Hey everyone, FtP here. You remember that 6,000+ word one-shot that took me 6 hours and 20 minutes to do? Well the contest is over (I won, btw. Wee~) and here it is. See if you can spot all the references I made, there are a lot of them. ;) R&R please, and enjoy.


Snow was softly falling, adding to the perpetual blanket of white that covered the black rock of the mountain top. The grey light of pre-dawn gently illuminated the scene, revealing the small entrance to a cave. Most Pokémon had learned long ago that this cave was to be avoided at all costs, and those that had not learned about it and its resident only made the mistake of disturbing it once. A single Mamoswine made its way across the snowy plain, pausing only briefly to look at the cave. A lone figure suddenly appeared, slowly making its way out of the cavern. Mamoswine knew better than to linger when this Pokémon woke, so it ran. It left deep holes in the otherwise smooth blanket that coated the ground.

Ninetales coolly watched the retreating figure until it disappeared into the half-light of morning. Today was a special day, but it was not one for solitude. Telepathically searching for a Pokémon, any Pokémon, who could keep it company, Ninetales found none for miles. The fox Pokémon sighed. Were the other Pokémon really that scared of it? It had only been territorial for the first hundred years. But memories ran deep, and stories were passed to the young for generations.

As the disappointed Pokémon stalked back into its cave, it thought about what it was. It was neither male nor female, but it was both. It had multiple powers of great strength, but for all those powers it could not make one friend in the five-hundred years since it had been reborn into this shape, and not even its own offspring had lingered. It had bred them by itself; it was both the father and the mother of the nine cubs that it bore, but they had left to make their own contributions to their new species and had never returned.

Its life was now half over, and its story had been forgotten. The nine different consciousnesses that it was tore at Ninetales as the one they had become from the inside, screaming for their story to be spread throughout the world; the story of the-nine-who-had-become-one. Again, Ninetales sighed. It had reached the main chamber of its home. The four-foot ceiling had prevented most Pokémon from taking up residence before Ninetales had settled there, and the suffocating darkness was never pierced by the sun, the winding passage from the entrance made sure of that. A small spring of pure, icy water, fed from deep beneath the rock, bubbled up in a pool before it flowed under the wall and out of sight, making the cave a perfect environment for a recluse such as its currant occupant. The walls were, like the most of the mountain, a gray-black rock.

Creating a will-o-wisp, Ninetales walked over to the wall next to its bed of dried grass. Raising the light to the ceiling, the enigmatic Pokémon stared at the now-illuminated wall. There was human writing there, carved by a thin, steady stream of intense fire. It was Ninetales's story. Ninetales had once told its story to a Dragonite, who had been intent on becoming a bard, not long after the fox had been reborn. The writing on the wall was how the story had been told back to Ninetales.

It was the beginning of the end of the world. Thunderstorms would blot out the sun for days at a time with their ominous, black clouds, sending crackling lightning down to raze the earth. Hail would also pelt any creature unfortunate enough to get caught without cover, even though it was only early autumn. Eight of the nine remaining wizards in the world had gathered in the tall, octagonal white-quartz tower that their ancestors had met in and shared their knowledge of the arcane, yet diminishing, art for centuries. The people of the small village nearby always knew when the wizards had gathered, for a strange aura would envelope the tower, an aura that radiated pure power. The wizards had not convened in years. An argument between families had flared up and the wizards involved had to be restrained before too much damage was done, but with the world's immanent doom and the fact that a Legendary Pokémon had asked for help, the feuding wizards would have to act like a fight had never happened, at least until the crisis had been abated.

Eight of the nine wizards, Delfang, Romanus, Daglin, Delza, Mallef, Inumé, Gelaf Yom Nar and Resitar had arrived, and seven of those eight were waiting patiently for the arrival of the ninth. But the last one, the first to arrive, was letting her annoyance be heard. Gelam Yom Nar had little to no patience, and she would gladly hurt those who were unfortunate enough to get on the wrong side of her famous temper. Her beauty was marred by a long, red scar that ran down her cheek, but she usually covered it with her raven locks; her eyes were almost the exact same color as her hair and almost always glinted with malice. Her talent for Curses had made her a perfect scapegoat in many villages whenever something went wrong, and one too many chases had soured her temper. Even magic could be subdued by numbers.

"Where in Arceus's name is he?" she shouted. "Rimlen has the gift of Prophecy, why is he always late?"

The other wizards flinched; it was not wise to invoke that name lightly, even if the stories of terrible punishment being dealt by the deity were just for children.

"Gelam, you should know better than to use that name." Daglin, one of the other seven, scolded. Her golden curls cascaded around her shoulders, framing her exceptionally average face. Her eyes, like shards of blue ice, were the only other feature on her that were memorable.

"That Pokémon is just a fairytale; it could never 'smite me from the earth with the power of all elements' since it has no existence outside the realm of stories!"

Then Mallef spoke. He was the oldest wizard alive, well past one-hundred years old. That was the special gift that his wizardry gave him: longevity. His hair was white as a bone, and his pasty skin was the same color. Age had sunk his sky-blue eyes into their sockets, but they were still as sharp as his barbed tongue.

"But if you disbelieve the existence of such a Pokémon, why do you invoke its name? Surely you could say 'Where in Bidoof's name is he' to the same effect. After all, right now you are using the name of a 'mythical' Pokémon, surely if you had no belief in it you wouldn't use its name, would you?"

That made Galem pause and think about the truth of Mallef's statement. Did she, somewhere deep down, believe that something she had told herself could never exist after everything she had been through? Mallef just sat in his corner with a smug look on his face, obviously amused at his companion's confusion. Rimlen took that moment to arrive, throwing the tall oak doors open to the howling winds and savage rains of the raging storm outside. The eight gathered wizards jumped; the sounds of the storm had failed to penetrate the thick stone walls of the tower and it was easy to forget about what was happening outside in the cool confines of the building.

Inumé took that as her cue to speak up. She and Rimlen had known each other for years, more closely than Rimlen liked to admit. None of the other wizards maintained much contact with each other unless it was a time of crisis, so why should he. But Inumé, perhaps with the help of her special talent for Hypnotism, was determined to use all of her physical beauty and mind games to keep a steady relationship with her unhappy target going. Her waist length blonde hair flowed over her shoulders, and she had certain elegance in the way she walked. The very air around her seemed to glow with a mesmerizing light, reflecting on her special skill.

"Rimlen, why have you kept us waiting? Why are you always late? You should be able to foresee your lateness with your gift of Prophecy and arrive to your appointments earlier." she said, a teasing tone in her seductive voice and a mischievous light in her eyes.

Rimlen lowered the deep hood that was on all wizards' cloaks, a cloak that every wizard donned when their apprenticeship was over. The cloak would be the only item of clothing that they wore for the rest of their lives. Weaved out of Ariados silk, it was particularly receptive to spells that were used on it and would carry them for far longer than any spell would normally last, usually until the wizard that cast it died.

"A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to."* Rimlen said, his voice layered with annoyance. He knew that Inumé teased him because he would re-act to it, but he could never stop himself from rising to the bait. He was the second oldest wizard alive, but that had never stopped Inumé from having an interest in him, much to his regret. His hair was slowly turning to gray from its normal black, and he had a few more wrinkles than he cared to admit, but age was his only, though not effective, shield against Inumé's advances, which were steadily growing all too common.

Before the two wizards could begin arguing, Resitar, the wizard who had summoned them all, interrupted them. He hated arguments, partly due to the fact that he lost them most of the time. His disheveled appearance was a perfect match with his personality, and he was often un-organized and let his mind wander. If it had not been for his family's legacy of calming ancient and seemingly untamable Pokémon, he would never have been treated with the respect that he commanded.

"Please, let's not waste time. You all know why we all came to this forsaken place; you all know that catastrophic destruction is upon us. Lugia, the legendary guardian of the islands of Ice, Lightning, and Fire, has contacted me with a cry for help. The Legendary Birds, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres, have begun to fight and he cannot stop them, nor will the other Legendary Pokémon help."

The other wizards gathered around their unlikely leader with awe. Legendary Pokémon did not usually speak to humans, even those like Daglin with her special gift of Communication with Pokémon, or Resitar with his gift of Telepathy. But one had chosen Resitar and nobody could ignore this, so they all listened with rapt attention to the speaker.

"Lugia asked me to devise a way to calm the trio and keep them calm. This solution also has to have the ability to be called upon again if, Arceus forbid, they begin to fight again at a later date. It also has to have several fail-safes to keep their power from being used unless it is truly needed. I have an idea that may work, but I need the rest of you to check it for any flaws as it will require great sacrifice. I also lack the skills and power to create the devices, so I will need all of you to lend your power to aid the creation of these devices. But first, let us go to a drier room, I have one ready for the work that may be done."

And so, Resitar, despite the pleas of his companions, did not say another word. He led them up the winding stone staircase to a room high above the ground floor, but still low enough that it was hardly, if ever, used for want of a window to let the natural light into its vast area. The lack of windows made the room as dark as the thunderclouds that were loosing their fury on the earth just outside, reminding the spell-casters that not everyone liked the use of magic. And the double-door was nowhere near wide enough to provide proper airflow, so the room was stuffy, but again the thick stone walls kept it cool. Delza, the youngest of the four female wizards lit the candles that were mounted in iron brackets on the wall by simply waving her hand. The other wizards would have had to have used words to form the magic to do that, but Delza's gift of Power over Fire allowed her to do a task like that with little to no effort.

The nine gathered around a table that had been carved out of the stone floor by the builders of the tower. Nobody knew how it had been so masterfully carved with magic as stone was extremely resilient to most spells, making it the perfect substance for keeping magic out, or in. A spell would rarely penetrate a barrier of stone, which is why ancient castles were mostly constructed of one sort of stone or another, to keep enemy wizards from destroying it with a sweep of their hand, so to speak.

"Delza and Daglin have already heard my plan and approve of it, but only because their gifts will play an important part in the execution of my plan. However, I still require input from each and every one of you before we attempt it."

Daglin acknowledged Resitar's words with a nod, but Delza did not until she saw Daglin doing it. Blushing slightly, she bowed her head. She was the youngest there and had much to learn, but she learned quickly and was relatively happy and easy going while doing most things. Her looks mirrored her personality, as was common with wizards. Her light-pink skin suggested that she often stayed indoors, but her cheerful smile was almost always on her face, making her dark-blue eyes light up with happiness. Her brown hair was casually brushed back, leaving only two thin braids to hang on both sides of her face.

Romanus, one of the only two who had yet to speak, thumped his fist onto the table. Like Gelaf, his temper was short, but his words were as smooth as Inumé's. He was the only wizard who put himself out for hire, doing any deed as long as enough gold was passed into his hands. His gift Telekinesis made him hard to combat as he could send boulders at attackers with just a thought, or even teleport them away, although it was not safe to do this on anything living. His hair and beard had been whitened prematurely by days of traveling in the sun, but a patch of hair just below his mouth retained its true color, the color that most though his heart was: pitch black.

"Resitar, why do you waste our time with words?" he growled, not unlike a large Ursaring. "And the rest of you, will you sit here and follow him when he hesitates to share his own work with anyone who he is not 'required to'? Use your Telepathy and convey your plans to us or I will have no part of this!"

"And where will you go? What will you do?" Mallef coolly asked before Resitar could reply. "If you fail to do your share, the world will end. It might very well end anyway, but I for one would like to know that I at least tried to stop it and didn't throw tantrums like a babe."

Romanus seethed with rage at his words, but bit his tongue as the truth of them sunk in.

"Very well, I will help. But stop being so vague and tell us what you mean, confound it!"

Resitar decided that he could not stall any longer. If his idea was sound, they would act upon it. If it was not, then there was still a small amount of time left to them to devise a new way to stop the warring trio. Concentration briefly consumed his face as he sent the exact details of his plan directly to the minds of his companions, and then he waited. But he did not wait long, for Galef Yom Nar spoke out almost immediately.

"Why are you and every member of your family so obsessed with spheres?" she demanded. "For calming Kyogre and Groudon, what were the shapes of the objects that your ancestor made to control them? Two blasted spheres! What shape are the objects that your own father made to capture and tame Pokémon with? Spheres! Can you not do cubes, or even octagons, for once?"

"We can assume, then, that since your first objection to Resitar's plan was about the shape of the objects that we will create that you believe the plan itself to be sound?"

Again, eight of the nine gathered wizards jumped in surprise; Dalfang had finally spoken. The master of Illusions rarely spoke, preferring to use his art to avoid detection so that he could pursue his own quests unhindered by requests for help. Not to say that he was selfish. No, he enjoyed using his Illusions to create colorful patterns in the sky to bring delight to children, but beyond that, he was a quiet man who always kept his face hidden deep into his hood. Not even his fellow wizards knew his face.

"Um, well, yes, it does. He still needs three Pokémon willing to give up their souls, but I see no reason why it should not work."

"I already have three Pokémon willing to do this, one each of Fire, Ice, and Lightning. They wait together near the ocean on the side of the tower opposite the door. Daglin, would you go down and fetch them for us? And Romanus, your Telekinesis will be needed to carry one that cannot leave the water up into this room."

With a mocking bow, Romanus left to do what was bid of him, and Daglin closely followed. As soon as the former had started his descent to the waiting Pokémon, Delza raised a quivering hand.

"Come, Delza, you are of equal rank, even if you are the youngest among us." Resitar gently chastised. "If there is something troubling you, speak out."

"It's only that I do not completely understand what we are going to do." she said timidly, although slightly encouraged by Resitar's words. "I know that you told us already, but could you tell me again, but using words this time and not your Telepathy?"

Resitar frowned slightly, wondering how words would make any difference. However, he did as Delza asked and began his explanation.

"One at a time, we will kill the Pokémon who have volunteered for this task. They know what will happen to them, but they are willing to do it to save the world, something that many humans would not do. We will do this in the most painless way possible, so any pain will be brief. Once we have done this, the purest, most powerful energy will be ready for capture, an innocent, willing soul, although only for the space of five seconds, so we must do it quickly. The spelled glass spheres are ready, color coded to the type of Pokémon that the soul that enters it will come from; red is Fire, blue is Ice, and yellow is Lightning. We must all use the full extent of our powers to put the souls in the spheres for there will be no second chances."

Resitar paused to telepathically monitor the wizards below them, checking to see if they had even brought the Pokémon into the building. They had not. Sighing, the telepath brought the orbs out from a fold deep within his cloak and laid them onto the table, and then he resumed his explanation.

"The devices have been spelled to be near indestructible and have several safeguards. They will only release the power that they will contain once the safeguards have been de-activated."

"Yes, I liked your safeguards, it was wise of you to do so, although it may come back to haunt some poor soul in the future who is trying to avert the same thing that we are." Rimlen interjected, nodding his head. "The part where they all have to be together to work was wise. Although the one that dictates that only one who has the blood of the island's chief flowing through one's veins was not so. Anyone should be able to bring the spheres together, not just one and his descendants. What if the line ends? Not that it will, for I have foreseen that, but you still should not have done that. But now it is too late, so it does not matter. Please, continue."

"As I was saying," Resitar began again, glaring at Rimlen. "The safeguards have to be de-activated for anything to happen. You have just heard two of them from Rimlen, and the third is only that Lugia has to sing its song, and then the power will be released. The spheres will also recharge over time, so they will be available for future use. Also, when dormant, their power will soak into the land, so they will keep the birds peaceful unless they are provoked, provided that the spheres are on the island that they pertain to."

"Thank you for explaining, Resitar, I will do my best to help, even though my best may be inadequate." Delza said, bowing slightly. They sat in companionable silence for another couple minutes, and then the doors opened and the Pokémon arrived.

First came an Arcanine, proudly entering with its head held high. Each step it took made its glossy coat shimmer, and each human felt the urge to bow before it. Next came a Jolteon, racing around the room with unmatched speed, becoming a yellow blur to the naked eye. And last, floating a few inches above the floor with the aid of Romanus's Telekinesis, was a Lapras. Its body moved gracefully through the air as if it was in total control of its movements. Its large eyes settled on each wizard before it directed its gaze forward again. Even the most hardened of hearts could not think of hurting this peaceful creature, but it had to be done, else it would die a more violent way with the rest of the world.

"Daglin, even with my Telepathy I cannot communicate more than basic emotions to them unless they speak our language like Lugia does. Can you translate my thanks to them for their courage to do this, and then ask them to stand in front of the table when I signal to them? Romanus, could you please put Lapras down in the hollow in front of the table?"

Both Daglin and Romanus did their tasks as Resitar conjured up three wooden basins and placed two of them to the side of the table; the third he placed directly before the patiently waiting Lapras. He then bid his companions to gather around the blue Pokémon, pulling a sharpened white-stone knife out from his cloak and taking the blue sphere from the table as they did so. Wordlessly, he made cut his own palm and dripped his own blood onto the blade, and then passed the knife to the next wizard, who did the same. Around the circle the bloodied tool was passed until each of the nine had contributed blood to it, making the most binding of oaths that of swearing all their power to another and death take the one who breaks it.

Mallef was the final wizard to smear the blade with his blood, and he did so without even flinching. However, when he attempted to pass the knife back to Resitar, he was surprised when the temporary leader refused, a grim smile slashed across his face.

"Mallef, you should be the one to lead us in the use of our power, I have not enough faith in myself to do so. Your knowledge is vastly superior to mine, and so is your experience. Please, I beg of you, do this unpleasant task."

Mallef nodded his consent as approval flickered across his face. He had thought of the possibility that the younger wizard may concede his inexperience, but there had always been the chance that pride would have blinded Resitar. Taking the proffered knife and sphere from trembling hands, he addressed his companions.

"You all know what we have to do. The very second that I set this knife on its fatal path, we all must brace ourselves, for this will be the most difficult act of magic that you will ever do. Follow my commands exactly, or else you will doom us all."

The ancient wizard took a few quick steps that brought him to the waiting head of the Lapras. Despite the necessary haste, he stroked it gently, muttering words of encouragement to it. He then turned to the eight cloaked figures, all of them watching and waiting in the flickering candlelight. Mallef had no need to speak the question that his eyes held, and he watched as, one by one, each wizard nodded.

"It is time, then."

And he plunged the knife down into the waiting Pokémon's skull. The effect was immediate. The wizard's minds were swept to a different dimension; that of raw power. They knew this place well, for it was where all major or delicate spell-casting had to take place, for the manipulation of the world's very fabric could be done only there. Each wizard kept their own shape for the sake of convenience, but there were no words or flesh to get in the way of precision work.

The Lapras's soul was the shape and twice the size of the Pokémon that it had come from, easily dwarfing the nine figures before it. It was pure white and it radiated light onto the featureless blue plain that extended to infinity. Mallef strode forward, sphere in hand and ablaze with power, although his light next to Lapras's was like comparing a Charmander's flame to Ho-oh's Sacred Fire.

"Friends, let us do this most vile of works now and twice more so that we may bring peace to our world!"

And so it began. With Mallef calling instructions- for words were still needed for communication, even though power could be freely controlled- the wizards moved quickly to imprison the struggling soul. Ten seconds seemed took an eternity, even though they knew that it was only ten seconds. But when consciousness returned to their bodies, the wizards were triumphant for the first part of their mission. Mallef quickly recovered from the shock of leaving and then returning to his body and placed the now pulsing globe back onto the table, and then he deferred to Resitar once again.

"Romanus, would you use your Telekinesis for me again? I need you to transport this sphere to Lugia, I included the coordinates in the plan that I sent you. Will you need us to give you power?" Resitar said

"Yes, I shall teleport it for you. And yes, I would appreciate any help that you can give, thank you." was the reply. Romanus had finally come to accept his fellow wizards as equals after seeing a demonstration of there power, which was just as great as his own, if not stronger.

Resitar gathered the seven other wizards together around Romanus and, with only a slight drain of power from all of them, the sphere was teleported to the waiting Legendary Pokémon. They all knew that the teleportation would only get harder after the capture of the second and the third souls, but nobody voiced this terrible thought. Instead, they readied themselves for the unpleasant task of killing and imprisoning another soul.

Again the Pokémon stepped forward to the waiting basin, this time it was the Jolteon. Without looking at the rapidly cooling corpse beside him, Mallef took the knife again and slew the waiting Pokémon. The process was the same as the first time, though slightly harder as each wizard had less power to work with. But they were successful and the pulsing yellow orb was teleported to Lugia.

And now, with a majestic toss of its head, the Arcanine slowly stepped forward, ready to meet the same fate as its companions. None of the humans attempted to speed the Pokémon's slow walk; they would not begrudge it for wanting to spend a few more moments in the world of the living. Silently, the watched, heads bowed respectfully until it reached the huge basin that was its destination. The Arcanine then bowed its huge, graceful head and awaited its fate. Of all three Pokémon that Mallef had to sacrifice for the world, this one would be the hardest.

A tear fell down Mallef's cheek as he raised the knife for the final time, and it fell as the blood-coated instrument dropped. For the third time, the wizard's minds were brought to the eerie blue world were their art was at its best. Surprisingly, the Arcanine's soul was the easiest of the three and went with little more than a slight struggle. When the wizards regained consciousness, Mallef held the light-filled sphere in his hand, and there was a sword at his throat. The man holding the sword was tanned to a color similar to a rotting log, clashing perfectly with his long, bright orange hair, but his hair matched the orange jewel that was embedded in his forehead.

"You wizards, you did something to our world, you tearing it apart. You killing Pokémon, you make powerful weapon. I, Nafodgnor, chief of ten tens and eight of human and Pokémon thieves, come from dessert lands across the sea, have came to you weapon. As you see, I have bowmen with arrows aimed at seven of you friend's hearts. Give you weapon to me and we make death easy for you." he said with a sneer. Escape was impossible for all the wizards, for they were drained with only enough power to send the sphere to Lugia. Four of Nafodgnor's men were waiting in the room directly above the confrontation, and, including their leader, eight were aiming weapons at the wizards, leaving the hidden Dalfang unguarded. Fifteen were huddled in the staircase leading upwards, and sixteen were in the one below. The last group, a mix of Twenty-three Pokémon and Forty-two humans, was waiting in the foyer. Escape was impossible.

Mallef caught the thief by surprise and tossed the orb to an expectant Romanus, who caught it and started the teleportation, but the arrows sprang free from their bows and embedded themselves in the wizards; Nafodgnor slew Mallef and Dalfang with two strokes of his sword. Wiping his sword on the wizard's robe, but not returning it to its scabbard, Nafodgnor strode over to the dying Romanus.

"Now!" shouted Dalfang as he leapt from the shadows and placed his hand on Romanus's shoulder. Romanus drew on the power that was given to him and teleported the sphere. Just before the sphere was teleported, but immediately after the spell was spoken, Nafodgnor thrust his sword into Romanus. The globe lashed out with an intense burst of pure power, and then was gone, teleported to Lugia.

Not able to contain the power that had been released, the tower disintegrated in a burst of red light, leaving only the base of the tower and the keystone, surrounded and filled with two tons of sand; a jagged crack had appeared that almost split it in half. The inhabitants of the town rushed out to see what had happened, but found only ruin. They cleared the sand away, but did not touch any of the stones. Later, they built another tower, one for the remembrance the dead, and they forever told the story of The Two Towers.

The wizards found themselves back in the dimension of power, although this time they were no longer alive or in human form, the one-hundred eight thieves were with them, and Arceus stood before them all. With a voice that sounded like everything joyful, it spoke.

"Wizards, you have done your task well. The world is no longer in peril, although it has cost you your humanity to do so. I am sending you back to your world with a lifespan of one-thousand years, but in the form of a new Pokémon. Name yourself and nurture your new species as best you can, for all of your souls shall be in one body. As for the fate of your murderers, I shall let you decide."

And then it vanished, leaving the fox and the cowering souls alone. Without even needing to speak, the wizards cursed the thieves' souls as punishment, binding them to the keystone of the destroyed tower as a new Pokémon forevermore. And then the world rushed back to them and greeted them with birdsong and sunlight, but they ran to find a place where they could be alone, possibly forever.

Ninetales stared at the wall for a few minutes after it was done reading the story of its creation. Again, the fact that half of its life was over, spent in solitude, struck it and sent tears to the fox's eyes. What kind of retched creature was it? Chasing away other Pokémon that were attempting to be friendly, sitting around all day almost every day sulking, only venturing out of its cave for food. Was this how it was going to spend its last five-hundred years? No, it would not.

So focused was it on its resolution to change its life that the Ninetales did not realize that another creature was at the mouth of its cave until the sound of wet flesh and bone falling onto stone was audible. Jumping, the Ninetales quickly used telepathy to search the cave. There were seven intruders, although six of them were Pokémon in, all in advanced versions of the spheres that Resitar's father made to capture the powerful creatures so many years ago. The seventh creature was a human girl, and a young one too, but she was unconscious on the floor and dangerously close to death. Suddenly, the fused wizards saw a way to begin the change that they were making in their life. They would save the girl's life and lead here to safety when she was well enough.

The Ninetales raced up the tunnel towards the mouth of the cave, summoning a multitude of will-o-wisps as it ran. The human quickly came into view, and with her skin having already turned blue it was clear that it may already be too late to save her. And it would almost serve her right! Was the first thought that sprang into the ancient Pokémon's mind, for she was dressed in clothing that did little to keep heat in. A short-sleeved blue dress was her apparel of choice, with skin-tight black shorts that would almost work against retaining heat. The only other things that she wore were a bag at her hip and a blue bandanna tied on her head. She was obviously delirious, for she seemed to be talking to a friend of hers, even though she was asleep.

"Ruby… I wasn't strong enough… I got lost… Guess that I won't catch that golden Pokémon, you were right…"

Quickly getting to work, the fox Pokémon had the hovering flames circle closely around the human and flare up, attempting to restore some heat to the frigid body. Then it sent out a mental cry for help, asking all Pokémon near by to bring fuel and food to the mouth of the cave, promising not to harm any creature that did this task. And then the Ninetales sat down and waited. It would transport the girl further into the cave as it had carried the Lapras as Romanus, care for her until she was ready to leave, and then it would guide her off of the mountain. If she attempted to capture it, well, then it would fight. And if it lost the fight, the fox would willingly go with her, for any creature that beat it in battle deserved respect.

After only a short time, the Ninetales noticed a strange device sitting open next to the human. It had a picture of a Ninetales displayed on its screen. The girl had been searching for it. Well, she had found it, and if she lived, would have her chance in battle. A button on the device was flashing with a blue light. Curious, the Ninetales pressed it with one paw, and it started to speak in a mechanical voice.

"Ninetales: the Fox Pokémon. Legend has it that Ninetales came into being when nine wizards possessing sacred powers merged into one. This Pokémon is highly intelligent and it can understand human speech."

*Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R Tolkien