that dragon distracted while Raven deals with that other devil. Go, Illusia!"

    As Illusia continued her rampage, Kamin was determined to help his father. "Go on, Hellhound. Hono-eh needs your help! Get that little bastard off of her!"

    Hellhound ignored the command, thinking of the small creature as an unworthy opponent. Instead, he dashed off towards the skeletal dragon, snarling into a roar as he did so.

    "Hellhound, no! Back! Back!"

    It was too late. Hellhound was locked into a rage, focusing on what he thought was the proper target. The dragon stood up on its hind legs, drawing in the air around it. The sparks of dark essence at the center of its rib cage brightened significantly as it lurched forward, sending a visible blast of frigid, arctic air at Hellhound. Hellhound was no match, being blown backward as the gust of icy air smashed into him. The flames erupting from his back and around his eyes smoldered and faded as he lay motionless on the trail.

    "Damn it! Why do you never listen?!" Kamin exclaimed with frustration. He recalled Hellhound, thinking of what to do next.

    Meanwhile, Hono-eh was struggling against the smaller creature as it stabbed at her with its bony arms. She was able to hook her stubby arms under the creature and pulled it off of her back, raising it above her head. She thrust it downward multiple times, sending bone fragments flying as she attempted to dash it to pieces. At last, she was successful; the violet essence that held the creature together faded into the air.

    With the smaller skeletal creatures defeated, the skeletal dragon was all that stood in the way, but they all knew that it would not be an easy fight. The dragon stood on its hind legs, reaching a towering height of nearly nine feet, as it once again drew in the air around it. It exhaled a large, billowing cloud of icy blue flames upward into the air directly at Sorrow, knocking her out of the sky. Thick, heavy icicles formed on the trees around her, causing the branches to sag.

    "Locke, please... I can always count on you..." Kamin muttered to himself as he tossed a Pokéball to the ground. His Nuzleaf appeared, emerging from a cloud of leaves and howled with anticipation for the coming battle.

    "Perhaps wyrm is as weak as little devils," Raven said. "Hono-eh, do as you did before, smash creature apart!"

    Hono-eh raised her bone, twirling it in the air on the tip of her clawed finger. She tossed the bone with all of her might, watching it curve through the air towards the skeletal dragon, but to everyone's shock, the bone was split in half as the dragon lashed out with its claws. Hono-eh was most surprised, responding by picking up a small boulder from the side of the road and charging forward fearlessly.

    "I can not risk you, Hono-eh! Return!"

    Upon hearing the order, Hono-eh stopped instantly, dropping the boulder at her feet. She faded into a glob of red energy as she was recalled into her rustic wooden Pokéball.

    "Tomriin, I require your assistance!" he said, unleashing his Excadrill. "Son, we work together. Shield Tomriin! I may need your help as well, Dr. Egon."

    "You heard my father, Locke," Kamin said.

    Locke nodded, beginning an elaborate, almost tribal dance. Long grass, leaves and choking vines began to appear at Tomriin's feet, with the leaves breaking off and forming a protective but flimsy looking shield.

    "Illusia, augment our friend with your ghostly abilities. We'll need everything we can throw if we're to defeat this dragon!" Dr. Egon commanded.

    Illusia nodded, floating over towards Tomriin. Her facial features faded as she split into two equally sized clouds of ethereal energy and wrapped around Tomriin's massive metallic claws.

    As ready as he felt he would ever be, Tomriin took several lumbering steps toward the skeletal dragon with Locke following close behind. Tomriin and the dragon stopped and stared at each other, waiting to make the first move. Tomriin raised his claws, which began to spin quickly like a drill, making a taunting gesture at the dragon. The dragon didn't respond with anything that could be mistaken as emotion, but slowly approached, shaking the earth with every step.

    "This is it... all or nothing." Dr. Egon said.

    "We're not going to die, are we?" Andrea asked, hiding behind him.

    "I can't promise, but we'll try our best to survive."

    The dragon stood on its hind legs, taking a monstrous swipe at Tomriin, who blocked with his left claw and stabbed with his right. The bones making up the dragon's talons began to chip away as they touched the spinning blades, breaking off in large sections as it tried to overpower him. Tomriin stabbed away with his right claw, breaking off the dragon's ribs with each attack, but it seemed to shrug off each attack.

    The dragon pushed Tomriin away and took a few steps back. It took a deep breath, enraging the purple flames within it. It breathed out, spitting a blue stream of ice cold flames directly at Tomriin. The flames did little against the shield of leaves that protected him, however. Tomriin lumbered forward, going in for the finishing blow. With a wide swipe of his spinning claws, he sheared off one of the dragons wings, causing the bones to shatter as they hit the ground.

    The dragon roared in an attempt to scare Tomriin off, but failed to do so. Tomriin continued his assault, knocking an arm off next, followed by more ribs and the other wing. The dragon stood firmly, however, despite losing large amounts of its body.

    "The violet flames must be the energy source holding it together. Illusia, that is your target!" Dr. Egon called out.

    Illusia raised off of Tomriin's claws, reforming into her normal shape. She opened her mouth wide, rushing forward towards the violet core of the dragon. With a large gulp, she gathered up as much as she could, then watched as the dragon began to fall apart. The dragon roared as it lost a leg and fell over, struggling to regain its footing. Finally, the skull fell to the ground, the jaw unhinging from it. The bones sat on the ground lifelessly.

    "Is that it?" Kamin asked, waiting for a surprise twist.

    "I will take no risks. Smash idle bones, Tomriin!" Raven ordered.

    Tomriin wandered around, using his claws to grind the larger bones down to unrecognizable chips. It appeared as if the dragon was defeated. Tomriin, Locke and Illusia returned to their masters' sides.

    Kamin let out a deep sigh of relief. "Good work, everyone. That could have gone real bad."

    "We must find source of wyrm now. Safety of entire forest is at risk!" Raven said.

    "No... W-we should turn back, g-get some help. Who knows what else is out there?" Andrea said, her confidence in her allies wavering.

    "And who's going to help?" Kamin asked.

    "My father... I'll call my father. He's a police officer, he can--"

    "We already explained, that would take days for them to get out here, if they even bothered to care," he said.

    Dr. Egon placed his hand on her shoulder. "For better or for worse, we have a job to do now. I understand if you're scared, but you are surrounded by experienced Pokémon trainers."

    "But we could still--"

    He placed his index finger on her lips. "If you run away now, all that you, Raven and Kamin have worked towards will be thrown aside. Even worse, the Cult of the Lost may be working to create more of those creatures. If we strike while their defenses are down, we may be able to stop them. I we don't... It doesn't matter where you run, the entire island could be at risk. Nowhere will be safe."

    She took a deep breath, trying to absorb his advice. She realized that he was right, but it did little to calm her nerves. She tried her best to fight back at the voices in her head, telling her that she would fail if she tried. "Alright. I'm with you guys."
    Last edited by Eliza Prescott; 1st May 2014 at 08:32 AM.

    Storm Island
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    A Lannister always pays her debts.

  6. #36
    Registered User Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    @AC-Prescott, are you still collaborating with Caitlin? Just curious

    Anyway, I love what an insane pastiche this story is. It's not quite crime mystery, not quite fantasy, a speck of journey fic and a bit of sci-fi. The different technologies turning up are fun, and I hope you keep them toned down. Magic tech kind of gets on my nerves in pokémon if it's overdone (I'm looking at you, Pokémon Hunter Sue and your petrifier cannon). The battles still surprise me in how well they work - a lot of fun to be had with the Haunter in this chapter

    I have to say though, you didn't win me over with the heartwarming moment. I mean, it was ok but it didn't have the emotion in it. And then you tried to tell me that it was heartwarming which then came across as a turn off
    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.

    My new blog, Pavell's Scribbledegook (Week II)

  7. #37

    Default Re: Storm Island

    Yeah, I struggled immensely with that heartwarming moment part. I thought about cutting it out entirely, and perhaps it would have served a better purpose in a future chapter, perhaps with other characters. But at the same time, it felt like I needed something to break up the action bits. Perhaps I can just go back and take out the reference to it being a heartwarming moment... It was originally intended to be one, as it was supposed to be Andrea cracking Kamin's shell slightly. Perhaps I've failed in putting across the fact that he is an absolute dick, and I was hoping some sort of friendly interaction would get some character development in.

    Magic tech should hopefully not be a thing in this story. I will strive to find reasonably plausible scientific explanations for technology that take advantage of magical tropes, while true "magic" (which as we have seen does exist) will remain a blur.

    As far as collaboration, yes and no. Caitlin has taken a different path in her life, moving to a rural setting and starting from scratch so that she can escape the pressures of city life and the people who have been holding her back. Without internet access and even a computer, she put me in charge of the series and told me that I can make any changes I wish as long as the core plots of the series remain. I was going to do this anyways, and further, she can return to the project whenever she wishes. It's been difficult, though, and it may show through the quality of the writing. I never realized how much I took her for granted when it came to idea bouncing until I was the only one doing it.

    Storm Island
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  8. #38
    Registered User Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Lucky Caitlin. The rest of us have to put up with their crushing ruts [/grumbles]. No, really, I don't begrudge her that.

    Heartwarming moments are hard - you need to earn them with a lot of set-up. I like Andrea and I root for her, but I think perhaps that Kamin has been too much of an NPC support character for me to be invested in, at least
    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.

    My new blog, Pavell's Scribbledegook (Week II)

  9. #39
    Future Mrs. Ketchum SerenaKetchum's Avatar
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    I saw this had won some awards so decided to give it a whirl :) I'm very pleased I did too! Awesome prose and actual emotion that is evident with the characters. I've always wondered how a co-authored story could manage to be so seamless with the writing, but this is great.

    Heartwarming moment at the end too :) Cheers!

  10. #40
    Ice ice baby Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Storm Island

    All right, I know it took me a couple of days to read this (it was actually a couple of weeks) but I was finally able to read it. I really liked the chapter and I liked what you did with the bone Pokemon, I also think the battle was done a lot better this time around, though it did get a bit tiresome around the end of the chapter itself, mostly because I feel they spent too long fighting the minions.

    I kind of found the Kamin and Andrea moment more funny than heart warming xD and actually now that you mentioned it I never did actually see Kamin as a bad guy, he seemed more aloof to me.

  11. #41

    Default Re: Storm Island

    Storm Island
    Chapter 15: Army of Darkness

    R-Kit, Encyclopedia Stormatica, Version 5.17.14a booting... Please insert query.

    Search terms: 'Wolftree Keep'... Five articles found. Accessing main article...

    The Ruins of Wolftree Keep, historical home of the now extinct Wolftree Clan, are crumbling ruins situated somewhere within the Blackwood Forest of western Storm Island. Many scholars have debated the exact location of the ruins over the past century, and many explorers have set out to find them. Despite numerous attempts, they have not been found, leading many to believe that they may not have ever existed. However, historical accounts found in the royal archives of the Storm Clan clearly mention Wolftree Keep.

    During the Storm King's reign approximately three hundred years ago, the Wolftree Clan was among the most powerful and wealthiest land owners on the island, loyal to the royal family. Their land claim extended from modern day Slate Valley, west towards what is now modern day Azure Ridge. Their control over the Silver Ridge mines, the Slate Valley cave system, extensive lumber fields in the Blackwood Forest and access to the southern oceans fueled their wealth, allowing them to bankroll the kingdom. Their wealth was stated in historical accounts to be the center of much of the island's politics.

    Wolftree Keep was important for the history of Storm Island, being the location where the War of the Twin Princes began (See main article: War of the Twin Princes). A summit was held within the halls of Wolftree Keep to reconcile the differences between Prince Torvald and Prince Haynes, twin brothers who had attempted for the past year to secure the crown for themselves after the death of their father. While historical accounts stated that Prince Haynes was born nearly seven minutes earlier and therefore the rightful heir, Prince Torvald had far more support from not just the Lords of the Clans, but from the common people of Storm Island as well.

    What started as a summit of peace and brotherhood quickly turned dark and bloody. Prince Haynes seized the moment, attempting to remove his brother from the picture to secure the throne for himself. He ordered his personal guard to attack Prince Torvald and to take no prisoners. A large battle ensued as both of the Twin Princes escaped. In the chaos, armies loyal to Prince Haynes laid siege to Wolftree Keep, killing all inside. The keep lay abandoned after the bloodshed for a month before Prince Haynes claimed it for himself after being driven from the northern lands he held.

    Prince Torvald vowed revenge for the act of cowardice and started his own siege on the keep. Many people and Pokémon lost their lives during the following year as those loyal to Prince Haynes held onto the keep. Only through the destruction of a vast majority of the keep was the battle ended and the larger War of the Twin Princess started.

    It is thought that not much remains of the ruins of Wolftree Keep. Stories have been told of a band of devout followers to Prince Haynes carrying the remaining rubble eastward towards the Ambervale Mountains, but these can not be verified. The original site of Wolftree Keep has been lost to the forest as time carried on, and there have been no discoveries of any remains to indicate where it may have been located.

    The Blackwood Cemetery, situated just north of Blackwood Grove, houses the remains of Lord Janeck, master of Wolftree Keep, his loyal followers and the many brave men and women who died to protect King Torvald during the attack. While originally a burial site for the Lords of the Clans, it has been transformed into a graveyard that serves all men and women, rich, poor, noble or commoner.

    - - - - -

    Andrea, Kamin, Raven and Dr. Egon and their loyal Pokémon companions continued their journey through the forest, ever cautious, on the look out for anything else that would attempt to stop them as they searched for the ruins of Wolftree Keep. Fortune was on their side, however, as the trees soon began to thin and the feeling of claustrophobia began to fade. In the distance before them were crumbling stone pillars.

    "Do you think we might have found it?" Kamin asked.

    "This may just be another ritual site," Dr. Egon said. "Miss Dennison, would you care to flash your lantern around?"

    Andrea did as she was asked, shining the light around the area. Large marble pillars, most crumbled and fallen over, littered the area. The grass in the area had grown thick, but what looked like the remains of a stone road poked through. Hanging from several trees was the same banner that she had seen in the village several days ago, a golden mountain on black fabric. Even the burlap dolls that hung from the trees in the village were present here.

    "We have to be getting close..." she said. "I've seen this stuff before in one of their villages."

    "Be on guard, everyone," Raven said, leading the group down the broken cobblestone pathway.

    They continued down the road, their path dimly lit by torches that appeared to have been burning since a time long forgotten. The pathway took them over a hill and a under rocky overhang before they reached a large, imposing stone wall. The wall had crumbled with time, but the main entrance appeared to be in good order, appearing as if it were freshly built or at least very well maintained. The entrance was blocked, however, by a large, spiked cast-iron gate.

    "Hellhound, blast us a way through this gate," Kamin commanded.

    Hellhound obeyed. He approached the gate and took a deep breath, exhaling a bright cloud of white hot flames at the gate. The gate stood firm, however, as the flames bounced off, barely even affecting it.

    "Well that didn't work... Any ideas?" he asked.

    Dr. Egon approached the gate cautiously, grabbing a scanner and his coiled copper antenna from his pockets. He pressed the coil to the gate and clicked a button on his scanner. "Strange energy signatures..." he muttered. "I am no expert, but I believe this gate has been warded from trespassers by blood magic."

    "Umm, excuse me? Blood magic?" Andrea asked.

    "No problem for us, though!" he replied, putting his tools away. "Illusia, we need to slip by this gate. Help us out."

    The Haunter nodded, floating upwards towards the center of the gate. Her facial features disappeared as her body split into a dozen segments of cloudy energy, enveloping large sections of the gate. Dr. Egon walked up to the gate, tapped on one of the metal bars, then walked through it as if it weren't there.

    "What the..." Andrea asked.

    "There are many perks that paranormal research has to offer. Being able to walk through certain objects is one of them. Be quick, though! This is very strenuous on Illusia!"

    Raven and Kamin recalled Tomriin and Hellhound, then cautiously approached the gate. Raven went first, fearlessly walking through, then waited beside Dr. Egon. Kamin approached timidly, but quickly passed through as well, while Andrea was still skeptical of what she was seeing. As she stepped towards the gate, she flinched, assuming she would bump into the metal rods, but passed through just as easily as the others.

    She took a step back and watched as Illusia reformed above her. "Incredible."

    "Mmm, yes," Dr. Egon muttered quietly. "It appears that we are here... Wolftree Keep..."

    Andrea aimed her lantern upward. They had indeed stumbled on the legendary Wolftree Keep, but it was nothing like they had expected. Instead of the dilapidated ruin they had come to expect, they found a grand, almost regal looking structure. The bricks that made up the castle walls were in good condition but showing signs of wear. Choking vines with purple, luminescent bulbs sprouting from them reached from the bottom all the way to the top of the highest, central spire. Despite its majestic appearance, it had a sinister feel to it, both visually and emotionally. Who knew what horrors were taking place inside?

    The area was calm and quiet, which was surprising as well. Questions of why no one was patrolling the outside rose among the group. There were no fearsome skeletal constructs or other dark beings guarding the castle. There were no indications that anyone was even here; no camps, no torches, no lights of any description.

    "Keep wits with you, we are going inside," Raven said, leading the group to the massive, marble stairs that led to the arched entrance.

    As they crossed under the portcullis, a peculiar sense of dread began to overshadow them, chipping away at their bravery and sanity. A sense of anxiety came over them as they continued into the main hallway. The hallway was dimly lit with candles, showing an extravagant collection of treasures, furniture and oil paintings from ages long gone. Golden candle holders caked with layers of melted wax held tiny purple and black candles, while heavy looking sets of armor were stationed at the side of every door. Every painting seemed to be of the same man, a decrepit man with a sinister and mad appearance. The walls were lined with rustic swords and axes, some still covered in the blood of the enemies they had defeated centuries ago.

    "This place is horrible..." Andrea started. "Castles are supposed to be majestic, not like... like... this!"

    "Majesty in eye of beholder," Raven said. "But I agree."

    As they navigated the maze-like halls, they took note of how suspiciously quiet the castle was. If this was indeed a stronghold for the Cult of the Lost, where were all of the members? Where were the sentries, the patrolling guards? The scholars and the studious? There were obvious signs that it was inhabited, however, such as the lit candles and the sounds of doors opening and closing in the darkness.

    They decided to investigate the rooms of the castle before going any further. The first room they entered appeared to be a storage room full of jars. The walls were lined with shelves stocked full of the glass jars, each containing a strange green substance. Andrea grabbed one of the bottles carefully, placed it onto a table, removed the lid and scanned it with her R-Kit. A thick, sulfurous odor emanated from it.

    "Analyzing..." the R-Kit droned. "Chemical analysis complete. This substance is a heterogeneous compound composed of three parts; Compound one, the main ingredient, is a mixture of tetradecane and butane. Suspended within are two compounds in nearly equal quantities, white phosphorous and charcoal powder. Due to the violently reactive nature of all compounds found within, extreme caution is recommended when handling this compound."

    "What does that mean in words I can understand?" Kamin asked.

    Andrea replaced the bottle in an even more delicate manner than she used to grab it. "It means we should leave this room. Do you understand that?"

    "I do."

    The group left the room in a hurry, taking care not to disturb any of the shelves or bottles on them, then moved onto the room across the hall. This room was particularly grisly, bathed in a red glow from the numerous candles lining the walls. This room was also filled with jars, but the jars contained suspended organs of all types and sizes. The smell of rotting flesh was very profound in this room, as discarded samples littered the floor. It was enough to make even Raven sick, who was the least impacted by anything he had seen in the rest of the castle so far.

    "What kind of sick bastards are these guys?" Kamin asked.

    "I think it's safe to say that they are a band of murderous psychopaths..." Dr. Egon said.

    Andrea reached into her purse and grabbed her phone. "Nobody will believe us without proof." she said. She took several photos of the room, as much as it sickened her. "If I get these pictures to my father, they'll have to respond."

    "I have brought proof to them before and they do not listen. But this far more compelling." Raven added.

    The group left the room, checking each door as they passed through the hallway. Most were locked or led to empty rooms, but they eventually found another storage room. This room was significantly colder than any of the other rooms, smelling faintly of hickory incense. The room was filled with tables, barrels and shelves, each stocked to the brim with gemstones of all colors, shapes and sizes. They decided to investigate further.

    Dr. Egon picked through the crystals like a child in a candy store. Some were icy cold to the touch, while others were hot. When pressed together, they reacted violently by giving off smoke and a shower of sparks. "Interesting..." he said, grabbing a few and placing them in his numerous pockets. "I'll bring these back to my lab and study them further."

    "Any idea of what they are?" Kamin asked.

    "I've seen the cold stones before in my travels to Kanto... they're an important part of a ritual employed by spiritual mediums in Lavender Town, and I imagine in other places as well." He passed one of the heated crystals to Raven. "I haven't seen anything like this one, however. Have you seen these in your homeland?"

    Raven grabbed the crystal and inspected it. "No. It is curious."

    Andrea was looking through the crystals as well, spotting a beautiful, almost spherical cluster of black quartz. It shined with a purple luster that seemed to morph depending on the angle she looked at it. She grabbed a hold of it, immediately feeling a stinging sensation on her fingers, but she couldn't let it go. She gazed deep into it, watching the luster shift into the twisted shape of a face.

    "What have you found over there?"

    "It... It hurts..." she said, struggling to pry her fingers away from it, but they held firm like magnets. "I can't let it go!"

    Raven rushed over, grabbing one of the other gemstones. "Place on table and do not move."

    Andrea did as she was asked, fighting the strange sensation to lift the crystal higher. She closer her eyes as Raven lifted the gemstone, bringing it down with enough force to not only shatter the crystal, but split the aged table in half. She felt the strange grip of the crystal immediately vanish as a cloud of dust and mist rose from the fractured remains. "What the hell was that?" she asked.

    "I do not know. Please be careful. We do not know what foul things Cult of the Lost keep in these rooms."

    After taking more photos, the group continued through the hallway, looking through more rooms. Most of these were empty as well, filled with dusty books, cobwebs or other uninteresting things. The repetitive layout of the castle caused the halls of the castle to seem as if they would go on forever. However, the further they travelled, a sense of despair began to creep over them and the light from Andrea's lantern began to fade. Suddenly, screaming echoed through out the hallways.

    "Get that thing away from me!" shouted a feminine voice. There was silence for a moment before another scream echoed through the hallways.

    "We must hurry!" Dr. Egon said, bolting down the hallway as fast as he could, leaving the rest of the group behind.

    Before long, another scream radiated through the hallways, followed by a string of expletives and threats by whoever it was. The scream sounded closer this time, and now muffled words could be heard, but not understood. Dr. Egon followed the sounds through the twisting hallways, down a crumbled, stone stairwell, where he waited for his partners to catch up.

    "Miss Dennison, you seem to be the most interested in the history of our island out of all of us. Have you by any chance studied the layout of the castles of the island?" he asked.

    She shook her head.

    "Ah, very well. I can't say for certain, but if this castle was rebuilt brick by brick, it will likely share traits with Castle Selgarde, residence of the Royal Family. On one of my previous visits to speak with King Matthias, I was privileged to visit one of the most sacred places on Storm Island, the royal catacombs. I fear that this castle's catacombs are where we will find what we are looking for."

    "That makes sense. Dark arts strongest where bonds between physical and spirit world are weakest, correct?" Raven asked.

    "Exactly," he replied. "Steel yourselves. We're about to visit a place worse than hell. Can I count on all of you to give it all you have, to not succumb to the darkness, to never give in to your fear?"

    Raven pounded his left fist on his chest. "The Brave know no fear."

    "I have to do this... There's no turning back for me." Kamin followed.

    Andrea pondered the situation. She was already overtaken by her fears, and the absolutely dreadful atmosphere did very little to help. But at the depths of her heart, she felt the spark of duty burning within her, telling her that she had to do this to ensure the safety of not just those in the forest, but possibly the entire island. Her emotions battled each other as she agreed to go along with them. "I don't have a choice, do I? I can't get out of here on my own..."

    As they ventured into the dark depths, all light sources began to dwindle to nothingness. Andrea's lantern shined brightly, but the light seemed to fizzle out just five feet ahead of them. She and Dr. Egon tried to come up with an explanation, but neither could. Raven theorized that it was the presence of Sheor-ath, the god of darkness that his tribe back at home reviled. Whatever the case, all they could guide themselves with were the crumbling walls to either side of them and a strange, mumbling voice.

    After fumbling through the darkness for what felt like an eternity, they finally came across a large room that was much more brightly lit than the dark tunnel they had suffered through. There were six men and women, cloaked in dark robes with elaborate golden patterns monitoring what appeared to be a blood magic ritual. In the center of the room was a large, black obelisk, very similar to the one south of Blackwood Grove, only much larger and with many more jagged spikes at the top.

    Surrounding the obelisk appeared to be a pool of blood, which drained via channels from the platform around it. Adorning the platform were six runes scrawled on the floor with chalk. Above the obelisk was a large, gaseous orb that gave off a bright, golden light. In front of the altar lay a stone pedestal which seemed remarkably clean compared to the rest of the bloodstained room.

    "The room contains the prisoner once more, yes?" one of the men asked.

    "Correct," another replied.

    "Such a collection of life essence she has given us..."

    "Power of which will return the true king to the world."

    All six of the individuals droned together, "The true king!"

    "What the hell are they gibbering on about?" Dr. Egon whispered. "Did these ingrates fail their language lessons?"

    "It's Clanspeak, dialect ancestors of island once spoke," Raven said. "Perhaps if we listen more, they will reveal plan."

    The group watched the cultists as they carried on with their ritual. They all dressed the same, but a superior member soon became evident as he ordered the others around and did little of the work himself. He asked two of the other cultists to 'place the reagents upon the altar', which they did quickly and obediently. One wiped down the altar while another grabbed a large collection of random bones from a box. The bones were placed on the altar as the leader approached slowly, a jeweled dagger in his hand.

    "Blood for blood. The armies of the true king require it. Let this be a worthy offering." the leader recited, raising his hand upward. He raised the dagger as well, cutting his hand open and dripping some of his own blood onto the pile of bones. "I implore thee, darkness!"

    As the blood covered the bones, glittering sparks from the central obelisk began to lash out at the altar. The bones began to rattle and shake, taking on a similar shape to the small skeletal creatures the group had battled before. However, the creature struggled to stand, falling over and returning to a lifeless pile of bones shortly afterward.

    The leader looked down at the failed ritual with disgust. "Purity of the heart is not what she had... She is of no use, her life essence must be extinguished."

    "I do your bidding, my lord," another of the cultists said.

    As the cultist grabbed the dagger from the leader, Raven stood up and shouted. "What is purpose of this senseless bloodshed?!"

    All six of the cultists slowly turned their attention towards the group and raised their fingers to point at them. "Outsiders..." they collectively said in an unsettling, creepy voice.

    Expecting a battle, Andrea reached into her pocket and grabbed Sorrow's Pokéball, calling her out. Much to her surprise, however, the cultists didn't do the same. Instead, they grabbed swords and knives that were scattered throughout the room and took up defensive stances.

    "If that's the way they want to play..." Dr. Egon said, a crooked grin appearing on his face. He reached into his vest pocket and grabbed Illusia's gem-studded Pokéball, summoning her. "We have no choice but to fight them directly, Raven. I hope you have no personal hang-ups with that kind of thing."

    "I do, but not with creeps like these," he said. He reached into his tribal satchel and grabbed one of his Pokéballs, then continued. "Fight with me, son. I know you have waited long time for this moment." He tossed the Pokéball forward, summoning a monstrously large scorpion. The scorpion was formidable in appearance, covered in thick, sandy brown plates. At the front of its body were two massive claws, and at the end of its tail was a wickedly sharp looking stinger that was dripping with no doubt toxic venom. It was almost unconceivable that Raven could command such a large creature, one that was even larger than he was.

    Kamin called out Hellhound. "It's time we finally get our vengeance..."

    "We must keep leader alive!" Raven said as he jumped down into the ritual chamber. He ordered his Drapion to directly attack one of the approaching cultists, which it did without question, while he fearlessly and stoically charged at another cultist himself.

    All of this was happening too fast for Andrea to take in. As the battle raged on beneath her, she was still having a moral dilemma. With her small level of experience, she figured that Pokémon should only be used to defend oneself against another Pokémon. But at the same time, she watched the cultists recklessly swing their weapons around without any care for safety, and figured that this was a proper excuse for self defense. Yet further, she couldn't bring herself to justify hurting another human being, and found it horrible that her partners were using their Pokémon not for defense, but as an offensive weapon against fellow humans.

    Raven, Kamin and Dr. Egon, however, were far less merciful. They realized that the stakes were unbelievably high should they fail, and they were determined to do what they must, no matter how morally questionable, to stop the Cult of the Lost here and now.

    Kamin and Hellhound cornered one of the cultists who raised her dagger threateningly in hopes of scaring them away. Hellhound responded by leaping at her, chomping down onto her arm and thrashing about violently. The dagger dropped to the floor as she screamed loudly. Hellhound returned to his master's side, waiting for the next order.

    Kamin looked away, not wanting to see what was about to happen. "Go on, boy... Do it."

    Hellhound approached slowly once more, snarling as he did so. It watched the cultist snivel as she collapsed to the floor, accepting her fate, then directed a burning cloud of flame breath at her.

    Meanwhile, Dr. Egon was facing off against two of the remaining cultists, dodging their attacks as best he could. Illusia was by his side, using her ghostly powers to deflect several of the attacks that he wasn't able to avoid, saving his life numerous times. The two worked together as a single unit, with Dr. Egon providing the distraction while Illusia attacked from behind.

    "Illusia, let's end this! Reaper's Grasp!" he shouted.

    Illusia grew in size, her mouth stretching wide and large. She charged at the two cultists, enveloping them in a cloud of smoke before chomping down. Where they were standing before, nothing remained.

    "How are you doing, Raven?"

    "Very well," Raven replied, watching as his Drapion picked up one of the cultists with its massive claws, tossing him skyward towards a wall. The cultist bounced off and dropped a considerable distance to the floor. "Let us clean up remaining cultist, then take leader, Nito!"

    Nito approached the final cultist, who held her sword outward in defense. With a swipe of its claws, the sword was snapped like a twig. Another swipe of its claws left the cultist on the floor, bleeding heavily.

    "End like this? It shall not!" the lead cultist said, looking at his fallen comrades. He held his knife in both hands, pointed directly at his chest.

    "Illusia!" Dr. Egon called out.

    Illusia stretched her claw-like hand outward and it began to glow with golden energy. Before the lead cultist could end his own life, the knife was bathed in the same golden energy, then yanked away forcefully.

    "Nito, attack with paralytic poison! We must return him to Blackwood Grove for questioning!" Raven ordered.

    The lead cultist was determined to put up a fight, raising his fists as Nito approached. He was no match, however, as Nito lashed out with its massive stinger, injecting him in the leg. He tried to fight it off, but the poison was quick to paralyze him.

    As the dust settled, Raven looked around at his friends. "Is everyone alright?" he asked.

    Kamin nodded. "Didn't think it would end like that... But I'm glad it did."

    "Sometimes you do as you must, Kamin," Dr. Egon said, patting him on the shoulder. "You did good."

    Andrea was struggling to find a safe way down, slowly making her way down the shelves of a bookcase. As she reached the floor, she couldn't help but curiously stare at the lifeless bodies of the cultists, but what she saw sickened her to the core. "What have we done?"

    "We did the world a favor," Dr. Egon said. "While you know what these people have been doing, it's still a shocking thing to kill someone. You'll understand shortly why we had to do this."

    "If it makes you feel better, at least you didn't join in," Kamin said.

    "I... I... I couldn't! I couldn't fight my conscience..." she said sheepishly.

    Dr. Egon rested his hand on her shoulder. "A conscience is a good thing to have. It's what drives compassion. Never forget that."

    "So now what?" Kamin asked. "What do we do next?"

    "We will stay here and attempt to disrupt the ritual. You and Miss Dennison should examine that hallway and see if you can find any survivors that are being kept prisoner." Dr. Egon said. "Be very careful, we don't know how many of these mad men remain in the castle, and they probably know we're here now."

    "Alright, let's move. We might not have a lot of time." Kamin said, grabbing her by the hand and yanking her down the hallway.

    - - - - -

    The two were passing through the hallways of the catacombs, inspecting each door they came across. As they peered through the dungeon-like windows, all they found were empty rooms, or more rooms filled with strange objects they didn't dare investigate or touch. They intended to stick to the task at hand, and that was to find any survivors that the Cult of the Lost were keeping prisoner.

    At last, they came to a room with a peculiar groaning coming from it. The door to the room was locked, however, and there was no window to peer through.

    "We need to get inside..." Kamin said, fiddling with the rusty chain that locked the door.

    Andrea banged on the door. "Anyone in there?" she asked, receiving no response.

    "I have an idea..." he said. "We can probably break the door down if we push hard enough."

    "It's worth a try..." she said, taking a position next to him.

    "One... two... three!" He shouted. The two pushed against the door with all of their might, snapping the feeble, rusty lock off and knocking the door to the floor. The room inside was dark, lit only by a few discolored candles. The stench was unbearable and undescribable. There were about a dozen blood soaked tables scattered throughout the room, with five people laying on top of them. Two of them were uniformed officers of the Storm Island Police. Another wore the signature male uniform of the Storm Island Scouts. The fourth was a young woman in tattered clothing, barely conscious, and the fifth was a gruff, powerful looking man wearing hiking clothes.

    Kamin walked over to the man in the Storm Island Scout uniform and placed his fingers against his neck to check for a pulse. "Nothing. He's gone."

    Andrea tried to compose herself, taking in a deep breath. "Maybe we're too late... For all of them."

    "N-Never... never take me..." one of the survivors rasped. The voice came from one of the police officers.

    Andrea approached and checked for injuries. There was a large, deep cut running from her elbow to her wrist where it looked as if her blood had been drained. As she looked for more wounds, she found the officer's badge, 'Officer Eliza McKenna, Silvermist PD'.

    "B-Back!" the injured officer tried to warn.

    "It's okay, we're here to help! We're going to get you out of here." she replied. She struggled with the chains that bound the officer to the table, then noticed a key conveniently hanging on the side of the table.

    "You... You're the girl we were sent to find..." Officer McKenna said weakly.

    She didn't care. Regardless of what the police might do now that they knew where she was, she felt like she had to help. She thought that helping a member of the Storm Island might even get her off easily. "Can you walk?"

    The officer struggled her way off of the table, but stumbled over. "My partner, Travis... we... we have to find him."

    "There's another one over here..." she said, guiding Officer McKenna over to the other police officer. He laid motionless on the table with a large gash on the side of his neck, but he was breathing.

    "Travis... Come on, wake up..."

    Kamin, who had tended to the other two survivors, walked over and placed his fingers on the other side of Travis' neck. "He's still got a pulse, maybe he lost too much and passed out," Kamin said.

    Officer McKenna pounded her fist on the table. "Don't you die on me, damn it!"

    "Is there anything we can do?" Andrea asked. A light bulb lit in her head as she thought, thinking back to the day she met Dr. Spruce in Azure Ridge. She reached into her purse, retrieving the small purple bottle that Dr. Spruce had given her. She sprayed the syrupy, silver liquid onto Travis' wound, causing it to hiss like boiling water. The liquid reacted quickly with the exposed flesh, cleansing the dried blood away and sterilizing the wound. The wound closed quickly, mending itself almost to the point where it was gone.

    Officer Travis lurched up in pain. "Owwwwwww!" he said, slowly lifting his head and looking at Andrea as if she had just done something wrong. "Wh... where am I?"

    "Are you insane?" Kamin asked. "That's powerful stuff! It might have worked here, but promise me you'll never use that on a human again!"

    "Shut up and help him, Kamin," she ordered, wrapping herself under Officer McKenna's arm. She turned to the other two. "Are you two alright?"

    "I think I can walk on my own," the gruff man in the hiker's clothes said. "C'mere, lass. I'll help ya." He lifted the young woman off of the ground with relatively little effort.

    "Officer, do you know if there are any others being held here? We couldn't find any." she asked.

    "I don't."

    "Let's get back to my father. He'll know what to do next." Kamin said.

    - - - - -

    Meanwhile, Raven and Dr. Egon were still in the inner sanctum, trying to understand the complex ritual that the Cult of the Lost were attempting.

    "Perhaps we should wait for Andrea to return. Her wrist machine may be able to determine cause of energy." Raven said, scratching his chin in thought.

    "I can do that as well. What are you interested in looking at first?" Dr. Egon said.

    Raven led Dr. Egon over to the pool of blood in the center of the room. "We must determine which parts of ritual are safe to interrupt first. Central pillar may be key."

    Dr. Egon raised his R-Kit to examine the obelisk at the center of the pool of blood. His glasses turned bright green as he scanned it. "Not surprisingly, this shows the same type and wavelength of energy that Miss Dennison found south of Blackwood Grove, but there's more..." he said, standing up. He kept his R-Kit raised as he slowly traced a straight line away from the obelisk. "There appears to be a directed energy beam coming from the pillar, concentrating on this spot on the wall... But why?"

    "Perhaps energy from ritual being redirected somewhere?"

    "But where?" he asked. "It couldn't be... I'm curious... do you happen to have a compass with you?"

    Raven reached into his satchel and grabbed a small, metallic compass. "Let us hope strange energies do not interfere."

    "I doubt they will. My R-Kit is telling me that the magnetic field here is stable..." he said as he grabbed the compass. He rotated until he was facing north, then followed the energy stream again, once more ending at the wall. "This energy stream appears to be travelling north east... Could it be?" he pondered.

    "What is on your mind?"

    "Are you familiar with the War of the Twin Princes? While it started here in Wolftree Keep, those loyal to Prince Haynes were eventually exiled to the Ambervale Mountains, on the north eastern side of the island. He was a man so evil, so twisted... if he had been victorious over his brother and won the throne, I can think of nothing worse. They created a stronghold in those mountains, where eventually Prince Haynes was killed."

    "I had heard about that, yes."

    "What if this isn't the only stronghold of the Cult of the Lost? Castle Ambervale suffered the same fate as Wolftree Keep did at the end of the war, being dismantled brick by brick and all of the inhabitants slaughtered. Is it possible that Castle Ambervale has been rebuilt?"

    "Ambervale Mountains do not have thick forest to hide entire castle!"

    "That's true, yes... but the jagged peaks of the Ambervale Mountains are so treacherous to cross that it's possible nobody could have found it." Dr. Egon turned his attention back to the central obelisk, shining brightly under the glittering sparks. "It will require more research on my part, perhaps even an expedition to see if this is true. But for now, we must interrupt whatever was taking place here."

    "Let us examine runes on floor, next," he said, leading Dr. Egon over to a golden, circular drawing on the floor. Inside the circle was the widely recognized rune for the weather, possibly referencing the Storm Clan.

    Dr. Egon knelt down to scan it. "Hmm... a small electrical field, not too dangerous to us, though. This one seems to be gathering energy from the canals carved through it that directs the blood flows. I believe it's redirecting that energy to the obelisk."

    The two moved onto the next rune, which was recognizable as a symbol for fire. A small amount of residual heat radiated from it as the blood inside the canals bubbled. Dr. Egon came to the same conclusion as the other one. There were several other runes scattered around the obelisk, some identifiable and others that weren't. There was another that represented cold, and another that represented water. The remaining two couldn't be easily identified and had no other indications of their symbolism.

    "Disabling the power transfer should be as simple as erasing the runes," Dr. Egon said. "The question is..."

    Raven approached the rune of flames and knelt down, running his finger along the edge.

    "Wait! Before we do anything, we must think carefully. There may be a certain order to this ritual, just like there is for contacting the spirits of those who have passed."

    "Ah, yes. What is risk if we make mistake?"

    "We risk overloading the delicate balance of energy, which would likely result in an explosion. It would definitely destroy the ritual site here, but we would die in the process. That is not ideal, I like living." The two circled the pillar, inspecting each of the runes, trying to decide which one was first to be destroyed. They were both equally stumped, unsure of where to begin.

    Dr. Egon approached one of the two unidentified runes. "This one is sending the most energy... I don't know if that means anything, but I believe we should begin with this one." He cautiously placed his finger in the center of the rune and began to rub back and forth. The chalk used to draw the rune lifted off of the floor with relative ease, and when much of the rune was gone, the sparks emanating from the central obelisk began to diminish.

    "Good choice, doctor," Raven said.

    "The water rune had the next highest energy level... I hope I'm correct with my theory." he said as he continued onward. The water rune lifted as easily as the previous, and the same reaction occurred. The brightness of the sparks coming from the central obelisk diminished and the orb of light above it shrank in size.

    They continued with the destruction of the ritual; next, they moved onto the rune of flames, followed by the rune of the cold, with the rune of the storm being next. One last rune remained before all sources of power for the ritual were destroyed.

    "This is it... Hold onto your pants!" Dr. Egon said as he began to erase the final, unidentified rune.

    With much of the rune erased, the glowing orb above the central obelisk fell apart and evaporated upward. The sparks emanating from the obelisk intensified briefly, kicking up a furious wind as it unleashed pure energy into the surrounding area. The keen sense of despair that had been permeating the area began to lift, as did the darkness; the candles and lanterns around the room slowly began to shine with growing intensity, illuminating the room brightly.

    "Well, I'll be! I can see!" Dr. Egon proclaimed. "It's just as I suspected... the ritual here was consuming both the light and the sacrificial blood and converting it into pure energy... But for what purpose?"

    "I do not know. What I do know is that we must do what we can to prevent this again." Raven said. He walked over to the obelisk and studied it. "Perhaps we destroy obelisk? Or would be too risky?"

    "It's hard to say..." he said, approaching it to scan it with his R-Kit. "Regardless of the risk, it would be a good idea. There's no telling how quickly the Cult of the Lost could resume their activities once we leave, we must strike at the heart of their operation... Destroy it."

    Raven reached into his satchel for a Pokéball, calling forth Tomriin. He ordered Tomriin to raise his massive drill-like claw and destroy the obelisk. Tomriin obeyed, drilling a large hole into the center of the stone, then working along the edges to cause its collapse. As the massive stone fell over, it shook the ground and shattered into dozens of pieces.

    Dr. Egon was examining his R-Kit. "Energy levels are stable... I don't think destroying that was of any danger to us. Good work! We've dealt a monstrous blow to these scummy cockroaches today."

    "Our work not finished, however. We must round up remaining members of cult and work to heal forest."

    "Another battle for another day, my friend," he said. "We should find your son and Miss Dennison, see if they have found anything interesting."

    "Just in time, they return," he said, waving to greet the two. "Survivors!"

    Kamin let Travis down onto the floor as he informed his father of the situation. "We searched a lot of rooms, but these are the only ones we've found. The young lady here looks to be in really bad shape, we have to get her back to town and fast."

    "Let me see her," Raven said, walking over to the hiker and the injured young woman. He inspected the wounds running along her wrists and up her arms, finding them to be infected and swollen. "Yes, we must. First aid supplies I have will not help her."

    "What about any other survivors?" Kamin asked.

    "We know location of castle. We can round up townsfolk for larger rescue when we return." he said. "The rest of you, are you able to make hour long journey?"

    There was a collective yes shared among the injured survivors.

    "The road may still be dangerous, we must be cautious," Dr. Egon warned. "It's odd how few of these cultists we've run into in here, there must be more lurking in the darkness."

    As they were leaving, Officer McKenna looked at the fallen cultists. "Good. Those bastards got what they had coming to them."

    - - - - -

    Author's note: The description of Raven's Drapion in this chapter varies wildly from the established depiction of Drapion in official works. I count Drapion among my favorite Pokémon, but I absolutely despise its appearance. As such, I have chosen to cop out by basing this one on a real world scorpion instead. My explanation? It's from Unova, of course! Here are the notes I had written down to formulate the look of this Unova variant, in case the description in the chapter was not enough to accurately draw a picture.

    Drapion's Unova variant: Raven caught his Drapion in Unova. Much like Shellos, Drapion has a unique appearance based on location; The Unova variant is more reminiscent of a real world scorpion. It has brown, desert-like tones to it rather than purple, and is covered in thick plates. Its head is lower in comparison to its normal counterpart. It has six legs rather than four, and its tail ends in a standard, real-world stinger. The arms on the normal variant's head are placed on its shoulders, much like a real world scorpion. In size, Nito is approximately five feet tall, with its stinger reaching a height of thirteen feet.

    Storm Island
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  12. #42
    Registered User Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Storm Island

    You would publish a new chapter on a busy Saturday, wouldn't you? It's a good chapter, I like how you went for abiding mystery rather than big battle, it was quite easy to suspend my disbelief. I think that we needed to spend more time in Andrea's head for the atmosphere to be really effective - Wolftree Keep is a good setting but I didn't really get a sense of trepidation from it.

    That damn Haunter IS creepy
    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.

    My new blog, Pavell's Scribbledegook (Week II)

  13. #43
    Ice ice baby Flaze's Avatar Moderator
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    All right, that was a very interesting and fun chapter. Like Pavell said, I liked the fact that you looked more into the mystery aspect of things and I think you pulled it off real well, even had me on my toes a few times. I didn't expect Raven, Egon and Kamin to actually kill all the members of the cult but I guess it makes sense since they were trying to stop them in the first place.

    I do wonder how Andrea will fare now, not just physically but psychologically after what she's been through in the last few days. I also agree that abit more insight on her mind could've helped more, just in the sense of trying to figure out what she was thinking.

  14. #44
    J'ai Envie De Toi AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Storm Island

    I read this before it was rebooted and after it was rebooted and never left a review. I'm here now though!

    PLOT: After the first few chapters I was really expecting nothing more than a slice of life journey-ish fic with nothing more life threatening than a climax that involves some Poké-nappers. Boy was I wrong. There's so much going on here that I'm honestly not sure if the story is going to have plot arcs, multiple side-plots, or somehow it will all tie together in the end. What I really like that you've done is how you've taken full advantage all of this exploration and seemingly random sidequests by developing them into world-building opportunities. I've never seen an original region with such a rich history, geography, and culture. It's also nice that you've written characters that aren't totally oblivious to said history and culture (for the most part, at least).

    I'm very intrigued with the introduction of magic and cabalism. Once again, it draws out the culture and history of the world while adding a plot element that opens the door to pretty much anything.

    There's not much else to say regarding the plot besides the fact that it has flowed very well so far and is paced perfectly.

    CHARACTERS: The best thing about the characters in this fic is that every one of them comes across as unique and significant. This is another clear sign that you do a lot of planning. No character comes across as flat and boring with no purpose but to drive the story along. The interactions between the characters are pretty solid as well, although I think a lot of that comes from the fact that they're three dimensional in the first place. Some interactions were a bit awkward, but in general you've done a great job.

    The main dynamic in this story so far has been between Andrea and Larson (I actually went to grade school with a girl named Andrea Larson which has made it surprisingly difficult to remember that they are two different people in this context). Due to this, I'm kind of disappointed Larson had to leave but something tells me he'll be back before long. The archetype of having one character who's smart, yet not worldly and one character who's adventurous, but a little slow works very well in this situation, although I myself have trouble relating with the dichotomy between technology and outdoorsy adventure. It's not a new or innovative dynamic, but it doesn't need to be, particularly since it's written so well here. Both Andrea and Larson (and other significant characters from more recent chapters) are the perfect combination of understandable and frustrating.

    I can't really comment much on antagonists yet since besides the TotallyNotTeamRocket duo no one has even really had much of a speaking part. As for the TNTR duo themselves, they were pretty well done in their brief appearance. Not super threatening at this point, though. Although I'm interested to know if Domino is the same as anime Domino.

    WRITING: I honestly have no complaints here. I didn't see any obvious typos, so that's good. Your dialogue was solid, with each character having a distinctive voice, once again stemming from the fact that your characters are so well rounded.

    I usually prefer more specificity in description and generally more elaborate description but that's taste and not something that most readers tend to enjoy. You do a good job of describing environments, but your action scenes can be a little hard to follow. For example, I'm still not entirely sure how Andrea hit her head in the fight against that Mightyena. That's okay, though. I know how hard fight scenes can be to write. Practice makes perfect!

    Now I've spent much longer writing this than I should have, so I'll wrap up.

    OVERALL: You and Caitlin have done a really wonderful job with this fic. I'm having a really hard time finding fault in something that's clearly been planned in great depth. The most advice that I can give is to be careful to stay on track. Lord of the Rings was written to develop and explore a world with rich history. One of its greatest downfalls was the disproportionate amount of time it spent on world-building tidbits with zero relevance to the story. Like I've said above, I like what you're doing, but sometimes less is more. Just a thought. I'll definitely keep reading!

    Review Extravaganza 18/50

  15. #45

    Default Re: Storm Island

    First of all, thank you for the in-depth review. While she hasn't read it herself in her absence, Caitlin extends her gratitude as well. It's really nice to see people enjoying our work.

    Quote Originally Posted by AetherX View Post
    Although I'm interested to know if Domino is the same as anime Domino.
    Yes. It's worth noting that I haven't seen the material she is in, so I may get the characterization wrong when I bring her back for a second appearance. I'm not sure if I care about getting it picture perfect though, I have big plans for this character.

    Quote Originally Posted by AetherX View Post
    What I really like that you've done is how you've taken full advantage all of this exploration and seemingly random sidequests by developing them into world-building opportunities. I've never seen an original region with such a rich history, geography, and culture. It's also nice that you've written characters that aren't totally oblivious to said history and culture (for the most part, at least).
    That honestly surprises me, as well. The original plan for the first series had Andrea blowing right through Blackwood Grove, but it was decided to add some sort of twist to it. It started getting crazy and snowballed from there, which pretty much forced us to re-plan and rewrite the island's history to fit this new stuff in. And yeah, one thing that bugs me about a lot of writing, not just in Pokemon fanfiction, but this extends out to even professional stuff, is that people don't seem to have even a basic understanding of the place they've lived in for their entire lives. I wasn't going to have any of that.

    I'm very intrigued with the introduction of magic and cabalism. Once again, it draws out the culture and history of the world while adding a plot element that opens the door to pretty much anything.
    Don't get too used to it, unfortunately. The next planned run in with something that could be considered magical isn't for quite awhile, but who knows what crazy twists might happen. However, as foreshadowed, we haven't seen the end of the Cult of the Lost...

    OVERALL: You and Caitlin have done a really wonderful job with this fic. I'm having a really hard time finding fault in something that's clearly been planned in great depth. The most advice that I can give is to be careful to stay on track. Lord of the Rings was written to develop and explore a world with rich history. One of its greatest downfalls was the disproportionate amount of time it spent on world-building tidbits with zero relevance to the story. Like I've said above, I like what you're doing, but sometimes less is more. Just a thought. I'll definitely keep reading!
    Thank you!

    I'm hoping to keep endless world building to a minimum, though there will undoubtedly be a lot around the end of the first series and beginning of the second. It'll be to set up a future story, should I finish this one and move onto that one without changing my mind in the meantime.

    Storm Island
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