Chapter 1: Burning Skies
Disclaimer: I own nothing, and have no rights. Welcome to Fanfiction! ^.^
Note from the Author:
I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for checking out this incredibly long fanfiction, and to remind you not to try to read too much in one sitting. Breaks are essential, especially if hot chocolate is involved. While I enjoy feedback, I'm writing this story for my sake, not for dubious internet fame. But as long as I'm writing, for any reason, I may as well share it with others. I hope you enjoy this little world I created in my dreams. This story, like all writing, is a little piece of my soul, tended with care until it grew into something I could build upon. So wander around and take a look, and try not to get burned by the first chapter.
This story is rated T for some instances of violence and emotional trauma. Please be prepared for this. But despite the violent and often unstable nature of my villains, there is no sexually explicit content, no drug or alcohol abuse, or even swearing. (Hell is used descriptively like three times.) Also, out of all the antagonists in this series, the very worst one is featured in this chapter. He is a nightmare, and the only one I shudder to write about. If a story is only as good as its villain is evil, this one has serious potential.
You have been warned. Thank you for reading.
The sky burned. A holocaust of flames engulfed everything he knew and held dear, and yet all he could see was the sky above, stained red by firelight. He didn't need to look at the burning buildings of his childhood home, or at the familiar people fleeing the town which had so quickly turned into a crematorium. He knew they were there. He looked at the sky instead, thoughts searing in his mind.
They said when a man died, his life played in his mind, showing all the good and bad he had accomplished in his time on Earth. The life he saw at that moment filled him with despair. Such a monster he had been. Good intentions could never wipe out all the evils he had committed. All the mistakes he'd made. He had quite a bit to answer for.
Indigo Nightwalker looked at the sky, and realized this was his reward.
His mistakes scorched through his mind, blackening his happy memories with branding scars. He wished Riza hadn't been a target, and he hadn't been a fool. They could have lived a simple, happy, uncomplicated life, far from death and bloodshed. He could have been Indigo, and she could have been Riza. The Nightwalker and the Queen of Darkness would have been nothing more than a bad dream.
That was what he had really been fighting for. Not for kingdoms, or good, or even for power. All he had been fighting for was her.
And he had lost her, as surely as his own life was nearing its end. People ran past him without even seeming to notice the fallen boy bleeding out in the middle of the street. Indigo didn't mind. His hand found the source of the blood loss at his side, coming away crimson and warm. He laughed quietly, enjoying the irony in a strange way.
The site of the stab wound killing him slowly. He couldn't stand anymore. There was nothing to do but wait. He found he didn't mind, oddly enough. Death was easier than facing the consequences of his decisions.
A boot came to rest by the side of his head, and Indigo made an effort to see the face that went with it. His muscles didn't want to obey. He looked anyways, turning his head slightly to the right. Indigo wasn't surprised to see the one man he never wanted to see again.
His eyes were as black as pitch, and yet they seemed to shine with victory. Perhaps it was merely the reflection of the flames he had ignited, that made those eyes gleam. Maybe it was the screams haunting the red night that brought an expression of serenity to his handsome face. Doctor Camellia smiled, a cruel, deliberate thing, as he took in Indigo's predicament.
"Well now," he said thoughtfully, ignoring the destruction around him. "Isn't this fortunate?" The roar of a Charizard echoed through the streets, as a winged shadow burst over them, spraying deadly flames onto already burning structures. Somewhere, a child was wailing. Disgust filled Indigo's heart at the sight of Doctor Camellia's bone pale skin, contrasted sharply by his midnight black hair. It was a face he'd learned to hate even more than himself.
"You should really…consider a tan," he managed to bite out, surprising himself with his defiance. Apparently Indigo really would be sarcastic until the end. "People will mistake you for a vampire looking like that."
The man 'tsked' disapprovingly. "Is that any way to talk to your murderer? I expect better from you, Nightwalker."
"Then again," Indigo continued, considering the matter. "You probably can't tan. I bet you just look like a ripe tomato if you venture out from your cave. I honestly would pay to see that-"
His words broke off, replaced by a strangled breath as Doctor Camellia's boot ground purposefully into the stab wound in his abdomen. Red hot sparks streaked through his mind as his vision went dark at the edges. Indigo gasped for air at the agony of it.
"Save your words," his enemy advised, black eyes soft and gloating. "You don't have much time." He looked at the burning city as if it were a beautiful sunset. "You did your absolute best, I'm sure. None of it matters now. Your love has surely fled the city by now, your allies scattered to the wind. There is no one to save you. And my favorite part – you'll live just long enough to see everything you love burn into ash. Your story is finished, forever, Indigo Nightwalker."
"And here I was hoping for a sequel. I wonder if they'll give my money back at the door," Indigo wondered out loud, viciously refusing to take the conversation seriously in his last, petty revenge. He was right though. Indigo had failed. Failed so completely it was hard to think about. How had things gone so wrong?
Maybe it had been a mistake, trying to control Entei. He had practically given the Legend to his enemy after all. His biggest regret was leaving Riza behind. She would have to continue the fight alone.
"Do you want to know my secret?" Doctor Camellia asked, sitting cross legged on the ground next to him, as though the city weren't burning around them. "I confess, I've somewhat missed my chance to monologue. It almost seems too late at this point. Better late than never I suppose."
"You're actually a woman?" Indigo guessed, his voice weak. The blackness was edging in farther and farther at the corners of his eyes. He wished he had someone he actually liked by his side, at the end. "I find myself unsurprised."
"My name," Doctor Camellia said simply, ignoring his snarkiness entirely. "Is Tero Akkarin."
It was amazing how easily the pieces fit into place with that one small piece of information. Everything Doctor Camellia had done, everything he'd sworn to accomplish, it all made perfect, grotesque sense. His real name changed everything.
It was so perfect, Indigo was a little ashamed for not having seen it sooner. The puzzle was complete.
"Hey," Indigo called, as Tero stood, turning his back on him easily. "I have…a favor to ask!"
The monster looked back, raising an eyebrow at the strange request. Indigo fought the blackness, struggling to stay awake for just a moment longer. "Promise me," he gasped, his voice harsh. "Promise…you won't hurt her anymore. You got what you wanted. Leave Riza alone. There is no reason to kill her now."
"Oh Indigo," Tero sighed, crouching down so he could be heard more easily. "I'm going to cut her fingers off one by one when I find her. I'll crush her eyes and burn her flesh until even you wouldn't recognize that pretty face of hers anymore. I plan to torture Riza Calariam until she doesn't even remember her own name, much less yours. And I'm going to do it for no reason, except to make you suffer more in your last moments on Earth."
He stood smoothly while Indigo gaped on the ground, sheer horror making his mind run cold. By the time he found his voice, Tero Akkarin, better known as Doctor Camellia, was walking at an unhurried pace down the wide dirt street, while civilians burned and buildings collapsed around him. "Monster," Indigo gasped out, as his vision narrowed to nearly nothing. The Charizard made another pass at his hometown, igniting everything that moved. Somewhere, far off, Indigo heard the unmistakable roar of Entei.
"You MONSTER!" he howled, unable to express his fury with anything stronger than a scream.
His last moment came then, with his heart filled with grief and guilt, as his home burned all around him.
The fires burned well into the night. Most of the inhabitants of Karraket were long gone, fleeing the blaze and the wrath of Entei. What was left over was a scorched husk of a town, blackened timbers glowing the sullen shifting red of coals, while fires still raged wherever wood remained. Only one being moved through the wide stone streets, heedless of the destruction. A cool mist swirled around it, a welcome relief to the crackling air. Steam hissed wherever it touched the scorching earth.
Cold blue eyes regarded the body in the middle of the street. The fires had not touched the boy in question, thanks to the width of the packed earth street. His skin was red and cracked from the heat on one side of his face. His hair was a blue so dark it looked black in the night. He had died with an expression of frustration etched stubbornly on his strong features.
Suicune stood over the boy for an indefinite amount of time. An icy cool wind danced around its mane, soothing rather than aggravating the shimmering coals of the city. The cries of Entei had long faded from the air, as the King of Fire left the town to burn.
At last, Suicune threw its head back, howling a song which spoke of ice and clear water. Wind rushed from the North, and it began to rain on the shattered city, and the body of the boy. Steam hissed from the ruins. Cold drops ran down his face almost like tears. The heavens opened, and the fires retreated, washing the blood from the streets.
Suicune lowered its head, meeting the gaze of the woman who stood over the boys' body. She alone seemed to be untouched by the flames. She had hair as dark as ochre, down around her shoulders, framing a face that looked better suited to laughter than the serious expression it wore. Her eyes were a clear a blue as Suicune's own. Her dress didn't move the same direction as the wind.
She didn't say a single word, as the rain passed through her. Silence reigned as the deluge turned the gutters into streams. She closed her eyes as though she were making a desperate wish.
The woman disappeared, leaving Suicune with the boy once more.
Thunder boomed overhead. The rafters creaked, and dust and dried herb leaves drifted down like snow. The old woman swore loudly and creatively, stuffing materials and books into her already too large pack.
She was by no means ancient. In fact, she was only in her forties. But the woman's once vibrant pink hair had faded to a pale imitation of its former glory, and deep, disapproving lines made her appear prematurely aged. Her hands were a mess of veins and wrinkles, with fingernails like stone. She might not have appeared so old if she smiled. But her expression was rigid, a permanent grimace of irritation which seemed etched onto her face.
Kaya Acadia was not a pleasant person. Anyone who had visited her for a remedy or a treatment could attest to that, after witnessing her abominable bedside manner. But they kept coming, because she was first rate at what she did.
And they would always come. Assuming anyone had lived through the night.
The rain had cleared some of the black smog in the air of Karraket, but Kaya cursed it anyways. She would not be able to leave the house tonight. Her daughters' condition was bad. She couldn't travel by their open cart in the rain. At least there was little danger of the fires spreading in the sudden deluge.
She was forced to stay, when most of the other inhabitants had fled. Luckily for all involved, Kaya's clinic was on the boundary of town, and had managed to avoid the flames. The old woman took was taking no chances however. All her valuables, and quite a few less valuable trinkets made their way into her oversized bag, ready to be whisked away at the slightest hint of danger.
"Curse that stupid boy," she hissed as she grabbed a bouquet of Payapa leaves, stuffing them into the pack with everything else. "All his fault," she muttered under her breath, "-couldn't leave well enough alone. Just had to try and be a hero, and look where it got him? Bravery runs in the entire family, and that's why they're all dead. Not like me, and my little clan of cowards. We'll survive long after the heroes die!"
Her rant was interrupted by the shutters flying open, and cold wind howled through the frame, scattering papers and knocking a pair of glasses onto the floor. Kaya swore again, and this time it was so colorful she felt a little vindicated. The storm was picking up outside. She struggled to grab the edges of the flapping shutters.
That was when she saw the woman standing in the rain. Kaya's heart nearly stopped in her chest, meeting those cold blue eyes.
It was impossible!
She stumbled to the door, her limp hindering her movements, and threw it open to the storm. Wind howled with savage joy around her, but she didn't as much as pause.
There was a body on her doorstep. The rain had plastered his hair down against his forehead. His features were as recognizable as they were painfully reminiscent. Kaya's heart twisted with pain. She looked back out at the storm, but the woman from before was gone. Suicune stood where she had been, coldly beautiful despite the rain.
"I can't help him!" Kaya shouted angrily, despite the fact that a Legend stood before her. She rarely got the chance to scream at all powerful beings. She didn't intend to let the chance go to waste. Her emotions were raw; more because of the woman who had reminded her of the past than the corpse at her feet. "He's beyond human help! I can't save him, do you understand? What's more, this traitor doesn't deserve to live!"
Suicune simply looked at her. Only its mane moved, flowing against the wind serenely.
"I wouldn't help him even if he were alive!" Kaya continued stubbornly. "Do you know what this boy has done? This whole disaster is his fault! It's his fault, and you can't shame me into thinking otherwise!"
The rain pattered down, and Suicune turned to walk away. Kaya fell to her knees, holding her arms tight across her stomach. "I won't be held responsible for this," she whispered angrily. "If this backfires, I will not hear of it being my fault!"
She brought the boy inside, closing the door behind her against the storm, and the figure she had seen earlier. Kaya muttered to herself the whole time, as she dragged Indigo to the middle of the room. She didn't bother being careful. "This won't work," she assured herself. "It really shouldn't anyways. I'll just have to bury him tomorrow, and invite Mazarine to his funeral. She'll probably cry, and we can all move on. That would be best."
"And anyways," she continued, as she pried up a dusty floorboard. "I'm not doing him any favors. Even if this does, by some slim chance work, he'll probably hate me for it." The thought cheered the sour woman greatly. She reached into the cubbyhole beneath the floorboard, and pulled out the only object within. It was a Poké Ball, rusty and discolored, held shut with miniature chains. Kaya took the tiny key from its chain around her neck, twisting it in the locks three times. The chains slithered to the ground, clanking with protest.
She took a deep breath to steady herself. It took some effort to turn the knob on top of the sphere which would open it. Flakes of rust coated her fingers as she struggled with it. Finally, the knob was off, and she tossed the sphere into the air. Scarlet light burst free, lighting up the house, as the Pokémon within was freed for the first time in nearly twenty years.
Cream colored tails tipped with saffron whipped through the air as the light faded. The lean figure of the fox was undiminished by the years. It was hard to believe the beautiful Pokémon was older than Halladen itself, but it became a little easier when one looked into her scornful crimson eyes.
"Kaya," the Ninetales greeted, her voice echoing sonorously directly into the woman's mind. "It's been quite some time. You've grown ugly."
"And you've grown as rude as your trainer once was," Kaya snapped with irritation. "Nivalis!"
Amusement sparked in the pupiless eyes of the ancient fox. "Why have you released me, healer? Do you intend to inflict my wrath upon this world once more?"
"Not yet I don't," Kaya said churlishly. She did not intend to release Nivalis. She might not like the world, but she did not intend to see it destroyed. "A mutual friend has requested a favor. Do you recognize the boy?"
Nivalis stepped daintily over the messy floor, peering with curiosity at the stubborn face below her. She didn't speak for a long time.
"He looks like his father," she complained, distaste coloring her voice. "I never liked him. It seems the boy has committed quite a few serious crimes. I can see the fog around his soul…yes, there is darkness within him. He could have become a monster. He nearly did. I only wish I had been present before his death, to properly destroy him."
Kaya grimaced. "I thought you might say that." She took a deep breath, preparing herself. "In fact, I think you're absolutely right. Indigo should be forced to suffer. Death is too easy. Let him work for redemption. Layla has already given her blessing!"
Nivalis snapped her empty red eyes up Kaya's face. She half hoped the fox would say it was impossible, and could not be done, but the expression those eyes took on could only be called glee. Kaya saw the vindictive joy her words had caused, and felt a little sick. Nivalis threw back her head and laughed.
"It seems the old woman has some sense left in her after all!" the Ninetales laughed. "Yes…let the boy burn. He will live. But not here. He will be forced to exist with his pain until he understands the true nature of caring, and strength. Until then…he will never be able to return. What a wonderful idea!"
Yes, Indigo might well hate her for this. Nivalis was famous after all.
Her former friends Pokémon had cursed hundreds of souls. Each one was unique. It often drove her victims mad.
The chances he would succeed in breaking whatever curse she chose to lay were slim. But if he did manage it…
"If the boy breaks my curse, only then will he be allowed a second chance to defeat his enemy," Nivalis crooned, as thunder cracked outside. "If he fails, his soul is mine forever. A fitting fate for the traitor. I must thank you for allowing this, Kaya Acadia. I haven't had such fun in decades!"
Her eyes burned with searing scarlet light, turning to the boy who had betrayed a kingdom.
Light shone around the corpse of Indigo Nightwalker, deepening the curling shadows of nine tails on the walls and ceiling. He shuddered once, as if jolted with electricity, his lips parting with a silent scream, as the lights grew brighter, rising in the air as bubbles of shining luminescence from his skin.
He disappeared with a crack of thunder, and Suicune howled a mournful song from the smoldering ruins of Karraket. The faint smell of citrus blossoms tinged the air where he had been.
The Ninetales threw back her head and laughed with utter exhilaration, and cruel, vindictive pleasure. Kaya looked sickened, turning her face away from the dark stain on her floor.
A second chance. How laughable. Even if he did return, what could he do to stop the King of Fire? It was ridiculous to think Indigo could ever be their salvation from an enemy who had forced a nation to its knees. If he was their one hope, Kaya thought savagely, they were all going to die.
Outside, their kingdom lay fallen. The only princess had been forced to flee for her life, a Legendary rampaged unchecked through their cities, and a living nightmare had risen to claim the throne of Halladen.
They needed a miracle. It seemed like they'd been unlucky enough to get Indigo Nightwalker instead.