(Can't snark, going trickortreating, happy Halloween, don't own.)
The locals knew it would be death before it even began.
The old Pokemon Tower had been here since ancient times, when Lavender was merely a village tucked away in the mountains, hidden from the prying eyes of civilization. People had trained here, their Pokemon dying away peacefully of old age after long lives.
They constructed a small tower, only slightly larger and grander than the villager's huts at the time. However, there soon became no room left for graves.
So they burned the corpses, collecting the ashes into the deceased Pokemon's Pokeball, leaving only the bones behind to pile up.
There was a weak species of Pokemon around Lavender Town at the time, which locals jokingly called 'Wurms', whose faces were the color of dirt, lumpy and misshapen. They had no attacks to speak of, and the villagers left them to flounder in their miserable existences alone.
Until one night, a young Wurm, seeking shelter, crawled into the tower, hiding in the bones for safety from the many predators that attacked the weak species.
There was a fierce wind that night, and the bones clattered ominously, threatening to fall on the young creature. He whined in fear, and ducked his head, as the bones came tumbling down on it.
Miraculously, he was unharmed, and, the creature, seeing it was safe, fell soundly asleep in the boneyard, the clattering now providing a comforting lullaby for the young one.
The next morning, he waddled out of the tower, and was met with the incredulous gasps of the villagers. "The Wurm! He wears the bones of the dead!" The elders cried. The small creature sat in the dirt, sucking on a club-like bone as if it were a pacifier.
The villagers were astounded. The creature had become...stronger.
As if the dead gave it strength...
They christened this Pokemon 'Cubone', meaning, in the language of the Old Ones, 'Bonekeeper'. The creature was taken in by Matilda Fuji, a kind old woman who took care of all the mountain's strays.
Soon, other Wurms found their way into the tower, as if they were testing themselves. And perhaps it was a test...wear the bones of the Pokemon before you, take their legacies...fill their shoes...and you too shall be worthy to be a Cubone, a Keeper of the Bones.
Some did not make it. Others survived, and became stronger than the Wurm could've ever dreamed.
Not much time passed before they grew stronger in a more natural and less macabre way; they evolved.
The villagers saw the fierce fighting spirit in these new Pokemon born of the Wurm, and christened them "Marowak", roughly meaning, "Guardian" or "Gravekeeper".
Indeed, these Pokemon guarded the Pokemon Tower, which had grown much bigger by this time—about, say, the size of an average house—keeping predators away, and using the bones of their ancestors as their weapons.
Seeing this, some of the local village women decided to disciple themselves to these Marowak and Cubone, and channel the dead for themselves. These women were called "Changelings" to refer to their serving of the Pokemon rather than the other way around, but eventually, seeing the power they wielded, the elders changed that to "Channelers".
And indeed, the bones showed them many things. If they listened closely to the dusty, almost-warm bones, they could tell them the names of the ones who were gone. Perhaps if we all listened a bit better, they would tell us this too.
There was a young Channeler, whose name was forever lost into time, who took on a young Cubone as her partner and friend—and later on, when that girl had changed into woman, as a lover and husband.
The Marowak was given a single daughter by this union; a purely Pokemon daughter, a female Cubone.
The girl died soon after, as the strain on her body was too much to bear. The Marowak withdrew into the shadows to mourn his wife, leaving the young Cubone alone to learn of the bones and the secrets they held.
But learn she did; the wise old Channelers saw a fierce, protective spirit inside her, and for the first time in the fifty years the Cubone and Marowak had guarded the village, they trained her, a female, as the next Tower Guardian.
The Cubone evolved into a Marowak soon after she completed her training. This was usual for all Cubone; it was a mark of the training's completion that they evolved. To the villagers, it showed that they had overcome the death they reckoned with every day.
This legend lives on in the idea that Cubone constantly cry for their dead mothers. This is true. They weep.
When they stop weeping, they become Marowaks, the Guardians, the ones who do the protecting...and the dying.
And then their children must take up the mantle of tears.
It is a mantle the Cubone wears with pride, because it shows that however many bones may whisper to them, they know Death as something of joy and sorrow; a time of dying is perhaps the most important thing to these Cubone. It validates their existence, proves their soulful state.
This female Marowak, the first of her kind, protected the Pokemon Tower with all her might, even as rumors surfaced of a group called Team Rocket coming to the mountain.
The village elders dismissed this as pure nonsense; Lavender had laid undisturbed for almost two centuries, they scolded. What would a criminal group want with our tiny town?
Unknown to the villagers, word had gotten around. People have an uncanny habit of learning things that should best stay hidden. They spoke of demons that guarded the Pokemon Tower, demons of innumerable count, of immeasurable strength.
Team Rocket was intrigued. Demons would fare better for their schemes than Pokemon; no souls to break, no hearts to tame.
So they stormed the mountains, attacking the village, which had grown progressively in the many years since the Cubone and Marowak came, burning it to the ground, and killing the daughter of Matilda Fuji, Misty, as her young son Matthias Fuji watched in horror.
The young boy knew what he had to do. He fled to the Tower, which had now grown to about the size of a proper church, going to its' highest peak to warn his friend, the
Now, it happened that this Marowak had found a mate some years back, and had children. Amazingly, proving once and for all she was a true Tower Guardian, she had survived the birth. The two Cubone she'd borne were just a few months old at the time.
Matthias scrambled up the steps, Team Rocket on his trail. "Marowak!" He cried, voice rising to a high-pitched squeal from breathing in the smoke that followed him like an evil ghost up the steps, "Marowak, they're here to take your children!"
Marowak had been meditating in the innermost sanctuary of the tower, when she heard Matthias' screams.
Taking her prized possession; her mother's spinal bones, which she'd fastened into a deadly club, she left the room, intent on protecting the children she'd borne and the child she considered a son.
Team Rocket were waiting for her. One Grunt cackled happily. "Lookit 'er, boss! Only Marowacker t'ing we've seen in this crap-bit town!" The Boss frowned. He was a young man, this Giovanni, newly promoted to this position after the previous boss had met an...Unfortunate accidental end.
"I see." He proffered a hand to her. "Marowak," his voice boomed throughout the tower, commanding respect from all, no matter how unwittingly, "I am Giovanni Persico." Marowak tensed.
"...You come to tower to kill. This is not a place of killing. It is remembering place. What do you want here, intruder?" Giovanni pulled his hand back.
"I want you. You are a new breed of Pokemon, exclusive to Lavender Town, this tiny little dump. I would train you. You would work with me, be a true Pokemon; a killer! Is that not glorious? Killing is so...versatile. You can kill for revenge, you can kill for love, you can kill for the sake of the bloodlust, but it all ends up the same!" He proffered the hand again.
"Join me. And together, Marowak, we will rule Kanto." She paused.
"You kill not for honor. I kill for protect. I protect children. I kill for the Tower. I protect Tower. You do not. You kill Tower." She swung her bone out at him.
"I kill you!" She cried, leaping at him. Giovanni shook his head. "Ah-ah-ah." He mocked, pointing to the heap of ivory and sepia in the corner. "Your babies." She stopped.
"I kill for children. I die for children. You kill me. You not hurt children, yes?" Giovanni shook his head.
"No no no! I want you to work with me, rule with me! You know Death as I do!" Marowak shook her head.
"I do not know Death as humans do. You do not understand MY Death, man. I protect dead. I speak to dead. I cry for dead." She shifted into a fighting stance. She would die with dignity and honor, if all else failed.
"I am Death. I am Marowak. You go away from here. My Tower. I die for Tower. I die for children." Giovanni sighed, and for a moment, he looked truly pained.
"Very well." He said quietly.
He turned away, and Marowak relaxed. He would leave them alone now, yes. Children would be safe would be—
Giovanni swung a pistol in her direction, and fired, not even looking back as the silence filled the abyss he'd created in his wake.
The Cubone awoke slowly, and began to cry for their mother.
Team Rocket left the town soon after, having gotten what they'd wanted, at least, in a sense. For a time, the people rebuilt, and as was customary, the people mourned.
But the Channelers knew Marowak's spirit had never gone. They kept her bones arranged away into a secret grave, far from prying eyes. Lavender Town had become more and more industrialized, as people saw it as a sort of 'bridge' between Rock Tunnel and Celadon City.
The Tower grew as well, as Death comes to all, regardless of tragedies. The Tower flourished, since now people came from all over the world to bury Pokemon there.
The progress of Lavender Town from a home of ancient spirits and Bonekeepers to a tourist trap and graveyard to the world angered the village elders, but there was nothing they could do. Progress was progress, and if the dead had to be desecrated for progress to flourish, so be it.
Once, three years ago, Marowak's spirit had risen again. Team Rocket had tried to bring harm to another generation of the Cubone, and Marowak rose to protect them—but something went wrong, and she turned on the Channelers who had summoned her spirit.
It had taken one brave young Trainer to take her Pokemon up into the Tower to fight her, and convince her to pass on peacefully to the afterlife...
The girl disappeared without a trace soon after, taking her team of Pokemon with her.
Three years passed, and the Channelers worried Marowak had departed forever. Many began to loose faith.
Their daughters no longer wanted to learn the secrets of the bones; they wanted to go out and be Trainers, to leave the trap of small-town life. This is a good thing. People need to stay, but people also need to go, to see the world. There are different types of people in this world, after all, and all may not want the same thing.
But there were not enough young girls to be Channelers. The Channelers were forgotten, left to sink into the shadows, yet though their names had been revered and feared—a long time ago...
The town grew jeeringly arrogant towards the Channelers. "Weak," they would call them, "emotionally unstable women."
Some suggested they find a good husband. Others suggested converting them to more 'civilized' religions. The Channelers would have none of it.
They still honored Marowak, though she may have left them for the time being.
Because sooner or later, the dead always come back.
One way or another, they always come back.
It was around four years after the child-Trainer had soothed Marowak's spirit that men from a place called Johto came into Lavender Town. They wanted a Radio Tower in Kanto, their sister region, and a mountain got fantastic reception.
They sought a deal with Mr. Fuji, the keeper of the Tower.
"Give us this Tower," they told him, "and we'll pay for all your expenses."
Mr. Fuji was not a bad man. He had many sick Pokemon, and a young adopted daughter and son, but his wife had died long ago. He had little time to work, and had almost no money to maintain his children and Pokemon.
He had no choice.
/After all,/ he reasoned to himself as he signed the deed to the Tower, /progress is progress./
/And what's a bunch of bones, more or less?/ The thought came unbidden to him, but he dismissed it with a shake of his head. Never mind that. He had children to feed.
The Channelers' keening sounded throughout the Tower when Mr. Fuji told them the news. They tended to the old ways; they wanted none of this.
One of the Channelers spoke, and all fell silent. Leland Benedict was the oldest Channeler of them all, and the one that tended the sacred healing grounds. Her word was law amongst the Channelers.
"Marowak will exact revenge on you, my young Matthias." She crooned, voice like roughened velvet; smooth but rasping. "Marowak keeps these bones. You betrayed her, Matthias. You betrayed her," and her eyes became harsh and accusing, "and she treated you like a son. Why do you do this, you who protected the tower four years ago?" Mr. Fuji shook his head.
"The children...the Pokemon...they need food. I cannot afford it. This is for the living. The dead just need to make way!" He snapped out, as the Channelers gasped softly.
"Marowak—" Leland began, but Mr. Fuji continued.
"Do not speak of Marowak!" His voice was harsh now. "Marowak was my friend, but she is gone! Dead! Dead is dead! Her spirit has passed on; now let it rest in peace!"
Leland's eyes flashed white for a moment, before she shook her head. "Oh, Matthias," she chuckled, "You of all people should know." She struck her cane on the floor.
"Dead is never dead. The dead always come back, foolish boy. And they always repay their debts to the living...good or bad." Mr. Fuji shook his head, and departed.
Marowak was gone. It had been four years since her passing on, and almost twenty-five since her death. There was no way around it.
Dead was dead.
They started work on the Tower immediately after the weekend had ended. The men they had selected for the job were strong and brave. None believed in ghosts of any sort.
They had dismissed the Gravedigger from his job just after they dug up his Arcanine; he merely shook his head, and laughed as he walked away. They'd get theirs, he knew.
They started work on the ground floor, knocking down the tombstones, shattering the handcarved granite that the families had worked so hard on. They were ground into dust, and the dust blew away, creating a fine powder around the room.
Coughing, the men retreated soon after, as the powder settled on the floor.
/Wak wak. Marowak./
One of the men, a slight, scrawny fellow, looked up.
"Did you hear something?" He asked the others. They all shrugged, and continued eating their lunches, discussing their kids or wives, as the man shifted in his seat. Finishing his sandwich, he looked up.
"I can still hear it. There's a sort of moaning coming from that room." He said quietly, taking his Pokeball and rolling it around in his fingers, remembering for comfort that his loyal Sandslash was trapped inside.
One of the older men, a burly man called Bruno, laughed heartily, meaty shoulders shaking in mirth. "Scared, Cassidy?" He chuckled. "You don't believe in this sort of thing, do you? Buncha batshit crazy women coming together to chant some shit and rattle a few bones." He grinned to himself, and bit into his sandwich.
"C'mon. Why don't you go investigate?" Cassidy, the timid man, shook his head. "No, no, it's okay! It's probably just a few Zubat or something, it's..."
The other men shared a little sophomoric joke amongst themselves; elbow-rubbing and winking abounded. "What's the matter, Cassie-boy? Scared?" One of the other men mocked.
"C'mon, you little pussy! You can handle a few spooks!" Bruno encouraged. Cassidy shrunk slightly.
It was too late. The men had taken up the chant of 'pussy, pussy', and Cassidy sighed. He knew they wouldn't stop until he'd alleviated all their fears; that there really was something in this tower...
Shaking his head, he sighed. "Alright, fine. I'll go in." He grumbled, standing up. The last chants of 'fag' and 'pussy' died down, and they watched eagerly as he stood up, and went back into the room they'd left behind in the dust.
The men crowded eagerly around the door, awaiting his call of, 'nothing's here'.
But it wasn't coming.
Cassidy looked around. He frowned. "Well, that's weird..." He muttered to himself. "We didn't leave footprints when we left." Indeed, a small trail of footprints snaked around the room, stopping at the remnants of a broken down grave.
Cassidy blinked. None of the men had stopped at the graves; they'd continued on with their work as they always did, taking down the graves at the tower. He crept forward slightly, until there was a shushing sound...like bones being scattered across the dirt...
A lone Marowak stood there, her edges soft and silvered, as the outline of her body shone in the darkened room.
/Wild GHOST appeared!/
Cassidy made no sound as she trudged through the room, appearing to be looking for something. She stopped at every broken grave, patting the dust for little signs of life, as her footprints left a trail in the dust.
"Wak wak." A voice not quite the Marowak's own issued from her. "Marowak." She turned, and saw two tiny graves that had been broken to bits.
"Wak wak!" She snapped. "Maro WAK!" Cassidy felt a warmth spreading through his work clothes, and realized he'd wet himself.
It was almost too surreal to be true. Marowak...there were no Marowak here since...
"Oh god." Cassidy said, not realizing he'd said that out loud until Marowak snapped her head in his direction, gaze sharpening to focus on him.
"You ruin Tower." She spoke, and now Cassidy could understand her. "You ruin home. You break the graves. You break my babies' graves. You desecrate. I guard this tower. You kill tower. I kill you." Her club was held in her hands, tiny spikes indicating spinal bones making no sound as they thumped impatiently against the floor.
It sounded like the sound Cassidy's mother would make when she stared at him, toes going tappa-tap-tap on the floor as she waited for an explanation as to why he'd woken her up.
/Sssh don't wake mommy/
Cassidy ran for the door, and began banging on it hysterically.
"LET ME OOOUUUUT!" He screamed, pounding it repeatedly, banging and screaming, slamming his head against the door as he fumbled for his Pokeball, and realized he'd left it outside—
"LEEEET MEE OUUUT!" The voice sounded like a ghost that your father would fake on cold winter nights, telling a spooky story.
Bruno knew something was up, and sprang for the door, twisting the handle. It broke off in his hand, and he gasped, as he saw Cassidy's terrified face for an instant—
The bone was struck into the back of his skull so harshly that his eye fell out through the doorknob hole, falling on the floor with a wet splot sound.
There was silence as the men stared in horror.
Then a voice that wasn't quite human and wasn't quite Pokemon spoke.
"Wak wak. Marowak."
/Sssh don't wake mommy/
The men fled the tower screaming, having all been driven raving mad at what they'd seen in that eye.
The dead can so easily remind us of our own mortality. It's another cruel joke they play on the human race—and we pratfall so easily.
Marowak stood over the body, and tapped her club against it, testing its' strength. She grinned in pleasure as it sank deep into the flesh, and turned to leave the Tower.
She had another person to meet.
Mr. Fuji sighed, as he leaned back against a table, wiping some sweat off his brow. It had been a long day, but finally, the children and Pokemon both were asleep. He sighed, and stared at the Tower, which had already been knocked down a few stories by this point, its' ghostly limbs reaching up to catch the sky and tear it to pieces.
He sighed. "It's sad..." He muttered, rising to get to bed himself, "but what are you gonna do. After all, the dead need to make way. The living Pokemon—my living Pokemon—are much more important..."
"Really, Matthias?" Mr. Fuji froze. He knew that voice.
Marowak sat in his kitchen, oddly humanlike. She sipped a mug of coffee that disappeared as soon as it touched her silvery, ghostly lips. It was really the picture of a young man, sitting at his table. All she needed was the newspaper.
/Wild GHOST appeared!/
"Marowak." His voice was little more than a dry gasp. She nodded.
"I am Marowak. I guard Tower. You did too. Matthias. My son. I loved you. You guarded Tower with me." Mr. Fuji shook his head.
"But you died." He gasped. Marowak shrugged.
"Came back. You do not remember?" He shook his head.
"But that girl...that Trainer put you to rest again. She let you pass on, and stay dead! Dead is dead!" He cried out. Marowak shook her head.
"Trainer defeated me in battle. I let her make her request. She said stay asleep. She never said stay dead." Mr. Fuji clutched his chest.
"But you're supposed to." He gasped. "They said you were dead." Marowak turned to him, and there was a fleeting glimpse of sadness in her eyes—before it was quickly replaced by a cold, cold fury.
"My son. I protected you. In turn, you protect Tower. You desecrate Tower. You give to bad men that kill and snatch. They break headstones. I am Marowak. I am Gravekeeper. Do you know? It means I watch over graves. You gave the graves to bad men that wreck and tear." Mr. Fuji sank against the table.
"You were my friend, Marowak. But I just...they're dead! What does it matter?!" Marowak slammed her club into his leg, as he screamed in pain, voice breaking at its' peak, ensuring no one would truly hear his screams.
"FOOLISH! I told you! You do not understand Death! Your Death is not mine!" Her eyes hardened to glowing red chips of flint.
"I am Marowak. I am Death. You are a fool, Matthias." Marowak paused, and she raised her bone with a smile.
"If you do not understand Death—do not understand what I am, what I taught you—then I do not teach any longer." She brought the bone down.
"You learn hard way. Much longer."
As the screams of a raving lunatic shattered the calm of Lavender Tower, the first villager to break into Mr. Fuji's house was confronted with a Mr. Fuji trying to carve his own eyes out with a kitchen knife—and a ghostly Marowak, writing something on the wall with her club, dipping it down into the crimson pool occasionally to continue.
/Sssh don't wake mommy/
The man froze. Marowak turned to him an instant later, and in the same voice that was not her own, spoke.
"Wak wak. Marowak."
With that, she disappeared, leaving behind a raving Mr. Fuji and three words on the wall;
"DEAD IS NEVER DEAD."
And with a sick resignation, the villager saw the other two, which had previously escaped his notice.
Mr. Fuji was pronounced suicidal and insane; they were forced to keep him under the sedation of powerful drugs to keep him from killing himself.
Each time, he wept, "She won't let me die...ohgod, why won't she let me die..."
His voice was ragged and harsh from his constant screaming of 'KILL ME! KILL ME!' every time they had to adjust his medication. It went on and on without stopping.
They kept the children away. The poor things went into another foster home; the Pokemon, released into the wild.
The old need to make room for the new, after all...
Back at the Tower, they kept the construction a secret from the news; each time a new set of workers was sent there, at least one or two died, mostly on the top floor.
But the bodies kept piling up.
The director of the site finally got fed up, and went inside the Tower, storming up to the top of it, where most of the murders had taken place.
He slammed open the door, and a silvery Marowak greeted him.
/Wild GHOST appeared!/
The director spat. "Foolish notion! Begone, spirit!" Marowak stared at him disinterestedly, until he stormed to the door she was guarding.
"NO TOUCH!" She screamed. "NO TOUCH!" She slammed her club into him, and unlike the other killings, this one was messy, smearing blood and flesh across the floor wildly, as she slammed at him. "YOU DO NOT TOUCH MY GRAVE!"
The director threw an arm out—point towards that thing's grave, its' weakness, so someone else could get rid of the damn thing—
"Gghhflurgl..." He burbled, before the blood bubble on his back popped wetly, and he died. Marowak brained him one more time before turning away, back to the stunned assistant, who had come up the stairs to check on his director.
"Wak wak. Marowak." She said tonelessly.
The assistant had a heart attack and died on the spot.
The people were becoming frightened now; the director was a well known man, and his death was made public. People screamed that Lavender Town was cursed, and most people fled the town.
Giovanni leaned back in his seat, drinking coffee and reading his newspaper, when he happened across the series of murders the paper called the 'Graveshift Killings'. He chuckled softly, as he read aloud, "All died of blunt trauma...hmm." He folded the paper, and leaned back in his chair.
"Guess she wasn't kidding."
The construction continued in vain, as they found foreigners from Sinnoh and Hoenn who had never heard of the place—until they kept dying off.
Finally, seven years after the construction on the Tower had been ordered, Lavender Town was gone. Literally gone. The town had been burnt to cinders in a fearful mob's rage, and there was nothing left...save the charred, half-torn away Tower.
Only silence greeted a child, who was stuck between girl and woman—as she climbed the Tower. She walked up to the last room, and opened the door.
She took a shovel, and began digging quietly, saying not a single word until there was a good-size hole in the ground.
Quieter still, for now not even her breathing echoed throughout the Tower, she placed a set of bones into the grave, putting last in place the Marowak skull.
The girl shook her head in shame and annoyance. "Stupid people. They shouldn't have dug up her grave." The girl clicked her tongue. "Bet that's what made her so angry."
She filled the hole with dirt, and listened.
The sighing sound she'd been awaiting came, as Marowak's spirit passed on into the afterlife.
The girl huffed, and walked away, sticking her hands in her pockets, and producing a Pokeball that she hung around her neck.
"That's the second time in almost ten years I've had to do that." She grumbled, walking out into the open area of Lavender Town, where the fall air still smelt of cinder and burning flesh.
"I've got better things to do in the afterlife, you know." She announced out loud.
Without another word, she walked to the border of the town—and disappeared, leaving behind not a single trace of her presence ever being there.
The bones no longer sighed, no longer rattled. The grave was put back together, and for the first time in almost ten years...
The Tower—and all it's inhabitants—were at peace.
After all, there's not much to do but sleep when you're dead.