Here it is! The last chapter of the story! Feels a little sad... But I guess this is how it should be... No matter how much I want to, I can't keep this story going on for an eternity :/
Right, the summary.
In the previous chapter: Ash, after meeting Riley and Giovanni in the afterlife, became revived... However. Mikael, the old cook, sacrificed his own life to bring the young Guardian back.
Then Ash Ketchum, filled with renewed strength and anger, engaged Paul Shinji in a brutal and gruesome battle. But, after a long and fearsome fight, Paul finally fell towards the ground, to never get up again.
After that, the soldier of Hoenn realized the futile fight and fled... Making the soldiers of Kanto and Sinnoh the new victors... But to what price? How many lost their lives, in the defense of Sinnoh?
What will happen now? Which path will the young Aura Guardian take? Will the girls finally confess their feelings for him? Will Brock ever get a girl? Only this chapter will tell...!
And for those who answered on the question, in the chapter before. What would happen between Ash, Lucario and Pikachu... Feel free the read the answer, in this chapter! :D
Finally my old BetaReader, Justicez, is back! So I'd like to thank him, for taking his time with this chapter!
Also, please read the end A.N., when you've finished the chapter. There's some important information in there, so I won't get those questions later.
I hope you'll enjoy the chapter, and don't forget to review at the end of it!
Lance let out a big sigh of relief. Finally... the war was over, no one had to suffer or die anymore...
He looked around and saw the soldiers around him hugging and cheering, some of the pokemon even cried out in happiness. And Ash had survived! He couldn't describe what a huge relief that was to know...
Then the captain suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked behind himself and saw a blond woman, about his age.
"You fought well, private." A vein appeared on his head, as the woman didn't seem to know his true rank.
"You didn't fight so bad yourself, for a woman." The red-haired captain shot back to the blond one, clearly insulting her a great deal. "But next time, maybe you should leave this to us men?"
"Oh, my... You don't seem to know who I am, soldier of Kanto." The blond with gray eyes smiled dangerously, the corner of her right eye twitching. "If I were you, I'd watch my words."
"I could say the same thing, woman." Lance's face was starting to change to the same color as his hair, as he tried to keep his calm. "You clearly don't seem to have a clue as to who I am, either... But maybe that's to be expected for someone who isn't used to fighting...?"
"Is that... a challenge?" Even though the battle was over, the man and woman readied themselves to fight each other, in the mass of the celebrating soldiers. "Just say when..."
"How about-" Lance was about to charge her, to put the woman in place... though he was interrupted by a very tired and young man.
"Captain." Ash was being supported by his newly recruited apprentice, as he came limping towards them. It seemed as though his energy was completely drained.
"What is it?" The two captains looked at each other in confusion, since they'd said the exact same words. "Eh?"
"Are you..." Lance slowly lowered his weapon, looking at the woman with wide eyes. "Cynthia Shirona, the Captain of Sinnoh's armies...?"
"Then... you must be..." The blond woman looked equally shocked, as she almost let her lance fall from her hand. "Lance Wataru, the Captain of Kanto's armies...?"
"Yes, you're both captains... How could you not realize it...?" Ash, who felt greatly insulted for being ignored, was a little touchy at the moment... It could also be because he'd recently fought an extremely powerful enemy to the death. "Have you any idea, of how much we lost?"
"No-..." Once again, the two captains had answered simultaneously. They looked at each other for a moment, then turned away. But Lance decided to answer him, for the both of them. "No, we haven't the slightest. It's impossible to do so right now... But I'd say that Kanto lost only ten percent of our forces..."
"We weren't that lucky." Cynthia seemed a little depressed as she thought of the soldiers that she'd lost. "We've lost over half of our army... But, if it hadn't been for you, we would have lost everything, Sir...?"
"It's Ash..." The Aura Guardian smiled as he took off his hat, which he had put on, showing his black and, now dirty, long hair. "Sir Ash Ketchum, the Aura Guardian."
"Y-... YOU?'!" It seemed as the blond captain was about to die of shock, while Lance only looked at her reaction with confusion. "But... But... You... You're a mercenary!"
"Mercenary?'!" Now it was Lance's turn to burst out in confusion, since Ash hadn't ever told him the full story. "What's she talking about, Sir Ash? Didn't you just leave to train diligently in the path of the Aura?"
The young Aura Guardian felt as if he was about to get a slight headache from all the questions, so he started to limp towards Sinnoh's camp, still with Melody supporting him.
"How romantic..." The brunette's words caused a very big frown on Ash's face. "Those two just seem SO good together!"
"In which way...?" The Aura Guardian, who was starting to get more tired with each passing minute, muttered to himself. "Both of them judge a person by their first lo-... Nando! You're still alive?"
"I truly am, Ash-... Or should it be Sir Ash now...?" The man in a brown cape and top-hat asked with his sing-song voice, as he started to support Ash on the left side. "Your brave battle will go down in the books of history!"
"If you feel that it's necessary." Ash, who wasn't that happy about having his name known throughout the world, had started to mutter again. "And you'll still have to call me 'Ash'. I never go back on my word."
"You're so heroic, As-"
"Not you." The brunette fell down onto the ground, as the Aura Guardian interrupted her. "I'll explain everything to you later..."
Melody, who thought that Ash would want her to call him "Darling", or something similar, became even happier as she and Nando continued to lead the guardian towards the camp as they were starting to close in on the tents.
"Put me down here." The raven haired young man seemed to be too tired to even be polite. "I need to catch my breath a little... And, if you find Pikachu or Lucario, please send them to me..."
Nando and Melody seemed to want and stay, to talk with the Aura Guardian... But the tone in his voice said that he wanted to be alone, he probably had a lot to think about. So they nodded and walked away, starting to look for the pokemon or any hurt soldier to help.
The former mercenary removed his hat with a big sigh, his eyes half-closed. It is over now, isn't it...? So much pain, anger, depression... all for what? He'd never understand the path of the Dark Auras. Why live your whole life in hate, when you can enjoy it?
Ash slowly removed his sword's sheath from his belt, surprised to see it still intact. This wasn't a sword that he'd lose that easily as this was a good one. The edge of his katana still shone with a blue color, as if celebrating their victory over Paul and his sword-... Paul's sword... The Aura Guardian had tried to look for it, but it was gone! He suspected that a farmer or retreating soldier had taken it, hoping to get a good amount of gold for the weapon... Unfortunately, Nami Kuchiku would most likely end up in the hands of another Dark Aura... Oh, well. If that time came, he'd just have to defeat them once more.
"PikaPi/Master!" The young man's head snapped up as he saw the two pokemon come running towards him, both looked like their greatest wish in life had just been fulfilled.
"Lucario! Pikachu!" A broad smile appeared over the raven haired guardian's face as he got up on weak legs, only to embrace his old friends that threw themselves into his arms. "We did it... We won!"
"No, master. YOU won!" The blue jackal-pokemon's eyes became glossy as he sent those words to him. The three companions' embrace tightened as their faces radiated nothing but pure happiness. After all this time, they were back together again... all of them. "You're truly a man worthy of the title 'Aura Guardian'!"
"It's so nice to be able to communicate like this, PikaPi!" The rodent nuzzled its cheek against his partner's, making him chuckle. "I'm sorry, that I didn't go with PikaPi... But I figured the Queen needed protection!"
"You made the right choice, Pikachu." The Aura Guardian closed his eyes as he started to scratch the rodent, which had placed itself in his knee, behind the ears. "You realized it much sooner than me, what my path was... Whether I like it or not, it's my duty to fulfill it!"
The two pokemons only looked at him and nodded quickly, the smiles still attached to their faces. Hard times would most likely come later... But for now, they could celebrate.
"But... I'm sorry, to cut this short..." Suddenly, the Aura Guardian got up from his position, attached his sword and put on his hat, as he looked on his two friends. "I feel that I need to speak with the Queen... I have caused her a great deal of suffering, for just abandoning my duty like that."
"Of course, master." Lucario bowed his head slightly. Pikachu just sighed, since he knew that PikaPi only thought that she'd be hurt, because of his skill as a warrior... But he'd let it pass for the moment, they'd have a lot of time to discuss that...
Ash closed his eyes a bit. Then took a deep breath and started to walk towards the biggest of the tents... He could feel the stares of several soldiers.
Dawn removed her silver-armor with a great sigh. She felt sweaty and dirty, a big change for any royal... However, she didn't resent the feeling. She'd finally witnessed what her soldiers did for their regions, and she'd even been a part of it! That was a thing she'd not forget easily.
Right now, she was dressed in some pants of soft brown leather and a thin white wool-shirt... she didn't care much about her appearance, for the moment, since her hair was, according to her, a big mess.
"Queen Dawn!" A soldier, she recognized as from her personal bodyguard unit, called out. "The Aura Guardian, who came with Kanto, requests to meet with you."
"W-What?" Of course, she knew that he'd come sooner or later... But this soon? Should she deny his entrance? She looked like a horrible, after all... No, she didn't have time to play an innocent maiden anymore... She was the Queen of Sinnoh! She was a grown woman, and wouldn't feel ashamed nor become flustered for anything! "Let him enter, please."
The guard nodded and held up the tent's opening for the Aura Guardian to enter.
Then, he walked in.
Even after everything Dawn had thought she had gone through, she couldn't help but stand there with her mouth wide.
His clothes were smeared with blood, partly his and partly his opponents', and dirt. His hair, which was being pushed down by the blue hat, was lying over his right eye, sticky with dried up blood. His thin gray shirt had several scratches here and there, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. His blue leather armor was torn on the right side, but also that could be repaired.
The only thing that seemed a whole was his hat and pants, even though they were drenched in blood and dirt too...
The Aura Guardian had his right eye closed a bit more than the other, showing evidence of the damage he had sustained to it. But he stood straight with his right hand on his sheathed blue katana... He looked at her, showing that he had a hard time to start the conversation.
"Who are you?" The queen couldn't stop the words from escaping her lips. She just needed to know! "Who are you, truly, Ash? A mercenary? A bodyguard? A knight? A Guardian?"
"I'm... not sure, anymore..." His voice was weak, his eyes seemed tired. But he mustered all his strength for this moment. "Never once in my life, have I been absolutely certain of who I am... But, right now, I can tell you this: I am no mercenary, bodyguard or knight... I am Sir Ash Aaron Ketchum, a Protector of the Aura!"
He then suddenly got down on one knee... This was the first time he'd ever bowed down to her in respect, and not for formality.
"I ask, from the depths of my heart, for forgiveness, Queen Dawn Berlitz of Sinnoh." He truly meant those words; she could hear the pain in his voice. "I was... a coward, nothing more. I hoped that by running away, my problems would them solve themselves, but not anymore... I swear, that I'll keep your country free from Dark Auras and the like!"
"Arise, Sir Ash the Aura Guardian." Her voice was soft... All her anger and disappointment had disappeared as soon as she'd set her eyes on him. Was this the power of his Aura? Or just the weakness of her heart? "Never once, did I blame you for leaving... It just pained me to see you leave without any will to explain the true reason. But, I forgive you."
"Queen Dawn..." The guardian got up on shaky legs, his sword hanging lazily at his side. "Then... might I ask a favor of you?"
"What might it be, Sir Ash...?" Dawn didn't really know why. But since the former mercenary had become an Aura Guardian, she started to use his title...
"Make that two..." He slowly took off his hat, showing even more of his dirty black hair. "One. Please call me 'Ash'... It just feels as if I don't deserve to receive such respect from you, my Queen."
"Ash...?" A weak smile appeared on Dawn's face. How she hated it when the man looked down on himself. "I guess I could do that..."
"Thank you." He then drilled his gaze into her, a hard look on his eyes. "Second... Please... smile..."
"What? Whatever do you mean, Ash?" Another weak smile appeared over Dawn's face, was this his idea of a joke? "I've been smiling all this time."
"No... I want to see your True Smile." He closed his eyes a bit, his hat still gripped in his right hand. "Your present smile is filled with sadness..."
"I-... I don't know what you're talking about!" Of course, Dawn knew what he meant... Ever since the death of her parents and Ash's departure, she'd been forcing herself to look happy and cheerful. But those things weren't so easy to fix, especially since nothing seemed to work... "I have always been-..."
She became quiet as Ash took her into a tight hug, his strong arms pushing their bodies together.
"Your Aura is revealing your true self, Queen Dawn..." She shivered a bit, when she felt his breath on her ear. Her arms were lazily hanging down to the sides, since she was still too shocked to do anything... The Aura Guardian still held her in his arms. "I know I'm not the sharpest when it comes to feelings... But I do recognize pain and sadness."
"I-... I-..." She didn't have any strength left to lift her arms. Ash was just holding his right arm behind her back, and the left one under it, as he pulled her into his embrace. "Ash, I-..."
"Cyrus Berlitz, your father; Johanna Berlitz, your mother; Sir Byron, a knight of Sinnoh; The soldier of Hoenn, the young man you killed; The people of Sinnoh, those who lost their families; Stop pushing it away... You're think about them, aren't you? Don't hold it in..." She could feel his grip tight around her. "Let it all out..."
"I... I don't know what you're talking about..." She could feel her arms start moving up towards the Aura Guardian, placing them around his waist. "I'm not feeling sad, or anything I just-... I just-..."
"Feel like crying..." He whispered softly in her ear, making Dawn lose every sort of self-restraint she had.
She gripped the young man's back and let out several sobs, tears starting to flow down her eyes as she buried her face into the man's chest.
"Mother... father... Everyone..." Her whole body shook as the Aura Guardian held her firmly, refusing to let her go. He too, had closed his eyes as he rested his head lightly on the top her hers. "Please... Come back!"
"Stand strong, when a hard wind comes..." He continued to whisper as he started to stroke her back. "Walk forward, if you feel the wind in your back... Don't give in... But don't stand firm for no reason... Cry, when you're sad. Laugh, when you're glad. Man, woman, pokemon, it doesn't matter... Just do it."
The Aura Guardian could feel his shirt become wet with tears; it pained him to watch the beautiful Queen cry like this... But she needed it, ever since her parents had died. It had been his fault, so he needed to be there for her.
"When everything is over, raise your head proudly... Never regret, never feel shame... Be proud..." Her sobbing had started to slow down, and Ash felt her grip on his shirt become slack. "And whenever you feel sadness again-"
"-look for someone close to your heart." The guardian got a slightly surprised expression on his face, when Dawn filled him in... But his expression then became soft again as he nodded.
"Yes..." He agreed with her as she looked up at him as she started to blink away her tears. "Look for someone that cares for you, whoever it might be."
Slowly, they let each other go as the two young ones backed away. Ash and Dawn looked at each other, one set of eyes filled with tears and the other one a soft smile on his face.
"Now... Dry your tears and look proud, Queen Dawn Berlitz of Sinnoh." It seemed as through Ash had started to regain most of his strength, as his voice started to have more power behind it. "Feel no shame, only pride!"
"Thank you, Ash..." She dried her eyes with her right sleeve, a slight blush of red over her face. "Thank you... For everything..."
"It's my duty, Queen Dawn..." He suddenly put his right hand on her head with a soft smile. "...as your friend."
He then started to walk out of the tent, only to be stopped by the Queen's voice.
"Ash! What about you...?" He looked at her with a confused frown over her face. "What about your true smile...?"
"Honestly...?" Once again, his expression softened as another smile appeared over it. "...I lost it, long ago. And, no matter how hard I've looked, I can't seem to find it."
"Maybe you need someone, to help you look for it?" She was starting to correct her shirt, her eyes refusing the leave the young man's.
"Who knows...?" He shrugged his shoulders; the right corner of his mouth raised itself slightly. "I guess only time will tell."
He then walked out of the tent. And, even if Dawn Berlitz felt slightly disappointed, she couldn't help but let out a short burst of laughter.
The squint-eyed advisor let out a huge sigh, as he finally dropped his small shield... He was SO going to request a raise after all this...
"Ash, the Aura Guardian, huh...?" He couldn't help but chuckle to himself. "So... that's what you were hiding? My fellow brother of Kanto..."
He stretched his back a bit and looked around. How it pained him, to see all those hurt soldiers and farmers... that was terrible, that much he knew. Did anything good come out of it? But, at least for now, it seemed as though citizens of Sinnoh had come to the battlefield, to help out with treating the injured... It always felt good, to see each one pull their own weight for a common cause.
"Excuse me...?" The advisor turned his head tiredly towards the source of the voice; he just wanted to go to sleep... "Are you hurt? Do you need any treatment?"
"My lady..." The young woman's eyes shot up as she saw him go down on one knee and grab her hand. "Oh, if you could only fix the aching pain in my heart! Come! Let's go and mend my wounds with the power of love-..."
What happened next, greatly confused Brock Harrison...
First, he didn't feel any pain... Where had Croagunk gone? Had he fallen in the battle? No, he'd seen him just recently... Maybe the frog-pokemon had finally recognized Brock as a brave man who deserved love...?
Second, why in the world did the girl look like she wanted to hear more...?
"G-Go on..." The man's mouth dropped to the ground at the female's words as she stood there flustered, and looked away shyly. "Wh-... What were you... going to s-say... next...?"
"I-... I'm... not sure..." The advisor's eyes couldn't let go of her long teal hair, it seemed so beautiful... "I... haven't ever gotten this far..."
"I-... I see..." A very awkward moment appeared between the brown-eyed girl and the squint-eyed man... None of them dared to look the other in the eyes... But, once again, Brock's friend saved him... "Ah! L- Look! It's Sir Ash!"
"Eh? Where?" Harrison saw the young man dressed in blue walk out of the Queen's tent, looking like a great load had been lifted of his shoulder. "Oh, yeah... I forgot that he would meet with Queen Dawn..."
"Y-You know him...?" Brock started to curse his friend for all his worth, since it seemed as though he had, yet again, unknowingly conquered another woman's heart...
"Yes, I know him..." He muttered with a rather sullen voice. "We're both from Kanto, and both helped Queen Dawn in several ways..."
"You even know the Queen of Sinnoh...?" Now Brock finally understood... She wasn't impressed by the Aura Guardian, nor the Queen... She was impressed by him...! "That's so a-admirable!"
"R-Really...?" Once again, the advisor had become very flustered, as the long-haired woman and the spiky short-haired man could barely look at the other. "W-Well... My name's Brock Harrison, royal advisor at the halls of Sinnoh."
"Oh, my..." The girl, who seemed to be from a peasant-family, quickly did a rather clumsy curtsy. "I-I'm so sorry! I didn't know who you were, Sir Brock!"
"What? Oh, no! Don't do that! There's no need...!" He became even more embarrassed now, as he looked quickly around. "Please, just call be 'Brock'! Miss...?"
"Suzy..." The beautiful and slightly older woman smiled, with her cheeks shining red. "Suzy Yuki..."
"Miss Suzy..." Brock had finally figured out the continuation of his line, as he got down on one knee once again and grabbed her hand...
"Are you ready?" He looked at the six beings in front of him... "It's not too late to refuse this."
"Not in this lifetime, master!" The blue and black pokemon smirked, his arms crossed as he stood proudly at his master's side.
"How can I tell your story, if I don't follow it...?" The man in brown, Nando, smiled calmly as he was plucking some strings on his lute. He was agreed by a loud "Kricke!"
"Are you joking? After all this time, you still think I want to leave? Besides... I won't leave you alone, until you have told me what happened in that tent!" The brunette in a rather clean, white dress stood there, her spear in her right and and whip at the side. "Right, Togepi?", "Togepriiii!"
"Pikachu...?" The Aura Guardian looked at his yellow partner with a slight frown. "What say you...?"
"Pika-chu... PikaPi, pikachu..." The rodent looked down towards the ground, causing Lucario's eyes to shoot up. "Pikachu-pi-pi."
"You're not coming with us...?'!" Even though the message was passing through Ash, Pikachu could hear Lucario clearly, causing his ears to droop.
"Strangely enough..." The rodent's ears perked up a bit as it felt its friend's hand onto its head. "I understand... Knowing you, you'd never let us fight alone... And, as much as I hate to admit it, you can't take on a Dark Aura... But don't act as if this is goodbye! I'll see you soon, isn't that right?"
"Pika!" The rodent threw itself into Ash's arms and started hugging him, small tears escaped from its eyes. "Pika-chuu..."
"The longer you linger, the more painful it gets..." Ash smiled sadly, and Melody could see him blink away some wetness from his eyes. "Go on... Take care of the Queen, alright?"
"Pikachu." The rodent nodded, happy to have received an order from his long-time friend. He then looked towards the blue pokemon, who stood there with his arms crossed... But a smile cracked the rodent's face, as Lucario put a paw onto his back and nodded. "Pikaa!"
"Sir Ash...?" Melody watched him carefully, as he was standing there with his eyes closed while his best friend ran towards the camp. "Are you... alright...?"
The Aura Guardian took a deep breath, before opened his eyes and attained the hard look once again. However, no matter how good he tried to hide it, you could still see the slight pain in his eyes.
"Melody..." The brunette's attention maxed out, since Ash hadn't used any honorifics before it.
"Yes, Sir Ash?" Her eyes almost glittered as the hat-wearing young man looked at her with a determined look.
"It's time to train you in the ways of a Guardian of the Aura!" Her eyes shot up, so soon?
"I'm ready!" Melody exclaimed as she stood at attention, they were rather far away from the battlefield now and Togepi was placed at the side of her.
"That's good..." Ash nodded slowly as he was walking around her, as if inspecting his new apprentice. "First..." He made a motion towards her clothes. "It's ridiculous, to think that you'd be able to train in those..."
"You're saying...?" The young woman's face became rather pale at his words, she had a bad feeling about this.
"As soon as we get to the next town, we'll equip you with something that's sturdy, light and easy to move around in." Ash nodded to himself, happy with his decision... Melody looked rather terrified, since she knew the Guardian's sense of fashion...
"A-Anything else...?" The girl sighed, her head was hanging down.
"Yes." He nodded, as he stood with his arms crossed in front of her. "You're not calling me 'Sir Ash' as long as I'm training you... you'll either call me 'teacher' or 'sensei', is that clear?"
"Yes..." Melody repeated his first word, feeling depressed, wasn't this supposed to be fun...?
"Yes, what?" The young man sharpened his gaze at the brunette, actually intimidating her a bit.
"Yes... teacher..." She had to force out the last word, it sounded so dorky... Togepi had started to snicker in the background.
"And YOU!" The little egg-pokemon almost jumped out of its shell, as Ash pointed towards him. "You're going to be trained by Lucario, and I expect the same standard from you!"
"Prii!" The pokemon tried a salute, but gave up since her arms weren't long enough...
"Very well." Ash nodded as he started to pace back and forth, in front of the two. Nando just sat on the sidelines and watched the scene with an amused look. "Sometimes, you're going to hate us... Other times, you'll want to kill us." A small smile appeared on his face when he said those words. "We know this, because we wanted to do it to Sir Riley and his Lucario."
Melody looked at him with disbelief... There was no way Sir Ash Ketchum, the hero of Guardians, would've thought of something like that...
"But..." He looked at the duo that stood there, waiting anxiously for his next words. "Both of you have great potential... and we're going to help you achieve that!"
Melody and Togepi didn't say a word, as they only looked at him.
"You days of 'fun' are over!" The girl and pokemon looked at each other with nervous looks. "I expect complete obedience. When we tell you to jump off a cliff, you WILL jump off a cliff!"
The apprentices nodded, even though they weren't too fond of the idea.
"I heard from Nando, that you like to eat a little more than necessary... also, that you like to liven things up..." His glare made the duo stop smiling immediately. "I can say right now: That's the end of it! We're not going to have any 'jokes' or 'fun' at our meals... we're not going to eat more than necessary!"
The brunette and pokemon's heads hung low at those words, they were already getting hungry...
"When we're done with you, you're going to become great warriors. It'll be almost impossible to kill you, and you'll take a man's life if needed be..." He sharpened his gaze into them. "Is that clear?"
"Yes..." Melody muttered to herself. This wasn't what she'd been expe-
"Yes, teacher!" The poor girl had to shout the words out loudly, until the man became satisfied.
"Very well..." Ash looked at each of them with a small smile. "Ladies... your path to the Aura, has begun!"
Lucario's snout couldn't help but crack into a smile, as he remembered those words nine years ago..."
"And, that..." Nando smiled as he plucked his instrument's strings a little. "Is the 'Tale of Ash the Aura Guardian'!"
The children in front of him, looking at the bard with big eyes, clearly wanted to hear more.
"Do you REALLY expect us to believe that...?" A robust child with short, brown hair asked with a rather cocky tone. "That the legendary Sir Ash Ketchum would have such a strange story...? EVERYONE knows that he's a master of the Aura, and there's no way he'd be that dense!"
"I don't form the stories, my child." The bard, who had a deal of great patience, smiled calmly. "I only tell them."
"So... you're saying that you know that Aura Guardian?" A little girl with blond hair asked eagerly. "Did you really face him in battle?"
"When I think back about it... I doubt you could call it a battle..." Nando sweat-dropped as he remembered his unfortunate loss. "But I do know the Aura Guardian... After all, I've traveled with him since then."
"Why would Sir Ash want to travel with you for two whole YEARS?" It seemed as if the boy with short hair had made it his duty, to prove the bard wrong. "Besides... How could he have taken on an apprentice? EVERYONE knows about the countless number of Dark Auras he's defeated, since the war between Sinnoh and Hoenn!"
"Truly, it was a hard task..." Nando agreed with the child, ignoring his taunting tone. "Miss Melody had-... has a rather hard time, traveling and training... But Ash is a good teacher, despite all he says. So, somehow, they get it to work!"
"But... there's one thing I don't understand." The black-haired bard looked at the blond child again, she seemed rather curious. "Of Miss Melody, Queen Dawn and Queen Leaf... who does Sir Ash truly love...?"
"Oh? Didn't I make that clear?" Nando laughed as all the children shook their heads. "Well, it's rather simple. Of course he-"
"Hey, mind keeping it down...?" The bard sighed at the 21 year old's tired tone.
The children looked towards the man on the bench, their eyes widened as they saw his clothes.
A black cloak, that went down past the shoulder, with a hood in the same color, was being used as some kind of sheet, as he laid on it on the bench. His blue boots and vest, gray pants and under-shirt... But, what caught their attention the most was the black hat with a blue band around the top, and on the band a mark of a Pidgeot's eye... the mark of the Aura Guardian.
"It took us three days to get to the Cerulean Cape... Can't I at least have a bit of rest...?" He got up from the bench and tipped his hat up, showing his long black hair. "Nando... Mind finishing your last sentence?"
"Not with the all-powerful Aura Guardian in my presence." The bard smiled with a slightly teasing tone, causing a frown appearing over Ash's face. "Where is Miss Melody?"
"Who knows...?" The Aura Guardian just shrugged. "My stupid apprentice was complaining about her hygiene before, so she dragged away Lucario and her partner towards some kind of house..."
"I'm sorry, I'm late!" The two males turned their heads towards a brunette, who came running with two pokemons... It seemed as if, during the two years, her body had developed even more... if that was even possible... "But Lucario took such a time in the bath!"
"I did not, master! She's lying!" The Aura Guardian lowered his head slightly, a very annoyed look over his face, as he heard his partner's voice.
"Melody! How many times have I told you, to take care of your uniform?" The teacher had started to scold his slightly younger apprentice once again, while she only rubbed the back of her head with a nervous smile. "The uniform of an Aura Guardian should be treated with respect and care! It's only allowed to be dirtied or torn in battle!"
"Well... Sensei..." She actually rolled her eyes. "If you'd declare me a true Aura Guardian, maybe I'd be more careful...?"
"Not as long as your partner is still a Togetic." Ash stated stubbornly as he looked at the floating, white pokemon next to Melody. "You're allowed to wear the uniform... But I'll not give you the title until she's evolved."
"But she just needs a Shiny Stone, right...?" Melody sighed, but then she got a rather mischievous look on her face. "Or... is it because you want me to call you... 'Master'...?"
"I've never told you to call me 'master'..." The guardian muttered as he tried to look away. "And keep your skirt still!"
"If you'd just allowed me to wear a similar uniform as you, we wouldn't have this problem, teacher!" She smiled happily as she stopped threatening to flash him.
"That's not even going to be taken into consideration!" Ash looked at his apprentice with a hard look. "The code is very strict for male and female uniforms!"
"Alright, I can understand the top..." Melody made a motion towards the top of her body, which was rather similar to Ash's clothes, except that she didn't have a cloak or hat and her gray shirt was a little more low cut in the front. "But who was it, that decided that females had to wear something close to mini-skirts?"
"Ask Sir Roy about that..." Ash muttered, rather irritated, as he thought of the Aura Guardian who had come up with the uniforms a long time ago... "Fortunately, the majority of Aura Guardians were men and-"
"You're just saying that, Sensei!" Melody laughed as she started to cling to him, making him feel even more awkward. "I'm sure you wouldn't mind seeing more female work-companions!"
"Stupid apprentice..." Was the only thing the guardian muttered, as he sent a look towards his partner. "Let's go, Lucario... The rest of you, stay here."
Melody sighed as yet another approach had failed... But she was not going to give up!
"He really has changed, hasn't he...?" Nando's words earned him a slight glance from the brunette. "I guess you were right..."
"It's a very common thing to happen, when someone revives you..." Melody sighed, since Ash had refused to tell anyone how it was on the other side. "His personality might change some more... but not that much. However, no matter how he tries to act, he'll ALWAYS be Sir Ash Aaron Ketchum, the Aura Guardian."
"Too true." The bard nodded at his friend's words... Then he noticed the wide-eyed children, who had witnessed the whole thing.
"Do you know why I am here...?" He didn't need to ask her that. The hateful look from the woman told him more than enough. "Where is she?"
"Leave her alone!" Aya, whom the years had affected a great deal, snapped out as she wanted the Aura Guardian to depart as soon as possible. "She doesn't have the power of the Aura!"
"Who do you think you're trying to fool...?" Ash and Lucario glared at her, even though Riley had been close to all their hearts, they couldn't get along. "We could feel her presence from the outskirts of Cerulean City! Please... Let me help."
"Oh, I know how you Aura Guardians 'help'..." She cut him short and continued to block the door. "You take the child from its mother, train the child and then let them die!"
"I won't deny that..." The Guardian lowered his head slightly, only to raise it again. "But I will tell you this: She has a much bigger chance of surviving with me, than staying with you! I tried to give you more time... but it's impossible! I've already intercepted four different Dark Auras, that tried to reach you... You CAN'T flee anymore! Her Aura is so strong that it attracts every Dark Aura around, it's IMPOSSIBLE to escape!"
"Don't try to blame this on me! I won't let you take my child from here!" Her grip around the doorframe tightened. "I know the stories about you... How you hunt down every Dark Aura in your way, you show them no mercy! You're driven by revenge!"
"No..." Ash Ketchum shook his head, he felt a powerful Aura come closer. "I don't seek them for revenge... That foolish emotion of mine is long gone... I am hunting Dark Auras, to prevent them from killing others... To prevent them killing a father of an unborn daughter, for example!"
His words struck Aya like a knife, as she lowered herself down to her knees and breathed heavily. Then, the door behind them opened and showed a girl of seven years old with jet black hair. She looked with a confused, yet calm, expression at the event that was happening.
Ash's face immediately became softer. Elizabeth reminded him so much about Riley, that it made his heart feel at ease. And he wasn't surprised to see the little Riolu behind her.
"Mother? What's wrong?" Her slightly emotionless tone was still the same, but Ash could feel her Aura vibrate with worry. "Why are you crying?"
"I felt you..." Was the next thing she said as she looked at the Aura Guardian. "I felt your presence, an hour ago."
"I wouldn't be too surprised, Elizabeth." Ash smiled calmly, his anger washed away. "You have a strong Aura... that's why I was discussing with your mother, to take you in and train you."
"I... will become an Aura Guardian?" The young man nodded at her words, while Aya clenched her fists. "I won't need to run anymore...?"
"Your father gave his life to protect us..." Ash took off his hat as he knelt down onto the ground, along with Lucario. "We will do the same thing... As long as we draw breath, your life will be safe! This, we swear."
"Mother..." She had a hard time to let the kneeling Aura Guardians go with her look, but she was her mother after all. "I need to go."
"No... Please... Elizabeth..." Aya took a firm grip around the young girl's shoulders. "You don't know what you're saying... you-... you'll be hurt!"
"I want to know more about my father." She simply stated, her face emotionless but her Aura spurting with emotions. "I want to walk his path... and this man is the only one who knows it."
"No... Don't-" But Aya was interrupted by Ash, who had gotten up from his position.
"You have two choices, Miss Kyo." The Aura Guardian looked at the older woman with a slight glare. "It doesn't matter how long you're trying to flee... In the end, it's up to this: Either your daughter becomes a Dark Aura, where she'll be forced to kill innocent for no reason... or she comes with me, and trains in the ways of an Aura Guardian. I promise, she won't come to harm as long as I'm still breathing."
"But... it's too soon..." Aya reached out her hand towards the retreating back of her daughter, as Elizabeth was starting to walk to Ash. "She's... She's only seven!"
"True. An Aura Guardian begins the training at ten... However! We can't linger any longer! Either she comes with us, or she goes with them!" He noticed how the black-haired child stood next to him now, looking up towards the Aura Guardian with respect. "I promise you, I'll raise her... Both as an Aura Guardian, and as a human..."
Then the four beings started to walk away.
The mother only clenched her fists as she watched the wandering group.
"I curse you, Ash Ketchum!" The Aura Guardian closed his eyes slowly, those words hurt... "I... hate you!"
He could feel, on her Aura, that the little child was about to cry... So he put a hand onto her head, and smiled when she looked at him.
"Don't worry, Elizabeth." Her eyes widened as she heard his voice in her head. "Your path towards the Aura, has begun."
"Really... That girl's a handful..." The raven-haired young man scratched the back of his head. "But I guess it makes sense... she has inherited a lot from her father, you know?"
"Besides... Why am I even standing here? It feels like I'm talking to myself." Ash groaned a bit, as he looked up into the sky. "I guess it's too much to expect answers from a stone, huh?"
Riley Gen's gravestone only stood there, completely still. The Aura Guardian sighed again, this was feeling rather awkward.
"I've come here for the past two and a half years... yet, this still feels unfamiliar. How do I even know you're listening? Or maybe you already know everything, and are just laughing at me right now? It's annoying just thinking about it..." He removed Nami Shirube from his belt as he sat down and leaned against the tomb. "But... I guess it wouldn't hurt to explain the things that are happening in the world one more time, would it?"
He took a deep breath and continued. "I visited Aya again... She still hates me, though. But, as long as her daughter's safe, she can't really do anything to me... She was rather against it, when I took your old sword... but your daughter needs some kind of weapon, right? Not that I'm planning on giving it to her yet... but when the time comes."
"Oh, and you might be interested in this." A slight smile cracked up on his face, as he still leaned against Riley's memorial stone. "You know Cynthia Shirona, the captain of Sinnoh? There's some rumors circling about, that she and Lance are meeting each other! Well, that should hopefully only strengthen the regions' bonds... unless they mess it up, somehow..."
"But the one thing that I can barely believe, is that the Aura Guardians are coming back!" He shook his head slowly, feeling it scrape a little against the stone. "And here we thought that we were the only ones left... It showed that many of them had only gone into hiding, for fear of being killed. Although, many are weak and in their middle-ages or older... But there's no problem with that!"
He removed his hat as he felt a slight breeze come from the trees, maybe he should head back soon?
"After I had met up with the majority of them, we figured that it would be wise to change some things... We are much more organized now, and some are traveling in groups... They even decided to make a new rank of the Aura..." He shook his head in amusement. "They've decided that, when you kill a Dark Aura, you'll be promoted to 'Aura Knight'! Stupid, isn't it?"
"We've also formed some sort of headquarters at Shamouti Island, since the legendary pokemons seems to prevent Dark Auras from getting there... It mainly works as a facility for training Aura Users rather than as a fortress..." He seemed to think a bit, before he stated stubbornly. "But I refuse to use it. Every time I go there, they seem to treat me as some sort of legendary pokemon... Yet, I wasn't invited into the Aura Council, since I was 'Too Young'... But it seems as my vote affects the decisions a great deal, though."
"There's really nothing different about the royalties... Hoenn is in a civil-war, again. But this time, the other regions are going to leave them to it... Queen Leafiona and Queen Dawn seems to be getting along rather well... except when they mention my name for some reason. Do they really dislike me so?"
A small smile appeared on his face, the ground was still wet from the morning dew. "Oh, well. They seem rather pleased when we visit them anyway-... By the way, you should've seen the look on their faces, when they thought that Elizabeth was my child!"
"Speaking of your child... Are you sure she's yours? If you ignore the most obvious facts... Her Aura is ridiculously strong! Maybe even stronger than mine! She still has a rather hard time expressing herself, and that's a lot coming from me... But she's extremely skilled with the Aura." He closed his eyes as he suddenly remembered something else to take up. "However... this story is far from a Happy Ending... Not only have we Aura Guardians started to rally our troops... It seems as if the Dark Auras are doing the same thing. They've gathered their forces in a new region, which sympathizes with them, called 'Unova'... Unova doesn't have a proper government yet, and is in more chaos than Hoenn..."
"Well..." Ash got up from his seating-position and put a hand on the stone. "Even if the Aura Guardians have reached a three-digit number count, we're still far fewer than the Dark Auras... But..." A wide smile appeared on his face. "The Dark Auras don't have me..."
The newly dubbed Aura Knight turned his back to the stone, and looked up towards the sky.
"It seems as if there's going to be rain tonight... But I think it'll clear up in the morning." He looked back at the stone and frowned. "Really... 'Riley Gen, a true Guardian of the Aura'? Is that all we could come up with...?"
He sighed as he knelt down and unsheathed his katana, then he started to scratch some more words into it.
After a few minutes, he got up and looked rather satisfied.
"Here rests Riley Gen, 44 years old. A father, teacher and friend... A True Guardian of the Aura. May He never be Forgotten."
"Isn't that better?" A small grin appeared over Ash's face, as he felt a few tears build up... but he blinked them away. "Sure, I know it sounds stupid... But I'm not a poet. Nando would probably just laugh at me, if I asked him to come up with anything."
"Alright, then..." He stretched his back a little as he attached his katana, to his belt. "I'll see you soon... When I come to visit again, I'll probably take Elizabeth with me. I figure she'd want to see her father's grave, at least."
"Till next time..." He didn't know why he did it... but he searched for Riley's Aura anyway. "My stupid teacher..."
"Welcome back, master." Lucario nodded as he saw the Aura Knight come walking towards them. "Did you have a word with Sir Riley?"
"Yes, I'm done." He smiled sadly, it always pained him a bit to leave the former Aura Guardian's stone... "How's everything going here?"
"Sensei. Melody isn't doing her training." The young man let out a sigh. "I do too! You little-"
"Both of you, stop!" He glared at the bickering girls-... Or, it was more like Melody throwing fits, but it was usually Elizabeth who started it. "And I told you to speak normally, since you've already perfected communication through Aura."
"There's no need." Ash figured that this was the young girl's biggest weakness. She was very shy towards everyone other than him, meaning that she'd almost stopped speaking with her mouth altogether. "I have nothing to say to that old woman."
"What did you call me?'!" With the two females arguing, several veins were starting to appear at the back of Ash's head.
"I said... QUIET!" His shout made both his apprentices jump high into the air, then look at him with scared faces. "How are you going to be able to master your Aura, if you can't even master your bonds with each other?"
Melody and Elizabeth looked rather ashamed, as they looked down towards the ground... But Ash knew that it would start again, it always did.
"If you keep causing me trouble, I'll have to send you to Shamouti Island... Do you want that?" The girls shook their heads hastily; they wanted to be trained by the best. "Good. We're going to venture into Unova... It might be dangerous, so we need to hold a low profile and keep away from towns and such."
"What's our objective, master?" His partner, who was glad that Ash had finally cleaned up the small debate, asked of him formality, even though he would follow him to hell itself.
"The Time Flower said that we need to look for a girl named Iris Cuasorome... I'm not fully aware of the details yet, but it seems as if she's mastered a new type of Aura..." He could see, on his companions' faces, that they wanted to know more. "As I said, I'm not aware of all the details... But it's rumored that she's able to control Dragon-Type pokemon with it..."
"Does the objective say whether she's to be recruited... or eliminated?" Nando, who disliked death very much, asked with an insecure tone. "I'm not too fond of the idea, of watching a woman die."
"Neither am I." Ash agreed with crossed arms. "The Council said that it's up to us to decide what'll happen... So don't worry, you'll have another story to tell."
"Me? No... This is the last story of Ash, The Aura Guardian, that I'll ever write down." Smiled Nando as he put down his lute and shouldered his backpack. "I will leave it up to someone else to create your story."
"I understand." Honestly, the Aura Knight couldn't care less... he was actually glad for this, since that would mean less rumors and myths about him-... Not that he doubted it could get any worse... "Is everyone ready?"
Elizabeth nodded, with the sleeping, lazy Riolu in her arms. Melody, along with her Togetic smiled approvingly. Nando, who was busy finishing up the last bits of packing, only made an agreeing gesture together with Kricketune.
Ash glanced at Lucario, who looked back. Then they both smirked at the same time, as they nodded shortly.
"Right..." Ash readjusted his blue katana on his belt, and shifted his black cloak . "Let's go."
Over them was a little brown Pidgey, with a cream-colored chest, flying.
"I don't know when I'll see you next, Riley, Giovanni..." He looked up towards the sky, and watched the bird, from under the brim of his blue hat. There wasn't even a sign of rain. "But I don't plan on meeting you again, any time soon..."
End of the story... or just an arc...?
And it is, with this story, that I quit publish work over FanFiction. This will be my last story here. I can't seem to be able to keep up writing stories and study, at the same time.
"The Aura is With the Forgotten", is most likely the last pokemon-fic you'll ever see from me... Why? Because I've simply lost the interest in pokemon. It just feels, like an endless circle.
I know that many of you will be disappointed, that Ash didn't "chose a girl" (remember: The summary said "Possible" pearlshipping) ... But the opinions were too spread, so I decided to leave it up to your imagination... If you ignore the small "hints" I've dropped, throughout the story...
If you look closely enough, you can see the "-sign, at the beginning of chapter 1 ^^ The whole story was Nando's story to the children, get it...? :)
HOWEVER! Those who are interested in sequels, prequels, spin-offs and such, should visit my profile and read its information.
I guess it's time for my final words, huh?
You might think that this story turned out the way it did, all because of me... That is not true. Many factors helped.
Justicez, my BetaReader, who corrected 38 of my chapters... Without his job, the stories would've barely been readable...
But what formed the story was YOU! Without your reviews and thoughts, NONE of this could've happened! Every, single review developed a new train of thoughts, and helped me shape the story to this. It was YOU who created the story, I simply came up with the basic and wrote it down!
That is why I thank you, too. For both reading this story, and helping me improve it. But it's better to not bring up the names, of those who helped me... Since then, the chapter's length would be twice as long. But you know, who you are.
Once again, thank you. I think it's time that I leave the writing of pokemon-stories, to the younger generation of writers... So why not try it out? It's actually not as hard, as it looks like!
One, Last Question (which will never have a completely certain answer): What do YOU think Nando was going to say, when the little girl asked him who "Sir Ash loved"...?
I hope you enjoyed the story, and don't forget to leave a review!
It's better to review later than never, and I'll maybe be seeing you in the future!
Respect other writers, and they'll come to respect you.