Book Two: Vengeance, Chapter Six-
Rei had hit the road at the first sign of dawn. She never bothered checking to see if anyone was following her, for she already knew the answer. The thoughts stolen from the Rocket proved to not be of much help. Whatever it was that happened to them at Kaghane, someone else had gotten to their memories first. She only hoped that once she reached her destination someone would be able to explain things to her. By dark's fall, Rei was upon a familiar scene. Though time had taken its toll on the area, things remained more or less the same as in the vision. With her goal at hand, she pressed on.
"Halt, stranger," a voice boomed out from the shadows. "Be you friend or foe to Kaghane?"
"Friend," she replied, turning about while trying to pinpoint where the speaker was. There was a pause.
"Your guise betrays your word," it accused. "You come as one fresh from the den of thieves, the enemy of our city. One of Rocket." The inference boiled her blood. "Our champion does not take lightly to such."
"My heart and soul are vowed to their destruction, arbiter," she assured him. "I live solely to defeat them. Your... champion... must appreciate that."
"You think you can kill the devil himself? Interesting," he admitted, stepping from the darkness. The figure was draped in plate mail, head to toe. Even though he was standing in the light, the lackluster metal of his suit still made him near invisible. Within his mammoth gauntlets, he sported a wicked lance, aimed at Rei. "Then, you would have no problem proving your boast. You will come to meet our guardian. If you cooperate, the trip will go smoothly. If you don't..." he raised his spear.
"I have no intentions to fight. I only need answers," Rei told him as she was lead along with the spear in her back.
"I will leave that for him to decide," he ended the conversation. As they proceeded, dim lights glowed in the distance. It was a path of torches illuming the way. As they entered the trail of light, he waved one hand through the air. The act by itself appeared foolish until the expanse of night was cut off by a towering gray wall. A massive stone rampart stretched between two alpine mounts. Atop the fortification, soldiers clad in armor just like the other ran about the battlements at his signal. At their arrival, the enormous gates of the city parted to allow them passage. She had now entered Kaghane.
Rei was being lead to the center of the city, where there sat a dark citadel. A guard was already making his way here before she and her escort had come. Using all his force to crack the grand, ebony doors, he accessed the vast corridor lined with elegant pillars of jet. The iron clad steps resounded terribly through his passage down the pitch dark hall. The colonnade opened into a cavernous chamber, dimly light by a sole window on the ceiling, which let the stars and moon shine inside. The walls were lined with window frames, but all were broken and boarded shut. At the far end of the room, its only occupant, sat the most exquisite, marvelous piece in the entire manor. Adorned with silver, rubies, and obsidian, reaching over three meters in height, a black marble throne sat upon a higher grade of stairs, furthering the menace of the enthroned.
Engulfed by the dais, a single man was positioned. Imperial as his rank may be, he did not bear himself with royal esteem. He sat slouched, his body practically running off the chair, with one hand tapping away the seconds on the throne's arm and the other against his head. His raven hair hung down over his large, coal eyes, sharply contrasting with the corpselike visage. His mien beguile his age. While his face was too young to be a man's, it was too aged to be a boy's, yet certain qualities assured it did not belong in between. Sable garb of a forgotten era enrobed his body, with wide collar flipped up and ruffs at his neck and cuffs. He perched, as if escaping time, staring at the floor, waiting for the world to find him. The thundering steps quickly caught his attention, though the only sign of his interest was his fingers stopping. The knight dropped to his knee and bowed.
"Sire," he greeted, "we have found a stranger on your land. The intruder swears to be one of justice, but treachery is expected. Shall we perform the test, sire?" His head finally broke from its locked gaze.
"Indeed we shall," he decreed. "It was been quite some time since one was foolish enough to trespass on my grounds," he stated, twirling a silver dagger in his hand. "If this outsider can succeed, safe passage will be granted. If not, death."
"Sire, as you command, sire," the guard bowed and parted. The cumbersome doors swung shut with a loud clasp, and he was alone again.
The doors slammed shut once more as a pair of footsteps slowly made its way towards him. Like an animal hungry for the hunt, he licked his lips in anticipation, spinning the dirk a few more times, awaiting his visitor.. Rei took her time as she wandered down the passage, unsure to where a wall might be. To help pass the time, she hummed the aria of her father. He had been on her mind more than usual, recently, and the tune was haunting her. The melody carried down the hall and caught the champion's ear. He could not understand what it was, but something of the tune disturbed him. To cover for his fear, he leaned back deep into the throne, spreading his hands over the arms, casting his head downward. He appeared as death itself. As his challenger finally emerged into some pale light, he left his intimidating stance, his eyes widened, tossing forward for a better look, overwhelmed by disbelief. The figure was still relatively a blur, but he could make out the overcoat, which was enough to rekindle his nightmare...
The chamber filled with light as torches lined the walls and the windows were whole and uncovered. The wear of time left the walls as cobwebs and cracks vanished. The throne's gleam was near blinding as all was fresh and renewed. The oncoming figure's straight path was replaced with erratic pattern of steps with its gray overcoat swaying with the dance while the faint ditty had grown into a lunatic babble. Lastly, the enthroned was reduced to a mere boy. He peered in disgust.
"My guards tell me that you were resisting them," he put to the madman. "Tell me, be you friend or be you foe?" His question went unobserved as the maniac pranced about, gazing in all directions but that off the child.
"O, blue star with shining light, Bestow your grace 'pon us tonight," he mumbled to himself. The child returned his favor.
"They tell me that you're mad," he put to him, "but I believe it is a rouse. A poor rouse." The song continued.
"The devil has come, his prize to claim, I hear him now crying out your name. Death's hand's outstretched, awaiting your toll, To the fiery abode, he'll ferry your soul." Amidst his scurrying, he managed to lock his finger on the champion's position without ever looking at him directly.
"Now, you may either leave quietly," he said, slipping his hand into his vestment, "or we can do it the fun way." His hand exited clasping a series of black orbs.
"For it'd be safer for you to dwell, In the blazing depths of Hell." At that, he stood firm his ground. Firing a sinister glare at the enthroned through his spectacles. His sack swung off his shoulder and was planted on the floor before him. He tore through it in search, casting contents out around him. "For the abysmal tyrant may cut you slack, But you won't get any from ol' Jack." He removed a halved globe from the sack. Simultaneously, the two slung their chosen warriors into the field. From the defender's ascended a winged monster with beady eyes, fangs sticking out from its gaping mouth and its long tongue trailing out. To duel with the bat, a curly haired, long eared creampuff hopped out. The Golbat swooped down at its enemy, striking it with its wings before returning to its altitudinous position. Jack, who was not paying attention to the battle, looked up and withdrew the balloon. The guardian was perplexed.
"What... what are you doing?"
"Wrong one," he answered in a regular voice, returned to his seeking. While still preoccupied, he rolled out another Pokeball into play. The great fire lizard rose up, but upon a few hits from the bat, which did not even phase the dragon, Jack called it back. "Have you ever been," he asked as he threw out another creature, "to the mountains?" The question was aimless.
"Whi- which mountains, you dolt?" Before the bat could even reach the jellyfish, it was taken away in a red haze.
"The mountains," Jack said to no one. "Man, they're great. I try to go whenever I can. They are so much fun, too. Blizzards, avalanches, subzero temperatures... I've almost died five times while scaling those things." While still hunting, he kicked slapped forward a ball that was laying on the floor.
"What is wrong with you?" he demanded. "Why don't you fight me?" A poison bee dodged a few blows and retreated to its master's side. Annoyed, Jack inverted his bag. Near all the contents spilled out. Giving it a few good shakes, a massive object tumbled out and struck the ground with a thud. It was a metal sphere covered in chains with padlocks.
"Fight you? You want me to fight you," he repeated with a devilish grin. "Oh, you'll regret that." With both hands, he managed to lift the object. His legs wavered slightly beneath the weight, but he held on. His voice turned to an eerie chant as he mass before him. "On graceful wings ascend to flight, Spread your cold through the sky of night. Unto the world release your blight, Your frozen wind there flesh to bite." Hair and cloak began to sway in the wind as the large orb trembled. A chill passed through the room. "Grant me now your heavenly might, God and mortal as one unite." Arctic powder drifted down and piled lightly around. The sphere tried to break through the chains. Beams of light shone through the crack. All these things struck the guardian as rather odd since all exits were sealed shut. "Lord of Mountain, winter sky, Your fate in its hands lie. I summon 'pon its divine power, And pray for you on your final hour." In just a short time, a foot of snow was piled about the room, and more was coming. The champion would have done something, but he did not know how to react to the situation. Jack raised the orb up high as he drew his dagger, staring the boy down through frosted glasses. "Come now to fulfill your plight, As I call you forth my foes to smite." He drove the blade into the Pokeball, severing the chain. Before the shattered bonds could reach the ground, the top parted as a column of light rose, transcending the skylight. A polar blast ripped through the snowdrift, smashing the Golbat against the wall, where it plummeted unconscious and knocking the child back against his throne, nearly tipping it over. All the windows systematically shattered as the force harrowed. He could only watch in terror as, from the pillar of energy, opened a pair of translucent, frozen wings as the black hall was turned stark white.
Then, he found himself staring at the stone floor. On his hands and knees he panted, sweat rolling off his face. Painfully, he had remembered the lost memory. A flurry of footfalls sounded towards him as Rei rushed to his side concerned. She went to speak, but he cut her off, sticking his hand forward, never looking at her.
"Take it," he ordered. "This is what you came for. You have already proven yourself to me. I can't go through that again." His hand opened, revealing a shining, black set of wings. "This badge will let them know that you are worthy. Now, leave me alone," he said, thrusting it into her hands before standing. "You've caused me enough grief." Holding his aching head, he stumbled off.