Summary + Title Card + Chapter 1
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Dual Wills
Elvira had one dream: to become a mercenary at the famed Irian Guild. But as Selenia descended into tyranny, her father disappeared off the face of Ardalion, and the world began to experience unnatural events, that dream drifted further away from her.
It would take an encounter with an amnesiac, green-eyed Riolu claiming to be human for Fate’s gears to turn. The path she would walk with him would be one that would shape the course of not just their lives, but the lives of everyone on the continent of Ardalion - noble and commoner alike.
Art by spinaltapdancer3
A Fateful Encounter
A Fateful Encounter
A Treecko stood in front of a boiling pot of stew. She watched as it bubbled, carefully watching so as not to burn the mixture, otherwise that would mean the ruin of tonight's dinner. The fire cooking the stew had always made her nervous, and still did, but she'd grown used to its heat in the many times she'd cooked at it.
In the last few weeks especially, she'd gotten used to it, owing to the dinners she'd been making. She'd had to, because the main cook of the house was out of commission.
The Treecko sighed, reminding herself of that reality once more. Her mother, a Heliolisk, should really have been the one preparing the dinner. She was an excellent cook whose meals rarely failed to be anything less than delectable. But one day, a few weeks ago, she tripped and fell awkwardly, and in the process, broke her leg.
Luckily, it wasn't serious. But even so, a number of weeks would be required to allow the Heliolisk's leg to heal.
All the while, her daughter insisted on doing more around the house and preparing the dinners while her leg recovered. Although her mother was reluctant to let her broken leg impact her, she relented in the end.
The Treecko had to admit to the tough work that went into keeping the house clean, cooking dinners and looking after her mother, all at the same time. How the Heliolisk managed it all, she had little idea. In that sense, she had respect for her for being able to juggle all of the daily tasks of the house with relative ease.
But at least, the Treecko had been able to handle tonight's dinner, as she felt the cooking had reached a good point to serve it. She took two bowls and ladled the mixture into them, before bringing them to the table.
"Mom!" she called. "Dinner's ready!"
There was a distinct shuffling noise, and then the sound of wood clicking against the floor could be heard as the Treecko's mother shuffled her way into the kitchen. A Heliolisk on wooden crutches trudged into the room, a cast present on her right leg.
"Smells great," she commented, as she took her place at the table opposite her daughter. She brought the spoon to her lips and tasted the stew. "And tastes great too. Your skills are catching up to mine, Elvira."
"No...I'm not even close to your level, Mom," Elvira, the Treecko, downplayed. "I don't get everything right. Remember last week, when I burned the soup that morning?"
"You were distracted at the time. Besides, those are basic errors that can be corrected with experience," pardoned the Heliolisk. "When I started out with cooking, I made my fair share of mistakes too. It's all to do with experience, Elvira. I didn't learn my cooking skills overnight."
"True, but…" Elvira sighed wistfully. "I doubt I'll ever be as good a cook as you, Mom. It's because...you have a passion for it that I don't have. Your ability just seems so far above my level that it feels impossible to get even close to it."
"Even so, you're not bad at it," her mother returned. "You certainly have potential to get better."
"...I don't know…I was never really into what you did, Mom." A conflicted look came into her eye, one that her mother had come to know all too well in the past while. "I always wanted to be a mercenary like Dad. But…that's not really an option anymore, is it?"
"Elvira…" The Heliolisk, whose name was Zenobia, felt for her daughter. She loved her, as any mother did. And growing up, she'd always supported Elvira's want to be a mercenary. It was a career path the Treecko had wanted to go along since she was a little girl, hearing all about the adventures her father got up to. And when he was around, he was all too willing to foster that want for her.
But for reasons beyond their control…that bridge had been burned, and the option to be a mercenary was no longer available to her. To that end, she couldn't blame her daughter for moping.
Especially when her father was such a good role model, too…
Zenobia got back to eating her stew. It was nice - proof that what she was saying to Elvira wasn't just empty words. However, her daughter was picking at her food. No doubt the conversation they'd had had brought her back into the doldrums.
Before long, Zenobia finished her meal. But Elvira had barely gotten halfway through hers.
"I'm not hungry," the Treecko announced.
"Elvira…please eat," the Heliolisk insisted.
"I'm fine, Mom." Her tone suggested she was anything but. "I just don't really have an appetite, is all."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure, Mom."
"...If you insist." Zenobia didn't have a response to that. She didn't want to badger her daughter further.
Elvira got up and took the plate from her mother. She then took her own plate and brought them and the pot to be washed up. Once that was done, she looked out the window.
"I want to go to the beach for a while," Elvira then said.
"...It's getting late," Zenobia commented. "...Alright. But don't stay out too long, will you? Night will fall soon."
"Don't worry, Mom. I'll be back before then," Elvira promised. She left the kitchen, and soon, the sound of the front door opening and closing could be heard.
Zenobia heard all of this, and sighed. She had hoped for a quiet evening reading a book in the living room, but now she had this to deal with, and it would weigh on her mind for the rest of the evening.
It hadn't been uncommon in the last while, this melancholic attitude from Elvira. However, the Heliolisk felt guilty for not being able to do much about it. That matter was simply out of her hands to deal with, and there was only so much encouragement and pep talks she could give her daughter before her words began to ring hollow.
I don't blame her at all. If I were in her shoes, I'd feel as downcast as her. Especially given all that's happened in the world…
She shook her head to get rid of those thoughts, and made her way to the living room. She sat. She sat down on one of the chairs with a footstool in front of it, and picked up a book entitled Selenia: The History of Ruslan's Domain, picking up where she had left off before dinner.
But she didn't get too far into her book before the thoughts inside her head proved too great a distraction. With a sigh, the Heliolisk put the book down and gazed over at the wall beside her.
On it was a painting depicting three figures in the evening sunset. On the right was a young Elvira. Next to her in the middle was Zenobia herself. But it was the figure on the left that the Heliolisk was gazing at wistfully.
"...If only Elvira could get out of this spell she's in…" she murmured. "She hasn't gotten over your disappearance. Neither of us have. It really hasn't been the same without you. Knowing you're missing…it breaks both our hearts." She closed her eyes, trying to fight back her emotions.
"I'm sorry, Kallias. I wish I could do more for our little girl…"
Elvira made her way to the beach. Her house was located a stone's throw from the sea, and there was an idyllic beach not far from her house. While not a large beach, it still made a good place to walk on and sheltered enough to go for a swim, if that was desired. As Elvira made her way onto it, she gazed at the sea in awe of the sight.
No matter how many times I come here, I never get used to this view, the Treecko thought to herself. The setting sun made for an impressive backdrop, colouring the sky with a mixture of different colours, from orange to red to blue to pink. Not to mention, the sound of waves crashing against the shore helped to calm Elvira. It never failed to do that. Seeing this place brought back happy memories from her childhood, of her and her parents frolicking on the sands.
Once, she recalled that the sound of the waves had been so soothing that she'd fallen asleep, and had to be carried back to the house by her father.
She could still remember his voice through memories on this beach, and the encouraging words he would say to her to bring joy into her life.
"You're getting quite good at Outlaw and Mercenary, Elvira. At this rate, you might end up matching my speed when you get older."
"...Were you holding back, Dad? You weren't going as fast as you normally were."
"Hah! You're sharp. How did you guess that?"
"It was obvious, Dad! Anyone would be able to see that you weren't going as fast as you can go! I've seen you go much faster than that!"
"...Well, the Torracat's out of the bag now. Yes, I was holding back. But look at it this way; it's good to detect when someone's holding back. In the world of the mercenary, not all outlaws are the same. They might well have a motive for their crimes."
"But...why? Why would someone be an outlaw, if they're not a bad person?"
"...It's complicated, Elvira. Some outlaws are selfish and greedy and do bad things. But others don't have a choice. If they're really poor, they won't be able to afford even the cheapest food on the market. And so they have to steal food if they want to live. The world of outlaws and criminals isn't all black and white. Of course their actions are unreasonable - it's why us mercenaries exist. But...in the future, try to put yourself in their mindset. Why are they doing this? What do they stand to gain?"
"Oh, okay…I kinda get it? Everyone has a reason for doing something."
"...Something like that. You'll get there yet, my girl. You have the fledgling heart of an Irian Guild merc within you yet."
It was one of her fondest memories with him. It had the two things that mattered to her more than anything in the world - her father, and her ambition to become a mercenary at the famed Irian Guild.
But five years ago…both had been taken from her. That fact stabbed her in the heart more than anything, and she felt tears prick at her eyes.
Where are you, Dad? Why haven't you visited us for five years? …Something's happened to you, I know it. But I can't do anything about it. All because I'm not strong enough…I mean, look at me. A Treecko, at my age? I should have evolved into a Grovyle by now. But I never kept up my training. And look what's come of it…
She looked towards the evening sun, vision blurred with tears.
I never was strong. Not good enough to be a cook like Mom, and definitely not strong enough to be even a good mercenary like Dad. …Weak…that's all I am…!
Elvira began to cry. There were periods where she tried to keep a smile on her face, but they never lasted. Since five years ago, it truly felt as though those happy days in her childhood were now firmly in the past. Now the days where she felt truly happy were few and far between, all because her two passions had been taken from her.
And it wasn't even her fault. It was because Fate had decided to deal an especially cruel hand to her. In fact, not just to her, but the whole world.
For whatever reason, in the last few years, and especially in the last year, there had been an increase in natural disasters and abnormal weather patterns. In regions where volcanoes and mountains were located, it was noted that more eruptions and earthquakes were taking place, which devastated communities in those regions.
Extreme weather events were another factor. Firstly, the storms that normally came into Selenia around the autumn were much fiercer, leading to more washouts, floods, and landslides. Then the winter had seen heavy snowfall and bitter cold sweep across the land. And following a brief respite in the spring, the first half of this summer had seen an exceptional drought take place across all of Ardalion. This had meant the drying up of wells, and water shortages all around. Luckily, Elvira lived near a town that had a lake, but her thoughts went out to those who didn't have such luxuries. Like the deserts of Alba, up north. From what little she'd heard, it had been absolute hell up there.
Thankfully, there had been some rain in the last week, so it wasn't a completely hopeless situation. The well out at the back of their house had some water in it thanks to that. But even so…it was worrying. Very worrying, indeed, that this was happening.
But why was this so? Many in society had asked this question. But no one had been able to give a definitive answer. Was some Legendary of the weather running rampant? Was it divine retribution for not paying enough tribute to the Creator? (Some religious types had proposed this notion.) Or was it just a freak couple of years, and everything would eventually go back to normal?
Alas, at this point in time, no concrete explanations for these mysteries surfaced, and so in their places filled guesses and conspiracy theories, many of them wild and unbelievable. Such was the way when people were starved of the truth.
Elvira was thinking about all of this as she walked down the beach. And unfortunately, it meant that she wasn't paying attention to the path in front of her.
Therefore, the Treecko was taken rudely out of her thoughts when she tripped over something and fell face-first into the sand. Worse still, it was as the waves flowed in, and she received a mouthful of swash as her face made contact with the soft sand.
"Urgh!" Elvira gagged, spitting out the salt water and sand. "What did I just trip over?" She turned around to look.
And what she saw made her eyes widen in shock.
She hadn't tripped over something.
She'd tripped over someone.
Laying on the shores of the beach, next to some seaweed and shells, was the body of a blue and black furred canine Pokémon.
"What? A Riolu?" Elvira uttered, hardly believing what she was seeing. Are they…alive? She went over to check the Pokémon, and listened for breathing. She need not have worried, however; the Riolu was breathing. However, it was also passed out, and unresponsive.
"Wake up," the Treecko urged, admittedly somewhat lamely. "...Wake up! Please!" She gripped the Pokémon's sides and shook it, trying to wake it up. Unfortunately, this amounted to nothing, and the Riolu was still as unconscious as it had been before.
"Oh no, oh no, oh no...What am I going to do?" Elvira panicked. "What if this Riolu needs medical attention? I don't see any injuries...but it'd be best if I brought them back to the house. Yeah, that would be best. ...Riolu!" she informed the unconscious Pokémon, disregarding the fact that they probably could not hear her. "I'm going to bring you back to my house! We'll patch you up there!"
No response. The Riolu remained inactive.
Elvira leaned down and tried to pick up the Riolu. However, the Fighting-type was bigger and heavier than her, and that option proved to be fruitless. She therefore had to resort to dragging the Pokémon behind her. It was unceremonious and inefficient, but it was the best Elvira could do, given the circumstances.
Elvira continued back to her home. All the while, her mind was ablaze with thoughts.
Just who is this Riolu? Where did they come from? Do they have loved ones? If so, where are they? Just...what happened to this Riolu before it came here?
These questions were a flurry in the young Treecko's mind as she neared her house, with the Riolu in tow.
Welcome to Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Dual Wills! This is a fanfiction that I've had on FFN and AO3 for more than a year now, but I've decided to bring it over here. It all stemmed from reading Pokémon fanfiction for a while, and over time, ideas in my head came together as to what a vision of my own Pokémon story might be like. Specifically, a Pokémon-centric story like the Mystery Dungeon series. Ideas built themselves up over time, and this is what they've culminated into. I hope you enjoy my work!
Update (10/2/23): I now have title art! Courtesy of the worthy @spinaltapdancer, who did a wonderful job!