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[Owen] Hot Spot Cave

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
The dim glow of nighttime mushrooms colored the rocky walls of the cave. Mixing with this light were flickering embers of orange and yellow. Owen was lying in the middle of these flames, enjoying the warmth; they licked at his scales and washed over his back. The flame at the end of his tail got hotter, brimming with energy. He rolled over to sear his belly next.

Wait. What happened? Wasn't he--

"No resting on the fire, Owen."

"Wh--huh? I wasn't!" He rolled away and quickly hid beneath his bed of leaves, but then realized just how large he was compared to the rest of his bed and he sat up.

"What--ow." He thumped his head against the relatively low ceilings of the cave. Shaking off the initial stars, the great Charizard scanned the area. "...My... room."

But he wasn't supposed to be here. He checked his scales; black. His belly. Prismatic-white. Yes, he was still not himself. He wasn't home. Yet it felt so...

Who had called him?

Owen didn't feel the presence of anybody else in the area. Perhaps they were somewhere outside...
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
Owen carefully navigated Hot Spot as he knew it. Everything was like he remembered--aside from everyone not being there, of course. It seemed pretty clear why. This was some kind of reconstruction. It didn't feel like a trick or an illusion; this was real. Perhaps a conjuration of the storm, or the dungeon, or... something. Right?

This couldn't be home--and he confirmed that instantly when he saw someone just ahead. The only other soul in this corner of the storm.

"Cal!" Owen ran toward her, and the exit to Hot spot was just ahead, too! "Cal, let's--"

He slowed down. Something was wrong. Cal's flames weren't gold... but a vibrant, bright red. And she was standing between him and the exit to the cave, which shined gently with light.

"Hey, Dad," she said. "We're home."

"Er, kind of, Cal. This isn't really... We have to go! C'mon, let's hurry!" He rushed through, but Cal stepped in the way again, frowning. "Cal?"

She shook her head. She swallowed. Then, with a quivering voice, she said, "Please... stay."

"St... stay?"

"This... this is the only way we'll be at home together, Dad. Please... don't go..."

Cal is blocking the way...
Cal: 1,000
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
"Cal, this isn't... how it should be. You know this." Owen stepped closer, but Cal didn't move. Her red flame grew, like she was ready to strike, but Owen was undeterred. "Come on. It's time to go; shake that off. You aren't yourself; look at your flame."

Cal didn't listen. She only snarled and thrashed her tail in the air behind her. "What," she said, "just because I'm going against you for once, you think I'm being irrational?!" She pointed at him, "I... I always felt like I should listen to you. Now I don't have to! Now you... have to listen to me!"

Owen shook his head. "We don't have time for this--Diyem and the others need us! Please, Cal, can't we--"

Owen tried to move past Cal.
Cal struck Owen, dealing 27 damage!

"Tch--" Owen rubbed at where the flame had scorched some of his prismatic scales. "...I don't think we need to fight."

"Surprising from you, mutant."

Owen's claws twitched. He didn't like that one.
 

Namohysip

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Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
"I'm not fighting you," Owen finally said. There had been a long silence between them.

"Oh? Really? You?" Cal taunted. "Yeah, right... You want to fight me right now, don't you? Because that's all you do. That's all you WANT to do. I came from your head, I know what's going on! So what?! If--if you want to go, you'll have to force your way through, and... and I won't let you! You can't fight without me, but I sure as hell can fight without you!"

"Cal, you aren't even making sense. I can fight fine on my own!"

"Then prove it!"

"Why?"

Owen refuses to fight!
Cal used Wing Attack on Owen, dealing a grazing 30 damage!

This time, Owen deftly moved out of the way and held Cal by the arm, firm. "Cal, enough."

"This is--this is how your kind listen, isn't it?! By fighting?! If... if I win, then... then you'll stay! That's how it works! If we fight... and I win... you'll stay!" Cal struggled out of his hold, huffing and puffing.

"Is... is that what this is about?" Owen asked.

Owen called Cal!
Cal used Wing Attack on Owen, dealing a grazing 29 damage!

And again, Owen deflected the blows with quick movements with his hands, pushing Cal to the side with her own weight.

"I'm not... I'm not going to just..." Cal puffed. "Stop... toying with me. Do you even care about me?!"

Cal's attacks became more accurate!

Cal: 1,000

"Please, just fight me! Let me win... and then... Then you'll STAY!"
 

Namohysip

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Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
Owen stepped toward the exit again.

"STOP!"

Cal used Dragon Claw on Owen, dealing 85 damage!

The indigo flames crossed Owen's back, and he winced slightly at that one before slowly turning back to look at her. He sighed, contemplating something, and then nodded.

"You aren't going to come with me if I leave, are you?"

"Y-you won't leave because I won't let you," Cal said, but Owen was too large for her to get around. If he wished, he could go and she'd only be able to scream and claw from within the cave. Owen understood, then, that he could not leave.

Not without her.

"...Alright." Owen turned around, facing her. "I'll fight you."

"Y-you will?" Cal asked, like she wasn't expecting it. That desperate look in her eye ebbed away a little. "Okay, then... then what are you gonna open with? It'll be a good fight, yeah?"

Owen held his hands together, placing it on the ground. His body faded, looking transparent, and a glowing tree appeared behind Cal. She turned to see that light, but then gasped and faced Owen. "H-hey!" But he'd disappeared. "N-no! Don't go! WAIT! PLEASE!"

"I'm right here, Cal," Owen said gently. "It's okay. I didn't leave."

Cal let out a loud whimper and sigh--she was trembling. She searched hopelessly for where Owen had gone.

"This way, Cal. Take a moment and pause. It's okay. The tree. I'm by the tree."

Owen used Blinding Aether and boosted his Defense by 2.

Cal approached the tree.

"Let's talk."

"What?" Cal asked. She was still shaking. Her Core looked ready to split in two, and then some. She was barely put together as is.

"I can't fight if you're shaking."

"I'm... n-not shaking..."

Owen Focused and gained another Defense. His Radiance went down to 60.

Cal talked with Owen.

"What are you afraid of?" Owen asked. "Staying here isn't going to solve anything."

"Yes it would. If we stay here... you'll...you won't have to go home. This will be home. We'll be together. A-and maybe we can find the others, and we'll live there, and... and nobody will have to say goodbye. And nobody will die. And we'll just... w-we'll just..."

"Cal... Are you sure?"

"Can't we just fight already?" Cal asked. "I don't... I don't want to talk about this anymore."

"Do we need to fight?"

"What kind of stupid question is that?! O-of course we... how else are we gonna settle this?"

Owen is Focusing. His Defense went up by 1. His Radiance is 40.

Cal used Work Up. Her Attack and Magic are +1.

"You like fighting, but it isn't your usual go-to. So why are you asking me to fight now?"

"Because that's the only way YOU'LL understand!" Cal shouted back, standing up. "You... you don't get it otherwise! Because that's... how you are."

"Then attack me."

"I... I will! I will, because... because you... then if I beat you, you'll..."

Owen is Focusing. His Defense went up by 1. His Radiance is 20.

Cal used Work Up. Her Attack and Magic are +2.

"...W-wait... a-are... are you geting stronger right now? You... t-tricked me!"

"Cal, no, that's not what I'm doing. I'm--"

"No! I can tell! Y-you used all this time just to get stronger, you LIED to me! I'm... th-that's not fair! I th-thought this was a talk! But you were fighting this whole t-time! I... I'm..." Cal's red embers darted left and right, and then she saw Owen's bag lying nearby. Usually, when Owen entered his Aether state, she carried the items. But now it was on the ground. He couldn't use them. In fact...

Owen is Focusing. His Defense is maxed out! His Radiance is 0!

Cal lunged for Owen's bag!

"H-ha! What now, huh?!" Cal asked. "Y-you can't beat me now, not without all these! What're you gonna do, huh?" Cal dangled it in front of Owen, but his spirit only watched with a small frown. He crossed his arms, then folded his wings over his chest.

"What are you going to do with it?" Owen asked.

Owen Focused. He healed his main body for 25% HP.

"I... I'm gonna..." Cal looked in the bag, searching for various trinkets. She pulled out one of the more defensive ones. "Y-you... I'm gonna win this fight. I'm gonna..."

Cal destroyed Owen's Protect Orb!

Glass shattered on the ground. A barrier enveloped Cal, but Owen did nothing to stop it. Her barrier faded seconds later and Cal, shaking again, dug through the bag. She stared at Owen and waited for a reaction at all. Anything! But he wasn't reacting. He only watched.

"Not gonna do anything?" Cal taunted. Her voice cracked. "Do you even CARE?"

Owen Focused. He healed his main body for 25% HP.

Cal destroyed Owen's Escape Orb!

It shattered across the hall. A small portal formed, but then disappeared without taking anybody inside.

"Why don't you care?!" Cal shouted. "Do you even care about ME?"

"Why are you doing this?" Owen asked, voice even and calm. Gentle. Cal hated it.

"Because if you STAY, I WIN! I... I mean, if I win, you stay!"

"Why do you think that?"

"Because... because you won't be able to leave. Because I... because you'll... because... b-because! Just because! A-and-- wait. I know why you aren't scared. It's because... you know you have insurance for all this! Because of this, right?" She held it up, that tiny seed with the heart-shaped sprout emerging from it.

And then she crushed it.

And Owen said nothing.

Owen Focused. He healed his main body for 25% HP.

Cal destroyed Owen's Reviver Seed!

Cal: 1,000
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
"Why aren't... why aren't you listening? Why aren't you reacting? I just--I just got rid of all your one-way trips out of here! Now there's no way for you to win! D-do you get it?!"

Owen's body fully solidified, leaving behind the ethereal tree as a centerpiece to the town.

Cal shrank away at how large Owen seemed again. Even though the tree was bigger... something about the flesh-and-blood Owen was more intimidating. He seemed even tougher than when he'd first arrived. But his eyes were kind...

"Just... stop this! Stop this... cryptic silence!"

Cal used Dragon Claw on Owen, dealing 49 damage!

Cal bristled. "D-do you... do you even care?"

Owen was just standing there, taking it. Her claws slashed against his gut, leaving small wounds... but then, with a flicker of Blacklight fire, the wounds healed.

Owen Unleashed! He grasped the Dragon Claw and absorbed it as a raw Magic attack. He healed for 80 HP!

Cal flinched. "N... no. I won't let you! I won't-- you don't get to do that! You don't!

Cal used Work Up!

Owen focused out of Unleash...

"Cal... it's okay," Owen said. "I'm sorry that everything is like this. I'm sorry that... that I really do have to go. That you--"

"I just said, you don't have to! We can stay here, forever! E-even when you die... I'll keep your spirit here, and we can live here forever, happy. H-happy! Isn't that all we really want?"

"It isn't that simple, Cal... It isn't. And you know that, don't you?"

Cal didn't answer.

Dragon Claw! Work Up! Dragon Claw! Work Up! Dragon Claw! Cal's offenses are maxed out! Cal's Dragon Claws are dealing over 120 damage each time!

The cycle continued...

She was starting to do some damage. With a flicker of confidence, her aura flaring to life as her offenses were completely maximized, she spread her wings. "Y-you can't win now!" she said. "I--I'm outpacing how much you can patch up! Now I--"

Owen used Shining Bestow on himself, restoring 50% HP!
Owen has many, many Stored Dragon attacks...

"I... I..." Cal's wings drooped. "Y-you..."

Owen stepped toward Cal. Just one stride and he was there. Cal attempted another Dragon Claw, but this time, Owen brought his hand forward and caught her in a Protect shield with a deft movement. She yelped, trying to pull away, but Owen grabbed that same arm and held it firm.

"Let go! Y-you can't make me go! I'll... I'll die before you force me to go!"

Owen pulled Cal close.

"L-let go! I don't care what you say!"

"I'm not saying anything," Owen said gently. "I won't force you."

Cal used Flare Blitz! Flare Blitz! Flare Blitz!

Owen used Shining Bestow, and then Focused...
Owen has countless Stored attacks.

Cal was not a creature that was able to cry... but he could tell that she was. Every strike was more desperate than the last, but no matter what she did, she was simply unable to outpace him. He had it all to a cycle, and there was nothing she could do. But Cal was not the kind of person to accept that. She kept attacking, over and over and over. And the stockpile of attacks behind Owen loomed more and more, a great blade over Cal's neck.

A blade that Owen had no intention to swing.

"Cal," Owen said. "Let's talk."

"I hate you," Cal sobbed. "Just be mad. Be mad like a normal person already. I hate this... I h-hate this..."

Owen knew she wasn't being rational. Something was influencing her. But he also knew that, like everything they'd encountered in this world, there was a small piece of truth at the center of it all.

"You're going to be okay," Owen said. "I'm here for you now. And you won't need me later."

Cal struck Owen, but she didn't even try.

Owen pulled Cal closer. "You're hurting yourself," Owen said. The flames that had danced around her recent attacks--they were weaker, so much weaker, than her Dragon Claws after her claws had worn down to nothing... Those flames ate away at her. Owen pulled Cal close. "Enough, Cal. Rest. Here."

Owen gave Cal a Sitrus Berry.

She stared at it with those red ember eyes. Her face twisted into something of a grimace, like she'd been stabbed in the heart, and then the blade twisted around inside.

"I messed up all your equipment... I... I don't deserve it."

Cal pushed it away.

Owen didn't press it. Instead, he put it back in his bag and pulled her closer.

Owen held Cal, rocking left and right.
Cal weakly hit his chest.

"Are you scared?" Owen asked.

"No," Cal replied, and Owen believed her. "I just... don't want you to go. I thought... maybe if you stayed... I wouldn't ever..."

"But you know we can't."

Cal curled up, shivering. Owen hugged her tighter.

 

Namohysip

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Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
"Please," Cal said gently. "We'll be fine here, won't we? We can... we can conjure our own spirits here. Maybe we can make new lives. And it'll always be nighttime, so we can play by the fires of our tail, and stuff. We'll go out and fly and then come back to rest. Nobody else will matter. It'll just be us..."

"Do you think that would be better than being with everyone else?" Owen asked. "Your siblings? Your friends? Everyone you got to know on Cibus?"

"But you'll be gone..."

"Maybe," Owen said, "but you'll get tired of me eventually. Life is all about meeting new people and making new friends. People change and grow apart. Some stay. Some go. But you can't stay in one spot when the whole world changes around you."

"I don't want to change," Cal said. "I just want things to be like they are now. When we can have fights together and battle like we've been together forever. If we stay here... it'll be forever, won't it?"

"Do you think that's what'll happen?" He brought a claw over her head, rubbing between her horns, and pulled her close again.

"I... I don't know. But I know that if we leave... it definitely won't. And I'll... be alone."

"You'll just go without me. You won't be alone with everyone else. And you're too strong, Cal. You won't need me when this is over."

"Just because I don't need you doesn't mean I don't want you!" Cal snapped. "I know I'll be fine! I know it'll be okay! I j-just... why can't you just cry with me for once?! What's happened to you?! I..."

"I changed," Owen said, frowning. "But... I am sad, too. I am, I just..." He sighed. "I've said goodbye to a lot of people before, and I didn't know it when it happened. I've lived a long time where my old lives were... taken from me. And the people I knew, I never had a chance to say goodbye to them. When I saw them again... they changed. I changed. The ones I knew, the ones in my head that I had of them, were... gone.

"But you, Cal..." Owen shook his head, smiling. "I get to say goodbye to you. I've had all this time to be ready for it. To make sure that I can get my best days with you when I can. So when we go... there won't be any regrets. I... I want that. Cal, I want to say goodbye to you on my terms for once. Not someone else's."

"Goodbye... on your terms." Cal mumbled that to herself. "...Everyone else you've known... They were taken from you. Or you were taken from them. How is this any different? You still..."

"It's the same," Owen agreed, "in all ways but one. This time... I chose to come here, knowing I'd have to leave. It was to save Cibus. I didn't intend... for you to be born here. And I still have to go... and I don't think you can follow me. But... you have a life here. You have siblings you can't say goodbye to yet. But me... I want you to be ready for me. Then, it'll be on our terms. Does that make sense?"

"Not at all," Cal said, slouching against him. But Owen knew she was lying. Still, something was bothering her. Something further. The red embers in her eyes flickered with gold, but were still largely corrupted with Eien's energy. "...It's still... not my choice. This isn't my choice..."

"What isn't?" Owen asked.

"Goodbye. If we leave here... that's the beginning, right? The beginning of... you really going away. Saying goodbye. Once we save Eien... once we fight Soda... that's it."

"It will be."

"And I don't have a choice. You're gonna... drag me out of here. A-and I... I guess I'm okay with that. I do have to help. S-save the world. I'm... I'm being selfish. I just hate how... how powerless I am about it. I never had any control, huh?"

Owen studied her. Everything was so quiet here. Peaceful. He did like it, even if he knew it was all an illusion, and there were still so many fights going on in the storm. He wondered how everyone else's struggles were going. But right now... Cal was what mattered. Cal, more than anyone, was his duty to care for right now. In this pocket of the world... she was the only one that he had to tend to.

So, Owen stood up, and Cal tensed, squeezing her fists tight. "Go on," she said. "D... do it. I... I'm ready. Just... take me away. Even if I k-kick and scream and call you all sorts of things, I'll... I'll understand once we get back to the others. I'll get it. I... just get it over with."

Her red embers, flecked with gold, shrank. Like she was closing her eyes. She dipped her head, only occasionally glancing upward at the countless spheres of raw power that loomed over Owen, all ready to rain down on her in a cataclysmic, decisive blaze. She whimpered, but nodded, understanding what had to be done. She was ready to go.

"Okay," Owen said, and he pointed his claw forward. "I'm sorry, Cal."

Cal said nothing.

She waited. And waited. And waited for the attacks to land. When none did, she opened her eyes and saw that all of the spheres had disappeared from Owen's shoulders. There was a great light that cast her see-through shadow in a sharper image. Too startled for words, she spun around to stare at it. All of the attacks. All at once.

All under Cal's command.

Owen used... Shining Bestow on Cal.
Cal received Owen's stored attacks, and healed to full.

"It's your choice to make," Owen said, and then lowered his head, eyes closed.
 

Namohysip

Dragon Enthusiast
Staff
Partners
  1. charizard
  2. milotic
The only things to fill the silence of the labyrinthine caverns were their twin, humming flames.

Cal stood there, holding the world over her shoulders, as her father stood opposite to her, head down and ready to bear its blow. He showed no fear, no resignation, only patience. And, this time, Cal could only stare in befuddlement. The weight felt so strong.

"Why?" Cal asked. "Why would you do this?"

"I've spent my whole life," Owen said, "letting other people make choices for me. I don't want to impose that on someone else. I know... that I'm still talking to you, Cal, no matter what this place twisted your mind into. And I know that you'll make the choice that you would have even without it." Owen looked down.

"But now you're letting someone else make the choice again!" Cal said. "H-how is that fair?!"

"I've made a lot of choices here," Owen said. "Maybe it's about time you made one."

"And you're just... certain I'll do the choice you want, then?" Cal asked, voice shaking. "That I'll just throw this... this place all away because you'd guilt me into it?"

Owen didn't open his eyes, but she knew he could see her. It was all just a gesture for him. He always saw her, always. "No," Owen said. "I said I knew you'd make the same choice... with or without those red flames. So you'll make it as yourself. I want you to decide."

"This... this is a trick," Cal said. "You're not... I..."

"What do you want?" Owen said. "That power isn't going anywhere. There's no rush."

"But there is a rush," Cal said. "O-our team's out there fighting, a-and we're just standing here, and you said all of that yourself! H-how is there not a rush?!"

Owen said nothing. But he listened.

"I don't... why do you have to throw this at me? Why couldn't you have just forced me out?!"

"It's easy to let others tell you what to do," Owen replied. "I would know."

"Yeah, it fucking is."

"But if you want to be stronger," Owen said, "you have to make choices for yourself. Are you ready for that? You want to stand on your own. You want to be in control. I'm giving you the choice. You're in control." Owen peeked with one eye. That red eye. It was so soft. The light of those stored attacks reflected off of it. "I think you're ready."

More silence. Flames hummed. Cal's dimmed. Owen's snapped once, like he was bracing for something...

And then, finally, Cal collapsed to her knees, hands on the ground. The power above her dispelled, scattering in all directions at once, all over and around her aimlessly. Small explosions knocked rocks away and singed the floor, leaving a molten rock behind. Owen casually brought his arm up and knocked away a few of the stray hits with a readied Protect bracer. Cal didn't see it; her focus had been on the ground.

"I'm sorry," Cal said quietly, sobbing. Owen noticed that her core was gone. "I'm... I'm sorry..."

He gently leaned forward and scooped her up, using his wings as extra support. She was smaller than usual, but still very much a Charizard in shape. "Is that your choice?" Owen asked, nuzzling against her shoulder. "It's okay. You did great."

"But your items, and... and all those attacks I did to you..."

"Both temporary," Owen said, turning. "Are you ready?"

Cal hesitated, but finally nodded.

"I could tell in your heart that you wanted to fight. Fight me, fight Eien, fight the world. And you can't do that in here... So I knew you'd come. But I think you needed to make that choice yourself. It's not the same if someone does it for you."

Cal sniffed. "...You're warm..."

Owen squeezed his wings over her. "Yeah. I am."

"I can feel your heartbeat, too..."

"Yeah. It's pretty loud, huh?"

"I don't really have one, but... I... I feel like we share the same tempo... D-does that make sense?"

"I think so." Owen stepped toward the exit. There wasn't a storm out, but he could feel rumbles in the ground to the east. Cal squirmed a little and he let her down. "Let's go, then. Together. Can you fly?"

"I can."

They smiled at each other, spread their wings, and left their home behind.

Owen's Eternal Spirit awakened!
"Our hearts beat as one!" - Once per battle, when Shining Bestow is used, Owen can target three allies without losing his own boons.

<><><>​
 
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