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@Joshua Tamashii
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Leila and Eric looked on with interest as the ghost Pokémon moved over towards Annica, who blinked in surprise as they gathered around her. Then Amelia asked her question. Annica looked around a little flustered, then sighed.

‘This is not going to lead you anywhere. But, fine. I guess I have no choice,’ Annica said, and pulled out a Pokéball. Leila let out a little gasp, and Eric looked on intently. The Lass brought the Pokéball to her forehead, and… ‘It’s okay. I’ll be right here. Just… stay with me, okay?’ she said, and dropped the Pokéball.

With a flash of light, a new Pokémon took shape. In shape, it was a dog standing on two legs, a pointy hat seemingly on her head, and a long tail that seemed to end in an orange paintbrush…



Pokédex Entry #235 – Smeargle, the Painter Pokémon. A special fluid oozes from the tip of its tail, which colour depends on the Smeargle and is determined at birth. It paints the fluid everywhere to mark its territory. By drawing a move with its tail, Smeargle becomes able to replicate that move whenever it desires, making it very versatile.


‘SMEARGLE!?’ the creature immediately cried out after seeing her surroundings and dashed around to hide behind Annica, looking absolutely thoroughly terrified. Annica sighed, patted her on the head and then looked with a glare at Amelia.

‘I let her out briefly while setting up camp, and she wandered off for a bit… before coming back with a full panic attack. She was so panicked I didn’t want to disturb her. She didn’t know anything about the stone, anyway, how could she have been involved? That said, fine. Let’s see what she has to say,’ Annica said, then kneeled to confront her terrified Smeargle. ‘Hey, Smeargle? Could you tell us what happened when you went off? I promise, nobody here will hurt you. If they do, I’ll deck them. Okay?’ Annica said, looking in concern at her Smeagle.

‘S-smeargle…’ Smeargle replied, somewhat hesitant but okay. With that out of the way, Smeargle stepped forward… and Annica pulled out some white drawing portraits out of nowhere, holding them up. Smeargle spun around, grabbed her tail, and quickly started drawing on the canvas Annica held out with intense force as Annica was struggling to hold the canvas steady!





‘Right, she went a little off-track there towards the end, but that’s her testimony. She protected the stone, not anything else. Does that satisfy you?’ Annica asked, crossing her arms with a “hmpf”.

‘Smeargle!’ Smeargle stated, pointing her orange tail towards Amelia.

‘Heeeeey, this makes it seem like Ledyba’s the villain!’ Eric complained, frowning at the drawings with Ledyba now hiding behind his leg.

‘Do we have any reason to believe he isn’t?’ Annica frowned right back.

‘He fled the scene! Smeargle seems like the much more likely culprit!’ Eric said, crossing his arms.

‘You’re just saying that because you don’t want to think your Ledyba would steal!’ Annica told.

The two argued for a bit, while Leila put a hand to her mouth and looked like she was thinking a bit. To herself, she said…

‘I get the feeling that enough information has been given that this case could be solved in one fell swoop now, with the right deduction. So… what are you thinking?’ she asked, looking towards Amelia.

Indeed. What does she think now?

‘Palpitoad!’ Palpitoad called in support. She can do it!











Or she could leave.



Connected areas:
Pureplain City. You can get back without complication.
Infested Woods. You’re right next to it.
Wet Caverns. May need to cross a bridge or two to get there.





A big building of scaffolding rose up from the water. It was composed of sturdy bars in square patterns, leaving plenty of room to acrobat one’s way through, or to fall down into the waters below. Four smaller similar buildings were placed in the four cardinal directions, and it was on two of those that the combatants were going to start.



‘Are you SUUURE I can’t hit them with my tail!? Isn’t it, like, an extension of my butt!?’ Mayra unreasonably attempted negotiation.

‘Pfffth, hahaha, maybe you should try it and see if you get disqualified,’ Jelena replied, crossing her metal arms and chuckling at the currently-not-particularly dragon-like dragon-girl.

‘Aw, being disqualified would be no fun. This game has some weird rules. But I won’t let that stop me! I’m pumped!’ Mayra called out, some fire burning in her eyes, and she turned around to see if Connie or Mia were in the stands anywhere so she could wave at them.

Connie and Mia were indeed present, and upon catching sight of Mayra, Connie waved at her draconic friend. “G-Good luck, Mayra!” she called out. “W-We’ll be c-cheering for you!”

Mayra grinned happily and waved energetically to her friends, before turning back to Jelena.

‘But, yikes, to think that you of all people got the tiniest swimsuit…’ Jelena commented, herself having ended up in a school swimsuit, of all things.

‘Yeah! Suits me, right! I don’t wear anything as a dragon, so it makes sense I wouldn’t wear much now, either, right?’ Mayra called out while beaming.

‘… Uh-huh,’ Jelena made a sound, kinda getting an impression that maybe Mayra didn’t actually understand what some might think seeing her like this. ‘Anyway, can you eat this? It’ll totally increase your specs,’ Jelena asked, handing over a ball of something.

‘Huh? Oh, sure! Thank you, Jelena!’ Mayra said and grinned as she took the ball and stuffed it in her mouth. She bit into it, and it was very crunchy, and Mayra flinched a bit as she bit into it and slowly managed to swallow it. ‘That… that felt weird. Are you sure about what that was?’

‘Absolutely! There’s no way that won’t help you!’ Jelena said with a smirk.

‘Well… Okay! If you say so!’ Mayra smiled brightly once again.

At some point, Mayra’s name was announced.

‘Ooooh, my turn!’ Mayra excitedly called, forgetting all about the thing she just ate. ‘Just gonna…’ she said, momentarily placing her hands here and there on her body to check something. Eventually she was done. ‘Okay! I’m all set!’

‘Good luck!’ Jelena wished her with a small wave.

With that, Mayra jumped up, blasting off like a rocket of muscle and fire, doing several somersaults before landing with a perfect crouch on the metal bars on top of the building on her side of the scaffolded arena. ‘Alright… I’m ready!’

Sann eyed the Regent for one last time, as she cracked her sore neck. Resurrection. Then training. She was a bit stiff. Well, at least the swimsuit left a lot of room for movement, and little room to imagination.

“You called yourself a Varangian. Surely you know you must prove it now. We’re in a bit of a bind with the tournament. It’s a costly affair, and we need to save as much as we can for the aftermath.”

Sann just eyed the other team, as she yawned. “I’m hungry too. They get doping snacks for themselves. Surely it must be nice being a gaggle of horror groupies…” The Valkyrie trailed off tilting her head.

“Oh well, that only shows how much they fear defeat… how unworthy, heeeehe.” Sanngridr would then giggle, grabbing a pick-me-up soda, as she began to walk towards the ring.

Dina eyed Sanngridr. “Remember what we talked about during training.” The catgirl would then usher a goodbye.

“Yeah, granny Kitty. I got that covered.” The monster girl would then flap her wings, and in a single bout, reach the top of the scaffolding opposite Mayra.

“We’re here at Keijo Live, with your hosts Dan The Dolphin and Pac-a-fist!” Dan’s voice blared out.

”That’s me!”

“And now, a match brimming with passion for bloodbath, a thrill to kill, and the fiery spirit of fighting! It’s a womano-o-womano of woe! Featuring Sanngridr the Slayer and Mayra, the Darkflame Dragon of Doom! Good thing we got a bunch of water on hand, or this might get too hot!”

Sann proceeded to loudly drink the rest of her cola, and look at her manicure. “So like, are you a newt or a skink? Or just someone with a skin condition? I bet you eat bugs or something.” Sann would then speak towards Mayra.

Mayra grinned widely and assumed this was shit-talking, so she lifted a hand and pointed at Sann. ‘Well, you’re a pigeon, so that makes two of us! I bet you have to scavenge after others, too!’ she said, and then bent her back backwards to laugh out loud. When she was done, she dropped down again, bending her knees to prepare to pounce off the bars, prepared for battle.

‘I’m Mayra McCullough, the “Flame Demon”, but I’m actually a dragon. You?’ she asked, fighting spirit coursing through her.

Sann just kept making slurpy sounds, eyeing the flame demon, an eyebrow raised. "Someone who can't be bothered with you or this. Kitty cat promised me fights against great opponents. This is not even a fight."

Sann did not even bother to assume a stance.

Mayra but chuckled at Sann’s proclamation.

‘What, are you some super-being who is leagues above all other magical girls? Are you a deity in disguise? I’m thrilled! Show me what you got!

Pac-a-fist thrust her hand into the air. ”And with the trash talking out of the way, the battle can commence!”

The bell rang, announcing the start of the fight.
With that, Mayra combined a burst of fire with the thrusting of her legs and blasted off! She went from her building onto the main building, jumping through the scaffolding not directly at Sann, but acrobatically swinging from bar to bar sideways just in case. She wasn’t so stupid that she’d launch directly at Sann without some proper footing, but nonetheless, there was no way Mayra wasn’t going on the offensive.

Sann flapped her wings, readying herself for something… and then realized she needed another cola.

"Sigh. Just give up." She considered briefly putting the fire lizard in her place. But there were bigger fish to fry. "Unbound pluckiness isn't going to work. You'll just tire out."

“Mayra has gone on the prowl, but Sann has not moved a single step!” Dan commented, sounding baffled.
“Has she already accepted defeat, or does she have an ace hidden up her sleeve? Well, she’s not wearing sleeves, so we just have to see!”

”I don’t know Dan, she doesn’t look like she’s giving up to me.” Pac-a-fist reached for her sippy cup.. ”A stoic posture is common in those anime with super tough characters. She might have pretty wings, but you can tell she’s no angel.”

Her opponent’s confidence was just serving to make Mayra more curious! Did she have some form of ability that backed up her claims? Or was this sheer bluffing? Mayra had to know!

Mayra blasted herself over to Sann’s building, starting with planting her feet some distance away and a level lower to make sure that she wasn’t about to be surprise-knocked-off while jumping, and if that’d succeed she jumped up towards Sann!

Landing on the same bar as Sann, Mayra dashed headlong for her! For her first move, she crouched forward and gripped the bar tightly with her hands and then swung her whole half with her arms while clutching the bar, twisting herself so her rear would impact the space Sann was occupying while holding herself in place on the bar in case of an unexpected counter-attack! It kind of looked like weaponized break-dancing. Mayra really wanted to swing something at Sann, after all. Grinning the whole time.

And just like that, Mayra would feel like she had hit concrete with her butt, as a elegantly, breast shaped barrier had just erupted in between the two, all while Sann still looked a little bored.

Well, not exactly bored. She just smirked a little. Still, not really wanting to be caged by that lizard girl, she fluttered her wings and shot up to the sky, gaining ground in the process. No matter how much twisting and gripping Mayra could do, Sann knew that there was difficulty in shooting airborne targets with butt missiles.

"Hmm, I should have brought a magazine. Five minutes feels too long."

Mayra blinked a bit in surprise when her butt hit the barrier before hitting the girl, and she was locked with her behind against the barrier for a second or two. A wave of force probably emerged from the two, as it was the butt of a powerful physical magical girl and a Mag 20 barrier impacting one another. The dragon girl eventually vaulted back a small distance and crouched on the bar to assess the situation as Sann waved her wings and flew up in the sky.

‘Heeeey, can she do that? Block me with magic?’ Mayra asked, looking over towards the judge and pointing up at Sann.

“She sure can!” Dan answered, and the broadcast showed an excerpt from the official Keijo rulings. “Non-harmful magical constructs created in the environment are allowed! Which means Sann is playing the Bartolomeo game of stalling with barriers! How cheeky!
Let’s see if Mayra can crack this nut open!”

‘Huh,’ she made an acknowledging noise, and then looked up at Sann again. ‘So when you say I “wasn’t a match”, it wasn’t because I was easy to beat, but because you weren’t even going to fight me?’

"Both." Sann just giggled. "I think I am going to aim for a technical ringout."

She said, while charging up a barrier and reshaping it like a sword… before swooping down and targeting the scaffolding, causing it to break apart and fall down.

"You should learn to fly, lil lizard…"

‘Wha-!?’

Mayra made a pretty shocked noise as Sann swooped down and started cutting the building of scaffolding down! In a bit of panic, Mayra blasted with fire beneath her feet and launched back to the gathering of main scaffolding in the middle of the stage, as the scaffolding that she’d been on and Sann had started on collapsed into the water. Because the scaffolding was connected, as soon as one bit started to tumble, the rest would shortly follow…

‘Is that allowed!? Woa-!’ Mayra questioned, wide-eyed as the dragon girl retreated back as Sann cut more scaffolding.

Once again, Dan chimed in through the loudspeakers.
“She can! The platform may be shredded into tiny ribbons as far as the players want. But while flying contestants seem to take advantage of it, doing such leaves them open! But I have to say, Sann is not playing nice! She’s a loose cannon!”

”Too frequently are rule lawyers looked at as orderly people. But lawyers by their very nature are the scum of the earth! Always be wary of someone who knows the game better than you do!” Pac-a-fist’s slurping followed her announcement.

So, like, Mayra can’t fly. She can blast herself into the sky, and redirect her flight-path using bursts of fire, but she can’t do that indefinitely. Eventually gravity wins, and then she very much needs something to land on, and Sann was cutting down the stage. While Mayra could theoretically blast herself with full strength at Sann and hope it works, with Sann’s barrier, the difficulty of hitting a target swooping around and the fact missing meant probably launching herself off-stage or into water, that wasn’t a very appealing option.

‘Er, think, Mayra, think!’ she asks herself to do something that doesn’t come naturally. ‘What can I do? How can I catch her? Can I fly? Aaah, I’m not a winged dragon right now…!’ she called, jumping back from bar to bar as the scaffolding was collapsing behind her.

Guess that's enough. Sann would then dismiss the cutting tool with a giggle, and then in a surprising twist reinforce the scaffolding around Mayra, as she landed a few paces away.

"Seeing the difference yet? I feel a bit bad now. So I am giving you the chance to slog it out Keijo style like the granny kitty taught me " Sann would then taunt, assuming an stance.

‘Eh?’ Mayra made a surprised noise when Sann reinforced the last bit of scaffolding, a lone tower standing tall where a metropolis once stood. She looked with confusion towards Sann. ‘Oooh…’

She was demonstrating that she could win already, but was just engaging in this last battle just because. Honestly, Mayra liked the gesture, because it meant more fighting. However, it also severely annoyed her, because as far as she was concerned she was losing only because she couldn’t fly.

If only she could fly, but then the whole “falling” bit got in the way. Mayra could already apply force to herself in mid-air, if also she could also-

Mayra’s eyes widened. She blinked a little bit. Then she grinned, flexing some magic inside her. Then she looked straight back at Sann.

‘That’s really nice of you! If I was weaker, I’d have really appreciated it! But, it’s fine. You don’t need to hold back for me,’ she said, and then smiled so happily.

‘I can fly now!’ she called so happily.

Sann simply smiled back. “Nice is not the word, Mayra. See, the Regent wanted me to assert dominance in the tournament and at the same time, preserve my energy.”

“If you hound an opponent, one must be careful of leaving an exit path… so as to bleed them out. If I had gone all out from the start, eventually my stamina would’ve hit a limit.”

Sann’s eye glared an ominous red, as the Third Eye flared to life. “No, you’re not weak. I’m surprised you decided to accept a doping pill. It’s just that…”

The all..is...one Sann, focused, as her aura began to shift, tattoos crawling around her arms. An avatar form, copied from Dina.

“I am the Varangian of Sanctuary, you foolish one. And you owe me…Despair.

“Whoah!” Dan squeaked. “Sann has powered up! She’s become Super God Sann Super God!”

”Not quite!” Pac slammed her hands into the counter ”She’s gone Super Sannan!”

‘Aaaaaaaah-!’ Mayra called out in amazement, eyes widening as she heard the words of her opponent. ‘The Regent? You’re the cat-lady’s champion! That… that makes you the third most powerful girl in Penrose! Maybe second!’ Mayra’s flawless logic determined.

‘Doping pill? What’s that?’ Mayra asked, completely unknowing about that particular subject. Regardless, then Sann’s Third Eye flared on, and she saw that Mayra was coated from head to toe in some form of Darkness magic, albeit it was hard to say what it did. Inside her, there was also some Metal magic, who knew what that did. Sann transformed… and Mayra’s hands went to her cheeks.

‘Wha… you’d… you’d use your super-form on little old me? I’m… sniff... I’m honored!’ Mayra made a show of dragging an arm over her eyes to get rid of tears. Then… she smirked.

Mayra bent her knees and jumped backwards, blasting fire out of her feet to gain significant height… right above water. She’d jumped clean off the scaffolding, looking fated to land in nothing but water as she vaulted backwards. But then, at the apex of her jump… a dark aura overtook her and she stopped in mid-air.

‘Look, look! I used a movement curse to stop myself from falling! From here, I can launch myself in any direction! I can fly now!’ Mayra called, so proud. ‘This is how I was going to fight you, but then you went and went super…’ she said, and chuckled so happily… then aimed a determined grin in her face.

‘… So, this makes you a legitimate threat, one that stands a high chance of winning this tournament. You know what this means?’ she said… before her eyes narrowed, and parts of her skin started glowing, like hot lava… THAT MEANS I CAN USE ALL I HAVE TO TAKE YOU DOWN…!!

Her skin cracked. Her back utterly destroyed itself, large pieces of mass growing out of it. Her limbs grew. Her body grew. Her bikini fell off, but that didn’t matter because what was behind it could no longer be identified as anything but scales. Mayra grinned, before her face lost the ability to as her face elongated. Her mass grew substantially, held in place by the dark aura… before it vanished, and was replaced by two massive wings waving down and keeping the creature in the air. The transformation was done.

Mayra roared.

“WHOAHHOOOHH!” Dan now screamed into the microphone. “Mayra’s also powered up! We’ve left the magical girl genre and entered the Kaiju fighting one! Hold on to your seats, it’s about to get explosive!”

”Keiju Keijo? Similar words, but can they co exist?”

Then the giant fire-dragon breathed out a massive burst of fire sideways that spun it around and forward, leading to a giant dragon-rear being directed to slam into Sann’s current position, and also maybe accidentally break the remaining scaffolding.

Mayra, the giant dragon, was still playing Keijo.

Sann raised an eyebrow. Mayhaps this was what Odin’s warning meant. People sometimes in this magical world, had a stubborn inner voice that dictated to do everything backwards.

She breathed in deep, as she saw the titanic dragon ass invade her view, and hit her quite hard. Any other girl might have easily lost consciousness due to a variety of factors, but in Sann’s case, her body… was a puppet for her Soul.

Her body crackled, coating herself in sorceries, as the scaffolding hit her backside. Hold it. was what she thought as the shadow of the giant figure grew, and grew on the pool as the impact was imminent.

Now

Then at the last second… Sann shifted inside Mayra’s butt shadow, reemerging on the other side, her butt in contact with Mayra’s back, and now giving it a further push. The fact that her opponent had doped herself in darkness magic made the transition easier. With little reaction time, she poured all of the enhancements into her. like a storm of magic.

Reinforced Body. Electrified Nerves. Diamond Skin. Metal shell. Beast Might. Gravity manipulation.

Time manipulation.

Becoming not unlike the beast that Dina had turned into during Mariette’s raid to counter Leena and Fanfan. Provided that was too much, but it was a giant target, she was now butt-slamming on to the pool adding her momentum to the one present when the dragon first striked.

The massive force of strength that was the dragon’s strike with its rear descended on the remaining tower of scaffolding and on Sann’s position. A wave of power emanated from the impact, as few things in this world would have been able to oppose such a blow. Sann, however, didn’t actually need to oppose it. Whereas Mayra’s Monstrous Metamorphosis gave her a power boost and a size-increase, it was also only that, a power boost.

Avatar was so much more.

With darkness magic transitioning to the other side of Mayra, Sann received a perfect spot to deliver her counter attack with every imaginable enhancement at once, and with time-manipulation being one of them it was impossible to dodge the strike. Her strike interrupted and her flight disrupted, the huge dragon came crashing down through the rest of the scaffolding towards the water…!

“Holy smokes! Sann is slamming with the force of a meteorite! Will Mayra’s dragon days come to an end!?”

”Only if she doesn’t possess magic resistance like her JRPG counterparts!”

When she froze, the entire giant dragon came to a sudden stop just above the water’s surface. Darkness magic had resurfaced around her. It was the curse to stop her movement, activated through sheer instinct. This was when Mayra refocused her magic to attempt to blast away from the water, but…!

Sann’s wreathed form just kept pushing until it made a halt. A last minute, dogged defiance against the inevitable.

It was when light sorcery surfaced around her body, as well as her native reinforcement, in an effort to cancel out the curse.

“I told you. You owe me despair.” She growled, as if it wasn’t enough, parts of the scaffolding were assembling on top of the duo on Sann’s back, being electrified as they did so.
“Butt Railgun.” Sann growled, as her ass was launched at relativistic speed into Mayra’s front. Dragon or not, that much kinetic energy, alongside the dispelling effort would surely hurt.

Mayra felt Sann on her, and for this once she couldn’t actually cover herself in fire to get someone off. Instead, she blasted fire down into the water, the dragon’s mouth and claws spewing fire down… but Monstrous Metamorphism doesn’t actually increase magical strength, so.

Now, Sann didn’t exactly get despair out of the dragon, but she did get a roar before striking down the massive power of the Butt Railgun down into Mayra and blasting the giant dragon straight down into the water, sending a massive splash-wave flooding across the arena and probably getting a good 30% of it showering over the audience before the water finally settled.

“And Sann finishes with a BUTT RAILGUN, earning her first victory!” Dan shouted. “What an amazing fight from both sides! You can’t make this up, folks!”

Pac-A-Fist was panting, clutching her desk with both hands. ”That escalated quickly.” She smiled. ”What an exhilarating first round! It’s a shame we won’t get to see more of Mayra this tourney.”

A white-haired girl in a school swimsuit, Jelena, dove straight down after the fire-dragon submerged in water, and somewhere down there, the light of an Overcity Shift could be seen. Because Mayra’s dragon-form would need to be dealt with, or at least put somewhere it wouldn’t try to harm more people.

With that, the mist settled, and the victor was determined.

Sanngridr quickly undid the power-hungry and pain-inducing Avatar state, wondering how the kitty cat would even be able to tough it out. That old bat had more guts than half of the people, and she was a survivor. Sann felt bad for mocking her soft stance before. Her coaching had been successful.

Plus, hey, this sport had its highlights. Butt-striking a dragon into oblivion was something outside the scope of anything but a balls-out achievement in a video game. And now she had done it. She had fun with it.

Well, she had broken her neck, and her hips, so she crumpled like a ragdoll, only for her Soul Jar to pick up the slack and then forcibly stood up.

“You definitely overdid it. Do you even have strength to spare in the following rounds?” Dina did say as she caught a hold of Sann’s form, whispering in her ear. “How are you even still alive with this much backslash?”

“I’m the Varangian. I’m supposed to be this strong, granny…” She said, while both focused on healing and getting her magical replenishers for the following match.

Granny, huh? Dina thought it had been a coincidence as she had omitted the cat part of her nickname… but somewhere in her old heart, she felt a tug.




‘Whelp, my save-you-if-you’re-losing pill didn’t work, because it assumed you weren’t going to go, like, a league above the power of a regular Magical Girl fight. What are these monsters in Penrose!? Seriously!? If Mayra’s not strong enough, who is!?’ Jelena laughed in a backstage room somewhere later with an un-dragoned and dried up Mayra, who but sat back and chuckled at Jelena’s statement.

‘Oh, I’m plenty strong enough. It’s just, that power of hers…’ Mayra smiled so widely. ‘It was glorious. I want it.’

Mariette stood, arms crossed, frowning at Mayra. Mayra, alongside Freya, was definitely among their strongest. It was a bit infuriating to see her defeated by someone that had basically shown up out of nowhere. ‘We definitely need a countermeasure for that, just in case we have to fight it…’

‘We have one. Just waste her time,’ a new voice said, and Mariette turned her head to see two people enter. Freya, who didn’t look particularly happy, and the one who shouldn’t be seen. ‘My readings indicate that form takes a massive amount of energy. Just make her activate it, then make sure she accomplishes nothing with it,’ she said like it was a simple thing.

‘… That doesn’t work if we’re defending something important or are attacking something time-sensitive,’ Freya commented, not convinced with the plan.

‘Perhaps,’ the other girl shrugged. ‘But we have portals. We can work something out.’

‘… It sounded like she’s with the Sanctuary. Hopefully, that means we’ll never have to fight her,’ Mariette said on top of that, sighing a bit…

It was then when Mariette’s portal senses picked up on something baffling and horrid at the same time. Someone was making a portal by tearing space-time. It felt familiar…

FWOMP.

“Hehehe found you Pedersen…” chuckled the eerie voice of Therese, aka Tenebra, in full keijo regalia.

Alongside her was a bandaged Sann, eating a hot dog and slurping an extra-sized serving of mana restorative… and the Regent herself, Dina Denisova.

“Greetings.” She said, performing a curtsy.

Mariette turned and looked in surprise at the people who spawned out of nowhere, causing a horrible stir in her portal-sense that usually was only distrurbed by herself, Asengav, Overcity Shifts and mirrors. ‘W-what…’ she started, somewhat off-tempo.

‘Hey, Sann-grid!’ Mayra called out happily, using the name she’d gotten by just looking at the tournament bracket. ‘Thanks for the battle! You’re really strong! We should fight again, without keijo rules!’ she called so happily, with Jelena beside her just chuckling.

Freya, meanwhile, just crossed her arms and went to stand in the middle of the opening, absolutely coincidentally covering the girl that had opted to turn 180 degrees and leave.

Mariette regained composure.

‘Hello, again, Dina… What’s, uh. What can I do for you?’ Mariette asked, maybe still a bit off-tempo. Her eyes kind of darted over Tenebra. Wasn’t she dead?

Sann just slurped the remaining soda, and eyed Mayra. “I won’t be held back with amateurish moves next time, It’ll be for real. Pappy Odin likes when I challenge myself with the strong ones.”

‘Niiice! I’m looking forward to it!’ Mayra grinned excitedly from where she was seated.

Dina just rolled her eyes, and let out a sigh. “This is my fault, Mariette. I told her to back up being part of Sanctuary and claiming herself the Varangian… you know the viking guard of the Byzantine Emperors. I never expected her to slam… a dragon.”

“So for all it is worth, I apologize for the unpleasantness… It’s been a trying time, and everyone’s tightening their defenses given the past raids. Justine… the Sanctuary… and now this… Ascendancy manifest.”

Mariette, having never attended any history lessons, did in fact not know the viking guard of the Byzantine Emperors. Still, yeah, she could agree. ‘It’s… it’s alright. None of us are to blame for the current circumstances. It’s a tournament, for some reason, it’s natural to battle your opponent in it. I just…’ Mariette took a heavy breath. ‘We really need that mirror,’ she said, a bit of fear in her voice.

“You still will be able to get it, I’m sure. You’ve got quite a bunch of fighters. I must prepare for the eventuality that Dan dimension might need defending.” Dina did say. “Besides, what would Sanngridr do with that mirror?”

“Pappy Odin needs a beer tray.” The quirky valkyrie chirped. “But it’s okay, that stupid mirror is just a trinket for most. Not sure why everyone is suddenly licking their chops on it. Hot dogs are tastier.”

It was then when the third person spoke up, drawing closer to Mariette. “It’s her horror’s… treasure, and horrors punish naughty girls in ways you can’t even imagine…” There it was. Tenebra’s lack of social care.

Alongside Sanngridr’s utter disregard of it.

“Tenebra, that’s not your feud anymore.” Dina sighed. “We brought you back for a specific reason.”

Mariette shuddered by Tenebra’s mention of horror punishments. She knew. She oh, so knew. ‘Um… If you were to win, would it be possible we could obtain it from you?’ Mariette asked Sann. It did sound like it was what Dina was implying, but perhaps asking too was in order. Also…

‘… I wasn’t mistaken. She was killed, huh. And now she’s back… Why?’ Mariette asked, not to be callous, but because Dina specifically mentioned “specific reason”.

‘Yupp. Completely drained, right before my eyes,’ Freya mentioned, because she was in the middle of that battle at the time.

“Uh, sure. You can have it.” Sann would say. “Just sacrifice an oxen or a warrior to Odin and we’ll call even.” The girl said without batting an eyelid.

“Sanngridr offered her powers as Valkyrie to bring her back, alongside the stupid yaponski who paid the fees.” Dina would then state, looking at Sann. “We knew how useful she was moving forces around.”

Tenebra traced her fingers to her neck, as the blood flushed from her face. She remembered becoming a puppet of Father. A different kind of horror to Star Eater. And then being drained to the last gasp of life.

“Justine has to pay, Pedersen. She...violated me!” She would burst in anger and tears, trembling as her gravity magic went slightly haywire.

Mariette nodded thankfully. ‘I’ll make it three oxen,’ because the reward she’d get in return was just so valuable. And then, yeah, moving around is really useful. Mariette can attest to that, so she simply gave a nod. Then… there was Tenebra’s reaction… Mariette looked away for a bit, a bit of conflicting emotions within her.

‘… She is. Being purified, she has to live with all the crimes she’s ever committed, with a now regular human conscience. She’s certainly suffering…’ … Though, at the moment, Mariette didn’t really care. ‘… Go ahead and show up in front of her, remind her of what she did. I bet that would sting.’

Jelena chuckled at Mariette’s little piece of malice.
Dina would then move on to comfort Tenebra, but someone else beat her to the punch. It was Sann, who was now engulfing the sobbing Tenebra in her wings. “Yes, Justine needs to be slapped... Why don’t you do as Mariette says. You’re strong, so strong that girl gave the gold she had earned for a comeback. Make it count.” Sann would then whisper, before letting go of the hug.

Dina would glare at Sanngridr, before slapping the Varangian on her face. “She doesn’t need that for the time being. You’re going too far.” It was then when the cat offered her best smile, and with her powers began soothing the girl. “It’s okay, It’s over for now. We just need to find you a place where those wounds can mend. She won’t hurt you anymore, right.”

Sann just giggled.”I’m sorry, Regent.”

‘Alright, then…’ Mariette didn’t necessarily feel the need to comment on the events in front of her right then… however. ‘Do you need a refill?’ she asked, and a portal opened next to her. A confused Josefin who was talking to Taihei turned around, the blonde girl with twin-tails looking a bit confused at what she was seeing.

‘Josefin here has the ability to transfer mana between people, and she can store it inside herself for long periods of time. You could recharge with her. After all, that state seemed taxing on mana, and I have reason to see you win…’ Mariette told Sann.

“We’ll have to decline.” It was Dina’s statement. “We’re far too gone. Monster Queen reaction is a possibility for the both of us… specially Sanngridr. I never understood the reason why she acquired that much power but that’s all there is.” She said. Sann otherwise pouted as she searched for more stuff to eat and replenish.

‘Oh. So more mana could trigger it? I… I guess not, then,’ Mariette felt a bit disappointed. Josefin still looked confused as Mariette closed the portal to her and Taihei, who was tilting her head to see past Josefin what was going on as the portal closed.

‘Thank you… for coming to talk to us. It has comforted me, that we’re still, uh… yeah,’ Mariette said, a slightly awkward smile. Still friendly. She wasn’t sure, with how the mansion event had gone down.

Dina would then take the prompt, and give Mariette one of the motherly hugs only someone with life experience could have. “Don’t overdo it, okay? There are backup plans for a reason. I know that you truly aren’t that much of a bad egg.” She said, purring in Mariette's ear, before separating and Indicating the other two they were leaving.

Mariette still wasn’t used to hugs, but definitely appreciated it, doing her awkward best to hug back. Dina was definitely the superior hugger. ‘I’ll… I’ll try,’ she replied with a nod, wondering what just qualified as “overdoing it”, but. She then breathed out in relief for how this meeting had gone, and waved after Dina as they were leaving.

‘Until next time!’ Mayra called happily with a raise hand.

‘Geesh, you,’ Jelena thought something along the lines of Mayra being more friendly with people who prove themselves able to kick her ass, apparently.

Freya, meanwhile, who’s arms had been crossed the whole time, merely moved out the way to lean on the wall in case they were intending to leave the proper way this time.

Dina, and Sann did leave the proper way, but Tenebra stood there, eyeing Mariette.

“...Don’t get too conceited, okay! We’re still rivals! Even if you’re adorable!”

And then she promptly ran off.

‘I’ll, uh. I’ll keep that in mind,’ Mariette stated, kind of confused but smiling anyway. Maybe this would work out, after all.

@hatakekuro

Larvesta fired String Shots, and it looked like Cecil would be tied up in it! Basil hatched a final idea that could potentially save the day! Cecil was to fire all he had for the one chance to hit the bug spewing web at it, slowing it down as more web tied between the floor and the spinning Pokémon…

Now, Darumakas have weak firepower. However, by absolutely exhausting herself and putting everything she had into the fireball, directed downwards, it still managed to blast her off the floor! There was no way she’d be able to continue battling if this missed! So the spinning ball left the ground, the Incinerate burning through the web tying it to the floor and letting the strands flatter off Cecil’s red body as she flew into the air!

‘Dodge!’ Lorette commanded, and Larvesta, while surprised by the suddenly launched red spinning ball coming at him, was fast enough to blast himself aside, looking like he was going to avoid being hit by a wide margin…

When a strand of String Shot hanging from Cecil’s body caught onto Larvesta as she passed by.

Larvesta, too shocked by the sudden pull to figure to burn the strand, was suddenly dragged and spun by Cecil’s rolling momentum, thrown by the string of String Shot that had attached itself between them, as the both of them flew over and crashed into the wall of the gym, creating a visible indent!

Cecil took recoil damage from her unorthodox strategy! It wasn’t just Rollout anymore, and that makes it Struggle! Kind of, anyway! But, that didn’t matter, Cecil had enough health to avoid fainting! She was completely drained from the Incinerate, however.

Her opponent, Larvesta, had been slammed into the wall by the string of web that had been attached to him… and he fell fainted to the floor, defeated and out.

And with that, Lorette was out of Pokémon.

Basil was victorious!

Cecil grew to Level 14! Cecil learned Headbutt!
Roxanne grew to Level 13! Roxanne learned Thunder Wave!

‘Hahaha! That was… some finish! Well done!’ Lorette chuckled as she stood up on the opposite side of the arena. ‘I knew I was right about you! You’re more than capable of passing my little test!’

Basil gained 2500P for winning!


Lorette returned Larvesta to his Pokéball, and then walked forward towards Basil, over the platform, smiling all the while.

‘Here, you’ve earned this,’ Lorette said, handing something over.

Basil obtained the Shrine Badge!

‘Oh, and have this, too. When facing many different challenges, it’s a good idea to often switch Pokémon to deal with the current obstacle. This move should help with that! It does decent damage AND returns your Pokémon for you. It’s pretty handy!’

Basil obtained TM89 U-Turn!

‘Don’t worry about if you happen to lose the badge, your victory has already been registered into the Pokémon League database, meaning your feat today won’t go lost with just that. It also means stealing badges won’t get anyone very far. It feels special, doesn’t it, holding a badge for yourself? You’ve now taken your first step towards battling in the Pokémon League itself. Don’t let up now! You’re going all the way, aren’t you~?’ Lorette asked in a happy, playful tone.

‘That aside, you actually came here for something else, didn’t you?’ Lorette asked, chuckling some more.

Anise stepped forward from where she’d stayed in order to watch the battle. There was some respect in her eyes when looking at Basil, at the moment.

So, what did Basil have to say? Or perhaps he had Pokémon to tend to first?

__________________________

@Joshua Tamashii
appropriate music

‘What Ledyba knows…?’ Eric asked, and looked to his nervous bug. He eventually nodded, kneeled down and picked out a Potion, he hadn’t figured to bring a Burn Heal, but he could go to the Pokémon Center later in any case. ‘Right, Ledyba. Tell us what you know,’ he told his bug.

Ledyba swallowed, as far as a giant ladybug can, nodding to his trainer and then looking towards the rest of them. Leila looked on curiously and Annica crossed her arms.

Ledyba focused his attention, and then… it was time for testimony.



‘That… that doesn’t help us,’ Annica said with a face covered in doubt.

‘Palpitoad…!’ Palpitoad objected. To Pokémon present, it meant plenty! It’s just a matter of how they’d translate it to human.



Soooooooooooo. How would the Pokémon present, in case they were listening, get this across?









Or she could leave.



Connected areas:
Pureplain City. You can get back without complication.
Infested Woods. You’re right next to it.
Wet Caverns. May need to cross a bridge or two to get there.



So it turned out there’d be a tournament. Circumstances changed and Dina did not seem interested in the buffs any longer. Mariette nodded, understanding, so she turned back towards her own forces.

‘We… we must enter the tournament. We have to win back the mirror,’ Mariette declared.

‘This is absurd. That mirror was given to you and we had done everything we could for this ridiculous Christmas, and now we have to battle for it? I will have a word with that ridiculous dolphin, and-’ Lea announced, frowning as she declared, when Mariette leaned in.

‘I agree. But if we win it legitimately, then nobody here will be able to complain,’ Mariette said, and that did manage to make Lea quiet down. Not that it made her stop scheming, but it did quiet her down. Mariette was satisfied, and sighed out as she looked over her girls.

‘Right. Who here wants to try Keijo?’ Mariette asked.

Numerous hands went into the air. Mayra was as eager as ever, and both Jelena and Victoria were itching for a fight. Ronja was lifting a calm hand, and Suzette also looked pretty eager with her own grin. Tullia was blushing a bit, thinking it over. Josefin was hesitating a bit to raise her hand, and Taihei sighed.

‘I think I have a few artifacts that would help me win against anyone,’ Taihei declared rather to the point, even if she didn’t actually sound very eager to do Keijo.

Notable people that didn’t want to do Keijo was Lea, far too proud, Esther, tree-person without many desires, Olivia, shy non-fighter, and…

‘What a stupid game…’ Freya sighed. She’d just gotten back from having let her inner beast run rampant, and she gets back to…?

‘Please, Freya… you’re our strongest member…’ Mariette pleaded.

‘Strongest slammer, but I bet I’d beat her in a no-holds-barred with strength combined with magic, teh-heh,’ Mayra claimed, the dragon-girl’s tail swinging a bit. ‘But Freya doesn’t want to fight me…’ she then lamented.

‘Eeegh, fine…’ Freya grunted.

‘Thank you, Freya,’ Mariette nodded thankfully. ‘Okay, we need to make plans. Let’s talk this through…’

And so, the plotting would begin…








After ensuring that Connie was sufficiently calmed down, Gaia would temporarily leave her timid friend in the care of Rose and Iris, while she sought out Mariette. The Daughter of Mother Earth had been meaning to have a small chat with the eyepatch-wearing girl, and she thought it prudent to do so before things spiraled even further out of hand.

“Miss Mariette?” Gaia would ask the portal witch in a serene and soothing tone. “Please pardon the intrusion, but would it be possible to speak with you in private for a moment?”

Mariette had just sent all her subordinates to prepare for battle on the battlefield of keijo, but she herself was just not physically capable enough to actually partake, and as such after having sent them off to prepare she was left standing with a somewhat exasperated expression. Perhaps she shouldn’t ever have involved Dan… Then, however, Gaia approached her. Mariette blinked a little at her, but yeah, she had said before she did want to talk. Mariette took a deep breath, then…

‘Yes, that should be possible. Let’s go somewhere,’ she said, and opened a portal to just outside the place, because Mariette didn’t count on privacy anywhere within the building. Mariette strode out into the snow, decently confidently. Assuming she was followed, she’d then turn around to look expectantly at Gaia.

Following Mariette through the portal, Gaia took a moment to look around the small wooded clearing they now found themselves in.

“I believe this shall serve,” Gaia declared with an approving nod. “Although perhaps someplace even more secure would be preferable,” she added, after giving it a bit more thought. “What I have to discuss may place you in some danger, should the wrong individuals happen to overhear.” The “wrong individuals”, in this case, being both the Ascendency and Mariette’s own allies, although Gaia wanted to keep that ambiguous for the time being.

Mariette took a moment to glance at the building. She then sighed, took a couple seconds to reach way further with her magic, and then opened a portal to a different island altogether, which Mariette then stepped through to be significantly further away from the rest of the people that could potentially eavesdrop. Because they’d left the winter island, they were now in the swimsuit dimension proper… and Mariette’s appearance transformed into the swimsuit she’d worn on the earlier trip here. Not that they were on the beach, Mariette had picked a gathering of palm trees they could hide behind as their spot.

‘Okay, we’re further away now,’ Mariette declared as she once again turned to look at Gaia.

“Thank you,” Gaia replied, giving the portal witch a warm smile. “The matter I wish to speak with you about concerns a cavern beneath Penrose, which a friend and I discovered while cleaning a local waterway of some magical pollution. The cavern contained a sizable garden, cared for by your ally, Lady Esther, as well as a strange portal. As I am well aware of the master you serve, I simply wish to ensure that this portal does not bring any harm to Penrose, or its inhabitants. I am sure we can both agree they have suffered enough these past few months.”

It was that, after all. Mariette sighed again, because she’d received the report about her and Shane’s visit to that portal in the past and had been mentally preparing for the information to leak out to everyone and had been practicing her excuse. Meaning, she had it prepared.

‘… I’m sorry you had to see that. Okay, so the thing is…’ Mariette gathered her thoughts to see how exactly she could explain this. ‘Penrose is in the midst of a vortex of magic. It draws monsters, attracts cataclysms and all kinds of bad things happen in town because of it. Honestly, it’s not the safest place for any of us to live in, yet here we are. My patron… my patron wants a piece of that magic,’ Mariette took a brief break to then speak again.

‘The portal you found gently drains magic from the vortex, feeding my patron. He’s using the vortex of Penrose as a power station, hence my presence in Penrose at all. My job is to keep people occupied, unaware of these portals, so that they don’t break them and shut down his supply of magic. Despite his nature, Asengav is reasonable, he knows just trying to take Penrose would be met with intense opposition. So he’s just going to take what he can without being noticed… or so,’ she said, taking another break.

‘I’m sure you can agree that, as far as Horror plots go, that’s very much on the lenient side. If at all possible, could you keep what you’ve seen a secret? If people were to go around trying to break those portals, Asengav might take a more… direct approach, and none of us want that. … Okay?’ So Mariette said, looking at Gaia pleadingly.

“I see…” Gaia replied thoughtfully, holding an elegant finger to her lips. “If that is indeed the case, I see no reason for it to become an issue. I can assure you that I have kept what I saw in the cave a secret, and shall continue to do so. I shall even ask Shane to do likewise. I must admit, I have no desire to be your enemy. A… mutual acquaintance has informed me of the situation you and your allies are currently in, and I would like to assist you however possible. Indeed, my dearest Connie and I have grown quite fond of Mayra, in particular, and neither of us would want to see anything unfortunate happen to her, or the rest of you, for that matter. So, please,” she added with a smile, as she gently placed a hand on Mariette’s shoulder. “If ever you have need of allies outside your core circle of companions, do not hesitate to call upon me. I would be only too happy to help.”

Mariette breathed out lightly in relief that Gaia didn’t take offense to the draining-magic part. She had kept imagining that it was unacceptable, for some reason. She listened closely to Gaia’s words, and a tinge of amusement crossed her that Mayra, of all her subordinates, had managed to gain friends here. That was a bit sweet. The hand on her shoulder initially scared Mariette, because it was easy to imagine an attack coming from it, but Gaia was a kind soul, and it was meant to comfort her. Mariette nodded in reply.

‘I greatly appreciate it. Thank you, for your offer,’ she said, appreciating allies whenever she could get them. ‘… If I may ask, who is this mutual acquaintance?’ Mariette asked, because the answer could imply varying levels of knowledge about Mariette’s position.

“You are most welcome,” Gaia replied with a small giggle. “And the mutual acquaintance I referred to is Ronin,” the verdant girl added. “It is clear that she cares for you a great deal, especially in light of the considerable lengths she has already gone through to help you. You are most fortunate to have such a dedicated friend.”

‘Ronin…’ Mariette repeated her name with a slightly sad smile. ‘Yeah… yeah, I am,’ she said. Then… she looked closely at Gaia. Looking like she might be considering something. At the very least, added her face to a group of friendly people. ‘Right, anything else?’ Mariette asked.

“That was all, for now,” Gaia replied. “It is my fondest hope that everything works out well, regarding the upcoming tournament,” she added. “But even if things don’t turn out as planned, just know that you have friends who’ll support you. There’s no need to carry all your burdens alone.”

‘… Thank you. That, uh, mirror’s a precious artifact of my patron, I don’t want to think of what he’ll do if I lose it…’ Mariette said with another sigh. ‘Okay, let’s return. Thank you… once again.’ So Mariette said before she raised her hand and opened a portal back to the winter island.
If the time limit runs out, who wins? Does the judges decide?

Is "exceptions" is all cases where time runs out?
@Pirouette

‘Oooooooooooh I love stories like that!’ Joshua eagerly cried out. ‘We must do everything in our power to see your dream fulfilled!’

‘I concur,’ Ewan nodded mid-run. ‘You’re far more deserving than that guy…!’

Those calls of support aside, they arrived at the throne room and took in the scene. Erika made her announcements… and the boy grunted and turned back towards the throne.

‘You’re a nuisance. Psychics! Mia! Allan! Take care of them!’ Julian commanded, and the crew of Psychics turned their Pokémon towards them!

‘It would be our pleasure!’ Mia called rather excitedly.

‘Hmpf, as our client requests,’ Allan said, tossing a used cigarette aside. Because it’s in his image. Definitely wouldn’t be in a real Pokémon game, but eh.

A crowd of Psychic Pokémon amassed from the crowd of Psychics that were making up the front line, and even if each was comparatively weak, it would take too long to fight through them! That is, unless-

An all-powerful leg swung through the air, causing a blast of wind that sent the Abras, Drowzees, Elgyems and Chinglings flying and the Psychics to cry out in terror. Machamp gently put his leg down, gave Erika a smirk and pointed with his thumb in the direction of the throne for her, through the opening he’d just created through the line of Pokémon of the Psychics. He then cracked two sets of knuckles, smirking at the Psychics, who while many and with a type-advantage definitely felt like they were facing something impossible…!

So, Erika, Ewan and Joshua were free to dash ahead towards the throne…!

‘Not so fast…!’ Mia called, her Ducklett flying up and shooting a Water Gun to stop them!

‘We won’t let you get to our client…!’ Allan said, his Growlithe firing an Ember to dissuade them from continuing.

Mia and Allan would like to-

‘OH, NO YOU DON’T!’ Joshua called out as his Mudkip came out and blocked the Ember without taking much damage. ‘Erika’s dream is on the line, and I won’t let you stand in the way of it!’ he called, facing up against Allan.

‘Besides, letting you guys do as you like would leave a sour taste in my mouth,’ Ewan said, as Duessel the Psyduck took Ducklett’s Water Gun, similarly without much damage. ‘Erika! Get your price! We’ll hold up these guys!’ he continued, facing up against Mia

‘Tsk…’ Mia made an annoyed noise.

‘You little…’ Allan wasn’t super-happy about this turn of events.

‘Geh,’ Julian made a noise, frowning back at them, then turned to… ‘Pilot! Start the engine! Block the hall!’

As he called, the giant drill started firing up, starting to move intending on turning so it’d block their progress…

‘FIRE!’ Maple called. She’d all of a sudden called out her entire brigade of Fire-types! There was a Magby, a Flareon, a Growlithe and a Tepig, all starting to fire a hail of Embers at the expensive-looking machine! They were doing significantly more than scratching the surface, the steel-typing of the drill coming to a definite disadvantage as the fire was starting to burn into it, slowing its progress! ‘FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! THAT THING ISN’T LEAVING!’ Maple commanded, holding her shovel forward as her fire-brigade were now occupied.

Julian grunted as he turned towards the throne, and Ellyn stood before it with a sharp look.

‘Are you sure you can afford looking at me? Someone’s coming for you, Julian,’ Ellyn said, smirking and nodding her head towards behind him.

Julian spun around, and (assuming Erika did as her companions intended and headed on) she’d arrive in front of him, the boy grunting as he looked at her.

‘You…’ he frowned at her, not looking very happy. ‘You’re after the Dawn Stone as well?’ he asked, the Kirlia next to him nodding at this assertion. ‘… Fine. If I beat you, it’s mine. I’ll show you my conviction is stronger than yours…!’


@Joshua Tamashii

‘You're talking about Scald? Um, the problem with that is that only the Panpour line learns that move in the wild, and they live up at Route 23, I think, not this far south,’ Leila pointed out the issue with this line of thought, blessed with this knowledge only because it became very relevant to the matter at hand.

However, perhaps there was another matter recently brought up that could be relevant?
@Gardevoiran

They followed the footprints, and there approaching the rocks, and JoJo felt the emotions of a very eager though kindhearted soul in the midst of the rocks. Although-

‘YAHA!’ came the sound of of a woman crying out happily as she burst out of a bunch of rocks. ‘YOU FOUND ME!’ she called so excitedly.

She remained with her arms in the air and smiling so brightly, until she realized she’d probably hadn’t had her intended effect.

‘… What, don’t I look exactly like her? No? Oh, well, let’s battle!’



__________________________


@hatakekuro

She did, ignore the previous comment. Anyway!

She did perhaps make a premature assumption about Cecil’s move-pool, however. As she realized what move Cecil was charging up, she was quick to command.

‘Larvesta! Evade!’

But, it’s difficult for a charging high-speed fire-bug to quickly change course like that. As Cecil rolled forth, she impacted the high-velocity bug, both Pokémon doing damage to the other. But, one of them was Not Very Effective (albeit highly damaging anyway), while the other was double Super Effective.

The two crashed off one another, Cecil taking less than half her health while Larvesta took far more than that, but not quite enough to cause him to faint. His speed was boosted again, making Larvesta a really fast bug now.

‘Larvesta, stay high! She’s locked in a roll, now, stay out of her range with your speed and fire String Shots to slow her down and trap her!’

With that command, Larvesta remained in the air, blasting fire to maneuver in directions it looked like Cecil wasn’t heading in, and started firing String Shots trying to slow down her otherwise very dangerous Rollout, trying to take all speed out of the roll and leave her stranded!

What’s Basil and Cecil’s plan?

__________________________

@Pirouette

‘Yeah, I… I can see your point,’ Elana nodded at that part about being worried about the Fighting-types. It did make sense, after all. It just so happened that the Machamp held such sway that he could order the rest of the Fighting-types back.

Machamp chuckled at the praise, nodding rather proudly. Then, there was the invitation to come along because there was one more thing she wanted. Machamp shrugged with a smile, and then went on to run along with her! Just so happened to have the king of the mountain along with the journey! Also coming along was an eager Joshua and a determined Ewan, hurrying through the tunnel dug by the giant machine. Machamp notably wasn’t bringing his army, though.

‘Alright, I’ll be… I’ll be right behind you,’ Elana said, staying behind for now, because she had a significant amount of Fighting-types that wanted to challenge her because of the amount of strength she’d shown off earlier, so she’d be stuck there for a while. With that, they ran on, up the mountain…







The machine had dug up through the floor in front of an empty hall. It was the throne room, built in mighty rock from ages past, with a throne on a raised platform standing empty currently. The jewel in the throne glowed as it did when Erika had been there last. The machine slowed to a crawl before stopping, the hatch on top opening once again. The boy, Julian, poked out his head to inspect the surroundings with a mildly impressed expression.



‘… Huh. It seems your plan worked. They didn’t leave any guards at all,’ Julian said, looking around the empty hall, as he stepped out of the machine, Kirlia by his side, as he jumped down the machine and onto the ground beneath, his hit to the ground slowed to a safe falling speed by Kirlia’s psychic power. After him jumped the numerous Psychics that were his grunts, and after them… climbed two individuals in suits out of the machine. A girl with cyan hair, and a boy with red hair.



‘Ingenious, isn’t it!?’ the girl with cyan hair remarked proudly, climbing down from the craft and triumphantly putting her hands on her sides. ‘If there’s an army of Fighting-types to battle, we just have to lure an army of Psychic-types to keep them occupied! Digging a hole and luring the Psychic-types through was all part of the plan, and the plan is flawless! As a result, the place is unprotected! That’s what you get when you hire the likes of us!’ she boasted.

‘… No. We’re almost out of time,’ the boy with the red hair said, frowning. ‘It went too quickly. We were counting on that the Psychic army would lay claim to the lower levels of the mountain before the fighting began, but at this speed I wouldn’t be surprised if the Fighting-types intercepted them in the tunnel. Master Julian, I urge you to hurry up and grab the stone before they come back, or your investment may go to waste.’

‘… Right away,’ Julian agreed, turning to his Kirlia, and the two nodded and turned to the throne. ‘… There. Who would have thought, the one Dawn Stone in the mountain would be attached to the king’s throne.’ he said, stepping with his Kirlia up the raised platform, extending a hand for the glowing “jewel” in the throne. ‘All the more worthy a price for me to collect. Only the best for my Pitri…’ he said, and with him this close, it looked like nothing could stop him from-

A blast of fire and a psychic strike suddenly burst in from the side and exploded together right in front of Julian’s face, not burning him only because Kirlia raised a Psychic shield as the both of them recoiled back from the throne. The suited boy and girl with red and cyan hair-colors respectively drew Pokéballs and glared to identify the unknown attackers, and-!

‘WHERE IS EVERYONE!? We were supposed to meet up with Joshua, Ewan and Erika, but nobody’s here!? NOT EVEN THE POKÉMON!? What did you do to them!? And why are you stealing from them!?’ Maple cried out in stunned shock, Maggy the Magby taking a prepared stance in front of the throne.

‘I think the boy from the machine had a nasty plot and hired some criminals to make his will be done. How does that sound, Julian? Team Amethyst?’ Ellyn asked, standing oddly straight and with Bird the Natu placed squarely and battle-ready on her shoulder.



‘… Ell… lyn…? What in the blazes…’ Julian was starting to pronounce, recovering from the daze.

‘No time, we must overwhelm them at once,’ the red-haired boy said. Cyan-haired girl nodded and they each grabbed numerous Pokéballs, and the Psychic grunts all picked up a Pokéball each for good measure. The two agents sent out a Growlithe and a Ducklett each, while the grunt Psychics sent out a mix of Abras, Drowzees, Elgyems and Chinglings.



‘... Yeah, that’s right. I can’t be stopped here. Do you truly think you can take us all on, Ellyn!?’ Julian asked, Maple feeling just a tad left out but also incredibly interested in the fact Ellyn seemed to know this boy, albeit not on good terms.

Still, they were quite critically outpowered here, Maple and Ellyn facing a myriad of enemy Pokémon, preparing to unleash a hail of Psychic attacks plus a pair of fire and water-attacks. Still, outmatched as they were, they had bought time.

Enough time.

Erika’s actions?


‘Now, let’s see…’ Deni called, as she went into her gift and found… a giant bucket of KFC, still hot. Deni’s eyes widened at the sight… and then burst out laughing, really loudly. It was pretty funny.

Meanwhile, Eli got her present and it was a golden ticket. She held it up to read the details on it, inspecting it closely…

‘Have you been invited to a chocolate factory? Oooh, I’m jealous~!’

‘Dear sister, you’d have ended up being turned into sentient chocolate slime, or something equivalent,’ Eli replied, and Deni giggled. ‘But no, this is… an invitation for an evening with fantastic meal and a happy ending with a single guest.’

‘Ooooh! Sounds great! You can actually make yourself get a boyfriend!’ Deni chuckled happily.

‘Eeeeh… I don’t really want one, though…’ Eli replied, frowning a bit at the invitation.

‘Not right now, but maybe sometime in the future? That ticket doesn’t have an expiration date, does it? As long as we don’t die, our existences are eternal! Who knows what will happen or who’ll you meet in the future?’ Deni suggested with a smirk.

‘Er, maybe,’ Eli said, inspecting the ticket. ‘Or I could use it for a sensitive meeting with someone important, it promises a happy ending so whatever I hope to achieve might just be guaranteed. Or subverted and still made happy somehow, which, okay,’ Eli continued, theorizing.

‘But, like, I currently don’t need this ticket to have a good meal and a happy ending with one guest,’ Eli said, making Deni tilt her head at her a bit. ‘All I need is…’ With that, Eli sat a curious Deni down at a table, placed Deni’s KFC in the middle of the table, and then sat down herself on the opposite side of the table with a big smile. ‘… right here.’

‘Awww! My sweet younger sister~’ Deni giggled so happily to Eli. ‘Alright! Let’s eat, then!’

‘Yes, let’s,’ Eli agreed, and they both reached to the KFC and took a chicken each, biting into the crunchy outside…

‘O-oh, man, this is delicious…!’ Deni started to positively pant at just how good the chicken was.

‘Th-this…’ Eli’s eyes were wide with shock. ‘This is a marvel of chicken! KFC wishes it was this good…!’

In the corner the two twins were enjoying their chickens with pure happiness in their faces. There was some commotion about mirrors and keijo tournaments, but honestly, they didn’t have time for that, chicken was too delicious.







Well, it was no mystery who Mariette’s gift had come from. Mariette pocketed the coin and threw a slight gaze to the puppet, if she was anywhere near. Wonder if she’d actually be willing to defend someone like Mariette? … Who knows? Meanwhile her own gift went to… Yeah, suppose that’s fine. Wonder if the combat-like woman would enjoy the alternate version of herself. Mariette had no idea how her gift would be received, after all. Maybe not everyone was interested in something like that. Who knows, once again.

In the rewards section, I was planning on having Tullia give the coin to someone who hadn’t cheated on their ice sculpture, but I need to go back and reread what sculptures were made before I can do that.

Then finally, it was the price for Christmas spirit… Mariette’s visible eye widened as she realized what the dolphin was doing. He was giving her the Black Mirror in front of everyone. Her expression was one of sheer, utter terror as the giant present materialized. A single question echoed through her mind.

COULDN’T YOU HAVE GIVEN ME THAT IN PRIVATE!!!???

She lifted a hand to materialize a portal as quickly as she inhumanly could to take the present away, but-

Mariette recoiled as Rachel shouted, preventing her from removing the present without objection. Then, Lily skipped to defend her, challenging to a match of Keijo… and then Dino overtook the challenge. All the while Mariette was just staring and thinking, The present is mine, what gives you the right to compete for it!?

… Mariette was not actually going to let anyone have the Black Mirror, even if they so supposedly won it. She was just raise a hand over her mouth to disguise a portal she opened from her mouth to Dan’s ear and whisper.

‘These people do not have the right to compete over my mirror. Can I please remove it from this dimension?’ she asked, probably not going to have any success, but she asked, nonetheless.

Next part. It appeared she had a champion. Mariette opened portals to gather her team in the same place, somewhere in the snow outside, before she stepped there herself. Then, she opened a portal directly from there to Dina.

‘Dina. It seems you’ll be protecting your dimension, and my mirror by extension. I wish to help. Come through this portal, and my champions will be able to power you up,’ Mariette offered.

Now, of her champions actually able to help…


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