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Nihil River

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Dragonfree

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"Owen, you're fine. You're not going to hurt anyone."

Dave breathed a long sigh of relief, his heart still hammering with lingering adrenaline. Owen was holding Shadow close, and even in this world Dave could still feel it. Jesus. Well, so long as he didn't start fucking talking.
 
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Brisa could hardly think. Her own mind was drowned out by shadows. She'd used so much of her strength, every kind of strength, in that fight. That moment. Everything hurt. Everything burned.

Pathetic, ain't it? That this is the best y'can do. You only died, why can't you be stronger than this?

"Let's... Let's get back. Regroup. We... We need each other."
 

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"What? Ain't got shit to say now, huh?"
[. . .]
So she did the only thing she could, and left in wrathful silence. She didn't care where.

Wishkeeper watched her go, snorting. "I suppose I don't," he muttered, then turned his attention to Owen, Brisa, and Shadow.

"Owen, you're fine. You're not going to hurt anyone."

The newly formed Charizard twitched his wings a little . He breathed in, deep, and let it out. Yes, that was what he needed after all this. Assurances. He couldn't really tell it to himself right now, but the others... If the others felt that way, maybe they were right, and he was wrong. That was comforting.

"Thank you," Owen said softly, perhaps only for Shadow to hear rather than Dave directly.

"Let's... Let's get back. Regroup. We... We need each other."

"Regroup... right..." Owen tried to stand, but he still felt weak. And Brisa... How badly had he hurt her? She looked like she was burning up. "Brisa, I'm... sorry. For... all of this." He pulled her a little closer, his scales pressing through her fur and against her body. His grip wasn't that strong anymore. Gentle. As if he couldn't hurt anyone if he tried. Just like that, a switch...

Owen's flame flashed with a gold aura that flowed up his tail and through his arms. It channeled through Brisa, a relieving warmth spreading through her. Owen's power to heal, his Radiance...

Wishkeeper sighed, flicking his tail against a nearby tree, thumping against it. "I'll help you back to Null Village. Anyone too tired to move, I will carry you."
 

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Shadow slowly, slowly let go of Owen, and the Charizard gently released him. "I'm glad you're okay," he muttered, but thankfully he left it at that and returned to Dave's side.

Brisa looked like hell, and Dave was about to ask if there were berries or anything here, but then Owen wrapped her in a Radiant glow. He exhaled. All right. All right. They were done.

Hoping there was anywhere to get a drink in Null Village was probably too much to hope for, wasn't it.
 

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"Brisa, I'm... sorry. For... all of this."

"Hush it, pal," said Brisa, firmly. "It's dealt with. Y'wanna talk about it, we get outta here first. Somewhere where it's safer."

"Anyone too tired to move, I will carry you."

Brisa pulled away, her injuries healed, and walked unaided away from the scene of Owen's transformation.

Someone else might need the help more. And Brisa... Brisa was fine.

<><><><><>​
 
[R10] Shadows of the Past (Cynthian and Icetales)

Cresselia92

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Despite never been to the Voidlands, this place sure brings back memories…

Icetales was walking by the river, glancing into the red water. Strange creatures dwelled into its depths and moved in erratic patterns, and then the Shadow lunged into water and pawed furiously, spraying the red liquid around.

“What are you doing?” shouted Icetales, his eyes wide and his body flaring up with a dark aura.

“…I wanted to catch some fish and assess whether they are comestible or poisonous,” replied the Shadow, glancing at his host. “There are carnivores among the folks stuck here, so they need to know if these creatures are safe to consume. After all, only Chaos knows how long it will be before we get the energy to free them.”

“Not too long, I hope…”


The Shadow narrowed his eyes and gave a casual nod. “Indeed, but it is better to be safer than sorry and to plan ahead. We never had this luxury when we were stranded in Chaos, when we were forced to fend off by ourselves, so it would be ideal to be of help for thy comrades as much as we can.”

Icetales wanted to rebut, but his Shadow has a point. Survival… this is what mattered in that hellscape. This is what they would have to do while the living souls gathered the energy needed for the revival.

This is… what he had to learn as a small, clueless pup.

“Yes, stranded in Chaos…” Icetales lowered his head, his tails twitching in nervousness. “How long ago has that been…”
 

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"I'd be really surprised if there's anything that can be caught in that river. Unless there's void shadows shaped like fishes." Cynthian walked up to Icetales and stood next to him, calm and composed. Then she overheard his next words.

Icetales said:
“Yes, stranded in Chaos…” Icetales lowered his head, his tails twitching in nervousness. “How long ago has that been…”


Cynthian widened her eyes briefly, and her flowers gave off a faint whiff of apples.

"Chaos? Have you been stranded in the void lands before now too?" Cynthian asked, inching closer to him. The murky river reflected the somber smile on her face. "That's one more thing we share in common."

"Worry not, however. Compared to then, Diyem's void lands feels more like an oasis," Cynthian said, patting his shoulder gently.
 

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“We could say that I have been into some kind of Void, yes…” Icetales sighed and glanced at Cynthian, feeling somewhat reassured. “But indeed, these Voidlands are not as atrocious as what I had endured as a pup. Chaos is… the literal embodiment of chaos.”

“Ah, yes…” There was a dark smile on the Shadow’s muzzle. “Fuh huh huh! Quite the unforgettable experience! One day thou could breathe properly, the other day thou would suffocate for hours. One day it was boiling, the other day it was chilling. One day a plant was safe to consume, the other day it would give intense body aches.”

Icetales shuddered. “Yes, that… that was horrifying. Always on the edge, never knowing whether thou were safe or not…” He sighed once more, before shaking his head. “It does not seem to be the case here, at least. After all, Sir Diyem is not trying to eliminate us, no? But still, there is this cognition-miasma to be aware of.”

“They have each other, so mental support is a guarantee,”
pointed out the Shadow. “They will be swell.”

“Yes, yes…”


Icetales glanced again at the water, noticing his dark pelt and his shining eyes. He growled at his reflection, then sighed once more and looked again at Cynthian.

“At least Sir Diyem isn’t like Father. He didn’t bring you here on purpose…”
 

Adamhuarts

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“At least Sir Diyem isn’t like Father. He didn’t bring you here on purpose…”

"That's true... It's no surprise that I'm the one who took the longest to stop thinking Diyem had a malicious purpose behind bringing us here." Cynthian sighed and grimaced. "It was hard. It was so hard to separate him from the Dark Matter I knew."

She picked up a smooth pebble off the shore and hurled it at the river. It skipped on the water's surface a few times before promptly sinking. "Eventually though, I chose to believe in him. A leap of faith, one might say."
 

Cresselia92

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Yes, Icetales had the feeling that being brought into the Voidlands made her past traumas resurface once more. That was something he had felt as well when he entered into that dark world and felt like he had reverted into a small vulnerable Vulpix. That’s it, until his Shadow distracted him enough to soothe that initial panic.

Hm. Quite the coincidence. Was his resentment toward his Father that strong to override fear, or something else?

“Yes, I cannot blame thee for having thy initial doubts and worries. I, myself, felt my terror surging when I landed here, with painful memories rushing back to me…” responded Icetales, before nuzzling her on her cheek. “But… we need to preserve faith, indeed. This event was not something foreseeable, I am afraid, and it happened. Though, thou and the others can get through this. I am confident of that.”
 

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"I know. I have mon here who believe in me," she glanced at Icetales with a smile, "and those I believe in."

"You aren't alone either, Icetales. Just as you're a light for me, I'd like you to rely on me if anything troubles your heart. I'm always willing to lend a rose and listen to you," Cynthian said, inwardly wishing for the strength to alleviate his pain too.
 
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Cresselia92

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Icetales opened his mouth to speak, but closed it immediately. Hm, where to start?

“It is just… there is plenty to unpack,” he muttered, flailing his tails. A pulse of darkness coursed through his body, but he quickly reabsorbed his shadows. “How to say…?”

“I suggested to the foolish lad to reveal the truth about us to the other comrades,”
answered the Shadow, staring at them. “And he is deadly afraid of how they would react.”

Icetales grumbled. “Thou could have avoided the ‘deadly afraid’ remark. It is tasteless.”

The Shadow shrugged, completely unbothered. He resumed slapping the water, trying to see once more if he could catch something.

“But… yes, I… I believe I should tell everyone the truth about myself. About my… marred blood. This is for my own sake, in order to move on from my past wounds.” Icetales whimpered and wrapped his tails around his body. “But I am concerned. What will they think once they find out that my father is a bloodthirsty tyrant? That I am born from darkness and that I’m a half-blood daemon? That I am a… beast?” He closed his eyes. “Will they even see me the same way? Or will they see me like a plague that must be slain?”
 
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Adamhuarts

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“But I am concerned. What will they think once they find out that my father is a bloodthirsty tyrant? That I am born from darkness and that I’m a half-blood daemon? That I am a… beast?” He closed his eyes. “Will they even see me the same way? Or will they see me like a plague that must be slain?”

"I think they would see you as Icetales," Cynthian answered immediately. She briefly paused, then wrapped her arms around Icetales' and leaned on his shadow, letting her flower crown release a soothing scent to comfort him.

"In all the time I've known you, you've only given me kindness and trust. Even the times I doubted myself and felt miserable, you gave me gentle push and helped me stand once more. And I know I'm not the only one you have extended that paw to," Cynthian said, looking reaching her flower forward.

"Your father is an awful tyrant, you're born from darkness and are half blood. Even if those things mattered, it's not in the way you think." Cynthian let go to stand in from of him. "You've defied all of those things and become a beacon for others like me. I'm probably not alone in thinking this, but I've had some of the best moments in my life just by being around you."

She held up his paw and placed it over the golden gem in her collar. "You have a bright soul, Icetales. Hell, even if the whole world were to think otherwise, I'll still accept you for you. That's why, I'm sure the others will to."

She looked at him with an earnest smile. "It's a leap of faith. Have faith in them that they'll have faith in you too."
 

Cresselia92

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Icetales listened intently to what Cynthian had to say about him. Those encouraging words truly warmed his heart, and he could feel like he could believe them. He wanted to believe them. Once she stopped talking, he mulled over those words, while his tails swished.

“I want to have faith,” he said at last, staring intently at her. “I truly do. I want to believe that my lineage means nothing and that my spiritual self is what truly matters. That I can be a true companion and a ‘mon like any other, and I want to offer what I didn’t have when I was just a lonely pup. But—”

There was a splash, and Icetales gasped and whirled toward the source. What he saw was his Shadow, dripping red water from his head. The sight could be considered downright macabre.

“Way to spoil the mood…” deadpanned Icetales.

“I almost caught it!” hissed the Shadow, snarling at the river while his phantom flames burned more fiercely. “Damned fish!”

“Can thou clean thyself, at least? That red water is,” Icetales’s tails flailed nervously, “gross, and also very unnerving.”

The Shadow rolled his eyes. “Hmph. I shall…” With that said, he turned into black wisps and blended back with the darkness, making the water splash noisily on the floor. Then, he emerged once more, completely clean. “Satisfied now?”

Icetales narrowed his eyes, unamused and unimpressed, then looked again at Cynthian. “Yes, um… If thou want a living proof of how I used to behave while I was stuck in Chaos,” he motioned toward his Shadow, “there it is. Not exactly a flattering behavior, but this is what happens when thou art trapped in madness for too long.”

The Shadow countered with an unamused stare of his own, before turning once more to the river. His eyes darted and his ears flicked, still feeling the urges to satisfy his hunter’s instincts.

“I took several years of therapy to relearn how to behave like a ‘mon, after going through such an ordeal. My sisters’ healing and spiritual sorcery helped immensely, I reckon. They were… the only ones who gave me trust and were patient enough with me. Other folks were just… too terrified of what I had become.” He lowered his head. “And… I am afraid to say that I had almost relapsed into that behavior, when Sir Joule… used that death sphere, and…”

He took several deep breaths, pushing the darkness back into himself. “And… I do not know what would have happened if Sir Celeste was not there to snap me out of that fury. To make me regain awareness of myself. The thought of what would have happened back then… terrifies me.”
 

Adamhuarts

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“Yes, um… If thou want a living proof of how I used to behave while I was stuck in Chaos,” he motioned toward his Shadow, “there it is. Not exactly a flattering behavior, but this is what happens when thou art trapped in madness for too long.”

Cynthian turned her gaze to the shadow and she felt uncertain about what to say. Her time in Dark Matter's void lands had been a brief, hellish experience that only lasted a few days. Yet, it had carved a deep scar in her soul for most of her life since then.

Icetales had to endure a worse experience than that for much longer. Cynthian's heart ached, and she almost cried over what Icetales had to endure, but she instead maintained her composure and continued to listen to him.

“I took several years of therapy to relearn how to behave like a ‘mon, after going through such an ordeal. My sisters’ healing and spiritual sorcery helped immensely, I reckon. They were… the only ones who gave me trust and were patient enough with me. Other folks were just… too terrified of what I had become.” He lowered his head. “And… I am afraid to say that I had relapsed into that behavior, when Sir Joule… used that death sphere, and…”
He took several deep breaths, pushing the darkness back into himself. “And… I do not know what would have happened if Sir Celeste was not there to snap me out of that fury. To make me regain awareness of myself. The thought of what would have happened back then… terrifies me.”

"What you went through, I doubt most could've ever recovered from that. But your sister, she had faith in you, didn't she? You were able to persevere because of the faith she had in you." Cynthian took a step forward and embraced him.

"I understand the fear you feel. It's sometimes hard not to fall back into the pit and relapse after being scarred that deeply." Cynthian stared at the desolate landscape over Icetales' shoulder. She grimaced.

"After I died, I blamed myself for breaking our promise to be stronger, together to the end. When we got to the void lands, I'd prepared myself to curl up in a hole somewhere no one will find me and rot away, because I thought of myself as an undeserving failure." Cynthian withdrew from the hug, a sad smile on her face.

"Just like Celeste brought you back, I wouldn't have been able to regain myself if Brisa hadn't been there to lend a paw to me." Cynthian went quiet briefly, and then met his gaze again with clarity.

"I might still fall back into that rut again in the future, and doubt myself, and want to stay out of everyone's way, but... those who love us will always be willing to help bring us back from our personal hell."
 

Cresselia92

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"What you went through, I doubt most could've ever recovered from that. But your sister, she had faith in you, didn't she? You were able to persevere because of the faith she had in you." Cynthian took a step forward and embraced him.

Icetales said nothing, limiting himself to placing his head on top of her shoulder and inhaling the intense but soothing scent.

He couldn’t quite say to have recovered completely, but… yes. If there was someone who had always believed in him and trusted him to become someone was his sister.

And Mother. Oh, praise her soul. What would she think upon seeing what broken mess he had become?

She would accept me and comfort me. Because she is the kindred soul she used to be.

He wondered… if that was what Cynthian was talking about. Kindred souls willing to accept monsters with broken hearts.

Kindred souls… like Cynthian herself.

His tails quivered.

"After I died, I blamed myself for breaking our promise to be stronger, together to the end. When we got to the void lands, I'd prepared myself to curl up in a hole somewhere no one will find me and rot away, because I thought of myself as an undeserving failure." Cynthian withdrew from the hug, a sad smile on her face.

Icetales stared back at her, shocked to hear that. His heart squeezed and his ears drooped. No, he didn’t feel like she should have been ashamed of breaking a promise. That wasn’t her fault and it was way beyond her control.

His tails stilled.

"Just like Celeste brought you back, I wouldn't have been able to regain myself if Brisa hadn't been there to lend a paw to me." Cynthian went quiet briefly, and then met his gaze again with clarity.

"I might still fall back into that rut again in the future, and doubt myself, and want to stay out of everyone's way, but... those who love us will always be willing to help bring us back from our personal hell."

…Yes, there was some truth in those words. Icetales had realized that while they both were alone when they were trapped in their respective hells, they were mostly alone.

Now, however, they had others who were willing to share the weights. Others who had gone through unimaginable experiences, who were traumatized by their pasts, who believed to be undeserving of love and trust.

And yet, somehow, all those broken souls had found their place in both Cibus and those Voidlands, ready to support each other because everyone (or almost), knew what it meant to be alone with themselves. To face their personal hells.

“I… I think I understand, Miss Cynthian,” said Icetales, before his eyes glowed with more determination. “Yes. Indeed. We are a cortège, a unity. And as a unity, we understand each other and are always willing to aid each other.” He smiled sadly and looked down. “Just like… I am always ready to lend a paw, because I know how it feels like to not have someone to rely on.”

His tails started wagging and he showed a serene smile. “I thank thee, Miss Cynthian, for listening to my concerns. Now I have no doubt anymore: I shall tell everyone, and go forward from there.”

He looked intently at her, his azure eyes gleaming with trust. “Can I… count on thee to be my shoulder if there will be any need, just as I am willing to lend mine?”
 
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His tails started wagging and he showed a serene smile. “I thank thee, Miss Cynthian, for listening to my concerns. Now I have no doubt anymore: I shall tell everyone, and go forward from there.”

He looked intently at her, his azure eyes gleaming with trust. “Can I… count on thee to be my shoulder if there will be any need, just as I am willing to lend mine?”

Cynthian smiled at him with a deep green blush on her cheeks. A strong Strawberry fragrance engulfed them both and she hugged him again tightly.

"Do you even have to ask? I'll always be by your side if you need me, my love," Cynthian said, her voice almost a whisper.
 

Cresselia92

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Cynthian smiled at him with a deep green blush on her cheeks. A strong Strawberry fragrance engulfed them both and she hugged him again tightly.

"Do you even have to ask? I'll always be by your side if you need me, my love," Cynthian said, her voice almost a whisper.

And once again in that timeless day, Icetales felt his heart running a mile a second and his own cheeks glowed azure. He wrapped her back with two of his tails, emptied of their freezing energy, while the others wagged and scattered pixie powder and diamond dust.

The atmosphere seemed to warm up and chill at the same time, with the warmth of the sun and the freshness of the snowflakes, and two glowing souls cutting through the darkness of the Voidlands.

They might have been in a desolate land, but they both knew they weren’t alone.

Their hearts had become one, and no matter the distance, no matter the world, no matter the universe, they would always be near.

Always.

<><><><>​
 
R10 - Nip and Cabot

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Nip should have returned back to the village after his long stretch of solitude at the plateaus. But he did not feel ready to return just yet. He walked aimlessly for a while, and eventually ended up by the river again.

He took a seat at the water's edge, staring into the murky red depths with half-lidded eyes. His shadow stood at attention beside him, watching to see if anyone might approach. It, too, seemed troubled. Nip was not sure why, but if he had to hazard a guess, he suspected it to be because the conversation with Vix had not turned out the way it expected it to.
 

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Not too far from Nip both Cabots made their way along the river. With the two being unable to do anything but wait, they both opted to explore the environment north of the village. As they kept walking Cabot couldn't help but notice the odd color of the river's water, prompting him to look at his counterpart with a tilt of his head.

"I wonder why the water's red around here," the Cranidos murmured. "It almost looks like... blood."

"I wish I could say that there's some mundane explanation behind it, but given what sort of place this is, I doubt it."

Cabot grabbed a stick off the ground and dipped it into the river. As soon as he took it back out he grimaced slightly, noticing the stick was now stained red as the liquid dripped off of it.

"That looks disgusting," Dark Cabot said, furrowing his brow.

"Yeah, I'm just gonna..."

Cabot turned to his left and threw the stick away further down the riverside.
 
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