Chapter 3: Parfum Palace and the New Challenge.

What this new challenge is, well you need to read and find out what it is, should add some fun to this rivalry and romance between the two, but first a special moment between the two, and it should go without saying what that moment is.

Ash walked away from the Pokemon Center a day after his battle against the gym leader, it was a clear day with no breeze, his Pikachu leapt on his shoulder, starting his journey back to the town where the Snorlax was blocking the road, "you know buddy, I certainly hope Snorlax isn't there today and we can recommence our journey to the Kalos League," Ash explained while walking towards the city exit, he looked back to see the skyscrapers and the large tower. Ash walked out of the city for a second time wondering what to do next, he pulled out his map and looked at the roads towards the other cities, "well, I guess I can go to Cyllage City," Ash commented before almost falling over after someone crashed into him.

"Ouch," a familiar voice cried out.

Ash turned around to see Serena on the ground landing on her bottom, "well if isn't my cute rival," Ash said with a cheeky tone.

Serena looked up to find Ash extending his hand out to her, "thanks Ash," Serena replied while taking her rival's hand, she got back to her feet and smiled at her friend, "I wasn't able to go too far on the eastern road," Serena commented with a smile.

"Yeah, I wasn't able to get too far on the western road, because of a Snorlax, but I did get a Voltage Badge," Ash replied proudly as his partner pokemon leapt off of his left shoulder and on to the ground, "so how did you go Serena?" Ash asked with great hope in the blonde haired trainer.

"I also got one badge, the Bug Badge from Santelune City," Serena retorted with her left hand clenched.

"So where are you going next?" Ash asked the young woman.

"Well it seems like I will be heading pass the Parfum Palace, hey I have an idea, what about for now, we travel to the palace together?" Serena enquired with a hopeful grin; she walked ahead of Ash and waved her right hand out in joy.

Ash started to laugh at himself knowing that he was going to travel to the palace for the first time, 'maybe that situation with Snorlax was meant to happen,' Ash thought, he walked quickly towards the city's exit and followed Serena, it was the first time he would be able to talk to her about her ambitions.

After catching up with the less experience trainer Serena turned her attention to Ash, "so Ash, about earlier, when I bumped into you, what you said," Serena asked while gulping for a moment, she looked up to see the small road heading towards the suburban town of Camphrier. It was then that she thought about the moment she hurt herself in the forest, "you know Ash, when we were kids, I hurt myself and you helped me out," Serena explained the past to Ash.

"I did? Man my memories aren't all that good," Ash replied much to Serena's surprise.

Serena looked at the ground and started to think of a way to remind Ash again of their childhood, she pulled a small bit of cloth from her pocket and showed it to Ash, "see Ash, this was the same bandage you wrapped me knee with," Serena pointed out while smiling at the small items.

Ash inspected the item and a small bit of memory appeared in his mind, "yeah and after that I helped you back to Pallet Town," Ash stated with a smile.

Serena nodded and smiled with great joy as she walked into the town with Ash, "also, there is something else Ash, we were holding hands," Serena pointed out much to Ash's surprise, he couldn't remember too much, he was too focused on the fact that he was going to be a pokemon master at that time and was thinking about his building rivalry with Gary, "but I know you, you had this little rivalry with Gary right?" Serena asked Ash who was now feeling ashamed at forgetting his past.

"So Serena, why did you move to Kalos?" Ash asked his rival with a frown.

"Well my mother wanted to show Rhyhorn racing to the rest of the world, I had no interest but she insists that I should be a Rhyhorn racer, even going as far as making me train to become one," Serena replied with a frown, remembering the times she spent training with her mother, "there is so much I want to do, so I have been recording it in this," Serena remarked while showing Ash a small book with her writing in it.

"You're writing a book?" Ash asked the young trainer.

Serena nodded at the question and gently took the book back, "I want to follow my own path, not have someone decide it for me," Serena replied with a smile. Thinking about Ash and how much experience he has had in the many years of him travelling, "say Ash, what have you seen during your journeys? I know you have seen a lot of things, so please tell me," Serena requested while the two continued to walk through the small town.

Ash looked over to his Pikachu and nodded, "well Serena, I have seen a lot of things throughout the world, travelled to many regions, Kanto, Johto, Hoenn, Sinnoh and most recently Unova, this is actually my first time her in Kalos," Ash replied with a proudly, he walked towards the exit of the town to see the road dividing in two separate directions.

"I take it there are lots of pokemon I have never seen before, what about other things like events?" Serena asked curiously.

"Well in Hoenn, Sinnoh, Kanto and Johto there is something called a Pokemon Contest, this is something a few of my friends compete in," Ash explained to the younger trainer, stating the events that he witnessed in his travels around the Pokemon World.

Serena and Ash stopped for a moment to catch a break they both sat down in front of the river to rest up, she pulled out a few sandwiches which she had prepared earlier, "so a contest ha?" Serena wondered what it was like, it was the first time she had heard of contests, it was something new to her and was thinking about what it would be like, she looked ahead to see the road which was lined with flowers and filled with small pokemon walking around, "what is this contest Ash? I would like to hear more from you," Serena asked her rival with her curiosity building in this new idea.

"Alright Serena, a contest is something that exhibits the beauty of pokemon through appeal rounds," Ash explained as directly as he possibly could, "so for example you can create combinations of moves to make a beautiful appeal, but it would be better if I showed you," Ash remarked while standing up with his partner pokemon.

"Appeals?" Serena questioned the trainer in a puzzled manner.

Ash turned around with Pikachu standing in front of him, "yeah, but it has been a few years since I have tried this, so I will be a little rusty," Ash confessed with a nervous expression.

"So you have done this before?" Serena asked in a curious tone.

Ash nodded before turning his focus back onto his partner pokemon, "Pikachu, fire an Electro Ball into the air," Ash made the first instruction in his appeal example. His partner pokemon fired a ball of electricity into the air, it started to become stationary, "now jump up and slice it with Iron Tail," Pikachu leapt into the air with his tail glowing white, he spun around and sliced the attack in three directions, "now finish the display with Thunderbolt aimed at the three Electro Balls," Ash instructed his pokemon, with a mighty blast of electricity the electric mouse caused the Electro Balls to explode with a wonderful display of light falling to the ground.

Watching the display Serena was in awe at the beauty that was in front of her, impressed by the sample that she had witnessed, she started clapping at the display, "wow that was impressive Ash," Serena cheered with joy.

"Thanks, you know there are people better than me, two of my friends are really amazing at contests," Ash replied while scratching the back of his head.

"So is there anything else about these contests?" Serena asked as her interest started to get beyond her control.

"Yeah there is more, there is the contest battle rounds, where eight coordinators that make pass the appeals round compete in a five minute battle for one of these," Ash answered while pulling out a tattered half ribbon.

"Half a ribbon?" Serena questioned the trainer, she seemed puzzled at what Ash was showing her.

Ash shook his head and started to laugh, "no Serena, this I got at the Terracotta Town contest, it was unofficial but the battle was amazing," Ash replied with a proud smile, his memories flashed back towards the battle he had with May, the cheering crowd and the high quality battle that he and May were using, "in an official contest you would get extra time and the winner would get a ribbon," Ash explained what would be given at the end of an official contest.

"Sounds interesting," Serena complied with greater interest.

"Yeah, but there is more, a coordinator loses when he/she has less points than their opponent, to take points you must either damage your opponents pokemon or dodge their attacks, the same would happen to you as well," Ash explained the rules of the contest battle.

"So is there anything else about the ribbon?" Serena asked while staring at the half ribbon Ash kept as a memento.

"Yes, once you get five ribbons, you can enter the Grand Festival, there you can compete for the title of top coordinator and win a large golden trophy called the Ribbon Cup," Ash explained further about the hard work about being a coordinator.

"Wow, it sounds like being a coordinator is hard work," Serena stated while starting to think more about her goals in her journey.

He tried to remember everything but he looked up to see the food was all gone, he and Serena were too busy talking about contests not realizing that they had eaten all the food, "well I guess we better head to Parfum Palace," Ash suggested while packing up the containers.

"Hey Ash, when we reach Parfum Palace, do you think we can have a quick battle, a two on two, to train our recently caught pokemon?" Serena asked Ash with great hope.

"Sure Serena, it should be interesting," Ash replied confidently.

The two trainers walked towards the tree lined route to see the palace dominating the horizon in front of them, the building with white walls and a blue roof spanning the top, at the front the two saw a large gold gate with two guard wearing mostly black suits, amazed at the sight that was beholding them they moved faster towards the massive building.

Ash and Serena walked up to the Palace with the hopes of getting in, "halt, it costs one thousand pokedollars to get in," one of the guards decreed with a frown, placing his staff between the two trainers and the gate.

"A thousand, geez that's not nice especially for tourists like us," Serena replied with disdain, Serena leant into Ash's ear and started to whispers, "I don't have a thousand pokedollars."

Ash smiled and nodded, "it's fine I will pay for you," Ash whispered back, Ash walked up to the guard and gave him two thousand pokedollars, "I am paying for the both of us," Ash told the guard calmly.

"Very well," the guard replied, he opened the gate and allowed Ash and Serena to pass through the gates.

Ash and Serena walked pass the massive gates and towards the main entrance, "thank you Ash," Serena told Ash happily. Ash opened the door and allowed Serena in first, "oh wow this place is beautiful, Ash quick come in," Serena called over to Ash.

Ash looked around to see the golden statues that lined the entrance hall, one of a Milotic which was front and center, but in front of the massive golden statue was a man who was starting to worry about the loss of a pokemon, "my Furfrou, what could she be?" the man asked as his panic started to become more obvious, he started to run around the room searching for his precious pokemon, "where is she? My precious Furfrou," the man continued to ask.

"A Furfrou?" Ash enquired while Serena shrugged her shoulders.

"Ash, use your pokedex to find out what a Furfrou is," Serena suggested.

Ash hit his head and started to chuckle, "oh forgot I had one of those," Ash replied while Serena shook her head in disbelief, "I try to rely on a pokedex as little as possible," Ash professed with a cheeky grin, this cause Serena to exhale with displeasure, but still she had hoped that Ash would have learned something during his travels.

After looking up the information on a white pokemon with a black face and walking on all fours, Ash started to think of a way to help out, "we will help," Serena suggested before Ash could raise his voice.

"But what about our battle?" Ash asked with a surprised tone.

Serena smiled at Ash and walked towards the door in front of the entrance area, "it's always good to help people Ash, plus we have plenty of time to have our quick battle," Serena replied with joy, "hurry up Ash," Serena called over to her rival.

Ash drooped his head and sighed at the blonde's enthusiasm, 'for a rival, she seems to be really passionate to help people out,' Ash complained to himself, he rushed to the door, and looked out to the bridge to see a large garden, he spotted another statue this time with a towering Golurk. Amazed at the garden that spanned the area in front of him, "okay Serena, how are we going to find Furfrou now?" Ash asked his rival in a cynical manner.

With her jaw dropping, she too couldn't believe the size of the garden, "I think we split up," Serena replied slowly, she gulp feeling intimidated by the size of the garden, 'wow I thought he meant a garden not something the size of a small village,' Serena thought while scanning the garden in hopes of finding the stray pokemon.

Ash closed his eyes and sighed at the young woman's response, "so we haven't got a plan, you rushed into this without thinking, man I thought I was bad," Ash complained still feeling the shame of being such a rash person deep down inside, he looked down to his partner pokemon and started to smile at him, "alright, it would be better if we find the pokemon by splitting up," Ash conceded, he walked ahead and went to the left side of the garden while Serena took the right side, Ash turned his attention to his rival and started to think about his childhood, 'she has really grown up since the old days,' Ash thought, he walked through the garden maze with the hopes of finding the Palace owner's pet pokemon.

Meanwhile Serena was walking around on her own, she called out her starter pokemon to help her with the search for the normal type pokemon, she walked through the mazes, surrounded by shrubbery, "somehow Fennekin, I think this was a bad idea," Serena stated while her fire type looked at the trainer nervously, the fire fox pokemon tilted its head and let out a little cry to get the trainer's attention, it pointed towards the shaking of the bushes.

It was then a dog like pokemon appeared in front of her, "hey that's Furfrou," Serena gasped, she tried to approach it, but the pokemon ran away, too fast for Serena to catch it, "wow that was fast," Serena grumbled. Serena ran out of the maze as quickly as possible trying to find the shaggy looking pokemon, "Fennekin, did you see which way Furfrou go?" Serena asked her pokemon with an unsure expression.

The fire type shook its head and noticed Ash standing at other side of the garden, Fennekin pointed towards Ash. Ash was starting to approach the Furfrou , but as he got closer the pokemon started to back away, she watched from a distance hearing Ash trying to calm the pokemon down.

Serena stood back not wanting to get in the way of Ash's efforts, he started walking quietly towards the frightened pokemon again this time getting a little closer, Serena watched as the trainer, "is he trying to calm the pokemon down?" Serena asked herself quietly before noticing a blue glow from his right hand, she was perplexed at what she had seen, ignoring the surrounding areas, she began to think about, 'odd, I haven't seen that before,' Serena thought as her eyes remained glued on her right hand, "Fennekin what is that glowing from his hand?" Serena asked as she averted her gaze to the fire type pokemon.

Ash continued to approached the pokemon but was unsuccessful in his attempt to, "man that's annoying," Ash hissed while rubbing off some of the dirt on his clothes he turned around to see Serena standing at the other side of the garden, Ash walked over to the blonde haired trainer while thinking about another plan.

"Ash, that glowing on your hand, what is it?" Serena asked the trainer, she remained puzzled at what she had seen.

"Oh that glowing, right, I guess I should have told you about that, to be honest I didn't realize my right hand was glowing," Ash replied to Serena's question, but in an instant Serena grabbed the trainer's right hand and got a look at the glowing, but as quickly as she lifted his hand the blue light disappeared, "okay, that was aura, I can somehow use it, I never really perfected it," Ash admitted while using his left hand to scratch the back of his head.

Serena remained perplexed and continued to look around to see where the glowing could have been, "amazing, I thought only Lucario can use that sort of stuff, but I never thought a person could do that," Serena said, she quickly removed her hand and placed it at her side.

"Yeah a few of my friends have shown curiosity in my aura abilities, but you are the first to grab my hand to take a closer look," Ash admitted with laughter while Serena started to blush at her own actions, she started to feel her heart race a little, but she tried to ignore what was going on.

Ash and Serena turned their respective gazes to the direction of the pokemon, a gentle breeze was starting to build up, the trees were began to sway in the breeze, Ash and Serena continued their search in the garden maze, they called for the pokemon but to no avail. Ash and Serena continued to move through the large maze feeling concerned for the safety of the scared pokemon. After going their separate ways the two trainers returned to the middle of the garden, the sound of the water fountain was soothing, they looked up to see the bird pokemon flying overhead, "okay this is becoming a real pain Ash," Serena commented, she started to regain her breath after running around the garden for nearly an hour.

"I agree, it makes me think what we will get in return for this effort," Ash replied while the two pokemon from the respective trainers started to run around playing hide and seek in the area.

Serena watched the two pokemon playing and started to think about the pokemon that was running away from them, "Ash, I am starting to think that Furfrou doesn't want to be found," Serena stated with a more serious look in her eyes, she looked over to Ash who was nodding in agreement.

Ash looked towards the hedges and started to sigh, "yeah I could sense that Furfrou, was avoiding us, it didn't want to go back to the Palace owner," Ash replied, he placed his left hand over his chin and started to think about a way to corner the normal type pokemon. Ash looked around and started to formulate a plan, "you know if we stand in a certain spot we can for Furfrou into an area where it cannot escape," Ash suggested with a smirk.

Serena clicked snapped her fingers on her right hand and looked at areas they can use to start the plan, "If I stand here, which is the middle, you go that way and we can force Furfrou to head north from here," Serena suggest with a smile.

"Then I will call for you and I will standing in that area, that is where you move north to help corner Furfrou," Ash explained the rest of the plan to Serena.

"If it works it shows that we make a really good team," Serena commented while watching Ash walking towards the left side again to prevent Furfrou from escaping, Ash moved slowly and spotted the furry pokemon, it was then he made rush towards the pokemon, but as he moved in the pokemon ran north, "so close," Serena commented with a sigh.

Ash looked at Serena and nodded, "head to the left side and I will stay here!" Ash yelled out with a confident tone.

"Right," Serena replied, she ran to the left and towards the end of the maze, she spotted the dog like pokemon and walked towards it, "it will be fine Furfrou," Serena assured the pokemon, it looked towards the right to find Ash approach, it looked down towards the only free path it could take, Serena looked at Ash and pumped her right fist in a celebratory manner, "we did it Ash," Serena commented with great pride.

Ash and Serena walked down the path, to find the pokemon trying to look for an escape, "my dear Furfrou!" the man yelled out, the pokemon started to yelp knowing that it was caught, "we are going to give you a bath, brush you fur and we are going to make you look good," the man decreed with great joy while hugging the dog like pokemon.

"Um I don't think Furfrou likes that idea," Ash stated, but the man didn't reply, he was too busy pampering his pokemon with hugs of joy, 'I can see why Furfrou didn't want to be found,' Ash thought to himself, he looked down to see his partner pokemon staring in shock at the attention the man was giving his Furfrou.

Serena leant in to whisper into Ash's left ear, "I kind of feel sorry for Furfrou, it was trying to escape from this, I mean I would really hate this treatment," Serena stated quietly, this statement caused Ash to nod in agreement.

The man approached the duo with a blissful smile, "in honour of your hard work, there will be a fireworks display," the man declared with a smile.

"No that won't be necessary," Ash replied while waving his hands in front of his face.

"Yeah, I kind of agree, we didn't do too much," Serena replied to Ash's comments, 'in fact I think we caused more trouble for Furfrou,' Serena thought with disdain written over her face.

"No I insist, you two did a great thing, please be at the balcony tonight," the man stated while running away with his pokemon, not giving the two a chance to respond.

"So Serena, what should we do?" Ash asked his rival quietly.

Serena looked over to the palace and smiled, "well we can't exactly be rude to him, plus I think it would be nice to watch some fireworks tonight," Serena replied with a grin, she walked away from the dead end and back towards the palace, for a moment she looked at her right hand and pictured the moment she grasped Ash's hand, 'it wasn't exactly like that moment, but it certainly brought back old memories,' Serena thought as she looked back to see Ash walking slowly back towards the palace.

It was difficult for Ash to put into words the day's events, he met up with his rival, but having his memories flash in front of him, "you know buddy, before I was a trainer, I was really close friends with Serena," Ash remarked happily.

Serena tried everything to ignore her own actions but started to think more about what she had learned during the day, 'so Ash taught me something new, he even showed me something I never seen before,' Serena thought as she looked back to see Ash getting further and further behind, "I know his memory is pretty bad, but I think we can get back to our friendship," Serena reminded herself as her eyes looked down at her hand, "what was I thinking?" Serena asked herself while picturing the moment she grasped Ash's hand again.

After making back to the palace Ash and Serena looked around on their own, they weren't sure how to take the offer of a fireworks display, but they both knew they couldn't be rude and refuse the offer, Ash walked toured through some of the bedrooms, he was in awe at the grandeur of the rooms, the massive bed in the middle of the room and the art work that lined the walls, he looked around some more to see the mirror and draws that lined the walls at one side of the massive room, "you know buddy this place is amazing," Ash told his pokemon happily, he walked out of the room and walked down the hallway on his own, wondering where the next part of his journey would take him.

Serena in the meantime was quietly walking up the steps and noticed that the night time was starting to approach, she walked down the darkening halls and towards the balcony area, it was then she spotted Ash at the other end approaching the balcony, "I guess we are going to stay for a little while," Serena commented with a bright smile.

"Yeah I guess," Ash replied softly.

Ash and Serena walked out on the main deck and waited for the fireworks to start, "Ash can I see that map again?" Serena asked while waiting for the colorful display to begin.

One after the other rockets started to shoot up into the night sky, red, blue, green and purple, too many colors to remember, over the garden and into the night sky, illuminating the area around them, the patterns that shaped like pokeballs, Ash and Serena leaning on the balcony next to each other in admiration of the fireworks in their honour, as time went on more fireworks filled the night sky as the colors continued to fill the sky and explosions

Ash pulled the map out of his pockets and unfolded it, he placed it on the railing while the rival held it down with her right hand, "hey Ash, instead of a battle, how about we have a race?" Serena asked her friend with a broad smile.

"Where to?" Ash asked in response.

"To Shalour City, we get another two pokemon and another badge, the loser has to fulfil a request from the winner," Serena suggested with a broad smile.

"A race, but where would we start?" Ash asked in a puzzled manner.

"You can head back to Lumiose City and take the northern road," Serena replied with a bright grin.

"Oh great, now I have to head back to Lumiose City again," Ash sighed knowing that Serena was taking the longer road towards the target city, "but why are you taking the longer road?" Ash asked in a bewildered tone.

"Because the gym leader in Courmaline City is stronger than the second, and plus there is something I want to do south of Cyllage City," Serena replied with a confident smirk.

After finishing the layout of the race the first explosions of the fireworks started, catching the attention of Ash and Serena, their respective pokemon sat back and watched the duo keeping their attention on the display, the two remained quiet, in awe at the quality of the display, Serena's eyes were sparkling at the display, it was something that she hadn't seen in a while, Ash watched with amazement not taking his eyes away from fireworks.

Ash and Serena avoided eye contact, but it never stopped them from enjoying the show, it was harder for Serena to resist the urge to move her hand closer to Ash's, "this is the first time I have watched fireworks with you Ash," Serena stated but Ash ignored the gesture, maybe that was because Serena's voice was too quiet to hear of the explosions in the night sky, maybe that was because Serena was too nervous to say something out loud, her normal confidence was now sapped while being around Ash, 'we only met again nearly a week ago, but I feel nervous around Ash, why?' Serena asked herself, wanting to figure out why she was so nervous around the trainer.

After the short display had ended Serena turned her attention to Ash, "thanks for the great day Ash, it has been a long time since we have done something together," Serena commented with a smile as she walked towards her pokemon, 'I wonder what will happen next,' Serena thought to herself beaming at her pokemo, feeling excited about spending the day with her rival, holding onto her stater pokemon she gazed over her shoulder and smiled at Ash, he was looking over the balcony with the map under his hand, she had noticed that the sky had cleared of smoke from the fireworks, giving her a clear view of the stars in the night sky, staring at the stars and the moon which was dominating the sky and the sea of stars.

Ash folded up the map and thought about the race that was going to take place between him and Serena, he walked over to Pikachu and let him jump on his shoulder, "you know buddy, it seems like we are going to take a tough road ahead," Ash commented with a sigh, "but a challenge is a challenge and I will accept anything like that any time of the year," Ash declared while walking towards the end of the hall, he walked down the stairway and thought to himself about Serena's curiosity about his aura abilities, 'she seemed more interested than some of my other friends,' Ash thought while walking down the quiet halls of Parfum Palace.

Ash took one last look around before heading out into the front area of the palace to camp outside, not noticing Serena looking out the window of the palace, "contests, something I will want to try one day," Serena said while turning around to see the comfortable bed for the night's sleep in the palace. Serena grabbed her book and started to write about the day's events wanting to keep them forever in her book, "these memories will be important, but there is something else, I will find out what it is as my journey goes on," Serena reminded herself blissfully as the playback of her grabbing Ash's hand continued to play in her thoughts and that strange blue glow continued to make her think.

Ash sat next to his sleeping bag, looking up to the stars, wanting to think about the future journey that was before him, "you know Pikachu, when we finish here, we will need to find out what else is around in this world, make more friends," Ash commented while lifting his left hand up to picture the moment Serena grasped it to take a closer look at it due to his aura abilities.

"Fennekin, we continue our journey tomorrow," Serena told her starter pokemon, she looked around and thought about her childhood with Ash, "maybe one day, I can travel with Ash, without being his rival," Serena told herself, she recalled her pokemon and thought of another possibility, 'for the longest time, I had this feeling that I would meet Ash again, but there was something else, I myself am not certain as to what it is,' Serena thought to herself, but felt something stopping her from saying something to Ash, "what am I telling myself Ash is my rival and I must find a way of defeating him," Serena kept reminding herself while looking in the mirror, she looked towards the gates of the palace and nodded to herself, "tomorrow our race begins and maybe when we get to Shalour City we can have our battle," Serena prompted to herself with hopes that one day that she would get her battle against Ash.

Chapter 3 is out of the way, I certainly hope you enjoyed the chapter, and now Serena is starting to show something, but Ash remains oblivious as to what it is, how will this race unfold? And what dangers will befall Ash and Serena in this race?

Next chapter will focus on one character, which one would you prefer Ash or Serena, either way the next two chapters will be one character each. This race will be fraught with dangers, like Team Flare.

Next time chapter 4: Let the Race Begin

Leave a request for which character should get all the focus in the next chapter, Ash or Serena.