MISSION 8: Uprooting the Dark's Hold and Going Batty
The court has been in session for over an hour yet the results remain the same, none, as Wei-Guang continues to refuse to speak. So far Guga has let the Aetherians do the talking, but it’s clear for everyone to see that his already stretched thin patience is running out. fortunately he seems temporarily distracted as his advisor, Abo, enters the courtroom, preoccupied addressing the krakenlike Pokemon to remark on his late appearance. Gaius takes this opportunity to attempt to interrogate Wei-Guang once more.
: Emperor Wei-Guang, you have been accused of invading Chanyu territory, attacking the tribe led by Guga, kidnapping and imprisoning their women and the tribe leader’s son, Toga, without any reason nor provocation from said tribe.
: You, however, claim your actions to be justified. But have as of yet refrained from giving any proof or explanation to your alignment. If what you say is true please provide the court with something more than an assertion without the intend to prove whenever it is valid and factual.
: As I have stated previously, and will stand by, I do not see the use in doing such a thing. They are aware of their own deeds I presume, even they should remember that much, regardless of the dark cavity void of any substantial intellect they have instead of a fully functional brain. Furthermore this matter doesn’t involve any of you, regardless of your meddling in this whole affair. Unlike you, a prisoner I might be, I will not be forced into anything.
Guga leans towards Abo to continue their conversation in whispers, or barely hushed growls in Guga’s case, as the rest of the court awaits Guga’s actions.
: He might would be more willing to listen to someone calmly explaining the situation privately, you have put him in a rather unfamiliar and unfair situation from his perspective after all. Forcefully taken to an unknown country to the west, pitted alone against so many.
: Be that as it may, deserving or not, this is about making him talk and getting answers, and your methods will not do much to accomplish that. So I say, let the Aetherian court try a little longer before letting me talk to him as the court takes a intermission. If I don’t succeed, you are free to try your own ways later.
Guga scowls slightly before nodding and standing back up to his, impressive, full height.
Gaius clears his throat drawing attention back to him.
: Emperor Wei-Guang, I.. uhm, you are currently under prosecution accused of rather big crimes that we have proof of you committed, while we have nothing to defend those actions with, without that we-
: We what? Isn’t that the point here? What is it what you hope to attain from this endeavor. As you said I have committed these actions, so have already been proven guilty. What is the use of giving my reasons for it, that tribe of barbaric savages already knows full well the reasons behind my actions, yet dares to upper they know of nothing and will remain to plead innocent. Which tells me that whatever I say will mean absolutely nothing.
: But emperor Wei-Guang, this is not their courtroom it’s Aether’s, it’s mine. I assure you we will listen to your reasons and act accordingly, therefore we need to know so we can have an honest trial-
: Oh spare me, you want an honest trial therefore you NEED to know my reasons? You did not seem to care about hearing anyone’s side or judging fairly before you attacked my kingdom, my very palace and dragged me all over Avalon to stand trial in this miserable excuse of a court. Oh but of course, your kingdom was under attack and some of your people kept hostage, so you felt you had no choice but to surrender to their primitive methods and obediently follow along.
Wei-Guang scoffs and gives Alaric a look of disdain.
: Your courtroom ‘lord’ Alaric? If this was your courtroom we wouldn’t be here, no, you are just a mere pawn in the play of these fumbling idiots. You are not much of a lord, and this is not much of a kingdom, if you fall and give in to the whims of these invaders. A lord should defend his kingdom to the end, not bring shame to himself like this and in turn his land. I’d rather die before I let my honor be tarnished like yours. I have nothing to tell you.
Abo Wraps Toga in one of his tentacles to keep the boy from following his dad in his attempts to stop him. Guga reaches forward and grabs Wei-Guang by the front of his robes.
: Why you, puny, miserable mosquito! I will swear I will swat you so nobody needs to listen to your buzzing anymore! You might like to hear yourself talk but I think I speak for most of us when I say we are sick of it.
Guga, draws back his fist with a growl, however before he can strike a green leaved appendage wraps himself around his arm.
Guga turns his attention angrily from Wei-Guang to Alaric, dropping the former roughly and causing the emperor to stumble back slightly, coughing from Guga’s strong pull on the robes which caused them to constrict his neck.
Before everyone’s eyes Abo’s form disintegrates in a mixture of light and shadow, revealing what appears to be a Zoruark. He steps forward his face bearing a cheshire grin and makes a graceful bow towards the 3 present lords.
Several shadows jump from the crowd. One, what appears to be a Toxicroak places his red claw pointed to Guga’s neck, Guga makes a move to defend himself but the poison type silences him with a croaking voice.
"I wouldn’t do that, one jab of me and someone is going to wear your head on their shoulder, and if that isn’t enough incentive, wouldn’t want them to have a matching set aye?"
Through the room several of Guga’s men are in the same position as he is, however his eye is drawn to his son who is held in the claw of the Zoruark, who halts the boy’s struggling by tightening his hold letting the goldish metal claws on his fingers clink together
: Predictable as well, immediately resorting to violence. Now it would be a shame if something would happen to this child here, making all the Aetherians hard work for naught. Hmm, are you hard hearing or just so dense you do not understand my meaning, I’m waiting?
The fox casually tosses the Pancham to one of his underlings, what appears to be a Weavile, who restrains the boy with a claw to his neck. The Zoruark faces the fuming tribe leader with a taunting smile.
The fox turns faking shock
The Zoruark walks towards the emperor casually tapping his chin with his claw with a frown as if considering the Leavanny’s words
A smile finds itself back on his face as he leans down
A moment passes, the Zoruark’s lips moving, but seemingly no words pass them, and yet a shocked look appears on the usually stoic face of the emperor before a dark look is pointed towards the Zoruark who stands up straight again and turns his back to the emperor, turning towards Alaric and Guga with a smile as a moment passes.
Umbra twirls around instantly, making the light catch on various of his metal accessories.
: Wonderful! I had a feeling you’d say that. Let’s not keep our friend waiting now, you two have a lot to talk about, especially after these recent developments, they’ll love to hear all about it, after all that’s why they send us to rescue you from the overgrown panda.
Umbra gestures towards the door with a bow, as Wei-Guang passes him he gestures to his men to follow, The Toxicroak leaves Guga’s side and follows behind the emperor out of the room, leaving Umbra and the Weavile the only remaining members. The former stops from following the others and turns back suddenly.
: Ah! That reminds me. Your advisor was on his way to tell you that there was an… unseen complication, with the message you send to the emperor’s armies to inform them of your terms. Unfortunately it seems he was unable to deliver the message, to think I almost forgot, how careless.
: Do not fret, I had only to temporarily remove him from the equation, you’ll find that he is quite alright. Now as I was saying, Gāng Tiě’s armies have probably started to or have already invaded Chanyu by now, it was quite obvious that you had at least something to do with it after all, regardless of you letting these people do your dirty work. Oh and how I do hope for their sake they made a good lasting impression on dear Wei, Gāng Tiě’s army is quite formidable.
: Hehehe do not worry, I’ll try to put in a good word for you as your efforts were ever so amusing to watch, I do hope you Aetherians will be alright. In any case, my overgrown furred friend, as their leader you should probably head back to Chanyu, they’ll probably start executing your people soon without word from their emperor, ah but how unfortunate that the emperor’s return will be delayed. Oh well, it was truly a pleasure, ta-ta!
As he was talking the Zoruark left the room, holding the double doors, one in each of his front paws, Guga notices the Weavile has silently moved to the Zoruark’s side, no longer holding Toga, who has moved behind his father. Before the Chanyu leader can make a move the double doors are closed swiftly. Guga rushes forward and rips the doors open so harshly that Gaius wonders how they did not get ripped off their hinges, yet all he finds is a vacant hallway.
About a week later, Gauis enters Alaric's private study, two letters and an ancient-looking map in hand-er, claw.
Gauis opens and places the letter on Alaric's desk so he may read it. The letter itself, while written with a shaky hand with messy penmanship, features very sophisticated language for a boy as young as Toga.
Dear Alaric of Aether,
I am pleased to inform you of news in our part of Avalon. While it was true that Abo's letter was intercepted, the officials in Gāng Tiě did receive a letter from someone else detailing their emperor's whereabouts and didn't execute any of our tribe or those of other tribes in Chanyu.
Moreover, they left us unharmed and mostly unlooted after Wei-Guang returned Gāng Tiě. We know not why they did so, or whom it was that sent them the letter detailing everything that had happened, but we do know that our people are safe, and for that, we thank you. You and your people remain our friends.
I would also like to personally apologize for the actions of some of our tribe members, including my own father’s behavior. Though there is no excuse for the way they have treated you and your country and I can only fear what you must think of us as, we hope we will be able to somehow redeem ourselves in your eyes and that you can forgive us and accept our offer of friendship. If there is anything we can help you with please let us know. I’ll continue to look for answers using more dignified methods, and hope to find a way to clear the animosity between Chanyu and Gāng Tiě, and my Father and the emperor.
We wish you safe passage and well tidings in these dark times,
Alaric leans back after the reading the letter and turns to Gaius, shock evident in his speech and mannerisms.
The second letter could easily be passed off as a work of art. A stylish, curved penmanship that frequents fluid swirls and a vocabulary so formal that one might think the author was attempting to throw in as many impressive words as they knew into one piece of writing.
My Dear lord Alaric,
I would hereby like to formally invite you to my humble loft so we can get acquainted.
But of course I would not expect for a lord to travel all this way for pleasantries. If it piques your interest I might have something to offer that would make your journey more worthwhile, and perhaps would help to make our alliance of a more permanent nature.
It has come to my attention that you have been involved in several disputes recently and that you require information. Perhaps I can provide you such intel, I am quite knowledgeable about Avalon and it’s people and could perhaps guide you in the right direction regarding your best course of action.
I suggest an exchange of information of sorts, I admit to be curious to know more about our newest additions to the list of Avalon’s rulers and his kingdom, and in turn I will fulfill my end of the trade by granting you information that could be very beneficial to your cause.
Of course you bring as many attendants as you please, we’ll arrange accommodations for you and your people.
After reading the name of the author of this mysterious letter, Alaric pushes himself away from his desk and heads towards the door.
: What? Sire, forgive my bluntness, but that is incredibly unwise! This is probably a trap! Have you not heard the tales that come out the forest leading to this castle? Or the horrors that wait inside?
: I’m aware of that Gaius, however we have not received any news from Pausanius, nor has he responded to any of any of our messages, you know we have tried profusely to contact him. And even if he did we have no guarantee he will have the answers that we seek.
: Gaius we can not continue doing the same thing over and over again, waiting for things to resolve themselves, I’ve done enough waiting as of late, I feel like I own it to our people. Perhaps this is why Pausanius has yet to contact us, even though I’ve completed the 3 trials, I have failed as a lord, Wei-Guang was right in that regard.
: And have by attacking Gāng Tiě endangered all of them. We are no match for such an empire. We can only assume that Wei-Guang has bigger things to deal with than attack our kingdom, and I do not wish to simply bide our time until he changes his mind or clears his agenda.
: But my lord, I doubt this man’s intentions, why would he contact us only now, after all this time if he was so curious about us as he claims? And why would he ask of you to travel to such a dangerous area without even mentioning the possible threat that this poses for you?
: Uh, well, this Dracul didn't ask you to show up a specific time, so maybe he means you welcome whenever you choose to go. Perhaps take some time, say, a month, to prepare yourself, think of questions you'd like to ask, or things that would unwise to mention to him.
The Journal TextEdit
: A letter recently arrived in Aether from a mysterious source, a Noivern who goes by the name of "Dracul" who has taken up lodge in the old, apparently not abandoned, castle in the middle of the forest to the south east of Aether Castle.
: Now, I can imagine why you'd not think this noteworthy, but this is NOT your average forest! This forest is renowned for being a literal death trap - no one knows why, but just about everyone who enters this forest dies! The very very VERY few people who have survived a trip into the forest say that the ground, grass, branches, leaves, everything living thing in the forest turned against them! The whole area is just one massive trap that will lead to your death!
: The forest, cliffs, and caves in the area surrounding the castle are all filled to the brim with traps of all sorts. From the library, I was able to learn of a tale of an ancient Trevenant in the forest. According to the legend in the book, he became rooted into the ground one day and has been stuck there ever since, using his moves to control the forest and kill off travelers to make servant Phantump and other ghost types out of them.
: As for the castle itself... let's just say that I doubt that it's completely safe. That Dracul may have a tongue of silver, but I doubt he has a heart of gold. Please, if you get the chance after clearing the forest, go to the castle as well and give it a good look. Make sure it's safe for Alaric to be there!
-Enter the forest and try to make it safe for Alaric to pass through in a month's time. You do not need to purge every ghost type in there, but definitely make sure to get rid of the Trevenant that is controlling the forest and killing travelers.
-Enter Castle Dracul and make sure that is also trap-free and safe for Alaric to be in. Don't go tearing the castle apart, Dracul might not like that, but don't be afraid to lift up some rugs or check to see if chandeliers are properly attached to the ceiling.
- Staying in the forest for too long WILL kill you, and having your life drained constantly will take a toll on you, so try not to spend more than 30 minutes at a time in the forest. Spend more than an hour in the forest at one time and enjoy the afterlife - as much as you can enjoy being a servant to the tree that murdered you.
- The Trevenant is a defensive fighter, he will use his moves to control the forest around you and whittle down your health and life over time. The other ghost types (mainly Phantump and Trevenant), however, will attack you in anyway they can.
The Trevenant's moveset is Ingrain, Leech Seed, Horn Leech, Curse, Confuse Ray, and Trick Room.
- Castle Dracul is a medium-sized castle that appears to be in complete disrepair on the outside, but it actually quite nice on the insider, save for some rather interesting interior decorations ranging from pictures with eyes that seem to follow you to hallways that don't seem to go anywhere to piles of bones that appear only to disappear from time to time.
- Count Dracul will accept and house anyone from Aether, and he is a very kind host. Try one of his special red beverages, they taste great!
- Even though his Castle is located on the cliffs of the small cavern filled mountain in the middle of the forest Dracul’s castle is not affected by the Trevenant leader nor by his lackeys. In fact it might be smart to make the castle your base of operation, you can figure out a way to deal with the Trevenant as well as explore Dracul’s castle to make sure it’s safe. There are many secret passages in the castle, some are said to lead to the dungeons and from there to the Zubat filled caves, the latter can even give direct access to the forest.
- As always there are many many ways to deal with the mission. You can take on the Trevenant and his minions head on. Beat him in battle and uproot him, burn him, exorcise him by force. You can try to ask Dracul for his help seeing as he, his castle and his own servants are not affected by the life draining effects of the forest. Though Dracul won’t just give you the information as he feels that would not be very ‘amusing’. While he’s not intimidated nor persuaded by violence, you can try other methods, if it’s (or you are) in his eyes ‘interesting’ enough, he might give you a hint. Even without Dracul’s hint you might be able to find the answer yourself as well. Books on exorcism, or perhaps even items to trap or drive out spirits with or instruction to make them! Perhaps you can even get some of the Trevenant’s minions to help you. Use their traps against them, persuade one of Dracul’s servants to help you. Be as creative as you like!
From a balcony overseeing the main entrance of the keep the lord of the castle watches as the Aetherian guests depart from his home, in his claw a glass of wine, swirling it’s contents lazily with a subtle rotation of the wrist while seemingly lost in thought.
Behind the Noivern a shadow shifts slightly.
As the other opened his mouth to retort, the dragonesque Pokemon held up his claw to silence him before elaborating.
: It would give lord Alaric the wrong impression if you were to be seen with me or within my home. For now, I’d rather be able to avoid such a thing occurring and having to explain myself and my contacts to him, if possible.
The other turned to leave before halting his movement, hesitating, Dracul regarded him with a questioning look, urging him silently to speak or leave.
The Pokemon nodded at the confirmation, ignoring the smile on the informers face as he left the man to his musing. No longer detecting the Pokemon presence Dracul releases a sigh, his confident facade slightly slipping and replaced by a troubled expression as he stares into the swirling contents of his glass, mind lost in the extensive pool of information and the process contemplating both what he knows and what yet remains unknown to him, recent events and the possibilities of what may lie ahead. Taking a sip of the crimson liquid, though too preoccupied to notice much less taste the flavour, he remains looking over the forest as the last silhouettes fade into the distance without truly seeing them. Only moments later his right ear turns slightly as he hears the familiar wingbeat pattern of his most trusted servant approach, a well practiced smile already tugging at the corner of his lips.
With an added nod in acknowledgement, the Noivern takes another sip of wine.
: My dear Alphonse, have you ever known me to be neglectful of the consequences of an endeavour and taking appropriate action in accordance to that? Truly there is no need to fret, it’s all taken care of already.
Alphonse’s face twists into a grimace.
: Have more faith in me now, Alphonse, I’m quite adept at judging someone’s character. Can’t you tell from the sounds the wind carries over, I guarantee this one is nothing like Birnam. I have no further use for someone like him, no, the forest is at peace.
Alphonse flies over to land on the balcony balustrade and looks over the forest, Dracul’s eyes follow him with a smile before turning his gaze to the forest as well.
: It is fine, the time to close ourselves off from the lands is behind us. Birnam could only continue his reign because I allowed it, and now that he became a nuisance to my plans, standing in the way of progress, he served as an amusing test for our visitors. Had they not succeeded I would have dealt with him myself, or called our old friend in.
Alphonse sighs at Dracul’s big grin.
A female Swoobat swoops towards the two other batlike Pokemon, looking rather angry.
Dracul faked a frown before a smirk quickly tugged at his lips again.
: But now that you are back I have no fear we’ll be able to prepare the castle properly for our upcoming royal guest. I’m afraid I’m not as good as you when it comes to appointing tasks to the staff, consequently the castle is a bit in a state of disrepair I fear.
The female Swoobat flies right up to Dracul and hovers in front of his face, her nose pressed against his.
The female Swoobat bristles even more at the calm manner in which her lord speaks, firing into a rapid waterfall of words.
: Secrets?? Lies more like it, you send me away only to invite all these people here behind my back because you know I wouldn’t allow you to behave the way you like. And don’t think I haven’t heard already! Letting these people take care of your problem with that blasted tree aside. All the traps and pranks in the castle, the mess you made of everything just to make their task harder! And who will need to clean it all up, me! And dear Arceus, don’t get me started on the library, a mess, do you have any idea how long it will take to sort everything! And all the dusts and cobwebs?! Did you forbid everyone from cleaning and hire Spinarak to mess with the place? Unbelievable! And if I find out you did anything weird to any of our guests, don’t get me started!
Alphonse silently tries to sneak away to avoid the ire of his wife, however, nothing escapes the eyes of the angry Swoobat, she turns towards her husband, leaving Dracul to admire the now heart shaped mark on his nose in the reflection of his wine glass, causing him to chuckle.
Her shouting can be heard from far and wide, some Aetherian mons turn around briefly, others quicken their pace in no mood to deal what sounds like an angry banshee from afar.
Gaius stands on a raised a platform in the middle of the main square of the Town of Aether with two soldiers flanking either side of him on the platform as well as a handful of them stationed on the ground at the front of the platform. It is a makeshift set that was quickly thrown together so Gaius could address the citizens of Aether in an easy manner and so that his voice could project so all could hear him speak.
: Many of you met with this Dracul during your time spent trying to remove Birnam from the forest so maybe you could dispel my concerns, but I still feel that meeting with this Dracul isn’t the best course of action…
: Aah, in any case, if you were present in Gāng Tiě and helped the Chanyuian people, then you are welcomed and encouraged to take one of Toga’s badges and wear it as you wish. He has informed us that anyone who bares one of these will always be welcomed and cared for in Chanyu.
Gaius takes his leave, trusting the knights and other royal officials in the main square of town to handle the distributing of pins and badges among the citizens. He hastily scurries to the towards the castle, knowing that Alaric’s party will be leaving for Dracul’s keep while everyone is gathered in the main square.
He makes his way to the lowered drawbridge of the castle, where Alaric is addressing Gawain and some of his knights. He rushes up to join the group. Gawain is the first to notice him.
After an uneventful journey through the now tranquil woods Alaric and company find themselves standing in front of the keep’s large gates. As they approach they seemingly softly swing open by themselves, revealing a female Swoobat and male Crobat behind them. Introducing themselves as Lucia and Alphonse, the head maid and personal messenger of Dracul Respectively, before inclining their head in some form of an aerial bow. Lucia invites the Aetherian party to enter the castle, and to follow them to their lord. They move silently through the halls, that some of the knights who visited there before note to be much cleaner and more ‘normal’ than before, though they do not voice this observation. The two batlike Pokemon come to a halt in front of two wooden engraved doors, Lucia using her Psychic powers to open the door slightly, so only a sliver of light travels through it mixing with the eerily flickers from the candles within the candle holders affixed to the hall’s walls, but not enough to see well what lies beyond them.
The Aetherian party moves forward, only to be stopped by the Crobat.
The Swoobat gestures to the door, with a nod Alaric enters the chamber alone, finding himself in a spacious room. Moonlight filters through the large windows that line one side of the room, it’s cold light easily engulfing that of the warm glowing candle flames within the chandelier. The rest of the room was to dark to see well, sweeping his eyes across the room they came to rest upon a large table, that could seat many mon, making Alaric wonder how many came here to meet with the elusive lord. The lord himself had yet to make an appearance.
Alaric narrowed his eyes trying to pin point the direction from which the voice had come, the words that it had spoken causing his caution to increase, and the echo caused by the vastness of the room helping neither.
A tinkling sound as nails ticked against glass before said glass object being placed upon something, an almost non existent sound of movement and the flutter of a cape as a shadow shifted, standing up and moving towards him, as it appeared from the dark as silhouette with shapes and colours slowly bleeding in as it was touched by the fail light. But even before their owner could be fully seen, Alaric had no doubt about his identity, as he stared into the two yellow orbs that seemed to glow amongst the shadows, glinting with a red light that seemed to become more defined as the candle’s flame was reflected in their depths. Without fully stopping his stride the Noivern bowed before Alaric, righted himself and smiled tauntingly.
: My sincerest apologies, let us start anew. I am Dracul, and I am humbled to welcome the king of Aether to my home, and offer him my services, if he’d so pleased to accept them. Now, if your presence here is anything to go by you are at least somewhat interested are you not? Going as far as sending so many of your people to make sure both the forest and castle are safe? Oh do not tell me you were not aware of this, did you not give the order? Oh my? I believe we have much to discuss indeed.
Members who completed Mission 7 can also claim the reward for that as well, a badge of friendship in the shape of the symbol of Guga's tribe - same as above, this can be worn but make sure you add it to your Special Items Chest as well!