Disclaimer: I do not own Pokémon. I only own the characters and story, unless otherwise stated. I hope you enjoy this chapter.Kira shivered lightly as she glanced around. She was surrounded on all sides by snow and mountains, which greatly confused her. She had been on her way to the second Guardian - the one near Sky Tower - when she had decided to take a short break and camp out for the night. She was sure that she had fallen asleep in a thick forest, not a mountain range or something.
It hadn't been long since she had left Treasure Town, but it had been long enough for the town to mostly get back on its feet so she could leave. Along with that, Sage had disappeared once more, likely heading to take a vacation or something. Kira quickly shook her head, glancing at her breath as it made steam from hitting the cold air. Right now, she had to find where she was and how she had gotten there.
As she began to trek through the snow, a cold shiver began to run up and down her spine. Something about being here was so familiar, and yet something about it also wasn't. Had she been here before while in the human world? Or was this a dream that she had once before? Neither seemed likely, and yet they both did at the same time. Besides, she had never seen snow while in the Pokémon world; this had to have been one of those two options.
Continuing her trek and using it to clear her head, Kira began to notice odd marks below her feet. One side was a bit deeper than the other, but it was only by a couple of inches. This continued until the ground had become flat once more, which then began to make her feel dizzy.
Time seemed to speed up as the snow began to melt away and revealed around her the mountain range and odd markings she had been walking on. Upon turning around to look at the lower half and piece what this odd mark was, her eyes caught just a bit of moving from above. She quickly raised her head, fear tearing through her as she saw the familiar form of Kyofu, but also Leaf and Ragnarök.
"So, you have survived the initial attack on that filthy town, huh?" Kyofu chuckled, licking his lips as what appeared to be blood seeped from them. "Too bad that Zorua wasn't able to unleash her full potential, but it doesn't matter now. With you on your way and all of your tricks unleashed, I can fight you without even having to try. Even your pathetic Flame Guard friends don't stand a chance against me Fear." He smirked and slowly began to step closer. "Give up now, Kira, and I'll let you go home. Otherwise, I'll have to kill you like I had originally planned on doing."
Kira didn't believe him for even a single second. He was sly and powerful, but she knew enough not to trust whatever he said. "I'd rather die than give up," she told him, clenching her fists as he frowned. "I know you wouldn't send me home anyways. You'd just take the chance to kill me, Kyofu. I'm not falling for your filthy tricks, Kyofu. I'm not scared of you."
"That isn't what your eyes and the mentality of your Flames say," he told her, his Fear expanding quickly and surrounding them in some sort of dome. "I was watching your fight against Zorua through her own eyes. I noticed how quickly your Flame was extinguished when you were exposed to Fear, which led me to believe that you don't like fighting. Every battle you have ever committed yourself to was because of someone else stepping in and taking control. Even your battle against Nina was because of your ability, not you as a whole. I also figured out that you're using a limit-breaker when I saw just how powerful you became after taking that attack straight to the chest. I know that you are scared of me and fighting, Kira, so I'll say it once more. Give up and you go home, or die."
Kira backed away from him, only to run into the Fear and be sent forward and onto her hands and knees. She didn't believe a single word he had been saying, but he was right in saying that she didn't like to battle. As much as she had trained and experienced, it was the one thing she could never truly get behind. Even her Flames gave her away, and she was the host to two Flame Guard. Why she was so scared was still unknown to her, but she tried hard not to let it get her down. After all, Kyofu was right in front of her, and she was only a third of the way to his final battle.
"You know, I didn't like battling either," Kyofu admitted to her. "I didn't even like being who I was, Kira. In truth, I don't like who I am, but it's not like I have a choice. I'm just a program that broke free and decided to be itself. And with freedom came glitches." Kira looked up, confused by his statements. "When I was born into this world, I thought I was normal, but then I found myself upon a dead Pokémon, my lips stained with its blood and the taste of flesh in my mouth. I panicked, but I couldn't run. My mind screamed, but my body wouldn't move. I was hungry, hungry for something that I still regret to this day. I soon found myself in a cave, darkness filling it and my heart. It was a dream, but not one that you wake up from unscathed. After that, I lost track of who I was. Was I a free spirit making the conscious decision? Or was I something else? Kira, many of us don't have choices when something is put in front of us. But for people who were never meant to do such things, there is always the decision to back out. Kira, you have to make your choice here and now. This is your last warning: back away and I won't hurt you, or die with the rest of these filthy, filthy animals."
"We always have a choice, no matter who we are or what happens," Kira responded, shivering as the cold of the dream somehow reached her. "You may be smart, but I won't be letting you trick me into backing away." Kira clenched her first and started towards him. "Whether you be code or flesh, it doesn't matter to people like me. You've harmed hundreds of thousands of Pokémon, Kyofu. Defeating you and stopping this chaos is my number two objective right now, but it'll become my number one if you keep interfering with me. Now leave me alone, Kyofu. I don't want to have to hurt you."
Kyofu sighed lightly and the Fear disappeared, returning to him as he shook his head. "I was hoping this would be easy," he told her. "With Necrozma dead, the Promise is the only key to return home now. I could have killed the Guardians and opened the passageway for you, but you're so stubborn that I guess I'll actually have to put some effort into stopping you in the future." He shrugged before he turned away, starting to now pad away. "As much as I hate Pokémon, I was hoping you would understand, Kira. I was hoping that a human would understand my struggle to find an identity. I guess not."
Kira watched as he faded away, and sat down to think to herself. It wasn't very long before she opened her eyes to the real world, moving her body into a sitting position and panting to catch her breath. The dream she had woken from felt so real, and that odd chill still reached her, but she knew it wasn't. She hurriedly shook her head, yawning loudly and stretching her sore muscles. At least she had Sage's travelling pack for a pillow; it made it easier to sleep on the ground.
Shaking her head, Kira stood and grabbed the bag, pressing some sort of button on it and watching as the tent she was in suddenly rocketed into it, fitting in neatly. For someone who acted so bold and loud, Sage sure knew about technology. Even Chatot, who had considered himself the town's smartest Pokémon, had admitted that he had never seen anything like what Sage could do. Kira chuckled to herself and shivered lightly before she took the bag and began to walk towards her destination. She seemed to have forgotten her dream, and was well on her way to her goal.
After a few hours of walking with basically no idea of where she was or where she was headed. All she really knew was that she was headed north and towards what Duke had explain only as a giant pillar of swirling clouds. She was headed there anyways, but at least helped her know that there was some sort of landmark that she could use to find the second Guardian. While it may not have been the best, especially since she was already so lost, she'd take anything at this moment. They had already lost so many friends, even if some were/had become enemies.
"It's sickening to think of all the people we've lost over the course of this journey," she told herself, shivering as all the names that had become history coursed through her. "From Lucas to Aaron, I feel terrible for all those who have fallen, even if not by my own hands. I wonder what Kyofu feels for them. Probably nothing. He hates everyone, I think."
"We won't know until we've come face-to-face with him again," Ragnarök told her, his voice scratchy and sick. "Sorry about the tone," he quickly apologized. "I seem to have caught a bug or something after that fight with Zorua. Leaf is so bad that she's trying to conserve her own flames." He quickly cleared his throat. "I better go as well. If you need help, just call."
Kira nodded lightly as she heard the familiar whisper of him leaving. She was curious as to what type of bug they had picked up, but she was sure they would get better over time. They were incredibly powerful, so she didn't really worry about them dying. Sure, she knew that they could be hurt, but she had never seen anything get so bad to where they actually joked about feeling like they were dying.
Kira quickly shook her head and raised it to look at the sky. It was a beautiful day, so worrying about voices in her head kind of struck her as a bit wrong. It was also the most peaceful day they have had in what felt like years. Sure, it wasn't that long, but Kira felt like everyone, even those that were bad, deserved a break every once in a while. She knew the consequences of pushing one's self too far, and she didn't really want that happening to others.
She shivered lightly as a sudden chill suddenly washed over her. Her gaze landed on a lone cloud above her, which seemed to be expanding at a rate she could compare to Ragnarök's Flames. What she meant was that it was spreading fast enough for it to be more than unusual. Sure, she had seen some weird things with the world before, but she didn't think weather would be effected either. It was odd enough on its own, but then it began to sudden snow, filling Kira with curiosity and confusion. She had never seen snow here, so the odd crystal-like drops of frozen rain made her feel like a child wanting to learn more about it. She hurriedly shook her head once more; these distractions were tearing away what little precious time she had left, and she knew that there wasn't much.
As she was starting on her way once more, an odd beeping sound filled her ears. She turned and looked at the bag, then noticing an odd disk with a bight flashing lightly. Curious, she reached over and grabbed it, only to feel as it suddenly flew from her hand, expanding into some sort of screen. Sage appeared on it, Duke behind him and Chatot somewhere to the left. She only knew he was there because his tail was on the screen.
"You still have yet to not surprise me with your skills," she told him, her eyes lit up with joy and even more curiosity. Even after all they'd been through, she was still a child at heart. No matter what, that was the one thing she wouldn't let go through her adventures.
"Well, prepare for even more of a surprise," Duke chirped, his face showing only excitement. "We have found where the second and third Guardians may be, although we don't have exact coordinates to them. It appears the one you're headed to it a couple miles south of the northern beach. It's some sort of abandoned castle, so it's rather fitting for them. The steel one is somewhere west of us, somewhere near Dark Crater Island. We'll try and find something more specific by the time you defeat this next Guardian, but good luck. And now, a few words from a bird who just doesn't shut up."
"I am not a bird who doesn't shut up," Chatot squawked as he came into the full picture. He quickly cleared his throat before sighing. "As you may know, Kira, these Pokémon you're fighting are still under the influence of Kyofu's powers. I'm not sure if they're fully gone like most Infected we've met over the years, but that's what I want you to try. As much as everyone disliked Gengar, he's still a very important Pokémon to society. If you can, try and turn him back to our side. If you can't, you know what to do." Chatot went silent for a moment before he sighed. "I'm really sorry about what you've been put through, Kira. When you return home, I hope your life becomes normal once more. For now, though, bear with us through the struggle that is the upcoming war. We'll see you soon, Kira. I promise."
Kira nodded lightly. She felt like they were done speaking, but then Sage raised a hand. Curious, she looked at him before smiling. She knew he wasn't going to speak, and she understood what he was trying to tell her. As much as she hated the path she had chosen, Sage was the one Pokémon who had told her that they couldn't go back in time to try something else. Sure, Duke had said something along similar lines, but Sage seemed to be the only one who said it without any regrets or hesitation. Kira smiled faintly before clenching her fist. The time for regret was over. Now, they had to move on to the bigger picture.
"With Kyofu destroying the world and killing Pokémon left and right, I don't think I'll have a problem with trying as hard as I can to stop this Infection from spreading," she told them, feeling her heart pounding against her chest. "Thank you for everything you've all done for me. Duke, you found and saved me. Sage, you made me strong and you gave me a reason to continue. Chatot, I'll find something about you by the end of this Guardian challenge or whatever; you haven't really done anything for me up to this point. That day was our first ever meeting, as well."
"Thanks for the very choice words," Sage said, raising a claw and snarling at Chatot. "Anyways, I think it's finally time we say goodbye. As soon as you've taken out the second Guardian, make sure to contact us. We'll try our hardest to keep the town safe and to keep searching for anything that can help. Until we meet again, I hope you don't give up. Good luck, Kira, and may the gods stay with you."
Kira nodded lightly before the screen suddenly collapsed. As soon as it had, the odd device rocketed back at her, then nailing her right in the nose. She yipped loudly and raised a hand to the nose, actually shocked at what it had done. The shock was replaced with worry when she felt blood on her hand, chuckling at how dumb she was since she had gotten a nosebleed by such a simple things. Well, at least it wasn't the most embarrassing way to get one.
"You're still mortal under all that power you hold," she told herself as she wiped away the blood. She then bent down and picked up the device before putting it back in its place on the bag. "No matter how hard you train, you'll still just be a kid with a fragile body." There was a moment of silence before she began her trek once more. "But that's why we all train and do our best. We don't want to be seen as weak, even when we are. And even I have to admit I'm nowhere near powerful. I'm still nowhere near Sage's power after all."
With a light sigh and shake of her head, Kira pushed away the thought and continued on her way, even through the snow. It had started to fall a little harder, if that was even possible. All she could really tell was that it was cold and the ground was now starting to be covered by it, and that she was at least covering some distance before it actually began to get annoying.
It wasn't long before she was once again in her tent. Since she had begun her trek once more, the snow had only started to fall harder and faster. Now she was stuck in her tent with nowhere else to go. She would have tried to call Sage or Duke, but the device wasn't even activating. She wasn't sure if it was because of the storm or because they just weren't able to talk. Either way, it was still surprisingly chilly everywhere else but in there - to her at least.
"Why couldn't the snow just wait for me to find this next Guardian and take them out?" Kira mumbled under her breath, hugging her knees close as she listened to the howling wind outside. "I wouldn't have minded if I had taken out Gengar and then it had begun to snow, but this is just agonizingly annoying."
"I agree with that statement," someone chuckled from outside her tent, shocking her. "You know, seeing as of how you still aren't listening to what I want, Kira, I don't see you as a threat anymore. I would have seen you as such if you had wanted to return home, likely because you would be dragged right back here, but I know that you're too scared and you think you can just take down the Guardians and me. So, instead of that, why don't we just chat for a bit? I don't like entering your dreams because of those two... annoyances."
"Go away, Kyofu." Kira moved away from the entrance of the tent, tears staining her cheeks for what she thought was no reason. He was right when he said she was scared, but she didn't want to admit. How did he even find her? Was he following her around to make sure she didn't get stronger than him?
"I'm sorry, Kira, but I don't think I can do such a thing," Kyofu mumble. The entrance of the tent fell away and the dark Espeon padded in, somehow closing it without touching it. "I don't want to hurt you," he explained. "I just want to talk is all. I don't like hunting when it isn't needed, and it sure isn't needed right now."
Kira glared at him for a moment before she relaxed. She knew it was a bad idea, but she was going to have to disappear one day, whether she liked it or not. "What do you want from me?" she whispered, wiping away tears and glaring at him. "If you aren't here to kill me, then what do you want?"
"I want to offer you something," Kyofu told her, sitting in front of her and smiling. "You see, just because I control Fear doesn't mean that I want to kill or control everyone with it. Years ago, I was brought to this world to destroy it, and yet I still haven't. For some reason, I think the humans who remain here are keeping the world in a balance that I have never experienced before. I'll take you home if you help me track down these humans and take them out. You don't have to get your hands dirty. Just tell me where they are, and I'll do the rest. I know it doesn't seem like an easy task, but you want to go home, right? Well, I don't want to kill someone who's still young... for a human."
Kira was silent for a moment before she lowered her head. She knew she'd have to face him in battle, and she knew she was nowhere near his power level. Even then, why would he come to her for such a thing? Was he going to kill her in the end of this all? After all, he did want to take out the humans. She was a human as well, so she was sure he'd go after he eventually.
"How do I know you wouldn't backstab me?" Kira asked him, gaining a bit of curiosity from Kyofu. "What about all of my friends? What about the fact that my world is in a stasis and that Necrozma is dead? I can't go back to a dying planet, Kyofu. I'm not going back unless I can see my friends living their normal lives."
"That can be arranged, but I know that you still wouldn't trust me anyways." Kyofu sighed lightly and looked up at her. "Kira, I know how much you hate me, and there's so many questions running through your head, but you have to trust me on this. Just because I'm all powerful and evil doesn't mean that I'm doing this willingly. Arceus is even more powerful than you think he is! He made me this beast! He used Flame and turned it against me. My name may mean Fear, but that doesn't mean I want it to be known only for that reason. Please, Kira. I'm begging for your help. You're the only one I can trust! My own servants are under his rule, Kira! I can't fight him without someone even stronger than them on my side, and all the others would never trust me! Please, I'm begging you! Help me so I can take out this world and weaken him. Then he won't be able to control us!"
Kira wasn't exactly sure what to say at this point. Sure, she had a fond dislike for the guy, but here he was begging her for help against the very Pokémon who had sworn to help her take him down. She was new to this, but she didn't know what to believe. Kyofu had murdered hundreds of millions of Pokémon all over the galaxies, but Arceus has made them. Arceus was powerful enough to create billions of worlds while Kyofu could only destroy them bit by bit. There always had to be a balance, right?
She lowered her head, unsure of what decision to make. Kyofu was right here in front of her, and he would kick her butt all the way to the grave if she tried to fight him right then and there. On the other hand, Arceus may have been able to do even worse to her if she defied him. She was torn between it. She thought she knew what was good and what was bad, but what if she was mistaken? She wasn't sure any longer.
"I... I don't know," Kira whispered, lowering her head, whimpering to herself. "I don't know what to believe anymore." She then looked up, wiping away tears. "Kyofu? Why should I trust you after all you've caused? How do I know that what you say is the truth? Give me a proper reason to trust you."
Kyofu sighed lightly before he stood and began to head towards the exit of the tent. "I didn't kill you, did I? I didn't trigger the anger of Leaf and Ragnarök, did I?" Before he left, he turned and looked at her. "I'll tell Gengar and Aggron to give you their Promises without any fight. I will also release them of their Fear, but I must do so under the cover of the Final Hall. Goodbye, Kira. I will see you soon enough. Please, don't tell Arceus about this meeting. He'll come after me." Kyofu smiled lightly before he then exited the tent, somehow phasing through it instead of opening the exit.
Kira silently watched after him and sighed as she felt he was finally gone. She sat on the bag, holding her knees close to her as she tried to concentrate. At least the wind had stopped blowing, so she could at least hear her own thoughts instead of that raging storm. There were a few moments of silence before she sighed and closed her eyes.
"I don't know who to trust any longer," she whimpered lightly, her head spinning as she tried to think up reasons why to trust the other. "If Arceus was pulling the strings, why would he need my help? But Kyofu hasn't directly attacked me yet. Maybe Arceus really is using Kyofu, but what if he's lying? I just wish I could have some way to know the truth. I just wish... I wish I could tell who I could trust."
"There never is a way to tell what is right or wrong," Leaf whispered to her. "The light could be the dark and vise versa, but it is our decision to choose that will shine bright or dim the world. Kira, I know you're struggling - trust me when I say me and Ragnarök are too - but you have to understand this is your choice alone. Choose who you want to trust, or you could even go rogue and abandon them both. It's your decision, not theirs'."
Kira nodded lightly as she raised her head, her left eye green as she tried to focus. "But what if I choose the wrong thing?" she whispered. "There's no right answer, is there? They've both done terrible things; I'm sure of that, but I don't know if going rogue is right either. Arceus could just kill me with a simple nod, and Kyofu might turn me into one of his puppets. I'm scared, Leaf. I don't want to die or stay here. I want to go home! I want to go back to where I came from. I... I..." Kira felt tears forming once more, only to quickly wipe them away. "I just want this all to stop. It's been going on for far too long."
Leaf was silent before she let out a sigh. "I know it has, Kira. Trust me when I say me and Ragnarök shouldn't have been here for so long, but all stories will end somewhere. We just have no idea where ours will go from here. You have so many choices, and yet you don't know what to pick. There are hundreds of paths, and yet you can only have one. I will not pressure you to make this decision now, but please do make one by the time we have taken down Aggron, or Gengar if you're feeling brave."
Kira nodded lightly before she sighed and stood up. She was silent for a moment before the tent retracted and the bag laid on the snowy ground once more. The storm had finally stopped, and even if it hadn't, she would continue with her journey. The Darkest Trail was right in front of her, and it was the only trail she was going to follow.
Input: Hello. If you are reading this, then it means you have finished Chapter 13: The Darkest Trail. Who can you trust in a world of fear and corruption? There are only three choices in this story, so we'll find out soon enough, maybe. Also, I hope you have enjoyed this chapter. If you notice any errors, please inform me and I will fix them as soon as possible. If you have any questions, please ask me and I will try to explain them to the best of my ability. Thank you for reading.