Author's Note: I can't believe I gave a two week delay! I really am sorry, since the real reason was that I was just lazy. Anyway, hope this chapter satisfies until I finish the plot building next one. -EeveeInHeat

The Legend of Vulpix: Leaf of Time

- Chapter 17: The Last Stone -

Link still had one berry left to eat, but got up and followed the Oshawott over to the spot everyone was crowding around. Though there was a large crowd already gathered, the Pokemon separated and allowed her and Link easily through, though.

In the middle was actually just a patch of real dirt. However, there was an intricate layout marked on it, with several smaller markings and boundaries made. Stella stepped up to the picture while Link watched from the edge of the large crowd.

"Now, Tails the Floatzel, come here," she called. A tall orange Pokemon, like the one next to Samuel from before, came forward and gave a small bow. "Lead your section to take the eastern chambers," Stella ordered, pointing at a section of the layout.

The Pokemon nodded and headed away in a quick jog, several of the Pokemon breaking away to follow him. They all started to dive in several small pools set aside against the wall.

"Tusks the Walrein," Stella continued. A large Pokemon slid forward on its stomach, the most prominent feature on its large, light blue body being the two large tan tusks curving down from its mouth. "You're to take the southern chambers." Once again, she pointed at another small section of the drawing.

Tusks nodded and slid away to wait behind the last of the other group, several Pokemon following him as well. The crowd around them was now relatively small with only a score or so Pokemon left.

"And finally, Fishlegs the Mudkip," Stella said. A small blue Pokemon stepped forward, a fin sticking from its head and another, lighter blue one as its tail. It had two orange, spiky cheeks, but still looked more cute than powerful. "I've left your group the northern and western areas, okay?" She made a wide sweeping line across most of the picture, creating a much larger section than the others.

"We'll do it quickly," he promised, running out toward the smaller, unused exits. The others followed, and Link counted exactly twenty among them, all looking smaller and weaker than the other groups.

With the crowding press gone, Link looked around to see only one other Pokemon besides him and Stella. It was a strange Pokemon with blunted spikes sticking out all over its body, the top part pink with the bottom of it white. However, even mostly pink it appeared tough with the steely stone expression on its face.

"Uh, was I supposed to go with one of them?" Link asked, feeling left out.

"Nonsense," Stella replied, coming over to pat him on the back. "You're coming with us to take the center chambers. Link, this is Corral the Corsola and chosen bodyguard of yours truly. Corral, this is Link the Eevee, the third member of our little group."

"Nice to meet you," Link greeted.

The Corsola suddenly gave him a glare for a few seconds before returning to her stock body position once more.

Stella chuckled. "That means you pass," she replied, leaving Link to wonder what he passed and what would have happened if he didn't.

"Uh, what are the center chambers?" Link asked, moving on.

"Those include the throne chamber and the lord Wailord chamber. Our monarch rules in the throne chamber, while the Wailord statue is in the lord Wailord chamber. That's why they were positioned in the center," Stella explained. "Come; it is time we go."

Link followed her and Corral over to another small pool of water. Before Link could say anything, Stella had taken his paw, and they were going into the pool. Link quickly held his breath and waited as they led him through the water. Before long, they emerged on some of the strange blue land. Link started to catch his breath as he looked around. He saw the room that held the Wailord statue, though the other Pokemon were gone.

"We'll let you take a break, and then we'll attack the throne room," Stella explained, sitting back to wait for him.

Link nodded and concentrated on making his breath return to a normal pace. While Corral was watching the water closely, Stella was looking in another direction, though Link could tell that she was watching him out of the corner of her eye.

Once Link caught his breath, they went back into the water. The trip was much shorter this time when they resurfaced. In the new chamber, Link saw that there were two Pokemon already there. It was Samuel and the Floatzel that had been standing near him before.

"Father, your reign ends now. I claim the throne and the leadership of the Place of Waters," Stella announced.

"Stella? Where have you been? And what is all this nonsense?" Samuel asked, getting up. The Floatzel moved closer to Samuel, watching the newcomers closely.

"I am taking over. Will you give up willingly?" Stella asked, puffing out her chest.

Samuel's confused look only lasted for a second before he finally realized what was happening. "Don't kid yourself. We will fight, and when you lose, you will be punished for running off," Samuel said, getting into a fighting stance.

Suddenly, the Floatzel darted forward, a flow of water wrapping around it as it charged. Corral jumped up and rammed right into it, both of them stopping in midair as their attacks cancelled each other out.

Link glanced at Stella, unsure which to fight, when she nodded toward the Floatzel. Finally having a target, Link came up to stand beside Corral and face his opponent. The Pokemon snickered and shot a blast of water at him and Corral. Link and Corral jumped apart, easily dodging the water.

As they landed, the Floatzel put its hands together and suddenly shot a burst of bubbles at Corral. The Corsola quickly replied by leaning forward and shooting several small pin needles at the speeding bubbles. Though outnumbered, the needles made quick work of the attack as they met halfway. The two attacks pressed against each other, making a standoff as each Pokemon tried to gain the upper hand.

Utilizing the distraction, Link quickly charged a Shadow Ball and shot it toward the Floatzel. It glanced over as the sphere flew towards it, but didn't look worried. Instead, it reached out with its two long tails and lightly tapped the sides of the attack before spinning them. The shadowy ball immediately changed directions and flew past Link, crashing into the wall behind him.

As the Floatzel returned its attention to trying to overpower Corral, Link tried to think of what to do next. Seeing no small items around to throw, he simply charged at the orange Pokemon. The Floatzel glanced at him and smirked, his tails whipping around to protect it once more. However, Link launched himself at one of the tails and latched onto it with his small canine teeth.

The Floatzel let out a small howl and slammed its tail into the ground. Though Link's head immediately started pounding from the impact, he sunk his teeth in deeper. Suddenly, the Floatzel's other tail slammed into him, throwing him off quickly with the powerful blow. However, his distraction had been enough, and Corral's attack came through to hit the water type in the chest and throw it back. The Floatzel tried to get up, but Corral charged into it, knocking it out as its head hit the ground again.

Panting slightly, Link got up, a little dizzy at first, and turned to look for Stella. The small Oshawott was racing around her much larger father, pausing occasionally to slash at him with her shell. Samuel kept trying to get her, but she was easily able to stay out of reach with her higher speed.

Link was about to head over to help Stella, when Corral stepped in front of him. "Stella must defeat him on her own," she explained.

Link was confused, but sat down to watch. Stella made quick work on with her attacks, slicing at just the right places to get past the shell armor the Samurott was wearing. Though Link wanted to help, Stella seemed to have it all under control as the almost one sided battle continued. It wasn't long before Samuel finally collapsed under her blows.

"Fine, fine, I give," Samuel panted.

Stella proudly puffed out her chest at her achievement, holding her shell high in the air. "I, Stella the Oshawott, now claim the throne as mine," she announced. Confused, Link glanced around, but saw no visible throne in the chamber.

"She means figuratively," Corral explained.

A small splash announced the arrival of the Mudkip, Fishlegs. "We've cleared out our section," Fishlegs announced, raising a paw to salute Stella.

"Good, then let it be known that I have taken control. As my first decree, all practices of the lord Wailord are to be abolished immediately. Go and tell my new subjects the news," Stella commanded as she replaced her shell on her chest, waving the Mudkip away.

As the Mudkip left, Samuel, still collapsed on the floor, spoke up. "Abolished! How can you just throw out our faith like that? The lord Wailord will surely now curse us, especially without the Eternal Water Stone being given."

"If there really is a lord Wailord, let him show himself. Also, the Eternal Water Stone is our heritage, not something that I will give to some statue," Stella replied.

Samuel snorted at her statement, but gave no other reply.

Turning away from the downed Samurott, Stella came over to Link. "So, the battle is over. Thank you for helping us," she said.

"That quickly?" Link asked, a little confused. He expected a little more resistance than this.

"All the takeovers are quick. The other Pokemon rarely disagree with a change in leadership, as all as protocol is taken. With my father's forces finished, we're done," Stella explained.

Shrugging, Link tried to think of what to do next. He could head back to Hyrule Castle, but needed the Eternal Water Stone first. "Uh, Stella, what about the Eternal Water Stone? I need it to stop Zoron."

"Link . . ." Stella started, only to trail off. She was silent for a moment, before she finally continued in a hesitant voice, her face turning slightly red as she shuffled her feet a little. "Actually, when a new leader takes over, it is usually customary for them to take a . . . significant other when they come of age. If not, they can always agree upon a future reunion with someone through the giving of the protection of the Eternal Water Stone. Will you . . . be my fiancée?" Stella asked.

Corral sighed and placed an arm over her face, while Link tried to understand what she meant. What's a fiancée, and what does she mean by significant other? Link wondered. Giving up, Link finally decided that he would do whatever it was she wanted if it meant he got the Eternal Water Stone. "Okay," Link replied.

Stella instantly let out a small squeal, though she quickly covered it. "Really? Corral, go get the stone right away," Stella instructed.

Corral sighed again and walked away, quietly muttering under her breath, "She went to all this work and then just gives it away."

As they waited for Corral to get back, the Floatzel and Walrein Stella had sent out came back to report that they were done, quickly being sent back out to tell of Stella's victory and first decree. Finally, Corral reappeared, a small stone clutched between its arms.

The small stone was a dark blue, with a few small, lighter blue blobs in the stone. The stone seemed to glow slightly, making the inside appear as though it was really water. Like the other two stones, there was a small golden strand spiraling up around the side from top to bottom.

"Do you have something to carry this in? If you touch it, you'll evolve," Corral warned.

"Yeah, just put it in . . . my . . . bag . . ." Link said, pausing as he glanced back at his side. The small brown bag wasn't there. Starting to panic, Link checked himself fully over, only to find that his bag was really gone. "My bag!" Link exclaimed wildly. Without it, he didn't have the other two stones. How could he lose it? When did he lose it?

"Your bag?" Stella asked.

"The brown bag I was carrying. It had the other two stones in it. What do I do? I need that bag!" Link exclaimed, his panic growing.

"Calm down, Link; if you had it when you got here, they would have taken it away. It's probably in the storage chamber," Stella replied, her explanation helping Link to settle down some. "Corral, will you check for his bag?"

Corral nodded and put the Eternal Water Stone down to dive back into the water. A silence fell as Link waited for Corral to reappear. Hopefully, she would find it; if not, that meant he lost it in the raging river.

Link let out a sigh as Corral finally resurfaced, the bad draped across her back. "Thanks," Link said as he slid the wet pouch back on. He could feel the weight of the two stones resting against his side. "I don't know what I would have done without it."

"Here you go," Stella said, slipping the Eternal Water Stone into his pouch.

"Thanks, Stella. Now, do you know how I can get to Hyrule Castle?" Link asked.

Stella nodded and held out her hand, meaning they were going to go swimming again. Taking a deep breath, Link took Stella's hand and let her lead him through the water. The trip was slightly long, but he held back his panic. Even so, Link frantically pulled in air once they emerged from the cool water.

Looking around, Link saw that he was on actual dirt and earth, not the strange blue stuff in the other rooms. The section of ground went up against the wall, the center holding what appeared to be a section of water rapidly falling out of sight. A loud roaring sound was coming from the water, and Link realized it was the back part of a waterfall.

"This is our main entrance," Stella said, raising her voice over the loud crashing noise. "If you go out here and follow the river, you'll reach Hyrule Castle after about a day's walk."

"Okay, I'll be on my way then," Link said, starting forward.

"Come back when you're done," Stella reminded. Stepping forward quickly, Stella pecked him lightly on the cheek before turning to dive back into the water with Corral.

Link watched the spot Stella had gone for a second, still not used to being kissed, when he shook his head to clear it. He had finally gotten the third stone. Now he just needed to get back to Hyrule Castle.

Link stepped out onto the small path behind the waterfall, the sound almost deafening as it sprayed water on him from crashing into the pool. Coming around it, he stopped in shock as he walked into darkness. The sun was nowhere to be seen in the cloudless sky, though the colors suggested that it had just set. While in the caves he hadn't had a sense of what time it was with its artificial light.

However, he pushed the worry of it being night to the back of his mind as he realized he was on his return journey. His quest would soon be coming to an end, and Zoron would finally be stopped.

His excitement building, Link charged down the small path, almost immediately slowing as he found his vision limited from the darkness. However, he still let out a whoop of excitement as he went on toward Hyrule Castle.

Slowly, night took full effect. Link, though, still full of energy, continued on through the night, using the light from the moon and stars to watch his steps and letting the river guide him along the correct path, which soon returned to the familiar grassland surrounding Hyrule. By the time Link was growing tired, the horizon was starting to lighten slightly.

Using the tall grass as bedding, Link curled down to rest for the night, or rather day. With his progress, he should reach Hyrule soon after he awoke.