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[Icetales] Core of Chaos

Namohysip

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Everything spun at first, until eventually Icetales awoke to another swath of darkness and dust and bitter winds.

Had it all been some elaborate dream?

Icetales awoke bound in chains, but they had a lot of give. Even the most basic tugs would break them, leaving only a clattering, metallic sound as the binds clung to his ankles. All around Icetales was a grand, swirling miasma at least a thousand feet away on all sides with Icetales himself in the very center. Mad cries echoed with the winds, or perhaps tat was merely how the wind sounded...

But one cry felt tangible. Present. Physical. And it was a very familiar one--Petram. He was yelping, and every time he did, there was laughter next. Where? Where?

Left! Yes. And after a quick focus to see where... There he was, only a few hundred feet away, suspended in a red cage of spikes while odd creatures of darkness flew about, occasionally flying toward him for a fright. Petram shrieked in response and tried to back away, only for the spikes to poke into his gelatinous form. Red electricity ran through him every time he did, jerking his body forward. His eyes glowed a strange, red color...

"And so you are here... tenth."

And someone stood just behind Icetales...

The father.
 

Cresselia92

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The vertigo that had assailed Icetales faded slowly, leaving behind only a mildly disoriented fox. A noxious miasma filled his nostrils, and he tried to rub his nose. It was then that he heard the metallic clangs, and he snapped back to the current reality.

What?! W-where was he?

Frantic eyes darted around that unknown environment… even though it didn’t look unknown anymore. It was… familiar, and that sense of familiarity filled him dread. Especially those… chains…

No…

He could feel his heart hammering inside his chest.

No!

Consumed by panic, the Ninetales bit into those chains, in order to free himself. The horrid taste of rusty metal and mold filled his papillae, and he had to fight hard to not gag.

No, no, no!

Then, a dark chuckle filled the air, his blood freezing instantly. He took a shaky breath and turned around. The colors drained from his face when he noticed the fox-taur staring at him, with that odious and malevolent grin plastered on his muzzle.

“F-Father?!”

No! No! It couldn’t be! Didn’t he leave that specter behind in the Voidlands? What was happening?

“What is going on?” he shouted, ears pinned against his head. “How… How did I end up back in Chaos? What…?!”

Icetales shut his eyes. That… that had to be a trick, right? Was that yet another schizophrenic attack? Was he dreaming?

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard a pained yowl. His eyes snapped open, his gaze fixed on the fox-taur still standing in front of him. Wordlessly, he pointed his Soul Blade in a direction…

Left!

And like that, Icetales felt his heart racing even faster. “P-Petram?!”

The pained whimpers of the Zoroark were like stabs at his heart, but what followed next tore him inside: spikes embedded into his body, and the shade howled in distress and agony. An ominous red light flared from his pupils, while electricity crackled throughout his body.

“Leave him alone!” cried Icetales, pulling at his chains. The phantom in front of him didn’t seem fazed, if that twisted smirk and the louder laughter were any proof. It was probably reveling in that show of despair.

“Take me, instead! Do not hurt him!”

As if to further twist the knife, more electricity coursed through Petram’s body, getting more pained cries.

“Petraaam!”

Zing. Black flash. White static.

Darkness crawled inside his body and spirit, fueling him with the welcoming power of the night and cosmos. Gone was the gentlemon butler, and in his place there was an enraged daemon.

“Thou… sirrah!” snarled Icetales, causing a shadowy hailstorm to blow across the battlefield, accompanied by blood red snowflakes and razor-sharp winds.

Nightmare, illusion, phantom; that didn’t matter. The Cosmic Warlock wasn’t going to let that bastard demon get away for torturing his son!
 
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Namohysip

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Father is here.
His Father: 1,000

His Son: 500

"Oh?" He leaned forward, his grin somehow even wider against his skeletal jaws. "Is that really what you think? After so much time, so much AGONIZING time in this wonderful world... you want to return? I should have done this earlier, if all I had to do was grab someone even weaker than you..."

He raised his scythe. A gleam of darkness trailed along its edge.

"Then fall... return to Chaos!"

Father used Chaos Scythe!

A twisted darkness ensnared Icetales in an instant, cleaving through his body. Shadowy chains wrapped around Icetales and pulled taut; blade met flesh met spirit, and the cut went cleanly through. He raised his scythe with a satisfied smirk, glancing at the blade to see his handiwork, to see what he had cleaved from him.

...Nothing.

It dealt 0 damage!

"...What?!"
 

Cresselia92

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That scythe, that accursed scythe that could rip through even the sturdiest bodies and souls without any effort whatsoever. It was there, ready to slice through yet another victim.

Icetales felt that. He felt the tip of the blade touching his skin. Adrenaline clouded his sight for a brief moment, the memories of his past as a prisoner flashing in rapid succession into his mind, and his panic grew tenfold when he felt the blade digging through his spine.

Agonized roars began forming inside his throat, ready to burst out as soon as the searing pain invaded his system. Fear, rage, anxiety, despair… then, surprise. For some reason, the searing pain never happened, and the panicky roars turned into confused growls.

Though, it seemed that Father himself was stunned, his gaze going from the Soul Blade to the pristine state of his son’s back.

“What?!”, indeed.

Despite not fully understanding what happened, Icetales used that moment of daze to retaliate.

A black mist surrounded Icetales and morphed into the ghostly appearance of Keo’Keo. The giant fox glared at Father, its ominous red eyes matching the hue of its opponent.

“Two daemons can play the same card!” spat Icetales, and the darkness surrounding his body lurched forward, sinking its wraith’s fangs into the demon.

Raw madness assaulted Father, giving him a good taste of Chaos. How very cathartic that felt, but this brief moment of joy was interrupted when the shadow power infested his mind.

He groaned inwardly, realizing once more that he still couldn’t wield his dark powers properly. However, he did his best to not show that to Father.

Even if there was no damage, Icetales breathed out a sigh of relief when he felt the healing magic of the diamond dust touch his skin. Then, he glanced briefly at Petram. ‘I shall save thee. I will not let Father do to thee what he did to me!’

Icetales used Void Wraith against Magnificent! The hailstorm turned into Diamond Dust!

Net corruption: +80 Shadow
Net stamina: -80
Notes: Diamond Dust
 

Namohysip

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"Grrragh!" Father swung blindly forward, slicing the Wraith in two before hopping backwards, twirling his scythe threateningly. It may not harm Icetales, but he could still use it to ward attacks.

But he still smirked. "Look at this. Just a touch of that power... and already only a slip away from becoming a daemon. Come, now... give in. It is in thy nature..."

Father's eyes then trailed to Petram, trembling in his cage as the shadowy things continued to frighten him into the spikes. But he was more focused on Icetales, now.

Wordlessly, Father galloped toward Petram's cage, going for a wide leap with his scythe raised high.

Father is moving toward Petram!
Father: 1,000

Petram: 500
 

Cresselia92

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"Look at this. Just a touch of that power... and already only a slip away from becoming a daemon. Come, now... give in. It is in thy nature..."

Icetales scowled at Father, causing his mane and eyes to flare up with shadow power. He didn’t need to look at himself to know that his body had shifted again — the darkness festering inside his spirit was an indicator of that already.

“…This is what I am, yes. A daemon, a monster, a freak, an abomination. The list of demeaning terms that have graced these ears is infinite,” retorted the half-daemon, before crouching down. The shadowy mist coalesced again above his body, shooting a vicious glare. “But I shall not yield to my darkness, because… I am not like thee. We might share blood and have similar powers, but I also have something thou never had: a heart.”

Icetales couldn’t tell whether his words had hit the mark or not. However, if that manifestation of Father was like the real deal, he surely had dismissed every single word.

…Hmph. Of course. What else should we expect from him? He does not even know the meaning of the word love. Never did, never will.

‘Darkness mine. Thou art back.’

I never left. We are the same entity, after all. I was just… pondering, and letting thee accept thy blood. I did not want for thee to push me away.


Keo’Keo paused, then growled.

Beware. Father is plotting something…

Icetales focused on Father. His gaze was locked on…

‘He wouldn’t dare…!’

Then, Father raised his scythe and took a step forward.

He dares!

“Step back!”
hollered Icetales. But Father took another step forward. “Leave him alone!”

Cloaked in a shadow aura, the half-daemon roared and bolted forward. Protectiveness and fury fueled his power, sharpening his fangs and making his tails blaze with darkness. But before he could reach Father, he had leapt ahead, jumping over the enraged half-daemon.

Icetales felt like suffocating, his breathing having become shallower and his heart pushing against his ribcage. Terror clawed into his mind as he saw Father aiming his scythe at Petram.

He had to stop him! But… how?!

Then, he heard the clattering of metal below him. The chains. They were still there.

Do it! Now!

Icetales didn’t need to be told twice. He held onto all the chains he could get with his tails, then bolted forward the titanic fox-taur. His darkness became so intense that the chains themselves were cloaked in a black mist.

“Stay away from my son!”

He swung the chains forward with deadly precision, aiming for the Soul Blade and Father’s arms. He couldn’t afford to miss! He couldn’t!

Icetales grabbed the chains and swung them forward, aiming for the Soul Blade. [Basic attack]

Net corruption: +2 Shadow
Net stamina: -2
 

Namohysip

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Icetales' strike nicked Father on the side, dealing 11 damage!
Icetales ensnared the Soul Blade!

"Ngh--!" He swung his blade back, but then it got caught by the chains several feet away. His eyes, wide with surprise and anger, stared directly at Icetales. "How... DARE you. Do not think this is the end... My scythe may not work, but certainly the elements shall! Face my wrath!"

Father called upon lightning! A black bolt struck Icetales for a grazing 137 HP!
Father is trying to pull the Soul Blade back!

Father: 989

Petram: 500
 

Cresselia92

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Icetales winced when the dark bolt struck his body, which started twitching as the electricity coursed through his nervous system. He shivered so much that his tails started loosening their grip, but Keo’Keo wouldn’t let that happen. Physical darkness enveloped the host’s tails, giving him support and strength.

Dost not lose thy battle stance! We have endured far worse than this!

Icetales gnashed his fangs and resumed pulling at the chains when he felt that Father was trying to free himself. Loud clatters came from the metallic binds, followed by some creaks. Were they going to snap?

This version of Chaos… I wonder if it is as maddening as true Chaos. If that is the case, then anything could happen…

Keo’Keo grunted and swished his ghostly tails. While in Icetales’ homeworld he had no voice nor way to comfort his host, he still could connect with the survival instincts that allowed the former Vulpix to endure half a century of madness and corruption.

Indeed, Kyukon always saw his inner darkness as a curse, but while he was stuck in that chaotic prison that same darkness was his blessing and protection. He would have never preserved his sanity without the help of his daemonic blood.

And now, it was the time to call upon those instincts. To truly use his power at its fullest. Without fear, without regret. But first, Icetales needed to tame it…

Listen. Thou art not going to do much if thou let thy mind and emotions run wild and uncontrolled. Keep thy darkness in check. Dost not let it infect and distort thy perception of reality and make thee lose sight of our goal.

‘…Indeed. Thank thee, darkness mine.’

Hmph. It is my pleasure, I suppose…


Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out. The darkness inside of his spirit twisted and quivered, before being compacted into a more controlled shape. Keo’Keo itself lost his hazy shape, and took an appearance that was vaguely similar to his host. He smirked proudly.

Now thou art showing the true talent and sorcery of a Dark Warlock. Dost not hold back!

Icetales took a deep breath and focused! His Shadows receded slightly.

Net corruption: -20 Shadow
 

Namohysip

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"You DARE... defy me? Your Father!?" He tugged on the Soul Blade again, but the chains were strong, and he couldn't pull out of it. He also couldn't let go. "FALL!"
Father called lightning again, dealing a grazing 133 damage!
Father's offenses and accuracy are increasing!

Father is trying to tug the Soul Blade out from Icetales' grasp!

Father: 989

Petram: 500
 

Cresselia92

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Another surge of lightning, another pained yowl, another glare of defiance.

“I dare, because thou cannot be called a father!” snarled Icetales, trying to hold onto those chains. He couldn’t let go, otherwise… “I do not care if thou art just the replica of a psychopathic tyrant! I shall not stand here just watching!”

Icetales pulled harder.

“I shall not! Thou might strike me with all thy might, but I shall,” another tug, “not,” a loud growl, “fall!”

The snowstorm intensified, cloaking the ground with a red-tinted snow.

“A father… is someone who protects their children, who follows them in every step of their lives,” his voice soured, “and who does not try to assassinate his own offsprings for the sake of power or to cover their sins…”

As Icetales uttered those words, Keo’Keo began pulsing with a blue light. The sadness seeped into his own being, funneled from his host’s raw emotions.

“I shall be… what thou never were.” Icetales glared at Father. “A good father.”

A bright and glorious glow radiated from Icetales’ chest, making him look like a star in the middle of the inky nothingness. His eyes flashed gold and a empowering energy was shot upward, like a reverse comet.

“Thou were always there for me, Petram. Never leaving my side, always ready to cheer me up during my grayest days, even when I felt like I didn’t deserve thy love…”

The force deflagrated with all its power, and a golden veil started its rapid descent…

“Thy loyalty. Thy affection. Thy… kindness. They were like a panacea for my spirit and broken heart.”

…still falling, aimed directly to the cage containing Petram…

“Allow me… to repay what is due. Petram! I love thee, son!”

The wave of Radiance and diamond dust struck the cage, its energy seeping through the holes and spaces. Bolstering, raw, soothing, inspiriting energy.

Icetales closed his eyes, bracing himself for the next assault, while Keo’Keo stood protectively by his side. The mane on the shadow’s head… it was blinding white.

Icetales used Brilliant Inspirit on Petram!

Net corruption: +80 Radiance
Net stamina: -80
Notes: Inspirit and Diamond Dust on Petram… maybe?
 

Namohysip

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"A great lot of platitudes, but all meaningless in the end!" Father smirked, a horrible grin followed, as he pulled. He finally got a hold of his Soul Blade and pulled back. The gesture heaved against Icetales' own grip, narrowly taking it out. Had Icetales not focused enough on the blade? Or was Father simply too strong? "But now you will see what it means... to DEFY M--"

A burst of flame smashed against Father's head. He cursed and winced; it hadn't done damage, but it startled his hold for a split-second. And in that very brief second, when he stared back at Petram with the greatest hatred in his eyes...

He'd lost hold of the blade.

It flew through the air and in front of Icetales, into his mouth to be held in an instant. A shock of energy ran through Icetales--brief visions of its power, as if it had immediately attuned to him, rejecting that flash of weakness in Father's grip.

Something changed.

And for the first time, Father's eyes showed a hint of fear.

Icetales learned Chaos Scythe!

Father: 989

Petram: 500
 

Cresselia92

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As soon as his fangs got ahold of the Soul Blade, Icetales felt an overwhelming surge of energy cutting through his body.

A perpetually shifting pulse… it felt similar to Blacklight, in many senses, but it was not quite the same thing. He could tell that, as he was brimming with pure Blacklight, and that new force stood out like a candle during nighttime.

Fierce, empowering Chaos.

Icetales’ gaze trailed on the scythe, and stopped when he focused on the sharp blade. It seemed almost like it was whispering something, even if there was no voice…

Ah. Time for some just comeuppance, at long last.

Icetales glanced at Keo’Keo and noticed a devious and eager smirk on the shadow’s face.

It has been half a century, and now we got the chance to make him feel what we went through.

Was that really how Icetales was feeling? Revenge… It sounded so… appealing.

The half-daemon raised the scythe, finding some morbid joy in seeing the terror in his Father’s face and knowing that he had become the stronger daemon.

All those years of suffering rushed into his mind. The pain, the despair, the hopelessness… they were all so loud, tempting him to do what he needed to do.

An eye for an eye, a tail for a tail.

Besides, that was a mere phantom. An illusion brought to life by whatever entity that was residing in the middle of the storm. There would have been no reason to feel regret for breaking a nightmare.

…And yet, Icetales hesitated.

While they were mostly drowned by that cacophony of negativity, Icetales could hear some faint voices among the choir of darkness.

The words of Mother echoed in his mind, her teachings about keeping an open heart and never letting go of the light, and the half-daemon had a second of clarity.

No. That wasn’t him. Even if he had daemon blood, that didn’t make him a heartless being. That didn’t make him a monster.

He wasn’t like Father. He was better than that. He was stronger than his darkest emotions.

Icetales… lowered the scythe.

“Father,” he said, his voice steady and stern, “thou have brought me unimaginable pain and distress, breaking my spirit and mind with half a century full of madness. I wager that thou were attempting to break me entirely, to make me just like thee…

“However, I am not thee. I shall not spill any blood, not even the blood of the beast that has given me so much grief. Who has been haunting my nightmares throughout all these years. I shall not, because,”
his eyes glowed with a bright white light, “I am magnanimous.”

Icetales grabbed the scythe with his leftmost tail and slammed it against the floor. A wave of Chaos and Blacklight rushed toward Father, blinding him with a mix of black, golden and red.

“Thou hast my mercy. Howbeit,” he aimed the scythe at Father, “I am far from foolish. I am aware that thou cannot comprehend goodness, so I shall give thee a warning, instead. Release my son, dispel this world of madness, and never bother us ever again. I shall hold to my words and not pursue thee in any way. This is… my ultimatum.”

Icetales called out his Father. He doesn’t want to fight anymore.
 
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Namohysip

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There must have been a thousand thoughts racing through the daemon's mind, and perhaps a thousand hypothetical scenarios that were being played out in his head.

And then, with one final snarl, he brought his head down. "To submit as the weaker daemon... to be at the mercy of a child... To agree to these terms..." Father's paws trembled. Then, suddenly, they stopped, and he sighed.

A silence followed. The shadowy imps all watched, curious. Petram held his breath...

"...Foolish!"

Father raised his hand, about to call lightning over Petram!
 

Cresselia92

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Electricity and thunders filled the atmosphere, preluding an incoming bolt strike. However, those noises were instantly drowned by the echo of a sickening squelching sound.

Time froze, then the surroundings quivered with a frenzy of dark waves and red pulses.

Embedded into the daemon’s chest there was the Soul Blade, gleaming with an ominous red light. On the other side of the scythe was the Dark Warlock and his shadow, their eyes crimson red and their bodies pitch black. If it wasn’t because the host was wielding the weapon, it would have been nearly impossible to discern the two.

“…That was thy most grave mistake,” hissed the Dark Warlock, twisting the blade further. “Nobody threatens my family and friends.”

Icetales pulled the blade out of the phantom’s body and took a couple of steps back. Contempt and hatred radiated from his red eyes, even if a part of his heart couldn’t stop aching.

Unfortunately, it seemed that peace and redemption were never an option…

Icetales begrudgingly used Chaos Blade on Father! It was supereffective!

Net stamina: -40
 

Namohysip

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Father took 9999 damage!

He didn't even say a word. He let out something akin to a croak, or a wheeze, as he tried and failed to call lightning down upon Petram. He stared, wide-eyed, at Icetales, like he couldn't believe what had happened, or perhaps that he'd regretted turning against Icetales... But there would never be any telling what he truly meant with that look. A second later, his body dissolved, nothing but dust in the Chaos he'd created...

The imps screamed and flew in all directions, disappearing into the haze. The cage rusted into nothing and deposited Petram onto the ground with a grunt. His core looked like it was disappearing...
 

Cresselia92

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…Only a ghost. Yes, just as expected. That was nothing more than a twisted illusion created by whatever madness surrounded them. But by the great Jirachi, wasn’t Icetales’ entire body shivering, wracked by a myriad of emotions.

How was he feeling about what had just transpired? Horrible? Vindicated? Furious? Terrified? …Purged?

A shadowy presence patted his shoulder, and Icetales turned slowly toward the source. Keo’Keo was staring at him, his gaze full of understanding.

Thou did what thou had to do. Even if that was just a replica of Father, it could have seriously injured Petram. Thou saved him, so dost not let these uncomfortable feelings gnaw at thee. There was… no other way.

Was that true, though…?

Or thou would have preferred to see the black matter of Petram spread on the floor, and then have to slay that projection anyway? That was the most favorable outcome.

Perhaps, but… what did that say about Icetales? Was he now a murderer, a would-be murderer, or…?

“D-Daddy…”

At hearing that, Icetales felt his heart leaping to his throat. He whirled toward Petram, who was lying amidst the wreckage of the rusty cage. Pushing those thoughts aside, the Ninetales let go of the scythe and ran toward the Zoroark, his gaze full of concern.

The weapon clattered noisily behind him, before vanishing into a red mist. Keo’Keo, however, noticed that the mist was funneled inside of Icetales. That was… odd.

“Petram…” muttered Icetales, crouching toward the shade. “How… How art thou feeling?” He slammed the broken bars away from Petram with his tails, freeing him completely. “Art thou hurt?”

Petram stirred and shook his head. The red glow of his eyes slowly turned into a violet hue, and the Zoroark blinked in confusion. “W-whoa! What the—?!” He shook his head again. “Gods! Wasn’t that trippy as hell!”

Keo’Keo walked silently toward the duo, and took a careful gaze at the Zoroark. Wait, didn’t Petram have a core inside his chest? There were only a few chunks left, which slowly became dust, and then… nothing.

“Nggh… My head is still spinning…” moaned Petram, clutching his head.

“Art thou injured in some way?” asked Icetales, worriedly. “Those spikes were sharp! If there is something, I want to know!”

“Mmmno, I’m fine. Really. I’m, huh…” Petram paused, realizing that there was something different about his own body, “…kinda feeling heavier now.”

What is the last thing thou remember? pondered Keo’Keo, staring warily. We were traveling toward the center of the storm before this madness occurred.

“…Oh, yeah. Mommy forced me to do all of this.”

Both Icetales and Keo’Keo were shocked to hear that.

“Say what now?”

“Yeah. All of this? Just a trick. A very realistic trick.” Petram tapped his claws together. “My illusions became real thanks to her power and influence…”

“But… why?” Icetales looked hurt. “Why did thou do that?”

Petram took a while to answer, then he looked down guiltily. “I… I had no choice! She was like controlling me, and I couldn’t refuse her commands, and she made me do all those ugly things to keep you away from her or something, I dunno, and… and…” He covered his face with his paws. “Oh, gods! I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so freaking sorry! I didn’t mean to… I… I…”

Then, Petram froze when he was pulled forward and right into Icetales’ mane. The wispy tails were holding him tightly, in a warm embrace. Somehow, the Zoroark could feel… something. Like, more solid and tangible.

“…It is all right,” cooed Icetales, rubbing his cheek against his son’s cheek. That cheek that now felt solid. “I am just relieved thou art safe and sound…”

Petram shivered as well, before wrapping his forepaws around Icetales and burying his head into his father’s chest mane. That warmth… oh, how good that felt. He wished that moment lasted forever.

While father and son took comfort from their respective presences, Keo’Keo watched dutifully over them. A smile spread on his muzzle, before he retreated back into the shadows, vanishing alongside Eien’s presence.
 
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Namohysip

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Illusions made real, the intangible tangible, from bonds to hope to darkness, Icetales and Petram remained as the Chaotic atmosphere dissipated. The sky shined brightly and the moon even brighter, and the rumbles of battle indicated the way forward. While tired, they still had to press onward: Diyem, their leader, was still in trouble.

Icetales' Eterna Spirit activated!
"Taste the power of Chaos!" - Once per battle, when the user performs Blacklight Z-Burst, it uses the user's combined defensive stats and boosts, and automatically gains the benefits of Helping Hand and Sure Crit. For the next turn only, the user gains access to Chaos Scythe.
 

Cresselia92

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After taking a few minutes to recover both emotionally and physically — much to his relief, Icetales realized that he could channel the soothing energy of Heal Bell once more — the two foxes marched toward the center, leaving behind that distorted space source of so much grief. They was more they needed to do, after all.

“C’mon! We’ve gotta hurry! My biodad needs all the help he can get, and as a son I’ve gotta lend him a paw!” incited Petram, rushing ahead. He was still getting used to that slightly different body, and had to regulate his pacing much more now.

Though he didn’t mind that too much, mainly because of one thing: he was born, somehow.

Real.

Tangible.

No more just a walking dream.

He could become his own person, and he couldn’t wait to see what kinds of stuff he could do now. But as excited as he was, all his plans had to wait: first things first, they had to stop Mommy and make sure that she didn’t cause any more damage.

“Um, yes. Our common patron might be powerful and have two great allies by his side, but Miss Eien is a truly formidable opponent,” mused Icetales, flapping his ears a few times. He could clearly hear the distant noises of warfare, and the titanic figure of the Eternatus could be seen from their location. “By the heavens, she is… massive.”

Petram grinned. “A big lady for a big guy, I suppose.”

“And art thou not conflicted about having to confront her directly? She is thy mother, after all.”

The Zoroark opened his mouth to reply, but no word came. He crossed his arms and tilted his head. “To be fair, I dunno how I feel. True, I am dragonfire of her dragonfire or whatever, but she also forced me to do all that kinda stuff to you.” He shook his head. “I can’t just put that aside! You took care of me for months, and she made me do all that horrible stuff a few minutes after I felt her presence. I… I’m kinda angry with her, not gonna lie!”

“Hmm… So, thou resent her.”

“Why, yes! She made me hurt the one person I care about most in this entire world, other than my siblings.” Petram scowled. “So, I’d like to give her a piece of my mind.”

“True. I was hurt…” started Icetales, still feeling a few pangs of pain in his heart.

What he was forced to do back the … that was something he wouldn’t have forgotten in a long time, regardless of whether everything was fake or not. But despite everything, he could still grasp that small light inside of him, and he managed out a small smile.

“Howbeit, I am willing to forgive her.”

“Huh?” Petram looked behind, shocked. “Really? You wanna let that go? Just like that?”

“It is not ‘like that’,” Icetales looked away, “but I cannot help but believe she did that as a form of self-defense. Perhaps she was scared of us and wanted to keep us away with nightmares and illusion, as a way to dissuade us from pursuing her.”

“Or maybe she might have lost her mind.”

“Which would mean that she didn’t do that intentionally, and that we shouldn’t fault her for doing something she wouldn’t do under other circumstances.” Icetales’ smile brightened. “All the more reason we should keep going and do our best to help her, so that she will be able to recover after this whole ordeal.”

The two foxes stayed silent for a while, with Petram staring at the Ninetales in disbelief. Finally, he found his voice again. “…Wow. I’m really impressed.”

Icetales blinked in puzzlement. “Hm?”

“Despite being so hurt by both me and Eien, you can still find the strength in yourself to forgive us. That’s… not an easy feat.”

“Why shouldn’t I forgive thee?” Icetales’ smile broadened and he closed the gap between them. Then, he placed a tail on the Zoroark’s shoulder. “Thou art my son, and I know thou wouldn’t do any of that on purpose. Besides, I have gone through much worse as a pup.”

“But I can sense it! You’re going through a lot of negative thoughts right now.” Petram looked away. “And it’s all my fault. You were just getting through that trauma, and I messed everything up…”

“Hey. Worry not about that. This trauma of mine is something I have gone through an entire lifetime. That is nothing I do not know how to deal with.” A confident gleam shone in his eyes. “I shall be all right. We can talk more about that when we are back home, yes?”

“…Okay.” Petram patted the tail. “Sorry again for giving you so much trouble.”

“Well, did thou never hear the fine print of the book of good parenting? Sons giving troubles to their parents and parents fixing things up is part of their job,” said Icetales with an humorous tone, trying to cheer Petram up. “And now, it is thy chance to give trouble to Miss Eien so that she can fix things up.”

At hearing that, Petram brightened up. “Oh, I kinda like the sound of that.” He smirked. “Very well! Let’s do that, then!”

By then, the two had reached the center of the storm, and noticed Diyem and the two legendary wolves facing the titanic opponent. They exchanged a quick hug, before bolting toward the battlefield, an empowering light shining from the depth of their hearts.

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