Disclaimer: I claim no ownership of Pokemon in any form. All rights are copyright their respective holders.

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The Forest of Ilex contains many secrets, hidden in the gloom under the dark canopy of leaves. Some are sinister, foreboding sounds in the underbrush as the trainer walks by; some are inexplicable, luminescent pulses off in the distant leaves, seen by a solitary eye; some are ancient, steadfast reminders of what once was and what will be, lasting beyond the sight of each generation that passes under the trees. That which the forest hides remains hidden.

Humans and Pokemon alike have known this since time immemorial. The forest keeps these memories, forgotten by the outside world, jealously within its dark domain. The woodsman may see these reminders- a shrine, overgrown with ivy- but will never understand them. The trainer might glimpse these memorials- a stone, blanketed with lichen, etched with esoteric runes- but will never pay them heed. The Pokemon might enjoy these mysteries- a solitary tree, yielding fruit found nowhere else in the forest- but will never know their full past.

That which the forest hides remains hidden, from mind as well as sight. Its secrets are safe, for Time is their guardian. Those who hide secrets in the forest are safe.

For there are those with much to hide…

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Dark.

Of course, it was almost always dark here in the manor, so why should it make a difference just on this day?

Because Edward had a headache, that's why. He should have trusted his premonition last night and stopped reading at one in the morning, but, blast it all, Felix was right about the Dune series. They were immensely deep and too good to put down. So now he had awoken and had a headache from lack of sleep. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Most of the manor had absolutely no electrical lights, save for the Lowmind areas. Thus, when the weather turned cloudy or stormy, as was the case today, the closely surrounding trees of the Ilex forest blocked out all but the faintest glimmers of sunlight from the Highmind areas. Edward's room was one of only five quarters in the shade of the shade of the tallest and largest tree in the forest, known as Celebi's Tower. This was the most revered area of the manor, the home to the five highest Highminds of the Morrison clan- the Godminds. Celebi's Tower blocked even the slightest shimmer or ray of light from these areas, leaving the Godminds to constantly exercise their Sight for even menial tasks.

A headache only made things inconvenient. It was no problem to a psychic of any potency to see without light, but doing so all the time required much concentration and with a headache, to put it bluntly, hurt like the dickens. Edward resigned himself to a morning of throbbing temples and nursed coffee, sighing as he got up, tiptoeing expertly around the scattered papers on the floor and opened his wardrobe. If it was possible, the wardrobe's insides seemed darker than the rest of the room, but this mattered little.

Edward concentrated, ignoring the protests of his overtired mind. The question was, what to wear today- especially today. He had to differentiate himself from the other Godminds to make a good impression… though Oberon was a moot point. No, Alexander and Felix were the primary problems…

After some consideration, Edward selected a red tunic with golden trim and buttons, emblazoned with the complicated Morrison crest and accompanied by flared sleeves and khaki trousers. There, neither of the other two would choose something like that. The rest of the clothing would be packed away before he left.

Edward rubbed the sides of his head gingerly, but this did nothing to alleviate the hammers pounding within. It would be a relief to get into the courtyard for breakfast just for the little light afforded so he could stop concentrating on extrasensory perception. Adjusting his sleeves, he picked his way once more across the cluttered, unseen floor and slipped out into the dim corridor.

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Dark.

No, not truly dark, thought Alexander as he pried his bedspread off of his bare chest, revealing the soft, red, pulsating light emanating from the jewel hung around his neck. Not with this thing always there.

Well, at least it allowed him to focus on more important matters than simply seeing the world around him. He left that to nature's own devices.

Alexander swung himself out of bed, but did not so much as wince when his feet touched the ice-covered floor, nor did he so much as shiver when his bare skin touched the frigid air that curled his breath into wisps of cold, white vapor. He chuckled; this was what he was given liberty to do without the strain of the second sight- let the other Godminds try and train as they might, but as long as they locked themselves within tired, archaic practices, they would never achieve this.

He smirked and chuckled at his own achieving as he did first thing nearly every morning. And what a glorious morning it would be! Today he would have his chance to finally distinguish himself from the other Godminds and in so doing establish himself firmly as the familial heir, the lifelong dream of any Morrison Highmind.

But there was no comparison between him and any other Highmind, even any other Godmind. None of the competition could match his degree of capability or knowledge, of that he was assured. It would be no challenge at all to overcome the foreign Lowminds that held the clan from power, not to any Morrison worth his salt.

And in just a few months… Alexander licked his lips as he envisioned in his mind's eye, clearly as if he had possessed the ability of premonition, himself upon the Seat of the Gods, supreme ruler of the clan with tendrils of influence all over the world- Johto, Kanto, Hoenn, Shinou, America, China… a shiver went down his spine, in no part due to the cold.

There were formalities to attend to first, however. Alexander strode across the room to his wardrobe, a towering mahogany creation that sported carvings of ancient hunters in the arctic pursuing a herd of Walrein upon its doors and rim. The constant blood-like light emanating from his pendant threw sinister, skulking shadows about the room, as though a great multitude of fiends rested just outside of its glow. Alexander paid this no mind, being occupied with the much more pressing matter of what to wear. He finally opted for an aqua-blue Chinese dragon robe adorned with the vibrant red markings mimicking the legendary Kyogre as well as a pair of navy blue silk slacks. It would certainly stand out in the eyes of the foreign Lowminds, but his was exactly his aim; the more that noticed him, the better.

Holding his pendant out in front of him like a lantern, Alexander stepped out into the black corridor and began to make his way down to the courtyard.

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Dark.

But to a Ralts who ordinarily went through life with its bangs of hair forever in front of its eyes, this made no difference whatsoever. It meant only the difference of staring at monotonous blue or pitch black, which were not altogether different in practice.

Oberon yawned and unfolded himself from his curled sleeping position. As he unfurled the flaps of skin that protected his lower torso and legs from their resting position over himself like a blanket, he distinctly heard (and felt) most of the bones in his back crack.

Ow… in just what position had he slept? He couldn't tell now that he had unfurled himself, but judging from the way his shoulders-

Crack, crack. Ow… yes, definitely- he had somehow managed to get his head between his legs while he slept. Never mind the fact that, though the bones of a Ralts were more flexible than the later stages of the line, he couldn't have even done that if he were awake. Because he was nearly four times as tall as a regular Ralts due to his unique parentage, there was simply more bone to hurt.

Crackle, craaaaack. Erg… but that did seem to be the last of it. Oberon levered himself off of his mattress on the floor of his chamber…

…and managed to get his foot tangled in his own skin flaps, sending him flat-faced onto the floor. Oberon groaned; it wasn't that seeing was any difficulty in the gloom- just his own klutziness. After all, Godminds were chosen for their mental potential, not poise.

Ah, well, hopefully the day would get better from here. The day in which the Godminds would be sent out to fulfill their mission in the outside world had finally arrived, so things would become… interesting at the very least. His brother was good company besides, so the prospect of the journey was an enjoyable one.

Yet even so… Oberon looked about his somewhat Spartan chamber with his inner Sight, "seeing" the objects of his stunted childhood in the Morrison Manor: some early bent spoons, the glass-enclosed bookcases that held the classics of literature, the few small wooden blocks he had been allowed when very young, yet even then was forbidden to touch. He had known no world aside from this one and the miles of virgin forest around that kept the Manor from outsiders. Though he and all Morrisons learned of the world outside of the forest more thoroughly than the mundane students of the rest of the world ever could, many never experienced it firsthand. It was a wholly voluntary choice to leave the Manor; most Lowminds opted to stay as servants to the family, and even some Highminds never left, living lives of ease, scholarship and relative luxury. The family would support a member no matter what decision they made and would be there always if he or she fell on hard times- the Morrisons took care of their own.

However, there was a difference between prerogative and expectation in Oberon's case that couldn't be called fair by any stretch of the imagination. He did not wish to leave the Manor, but in the case of a Godmind, it was not encouraged that he carve a niche into the outside world, it was expected.

What was more… if he and his brother succeeded on their mission, the obscurity and feeling of security that the dark forest afforded might be inaccessible for them ever again. It had to happen sooner or later, though; the Morrisons did not require much, but it was required that a family member complete a task allocated to them to the best of their abilities. From dishwashing to living as an outside agent for a time to running in elections, this was nonnegotiable. And it was expected of him to make this journey with his brother.

It had to happen sooner or later… being timid forever wasn't an option. Oberon knew this, but it gave him no comfort.

The forest guard me… he thought as he took his slow, ambling steps, making special care not to trip over his skin flaps again, into the corridor that was as gloomy as his thoughts.