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Introduction and Table of Contents


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
NOTE: This is a discontinued version - you can find the newer, current version of the fic here!

“Every end opens the door to a new beginning.”

When I'm done, you won't remember anything about this conversation, or who you were before. Maybe that's for the best. I need a pure soul, a blank slate. Something untarnished by It.

Other things happened but you can't see them feel them hear them. The distant fleeting whispers of the memory are covered up, erased, crumbled to pieces and stolen away like everything else. Only a pleasant light fills your senses, blotting out what happened next, making you feel euphoric. You distantly register it's all you can feel.

You deserve an explanation. The world you must save has lived in peace for ten thousand years. But the end is coming once more. Something from behind the barriers of reality seeks to destroy this world and everything in it. It has planted its seed in every living being, able to control them with just their flimsy consent.

Images flash through your head. Not your own. Planted there. A mighty airship, floating over looming clouds. A sylveon in a brilliant blue cape, looking down upon an empire below. The red sands and dust of an otherworld, framed under a crimson sky. Darkness, disrupted by flickers of gold and something blacker than black underneath.

The great guilds of the world are compromised, under Its control. It is poised to strike soon; there is nowhere else to turn. Even as we speak, It is tracking us down, seeking to destroy you and me.

You try to talk, but you don't have a mouth. Did you open it to scream? You don't remember. This happened before, not now. A vision you're forgetting as you remember, that's being eaten away by the light.

My paws are now tied. I cannot bring any more saviors from beyond. You are the last.

You won't remember anything I say, but I know you are up to the task. I've made you into exactly what the world needs from you. You'll be the last of Mew's Heroes, the one to save us all. You have to be. There's no-mon else.

Go calmly and bravely, dear Espurr, into the new world…


SparklingEspeon Presents

A tribute to the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon Series

Based on the character of "Espurr" from Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon




Espurr woke up in the middle of the woods and was attacked by three sinister beheeyem. Seeking sanctuary in the secluded Serenity Village with only a gaggle of children and hyperactive troublemaker Tricky for company, it falls to her to get to the bottom of the strange events eclipsing the entire world... before the dark forces stalking her catch up. An AU Fix-It rewrite of Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, starring Espurr.

Genres: Drama / Fantasy / Horror | Rated Hard T


Bullying, Violence, Death, Fantasy Discrimination, Heavy Themes, Suicidal Thought Trains

Thanks to @windskull and ShadowVulpi for beta-reading.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the beginning of my much-labored upon longfic project, Do Psychic Cats Dream of Electric Sheep! ...Or just "Psychic Sheep" for short, since I've gotten complaints over how long the name and acronym are. This is an alternate universe adaptation of Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon, starring the game's side character Espurr in the protagonist spot. If you ever played the game and were simultaneously disappointed and in awe with how many good ideas it THREW AWAY, and how it always seemed to choose the worst narrative option to approach its story, then this fic is for you. If you liked the game's characters but thought they were paper-thin, this fic is for you. If you just wanted to see more of Espurr (you aren't alone, otherwise this wouldn't exist), then this fic is for you! If you haven't played any of the games and just clicked on this out of curiosity... this fic could be for you. If you like slow burns, school-aged characters, fantasy, horror, angst, and globe-spanning political plots, you'll probably like this.

You should not need any prior knowledge of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon franchise to understand this story; if you can tell your pikachu from your charmander (or google the difference), you're good. Because of the vagueness of the canon and the amount of details I've changed, my hope is that anyone can pick this up and treat it similar to an original fantasy with pokemon in it. If something's confusing you or you don't think the story explained something well enough, send me a DM! It might be something I missed, or something that hasn't been unveiled yet.

Before you go any further, you should be informed that this fic contains instances of:

- Bullying
- Death (mostly by implication)
- Violence (mostly by implication and nothing with blood for the TR version)
- Fantasy Discrimination
- Heavy Themes
- Suicidal Thought Trains (Rare)

And is rated Hard T as a result. I'll stick a content warning in spoilers at the top of any chapters I deem graphic and can be messaged to provide summaries for anything you don't feel comfortable reading. However, some of these are more omnipresent than contained to specific instances. So if any of these bug you, read ahead at your own risk.

Much like a longform television show, this story is at its best when viewed by arc and not necessarily by episode. The first two arcs are a slow burn, and things don't pick up from the get-go! I'll accept criticism on any part/chunk of the story, but humbly request that you factor this fic's long-term storytelling nature in when judging it. If you want rest breaks for the later, longer arcs, either reading in batches of three or stopping at the Special Episodes is a safe bet narratively. And speaking of those...

- The Special Episodes are important event chapters and cannot be skipped. There are no skippable chapters in this fic, and outside of a narrow subset of pokemon fanfiction the term "special episode" can widely mean a chapter with content divorced from the rest of the story. The special episodes here provide crucial backstory and context to the rest of the fic, and cannot be skipped.

With all that out of the way...


Prologue - Those That Live In This World


1. - Tricky
2. - The Dazzling Debut of the Dashing Wanderer!
3. - The Deserted Plaza
4. - Nuzleaf
5. - Monster of the Mines
6. - The Council of Baram
7. - I Walk Through Your Dreams
8. - Maelstrom
9. - The Dungeon Test
10. - Interlude the First: Strange Things On the Horizon
11. - Special Episode I: The End's Beginning


12. - Deerling's Day
13. - The Dungeon Runners, Pt. I
14. - The Dungeon Runners, Pt. II
15. - Photos and Conspiracy
16. - The Clubhouse
17. - Fright Night
18. - Revelation Mountain
19. - The Calm and The Storm
20. - And I Bring Nightmares
21. - The Crooked House
22. - Salutations From the Other Side
23. - Void and Shadow
24. - All Together Now
25. - What Came After
26. - Interlude the Second: Rejected

27. - Special Episode II: When the World Was Cold
28. - Special Episode II: Falling Through Time


29. - Ghost Ship
30. - To Lively Town
31. - A Day At the Expedition Society
32. - Hunt
33. - Traveler's Demise
34. - Welcome To Paradise
35. - Yellow Scarf
36. - Triple Agent
37. - Port Archaios
38. - The Sands of Time
39. - A Night in The Desert
40. - A Job Well Done
41. - Special Episode III: From Summer to Winter
42. - Cloud Nine: The Landing
43. - A Link to The Past
44. - Speech
45. - Grimmsnarl's Storm
46. - Death by Crimson
47. - Battle of the Waterport
48. - The True Nature of Things
49. - The Winds of Winter
50. - Paradise Lost
51. - Interlude the Third: Sanctuary
52. - Special Episode IV: My Paradise


Mist Continent
  • Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute (H.A.P.P.I.)
The largest and current rescue guild management organization to exist on the planet. The owner and facilitator of the Connection Orb Network, and manufacturer of Z-crystal power sources, H.A.P.P.I. has achieved global connection of the rescue team network like never before.
  • Pokemon Paradise
The famous establishment that housed the heroes who saved Mist soon merged with Post Town near it to become Pokemon Paradise, the largest city in the world. Pokemon of all shapes, sizes, and creeds live together in a constantly expanding and plentiful city, and there are special provisions and quarters fenced off for H.A.P.P.I. rescue teams and officials.
  • Cloud Nine
A roaming airborne base constructed by H.A.P.P.I. that floats around Mist.

Grass Continent

  • Rescue Team Federation
An establishment that used to manage exploration guilds and teams on both the Grass and Air Continents. This entity is now a fraction of what it once was, and is currently succeeded by H.A.P.P.I. in rescue guild management.
  • Wigglytuff Guild
The Grass Continent's most famous guild establishment. While much of the guild has been converted into a tourist attraction and many of its members have moved on, the guild still manages to bring thousands of tourists to Treasure Town each year.

Water Continent

  • Expedition Society
A small group of cartographers on the Water Continent with a stated mission of mapping the world. Also authorized to take on local and minor abroad missions listed on the Connection Orb Network.

Air Continent

  • Rescue Guild
The oldest and most famous guild establishment. Run by the centuries old explorer Wartortle, the guild manages affairs on the Air Continent and acts as a continentwide police force.

Sand Continent

  • Archeology Division
An organization that does trade with but is not directly affiliated with any guild, guild management organization, or the Connection Orb Network. Manages and helps arrange archeology expeditions on the Sand Continent.

Title Music!

Dream of Arrakis, Film Version -- Hans Zimmer
Last edited:
Prologue - Those That Live in This World


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark



Those That Live in this World, and Those That Have Come to It



Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily. It felt like waking from a slumber that had lasted longer than any number she could count to. Her blurry eyes met sunlight, filtered heavily through the canopies of several intertwined treetops. What was beyond looked fuzzy.

The first thing she noticed was that she was lying flat on her back in the middle of the woods, and the dirt and twigs underneath were bristling against her back in a way that didn't feel right. The second thing she noticed was that there was a scent in the air she didn't like. It smelled distinctly like something had died long ago, and the stench was now floating in on the wind. The third thing she noticed was the rushing of the river nearby. She had to have been close to it judging by how loudly it churned, blotting out the softer noises in the woods. And that realization brought on a fourth one: She felt terrible.

Absolutely terrible. Her head ached and swam with fog, her limbs tired, her throat scratchy. She might pass out again if she didn't get herself a drink.

The river was closer than she thought, only a few feet away. It churned by quickly, far too fast to see anything reflected on the surface—No wonder it was so loud. Espurr fell to her knees, attempting to cup up water in her hands, but it just wasn't working how she wanted it to. Her fingers were clumsy, and it all fell through her much smaller palms before she could hoist it to her mouth. It took Espurr a minute to recognize that her fingers were much smaller than they should have been. That didn't look right, but another pang from her aching head reminded her water was more important.

She looked down at the river. If she couldn't get the water with her hands, would she have to drink from the river with her tongue? Espurr lolled it around in her mouth uncomfortably. It felt wrong, flatter than it was supposed to be. She decided to tear a largish leaf from the bush right next to her and try scooping up water in that.

After a few drinks from her makeshift forest ladle, Espurr's headache began to ebb, and the ripples spreading through the water in her leaf had finally calmed enough for her to see her reflection. That looked wrong too.

From head to toe, grey-purple fur enveloped her body; the only standout features were the white tips of her hands, feet, and floppy ears, and the oversized, pinkish pair of eyes on her face. A fluffy, catlike tail swished behind her silently, unnoticed until now. She stared at it blankly, trying to decide what to make of it. The sight gave her the oddly distant feel that something was wrong, but it felt like it was trapped behind a wall of glass. Whatever was happening… it felt distant, suppressed. Maybe she’d remember more as it came back to her.

But as she sat there, trying to remember, she found she was drawing blanks. Everything felt so distant, so foggy. She tried to recall her name. 'Espurr' kept coming up when she asked herself what she was. It was like the name had been drilled into her head, no matter how she pushed it aside. But… that wasn't her name. She knew it wasn't. And now that she was on the track, the void in her head seemed to expand. Where was she from? Blank. How did she get here? Blank. Who were her parents, blank, who were her friends, blank, what had she been doing yesterday, blank, blank, all of it was blank…

Espurr felt her breathing speed up as she got up and took a shaky step away from the lake, dropping the leaf of water to the ground and letting the water splash on her feet. She curled up on the ground and began to shiver uncontrollably, repressing the urge to release a loud yowl of terror. This wasn't happening, this couldn't be happening, how was this happening, what was happening?


The sound caught Espurr's ears, jarring her out of her panic. She quieted down and came to her senses, listening for more noise. Something was deftly moving through the woods behind her, making only the slightest sounds as it went. Sounds that her sensitive ears caught—did they always hear that much? Espurr turned around on the ground, quickly scanning the forest for any intruding p… pokemon, her mind helpfully substituted. Because now it was giving her information. Of course.

Over her shoulder, she saw a trio of pokemon slowly approaching from behind in the shadowy part of the woods. The shade of the canopy cast a foreboding darkness over them, leaving them silhouettes. Espurr could barely make out more than the broadest of details on their cone-like heads. She carefully stood up and backed herself against the bush, keeping her eyes on them just in case they moved.

They didn't.

A heavy moment passed, all four pokemon staring directly at each other but none daring to make a move. The three others were still, stiller than any living thing should be. Then, the cone-headed pokemon slowly turned to each other in sync, rigidly raising their arms up in the air. Espurr watched the rapidly blinking lights flash between them, illuminating the strange markings on their heads and the ragged, cloak-like folds of their limbs and lower bodies. And then the lights stopped, and in a blink they were all staring at her again.

Black sparks began to collect around the strange pokemon's blinkers, and suddenly a large, shadowy ball flew straight at her—

She barely dove out of the way in time, hitting the ground sideways. She didn't see what became of the bush. The crack of branches being blown apart and the sound of roots being torn from the ground told her it wasn't good.

The strange pokemon started moving towards Espurr, and as they pushed apart foliage and ferns on their path towards her, she saw how they floated. That was it, she was too spooked to stick around any longer. She picked herself up as fast as she could, and ran for her life.

She didn't know how far she ran or for how long, but she didn't stop. No matter how many times she tripped on her new, shorter legs, or how her lungs burned, her heart pounding in her chest like it might break out, she didn't stop moving until she couldn't hear the distant beeping and the swish of brushed apart foliage behind her.

Espurr collapsed to her hands and knees, wildly panting as the surge of adrenaline that encompassed her body slowly wore off. Her chest burned, she couldn't take in enough air, and her arms and legs were weak and sore from tripping onto the forest ground more times than she could count. She glanced around the forest, taking in the setting sun in the distance that seemed to be coming from both everywhere and nowhere at once. The canopy above looked more like a painting than anything, and no matter where she looked she couldn't tell where the light was coming from.

It seemed she was more lost than ever now. A distant trickling surfaced in her head—following the river always led home. She tried to follow the thought, but the stream was gone before she could grasp it. It left nothing behind, just an empty, cold blankness.

The air had turned colder. Her breath came out in cloudy puffs. Espurr felt the first tendril of chilly mist swirl around her paw. She looked behind herself, and saw a large, thick mass of mist approaching from behind her. It was almost like a solid wall, and Espurr felt an unnerving air approach with its presence, an air that felt unsafe. She didn't know how she knew that. But more than anything, she could feel it. It wasn't safe to travel in this fog.

Espurr glanced up at the great oak tree that stood before her, studying all the little grooves and branches that ran up its trunk. Those pokemon had no legs, and their arms weren't much better, she concluded. And up there, she'd be safe from the evil mist below. They'd never be able to climb a tree without waking her first… right?


Curled up in a tree branch just large enough to not risk falling from in her sleep, Espurr dreamt horrible dreams. She dreamt of an In Between of nothing but horribly impossible black, a void that was empty. Because there was nothing for her to dream of. Nothing to remember, nothing to fill her head. In her addled state, with her mind blank and black as her in between, Espurr understood both that and nothing at all. And briefly, in the absence of her mind, something else came.

She woke to the sound of rustling below. Groaning and stretching uncomfortably in the branch—she hadn't slept well, and everything still ached—she looked up at the black sky and saw it was still nighttime. Fog shrouded the forest ground, hiding it from view. It looked cold and damp, and Espurr was very glad she'd made the decision to sleep in a tree. From her perch on the branch, she took a look around. When it was invaded by fog and all the trees looked like twisted mimics of themselves, the forest looked a lot more ominous than it had before.

Unsure as to what had woken her up, she focused her hearing. She could hear quiet rustles from below the fog…

…And saw the flicker of a yellow light. Espurr snapped fully awake in horror. She stood up in the tree, quickly catching her balance before she could fall off. Were they back? Had the strange pokemon caught up with her? She cautiously peered over the tree branch in fear.

Flickering lights of the red, green, and yellow variety lit up the fog right below her tree.


That was the sound of foliage being brushed aside. Espurr quickly scrambled back onto the branch, hiding herself from view. How had they found her? What did they want with her? Were they going to climb the tree?


More foliage. Espurr hesitantly stole another glance, hoping she hadn't been spotted already. They were here, but… maybe they were just looking. The grounds down below had gone quiet, and the lights had disappeared. She waited a single moment, her heart beating loudly over her breath. Maybe they were looking. Maybe they'd gone away. She just needed to check again, and everything would be fine…

Espurr glanced over the branch a third time. Three cone-shaped heads poking out of the fog, staring up directly at her tree. With a squeak of fear she quickly hid again, backing up against the tree trunk. She knew it was too good to be true. They weren't just staring at the branches. They were staring at her. They knew where she was. Her heart dropped down into her stomach.

But they hadn't moved at all. She stole another glance at them; they were still just staring up at her, stone still like before. It looked like they were waiting for something. But, for what? If they expected her to come out of the tree, she was not moving.

A sudden wind ruffled Espurr's fur, coming out of nowhere and leaving as quickly as it had arrived. The rancid scent of something that was dead blasted her in the face as it passed, causing her to retch. It smelled evil, just like everything else in this place was. She watched it blow off as she recovered, seeing it violently rattle the branches and canopies of a few trees as it went.

That wasn't natural. Nothing like that could be natural. The strange pokemon were waiting for something… was it that? Espurr wasn't waiting around to find out.

She looked around, performing a quick survey of the woods from atop her lofty perch. Escaping on the ground was a bad idea. Even if she somehow managed to make it to the ground safely and outrun the strange pokemon, she'd still have to travel through the fog afterwards. And there was no way of knowing what other evil things were waiting in there for her. The idea of staying in the tree until the strange pokemon left occurred to her, but she didn't know if that was even a safe option anymore. That left one final idea.

She could escape through the trees. If she walked all the way to the end of this branch, thin as it got, there was a jumpable gap between this tree and the next. And from that tree to the next. It was risky, but the best other option she could see was to sprout wings and fly, and she didn't anticipate that happening anytime soon.

No matter what, she didn't want to think about escaping on the ground.

Espurr felt the beginnings of another wind begin to ripple through her fur. It was stronger than the last, ranker, and it was just beginning. That was it. Time to go.

She looked down at the strange pokemon, who hadn't moved an inch from their previous spots. They just had to stay that way a little longer…

Bracing herself, Espurr began to dash for the edge of the branch, attempting to get a running start. Halfway across, she lost her footing, and for one horrifying second she fell—

—Her foot barely caught the branch, but she used it, regaining her footing with the desperation and accuracy only someone whose life was in peril could manage. She leapt off the branch as soon as her feet touched the very end, reaching out as far as she could in order to catch the next one. She would make it!

The wind that appeared out of nowhere suddenly enveloped her like a twig in a storm. She only had enough time to look in its general direction before she was blasted with a strong of the foul-smelling gust. It knocked Espurr far off-course, her outstretched paws barely missing the branch by a hair's breadth. There was a single, terrifying drop in her stomach as she realized she'd missed, and then she was falling. Falling a long way.


Espurr let out a loud yowl of pain as she hit the ground, tumbling to her side. Several things ached, but she forced herself up before anything else could take her by surprise. Her right arm was fine, but her left arm, the one she had landed on, hurt like nothing she had ever felt before. It was at a strange, contorted angle—it didn’t bend that way! Flashes of dark maroon cut through her vision. Somehow she knew what the color meant: pain.

And just the immense pain was taking a lot out of her. Gritting her teeth in hurt that made her want to vomit, she spared a half-second's worth glance at the mighty oak she had just fallen out of. The rancid wind whirled around her and buffeted her with a howl that sounded almost like a laugh, like it was taking some kind of twisted delight in her misery.

She wanted to curl up and cry. But she didn't have time to cry, or think, or the pain. The appearance of a trio of coned heads hovering through the fog cut away anything except the desire to run away, to get far away from here. Like a switch had been flipped, Espurr forgot all about the mighty oak and the blinding pain in her arm, and began to run for her life.



An audino quietly picked the herbs and weeds from around a small bush in the forest, slipping them into her exploration bag. It was the full moon, and her herb stores were running low again.

Fresh-picked herbs were always available on the Air and Grass Continents, but rarely grew anywhere on the Water Continent. They were vital to Audino's medical practices, but somehow they were always the hardest thing to get ahold of. She could always get them from Kecleon, but Kecleon overcharged for them and everymon knew it. She had been lucky to find this clutch of them sitting around the nearby mystery dungeon. Mystery dungeons being what they were, Audino had returned once every month at the full moon—she was superstitious—and found the exact same bush with the exact same clutches of herbs growing around it awaiting her.

Of course, finding the bush was a different beast entirely—every time Audino came looking for it, it was always in a different place. But that was to be expected of a mystery dungeon. The places were always re-arranging themselves however they saw fit. Audino was just grateful she'd found the bush fairly quickly tonight. Something was different in the air this time, and she could sense it. It was like the dungeon itself had grown darker, and the surroundings around her somehow put her on guard.

The lack of dungeon pokemon around at this time of night made her ears bristle with uneasiness as well. The dungeon's natural apparitions mostly came out when it was dark, and the ones here were weak enough for a child to easily defeat, but all the same they were never pokemon to shy away from a fight. Audino had been in enough dungeons to know… if there were no dungeon apparitions, then there was usually something worse.

And whatever it was, Audino didn't want to meet it tonight. She kept the escape orb she had bought from Kecleon's specifically for this occasion in one of the bag's looser pockets, just in case she'd need to make an impromptu escape all the sudden.

She looked up from her herb picking in confusion as an unnatural wind blew past her, shaking the trees with visible anger as it went. In the distance, she could see what looked like a thick wall of mist. Audino clutched her escape orb tightly. This dungeon wasn't supposed to do that... this dungeon was too weak for that. Something was very wrong here.

There was suddenly a loud thump in the distance, accompanied by a sickening crack. Audino had half a mind to just smash the orb right now and forget her herbs. But that notion disappeared once she heard the yowl of pain that followed. Whatever pokemon had made it sounded rather young… But a dungeon apparition, even a weaker one, could spell trouble for her at this point.

Suddenly, Audino saw the silhouette of a small pokemon running straight in her direction through the fog. Was it a dungeon apparition? Her grip on the escape orb became tight enough for her to whip it out on command. She watched as within seconds, an espurr stumbled out of the distant mist and into the immediate area, running frantically through the woods. For a split second, Audino hesitated. Espurr weren't native to this dungeon. So why was one here?

Audino only had to see the look in the espurr's eyes once to understand completely. Their eyes glimmered in the moonlight with a look of fear, an intelligent look. This wasn't one of the dungeon's false projections; this was a very real pokemon!

By now, the espurr had seemed to realize Audino wasn't yet another hostile apparition, and changed their course directly towards her.

"Please help me!" the pokemon cried out in terror, clutching her left arm to her chest as she dashed up to Audino. Audino studied the arm with a nurse’s precision, identifying the fracture in a matter of seconds. It wasn't easy to break a pokemon's bones. That thump, that yowl… had somemon done this to her?

Something was approaching from the fog at this very moment. Hints of the strongest wind yet began to blow through Audino's fur as she hurriedly beckoned the espurr towards her. Behind the terrified child, she could see a trio of silhouettes approaching, accompanied by flickering lights. Red, yellow, green…

The espurr reached Audino, violently shivering from intense cold and sheer terror. Audino hugged her close, keeping an eye on both the wind and the approaching pokemon.

As the wind grew stronger, the stranger pokemon approached, and Audino finally got her first good look at them: a trio of beheeyem, ghostly lights flickering in the fog. Their crooked cones stood tall into the night; their eyes gleamed brighter than lights and sent chills down Audino's spine. Those weren't feral looks either; they were too shrewd, too calculated. Whatever they were… they weren't dungeon apparitions either.

"Stay close, and whatever you do, don't let go. Understand?" Audino whispered to her new charge. The espurr nodded, staring in fear at the exact same thing Audino was.

There was no more time to waste. The howling of the wind was picking up, turning into a rancid gale, and it brought the creeping wall of fog with it. Any longer, Audino knew, and the approaching pokemon would be the least of their worries. In one swift motion, she hugged Espurr tight and whipped out the escape orb.

"Shut your eyes!" she yelled to Espurr, hurling the orb at her feet. It shattered and exploded into a plume of brilliant, blue-white smoke, and when the smoke cleared, Audino and Espurr were nowhere to be found.


Music of the week!

Counterattack - Richard Gibbs
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PART ONE: Chapter One - Tricky


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark


“Everymon does bad things once in a while. But I think it’s about what you do after that decides what kind of person you are.”







Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily. The sun shone brightly in her face, and she tried to raise her arms to shield her eyes. Her left arm felt dull and stiff; she couldn’t move it. She looked over and saw it was in a deep green cast. She was lying on a golden straw bed that was almost like a large nest. It felt scratchy against her fur but soft at the same time.

“Oh! You’re up now. Good.”

Espurr’s head turned to the side, where she saw Audino stepping towards her. The place was spacious and sunlit, decorated with counters against the apricot-colored walls and cabinets, large windows that let the sun in, and two other straw beds just like the one Espurr was lying on. The floor was made of rich, dark-colored wood. Audino beckoned to someone standing outside the door where Espurr couldn’t see them, then walked over to a cabinet filled with several types of herbal remedies. The exotic smells wafted over to Espurr as Audino opened the cabinet’s doors and fished through it.

Espurr tried to raise herself from the straw bed she’d been sleeping on, clumsily working with only one arm. Audino turned back at the sound of the straw rustling, looking at Espurr disapprovingly.

“Sit down, please. You still need rest!” she chided Espurr. Espurr sat down again, noticing for the first time how much her body hurt from the events of the previous day. Her left arm dully ached within the confines of the cast, tinging the corners of her eyes red. It was annoying, but a vast improvement over the blinding pain from last night.

Last night… Espurr suddenly felt a lot less relaxed.

“You collapsed the moment we arrived here. Half delirious, I suspect.” Audino continued to fish through the cupboard with her back to Espurr. “And just before Errand Day, too. You were lucky Kecleon’s stays open late on Saturdays.”

Audino finally found what she was looking for, closing the cabinet and glancing towards the still-empty doorway.

“Well, what are you still waiting out there for? You need treatment!” she scolded the unseen pokemon in the doorway.

“Sorry, Ms. Audino,” a voice muttered from outside. “It hurts to walk….”

“Well, that’s why you don’t go jumping out of trees,” Audino retorted, pouring whatever she had gotten into several small leaf-made pouches.

Jumping out of trees… was that a normal thing here? Did pokemon like senselessly breaking their appendages? If so, they weren’t going to be friends.

“Not to worry,” Audino continued. “You’ll have company.”

“Really?!?” the voice suddenly perked up with all the excitement of a pokemon kit in front of a candied berry stall, and a fennekin somehow limped through the doorway on only one leg. Audino directed her to the nearest straw bed, which the fennekin threw herself on like it was a pile of autumn leaves.

Audino supplied her with a few bags of leaf-wrapped ice. “Keep those on for the next twenty minutes or so,” she ordered. The fennekin reluctantly put her paws under the ice.

“IF you rest, you’ll be better by the end of the day,” she told the fennekin. “But unfortunately…” she said, addressing Espurr, “I estimate your injuries will take a little longer to heal. You’ll need a week to fully recover.”

“A WEEK!?” the fennekin moaned, like it was her with the broken bone and not Espurr.

“A broken bone is no joke,” Audino told the fennekin. There was just a hint of an annoyed edge to her voice. “A week, and no less.”

She grabbed her bag, and began to walk towards the door. “I’ll be back shortly, I’ve scheduled another appointment in for today. I don’t want either of you to move a muscle until I return, do you understand me?” she asked, punctuating the last sentence with a pointed glance towards the fennekin.

“Y-yes, ma’am! Absolutely understood!” the fennekin chirped happily, in a tone that suggested it was not understood at all. Audino kept her wary eyes on the fennekin a good moment longer.

“I expect to see you both sitting on those beds when I return,” she stated for finality, and then walked out the door without another word.

“SO-o-o-o-o-o….” the fennekin drew out her single word for as long as possible after making sure Audino had left. “What are you in for?”

“You’re new here,” she piped up just a second later.

“What’s your name?” she asked immediately after that.

“Are you…”

“Hah! There’s no way you’re Ms. Audino’s kid, are you?”

“Wait. Are you?”

“Huh? Are you? Pleaaase tell me!”

“Do I ask too many questions? Some pokemon say I do, but Mr. Farfetch’d says that the worst questions are unasked ones, so I’m going to ask as many as possible!”

“What’s your name? I feel like I’ve asked that one before…”

Espurr watched the fennekin prattle on and on, growing more and more nonplussed with each second. How was she supposed to answer any of the questions if she couldn’t get a word in?

“…And then I totally robbed like, half my Pop’s strawberry stash, and then he made me clean the entire house from top to bottom! That was a week ago.” The fennekin finished telling what must have been a lengthy story in the space of half a minute.

“A~nyway, I’m out of things to talk about. Did I ask for your name?” she finished. Espurr blinked a couple of times at the fennekin, flabbergasted.

The fennekin immediately drooped down, a slight tinge of blue tinting Espurr’s vision. Displeasure. Maybe she’d realized just how much information she’d unloaded in so little time.

“I came here just to see you, you know.” she muttered.

“You …did?” Espurr asked in surprise before the fennekin could open her mouth again.

“Yep! Jumped out of a tree to do it, too. Twisted my tail, sprained three of my ankles, and my ear hurts.” the fennekin tried to wag her tail, and cringed in silent pain. “But it was all for a noble cause!” she stated boldly, perking up. “I couldn’t allow a fellow child to suffer in the clutches of the evil Nurse Audino for an entire week!” the fennekin moaned dramatically, attempting to put a paw to her forehead, before wincing at the sudden pain and shoving it back under the ice.

“Audino can’t be evil.” Espurr stated, trying her best to ignore the fact that the obviously crazy pokemon in front of her had just endangered her life to meet her. “She saved my life yesterday and patched me up.” She directed her eyes towards the cast on her left arm for good measure.

The fennekin looked at her like she was both crazy and the best thing ever. “Wait. Did you just say she saved your life??”

In that green-tinged moment of fear, Espurr realized she had gone too far. What was she going to say that wouldn’t immediately put her in an awkward situation? ‘I woke up yesterday in the middle of the woods with no memories and then spent the night getting chased by three hostile pokemon, that I tried to get away from by jumping out of a tree and that’s how I broke my arm?’ Just from what she’d seen of the fennekin, her entire life’s story would be spilled to the world in three minutes flat.

“What’s your name?” Espurr asked cautiously, trying to quietly divert the subject.

“Uh-uh! You’re not changing the subject on me—“ the fennekin angrily began.

“If you tell me your name, I’ll tell you mine.”


The fennekin cleared her throat dramatically, as if queuing up for a moving performance. “My name is… A secret! But everyone just calls me Tricky, so you can too!” she boldly stared Espurr right in the eye. “Your turn.”

“Oh… I’m Espurr.” Espurr said flatly.

“Well, that’s boring.” Tricky yawned, stretching the best she could under the bags of ice. Squinting for just a second, she pulled her paw out from under the ice and gave it a twist just to be sure.

“Oh wow! I’m healed! I’m finally healed!” Tricky screeched, jumping up from her bed of straw and ice and frolicking around the room in joy. Espurr watched Tricky’s tail painfully cramp as she tried to wag it, sending the fox plummeting to the ground headfirst.

“My tail still hurts, though…” she muttered from the floor. And then she was back up again, walking rather stiffly to avoid moving her tail. “Wanna go exploring?” she asked excitedly.

Espurr was fairly sure Tricky had some kind of memory problem. “We were told to wait here,” she reminded Tricky. “Besides,” she added, tilting her head. “I don’t think you can go many places with that tail.”

“Hah!” Tricky guffawed. “That’s just what Audino says. If you listen to the dumb adults your whole life, life stays boring! Besides, I haven’t showed you around yet!” Without another word or even Espurr’s consent, Tricky shunted her off the bed and began to push her out the door.

“Tricky!” Espurr yelped in shock.

“Silence, my liege!” Tricky called back in a heavy accent she didn’t recognize. “This is the most important of occasions, and it demands our full attention!”

Espurr tried to drag her feet against the ground in order to bring them to a halt, but it didn’t slow Tricky down one little bit. And with her left arm in the condition it was, Espurr found herself left totally helpless as Tricky bulldozed her down the steep hill and through a clearing full of wooden seats.

“That’s the school—school’s out today—“ Tricky said in between gasps as they passed.

“Tricky!” Both Espurr’s and Tricky’s heads turned to the right, where what could best be described as an angry otter wearing a safety vest was marching right towards them.

“Berry crackers…” Tricky mumbled. “Bye, Watchog! See you tomorrow!”

“Is this another one of your shenanigans?” Watchog angrily asked as he marched towards the pair. “What are you doing with that poor student?!” he shrieked in horror once he’d gotten close enough to see what was happening. “Put them down right now!”

“No can do, Watchog!” Tricky yelled as she plowed Espurr off. “Audino’s orders! Espurr needs me to show her around town!”

“That’s VICE PRINCIPAL Watchog to you!” Watchog called after her. “And those don’t sound like Audino’s orders!”

“They are! Trust me!” Tricky yelled as she turned a corner.

“Trust… you?” Espurr could hear Watchog sputtering the proposition in disbelief as they rounded the corner, like it was in another language. She could kind of see why.

“This is the village square!” Tricky announced as they entered a large, circular plaza with houses and colorful tents set up on all sides. The houses had domed roofs like acorn nuts, and the paved stones of the square were arranged in a large perfect circle. Long, black poles with tarped orbs on top stood around on either side of the entrances and exits. There were a few pedestrians milling around or walking off to mind their own business, all of them doing what Espurr assumed was pointedly avoiding Tricky. Thankfully, Tricky had stopped pushing her around like a toy, and she thankfully jumped on the chance to dust herself off with her good arm and catch her bearings.

“The village is larger,” Tricky prattled on, oblivious, “but this is the place where everything happens! You’ve got your Café Connection, which is called that because there’s an actual phone there, your perfume tent—no-mon talks about the perfume tent—and your Kecleon’s Stall!” Tricky excitedly pointed all three out as she mentioned them. “Don’t steal from Kecleon,” she added in a hush, leaning too close to Espurr’s ear for comfort. “Trust me.

Espurr wasn’t sure whether to be curious despite herself or worried by that. She wasn’t even supposed to be here. It had been all of five minutes since she’d woken up, and already she was knee-deep in trouble! And she hadn’t even had a say in the matter. She wanted to fold her arms, but she could only move one.

“And so, you see…”

Espurr’s ears twitched, and for a minute she turned away from the fennekin eagerly awaiting her reaction to eavesdrop just a little.

“…He’s nine! We both know he wouldn’t just walk into one of those places like that! Not unless somemon prompted him first…”

“Well, I’m getting to that…”

“What’s so interesting?” Tricky’s head curiously slid over to the side of Espurr’s, who had turned to view the pair of arguing pokemon. Upon seeing them, her entire face lit up, a slight wince betraying the pain from her injured ear.

“Deerling! Shelmet!” she gasped, suddenly plowing into Espurr from behind again, who let out a shocked yelp. Before she knew it, she was being forcefully pushed towards the duo. Again. “Guysguysguysguysguys—“

Deerling, the elder one, looked up, her face twisting up into annoyed incredulity as Tricky pushed the hapless Espurr towards her.

“Um… hi?” Deerling raised a hoof in perplexed greeting. “Tricky, what are you up to now?” she asked in a much sterner tone. ”I thought you were still up in Nurse Audino’s office for jumping out of that tree.”

Tricky let Espurr down, dashing out in front of her stiffly. “Guys—You are never gonna believe this—I found Nurse Audino’s kid! Seriously! See?”

“Loser alert...” Shelmet, the younger one, rolled his eyes.

“Tricky…” If Deerling whacked a hoof against her face, then shook her head. She stared at Tricky in something resembling annoyance. “Nurse Audino doesn’t have kids. Plus, she isn’t married, and she isn’t a psychic-type. How could this be her kid?” she stuck an irked hoof in Espurr’s direction.

“Well…” Tricky’s tail drooped. She winced. “She’s… adopted! Audino saved her life last night!” she nodded vigorously, as if that would prove her point even more. “…Right, Espurr?” She looked at Espurr, hoping for confirmation.

It took Espurr a few seconds to realize that Tricky had just come up with the perfect cover story for her. This way, she wouldn’t have to explain herself to everyone!

“…Something like that,” Espurr replied. Deerling looked surprised; Espurr figured she wasn’t used to being wrong. But almost immediately she was all business again.

“Great,” she said, bowing her head respectfully. “See you in class tomorrow.” She ignored Tricky. “And you…

Deerling turned to Shelmet, the little pokemon already trembling through his shell at her fury. “Show me exactly where he went in. We need to get him out of there before nightfall!”

Without another word, Shelmet led Deerling off through the town gates. Deerling practically dug her hooves into the ground in anger with every step she took.

“So… Are we following them, or are we following them?” Tricky asked mischievously from beside Espurr.

“We’re going to get in more trouble...” Espurr couldn’t fathom how the fennekin could still want to continue onwards, especially after jumping headfirst out of a tree. Hadn’t they gone far enough?

“Ha!” Tricky laughed. “ I laugh in the face of trouble! See?”

She forced a few more laughs out of herself. They sounded like coughing.

“Well, we’re in enough of it as it is. I wouldn’t want to get kicked out the day I got here.” Espurr turned around and began to walk as fast as her short legs would take her, heading back up towards the school. Hopefully, Tricky would let her go.

“Come on!” Tricky cried, running back up and rapidly orbiting her as she continued up towards the town’s northern gate. “You’re just like every other pokemon in this village! We’ll be in and out! It’s probably nothing anyway!”

Espurr did her best to ignore her. The events of yesterday were beginning to flash through her head again—Her harrowing trip through the woods, the strange pokemon that had chased her… She couldn’t go there. She couldn’t. What if they were still looking for her? What if they were right outside the village at this very moment?

What if… What if they found Shelmet and Deerling?

If that were true, it bugged her that two pokemon were walking right into it. But she didn’t want to be caught in it herself! Especially not with one of her arms down for the count.

Espurr hadn’t realized she’d stopped walking until Tricky stopped too, tilting her head in confusion.

“…Does this mean you changed your mind?” she asked hopefully.

Espurr’s eyes widened, and she grabbed Tricky behind one of the houses with her good paw without even thinking.

“Hey! What gives—“ Tricky started to fuss, but Espurr quietly put her good paw to Tricky’s snout. Once she was sure Tricky would be silent, she pointed.

“Look! Audino’s coming back.”

Sure enough, the pink and yellow pokemon was leisurely hiking up the hill to the school, unaware that the very two pokemon she had told to stay put were watching her at that moment.

“No biggie!” Tricky suddenly leapt up with new life. “We’ll just take the long way around. If we’re quick, she’ll never know we were gone! Follow me!”

She began to dash down the thin alleyway, stopping some six feet away for Espurr to catch up.

“Come on, slowpoke!” she yelled back from across the alleyway. “At this rate, taking the long way around won’t be a shortcut!”

Espurr just couldn’t move as fast as Tricky could, and that was a fact. She kept stopping to catch her breath and tripping on the various things in the alleyway. Audino had been right: She did need more rest.


This wasn’t the way back at all, Espurr was coming to realize. They had since abandoned the buildings of the village for trees that blotted out the sun ominously, casting everything below into various shades of blue and purple. It wasn’t like the foggy green forest she had run through yesterday, but it was no less foreboding, either.

“Are you certain this is the way back to the school?” Espurr suspiciously asked Tricky, who was sniffing something out on the ground as she went.

“Yep! Totally. We’re taking the looooong way around,” The fox remarked, her eyes straight on the ground. Espurr could see her mental smirk. She tilted her head in suspicion. The colorful roofs of the village were quickly disappearing in the distance behind them. If this was truly the long way around, then Tricky had meant it in every sense of the word.

“What kind of shortcut takes us farther awa—"


Tricky suddenly perked straight up, holding out a paw to stop Espurr from going any further. In the distance, someone was talking.

“I’m going in after him!”

“No! You c-can’t! We… we won’t let anything bad happen to you!”

“Like you didn’t let anything bad happen to Goomy?”

There was a scoff, followed by the clip-clop of someone backing away.

“Fine! You two go, then.”

“W-why would we do that? I’m sure he’s fine.”

“Y-yeah, he’s totally fine. And once he brings that paper back, he’ll prove it!”

“He should have been back hours ago!”

Espurr recognized two of the voices as Deerling and Shelmet—but, the other, the third one, was foreign to her. But that didn’t matter now—they’d left the village! That meant if those strange pokemon really were lurking around…

“You brought us here?” Espurr snapped at Tricky. The corners of her vision were tinted with magenta annoyance. “I thought we were going back to the house!”

“Well, yoouu weren’t going to come on your own…” Tricky said. “Soo I had to improvise!”

“But…” Espurr stopped at a loss for words. “I didn’t want to come!”

“But this is way more fun than sitting around in the school!” Tricky pleaded, almost like she was trying to convince herself. “You wanna have fun, don’t you?”

“Who’s that?” Deerling yelled loudly towards the brushes. “Show yourselves!”

Seconds later, she was greeted with the sight of Tricky stumbling out of the underbrush, followed by Espurr not a moment afterwards.

“Oh…” Espurr gingerly picked some twigs out of her fur as Deerling relaxed. “It’s you two.”

“You guys left without meeee…” Tricky whined, infusing her voice with extra sadness to get the specific effect she wanted.

“Well, I didn’t see you signing up to help,” Deerling pointed out venomously, staring daggers at Tricky.

“Well, no-mon told me!” Tricky whined.

“There is a good reason for that,” Deering snapped. She nodded her head down at Tricky’s silently cramping tail. “Besides, you’re injured. It’s best if you just go back to the school clinic.”

“Yeah! We don’t need a loser like you taking up precious space when we’re short on time,” a third voice interjected. The words had come from a pancham who leaned against one of the trees, his arms folded. He was chewing a twig in his mouth like he thought it made him look cool.

“Who’s the new kid?” Pancham asked, twirling the twig around in his teeth.

“Nurse Audino’s child,” everyone but Espurr replied in unison.

“Guys, we’re on a clock here!” Deerling stepped up. “Goomy should have been back hours ago. He could be in serious trouble! You know what happens when pokemon stay in mystery dungeons too long. And if you don’t want to get grounded for life by your parents…” she looked pointedly at Pancham and Shelmet. “Then it’s our responsibility to help him!”

“Hey,” Pancham said, raising his arms. “Dad’s outta town, he ain’t gonna do jack squat. Besides, it’s not a big deal. You’re freaking out over nothing.”

“I am not freaking out over nothing, Pancham!” Deerling exploded at him. “You know that! You all know that! We can’t leave him in there; we can’t have a repeat!”

Tricky’s ears quickly lowered at that sentence, and out of nowhere Espurr was blindsided by a cloud of something foreign that colored the sides of her vision blue. She realized that it was coming from Tricky, who suddenly looked pretty distressed. Desperate to get free of the mind-fog, she moved away from Tricky, and it lifted just enough for Espurr to think again. Soon after, it was gone, and Tricky had settled back into her normal peppy self.

All the arguing that had been going on in the meantime was making Espurr’s head hurt in more ways than one, and she wanted nothing more than to be back safe in the house that Tricky had dragged her out of. But at the same time… Espurr looked towards the forest ahead of her, and saw the dark, tangled mass of trees that lay ahead. Even from here, she could tell something was wrong with it. And there was a child just like her stuck in there…

What if the beheeyem got him?

The thought of going in herself made her stomach flip. She didn’t even have both of her arms right now. But the thought of going back to the house knowing there was someone stuck in there just like she’d been made it flip more. With that thought, Espurr knew she couldn’t just turn around and leave.

“He’s gonna be fine!” Pancham shouted in self-defense over all the yelling. “All of this because—”

“—We’ll go.”

The clearing fell silent. Everyone looked in surprise at where the voice came from. Tricky’s mouth fell open in awe and stayed that way. Espurr looked around to make sure everyone’s attention was on her, then put her good paw down.

“…Are you sure?” Deerling asked, eyeing Espurr’s cast. “You don’t look too good.”

Espurr’s attention was drawn back to her cast, and the dull maroon throbbing of her bone that was slowly beginning to become sharper. She had a feeling she was going to regret that decision.

“Well, we won’t stop you.” Pancham nodded exaggeratedly and stepped aside. Shelmet quickly followed suit, bobbing his shell with a wide grin.

Deerling sent them a quick glare of annoyance, then cleared a path for Espurr and—reluctantly—Tricky.

“Good luck,” she said, sighing.

“Have fun getting killed!” Shelmet yelled after them.

“Shelmet!” Deerling’s shrill scolding could be heard but not seen, as the bushes began to close up the way back. Espurr watched as they curled up around each other, creating a dark wall of blue leaves behind them. She cast a look to the front. From here on out, the forest looked like it wanted to rend them limb from limb.

Maybe it did.


Foreboding Forest

“I’m gonna be honest with you…” Tricky excitedly scampered all around Espurr as the pair made their way through the shadowy forest. “That was amazing! I didn’t think you were the exploring type! Now we can be fellow explorers together, and brave mystery dungeons together, and even join the Expedition Society together! When we grow up, of course. The Expedition Society doesn’t accept children.”

Espurr tripped over her own feet again, for the seventeenth time that day. Sure, the ground was littered with all manner of trip-friendly objects, but she could tell that wasn’t where the problem originated from. It felt like… It felt like her feet weren’t her own.

“But I don’t want to do all that stuff,” she muttered. She didn’t know if Tricky heard her or not.

She looked up at the woods, noticing the utter lack of wind, how the forest seemed to stare down upon them with a thousand evil eyes, the rancid scent of something dead that once again filled the air… Something was wrong here.

“The forest doesn’t want us here,” Espurr finally concluded aloud. “I can feel it.”

“Well, duuuh.” Tricky was nonplussed. “We’re in a mystery dungeon.” She dismissed it with a wave of her paw. “I should know, I’ve been through, like, 30 of these and come out just fine! You’ll always know you’re in a mystery dungeon when the wind stops blowing, and everything smells bad, and you get that kinda creepy feeling, like somemon’s watching you…”

Tricky’s constant word vomit blended in with the background noise as Espurr walked. She happily tuned the fennekin out. How far in was Goomy from here? If not for him, she wouldn’t have dared to set foot in here. She just hoped he wasn’t too far from the entrance.

“…And you know it’s time to leave once this really thick fog starts creeping in…” Words finally stopped sprinting out of Tricky’s mouth, the fennekin falling silent as she saw the same thing Espurr was seeing: A thick mass of fog slowly crept between the trees, almost impossible to see through.

“…Exactly like that,” Tricky quietly finished. She suddenly looked a lot more frantic. “Already??” she yelled to all the trees around them. Her voice echoed up into the painted canopy. “We were only here for five minutes! How come there’s already fog?!”

Espurr watched the treetops above crackle violently, blown by a strong wind that had come out of nowhere.


“Yes?” The normally hyperactive fox glanced back at Espurr.

“What happens if you stay in a mystery dungeon for too long?” Espurr asked, her voice wavering with just a hint of fear.

“Well, first, this really freaky wind starts to blow out of nowhere,” Tricky started, ticking it off on her paw. “And it just gets stronger every time it comes back. And if you don’t leave after that, then the dungeon begins to lash out at you itSELF—“

Both Espurr and Tricky jumped a combined total of six feet apart as the trunk of a giant tree suddenly splintered apart, falling to the ground with a deafening crash and flattening the area of ground Espurr and Tricky had previously been on.

Shaken, Espurr made her way around the tree trunk to where Tricky was still picking herself up.

“Maybe I should just stop talking…” Tricky finally conceded, still catching her breath from the sudden incident.



This had all been such a bad idea. He’d only wanted to prove himself to the other kids. He was nine! That was… a big kid’s age for sure! But no-mon ever seemed to realize that. Deerling only coddled him, and Pancham and Shelmet bullied him more than the others, and Tricky… No-mon liked to talk about or to Tricky. Not that he hadn’t tried. A week ago—the first and only time he’d attempted making friends with her—she had roped him into stealing strawberries from her Pop’s berry patch. That did not end well for either of them.

But this was just as bad, if not even worse! Pancham and Shelmet had told him to do it. If he could find the paper they had left in this dungeon from the last school field trip, write his name on it, and bring it back to them before nightfall, they said, then they would finally recognize him as one of the Big Kids and stop teasing him! It was too good to be a dream, so he’d taken the dare.

And he’d found the paper too, on the first floor of the dungeon, no less! Watchog had taught him that dungeons always kept anything you dropped in there around until somemon picked it up, and he was proud for remembering it. But then this really creepy fog began to roll in, and suddenly everything felt more scary than it should have, and he couldn’t move! He was too scared to.

And it just got worse the longer he sat there. The fog, the drafts of wind, the scary feeling coming from everywhere… He had heard that there were wild pokemon who lived in mystery dungeons, wild pokemon that would eat you all up for breakfast if they caught you, wild pokemon that had been brainwashed by the Dungeon Wraith and set out as its personal hunting slaves…

No matter how confidently Deerling had told him the Dungeon Wraith was just a scary story made up to frighten little kids into staying in the towns, Goomy couldn’t help but wonder if the off-kilter howls he heard travelling through the woods more and more frequently were really just wild pokemon after all. They didn’t sound like the howls of any pokemon he’d been taught about in school, off-pitch roars and screeches that rustled through the wood like the moans of a ghost.

Goomy didn’t like ghosts. He shivered even more then he already had been, keeping the paper close just in case a sudden wind came up and blew it away. Was he going to die here?


Off in the distance, to Goomy’s left. He looked in that direction, but couldn’t see anyone through the unnaturally thick fog.


His heart leaping with sudden joy, Goomy realized where he had heard that voice before. It was Tricky!

“I- I—“ Goomy’s voice stuttered and died in his throat. No! He couldn’t be too scared to call for help, not when it was so close! Too scared to move, too scared to talk… Pancham had been right. He really was just a little kid after all. Maybe he deserved to be teased and coddled. He’d take that over sitting alone in this dark and scary dungeon any day.


With a sudden pang of fear, Goomy realized the shouts were coming from his right now. They were passing him!

“I- I… I—I’m HERE! I’M OVER HERE!” he yelled out, his voice returning to him in an instant.

An excruciating ten seconds passed. Goomy didn’t hear a response. Had he not been loud enough? Did they not hear him?

But all his fears were dashed when two shadows approached through the clouds, the fog parting to reveal—

A pair of furfrou. They leapt out of the clouds in sync, their eyes vacant and their mouths dripping with drool, both aligned in permanent snarls. A tatted, bright pink bag hung from one of them, all scratched up and crawling with dirt and leaves. Goomy couldn’t stand it anymore. He broke down in tears before the twin beasts. He was going to become some wild pokemon’s lunch!

“Begone, foul beasts!”

Tricky’s voice shot through the air again, and the furfrou were suddenly sent running off once a pair of twin embers flew through the air and set both their scruffy heads alight. Tricky rushed out of the fog, followed by an espurr Goomy didn’t know but was just as glad to see.

“Tricky!” Goomy happily glode over to Tricky, giving her his best attempt at a non-slimy hug. It was a short-lived reunion, however. The mystery dungeon actively repelled such activities with a bellowing screech that blew through the trees and nearly knocked the three of them off their feet.

“Uh-oh…” Tricky looked up at the trees, rattled. “It’s getting mad. We should go.”


Principal’s Office

“In my fifteen months of service as the esteemed Vice Principal of this school…” The torches were lit in the Principal’s Office. Watchog paced the principal’s office like a stressed-out madmon. All three of the other teachers in the room watched him as he did it. “In my fifteen flipping months of service… one student has been the very bane of my existence.”

Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy were all seated in front of Principal Simipour, the head faculty member of Serenity Village’s school. He watched Watchog pace back and forth through the office through sleep-worn eyes, the same tired smile adorning his face as he did it. A short stack of papers decorated his desk, blank sides up. Audino had recommended he go for a checkup multiple times in the past, but Simipour had always insisted he was just fine.

Watchog suddenly spun on his feet, pointing a paw directly at Tricky.

“Thievery, trespassing, cutting school… And now she’s corrupting the newcomers! She’s making them think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want…” Watchog let out a hysterical chuckle. “Just think, the next generation: A bunch of scummy layabouts who steal and pillage and trespass to their heart’s content! Are you all just going to sit back and let this be the future?” he questioned the teachers, gesturing broadly to the trio of students in front of him. “This needs to be nipped in the bud, right here, right now—“

“I’m terribly sorry to interrupt your… maniacal rant,” Farfetch’d started carefully, clutching his stalk in his wings. “But is there a specific reason you’ve summoned us teachers and these three poor students here after nightfall, when they should be sleeping safely in their beds right about now?”

“Ha!” Watchog squeaked out a sudden laugh, cutting Farfetch’d off with wide eyes. “Oh, I assure you, Farfetch’d, sleep is the last thing on these little demons’ minds…”

“Wanna remind me why you made him Vice Principal again?” Audino muttered to Principal Simipour. She sounded miffed.

“As it happens,” Watchog continued, “I didn’t have these students dragged from their beds. Rather, I ran into them on their way back…” he paused for dramatic effect, “…From the Foreboding Forest.”

Silence fell over the room, as the other three teachers tried to digest that.

“But what were they doing in the Foreboding Forest, I hear you ask?” Watchog continued, only pretending to have heard them ask. “Why, none other than… a dare!”

He whipped out the paper with Goomy’s slimy paw-writing on it, making sure the other teachers could see it.

“And here’s the proof!” Watchog crowed triumphantly. “A sheet of paper, straight from the school’s stores! And there’s only one pokemon who would propose a dare as stupid as this…”

Watchog cast his narrowing eyes down towards Tricky, who immediately looked appalled.

“I-it wasn’t me this time! I swear!” Tricky cried out in her defense, but found herself breaking under Watchog’s intense glare.

“You said you found all three of them exiting the dungeon together;” Principal Simipour spoke, his expression as infuriatingly cheerful as ever. “Yet only one has written their name on the sheet of paper?”

Watchog suddenly looked a lot less confident in his deductions. “…Yes,” he conceded, suddenly losing a good portion of his bravado.

“And assuming the point of this dare was to write one’s name on this sheet of paper and bring it back to the village…” Simipour turned to Goomy for confirmation, which Goomy readily provided with a nod. “Then I think it’s safe to say these two were not part of the dare in the first place, wouldn’t you agree?”

“…Yes,” Watchog concluded, looking suitably cowed.

“And knowing that,” Simipour continued, “What would you then say they were doing in the dungeon?”

Tricky piped up before Watchog could.

“We were saving Goomy! Pancham and Shelmet dared him to go in and he didn’t come back out, so me and Espurr volunteered to go in after him, and we saved him from getting eaten by dungeon pokemon!”

A wave of uneasiness passed through the teachers at the mention of dungeon pokemon.

See?” Tricky questioned Watchog indignantly. “The dungeon was only one floor anyway…”

“Then, I think it’s settled,” Simipour concluded.

Watchog caught his jaw just in time to stop it from falling open in shock. “You aren’t seriously going to let them go unpunished, Principal?!” he asked in shock.

“Oh, certainly not,” Simipour replied, clasping his hands. “Children going into mystery dungeons unsupervised is grave misbehavior indeed. But…”

He glanced towards Tricky, Espurr, and Goomy.

“…The cause was noble, and I have a hunch little Goomy here won’t be venturing outside the bounds of the village on his own anytime soon. Therefore, excessive punishment is unnecessary. A weeks’ worth detentions will do.”

“Detention for a week?!” both Tricky and Watchog cried out, for entirely different reasons.

“But we went in to save somemon,” Espurr pleaded. “How come we’re being punished too?”

“Dungeons are incredibly dangerous places. You should have come to an adult instead,” Simipour replied.

“Like the adults would ever set foot into a dungeon…” Espurr heard Tricky puff out of the corner of her mouth. The whole thing didn’t feel fair to Espurr, but Simipour was already speaking again anyway.

“One week is final. And unless you’d like me to make it two, I highly suggest rolling with it,” Simipour finished, pointing his half-closed eyes towards Tricky.

With little more than a squeak of fear, Tricky disappeared out the door, only stopping once to groan in pain as her tail cramped halfway down the hall.

“Wait!” Audino called out after her, grabbing her exploration bag and dashing out after Tricky. “You still need healing! I’m ordering you back to the clinic!”

The door slammed shut of its own accord behind them, leaving only three teachers and two students in a silent office.

“I-I think I s-should be going,” Goomy finally stuttered out, the excitement of the day’s events finally beginning to get to him.

“I agree,” Simipour replied. “If I remember right, you live in the same area as Farfetch’d, correct?”

Goomy thought about it for a second, then nodded. His floppy antennae bounced back and forth. Simipour turned to Farfetch’d.

“If you would do the honors…” he asked. Farfetch’d nodded and left without another word. Goomy slimed off in his wake.

Now it was just Espurr, Watchog, and Simipour in the office.

"W-what about Pancham?" Watchog sputtered. "Aren't we gonna punish him too? I say two weeks' detention."

"Now now, Watchog," Simipour said. He almost slurred it. "Pancham's family has been historically difficult when it comes to punishments."

"W—" Watchog began. "W-well we can't just not do anything!"

"You know his father,” Simipour yawned. “The Kecleon merchant folk are a hassle to deal with when they aren’t angry. Lecture him, tell him to clean the school clinic tomorrow, and leave it at that,"

Espurr considered her options, looking at Watchog as he silently mulled over his orders. A moment later, he stormed out, letting the door swing shut behind him.

“Espurr, was it?”

Espurr glanced up at Simipour, who still wearing the same, lethargic expression on his face. His eyes were shut like he was an inch from sleep.

“I heard about your predicament last night,” he told her, still seated. “I must say, it was rather reckless of you to charge into yet another mystery dungeon only the day you got here, especially with an injured arm. However, it’s convenient you’re here now.”

He opened a drawer below his desk and put the stack of papers in front of him into it.

“The pokemon who chased you are known as Beheeyem, and they’ve been sighted several times in the past several days searching for you. Highly dangerous, do not approach.” Simipour’s voice lost its airy quality for a more sincere tone. “That is why, for the time being, I strongly implore you to stay within the bounds of this village. I say this out of concern for your own safety, not to put a shackle on your freedom. This village doesn’t need another disappearance on its paws.”

Disappearance?” Espurr suddenly felt like she wanted to puke. “You mean… someone already disappeared?”

“We’ll… discuss that another time.” Simipour closed the drawer and leaned back in his seat. “But, for now, I think it best that you stop allowing such thoughts to clog up your mind, and take kind Nurse Audino up on her offer to let you stay up at the School Clinic.”

Left with no other options, Espurr nodded silently, and politely bid Principal Simipour good night. She looked back once on the way out, but Simipour was already snoozing with his head on his desk.


School Clinic

“And I mean it this time.” Audino stopped at Tricky’s nest on her way into one of the clinic’s other rooms. “Stay in your beds, or I’ll see what I can do about extending that weeks’ detention to a month.”

Satisfied at the suitably frightened look on Tricky’s face, Audino draped a thick tarp over each of the high-up baskets containing luminescent moss that lit the room with a bright blue glow, then continued into the clinic’s other room, leaving the door open just a crack behind her.

“It’s so unfaaiiir,” Tricky whined once they were alone. “We save Goomy and we get thrown in detention. The adults never do anything right!”

Espurr carefully helped herself to one of the berries on the plate between them, and took a bite as she listened to Tricky whine. She agreed, it wasn’t fair, but she had other reasons to be shaken right now. Tricky must have noticed her staring down, wide-eyed at her half-eaten berry in silence.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

What was wrong? Espurr was finally realizing how much danger she’d just been in. If she hadn’t stumbled upon Audino by chance… she might not have survived at all. That was a very scary thought, and she’d just tempted fate again. On her very first day.

“Nothing,” Espurr said. Another thing she couldn’t say aloud. “Just the dungeon.”

“I know what you meeeaan,” Tricky groaned, flopping herself backwards on her bed of straw. She really didn’t. “That dungeon was so cool, though. I’ve only been in it twice before. Usually it has more floors than that…”

At some point, Espurr learned how to tune out Tricky’s ramblings. She was just going on to herself at this point. She didn’t know how, but she was able to sense some frenetic energy off the pokemon. Like she was talking to herself to keep herself calm.

A little while later, Espurr glanced at Tricky, who had drifted off to sleep through her rambling. She was still muttering gibberish in her slumber, the half-eaten celery stalk resting idly at the foot of her bed. Espurr decided to follow Tricky’s example, and closed her eyes to rest as well.

Then, a moment later, she got up, placed the celery stalk back on the plate, and promptly collapsed into the straw bed again.

From Wartortle's Guide to Dungeoneering: Mystery Dungeons

Vast, spontaneous labyrinths that appear seemingly without rhyme or reason. Mystery Dungeons warp a spot of land into a maze with physics and characteristics that defy the natural laws of the world. In a mystery dungeon, the wall may be made of floor, or the floor of roof. Plants may lash out and snag animals to be absorbed into the walls. Some say the dungeons have even displayed signs of sentience…

Music of the week!

There's Something Wrong - Yuki Kajiura

Art by Chibi Pika
Last edited:
1~Two - The Dashing Wanderer


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
Headline today: Paradise deal to acquire Noe Town set to go through, officials promise "great things" for Mist

The bureau of Pokemon Paradise signed the final papers to acquire land all the way up to harbor village Noe Town, a deal that will go in effect this Monday.

"There are great things in store for Mist from here on out," said Dewott Alexis, one of the Mist Continent's legendary heroes. "With this new purchase, we'll be able to build our Paradise higher and farther than ever before."

~ Cloud Nine News Network




Serenity Village Outskirts


"I'm happy to inform you all that I have safely made it to the boundaries of Serenity Village," the tall, yellow pokemon announced as he walked down the mountain path. His tail swished behind him, lighting the mountain path from which he had come. In the distance ahead, the lights of Serenity Village glimmered amongst plains of darkness. "And in record time, too! Only two days."

He wore a thick green cloak over his body, carrying a walking stick in one paw and fiddling with a hexagonal gadget the color of himself in the other. Six buttons decorated each point of its edges, and in the middle of the contraption sat a translucent, glowing orb.

"Well, that's a record for you, Chief." A distorted voice crackled out the gadget. The orb lit up with each word. "For us… we'd be getting nothing done if we were that slow."


"What? Just stating the facts."

"How's it been going? Did you use the map Jirachi gave you?"
The second voice continued, then faltered for a moment in doubt. "Oh, no, never mind. Of course you used it. What was I thinking?"

"Actually, I was more interested in hearing about you," the giraffe-necked pokemon replied, expertly deflecting the question. There was no need to reveal that he had lost the map to a nasty gust of wind early on in the trip, and had spent the rest of the time taking shifty side-routes and bumping into dead ends and mystery dungeons. "What's the report back at the Society?"

"Well, we tried to get Mawile to do the morning itinerary," a third voice spoke up over the line. That was Bunnelby. "But she went ahead and locked herself in her room with those old glyphs I dug up for her, so Dedenne's in charge of that now. I must say, she almost does it better than you, Chief."

"Of course I do it better!"
The second voice piped back up indignantly. "Who do you think arranges that report every morning?"

"It's been a while since the last… incident, but we're all keeping an eye on Swirlix, just in case."
Archen’s scratchier voice piped up near the back. "She's been looking a little… ravenous lately."

"Jirachi's… still sleeping."
Bunnelby interjected.

There was a heavy pause, as everymon tried to figure out what to make of that.

"What? He was extra tired today. Would you have woken him up?"

Another heavy pause, as everymon asked themselves whether they would have woken him up.

"Anywaaay…" Dedenne spoke up again. "Archen stepped out and picked up that report you were looking for. Turns out, you were right: no-mon's gone in or out of Pokemon Plaza for an entire week. No food or item shipments, no Pelipper Post, no electrical transmissions… nothing. It's like the entire population all up and vanished overnight without telling anymon. Mawile and Archen are heading out to look it over tonight."

"Speaking of Mawile…" Ampharos mused.

"Present, Chief." A fifth voice spoke.

"Oh?" Ampharos raised an eyebrow, despite well knowing that they couldn't see him. "You've been quiet."

He could practically see Mawile shrug from behind her journal.

"There wasn't much to say. The wise 'mon speaks only when necessary."

Ampharos was about to reply with a witty remark, but suddenly the gadget he held in his paw began wildly flickering on and off without rhyme or reason.

“Chief?" Dedenne's voice came through the speakers, so garbled up one would have to know her personally to tell it was her. "Ch-i-e-e-e—"

And then, just like that, the gadget cut out completely. Ampharos shook it a little, but nothing happened. The fur on his back bristled in unease. For all Jirachi's hubris, his gadgets rarely failed like that.

Unless something was disrupting it…

A strange hum floated through the clearing, and suddenly the air shifted. Ampharos stopped. He discreetly planted his walking stick in the ground, stuffing the expedition gadget back into his exploration bag. He could tell by now: there was somemon here.

"You're best off going back to the woods from whence you came," he addressed the trio of pokemon standing right behind him, using his best theatrical voice. "That, or…"

He didn't hear the pokemon move a muscle. As much as he disapproved, Ampharos had the nasty feeling they had been looking for a fight in the first place. Oh, well. This way he’d get to finish his opening act. In a single whirl, he shed his cloak without warning, grabbed the walking stick, and posed flamboyantly. "…Face the might of the Dashing Wanderer!"

Ampharos came face-to-face not with the wild animals he'd been expecting, but instead with a trio of beheeyem, all standing still as stone. Confused but alert all the same, Ampharos kept his fighting position. Why weren't they moving?

And then, in an instant, they did. They swiftly hovered towards him, raising their arms with the rapidly flickering lights straight up and blinking him in the face.

Blinded, Ampharos barely jumped out of the way of a large shadowy ball that suddenly flew straight out of thin air. Black sparks fizzled off in its wake. He landed lightly on his feet, only just managing to keep his bearings. That wasn't a Shadow Ball, and Ampharos doubted beheeyem could perform that move naturally anyway. Whatever that was… it was new.

The attack exploded across a grove of trees, shaking several branches but otherwise leaving the trees untouched. The attack hadn’t done anything? A split second of confusion, his attention captured by the strange phenomenon, meant he didn’t see the second one coming until he barely had time to deftly slide out of the way.

Quickly generating a Dragon Pulse in his mouth, he launched himself in the air and aimed it directly at the beheeyem. This wasn't a battle he could afford to prolong, if he was correct in his line of thinking. It shot through the air, narrowly avoiding the trio of attackers as it went on to shred the forest for another twelve good feet. The move’s sheer recoil sent Ampharos flying back in the air, but he caught himself on the ground with his walking stick, and landed ready to dodge the next attack.

But it never came. Ampharos hurried back onto the mountain path just in time to see the tips of the Beheeyems' cone-like heads as they fled into the forest. Watching them scurry off, he picked his cloak back up and draped it over himself. It seemed in the end, they were cowards at heart.

Letting the orb at the end of his tail glow brightly as a source of light, Ampharos approached the site where the Beheeyems' unidentified attacks had landed. Just as he thought, there seemed to be no physical damage to the tree itself…

But when he put his paw on the trunk of the tree, it met not with the rugged texture of earthy bark but instead with the smooth surface of cold, hard stone. Ampharos knocked against the tree for good measure. For all intents and purposes, that section of the tree may as well have been a solid statue. Curious…

He pulled out the yellow gadget, which he noticed seemed to be working properly again. This was something he needed to record. He had the feeling it was going to be of great importance in the future. He fiddled with the buttons, trying to find the one that activated the feature he wanted. He knew Jirachi had installed a camera function on this thing not too long ago… ah, it was the blue one.

After recording pictures of the strange anomaly and saving it to the device’s connection orb, Ampharos hurriedly continued on his way towards the town, at a much faster pace than before. If he was right about what the stone tree meant, there was no need to risk a second encounter with those beheeyem tonight.


School Grounds


"Look sharp, class!"

The entire class of Serenity Village immediately stopped horseaing around and assumed their seats at the speed of light as Farfetch'd marched into the outdoor classroom. Watchog followed, eyeing the class suspiciously from the sentry spot he took in the background. Farfetched walked up to the teacher's desk, twirling his leak like a baton before stomping it to the ground like a cane. Everyone jumped to attention at the abrupt noise it made, and Farfetch'd cleared his throat, now sure he had everyone's attention.

"We have a new student joining us today," he began, scratching the student's names off the blackboard one by one with his wing. "Now, I'm told a good number of you already met her yesterday, but we'll introduce her anyways just to maintain proper form."

Farfetch'd beckoned with his wing, and Espurr slowly walked out of the archway leading to the school clinic, stopping in front of the blackboard.

"Espurr, please introduce yourself." Farfetch'd gracefully cleared the way with his stalk.

"Good morning," Espurr began, reciting the speech she had practiced for the occasion this morning. "My name is Espurr. I wish to become a student here at the Serenity Village School, and I hope that we can all become good friends and classmates in the near future."

A few quiet snickers (and one loud 'pffffffffffffft') emerged from Pancham's side of the classroom, but apart from that, she was received with warm curiosity and mild interest.

"Very well done!" Farfetched clapped in applause. He was the only one who did. He crossed the final name on the board out with his leek. "There's an empty seat next to Tricky right there. Why don't you take that one?"

Of course she got the seat next to Tricky. Espurr thought she heard Watchog mutter something along the lines of "Of course, put the troublemakers together… Not like I mind, I'M just the Vice Principal…" under his breath. She ignored it, walking over and taking the seat quietly.

"Isn't this so cool?" Tricky whispered to her the moment she sat down. "Not only do we get to attend the same school and detentions, but we get to sit right next to each other, too!" she immediately straightened up once she noticed that Watchog was watching her.

"Now that we have that out of the way…" Farfetch'd began to write on the blackboard with the chalk in his wing. "As I'm sure I don't need to remind you, we are entering the last school week before Summer Vacation. And since we all know you're going to spend Summer Vacation letting your brains rot…"

He finally finished jotting down whatever he was writing on the chalkboard, letting the class see just what he had written down. "We will spend this last week reviewing our current curriculum!"

There was a collective groan from the class at the idea of reviewing old material, save for Espurr, who had no idea what the class curriculum was, and Deerling, who was more pre-occupied with scratching at her bright pink coat than much else.

Tricky let her head flop to the desk in disappointment.

"Aww… more school?" she complained dejectedly. "And detention? Not fair."

In the background, Watchog folded his arms triumphantly.

"Now… is the class ready?" Farfetch'd asked. The class was not by any means ready, but Farfetch'd began anyway.

"History! So far, we've covered…"

He took a leaf through the fat history book on the teacher's desk.

"…Ah! Yes. Here it is. The Human Age. The earliest scrap of recorded history we have in our current possession dates back to over 10,000 years ago. In fact, it's even where we get our current time system from. It's said that many of the things the Humans left behind have been passed down and become deeply-integrated parts of our culture, from spoons to sundials to even—Deerling?"

Deerling looked up, still mildly agitated from the constant itching of her coat.

"Yes, Mr. Farfetch'd?" she asked, trying her best not to sound irritated.

"Would you like to be excused?" Farfetch'd asked. "I'm sure Nurse Audino can do something for your molting."

Deerling immediately stood up from her desk and made a beeline for Audino's office.

"Thank you, Mr. Farfetch'd—" she briefly spoke in passing, dashing up to the clinic without another word or detour.

Once she was gone, Farfetch'd returned to the book. "Now, where were we—Yes, Espurr?"

The entire class glanced at Espurr, who had her good paw up. Noticing everyone was looking at her, Espurr promptly lowered it.

"Where are the Humans now?" she questioned.

Farfetch'd flipped through the pages of the book, getting increasingly flustered as he went. "I was just getting to that, if everymon would pipe down and let me tell the story…"

He went back to trying to find his place again. Something about the word ‘human’ stirred a part of Espurr’s brain, but it slipped away as soon as she tried to home in on it. She tried her best to ignore Tricky's dramatic 'dying' act right next to her, who was flopped down sideways on the desk with her eyes bulging and tongue hanging out.

"…Due to various relics and ancient texts we've pieced together over history, we pokemon have been able to get a pretty good idea of what happened to the Humans," Farfetch'd continued.

Without warning, he suddenly leapt on the desk and slammed his leek into the chalkboard, jolting the rest of the bored-to-death class to attention. Watchog, who had fallen asleep in the corner, jolted awake with a high-pitched scream.

"Bam! Wiped out! Just like that." Farfetched paused for a moment, stepping off the teacher's desk he had jumped on. "By what? We don't know, only that the pokemon were left to pick up the pieces, and no-mon's even seen what a true Human looks like since."

Espurr listened intently, absorbing the information with an interest unrivaled by anyone in her class. The ghostly concept of a Human continued to float around in the back of her mind for the rest of the class.


School wasn't so bad, Espurr decided. At least, it wasn't the dread-fest Tricky seemed to be anticipating. Farfetch'd held the first class, and proved himself a very motivational speaker when he wanted to be. Then, there was Audino's session on medicinal berries.

“This year, we learnt about the properties of Medicinal Berries,” Audino began, putting three tarped baskets and an additional bowl on the teacher’s desk in front of her. It was almost noon now, and Espurr hadn’t eaten much for breakfast. Just seeing the berries in front of her made her hungry beyond belief. “And how mixing the right berries can heal injuries, cure illnesses, and replenish energy, while mixing the wrong ones can make you feel ill, sluggish, or just awful all over.” The blackboard was now covered in a diagram showing which berries did what, and how they mixed together. Audino removed the tarps from the baskets one by one, revealing the assortment of berries hidden within.

“Come on,” she beckoned the class to stand up from their seats. “Come closer.”

Within a moment, the entire class was standing around the teacher’s desk, gazing in at the berry baskets. Tricky looked like she was going to swipe one when Audino’s back was turned. Audino turned back around with a pair of woven gloves and a spoon in her hand, giving Tricky a harsh don’t-you-dare look.

“These berries are not for eating,” she explained. “Today, we will be reviewing how to properly mix berries together, and which ones not to mix. When the test comes around later in the week, you will all be expected to do this on your own, so pay good attention here.”

Most of the class suddenly looked spooked. Strapping on the gloves, Audino fished through the first basket, pulling out an oran berry.

“To start off, you will need a berry as your base,” Audino explained. She set the oran berry in the bowl before the class, letting them get a good, long look at it. “Since we’ll primarily be making medicines and other basic mixtures in this class, you will almost always use oran berries, but other base berries exist as well.” Without another word, Audino took a wooden spoon, and began to crush the berry to mush with it.

Showing the class the mashed oran paste, Audino fished in the second bucket for berries. “With an oran berry as your base, you can now begin to add the other berries that will serve as your modifier.” She pulled out a handful of berries, setting them on the table in front of the bowl. “For instance… If I were to mix a chesto berry with our oran berry here, it would then gain the sleep-preventing properties of the chesto berry, amplified by the boosting qualities of the oran. And if I were to add a bluk berry instead, the oran berry would amplify the effects of the bluk berry, thus turning our mixture into a skin-soothing lotion.” Audino held both berries out to the class in turn.

“However…” She picked up the third and final berry, showing it to the students. “If I were to add this mago berry to our oran mixture, what do you think would happen?”

Deerling was the first to raise her hoof among the silent class.

“The… oran berry would amplify it?” She hopefully asked, glancing at the blackboard behind Audino.

“Close.” Audino set the berry down with the chesto and bluk berry. “The mago berry is known for its slight intoxicating qualities—in other words, too many mago berries can make you drunk. But when mixed with our oran berry, the mago berry suddenly becomes a powerful intoxicant: One that can even spell death for a medical patient if administered by accident.” Audino didn’t flinch at the wide eyes that spread through the class, the mark of her point properly hitting home.

“As you can see, some berries mixtures are unsafe for consumption,” she continued, “and the more medicinal berries one adds atop a pure oran base, the closer the likelihood that you will end up concocting such a dangerous mixture. This is why many medicinal berry mixtures using bases outside oran are frowned upon, or, in some cases, illegal. The results are simply too unpredictable or even dangerous to use.”

Most of the class seemed to take that to heart. Espurr didn’t like the way Pancham and Shelmet’s faces just lit up instead.

“Now, this applies only to a specific range of berries—Medicinal Berries.” Audino showed them the third basket, which was filled to the brim with strawberries and peaches and other various berries. Espurr gazed into the basket along with the rest of the class. Nowhere to be seen were the oddly-colored and shaped berries of the other two.

“These are your average cooking berries,” Audino said. “While nutritious by default, boosting these berries with the oran mixture does not lead to any notable effects when eaten. They are, for lack of a better term, ordinary berries.

“Now…” Audino moved to the side, letting the class finally see the blackboard in its entirety. “I’d like you all to study this blackboard, outlining a chart of which berries, when mixed, create what.”

A break for recess was given before Watchog's class, and though Espurr didn't see Deerling during that period, she did take notice of the way the other teachers all seemed to be preparing themselves for future headaches.

Watchog taught the dungeon class, and it was safe to say he was not a very encouraging teacher at all. It wasn't like he could go five minutes without warning his students about what would happen if they were ever caught doing the things he taught unsupervised under his watch. Watchog's class was the only one the students of Serenity Village made an effort to at least pretend they were paying full attention to.

After Watchog finished his lecture, Principal Simipour came out and gave the Weekly School Announcements (which weren't anything groundbreaking, Espurr noted with dismay, only minor announcements about the last week of school before Summer Vacation). Espurr noticed how tired he seemed, as if he had just woken from a deep slumber. Was he always sleepy like that? Afterwards, everymon eagerly moved out of the hot sun to eat lunch in the Clinic Building.

Once lunch was over, it was time for detention. At some point, Watchog had taken Pancham aside and given him a harsh lecture about what he had done yesterday. Pancham didn't seem to have learned a single thing from it.

"Now, Principal Simipour doesn't hold the same high standard to punishment as I do…"

Watchog marched behind Espurr and Tricky as they walked down the path to the strawberry fields, Goomy sliming up in the two students' wake.

"…But your detentions for the following week will be personally overseen by the law-upholding gaze of yours truly, Vice Principal Watchog." Watchog announced, his voice taking on a flamboyant tone. "And I assure you, I. Will. Be. Vigilant. In my supervision—Sharp left!"

The three students wearily stopped marching down the path at Watchog's shrill cry, taking a sharp left. The sun had only gotten hotter as it rose higher and higher in the sky, and now it was sweltering. The heat was enough to make Espurr feel like she was cooking in her fur, and Goomy was practically sagging. But Tricky was right at home, trotting along without a care in the world.

"Mr. Watchog?" Espurr panted, annoyedly brushing away the dust Watchog had unwittingly kicked into her fur from behind.

"Vice Principal Watchog," Watchog muttered. "What is it?"

"Why are we the ones leading?" Espurr asked between heat-strained breaths. "You seem to have all the directions, yet you're making us lead the way, when we clearly have no idea where we're going."

Vice Principal Watchog sputtered. "I… I have to make sure you don't run off while I'm not looking! Wouldn't be the first time we've had deserters…" he growled, staring at Tricky.

"Sharp right!" he yelled a second later. Everymon perplexedly took a sharp right.

"Now we're just back on the path," Tricky observed in an obnoxious tone. "Do you even know where you're going, Mr. Watchog?" she asked cheerfully.

"For the last time…" Watchog sputtered, his face red, "It's VICE PRINCIPAL WATCHOG! And yes, I took a wrong turn. Cry about it. All straights from here."

After a few more minutes of silent endurance as Watchog danced around them frenetically to make sure they were keeping a perfect straight file, they finally arrived at the berry fields: long, open plains of bushes stretched far into the distance, ending at the neatly-clipped trees that marked the entrance of the forest.

"Here we are," Watchog sighed with the enthusiasm of a grumpy swadloon. "The three of you will be spending detention picking tomorrow's lunch. Here's a list from Principle Simipour, outlining what you need to pick and where." He handed out a list each to Espurr and Goomy, who took it with his slimy paws. Espurr looked over at Tricky, who had naturally gotten distracted by something. She glanced at the list, her eyes scanning through the squiggle-like text in confusion. She couldn't read this!

"Vice Principal Watchog?" Espurr raised her one good paw with the list again.

"FINALLY!" Watchog exclaimed loudly. "Yes? What is it?"

Espurr showed him the sheet of paper.

"I can't read this. Are there any in Japanese?"

Watchog's face fell as fast as his prospects of a well-behaved student.

"…What's Japanese?" he asked suspiciously. "Is this another prank?"

"Of course not, Vice Principal," Espurr started quickly before Watchog could continue his paranoid train of thought. "Japanese is…"

She stopped short when she realized she didn't actually know what Japanese was. It was another one of those memories that had appeared on the tip of her tongue, and then slipped away without a second thought.

"…A dead language," she carefully finished. "It's all I was taught to read."

Watchog's skeptical eyebrow nearly rose out the top of his head.

"We don't speak dead languages here," he told Espurr, incredulous. A moment later, he sighed at her unwavering gaze. "If you can't read it, one of your partners in crime can help you out. But I still expect hard work from all three of you! If I catch any of you slacking, I have permission to extend your detention periods… Into Summer Vacation," he finished with a sharp glare intended just for Tricky.

Tricky, who had been doing something Espurr couldn’t make heads or tails of up to that point, didn't like the sound of that. She gulped, and began to physically drag Espurr into the Strawberry Section by her good arm. Goomy accidentally dropped his copy of the list as he slimed after them. He watched it blow off into the fields helplessly, carried off on a sudden gust of wind.

"That Watchog is evil!" Tricky gasped once Watchog was out of earshot. "He wouldn't cancel Summer Vacation, would he?"

"I-I think he would," Goomy stuttered as he slimed up, his eyes peeled to the paranoid otter loitering about stiffly in the distance.

Tricky grabbed one of the wicker baskets resting next to the large gate in her mouth, entering the fields with a bound. "Epferr! You're on reading dudie!" she yelled back through the basket, oblivious to any of her classmates' plights. "Goomy, help me pfick berrpfies!"

Then once again, she left Espurr in the dust. Magenta annoyance tinged her vision once again—could she be any more carefree? Both Espurr and Goomy traded looks. Goomy looked at his slimy paws that weren't fit for picking berries in any way, shape or form.

"Want to trade?"

Espurr handed her list out to Goomy with her one good arm, heading over to the remaining wicker baskets. "I can't read it anyway."

Goomy gave Espurr a grateful nod, bobbing his head readily and taking the sheet.

"Okay… I- It says we need 50 strawberries from t-the orchard…" Goomy began, following Espurr through the gate and into the field, where Tricky was already busy shoving countless berries her basket without rhyme or reason.


"Exactly 50 strawberries… ten apples…" Watchog searched through the students' baskets, his own copy of the list in his paws. "10 carrots, fresh dug…"

A moment later, he put both the list and the baskets down, a look of complete and utter shock on his face.

"I don't believe it…" he muttered in disbelief. "You actually got everything. And without any problems, too…" He just caught himself from swooning. "I think I need to sit down…"

As Watchog stumbled off to find a seat, Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy all took a well-deserved break in the shade. After working for an hour in the harsh sun, they all needed to cool off a bit. Espurr wished she'd been able to do more of it, but without the help of both arms she could do little more than hold the basket.

"T-that took l-longer than it s-should have," Goomy stammered, still panting from the heat.

"It was only the strawberry section that took longer." Tricky happily stated, licking the strawberry juice off her paws before it could stain her fur.

"Y-you ate some of the berries?" Goomy just stopped himself from crying out in shock. "We could get g-grounded for that! Especially after l-last time!"

"Eh." Tricky finished licking the last of the juice off her snout, causally falling back on her haunches. "What Watchog doesn't know won't hurt him. Right, Espurr?"

There was no answer.

"Espurr?" she asked.

Espurr quietly walked to the end of the fence surrounding the strawberry fields, oblivious to the concerns of her two classmates. In the distance, she could hear something noisily making its way through the trees, stepping on sticks and bumping into tree trunks as it went. It wasn't the beheeyem, she was sure of that much. She didn't even know if this was the direction she had come out from anyway. But Principal Simipour's words still hung fresh in her mind: "I say this out of concern for your own safety. We don't need yet another disappearance on our paws."

A gust of sudden wind ruffled Espurr's fur. She looked eastward to the forest from which it had come. A large sheet of paper flipped and fluttered through the air, slowly soaring lower and lower as it continued to surf the wind. By the time it reached Espurr, it was flying low enough for her to leap up and grab, and she plucked it out of the air with her one good arm.

"Ooh—what's that?"

Espurr jumped, startled by the sudden exclamation from behind her. Tricky ran up, Goomy doing his best to keep up with her.

"Oh." Espurr tried to keep the paper out of the dry dirt the best she could with only one paw at her disposal. "I don't know. It blew in on the wind."

"Hey! Troublemakers!" Watchog yelled a distance away, apparently recovered from his near-fainting spell. "The forests are off-limits! You'd better stay clear!"

"OKAY, MR. WATCHOG!" Tricky yelled, immediately standing in front of Espurr to cover up the map. Espurr cringed from the volume and did her best to cover her floppy ears. "WE'RE COMING BACK NOW!"

The words "It's Vice Principal Watchog!" could be heard floating over the breeze towards them.

"We'll hide it under the baskets," Tricky chirped, happily trotting off. "Watchog will never find it."

As Tricky and Goomy headed off, Espurr cast a quick glance up towards the sun before following, which was already beginning to dip into an early sunset.

It was hot.


Water Continent Administration Records: Serenity Village

A small settlement of little more than 100 pokemon located on the far side of the Water Continent’s Sheer Mountain Range. Serenity Village is acclaimed for its stunning scenery, though its location over the side of the mountains cuts it and other villages off from contact with Lively Town and wider civilization. Most pokemon who grow up Serenity Village lead blissfully unaware lives, ignoring the movements of the broader world as long as it stays away from their livelihood.

Music of the week!

Worst Pep Talk Ever - John Powell
Last edited:
1~Three - The Deserted Plaza


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
"The Rescuer's Guild has always been old-fashioned about things. It takes a day to get there by flight or by foot, half if you rush it, and they don't have any connection orb technology to reach them faster. But even so... no word in or out for a week is unsettling. It just doesn't happen."

~ Citizen of Baram Town




Baram Town ~ Air Continent

~Mawile and Archen~

"I never understood how you manage to sleep on Lapras' backs," Archen said, ruffling his feathers in exhaustion as he stepped onto the dock after Mawile. He yawned, covering his beak with a feather. It didn’t make him feel any less tired. "Don't you ever worry about falling off?"

The many painted windmills of Baram Town stood proudly above them, vanes lazily turning in the early morning breeze. On any normal day, seeing the windmills slowly rotating in the morning sun would have been a breathtaking sight worth the six-hour journey it took to get there. Today was not a normal day, and despite his sane ‘mon’s inability to sleep on lapras shells, they wouldn’t be staying in town for more than an hour. Long nights and early mornings made Archen a very cranky bird.

Mawile, whose time management he sorely referred to as ‘Drop-Dead Organization’, wanted to be back in Baram Town before dark, which apparently meant chartering a lapras in the dead of night and setting out only moments after. They’d just arrived in Baram Town at the crack of dawn, and Lapras promised to return for them the next day.

Mawile marked off the second box on a page in her travel journal, which Archen saw was marked 'Arrive in Baram Town' (the first was 'Charter Lapras').

"Trial and error," she replied, stowing the journal away in her exploration bag. "You learn quickly where the best spots to sleep on a lapras' back are once you've tried it a couple of times."

Archen shivered at the thought. He never cared much for water in the first place, let alone doing something as foolhardy as what past Mawile had apparently attempted. If only he could fly… This mission would be over already, he ruminated.

The paved streets of Baram were still mostly empty for what was undoubtedly a major tourist attraction, currently belonging to the early birds, miscellaneous other early 'mon, and pairs of unfortunate explorers such as themselves. Even Kecleon was still hurriedly setting up shop as Mawile and Archen walked over to his stall.

"Ah—just a minute!" he called out with a sense of manufactured cheer and a grin that was way too wide, hurriedly straightening things on all their shelves. "I'll be ready for you in just a minute~! Bit of a late day today…"

Archen had a bit of a hard time fathoming how anymon could consider this late, but he wasn't given the time to think on it. Mawile handed him her exploration bag for the items, which Archen reluctantly took in his wings.

"Welcome to the Kecleon Shop!" Kecleon chirped, straightening his apron discreetly. "What would you like to purchase?"

"Everything on this list, please." Mawile handed him a sizeable list. "I assume you're fully stocked?"

Kecleon suddenly looked far more distressed than what was good for business.

"Actually…" he began, wringing his spindly lizard claws together uncomfortably, "My shipments come from the Rescuer's Guild in Pokemon Plaza. I haven't had a delivery in over two weeks, I'm afraid…" The wringing of his claws intensified. A stress tic. Archen was good at reading those.

Mawile took a minute to study the list.

"I think we can make a few exceptions, then," she conceded, pulling an inked quill out of the bag Archen was holding and deftly crossing several things off. Kecleon's face relaxed considerably at the large number of crossed-out items when Mawile handed it back. "We happen to be on our way to Pokemon Plaza ourselves," she said.

"R-really?" Kecleon's face lit up as he removed items from the shelves. "What for?"

"HAPPI business," Archen grumpily chimed in before Mawile could answer. Grunt work, more like. "We're investigating the sudden cut-off of communications in the area."

"Perhaps you'll take a look-see for the lucario who delivers my stocks every week?" Kecleon asked hopefully, setting the last of the items on the counter. "I'll throw in a future discount…" he hurriedly added immediately afterwards.

"We'll keep an eye out." Mawile's reply was short and prompt. "The bill, please?"

"Oh—yes—I'm just forgetting things left and right lately—"

Kecleon dived under the counter, emerging with a quill and paper. He tallied the prices of all the ingredients up in his head so fast Archen was surprised they hadn't established a shopkeeper's monopoly yet (until his tired mind reminded him that they had), writing the final bill at the bottom of the paper and sliding it to Mawile.

"That'll be 5500 Poke," Kecleon finished cheerfully. "Except for the tiny reviver seeds. I'm afraid I'm plumb out of those."

Mawile dug through the bag Archen held for the money, handing it to Kecleon and placing the items in the bag. Archen slung it over his back as they left the stall.

"Here." Mawile took the bag from Archen and handed him a chesto berry as they walked through Baram Plaza. "Breakfast."

Archen took it reluctantly, watching Mawile pull out a chesto berry of her own and take a large bite of it. It seemed she was more tired than she let on. All those nights of sleepless rune research must be taking their toll after all.

"It'll take us approximately seven hours to arrive at Pokemon Plaza," Mawile stated, taking another bite of the bitter berry. "In other words, high noon. We both need to be at our best for this."

She downed the rest of it like it was a rare delicacy. Archen grimaced through his beak at the sight. He grumbled quietly before taking a bite. This was going to give him tummy issues later.


Village Square


The village square, it turned out, was most packed just before sunset on a Monday evening. Serenity Villagers scrambled around in a hurry, trying to gather all their supplies and grab an early dinner before the shops and café closed for the night. They hurriedly went about their business, narrowly skirting around Vice Principal Watchog and his trail of students, as well as the wooden wagon they carried their supplies in.

"Wait right here," Watchog ordered them as they approached Kecleon's stall. "I have to purchase the non-pickables. I don't want to see you standing one centimeter out of place when I return, or I'll assign summer detention for all three of you. Got it?"

"Got it…" All three students recited wearily.

Satisfied enough, Watchog started towards Kecleon's stall, leaving the three students on their own. Espurr took a seat on the ground the moment he had turned his back, almost drooping with sleep just like her classmates. The day had taken quite a toll on all three of them, Watchog's detention in particular. As someone who had woken up early that day, it was taking most of Espurr's willpower to keep herself from napping where she sat.

"Good evening, students."

All three students glanced up wearily at the pokemon who had greeted them, suddenly straightening up and leaping to their feet when they saw who it was. Audino adjusted her exploration bag over her shoulder, a smallish purse in her other paw.

"N-Nurse Audino!" Tricky immediately made an effort to look awake, only succeeding in making herself look constipated instead. "We totally weren't sleeping on you right now. Trust us!"

"I hope 'Vice Principal' Watchog hasn't been too hard on you," she said with air quotes, trying to keep a straight face at the sight of Tricky's acting. "He has a penchant for working the detention students to the brink of exhaustion sometimes." Audino's sentence ended with a bit of fuchsia edge to her voice. Even without it, Espurr could sense she didn't have a very good opinion of him.

"W-we know…" Goomy sighed dejectedly.

"You all behaved yourselves?" A brash voice rang out behind them. Everymon turned around to face Watchog, who lugged back a week's worth of nuts in his paws. He glowered at all three of the students as he approached. "Did anymon move?"

"Oh, put a wooper in it, Watchog," Audino retorted, suddenly less cheery. "They were with me the entire time, and I haven't seen them move once."

Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy were treated to the rare sight of watching Watchog's face suddenly grow spooked as he noticed Audino for the first time. "A-Audino!" he muttered nervously, tightly gripping the sack the nuts were held in. "Fancy seeing you here…"

"Happened to be in the area; thought I'd lend a helping paw," Audino replied. "Somemon has to look out for the students' health, after all, and it's not going to be you."

"Really?" Watchog folded his arms defensively. "They're just as happy to cause trouble on any other day. The way I see it, this is a useful waste of their energy."

"Oh, you did not just go there…"

Espurr happily tuned out what was obviously about to devolve into a colorful argument, instead watching the cloaked pokemon who was clumsily wandering through the square. He was yellow from head to toe; for what little the earth-green cloak concealed, it did nothing to hide the pokemon underneath. Espurr stepped out from behind the arguing Audino and Watchog, heading over towards the Kecleon Stall to get a better look.

"Pardon me—coming through, I'm afraid—" He stumbled through a group of conversing pokemon after tripping on a rock, the orangeish orb on his tail glowing dimly in what Espurr assumed must have been embarrassment. Was this normal? She thought. He seemed so… clumsy.

Tricky yawned loudly, walking over to stick her nose into the second most interesting thing happening in the square at that moment. Her eyes widened once she saw the pokemon.

"What's his problem?" she asked, for once too tired to set off another domino stack of mischief. Espurr looked at her briefly, no longer surprised by her abrupt interruptions anymore.

"He's not from around here, right?" Espurr asked.

"Well, duh." Tricky rolled her eyes as she sat. "Who runs like that?!"

As if on cue, the pokemon stirred from the ground, picking himself up dizzily. Espurr's eyes widened.

"He's about to charge straight at us," she suddenly said. Tricky opened her mouth to say something to the contrary—

"—My sincerest apologies, madame," the tall yellow pokemon apologized to a passing lotad as he picked himself up from the ground. "I think it's this way," he confidently stated, pointing straight in Tricky's direction. Only seconds later, he tripped over the exact same rock that had sent him sprawling to the ground in the first place. Both Espurr and Tricky barely managed to clear the way before the pokemon went barreling through and stopped just short of an unremarkable red, bird-styled tent near the southwest side of the square.

Espurr blinked twice in shock at the sight, watching Tricky stare at the crashed pokemon, eyes wide and mouth agape.

The pokemon twitched, raising himself from the ground clumsily.

"Pardon…" he apologized, trying his best to regain his bearings. "I'm afraid I possess a natural predisposition towards clumsiness."

"You wha?" Tricky's ears fell at the complicated vocabulary.

"I have an awful sense of direction." the pokemon tried his best to simplify the sentence. A second later, he shook his head.

"Oh, where are my manners?" he lamented. "My name is Ampharos. A traveling pokemon, known far and wide as…"

In a sudden burst of flamboyance, he whipped the cloak off, posing dramatically. "The Dashing Wanderer!"

The noise managed to grab the attention of a few ‘mon in the square, who looked at him in annoyance. Poor Goomy, who had fallen asleep out of sheer exhaustion, was rudely snapped awake again.

"I might ask your names now," the Dashing Wanderer inquired, dropping his pose now that he had unwittingly attracted the attention of half the pokemon in Serenity Village.

"I'm Tricky. That's Espurr." Tricky's introduction was swift and effective. "We're going to join the Expedition Society when we get older!"

It was Espurr's turn to let her mouth hang open in shock. She caught it before it could become embarrassing, staring at Tricky in surprise. When had she agreed to that?! She was about to say so, but Tricky didn’t give her an opening.

"You're a travelling pokemon, right?" Tricky promptly began to bombard Ampharos with her usual truckload of questions, all tiredness forgotten for the time being. "Have you been to the Expedition Society? Have you? Huh?"

"That…" the yellow pokemon paused, for obvious lack of a better answer. "…Is classified!"

"Oh…" The disappointment on Tricky's face set in faster than a flat cake. "What are you doing here, anyway?" she asked him. "We're just a loo stop on your way over the Mountain Range."

"Why, I came to see the sights, of course!" Ampharos replied cheerfully. "Serenity Village is known for its stunning scenery, after all." Ampharos glanced at Tricky's face for a minute to see if she had bought it or not. He was making this all up on the spot, of course. He couldn't reveal his true reasons for travelling to the Village.

"But now, unfortunately, I must now bid you all adieu, goodbye, tally-ho!" he exclaimed, stumbling up towards the Café Connection. "I have some important errands to tend to."


In other words, Ampharos had an important pokemon to find. And after an hour of walking around the village, he was none the closer to finding the mon he was looking for. He stopped at the door of the café, feigning a loss of breath to buy himself some time to think. In just about an hour, he had discreetly 'tested' every single adult pokemon who happened to live in the village. The place was rather secluded. Newcomers wouldn't get far without knowing the lay of the land, he theorized, which all-but ruled out the pokemon he was looking for.

His questions were mere history trivia, the sort of things anymon would know provided they'd grown up here all their lives. But so far every single adult pokemon in the village had answered his questions correctly, and therefore incorrectly, which allowed Ampharos to quickly narrow the possibilities down to three on the spot: they were A. dead/lost in the wilderness (Ampharos very much hoped it wasn't this one.), B. extremely clever and a good liar, or…

…C. They weren't an adult pokemon. Ampharos suddenly realized that last option made much more sense than it should have. But his actions today had already earned him the title of travelling madmon, he was sure; he couldn't simply go around asking about the village children! Not unless he planned to blow his cover, or spend a night in the local jail, thereby blowing his cover in the most undignified way possible. If only there was another way…

He glanced back at the pair of children he had just met. The fennekin had asked about the Expedition Society… Perhaps there was a silver lining to this after all. Disguising it as a quick bump against the doors of the café, he discreetly let his own spare Connection Orb fall from his bag. Ampharos was a minimalist packer, but he had found it was always wise to keep a spare connection orb on him. It rolled out in the middle of the square, over to where he knew they would see it.

Sure enough, a moment later, he saw the espurr and fennekin walk over, picking it up and chattering to themselves amongst it. A few times he got the creeping feeling the espurr could see him through the window, but he was pretending to stare at a menu, so he doubted the young pokemon suspected anything. This way… He'd have his answer in no time flat. If the newly arrived Human was among the village children, he'd roll with it. If not… He'd just ask for the orb back a few days later. Win-win. Ampharos began to truthfully study the menu for the first time.

Espurr and Tricky took a good long look at the Café Connection as the kooky ampharos chatted with Kangaskhan.

"That… was mega weird," Tricky concluded, after a long, quiet pause.


Serenity Village

"I mean, we don't get a lot of tourists here," Tricky said, orbiting Espurr as they walked up towards the residential section of Serenity Village . "We're super out of the way! The last one was…

"…well… you," she finished, tilting her head at Espurr.

Espurr declined to say anything in response, still inspecting the glassy blue orb their mutual acquaintance had dropped earlier. Tricky had a point, she realized. The 'Dashing Wanderer', whatever his true name and motives, was a shady character at best.

"Now that I think of it… you never told me where you came from, did you?" Tricky asked, slowing to a trot beside Espurr. "That's like, question number #2 on the list of things friends should know about each other!"

Espurr mentally froze. She still didn't have an alibi of any kind to cover for her lack of memory past the last couple of days!

"It's like I said," she replied, staring at Tricky. "I… got lost in the woods, and Nurse Audino found me and took me here."

"Yeah, but where did you come from?" Tricky dashed in front of Espurr, walking backwards up the path. 'Come on—I want the juicy bits!"

Espurr panicked inside. There were no 'juicy bits' to give! Aside from the trio of beheeyem that apparently wanted her hide, but she had a nagging feeling that was best kept to herself. And with six days of Watchog's taxing detentions ahead of them, she'd barely given any thought to the issue at all.

"I… don't want to talk about it," she finally said, directing her eyes to the orb so Tricky didn’t take her stare as cue to continue prodding.

"Spoilsport." Tricky spun around, scurrying up the road and heading towards a house decorated like a large blue shell.

"C'mon!" she yelled back at Espurr, a ways ahead. "You get to meet my Pops today!"

Espurr looked up at the uniquely-decorated house, and then smartly stashed the orb in a nearby bush.


Carracosta's House

"So." The immense blue turtle grunted out, one of his flippers curled around a large spoon. A massive spread of different dishes lay in front of them, Tricky's plates piled high with choice selections from every dish. Espurr sat next to her with a small piece of fish on her plate.

"Yep." Tricky replied happily between messy laps from a bowl of rawst berry soup.

"You brought a friend." The turtle took a deliberate sip from the spoon, eyeing Espurr suspiciously.

"Yep." Tricky took a large bite of a stuffed bell pepper lying on a plate to her left.

"On leftover night."

"Yep." Crumbs went flying everywhere as she scarfed down half of a piece of peachberry cake on the plate to her right.

"Use your table manners!" he shouted, jarring her out of the cake she was currently driving her snout into. "We don't eat like dungeon ferals in front of our guests!"

Tricky jumped, immediately straightening up and cleaning up her eating habits. Espurr was taken aback by the sudden outburst, but seeing that Tricky had already returned to normal calmed her down a little.

"But I have to practice my Dungeon Eating, Pops… " Tricky said with a hint of manufactured gloom.

"What is Dungeon Eating." The big blue turtle asked, tired. He had seen too much of this.

Immediately Tricky perked up again, her eyes gleaming with that mischievous glint Espurr was beginning to know too well.

"Weeeeell…" she began. "You know how you're in a mystery dungeon, and you don't have the time to sit down and prepare great big meals?"

"No." Tricky's father replied, his tone as flat as the one-word sentence he spoke.

"Well, it happens!" Tricky continued. "And that's what Dungeon Eating's for!"

"And how does this 'Dungeon Eating' work?"

"Easy!" Tricky declared. "You just eat everything on your plate as fast as you can! Like this…"

Carracosta stopped Tricky with another one of his outbursts before she could begin messily scarfing her food down again.

"NO! I won't hear of it! You'll eat your food like a respectable 'mon, or not at all!"


Tricky sat down, taking smaller bites of her cake. Crumbs still flew, probably to Carracosta's dismay, but not nearly as many.

Silently deciding that trying to interpret what had just happened in front of her wasn't worth the brainpower, Espurr took a polite bite of the fish on her plate.


"And this is my room!"

Tricky led Espurr into her bedroom, a quaint, empty room located on the western wing of the house.

"It's kind of empty…" Espurr noted, taking in the bareness of the room.

Tricky scoffed. "Well, lucky you, sleeping in Nurse Audino's office. We kids just don't have the privilege! Besides, the thing I really wanna show you is hidden on purpose."

She began to scurry towards the corner of the room where her bed was (An actual bed; Espurr realized, not a mass of straw. Tricky's father must have been generous).

"You've hidden things by accident?" Espurr asked, incredulous. Coming from Tricky, that sounded worryingly plausible.

"Do you really wanna know the answer to that?" Tricky asked, foraging under her bed. "Or do you wanna see my secret?" Without waiting for an answer, she dived head-first under the bed, rummaging around in all the junk.

Espurr waited a few minutes, then decided to peek under the bed as Tricky dug. A yellow paw slapped her away amongst the digging.

"No spoilers!" A muffled Tricky yelled from under the bed. A few dusty books with the picture of what looked like a turtle pokemon on the cover inadvertently slid out on the floor from all Tricky's digging.

A moment later, Tricky herself emerged from under the bed, releasing both a cloud of dust that shot out into both their faces, and a box.

"Ready?" she asked. Espurr didn't feel that question particularly needed to be answered.

Tricky threw open the box, and pulled out a pair of scarves. She proudly displayed them in front of Espurr, who didn't know what to think.

"These are my most prized possessions!" Tricky declared happily, holding them in front of Espurr's nose. Espurr felt it twitch uncomfortably as the dust particles went up her nostrils.

"That's… Nice…" she choked out, trying to hold in a sneeze.

Espurr's sudden sneezing fit even managed to reach Carracosta's ears from all the way from across the hall.

"Huh." Tricky shook the scarves to expel all the dust. "They are a little dusty, aren't they? I haven't used them in so long…"

She slipped one around her neck, trying to get a feel of the material again.

"Like 'em?" she joyfully asked Espurr, trotting circles around the room. "I totally forgot about them until now! I used to wear these both to school every day."

Espurr carefully picked the spare scarf up with her good paw, admiring the sky-blue fabric the garments were made of. The scarves looked normal, but even so she could feel some kind of power trapped inside their folds. She turned it around in her paw, noticing what looked like the tiniest nick just above the tie of the neck.

"They’re nice," she said, looking up at Tricky. “What’s the nic—"

"I know, right?" Tricky cut in. She was practically beaming with excitement. "I don't remember why I stopped wearing them—"

She suddenly froze mid-sentence, her ears lowering just a little. Espurr caught the motion before it disappeared, and she felt a sudden wave of deep blue negativity pierce through her head. It was the same as back outside the Foreboding Forest, and it blotted out Espurr's thoughts until she moved back a bit. She could tell it was coming straight from Tricky.

"Tricky?" she asked. The fennekin didn't even glance at her. Espurr noticed she was staring at the floor, breathing hard. "Is something wrong?"

Tricky quickly removed the scarf, putting it back in the case. She nearly bit the scarf out of Espurr’s paw, spitting it out on top of the other one and shutting the lid of the case fast as she could.

"I’m fine…" she said with much more assertiveness than she needed to, shoving the case back under her bed, and all of the sudden she was back to her normal, perky self. The negative cloud disappeared in an instant, leaving Espurr reeling. She quickly caught her balance against Tricky’s bed, waiting a few seconds until the dizziness left her. What had that been?

"See? I’m fine!” Tricky chirped. It was like she didn’t even remember what had happened before. “Wanna help me clean up after dinner? Pops loves cooking, but he hates mess. And the best part is, he doesn't even notice when the leftovers go missing!"

Espurr didn't think that was the best part at all, but humored Tricky anyway. She was about to ask Tricky what had just happened, but Tricky hadn’t even waited for her answer, bounding down the hall excitedly with the assumption Espurr would follow after her.

“What’re you talking about?” she asked later on when Espurr questioned her. “I don’t remember anything like that. I don’t!”

Her cheery expression looked strained, until it all disappeared just a minute later. All in all, Espurr didn’t know what to make of it. It was bizarre.

Between the two of them and Tricky's bottomless stomach, the table was cleared in only ten minutes, and the empty dishes set aside for Carracosta to Water Gun to cleanliness later. Afterwards, Espurr bid both Tricky and Carracosta good night, and set off on her way to the school. Even with her head awash with thoughts of Tricky’s strange spell and her own day, she almost remembered to pick up the strange blue orb on her way out.



Road to Pokemon Plaza

~Mawile and Archen~

For a place referred to as the Air Continent, there seemed to be an amazing amount of forests and underbrush and an amazing lack of free space. Archen held back as Mawile's back maw chomped down on an invasive branch, ripped it off the tree, and chucked it to the side. This happened often. Archen had already lost count.

"How close are we?" he asked grumpily, a tiny bit of edge creeping back into his normally scratchy voice. Chesto berries didn't agree well with his stomach.

Mawile looked up from the map she was reading.

"Very worrying," she spoke up a moment later, seemingly ignoring Archen's question.

"What's worrying?" Archen asked bluntly.

"If I'm reading this map correctly," Mawile calmly began, letting her back maw latch onto another invasive branch, "Then we should be getting close to Pokemon Plaza. And yet, the underbrush remains just as untamed as it's been this whole trip."

Archen raised an eyebrow in skepticism, unable to see how that meant anything. Seconds later, another branch was torn from the tree and tossed to the side.

"So?" he asked, stepping around the splintered branch stem.

"Pokemon Plaza is a frequented area," Mawile continued. "Therefore, the land around it should be maintained weekly, unlike the anomaly we see here." She gestured briefly to the overgrown flora around her, recording the present discoveries on her clipboard.

Archen shrugged the best he could with a sack of dungeon supplies around his back. "Maybe Air Continentals just don't like tidiness," he said.

"I think not," Mawile answered. "We're on the main traveling route. Pokemon from all continents frequent this path. But these shrubs have been growing for a couple of weeks unchecked, minimum."

"Then maybe you read the map wrong," Archen proposed.

He didn't notice Mawile had stopped until he bumped straight into her humongous back maw. A moment later, he saw why. Just ten feet down the path, a tarped wagon sat on its side. The most putrid of smells wafted from under the tarp, making Archen want to puke up the chesto berry he had consumed earlier.

Then again, his stomach argued. Maybe that would be a good thing.

Hitched to the wagon sat a perfect stone statue of a lucario, staring up at the sky in horror at something that was no longer there.

Mawile and Archen approached the wagon quickly. Mawile attempted to stuff away her map as she went. The details on the lucario statue were near life-like. Its paws were on the harness that attached it to the cart, curled around straps that hadn't been undone on time. If it had not sat right before her, Mawile wouldn't have believed such intricate sculpting was possible…

…Unless it wasn't. She recalled Kecleon's words of worry: "My shipments come from the Rescuer's Guild in Pokemon Plaza. I haven't had a delivery in over two weeks, I'm afraid…" Was it such a stretch to believe… ?

Ignoring Archen's incessant feather-ruffling, Mawile strode over to the tarped wagon, holding her breath when the smell became too putrid to bear. She whipped off the tarp with her maw, spinning full circle and casting the tarp away to see what the wagon held.

" I knew it…" Mawile muttered, taking out her journal and recording the finding as Archen gagged in the distance.

Setting the journal aside, Mawile leaned in towards the mishmash of rotting berries and other ingredients, picking up an oran by the stem in her paw. It had molded over and bruised in several places, and felt more like a miniature sack of water than anything else.

"Ugh…" Archen muttered in the background, his voice now hoarse. "Sleep deprivation and vomiting in one day… sucks."

Mawile set the berry back down, brushing her paws off as she stepped back.

"A week old, by the looks of it," she said aloud for Archen's benefit. "This must have been Kecleon's shipment. And if this is the delivery…"

They both stared back at the statue that sat in front of the cart as the full implications of that deduction hit them.

Mawile inspected the statue carefully, noticing further all the life-like details the statue had to it. Far too many for it to be a statue.

"He was attacked from behind," Mawile stated, stepping back. "And if this example is anything to go by, we can assume all of Pokemon Plaza looks like this as well."

The findings were recorded in Mawile's journal, and then they pressed forward. Mawile' deductions held true as they went. The underbrush only seemed to get worse the further in they treaded, and eventually they happened upon the statue of a scyther wildly slashing at something from the underbrush.

"The hedgekeeper, I assume." Mawile marked it all down on her journal. Archen fearfully glanced at the statue as they went.

They could see the short buildings of the great city of Pokemon Plaza through the trees as they walked. The area around them was eerily quiet. Soon after that, Mawile and Archen entered the main square of the city, which was filled with the statues of countless pokemon running in terror. Some were frozen in place, permanently going about their day in a fossilized shard of time, while others had apparently been caught running about in terror. From the looks on their faces, none of them had seen it coming.

"Okay…" Archen nervously ruffled his feathers. "We've seen what we need to. Let's go back now. We'll declare the place off-limits, done."

"We can't declare the place off-limits until we have solid grounds to do so on," Mawile told him, pulling both their expedition gadgets from her bag and handing one to Archen. "I'll need a little help photographing everything. Starting…"

She walked over to the Plaza's secondary entrance, where a collection of the five largest statues stood. Mawile only needed to lay her eyes on them once to recognize them immediately: Teams Go-Getters and A.C.T., reduced to nothing but stone statues. Like almost every statue the pair had encountered so far, they were standing in battle position, ready to fight something that had obviously overpowered them all in seconds. Mawile barely restrained her panic to a muted gasp. She was shaken, but she couldn't let it get the best of her. The best thing to do right now was to take photos and report back to the Expedition Society. Lest whatever had done this come back again.

Archen photographed the various statues on the opposite side of the square, working in tandem with Mawile until they had amassed through pictures a decent reconstruction of the scene. Looking through the evidence, Mawile didn't notice the dark figure slinking along the rooftop until it accidentally kicked a roof tile to the ground. She spun around just in time to see it conjure what seemed like a shadow ball with its claws, aiming at Archen.

"Look out—"

Mawile dropped her expedition gadget, pulling Archen out of the way before the attack could land. It exploded against the wall of a house, turning the doorway to stone.

Both Mawile and Archen assumed a battle stance, looking straight at the blurred figure that stood on the roof. It was muscular, quadrupedal, and pitch-black; it looked like somemon had cut a hole in the fabric of reality.

"Expedition Society!" Archen shouted, showing the figure his badge. "Stand down and follow us!"

It was a vain gesture. He barely jumped out of the way of another shadow attack. The figure bounded off the roof and loped straight towards them. Mawile and Archen dove out of the way just in time, The figure crashed into a storefront in the square and brought the building collapsing down on it with a crash.

Dust settled, and Mawile and Archen picked themselves up.

"W-w-w-what was that?" Archen asked, his voice picking up into a squawk.

"Be on your guard," Mawile said, her eyes fixed the rubble of the storefront begin to shift. "It's coming back."

The rubble exploded outwards—

A hasty Protect barrier from Archen was enough to shield them both from the debris. The rubble flew to the side, leaving them untouched. That was why Mawile had chosen Archen.

The charging figure that emerged from the wreckage a split second later tried to snap them up in its claws as it went, but Mawile pulled herself and Archen down low. The monster skidded over them, ramping up against the houses on the other end and charging back at them.

Mawile was swift. As Archen charged a Dragon Breath in retaliation, she pulled a blast seed from her exploration bag, and hurled it at the creature in time with Archen's attack—

The purple-colored explosion created by both the blast seed and the Dragon Breath would have brought the world's strongest pokemon to the brink of fainting, and both Mawile and Archen had to quickly scramble back to avoid being damaged by the resulting explosion as well. But, when the explosion cleared, the shadowy figure was still standing all the same. Mawile almost lost her bearings in shock. What creature was it, to survive a blast as powerful as that?

The shadowy creature took a shaky step towards them, then another. It was clearly damaged, she could tell.

It began to conjure a third attack. Mawile prepared to lure its aim elsewhere and dodge at the last second. But then, out of the blue, the figure stopped. Its body seemed to lock up just like one of Jirachi's malfunctioning robots. Mawile and Archen watched as it began to convulse violently, and then suddenly burst into tiny scraps of ash that floated off into the sky. There was nothing inside its body but more of the darkness that encompassed its outer shell.

Archen caught his breath heavily, picking up his fallen gadget from the ground.

"Are those good enough grounds for you?" he asked, trying to keep his voice down to a reasonable level. Mawile could still hear the fear in it.

She gathered her bag and gadget silently, recovering from the event. In all her years of exploration, she had never seen, heard, or read about anything like that before.

Unbeknownst to the two explorers, a single flake of blackness blew off in the wind, off in the direction of Baram Town.

Finished gathering their supplies, Mawile and Archen began the return trip to Baram Town. It would prove one of their most bicker-free trips to date.


School Clinic


"That was mighty irresponsible of him," Audino grumbled as she removed Espurr's cast. Espurr sat on one of the straw beds, watching her carefully cut it away. It was made of a hardened green block of paste, one that curled around Espurr's arm and kept it from healing bent. It was soiled and dirty from the day's activities, and some dirt had even wormed its way through the cast and onto her arm.

"I tried to advocate to the Principal in favor of your injury," Audino continued, cutting through the cast and removing it, "But he insisted nothing would happen! That it wouldn't get dirtied or wet or torn off…" she scoffed, setting the cast aside. "Sometimes I think he's just as ignorant as his Vice Principal is."

She got up to retrieve another cast from her medicine cabinet, leaving Espurr to look over her broken arm. It throbbed dully, the pain centering where the fracture must have been. The cast had kept Espurr from moving it too much, and over the course of the past two days, the pain had become little more than background noise in her mind. She tried to move it, suddenly feeling it return tenfold. Espurr let out a sudden gasp as the white-hot pain shot up her arm.

"Keep it still," Audino said. "It might grow back crooked if you move it too much.”

Using a pair of sanitized leaves, she cleaned the arm off before wrapping the new cast around it.

"Now, you don't move that under any circumstances," Audino told Espurr, standing up. "Understand? If Watchog tells you to do anything of the sort, you tell him it's the nurse's orders." She put the medical supplies back inside the cupboard, closing the door with just a hint of repressed anger.

"Sleep well, you two." She set her exploration bag near the side, draping cloths over the luminous moss and heading into the clinic's back room for the night.

There was a sudden rustling of straw behind her. Espurr jumped, startled, then tried to get a better look. Nurse Audino had said two, after all…

"Don't look at me." Deerling's dejected voice drifted out from the bed behind Espurr.

Espurr tried to turn herself around the best she could without disturbing her arm.

"I don't think we've properly met," she said, preparing to introduce herself. "I'm—"

"Save it," Deerling hissed. "I'm not in the mood. Go to sleep."

Cloud Nine Archives: Rescuer’s Guild

The oldest and largest rescue establishment in the world, the Rescuer's Guild stands proud as a beacon of the Air Continent's strength and stability. Run by legendary hero Wartortle, the guild handles distribution of important supplies and rescue teams across the entire continent. The guild was the last to cross over to HAPPI upon the collapse of the Rescue Federation, and makes its conservative stance publicly clear, mandating that HAPPI stay out of its inner workings and barring new-age connection orbs and emera technology from its premises. Despite its isolation, the guild is vital to the Air Continent's stability, and is relied on by every town on the continent.

Music of the week!

Reason - Yoshihiro Ike
Last edited:
1~Four - Nuzleaf


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
"Air is a rich continent. We have culture going back centuries, all the way back to when Pokemon Plaza was just a small town in the middle of nowhere. Beautiful culture that doesn't deserve to be tainted by outsiders. And it is my opinion that such culture would only be richer without the presence of barbarians from Grass."

~ Mayor Honchkrow of Baram Town




Baram Town ~ Air Continent


“And that’s why the Expedition Society has applied with Cloud Nine for Continental Aid,” Mawile finished clarifying, taking a bite from a chesto berry as she talked. “With the Rescuer’s Guild down for the count, we’re the closest establishment to step in.”

Archen lay in the room’s one bed, sound asleep. That was fine. Mawile considered sleep to be a natural detriment to the activities of the mind, and with the help of chesto berries, scientifically proven as harmless stimulants, she had built up enough stamina to regulate her sleep heavily to once every few days. While the other Expedition Society members referred to this habit as “unhealthy”, they could not deny Mawile’s much faster work-rate, and that she did not have to worry about missing the morning role call. For now, she would take the path of maximum efficiency.

“Hmm… That’s certainly troubling…” Ampharos responded, his voice crackling through the gadget. “But unfortunately not unexpected. You’ll be meeting with law enforcement?”

“What little is left,” Mawile replied. “It turns out the Air Continent relied on the Rescuer’s Guild a little too much to establish a serious police department in its absence. Hence, why no-mon heard about this sooner.”

“Troubling…” Ampharos’ voice paused over the line again. He was likely weighing his next response. “I encountered a few of our shadowy nemeses on the way to Serenity Village as well. A trio of beheeyem, who used attacks much in the same vein as what you just described.”

“What about the Wigglytuff’s Guild?”
A third voice butted in. “Or the Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute itself? Couldn’t they help?”

“This is a private conversation, Dedenne,” Mawile chided.

“Not really,” Dedenne’s dry response crackled. “Don’t forget, everything on the line goes through me first. Nothing’s private.”

“I’m afraid she has you there, Mawile,”
Ampharos’ voice chimed in. Mawile was 67% certain she heard mischief in his tone, but she decided to write it off as voice distortion for his sake.

“HAPPI’s main headquarters is primarily located on the Mist Continent,” she answered. “They’re currently experiencing a winter storm at the coast of Noe Town in direct opposition to our drought, and couldn’t respond in time even with our early transmission. And the Wigglytuff’s Guild is disorganized-as-usual, so they won’t be of much help responding to off-continent emergencies. We’re on our own.”

“I see…” a pause from Ampharos. She assumed he was pondering. “Anyway, the main reason I called was to inform the Society that I may be staying here in Serenity Village a little longer than intended.”

“What?” Mawile’s voice was accompanied by Dedenne’s.

“Is this because you’re worried you won’t make it back?” Dedenne asked. “Because we can send somemon. Buizel hasn’t had any serious missions in a week; I’m sure he’d be happy to go—”

“—I’m afraid not,”
Ampharos cut in over her. “Although I do appreciate the offer. I’ve run into some… unexpected difficulties searching for the Human.”

This was news to Dedenne.

“What?” her voice crackled through the gadget, ridden with disbelief. “You’re searching for a Human? What led you to even consider that?”

“Why not?”

Ampharos’ cheerful reply left Dedenne—for once—speechless.

“…Shouldn’t you at least have some evidence to go on first?” she slowly asked. “There hasn’t been one in fifty years.”

“We do.” Mawile put a word in before Dedenne could start another one of her one-sided rambling sessions.

“Jirachi picked up two pulses of immense teleportation energy on the Pokemon Nexus,” Ampharos’ voice explained. “Both occurred exactly a week apart, and both landed in this area. Such energy has only ever preceded the arrival of a Human, and the arrival of a Human has only ever preceded imminent disaster, which I fear we may be on the brink of. That is why it is of the utmost importance to find this Human and bring them back to the Society, where we can properly prepare them for the trials they were brought here to face.”

“Oh… I guess that makes sense.”
Dedenne’s cowed voice crackled through the line.

Mawile finished her chesto berry, grimacing briefly at the dry, bitter flavor it had.

“I’m afraid I now have work to focus on,” she told them. “There are countless sheets of paper waiting to be filled in, and I must have them all at the Baram Town Hall by sunrise tomorrow.”

“You guys aren’t gonna make any more calls tonight?” Dedenne asked, yawning. “I’m gonna go home.”

“I’m 98% certain of it,” Mawile stated, inking her pidgey-feather pen and pulling the first sheet of a formidable stack of paperwork towards her.

“All agreed, then?” Ampharos asked.

It was all agreed. All three pokemon removed their connection orbs from the slots.


Kangaskhan Cafe Residency


Ampharos, under the blankets with his tail lantern snaking out, stuck his orb back in right after, flipping off the call function on his gadget. He didn’t need to be hitting that button by accident; the last time had been… undignifying. Dedenne had grumbled for weeks.

The shiny, blue connection orbs never stopped amazing him. They could record decent sound of anything and relay it back to any gadget it hooked up with… or, in his case, a connection orb of the same frequency. Ampharos had Jirachi to thank for that little trick – the feature was designed for Bunnelby’s spelunking missions, but this was a rather clever use of it, if Ampharos did say so himself. A foolproof way of determining whether the Human was on the school premises or not. And they said detective work wasn’t easy.

But as the audio recording finally synced up with his gadget, his hopes plummeted and the lantern on his tail dimmed. The nighttime chirping being recorded right now was blaring through the speakers. Baffled, Ampharos flipped into the saved recording and sped it up. His lantern dimmed even more. The entire four hours of audio from where he started were just the same outdoor noises.

They must have left it somewhere outdoors, Ampharos realized. He suddenly felt far less clever than he had a second before. They were children. Of course they had lost the orb in the middle of the forest. What had he been thinking?

But alas, what was there to do but try to salvage this? He began to pour through the rest of the audio, stopping it every five minutes or so to see if he had stumbled upon a hidden clue. They were children, after all. There had to be something hidden in all the mess…



Slowly coming to. A wall of darkness greeted Espurr’s vision.

Confused, she wiped the sleep from her eyes and stood up. All around her was nothing but solid, featureless black, so dark it almost hurt to look at. She didn’t think that was possible.

She moved her foot and heard something splash. Looking down, she noticed she was standing in water shallow enough that it barely covered more than her feet. Despite the lack of light anywhere, her reflection shone down on it like it was day, and she could see herself just as easily. She lifted her foot out of the water, and it came out dry.

It was all wrong. There were so many little ways in which everything was wrong that Espurr decided she must have been dreaming. That was the only way any of this made sense.

Great. She needed more unfamiliar things in her life, like creepy dreams with nothing around no matter how far she looked. The darkness was really beginning to hurt to stare at now.

They came. Softly blowing gusts of wind swirled around her in circles, and she caught the rancid stench of something dead from it. Everything else felt hazy, but that was vivid. Each gust of wind belonged to itself, and they travelled in a flock. They whispered things to her, things she couldn’t understand but she could tell resonated with her deep down. One of them was louder than the rest, and that whisper spoke a word she could understood:


A sudden cackle erupted from the wind as Espurr fixated on that voice, and all of the sudden the breeze that was circling her swiftly took off into the unseen distance.

No. It had just teased her with some kind of answer. She was falling for the obvious trap if she followed it, but what else could she do? She wasn’t going to let it slip away that easily! So she took off after the gusts of wind, but the dream must have made her clumsier than before. She kept tripping over her stupid legs and landing in the dry water, and she just couldn’t keep up. Before long, the wind had completely disappeared, and Espurr felt tuckered out. She fell to her paws and knees in the water she couldn’t feel, trying to suck in more air than she could hold.

Groaning in pain and disappointment, she unsteadily pulled herself to her feet again. She’d tripped, fell down, and lost it. Now what to do? It wasn’t like this dream was getting any more full.

As she waited, another wind ruffled her fur. This wind was different. It was the bad wind, the one that smelled like something had died. But it wasn’t soft like the gusts from before either; this was stronger. It blew against her from behind, not letting up even after ten seconds. And if anything, it was only getting more powerful.

She hadn’t believed that anything could be darker than the black that was already around her, but somehow it was. She couldn’t make out the outlines, but there was something massive out there behind her that was as dark as you could go and then darker, and it was getting closer by the second—

Just as she found her footing, the last of her courage was blown away. Dream or not, she wasn’t sticking around for when the Black Thing arrived. With a terrified squeak, she turned and ran for it. The wind was getting stronger against her fur as the crashing void came closer, and the wind nearly knocked her down from how mercilessly powerful it was. She tripped again, her own feet tangling around themselves, falling face-first into the ground. The blow to her face hurt. The dream seemed to laugh. Dreams weren’t supposed to laugh! Dreams weren’t supposed to hurt! She rolled around as quickly as possible, trying to edge back as the massive void came closer and closer. It hovered over her like a storm, winds howling loudly and battering her harder than anything she’d ever felt. She whimpered, terrified, cowering before it. Surrounded by rotten wind, she could smell that terrible stench of decay again, so strong she felt like passing out. What would happen to her if she passed out in a dream?

The massive black void reached out, a swirling, cyclonic tentacle erupting from its being. As it grew closer to Espurr, she saw that it was made up of millions of frenetic black particles, whirling around like they were caught in a storm. Her heart nearly stopped just from fear. She had to get away, somehow! She needed help! She needed to keep moving!

Espurr rolled over on her left side to try and crawl away, but suddenly a blinding pain filled her left arm—


School Clinic

Espurr shot awake in the familiar school clinic, nearly falling out of the straw bed and just stopping herself from yowling in terror. It took a few seconds for her to stop panicking, glancing around at the perfectly normal clinic room with its bark-coated cabinets and peach-painted walls. It was all a dream… it was all a dream. Her left arm ached; she realized she was leaning against it uncomfortably. She heard Deerling shift uncomfortably in the bed behind her, undisturbed.

“Y’all are trippin’ me. What do I know ‘bout all this language-teachin’ stuff?”

The hushed voice floated into her ears, mingling with the first blue-yellow wisps of daylight creeping through the window. Others? At this hour of the morning? As Espurr calmed down, she honed her ears in on the voices.

“You’ll get a curriculum, of course. None of our teachers are left without one.” That was Principal Simipour. Espurr recognized his voice from when he had spoken in the office that night.

“But I ain’t one of them te—“

“You’re the only pokemon we could find in a timely manner. Besides, your name was on the board—“

“That name was done marked up on the board years ago! Was… volunteerin’ for janitor duty an’ stuff like that.”

“I see… Well, it is a bit of an emergency. Our students are all taught basic reading and writing by their parents—it’s one of the Serenity Village School’s base requirements. We simply can’t teach without it. Now, on occasion, there has been the odd student who just hasn’t learnt it all or is on the younger side, and we’ve employed independent tutors to nudge them in the right direction. But with the summer festival right around the corner, those tutors are all on leave, and we can’t just call them back at a moment’s notice. Therefore, we had no other choice. It takes a village to raise a child, after all.”

“But…” The other voice tried to protest, clearly running out of excuses. “Ain’t there hundreds other pokemon more qualified than me?”

“Just follow what’s in the book, and you’ll be fine,” Simipour assured the unseen pokemon. “And if it’ll make your day any better…”

Principal Simipour’s voice lowered into a whisper, and Espurr had to lean in to hear what he was saying. Too far—too far! She almost toppled off the straw bed, barely catching ahold of the bed with her good arm and holding herself up. It made enough noise to make Espurr freeze up in fear. She pulled herself back up onto the bed, trying to make as few crackling noises against the straw as possible.

Too late. The two adult pokemon outside the clinic went silent–they must’ve heard.

“Ah…” Simipour sighed after a moment. “Nothing like the sound of students eavesdropping in the morning, though my Vice Principal might disagree with me there. I’ll leave you two to get acquainted.”

Espurr felt her face heat up, mortified. So much for stealth… She heard him spin around in the dirt, then saw the messy blue crop of fur adorning his head through the window as he passed by. She stretched in the bed, trying to prepare herself. A moment later, the door to the clinic creeped open, and a pokemon with a large leaf adorning its head walked in, carrying a large book in his bark-y hands.

“Mornin’…” he said, noticing Espurr. “I see you’re up an’ all.”

He walked over, taking a seat in the straw bed that had housed Tricky just a day before and setting the book aside from him.

“My name’s Nuzleaf.” he introduced himself, holding a hand out towards Espurr. “I reckon I’m to be your language teacher until that blue monkey gets his priorities sorted out.”

The gesture felt familiar in a way she couldn’t explain. Espurr took it, standing up to reach Nuzleaf’s hand with her good paw. She looked back at Deerling, who was sleeping on her side with her back against the straw uncomfortably. Her fur was mottled in places, dull, fading pink clumps of hair sprouting unevenly and falling to the ground. Espurr felt secondhand discomfort. That looked like a rough night.

“Now, I ain’t the expert on teaching,” Nuzleaf began, opening the book to its table of contents. “But I reckon you’ll do just fine flipping through the book yourself.”


Before Espurr could finish her sentence, he lopped the heavy textbook into her one arm. Espurr had no chance of holding the large book with only one good paw. It thumped to the floor of the clinic loudly, jolting Deerling awake.

“Huh?” she mumbled incoherently, gazing at Nuzleaf. “Who’s the… leaf-head…”

A second later, she groaned and flopped her head down onto the straw, fast asleep once more. Nuzleaf sheepishly picked the book up from the floor, glancing around to make sure he hadn’t broken anything or disturbed anymon else.

“…Maybe we should do this outside,” he admitted.


The school looked like a completely different place in the early morning. The blue light of dawn crested over the blackboard, and Espurr could barely see the sun beginning to rise from behind the desks. Nuzleaf directed her towards the seats, and she took the one she could smell herself and Tricky on. It was more familiar than the others.

Slam. The massive book was on the desk in front of her now.

“You okay practicing on your own?” Nuzleaf asked, kneading his hands together stiffly. Espurr just looked at the book, printed in symbols she couldn’t recognize, then looked at him again, like it was obvious. Shouldn’t it be obvious?

“You’re… supposed to teach me that?” She could hear the bewilderment peeling off her voice.

A light breeze ruffled her fur, the cool, breezy kind and not the foul-smelling bad wind. Nuzleaf only seemed to grow more nervous in silence. She errantly realized she couldn’t feel his thoughts like everyone else. He seemed… empty. Why was that?

“Oh. Right. Darn.” He flattened the leaf atop his head back nervously as he picked the book up again. “Slipped my mind you can’t read an’ all. ‘Guess I’ll have to do the teachin’, then.”

He must’ve been really nervous.

He couldn’t seem to stay in one place for long. Espurr watched him get sit down on the other desk, then get up again and walk over to the blackboard, picking up a piece of chalk and marking down several numerals on the board.

“This here…” Nuzleaf began, jotting the rest of the markings down. “Is the Unown Alphabet.” He glanced back to make sure she had gotten that. Then he put down the chalk and flipped the book open again.

“Now, legend says pokemon borrowed it from the human language an’ all, but… ‘t doesn’t matter,” Nuzleaf continued. “The most important thing is, just about ev’ry pokemon here on this continent uses this alphabet. Got any questions?”

Espurr just shook her head. He’d barely begun. What useful questions were there to ask?

Nuzleaf just picked up the chalk and began to write again.

“Now, I ain’t gonna tell you the history an’ all—I reckon one of your other teachers will cover that just fine—“ he continued, his back to Espurr. “But I think we can get all these letter sounds sorted out before school-time. This one here reads…”


School Clinic

Espurr learned one thing by the morning’s end, and it was that she didn’t like school anymore. Nuzleaf had tried to jam twenty-six different sounds inside her head, and by the time the other classes had passed she could barely remember a single one. She knew she couldn’t learn a language in a single day… but seeing just how long of a road she had ahead of her made her want to deflate. She wanted to learn it now. She wanted to be caught up with everymon else. Why couldn’t she learn it in a night?

At lunchtime, eaten inside the school clinic, she accidentally dropped some of her lunch on the ground. She was bending over slowly to pick the pieces up, making sure her cast wasn’t too jostled on the way down, but suddenly she realized one of them, a nut, was lifting off the ground. Was that… coming from her? The moment she noticed it fell to the ground, but with enough concentration, she was able to make it slowly rise, unsteadily wobbling in the air towards her–


Espurr jolted in startlement, the nut missing her paws and clattering to the ground loudly. Restraining a sigh of annoyance, she turned around. What now? She wasn’t in a good mood today.

She came face-to-face with the grin of Pancham, catching her off-guard. They hadn’t talked at all since they had met outside the Foreboding Forest, and she was personally fine keeping it that way. Neither one of them had tried to change that…

…Until now. Espurr wondered why.

“What do you want?” she asked, suspicious.

“Yeesh…” Pancham raised his paws, falling back into one of the three nests in the clinic and stuffing them behind his head. “Cut your poor classmate some slack! I just wanted to congratulate you on saving that wimp Goomy back in the Foreboding Forest. Instant respect. You’re his hero forever. But…”

Pancham sat up and leaned in towards Espurr, his voice lowering to a hush. “Wanna know how you can be my hero?”

If he expected an answer, he obviously didn’t want to wait for it. He wasn’t earning points, either. As far as Espurr saw, Goomy was braver than he was.

“The Foreboding Forest is a big deal,” Pancham continued immediately. If she’d said anything, he would have just talked over her. “…If you’re Vice Principal Watchdog. But see, to get in with the cool kids around here, you’ve gotta do something that’s a big deal. Something that would give the Watchdog a heart attack. Something like, say, braving one of the nastiest mystery dungeons around, you catchin’ me?”

Pancham had let his voice rise enough to grab Tricky’s attention. Her ears perked up as the words ‘mystery dungeon’ wafted by, and she dug her snout out of a peachberry.

“What about mystery dungeons?” she asked loudly, still licking the juice off her muzzle.

“Nothing,” Pancham snapped at her. “’It’s not for your ears anyway.”

Tricky stuck her nose up at Pancham indignantly and returned to her peachberry, but her ears remained upright. Anymon in the room could have said that she was still eavesdropping.

“Anyway…” Pancham leaned in again, his voice falling to a whisper. “I can get you in. All I gotta do is switch up Watchdog’s detention cards, and you’re good to go. Whaddaya say?” He held out his hand towards Espurr, smirking and bending the twig he’d put in his mouth at an odd angle. That odd gesture again…

“Deal!” Tricky had glanced up from her peachberry again, answering excitedly before Espurr could.

“How many times…” Pancham growled, all his swagger suddenly lost for an annoyed look at Tricky. “No-mon. Is talking. To you!”

His outburst captured the attention of Deerling and Goomy, who were chatting together in another corner of the clinic. They both glared at him before returning to their conversation. Blowing Tricky off with a paw-wave—she ‘hmphed’ loudly—Pancham turned back to Espurr.

“Oh, and did I mention the treasure?” he drew out that last word, making Tricky’s eyes widen with excitement.

“Well, I’m having detention too!” the fennekin argued back. “So I count as fifty percent of the vote.”

“Didn’t I just say butt out?” Pancham groaned. “You got a hearing problem? What I say goes ‘round here. Butt out.”

Just like Nuzleaf, Espurr couldn’t detect a single shred of… anything from Pancham. Words flew flawlessly off his silver tongue, but even without her sixth sense Espurr could tell they were mean. Her eyes narrowed.

“Just ignore the pest,” Pancham sighed, holding his paw out again. “Unlike her, I know you’re a class act, and I need an answer from you now. You in or out?”

“Ou—” Espurr began—


Both Espurr and Pancham looked at Tricky, who had finished her peachberry and now had her attention fully set on them.

“We’re in,” she loudly proclaimed.

“I never said you could be in,” Pancham replied with folded arms.

“Well, then I’ll just go anyway!” Tricky shot back. “Maybe we’ll go on our own terms…” she let it trail off with a clear implication behind it.

That wasn’t happening.

“But I don’t want to g—” Espurr began, but Tricky stuck a paw on Espurr’s shoulder and cut her off. “And you wanna come along too, right?” she sang, oblivious. “I need a partner, and you don’t wanna be the one explaining everything to the Watchdog…”

Pancham sighed, but gave in to Tricky.

“Alright,” he said. “Fine. Be ‘in’. Whatever. Not like I care.” He pointed a paw at Espurr. “You. In or out?”

“Please be in please be in pleeeeaaase be in?” Tricky pleaded, widening her eyes for effect.

Espurr wasn’t really enamored by what was an obvious trap.

“Hey, personal recommendation, I’d be in. I wouldn’t wanna be dealing with the Watchdog when you’re out,” Pancham said. “The only thing he hates more than troublemakers is pokemon who cover up for the troublemakers. He finds out you covered for us, you’re getting detention into summer vacation. And if your partner gets busted…”

He pointed over his shoulder, where Deerling seemed to be bugging Goomy. She sent him a glare. “Do yourself a favor, leave the yelling to Goomy over there.”

He was in negative points now.

“What’s stopping me from telling the teachers?” Espurr asked.

“Hey, the teachers aren’t gonna do a thing,” Pancham said, leaning back in the straw bed again. He was really playing up the smugness. “See, I’m untouchable. And you’re not. Besides…” he clasped a fist, letting pale energy surround it before summoning it back into his paw. “I don’t know if you paid any attention in Dungeon Class, but I’m a dark type. And you’re a psychic type. I bet you’re not even a good fighter like me, and even if you could… don’t make me laugh. So one last time: in, or out?”

Espurr didn’t know what that meant, and unlike Pancham, who’d been asleep, she had been paying attention in dungeon class. Still, she could catch a threat when she heard it.

“Is that a threat?” she asked levelly. Pancham just shrugged.

“Your call.”

So Espurr made her call.

Out,” she said. “Sorry.”

“Well, I’m gonna be in,” Tricky loudly declared. And just like that, Espurr’s confident front fell apart. Berry crackers, they were having detention together!

“Great!” said Pancham, jumping on the chance. “At least one of you has common sense.”

He pulled Tricky closer, wrapping her in a huddle. Espurr didn’t have a choice but to listen in, and she was sure Pancham knew it.

“Alright, huddle in closer. Now, here’s what’s gonna happen…”


“Vice Principal Watchdog’s gonna take you to the Drilbur Coal Mines today, whether he likes it or not. Be ready.”

“Why are you taking him up on this?” Espurr tried reason next. She wasn’t following Tricky in, but she couldn’t just let her walk straight into whatever Pancham was planning. “He’s laying a trap. You’re walking right into it.”

“Because it’s fun!” Tricky chirped. “I go to the Drilbur Mines aaaalll the time. This beats detention any day.”

“Watchog will kill you when he finds ou—"


Right. Watchog was still in the room with them. He was standing off to the side, packing a bag that already looked like it was packed to bursting. Making extra sure he hadn’t heard, the two of them went back to their whispered argument.

Reason had failed. Plan C: Appeal to fear.

“You’ll just get us both into more trouble,” Espurr pleaded. “If you disappear, Watchog will think we’re covering for you, he’ll punish everymon. You don’t want to get more detention, do you?”

“Eh,” Tricky said, waving it off with her tail and a flick of her ears. “Have you met Watchog? He doesn’t notice anything. And the Drilbur will never tell on us. We’ll just be a few minutes, and I go there every other week!”

That was plan C out the window. Espurr didn’t have anything better, unless she tattled. But at this point, Watchog would just accuse them both…

“Hey,” Tricky said. “Don’t let Pancham distract you from the things that really matter! We can be adventure heroes, we’ll just tell the drilbur we’re here to help out and sneak off! Watchog won’t know, he won’t even be looking! Besides, even if it’s a trap, what if we just go through it and win? That would get Pancham so mad.”

That flipped a switch in her head. Even though Espurr really didn’t want to go, the idea of one-upping an obvious bully did appeal to her. Pancham seemed to think he was untouchable… so if they proved they were more untouchable, he’d just get more wound up. And that would be cathartic to see.

“How do you know it won’t be dangerous?” Espurr asked tentatively. She couldn’t believe she was considering this. Tricky immediately perked up brighter than before.

“Well….” she trailed off, tail swishing behind her. “I haven’t exactly gone to the dungeon…

“But I know how we can find out what’s in it!” she picked up immediately after. “There’s a book in the library that’s full of mystery dungeons. I check it out when Watchog isn’t looking, but I think he put it on a high shelf so I haven’t been able to get it.”

“I can’t read it,” Espurr said, magenta annoyance coloring the ends of her vision again. She didn’t need a reminder of that right now.

“I can read it for you!” came Tricky’s oblivious response. “You just need to help me get it. Pleeease?”

“Mr. Watchog?” Espurr asked as Watchog packed a large knapsack for the trip. Behind one of the straw beds, Pancham lay in wait.

“Vice Principal Watchog.” Watchog muttered, trying to decide whether water or berries was more important, eventually deciding on both and stuffing them into the bag.

Espurr opened her mouth, then closed it. Behind her, Tricky silently urged her on. Put on the spot, Espurr just asked: “May I use the library before we leave?”

Watchog looked towards her in suspicion, one bushy eyebrow raised.

“I thought you said you couldn’t read.”

From the shadows, Pancham gave Espurr a double thumbs up. He quietly dashed out from behind one of the straw beds, expertly switching the cards hanging from Watchog’s hitchhiking pack, and then it was like he had never been there at all.

“Well…” Another hyperactive nod from Tricky. “Tricky can read for me,” Espurr explained. “And we won’t be long.”

Watchog almost let out a high-pitched chuckle of disbelief, catching himself in an attempt to remain dignified at the last moment.

“You want to make the troublemaker read for you.” He said, his voice flat.

Espurr nodded lively. Watchog shook his head in disbelief.

“Whatever,” he said. “I have to finish packing this vital supplies anyway. Five minutes. Understand?”

The sack was only two items from bursting.

Both Espurr and Tricky nodded, and then they were both gone long before Watchog could change his mind.



The adults don’t like me in here because I’m a ‘hazard to the books’ or something,” Tricky said as they entered the deserted warehouse filled with packed bookshelves that leaned over them claustrophobically. Tricky rolled her eyes. She then accidentally walked into a pile of books lying around next to one of the right-hand shelves, stumbling in place and barely keeping her balance. Espurr’s tired stare spoke more words than she could say.

“Not that they could stop me anyway,” Tricky continued, righting herself and resuming her trot alongside Espurr. “but no-mon ever comes in here willingly, so they’ve never had to try!”

Unlike the other buildings, the library was made out of stone, with a creaky wooden floor, and the far end of the room was so far away Espurr could barely see it. Not that the place was well-lit enough for that anyway. There were only two or three windows on either wall, and the bookcases ate up most of the light.

Espurr walked over to a ladder attached to the main corridor of bookshelves. She pointed at a golden plaque that had been bolted to one of the bookcases, several Unown figures engraved into its surface, motioning for Tricky to read it. She wished she could actually do something other than haphazardly direct the fennekin in the direction of six thousand books.

“Archeology to Electricity,” Tricky said, her eyes rapidly gliding over the text written on a large gold plaque hanging from one of the shelves. “Watchog always keeps this place organized from A to Z, so not here… come on!” she beckoned gleefully.

Tricky led Espurr further down the hall, pulling the ladder along with her. Espurr was too slow to keep up, still tripping over her feet and awkwardly pulling herself up with only one arm. Tricky had to stop to let her catch up every ten seconds or so.

Eventually, they reached the section titled “Mystery Dungeons (KEEP OUT, TRICKY)”. Espurr would’ve climbed the ladder, but she had a broken arm. Tricky managed to gnaw her way up the separate rungs instead.

“Incoming!” she yelled, pulling the book out with her teeth. It slowly began to tip over, and suddenly fell–

If everything had gone how it was supposed to, Espurr would have caught the book cleanly and then helped Tricky down. One arm wasn’t enough to catch a book. It whacked her in the face, stealing a confused yowl out of her throat and knocking her backwards. So much for that.

“There are two branches once you enter the mines. The one on the left is all boarded up; you take that one. It leads to a nasty mystery dungeon.”

“Mystery Dungeons: A Complete Guide. Page 64, Drilbur Mines.” Tricky read from the thick, dusty atlas. “It says there was an explorer who went into the dungeon soon after it popped up and never came out,” she continued, tilting her head in confusion. “They even have a picture!”

Espurr looked at the illustration on the other page, detailing a shark-like pokemon cheerfully waving one of its fins, a brown bag draped over his shoulders.

“He wasn’t famous…” Tricky went on, mild disappointment cracking through her voice. “I’ve never heard of him before this.”

Had he died in there? If the dungeon was as nasty as Pancham had said… suddenly Espurr felt even less good about this.

And if he had died, what had killed him?

“Time’s up, troublemakers!” Watchog yelled from outside the library. “We’re leaving now!”

Tricky hurriedly slammed the book shut and rushed back towards the door. The drop from the shelf must have damaged the book; the spine looked bent and the pages tattered, but Espurr wasn’t very concerned with that right now.

Right now, it looked like she was about to go dungeon spelunking, whether she liked it or not.


Drilbur Mining Grounds

“The only thing you have to do is bring me back some of the red gems that sit at the bottom of the dungeon as proof you went in. You’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em. Do that, and you two are part of the cool kids. I made my way all the way down the bottom of that dungeon myself, just so you know. Ask the Drilbur if you don’t believe me.

“W-well, see, we w-weren’t really expecting you for a w-while,” The poor drilbur who had drawn the Social Interaction Rock stammered out in front of Watchog. He sent a pleading look back towards the other drilbur who stood several good feet away, but received nothing but winces and looks of pity in return. The Social Interaction Rock had spoken.

The mineyard was craggy, dusty, and vast. There weren’t any plants around to be seen, leaving the entire yard a dull rock color that felt like it was assaulting Espurr’s eyes after a bit. Thankfully, it was vast and rocky enough for them to easily slip away without anymon else noticing.

“Psst. Over here!” Tricky quietly beckoned Espurr behind a largish rock, east of Watchog and the stuttering drilbur. Espurr cast a look towards Watchog to make sure he wasn’t keeping an eye on them, then reluctantly followed. It was hitting her now: she still really didn’t want to do this… Maybe she could stay and insist she didn’t know anything.

But she’d agreed already. And she was following Tricky to the rock anyway.

“We can enter from there.” Tricky pointed to the main mine shaft, guarded by several drilbur who were desperately trying to avoid having anything to do with the group out front.

“But it’s crawling with pokemon,” Espurr pointed out, peeking over Tricky. “Maybe it’d be better to wait for Watchog to let us in.”

“That’s ‘Vice Principal’ Watchog to you.” Tricky heightened the pitch of her voice in an imitation of Watchog’s shrill cries, falling to a hushed whisper immediately afterwards to mute the sound of her snickers.

“Still…” Espurr hid behind the rock once again. “We won’t make it with that many pokemon guarding it. We’re just going to get caught, and then Watchog is going to give us more detentions, and we’ll all be in worse trouble than we already are.”

“Are you talking about the drilbur?” Tricky asked, a hint of rare incredulity to her tone. Espurr nodded like it was obvious.

“Hah!” Tricky waved it off like it was nothing. “They’re pushovers. I’ve made it past them tons of times, and that’s when they’re all guarding that door. We won’t have trouble at all!”

Without another word, she leapt from the rock they were currently behind to another nearby boulder, landing cleanly and looking back at Espurr. Espurr glanced back the way she came longingly. This was her last chance to back out… but Goomy was already looking around for them. She found herself slinking back. No, no, no… if she came back, he’d see her, and she’d be in trouble. It was too late to back out.

“Espurr, come on!”

Jolted by the sound of Tricky’s cry, Espurr quickly scampered from one rock to the next, tripping a couple of times along the way. She still wasn’t used to her legs yet.

“Maybe we can get some treasure hunting in this time.” Tricky snuck behind a third, closer rock, Espurr following not far behind. “Last time I got chased off.

“Hi again, guys!”

Espurr watched, shocked, as Tricky boldly announced their presence to the entire collection of drilbur with a paw-wave.

“U-uh-oh…” the drilbur all stared at Tricky collectively in shock and horror.

“I-it’s the T-t-troublemaker…” one stammered out.

“A-and she brought f-friends!” another finished, pointing straight at Espurr.

Tricky sent a prompt ‘I-told-you-so’ smirk Espurr’s way, before trotting right out into the open.

“Y-you’re not here again for our g-gold, are you?” one timidly asked.

“Nope!” Tricky trotted towards the mine shaft. “That was last week. Today we’re going exploring.”

“Now where did those two troublemakers get to?” Espurr’s ears pricked up, and she noticed Watchog glancing around the mine-yard angrily, the heavy bag still swinging from his shoulders.

“Goomy! do you know something about this?!”

Her heart sank as she watched Watchog angrily question poor Goomy, who seemed just as at a loss for words as the drilbur did. But it was too late to go back on the dare now. She just grit her teeth and focused on the present.

“Tricky.” Espurr hissed quietly from the rock. “Watchog’s onto us!”

Tricky glanced at Watchog, mumbling something under her breath Espurr didn’t hear but was sure would have turned a few of the teachers’ heads. She resumed her trot towards the mine shaft a second later, just like nothing had happened.

“So-o-o…. We’ll just be going now, if you don’t mind,” Tricky stated, cleanly cutting her theatrics short and passing several of the drilbur.

“W-wait!” one of them cried out after her, in a vain attempt to stop the fox. “The m-mines aren’t a safe place f-for children! You could g-get in danger down there!”

Somehow that seemed to get to Tricky. She stuttered a bit for a moment. Just for a second, the vibes Espurr caught off her seemed completely different—it was the same frenetic aura that she’d seen that first night.

She kept an eye on Watchog’s movements, waiting for a safe opening to dart out. Goomy was confusedly loitering around where Watchog had previously been, and…

…And Watchog wasn’t there. Espurr’s heart skipped a beat. While Tricky distracted the drilbur, she quickly scanned the mine-yard to see where he had gone.

Until she realized with horror: He was heading right towards the mine shaft.

“What was this detention, anyway…” Espurr heard him grumble, since he was now close enough to hear. “Perfect spot for troublemaking…”

“...Ha!” Tricky laughed, regaining her confidence with the swiftness of a snap. It was almost rehearsed. She turned around to stare the drilbur down bravely. “I laugh in the face of trouble! See?”

She nodded ecstatically to drive her point home, oblivious to the approaching Watchog. Espurr studied all the drilbur. They weren’t that intimidating… she glanced back at Watchog, suddenly darting to a different position behind the rock just before he could catch a glimpse of her. It was her best chance not to get caught.

Tricky stopped mid-nod as she saw Watchog suddenly storm straight into her line of vision. Her face of assurance quickly morphed into one of surprised terror as Watchog caught sight of her standing in the middle of the mineshaft.

“Hey! You shouldn’t be over there!” Watchog barked, dashing straight after Tricky. Espurr’s heart jumped once more as she heard him begin to run—she was out of time! Quickly, she darted out from behind the rock, running straight past the drilbur who did nothing to stop her from continuing—

“Run for it!!” Tricky screeched, running further into the mineshaft. Watchog stopped at the shaft, both too large and too unwilling to go in after them.

“You two troublemakers better come right back out of there!” He yelled after them. “I mean it!”

“No can do, Watchdog!” Watchog heard Tricky’s distant voice waft out of the mine and into his ears, making his face flush red with fury.

“It’s Vice Principal Watchog, you lout!” he shouted after them in vain, furious.

When there came no reply from the mineshaft, he turned to the drilbur, who visibly shrunk in his presence.

“Find them.” Watchog growled. “It’s your mine!”

With gratuitous nods and whimpers of fear, the drilbur all scuffled into the mineshaft, more eager to get away from the steaming mad Watchog than they were to find the pair of escaped students.

A very confused and slightly frightened Goomy reluctantly decided to get himself some shade from the broiling sun, despite Watchog’s strict orders not to move. It looked like Watchog was going to be a while, anyway. He wouldn’t mind… right?


Drilbur Mineshaft

There was no getting out of this one. Watchog was going to report them to Principal Simipour the moment they left the mine, and Espurr doubted Simipour would see fit to let them off the hook so easily again. Would she have lost anything if she’d just refused to go? It was Pancham’s word against hers, and everymon knew he was a troublemaker.

Why had she even considered this?

Tricky was still winding down from the rush of successfully escaping Watchog.

“We made it!” she crowed. “We’re almost there! C’mon!”

She rushed ahead, and Espurr had to follow. She’d made her choice, after all. That thought continued to hang over her head as they continued in silence through the dark tunnels. Every so often, she thought she heard the distant sound of something tunneling through the ground above their heads, but it was too dark to tell for certain.

It felt like they had walked for an eternity when Espurr saw faint flickers of light emerging from around the corner. Tricky let out a sharp gasp of joy upon seeing the light, bounding straight for the turn up ahead. Espurr quickly tried to keep up, catching herself on the tunnel wall before she could trip again.

However, she soon realized, to her disappointment, that the light ahead didn’t shine brightly enough to be a way out of the mine—instead, it came from a torch that hung from the low cavern walls, illuminating the twin shafts deeper into the mine Pancham had told them about.

Espurr couldn’t hide the dismay on her face—she wanted to get back above ground!—But Tricky ran over to the mines, more excited than ever.

“This is it!” She shouted back at Espurr in glee. “We made it to the entrance! Now… which one did Pancham tell us to go through?”

“N-not so fast.”

Both Espurr and Tricky spun around to look at the colony of drilbur who had approached them from behind.

“Y-you aren’t supposed t-to be down here,” one of the drilbur stammered out. “We a-aren’t going to l-let a pair of c-children push us around anymore!”

“Come on, guys…” Tricky whined, letting her voice drawl. “We’re fine! There’s nothing to worry about!”

As Espurr’s eyes adjusted to the dim light of the torch, she finally saw the drilbur clearly—saw their clearly frightened faces against the flickering flames, saw the way some of them were trembling despite themselves… Even the drilbur were being braver than her.

Was the brave thing to do just to go back with them? That didn’t seem brave. That just sounded cowardly. She wanted to do something brave, to make it up to herself. She hated to do this to them, but…

Espurr cast her eyes to the torch flickering to their right, pouring all her concentration into nudging it. The light dramatically shifted as the torch rose out of its holder, and wavered in midair. For one swift second everymon’s eyes were on the floating flame, before Espurr let it drop. The torch hit the ground and went out instantly, and the cavern was plunged into darkness.

Espurr couldn’t see anything, and neither could Tricky. She could only hear the mix of terrified whispers and squeaks from the drilbur as they began to clumsily pursue the two students, and see the bright green hue of their fear. She could only rely on memory as she pulled Tricky towards what she hoped was the right mine shaft with her one good arm. Was this brave enough?

She painfully banged her head into a wall she hadn’t even seen coming. Or a board. The rotted old board of a sealed-up mine shaft. She heard it break away amongst the many sounds the advancing Drilbur were making, and it didn’t take the power of sight for both Espurr and Tricky to latch onto the same conclusion—


The drilbur were scared out of their minds, of course. But they were more scared of Watchog than they were of a couple of village children. They didn’t want to return to the surface with nothing to show their new, brutal boss! That was why they were so horrified when the espurr and the fennekin grabbed ahold of each other, and jumped into the boarded-up mine shaft.

The labor of drilbur stopped short at the mine shaft, barely able to see the pair of children disappear into its darkness. It had been boarded up for a reason—one of the few times the drilburs’ cowardice had been wholly justified. Something lived down there. Something wild. Something evil. Something that had gobbled up many of their drilbur coworkers for lunch, and would happily chow down a pair of unsuspecting children for lunch. And the drilbur were too scared to go after them.

They always were.


From Wartortle's Guide to Dungeoneering: Anchorstone

The original spot of land corrupted by a mystery dungeon acts as the dungeon’s blueprints—and should one venture far enough down, still lies within the dungeon’s heart unaltered. But even though the Anchorstone looks physically unaltered from the real world, it is still very much a part of the dungeon, and can host the same perils found in the Dungeon’s other halls. Many explorers have made narrow escapes from dungeons after being caught off-guard when they mistook an anchorstone for the exit of the dungeon.

Music Of the Week!

Bene Geressit – Hans Zimmer
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1~Five - Monster of The Mines


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark




Abandoned Drilbur Mines


The other side of the mine shaft led to a steep hill that made Espurr and Tricky trip and tumble, sending them falling further down, down—

Espurr shut her eyes tight, refusing to scream loudly like Tricky was. She tried her best to roll herself into a ball, protecting her face and her injured arm so they weren’t damaged on the way down.

It wasn’t enough. The sudden riiip of her cast as it tore off flew by her ears; she had to open her eyes then. It was hanging on a sharp rock she’d just barely missed spearing herself on.

The whoosh of the air by her ears suddenly disappeared, leaving behind something damp and stale as the two students tumbled to a stop at the bottom of the slope. Once everything had gone still, Espurr dared to take a shaky breath and uncurl herself. The air smelled stale and faintly like something dead—the telltale scent of a mystery dungeon. She was beginning to realize they all smelled like that.

“Did we make it?” she asked. There was a shake in her voice she couldn’t quite kick.

“You can open your eyes now.”

Espurr realized her eyes were still shut tight. The second she opened them, she was greeted with Tricky’s snout right in her face. She almost fell over again. Her arm dully ached, free from the cast. Espurr tried not to move it.

She looked around them. If the tunnels of the mine above had been dark, they were nothing compared to the caverns of the mystery dungeon below.

Not that the mystery dungeon was dark. It glowed with the light of all the crystals anymon could ever wish for. Green and blue and pure white gemstones shone along the walls and roofs, glowing dimly and giving the corridors a soft, ethereal glow. Tricky had sparkles in her eyes at the sight of all the jewels.

“Wow wow wow!” she exclaimed. “Look at all these gems! And in a mystery dungeon, too! Who would be stupid enough to board this off?”

“There’s no red.” Espurr said.

“Hmm?” Tricky turned around, barely keeping her excitement below a threshold safe enough to display in the dungeon.

“Pancham sent us for red gems,” Espurr pointed out, staring up at the sparkling jewels on the cavern roof. “Well, there aren’t any. Not anywhere.”

It was true. The light from the crystals cast a variety of colors upon Tricky and Espurr’s coats, from blue to green to sparkling white… but no red. No red anywhere. Not even down the hall.

“Well…” Tricky’s voice faltered for a moment, but she regained her composure and shrugged immediately after. “…Maybe we need to go to the bottom of the dungeon for the red ones! I bet those drilbur were just silly cowards who were too scared to mine in a dungeon.” With that, she began to trot off with her tail high cheerfully. Espurr wished she could mimic that cheerfulness right about now.

She studied the crystals on the wall as they went. From what she had seen of the drilbur, Tricky’s explanation mostly checked out. They definitely were cowardly. But she noticed the unnatural, jagged gaps on the walls as they walked too, like there had been a crystal there and then somemon had torn it out. Maybe it was thieves… but nothing had been stolen in the village, and the drilbur probably would have toughened up by now if they were being stolen from all the time—

“Espurr, watch out!”

Tricky’s voice shot over from Espurr’s left, and she barely had time to react before a brilliant orange ember flashed through the crystals, blinding her and a geodude.

The geodude wasted no time getting back to its feet… hands, and skittered straight for Espurr like a spider. Just the movement was spine-chilling, and it was fast. Espurr gasped, green fear grasping her eyesight, and quickly backed herself up against the crystal wall as the Geodude scurried towards her. She had to think quickly. She had to do something. She had to—

The pokemon let out a snarl as it closed the distance. Espurr ducked at the last second, then kicked the geodude’s hand out from under it and scampered a good distance away on three paws before it could grab her. The geodude slammed face-first into one of the crystals on the wall, landing in a daze; one of Tricky’s embers a second later missed but dealt a finishing blow to the blue rock. It shattered into tiny pieces, expelling shimmering white dust everywhere. A large piece landed on the geodude, shattering into dust knocking it out.

The whole thing had happened in seconds. Espurr watched in silent, wide-eyed terror as the geodude’s body degraded before her eyes, collapsing into a pile of dust on the dungeon floor. What had just happened? Had they… killed it? Was this what happened to pokemon when they died?

Trying hard not to think about it, she focused on her movements, trying to shake the sparkling dust from her fur as she pulled herself up and hurried back to Tricky, back to some kind of safety. When she looked back, the dust was suddenly gone.

Tricky looked excited, her mouth hanging wide open, her tongue out, and her eyes bugging out of her head.

“Holy mystery dungeon…” the fennekin breathed as Espurr stumbled over, clutching her bad arm. “…we fought a dungeon ‘mon!! And WON!! This is amazing!”

“Did… did we kill it?” was all a frazzled Espurr managed to ask. “It just… crumbled.”

“That’s ‘cause it’s not real,” Tricky said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“It looked real to me…” Espurr protested. She was pleading with life at this point – if anything would start making sense right about now, she’d gladly take it.

“Well, it’s not! The dungeon just makes those, no-mon knows why. But we beat one!”

That worked.

She stared down the corridor the geodude had come from as they walked away, not catching a single other ‘mon amongst the jagged pathway. What kind of place made up pokemon just to attack whatever was inside it? Watchog hadn’t covered that in Dungeon Class yet.

Watchog… Espurr wilted at the punishment that was waiting for them above ground. Then she looked at where the sparkling dust from the gemstones still littered the floor, and at Tricky, who was still celebrating.

“Umm, about that…” Espurr began. If they encountered more… she had a few ideas.


“Stop that! It tickles!”

“Sorry… I’m still trying to control it.”

“You really are weird.”


“Aren’t you psychic-types supposed to learn these things quickly or something?”

“No…” A careful lie, based on what made the most sense: “Not all of us. At least, not quickly.”

An unbroken piece of gemstone swayed and bobbed in the air, prompting Tricky to hold in her laughter as it brushed the tip of her sparkling tail again. They hadn’t been able to get the dust out of their coats, but they had gotten so much of it stuck to them that they glowed like walking gemstones themselves.

The apparitions, Tricky explained further, weren’t real pokemon. They were created by the dungeon to fight off outsiders, like an immune system fighting disease. Did that mean dungeons were alive?

Several apparitions had attacked them on their way into the caverns. Espurr and Tricky together had come up with a strategy for beating them. Espurr would act as bait and lead them away, and Tricky would then leap out of hiding and collapse the nearest crystal with her ember. It wasn’t foolproof, but it hadn’t failed yet.

Tricky suddenly gasped and scampered ahead, leaving Espurr in the dust.

“Come on! I found the stairs!” she yelled, bounding into the distance. Espurr, with only one arm and still unsure on her feet, had to drop the crystal she was practicing on to focus on keeping up. Stupid clumsy feet…

Only then did the implications of Tricky’s statement fully hit her: Mystery dungeons had stairs?


Mystery dungeons had stairs.

Perfectly level, pristine stairs, and Espurr couldn’t even begin applying logic to that. Wouldn’t they at least get dusty? Even as she walked down the steps, which just happened to be the perfect size for Espurr and Tricky, the smoothness of the stone compared to the rough floor of the dungeon baffled her. Did all dungeons have these?

“All dungeons have those,” Tricky said dismissively. “Dunno why, don’t really care.” She shrugged, glancing around the cavern. “Hey, is it darker on this floor?”

It was. The cavern was just a little darker than the last one, and the crystals here glowed brighter in the growing darkness than they had before. And here there were red ones. They glittered in secluded spots amongst the many other colors, like a missing color added to a painting.

Espurr was about to say that it was, but then they both heard the distant skittering echoing through the cavern walls, the sound of approaching dungeon wildings.

“I hear more enemies coming,” she said instead. “We should hide. It sounds like a lot.”

Before Tricky could even open her mouth in response, several geodude skittered around the corner, rushing right past and around the two students like they weren’t there. Espurr and Tricky shared a look of weirded-out puzzlement. Then the sandshrew rolled past. And the roggenrola clopped on by.

Tricky couldn’t contain her snickers at the goofy way the retreating herd of dungeon wildlings was running off, but Espurr cast a look to the cavern up ahead. None of the apparitions before had ignored them… but maybe they were running from something else. Something like a larger dungeon pokemon.

And then she heard the distant stomping. And Espurr put it all together.

“Hide!” she suddenly yelped, pulling Tricky by her ear-fluff behind a large, teal-colored crystal jutting up out of the ground.

“Oww… Watch the ear-fluff!” Tricky complained once they were both safely hidden behind the crystal. “How would you like it if I pulled your ear?”

Espurr’s ears briefly tingled, and something told her that would be a very bad idea.

The stomping slowly became louder. Both Espurr and Tricky could hear it clearly now, the sound of a heavy stomp and then the screech of claws being dragged across the floor.

Thud. Screeech. Thud. Screeech. Thud.

Louder and louder. Espurr realized she was holding her breath. Her vision was tinting green with fear and she didn’t know if it was from her or Tricky.

Then it stopped. Right by their hiding place.

An excruciating moment of silence passed. Espurr, barely daring to breath herself, could hear nothing but the creature’s deep, raspy breaths. Then the sudden scraping of claws against gemstone came from the opposite wall. Espurr wrenched her eyes shut and locked up as a loud crack resounded through the cave unseen, followed by the metallic sound of brilliant, shimmering dust erupting into the air. The creature must’ve torn the stone right out of the wall!

It repeated several more times. First the scraping against the gemstone. Then the crack! of rock being torn from the cavern wall. Then the explosion of sparkles that erupted not a second later.

Thud. Screeech. Thud. Screeech. Thud.

Only when the creature was several paces away from their hiding spot was Espurr brave enough to peek out at it. What she saw only made the green stronger: A monstrous gabite lumbered off, dragging its feet through the cavern like a zombie. Its head hung low, drooping down over its body, and in its arms were a collection of sparkling red gemstones. It was at least three times their height, if not more.

As the gabite stomped off the way that they had come, Espurr and Tricky slowly emerged from behind the crystal, stepping on the sea of sparkling gemstone-dust that now littered the floor. They could still hear the echoing thuds of the gabite’s footsteps in the distance.

“What was that?” Tricky whimpered, much of her bravado suddenly lost.

Espurr just looked at the wall, where one of those jagged gaps from before remained. Now that the fear was slowly wearing off, something strange jumped out at her. It had torn gems out of the wall, but it had only taken the red ones. Why?

“Espurr!” Tricky yelped, her voice wavering with fear. Looking at her, Espurr could see that she was quivering, her tail and ears down. “What was that??”

“I think…” Espurr stared at the cavern behind, where they could still hear the dull thuds of footsteps. She racked her brain for an answer. She didn’t like the answer. “I think that’s the explorer who got lost down here. He matches the picture in the book. Remember?”

Tricky’s ears couldn’t have gone lower, her eyes were already saucers.

“Is that going to happen to us?” she whimpered, a frightened look on her face. Espurr didn’t know how to answer it. She wasn’t the dungeon expert. How was she supposed to know?

But Tricky was the most scared Espurr had ever seen her. The waves of green coming off her were so strong she couldn’t even get too close without being overwhelmed. She couldn’t let her go on like that.

“…Not if we move quickly,” she said, settling on what seemed like the least scary answer. She hoped her tone matched. “Can we still go back up?”

She looked back towards the dark corridor, where to her dismay she could see nothing.

“Dungeons re-arrange themselves behind you,” Tricky explained. Espurr could still hear the quake in her voice, but she was slowly calming down. “So the only way out is down…”

Another thing that didn’t make any sense! How was travelling further down supposed to bring them back up to the surface? But Espurr had so many questions about dungeons at this point she was ready to just bump it on the list and move on. The situation right now was too urgent for questions anyway.

A distant roar from behind them and the agitated chitters of several apparitions sent them both tumbling in the opposite direction seconds later.


Espurr wasn’t sure how long this dungeon went on for. They were on the third floor now, if she was counting right. There could be just one more left, or another six. The time after that was spent in silence, walking through the mazelike caverns in search of the next next floor down.

Tricky became quickly became peppier once the gabite was out of their sights, and her better headspace made Espurr’s feel better too. The ache returned to her left arm as they traveled through the crystal-glows of blue and green and white. Or maybe it had never left, and she was just now noticing. Their pace was hurried and silent, which left her head clear to wander. One question kept coming back to her: Why had Gabite only taken the red ones? It didn’t make sense. What was so special about the red ones?

Whatever it was, had Pancham known?

Too caught up in her thoughts, Espurr suddenly tripped. Falling on her good arm, she spun around, fearing a dungeon apparition had done it, but stopped once she realized she had actually tripped on an old, dusty leather bag.

“You okay?”

Tricky had stopped, looking back at Espurr as she untangled her feet from the bag’s straps. It took her one clumsy paw much longer than it should have.

She was hurting in quite a few places, actually.

“It just tripped me,” she said, finally kicking the bag straps off her feet and getting up. “What’s it doing sitting around here?”

At this point, if Tricky told her bags just naturally popped up in dungeons, she would have accepted it without a beat.

“Maybe somemon left it here…” Tricky pondered, tail swishing. “We should open it!”

The bag didn’t hold anything interesting. It was already wide open, and only several dried-up berries and ancient pieces of rescue equipment met their eyes. But beyond the bag, in a dark, forgotten cavern of the corner, Espurr spotted something strange. It looked like…

Crawling over, she picked it up off the floor. It was an old, tattered journal covered in cavern must and glitter dust. Maybe it was from the bag. Had it been dropped here… ?

Only, she couldn’t read what was on it.

“What’s that?” Tricky asked. “Does it belong to Gabite?”

Espurr handed the notebook to Tricky.

“See for yourself,” she told the fennekin. “I can’t read.”

Tricky took the notebook from Espurr’s paw and spat it out on the floor, twitching her nose at the cloud of dust that erupted from page one.

“Entry #1, 2/11/10993,” she read. “Wow… This was a long time ago,”

“New journal. I’m investigating a new dungeon that’s just popped up in the area at the request of a small little village nearby,” Tricky continued, reading off the page. “It’s in the middle of a mine-shaft, and I have to perform a routine dungeon patrol before the place can be declared a class A dungeon, or off-limits. As I write this, I’m setting up camp in the dungeon. The place was filled with valuable gemstones, and I got too caught up trying to pick some for my bag. I wager the red ones will go for more than they’re worth. It’s not recommended to camp out in a mystery dungeon, but if it’s a class A dungeon like I suspect, then I should be fine.”

“Signed, Gabite the Explorer,” Tricky finished. Both Tricky and Espurr shared a look.

“He camped out in a dungeon?” Espurr asked.

“Seems that way...” Tricky glanced around the cavern. “But I don’t see any camping supplies…”

“Maybe there’s more on page two.”

Tricky flipped to page two with her snout, quickly turning her snout away to avoid the dust that fluttered off the papers.

“Entry #2, 2/12/10993. I was wrong. The dungeon is stronger than I thought. Already it’s beginning to attack me; I didn’t even get an hour’s rest. Class A dungeons don’t have the apparitions, and normal Class B’s aren’t this aggressive so quickly. How could a new dungeon have gotten so powerful so fast?

Another flip of the page.

“Entry #2, 2/12/10993 (continued). I’ve been in this dungeon for far too long already. You can’t tell time down here, but I estimate an entire day has passed in the dungeon since I entered. Outside, who knows. For a dungeon this powerful… that’s bad news. Already, the fog is surrounding me. The apparitions have backed off, but I can feel something else approaching. It’s whispering to me. It’s in my head. I’ve wasted so much time gemstone hunting, and now I’m paying the price. The best thing I can do is write this all down, and hope I escape before

Tricky suddenly stopped.

“What’s next?” Espurr asked urgently.

“Nothing!” Tricky exclaimed. “It’s just blank.” She flipped the page again, but found that one blank too. She flipped to page four. And then leafed through the notebook clumsily.

“This was his last entry, wasn’t it?” Espurr said. He’d only gotten to make three. What had happened?

Tricky suddenly gasped. Seconds later, Espurr saw why: the back half of the journal was completely tattered, torn to pieces by several large claw marks. Claw marks large enough to belong to…

The cavern fell silent. Espurr and Tricky just stared at it uncomfortably.

“I’m just gonna put it in the bag,” Tricky said shakily. She picked the book up with her mouth, grimacing and then spitting it back into the bag’s flaps. Immediately afterwards she spat, cleaning her tongue with her paws.

“It even tastes old…” she complained.

Thud. Screeech. Thud. Screeech. Thud.

In the distance. Both Espurr and Tricky looked to the cavern behind them, eyes widening.

“It found us.”

Tricky sprung to her feet at Espurr’s comment, bounding further into the dungeon all on her own. Espurr quickly tried to work the bag over her shoulder with just the use of one arm. She couldn’t just leave it behind! It was just small enough for her to carry, but she had to get it over her head first.

Thud. Screeech. Thud. Screeech. Thud.

Espurr spared a glance back towards the cavern from which the beast was quickly approaching. She could even see its shadow from the gemstone light on the wall now, stomping along the cavern like a body possessed. She needed to get out of here! If only she could…

“Espurr, come on!” Tricky’s terrified voice echoed through the cavern after her. “You’re gonna get caught!”

Torn between the bag and the monster, Espurr did what seemed like the best option at the time—She balanced the straps of the bag over her head, quickly turning tail and running for the other cavern before Gabite could see them. She could have sworn it caught a glimpse of her, but then she was panting for breath against the same crystal Tricky had hidden behind, the bag still swinging awkwardly from her head. Espurr carefully tilted it to the left, nudging the strap in the right direction—

—It fell painfully on her left shoulder, sending bounces of pain through her broken arm. Espurr barely managed to contain her expression of displeasure to a mere hiss of pain.

“You took the bag with you?!” Tricky exclaimed in a hushed voice.

“It could be useful,” Espurr argued back. “Besides, we need to show the drilbur once we get out of here. Somemon needs to know about this!”

Thud. Screeech. Thud. Screeech. Thud.

“You could have been caught!” Tricky hissed. Espurr could hear how much the green fear had gotten to her in her voice. “What if it got you?! You’d— You’d—”

Tricky went silent. Her ears drooped, and Espurr felt the corners of that overwhelming blue cloud flare up around her mind once more. She had to move back from Tricky just to cope.

"I don't want it to happen again…" Espurr heard her whisper. But as quickly as the blue cloud of negativity came, it disappeared, like it had been covered up. Morbid curiosity invaded her despite herself, despite the situation. What did that mean?

Thud. Screeech. Thud. Screeech. Thud.

“We can’t let it get ahead of us,” she said to Tricky, snapping back to business mode. She kind of had to. “Or we’ll be trapped behind it in the dungeon.”

Thud. Screeech. Thud. Screeech. Thud.

“Well, then let’s get ahead of it!” Tricky said. She took off, frantically glancing back at Espurr as she tried to clumsily follow.

“Come on!” she yelled back, but she was just so much faster. Espurr couldn’t keep up, especially not with the bag weighing her down.


Suddenly the thudding stopped. Espurr had to keep moving, she knew that, but something had changed. There was a numbing presence she could feel but not explain, like a sixth sense telling her something was right behind—

Suddenly, a piercing roar shook the cavern behind her. It was a lot closer than she’d thought. Espurr shot a glance back, and saw to her horror that Gabite had already made it around the bend!

“It’s coming for you!” Tricky hollered from ahead. She was prancing anxiously between her paws now, her eyes wide open with fear. Espurr just had to keep moving. As slow as she was, she was still running. She could close the gap!

Then Gabite broke out into a run. Stomp stomp stomp. Espurr yelped and quickened her pace, for what little good it did her. She wasn’t fast enough!

Gabite charged forward, and in her panic, Espurr tripped. She hit the ground hard. It was all over, she couldn’t get up or even move fast enough! All she could see was the gabite sliding to a stop, raising a single, blade-like arm, and preparing to bring it down—

A single ember flew through the air, reflecting off the gemstones and blinding both Espurr and the gabite. With a squeal it staggered backwards, and Espurr felt Tricky chomp down on her arm, physically dragging her away

“Why diph phou phop??” Tricky asked frantically through her mouthful of Espurr’s arm. “I can phee the phtairs from here!!”

And as a dragged-along Espurr staggered to her feet, she saw it was true—at the end of the corridor lay the perfect, out of place stairs that would lead them to the next floor. They were paces from escape!

Gabite snarled, nearly recovered. The sound sent both Espurr and Tricky running faster, and by the time Gabite was able to properly open its eyes again, they were already out of sight.

The roars of the zombie pokemon raged through the cavern as Espurr and Tricky rushed down the dungeon stairs. Espurr glanced back at the stairway as she ran. It was going to close up, right?

“What are you doing?!!” Tricky cried out in terror.

“The stairs—“ Espurr began.

“—They don’t move if somemon’s watching them, you ignoramus!” Tricky screeched, rushing back and practically bulldozing the poor feline down the cavern hall.

Faster than anything she’d done in this dungeon, Espurr turned her head away. She heard Gabite’s terrible roar, and a single thud against stone, but then the light suddenly cut out. Gabite’s roars became muffled, then disappeared altogether. Only silence remained.

Tricky stopped when she realized they could no longer hear Gabite’s enraged roars.

“Did… Did we make it?” she asked, catching her breath and giving Espurr a chance to break free from the fennekin’s grasp. Espurr looked back to the cavern they’d come from, now shrouded in darkness.

“I can’t tell…” she responded, nearly too jittery to talk. “It’s too dark.”

“Well, I can’t hear him.” Tricky’s voice also had some jitter. She shook herself off, the sparkling dust in her coat sending glimmers of light that reflected off the crystals and cast a dim glow around the cavern. Espurr noticed the red hue a few of the gems took. Could it be?

Quickly, she went ahead, shuffling her fur as she went to illuminate the gemstones around her. They weren’t in a narrow hall shrouded by rock and crystal anymore. The cavern was wide and unfettered by obstacles. It was almost as large as the entire school classroom, and in the middle of the cave sat the largest mountain of red gemstones Espurr had ever seen.

As she stood there, wide-eyed, Tricky trotted up, looking around the cavern with amazement.

“Wow…” she began, the stars invading her eyes again. “Remind me why I wanted to leave again? This is amazing!”

“Let’s just grab some of the crystals and go home. Espurr didn’t fancy the idea of staying in the cavern any longer than necessary. As enthralled by the place as Tricky seemed to be, even she didn’t contest the idea, and the two set out to work picking a few of the better gems.

Espurr opened the bag she had slung over her shoulder the best she could with her working arm, allowing Tricky to dump the stones into it. The bag felt heavier now, digging into her shoulder, and adjusting it was painful on her bad arm.

Thud. Screeech. Thud. Screeech. Thud.

Faint, in the distance. Espurr glanced at the shadows from behind, writing it off as her imagination. The stairs to this floor were sealed. There was no way for the gabite to get back here before they left the dungeon... Right?

“I see some light!” Tricky announced, looking ahead. Walking around the massive pile of gems, Espurr did indeed see a source of light in the distance. It wasn’t daylight, but it wasn’t crystal light either. Maybe it was the way out!

Thud. Thud. Thud.

Faster. This time, Tricky heard it too. It echoed around the cavern, making it impossible to tell where the sound had come from. Both Espurr and Tricky hurriedly turned towards the underground hallway they had come from.

But when the gabite attacked, it wasn’t from the front. The only warning the two students had was the sudden sound of footsteps from the left—


“No fair!”
Tricky whined, just before they both jumped out of the way of the charging gabite. The monstrous pokemon spun around, digging a blade into the ground as it slid to bank the turn, then bellowed loudly at Espurr and Tricky. Tricky let out a squeak of fear, and quickly tried to blend in with the red of the gemstones. Espurr wasn’t fast enough to follow her. Which meant…

She was the target! Enraged, Gabite began to charge after Espurr. She ran as fast as she could on her clumsy tiptoe feet, which wasn’t very fast at all. An arm-blade slashed the ground right next to her, missing her by inches. Espurr yelped and jumped to the side. That was what saved her. She landed against the gemstone pile, the too-large gabite propelled past her by sheer bulk.

It would only buy her seconds.

Before Gabite could turn around and come back for her, Espurr quickly hopped the other way, stumbling over gemstones as she dove into the gemstone crater Tricky was currently huddled up in. Gabite roared as it dashed past, unaware that the pokemon it was pursuing had hidden.

“Tricky!” Espurr prodded the cowering fox with her good arm.

“I… I can’t…” Tricky shuddered, covering her eyes with her paws. “I can’t beat that thing…”

“But we don’t have to beat it!” Espurr pointed out. “The exit’s right there, we can just leave!”

That made Tricky perk up a little, as she realized the obvious. “But…” she stammered.

Gabite suddenly slid to a stop in front of the gemstone crater. It let out a deafening roar at the two pokemon, preparing to strike them down with a clawed fin. That was it. Without thinking, Espurr grabbed a big fat gemstone, and with narrowed eyes hurled it straight in Gabite’s face. It exploded into shards of sparkling dust, knocking Gabite’s head back with a grunt.

Gabite stopped for a few seconds, trying to process what had just happened. Silence settled in the room. Neither Espurr nor Tricky dared to move, staring up at it with wide eyes. It remained still for a few seconds more. Then, slowly, its face pulled back into a snarl, and as that snarl became sound, it brought its sharp fin down upon Espurr’s head—

—A flaming ember whooshed past Espurr’s ears. It hit Gabite square between the eyes, and its blade slashed into the nearby red crystals instead of Espurr’s skull. Having destroyed some of its treasure enraged the blinded Gabite even more, and it began to unleash all fury upon where it thought Espurr and Tricky were. Espurr suddenly felt Tricky chomp down upon her right arm, and she was pulled out of the way of an attack that probably would have felt less painful than her arm did. She looked into Tricky’s eyes and saw nothing but fire as she was dragged a safe distance away from Gabite’s temper tantrum.

“Don’t ever do that again!!” She spat. “I thought you were… going to…”

The fennekin took several deep breaths. Espurr’s vision suddenly exploded with blue, so bad she couldn’t even see. She had to move several feet away from Tricky just to keep her head.

Gabite hadn’t noticed them yet. It was still busy destroying upon its treasure. Every new gem exploding into dust was met with another thunderous roar, and eventually it gave up with the slashing and swiping and just charged headfirst into the pile. Espurr watched the mountain of gemstones sway dangerously. And then she put two and two together. Maybe she could…

Espurr focused on a single gemstone, located on the bottom of the pile. She focused on it, trying to pull it with her mind.

Her heart skipped a beat as she suddenly saw the gemstone move a little. But it wasn’t coming out any further. It was too heavy. Espurr couldn’t free it on her own.

Gabite sniffed the air, its sight finally returning once more. Its eyes fixed on Tricky and Espurr, and seconds later, so did its body. It let out a mighty roar once more, loping towards them with reckless abandon. Espurr poured all her concentration into one final psychic pull—

The gemstone soared free at the last second, whizzing through the air and knocking Gabite’s right foot off its mark. Suddenly sent tumbling to its side, Gabite could only brace for impact as its body slammed against its massive pile of treasure. Espurr and Tricky watched in horror as the mountain of gemstones clinked, clattered, and then began to topple, burying Gabite under an avalanche of shiny red rocks.

The ear-piercing sound of gemstones exploding into dust filled the air for at least a minute, and their sight exploded with gemstone dust. But then the sounds slowly died away, and only silence was left. A few of the stones clinked as they settled, and the air was thick with gemstone dust.

“…Did we… ?” Tricky asked in a small voice, the fire gone from her eyes. “Did he…”

Espurr was sorry to say that she wasn’t sure. And she didn’t want to stick around to find out.

“Let’s just… go,” she managed to say with level tone.

“Yes, let’s.” Tricky hurriedly agreed.


Drilbur Mines

“I-is he still out there?” a drilbur asked, pacing about the mine crossroads uncomfortably. The light from the new torch illuminated many of the drilbur colony’s similarly anxious faces.

“He’s still pacing around the mine shaft,” answered another, who had just crawled down from the other side of the tunnel. “We heard him grumbling about ‘no-g-good-troublemakers’.”

Many of the drilbur drooped their heads at the scout’s report. A new torch had been set up, and the cavern was now a hidey-hole for the Drilbur of The Mines. They were faced with a dilemma above-ground, an angry pokemon who was sure to let them have it if they came back empty-clawed, and below ground…

The drilbur didn’t speak of what was below ground. Those two kids weren’t getting out alive.

“N-now what d-do we d-do?” One of them asked, the collective stutter beginning to return to their voices full-force.

“I supp-pose we c-could stay down h-here for the rest of-f our lives,” Another drilbur proposed. It seemed like the colony was actively considering it.

Suddenly, there came a rumbling from deep inside the boarded-off mine shaft, and the very two children tumbled right out, both panting heavily and covered in sparkling dust. The Drilbur of The Mines were left agape.

There were several muffled shatters from within the bag Espurr was carrying. She wilted at the sound, realizing what those were. The gemstones… had everything they’d just gone through been for nothing?

“We… defeated… your… monster…” Tricky spat out between gasps.

“Y-y-you what?” A lone drilbur stammered. A few others, prone to drama, fainted on the spot. Espurr and Tricky both picked themselves up on shaky feet.

“Yeah. We beat your monster,” Tricky repeated matter-of-factly. “Y’know… Gabite?”

Several gasps rang throughout the drilbur clan, amongst shocked whispers of ‘It’s true!’.

“H-how?” Another drilbur spoke up. “H-how did two children…?”

“It was crushed by all the gemstones,” Espurr explained.

“G… G-gemstones?” The word seemed to catch many of the drilburs’ interest. “W-what gemstones?”

“Y’knooow…” Tricky drew out her sentence promptingly. “The gemstones?”

One of the drilbur walked forward, picking up a few grains of the dust that had fallen from Espurr’s fur in its claws.

“Emeras…” he quietly whispered to himself. “We s-struck emeras!” He yelled to the rest of the clan. There were cheers everywhere, as the mood in the cave suddenly went from overwhelmingly anxious to undeniably joyful.

“What’s an emera?” Espurr asked Tricky.

“Beats me…” Tricky yawned, falling flat on her haunches. “I was asleep that day in class.”

“H-how can w-we ever thank you?” The drilbur asked. Espurr perked up. She saw a perfect opportunity! Tricky opened her muzzle, probably to demand something silly, but Espurr spoke first.

“There is one thing…”


Drilbur Mineyard

The drilbur led them through the cavern, up towards the entrance that glowed with the light of late day. After so much time spent in darkness, Espurr had to shield her eyes with her good arm, but her heart leapt to see the daylight all the same. She didn’t know she’d missed it so much.

“Troublemakers?!” she heard Watchog call out hopefully, his voice echoing through the mineshaft’s walls. “Is that you?”

“It’s us, Mr. Watchog!” Tricky bellowed out. Her voice was amplified by the corridor and made Espurr wince from the loudness. Her gut twisted at Watchog’s voice. It had been a ride… but now they had to face the music.

“Finally decided to come back out, did you…” she heard him grumble. As they emerged from the mines, he loomed over them, his arms folded and his face twisted into an angry scowl. He blotted out the sun.

“Oh, you two are in a world of trouble,” the Vice Principal sneered at the two of them, before noticing the bag on Espurr’s shoulder.

“Where did you get that??” he snarled, roughly snatching the strap. Espurr was pulled forward, the movement jostling her bad arm.

She swallowed her pain and made eye contact with Watchog.

“It’s my souvenir from the mines,” she said carefully.

“Troublemakers…” Watchog seethed. “Don’t get souvenirs.”

“B-but they weren’t t-t-troublemaking,” One of the drilbur piped up.

“Yeah!” Tricky fired back. “We weren’t troublemaking!”

Watchog couldn’t contain himself. He let out a high-pitched chuckle of disbelief.

“You expect me to believe that?” he wheezed, coming down from his laughing trip. “You probably just bullied the drilbur into saying that.”

“No-mon bullied us,” The drilbur said, his voice suddenly losing all stutter. “Except you.”

“You forced us underground!” Another piped up.

“Barged onto our property!”

“Kicked us out of our own mine-yard!”

“Bossed us around!”

Watchog’s face contorted into several, increasingly exaggerated faces as he tried to process the mounting accusations against him.

“You can’t give us orders!”

“You aren’t fit to give orders!”

“ALRIGHT!” Watchog yelled, so loudly that Tricky’s ears were flitting away from volume. He took a few deep breaths, then composed himself into something more appropriate for negotiation. “Why don’t we just go home… and forget this all happened?”

“And you’ll never come back?” The drilbur all collectively gave Watchog the stink-eye. Watchog opened his mouth a couple times in disbelief, but then thought better of it and nodded his head instead.

“And you’ll take our word that these two haven’t been up to any troublemaking today?” The stink eyes only seemed to get more intense, all directed his way. Tricky had a goofy grin plastered on her muzzle, and Espurr had to admit the positivity was contagious.

“They just helped us uncover a very large stash of unprocessed emeras today,” one of the other Drilbur mentioned. “And you know how much money emeras are worth…”

Terrified, Watchog nodded his head ferociously.

“We’ll just be going now,” he said with a shaken voice, picking up his stuffed bag and shuffling off in an unusually uptight manner. Espurr and Tricky shared a look of triumphant disbelief, barely able to contain their grins, then quickly followed before they could try their luck. An angry Watchog was not a Watchog to test.

“Yeesh, I h-hated that ‘mon…” Espurr heard the drilbur begin to gossip behind her.

“T-tell me about it. T-talk about h-high horsea…”

“Goomy!” Watchog snapped as they approached him. He was hiding from the sun under the shade of a large rock, and he looked quite exhausted. It must’ve been the heat. “Did you move from that spot?”

“N-no, Vice Principal,” Goomy stammered out, his eyes shimmering with fear. Of course he had, but it wasn’t like he was going to admit it, and Espurr certainly wasn’t going to say anything. But to everymon’s surprise, instead of pointing it out, Watchog just sighed heavily, gesturing for Goomy to follow as they continued onwards.

“At least somemon’s on my side today…” he grumbled.


Serenity Village

“So…” Pancham loudly began from his spot against one of the many buildings lining the Village Square as Espurr and Tricky walked towards him. Shelmet was next to him, and they both had annoyingly smug looks on their faces. “Did you get them?”

“You didn’t tell us the mines had a monster in there!!” Tricky yelled at him, then hurriedly checked to make sure Watchog was out of earshot first. Sure enough, the long, brown pokemon was moping his way home, far off in the sunset distance by now.

Pancham looked very caught off-guard. He nervously grinned and then quickly took Shelmet aside.

“What monster?” Espurr heard him whispering to Shelmet. “I didn’t see a monster in there.”

“Just roll with it,”
Shelmet whispered back. They then both turned back to Espurr and Tricky, the same exaggerated grins plastered on their face.

“We… we knew about the monster,” Pancham said. “I was just testing you. Did you get the gems?” His voice was grating towards the end, like there was something he knew that they didn’t. Espurr could already feel her gut churning with anger; she could tell where this was going.

“We tried,” she began. “But they exploded into dust the moment we took them out of the dungeon.” She showed them the dust in the bag for good measure. She was met with the downright mean laughter of Pancham and Shelmet. It just made her fur bristle more.

“You two are such dimwits!” Pancham gasped out between laughs. “We got you so bad!”

“Everymon knows you can’t take emeras out of dungeons without processing them first!” Shelmet added, crying tears of laughter. Espurr’s eyes narrowed, pink annoyance flickering at the corner of them, and Tricky was staring at them in hurt disbelief. Espurr saw the darkening look upon Tricky’s face, the burgeoning cloud of red that was growing around her head. For both of them, she wasn’t letting these two have the last laugh.

“Anyways,” Espurr said, closing the strap on the bag with her good arm. “Thank you.”

“What?!” Both Shelmet and Pancham ceased their laughter to look at Espurr in shock. Espurr sent them her best attempt at a smile.

“It was fun,” she sweetly lied to their face. “I’m glad you sent us.”

“You had… fun?” Shelmet gasped. “In a mystery dungeon?”

“More fun than picking berries would have been,” Espurr replied.

By this point, Tricky had caught on. She blew a raspberry at Shelmet, before quickly nodding along with Espurr.

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Pancham said, folding his arms. “I always knew you were a freak. Just like your ‘partner’. Now the whole village gets to know, too…” He blew his own raspberry at Tricky.

Tricky gasped. “You wouldn’t!” she shot back at him, some steam puffing out of her ears. “You can’t prove it!”

“Yeah,” Pancham brushed Tricky off nonchalantly. “But who’s the village gonna listen to? Me… or the local troublemakers? Untouchable, remember?” he sent Tricky a wink that made her look like she wanted to blast him onto the next continent. She growled at him, some more steam blowing from her ear fluff.

“And now, I must be off, ladies.” he bid them goodbye in the most obnoxious tone possible, blowing them a kiss and then sauntering off. Shelmet blew a raspberry at Tricky before scampering after Pancham.

Tricky growled with anger, watching them stroll back to their house on the other side of the square.

“I hate them…” she snarled, her ears flat with rage.

“Maybe they’ll leave us alone now,” Espurr said.

“Pancham and Shelmet never leave us alone,” Tricky muttered. “They’re just dumb, rotten bullies.”

“That you went along with,” Espurr couldn’t help but say. Some edge crept into her voice at the end. The whole reason any of this had happened was because of Tricky!

“Because the dungeon was really cool!” Tricky whined. “Besides, you did it too! And you had fun, didn’t you? You said so yourself!”

“Tricky, I…” Espurr trailed off. Her words had really backfired. “I just wasn’t giving them the last laugh.”

“So… you didn’t have any fun?” Tricky asked dejectedly, focusing intently on the ground she was pawing. Espurr dug down for an answer, and then realized she didn’t have one Tricky would like. Except that they’d nearly died several times today and narrowly avoided another week of detention, and that was that.

“We almost died,” she told Tricky. “And Vice Principal Watchog nearly kicked us into next week. We barely got out of it.”

“But wasn’t it fun, though?” Tricky pleaded.

And there was the hard part. Some of it had been fun.

“I… don’t know,” Espurr finally settled for. “I’m sorry.”


They stood in silence for a moment. The silence lasted long. The silence was awkward. Espurr could feel the corners of blue negativity beginning to creep into her head from Tricky’s direction again.

“I should probably get going,” Tricky finally said, ending the quiet. “My Pops is gonna give me the lecture of the century if I don’t get home before dark. Also if he finds out what happened today, so don’t tell him.”

Espurr couldn’t imagine a world where she’d willingly tell anymon in charge about what had happened today.

Tricky waved goodbye with her swishy tail, and then ran off in the direction of her house. Espurr started down the forest path towards the school clinic, a dull pain in her arm reminding her she hadn’t had a cast on it for the last four hours. She could still see the way it was slightly crooked, feel how it hurt whenever she moved.

The question hung in her mind and bothered her as she walked past the trees: Had she had fun? They’d nearly gotten killed. More than once. And they’d broken into a place they shouldn’t have gone, and Vice Principal Watchog was going to have it out for them now for sure. But there was a rush that came from doing all that dangerous stuff, that made her feel more firm, more rebellious than before. Despite the bullying, and the danger, and the way Tricky kept pushing her into everything, some of it had been fun.

The conflicting pit in her stomach grew all the way back to the School Clinic.


School Clinic

“I’ve had another talk with the Principal,” Audino said, trying to keep the anger out of her voice as she pulled yet another cast out of the medicine cabinet. “Watchog will not be overseeing your detention tomorrow. Not with that arm, at least.” She began to dry Espurr’s recently-washed fur off with a towel. Espurr, sluggish, tired, could barely keep her eyes open, much less follow Audino around the clinic as she switched between tidying up and cleaning Espurr’s arm.

“I always tell him, don’t overwork the students!” Audino continued angrily as she worked. “Don’t make their injuries worse! And what does he do? He takes you to work at the mines! I’ve never seen dirtier pokemon in my life! And I’m the village nurse!

“Honestly…” Audino grabbed the cast and began to wrap it around Espurr’s arm. “It’s a wonder you didn’t split the fracture again.”

She got up, closing the cabinet doors and picking up the mess after her. “IF you keep that cast on, you can take it off tomorrow night,” she told Espurr. “Report to me for the rest of your week’s detentions. If you can’t be kept safe outside of this clinic, you’ll just have to serve your detention inside it.”

She went around the Clinic’s large room, covering the globes containing luminous moss with tarps.

“All set, Deerling?” Espurr heard her ask the straw bed facing the other side of the wall.

“Yes, Nurse Audino.” Deerling’s voice emerged from the bed, though Espurr couldn’t see her.

“I’ll discharge you tomorrow,” Audino continued. “You should be past the worst part of the molt now.”

“Thank you, Nurse Audino,” Deerling said, relief palpable in her voice. Espurr sat down upon her straw bed, casting a look back at Deerling’s beside her. She was tired and still damp from the bath that been required just to get the emera-dust out of her fur, and her throat still felt scratchy from all the dirt she had breathed in that day.

“Sleep well, both of you.” Audino picked up Espurr’s bag by accident, setting it down once she realized her mistake and taking her own. She continued into the back room of the clinic and closed the door behind her, leaving Espurr and Deerling alone for the night.

“It’s not true, is it?” Deerling asked a few seconds later, her voice carrying a worried tone. “You didn’t go into the mines with Tricky?”

Espurr froze. How had she known? Then she remembered a certain pokemon’s words. The answer hit her.

“Did Pancham tell you?” Espurr asked, connecting the dots immediately.

“He told everymon,” Deerling replied. “He said he played a prank on the troublemaker and the new kid as revenge for getting him in trouble, and they fell straight for his trick. Not that anymon's going to tell on him. The school never does anything because his family’s rich.”

Deerling sighed, readjusting herself on the nest so she could see Espurr properly. “Espurr, right?”

Espurr nodded.

“Listen… I don’t want to sound rude or anything,” Deerling continued. “But I know you’ve been hanging out with Tricky, and I wanted to warn you that…”

She stopped for a moment, taking a deep breath. Espurr could see many colors behind her words, blending into a soup of indistinguishable brown.

“We don’t talk about it,” Deerling continued. “I— I shouldn’t talk about it, but… well, everymon here knows what happens when Tricky takes pokemon into dungeons. It doesn’t turn out well, and we’ve all been there. I don’t want to watch somemon her hurt somemon else.”

Espurr took a moment to consider, weighing every word.

“Somemon… else got hurt?” she asked, still trying to piece everything together. Those words Tricky had said back in the mines…

“Tricky has hurt pokemon, yes,” Deerling replied. Her voice was serious, her eyes wide open and staring straight at Espurr’s. For that moment, the brown mix of colors seemed to grow in power. “Just… please take my warning to heart. Don’t go into dungeons. Okay?”

Espurr just nodded, trying to process everything that had just been unloaded on her.

“I will,” she said, still unsure. She was sure it read on her face.

What else could she do?


Café Connection


No luck. After hours of searching through many more hours of wilderness noises, Ampharos found exactly nothing. At one point the orb had picked up the off-tune singing of a local pokemon, but otherwise his entire plan had turned belly-up in the water. In fact, there was only one more place on the reel that he could check. If that turned up nothing, then he could safely say he’d have to start from scratch.

Ampharos began again at the start. The very start of the reel, the only part of it he hadn’t listened to yet. His efforts were rewarded: voices! This must have been from before they dropped the orb. He sifted through the chatter of what sounded like Fennekin and Espurr, closely listening for any clues that might point him in the right direction.

“Now that I think of it… you never told me where you came from, did you? That’s like, question number #2 on the list of things friends should know about each other!”

That was Fennekin. Ampharos leaned in closer, his lantern tail glowing brightly. Surely, this was his lead…

“It’s like I said. I… Got lost in the woods, and Nurse Audino found me and took me here.”

Espurr must have been holding the orb. Her voice blasted through the speakers louder than Fennekin’s had.

“Yeah, but where did you come from?” Fennekin whined in stereo. “Come on—I want the juicy bits!”

“I… don’t want to talk about it.”


Ampharos paused the audio. Then he rewound it and listened to that section all over again. This ‘Espurr’ was certainly dodgy in many ways… As Ampharos booted off the Expedition Gadget and tucked himself in for the night, he jotted down her name in his mental book of suspects.

He had a new lead.


From Wartortle's Guide to Dungeoneering: Class C Dungeon

Some dungeons are not safe for anyone. Class C Dungeons, the strongest class of dungeon, are small in number, but highly feared. Though only a handful of them exist across the entire planet, Class C dungeons are notable for their intense power and effects on pokemon inside. The distortion within these dungeons is thought to be so strong that not even those who enter are safe from corruption. Explorers have been known to turn as rabid and feral as dungeon apparitions within Class Cs, beyond any sort of cure once the damage has been done. For this reason, a watchlist exists for all Class B-2 dungeons that may become Class Cs in the near future, and every known Class C dungeon is barred to all except the most experienced and capable explorers, to which they are open by necessity only. The average Class C dungeon is at least eight millennia old.

Music of the week!

Pirates VS Natives VS Heroes VS Chickens
- John Powell
Last edited:
1~Six & Seven: The Council of Baram/Detention


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark

Today's headline: Harsher weather may affect supply shipments to and from Waterport

Located off the coast of Air, the Waterport provides a hub space for much of the valuable supplies that sustain all five Continents. But the future of this merchants' heaven may be in jeopardy, as the promise of harsher weather on the horizon threatens to disrupt supply shipments to and from the floating market.

"Bureaucracy," grumbles one merchant. "Because of government laws, we can't just cut through land. We have to take this supplies all the way around the top or the bottom of the Air Continent. Either way is treacherous, and we lose more ships than we should on these journeys. Moreso now that storm season's a-coming."

Storms in recent years have grown harsher and more spontaneous for reasons that experienced meteorologists are still trying to pick apart. And with storm season on the way, the threat to cargo only grows larger.

~ Cloud Nine News Network




Baram Town ~ Air Continent

~Mawile and Archen~

“It’s too windy up here…” Archen complained, ruffling his feathers as he and Mawile crossed yet another fenceless, sky-high bridge between the massive windmills of Baram Town.

“You’re in a better mood today,” Mawile noted, tucking her journal back into her bag. The ground underneath them was elaborately paved, colored stone, which was beginning to warm up to uncomfortable levels in the hot sun.

“Yeah…” Archen ruffled his feathers nervously as they walked. “Well, sleep does wonders for mood, it turns out. Now if only we could tell that to the pokemon who scheduled this meeting…”

He looked upwards, met only with the sun and the looming presence of the windmills’ massive vanes. They were on the highest bridge in the city, leading to the highest floor of the tallest building, a windmill so immense that scaling it could only have been practical for those with wings. The thought to look down over the side of the bridge briefly crossed Archen’s mind, but he immediately edged just a little further away in response.

Flying types were flying types, but somemon ought to have installed fences for those who weren’t blessed with the power of flight.

A pair of murkrow fluttered forwards as Mawile and Archen approached the large doors at the end of the bridge.

“Names, appointments,” one of them droned out, reciting from a tired script.

“Mawile and Archen, Expedition Society,” Mawile responded without skipping a beat. “Here to see Mayor Honchkrow. Appointments scheduled for 9:00 A.M. on Wednesday.”

The murkrow checked his clipboard, routinely confirming Mawile’s information, then stepped aside.

“The mayor will be with you shortly,” he said, bobbing his head. “Until then, please enjoy your stay in the waiting room.”

Mawile quickly took the lead, throwing open the doors with proper grace so they didn’t hit the wall as they walked in.

The waiting room was suitably lofty for the space inside the highest windmill in Baram. Many stained-glass windows decorated the walls, and the floor was decked out in an impressive display of ceramic tile-art. Archen didn’t like the way it felt against his talons, but he was happier to be over the fenceless bridges between the windmills than he was annoyed by the floor. Mawile, who didn’t seem to be bothered by the floor at all, strode over and promptly took a seat on one of the lobby’s backless stools.

“’Tha’ right? Well, eat a mudkip for all I care! I’ll just go set up my shop somewhere else!”

The fancy double doors of the mayor’s office were forcefully thrown open, and out stomped a seething staraptor. They bent forward and made a very rude upwards gesture with their tail feathers, then stomped the rest of the way out of the room. The windmill’s grand outer doors clanged with an echo behind them.

“Irregular,” Archen heard Mawile quietly comment. She pulled out her journal and quickly began to mark something down, probably the broad outline of the event in her logs for future reference. Archen could hear the massive city bell ringing from a few floors below, clanging nine times to announce the arrival of 9:00 A.M.

A third murkrow stepped out of the office, carrying a scroll in its wings.

“Appointments scheduled for Mawile and Archen of the Expedition Society, at 9:00 A.M.?” he wearily announced.

“Present.” Mawile sat up from the stool, flipping her journal and quill into her bag. She and Archen walked across the uncomfortable tile floor, crossing over from the tile outside to the much comfier carpeting of the Mayor’s office. The door closed behind the pair of explorers, and then they faced the immense gut of Mayor Honchkrow.

It was nearly impossible to tell where the gut ended and the feathers began. The immense bird could barely fit behind his desk, and Archen was even more skeptical about his ability to fly. There were a pair of perches in the office in place of chairs, meaning non-bird visitors would have to stand.

“Sorry for my previous client’s outburst,” Honchkrow warbled, his accent distinctly the type Archen had only heard on birds from Baram Town.. “It’s not the way I envisioned starting this meeting, but sometimes you get little blemishes staining the tapestry.”

“It’s no problem at all,” Mawile said. “We barely noticed.”

“Glad to hear it,” Honchkrow said, fluffing his feathers. “I mean, speaking of staining the tapestry, did you know it’s customary on the Grass Continent to just do your business wherever you please?”

Silence filled the room.

Mawile suddenly had a forced-sounding cough. Anything to move past the awkwardness of the moment.

“… No. We did not,” she finally managed to get out.

“Well, neither did I,” Honchkrow continued. “Until I became mayor. Those savages on Grass have opposed HAPPI and any sort of modern innovations for years, and still bother to call themselves ‘civilized’. And they wanted to set up shops here! They’ll be the end of us all, I tell you…”

With a scoff and a sigh, he clapped his wings together, leaning forward.

“Anyway… now that we have that behind us, let’s get down to business, namely: Why were two cartographers sent to scope out the crisis on the Air Continent?”

Both Mawile and Archen were baffled by the mayor’s sudden pivot.

“Car… tographers?” Archen asked.


If stares could do damage, Archen was sure their confused stares combined would have burned a hole clean through the mayor.

“ Now, now, nothing wrong with maps,” Honchkrow corrected himself. “I love a good map. They make great napkins. But when mere map-making suddenly becomes interference on the level of a proper rescue guild, one has to assume…”

He let the sentence die in his breast. What he implied spoke louder.

“I think you’ll find our credentials are steady,” Mawile stated calmly, doing her best to keep her cool as always. “As the nearest registered HAPPI establishment, the Expedition Society was sent on behalf of the organization to investigate when teams from Mist couldn’t. Upon arrival we proceeded in accordance with guidelines and are here to deliver our testimony on the matter as registered explorers.”

The words that flew out of Mawile’s mouth were swift and flawless, leaving Honchkrow stunned at the promptness of the reply and clearly trying to think of how to respond. Mawile capitalized on his moment of silence, digging in her large exploration bag and producing both expedition gadgets.

“That’ll solve your legal woes,” she told the flabbergasted mayor, setting both expedition gadgets on the desk.

“Don’t let it go to your head.” Honchkrow regained his composure at the last minute, his belly rippling as he adjusted himself in his seat. “Or… heads. Which one is it again?”

Once again, Archen could see Mawile doing her best to take the mayor’s comments in stride.

“Head, thank you.”

She clicked both gadgets on, pressed the photo button, and let the mayor begin to slowly scroll through the photos of the dilapidated Pokemon Plaza. Honchkrow began to fidget uneasily as he viewed the slideshow of perfect stone statues, taking a deep breath once it was over.

“Something else you might want to know,” Archen began before Honchkrow could say anything. “We were attacked right after we took those photos.”

“Is this true?” Honchkrow asked, one eyebrow raised.

“It is.” Mawile scrolled back through the photos. “We were ambushed by what appeared to be a walking anomaly, for lack of a better term. You can see the very edge of it in a few of these photos.” She stopped on the photos for good measure, allowing Honchkrow to find the anomaly himself.

Honchkrow leaned back in his seat, taking a deep breath and rubbing his temples with his wings.

“I want those photos transferred to HAPPI. Send in the thingamabobs if you need to. And then… I want the Expedition Society to stay out of this. I don’t need map makers meddling around in real rescue guild business.”

“With all due respect, mayor,” Mawile said evenly, “the Expedition Society is a registered guild under HAPPI. Baram Town isn’t.”

“Is that so?” Honchkrow let out a chuckle that grated Mawile’s ears. “Care to explain why you’re in my office reporting to me, then? Explain it away, throw all the jargon at me you want. Believe me, I’d love to hear it.”

Mawile pointedly didn’t answer the question. Instead, she stuffed the expedition gadgets in her bag and zipped it up, gesturing for Archen to follow her out.

“Thought so,” Honchkrow sneered as they turned for the door.. “As long as the Rescuer’s Guild is out of the picture, every team on this continent reports to me. And I want you both off. I don’t want to see any of your faces back here again until this all blows over. Stay in your bounds. Be a good manager and go tell your employees that for me.”

Though she kept her gait even, controlled, Mawile took several deep breaths on her way to the door. He had the infuriating ability to pierce her collected front, but she wasn’t about to say anything back to him. She wasn’t going to have the last laugh. She was above that. She was…

… She couldn’t help herself. She stopped at the doorway, pretending to check her bag as she flexed muscles that hadn’t seen extensive use in years:

“The Expedition Society is not under my jurisdiction,” Mawile’s maw rasped out, raw and guttural. And if you were ever to meet the ‘mon with that power, you wouldn’t be so arrogant in his presence.

Honchkrow jumped in his seat at the sound of Mawile’s second voice.

“Oh! Silly me,” Mawile stated, hiding the smirk on her face. “It is heads. The back maw has a mind of its own sometimes. I’d be careful about upsetting it, if I were you.”

Though she couldn’t see him, the long period of silence told her Honchkrow was stunned silent.

“S-same difference,” he finally managed to say.

Satisfied with the waver in his voice, Mawile briskly walked out and let the doors to Honchkrow’s office clang shut behind her. As the pair of explorers made their way across the massive windmill bridges, even erudite, disciplined Mawile couldn’t help but stifle the beginnings of a grin spreading across her face.

Maybe she wasn’t above a well-deserved scare after all.


School Grounds


“Not that one, dangnabbit!”

Nuzleaf thwacked one of Farfetch’d’s spare teaching leeks into the board. “This one is ‘E’. Find ‘Z’ for me. Zzzz.”

Espurr failed to keep in a frustrated sigh. She was sure the same exact thing read on her face. The class had gone on for almost an hour now, and she couldn’t make heads or tails of this stupid alphabet. Though the colors she was getting used to seeing didn’t show up around him, she could tell Nuzleaf was getting just as fed up as she was. That only made her own patience wane faster.

“Crapshoots.” Nuzleaf glanced at the sky, taking in the morning sun and gauging the time. “We’re outta time.”

“I haven’t heard a better thing all morning,” Espurr recited with fake enthusiasm.

“Yeah, I don’t like it either.” If Nuzleaf could have sounded any more done with the entire affair, he’d be dead.

“Since ya still didn’t manage to find the darn Z,” he snapped, thwacking Farfetch’d’s leek on the board again. “It’s here.” He pointed to the very last letter at the end of the board.

Espurr just deflated.

“Frakkin’ blue monkey…” she heard him mutter to himself as he marched off. “Can shove his ‘guard duty waive’ up his tail. Didn’ tell me it was this hard ta teach a pokemon how ta read tha alphabet…”

Espurr watched Nuzleaf’s figure become smaller as he entered the village plaza in the distance. In the three days she’d been here, she hadn’t heard anything about guard duty...


“I don’t know anything about that, why do you ask?” Deerling absentmindedly scratched at her tawny new dark green coat of fur with a hoof. Espurr sat in the unoccupied desk next to Deerling’s. Pancham had wanted to take it, but Deerling insisted it remain vacant for her own sanity. According to Tricky, no-mon had sat in it for the whole semester.

“One of the teachers let it slip,” Espurr explained. “I’m still getting the hang of things around here, so I thought I’d ask around.”

“That is really weird,” Deerling admitted, tilting her head. “Although… my parents are always out on ‘important business’ every few weeks… maybe they’re guarding the Crooked House?” she shrugged the best she could. “That’s the only way I can explain it.”

“Crooked House?” Espurr asked.

“Oh. Right. I keep forgetting you’re new. It’s the molt, I swear it…” Deerling massaged her forehead with her hooves briefly.

“The Crooked House is this creepy place that was already standing when the village was founded,” Deering continued. “No-mon knows who built it, or what it was even for. Everymon tells ghost stories about it, like that one with the crooked 'mon. It’s on the outskirts of town, so you won’t see it unless you actually leave the plaza, but seriously. It’s some freaky stuff. Not even Tricky’s been past the front gate.”

Even Espurr knew that if Tricky refused to enter somewhere, that was a major red flag.

The other students were beginning to file in now, supervised by Audino instead of Watchog. Espurr had to admit the change in atmosphere was pleasant.

“Hey, Espurr! Over here!”

Tricky, who had barged into the classroom at some point, waved back at Espurr from up-front. Deerling’s face darkened.

“Remember our talk?” she nudged Espurr with a hoof for her attention, her tone suddenly hushed and urgent. Espurr nodded.

“Yo Deerling!” Pancham hopped over his desk and into his seat, leaning back with his feet on top. “Looking good with that new summer coat—”

“Go stick your head in a trash can and faint, Pancham.” Deerling snapped.

“You aren’t switching seats, right??” Tricky called back. Espurr hopped down from the vacant desk and walked over to her own up in the front.

“What were you doing with Deerling?” Tricky asked once Espurr had sat down.

“Just having a chat,” Espurr told her.

Something about that didn’t seem to sit right with Tricky, which Espurr just didn’t understand. Wasn’t a chat innocent enough? Some flecks of muddy blue began to leak into her vision again, making her edge away on instinct. But whatever it was, Tricky didn’t seem interested in elaborating. She remembered Deerling’s words from the night before. This wasn’t the first time it had happened… should she push?

But before Espurr could, Tricky seemed to swallow it. The blue disappeared, like it had been erased.

“Attention, class!” Everymon looked up from their chatter as Farfetch’d took his place at the teacher’s desk. Watchog lumbered off towards his post. looking like he had lost an entire night’s worth of sleep.

“As I’m sure I don’t need to remind you…” Farfetch’d picked up one of his trademark leeks from the ground, crossing off students’ names quickly. “Tomorrow marks the start of our end of spring exams.”

He pulled a paper out of the history book he had brought with him, straightening it out and beginning to read off it slowly.

“The first exam you six will take is for my own class. It also doubles as a writing exam, so you’ll all be filling it out on paper. Participation is mandatory, and where you fall on the test will affect your curriculum next year.”

He lowered the paper. “Any questions?”

The classroom was silent. Only Espurr’s good paw slowly rose up into the air.

“Yes?” Farfetch’d pointed her out.

“The exams are on paper, right?” Espurr asked.

“That’s right.”

Espurr felt embarrassed asking the next question. She knew what everymon would think.

“What if… you can’t read?”

All eyes were suddenly on Espurr, and not in a way she liked. It didn’t help that she could feel it too, the muddy brown confusion and realization as they realized she was talking about herself. It made her want to recoil, roll herself up into a ball or vanish from the spot.

Farfetched massaged his forehead with one of his wings, unsure of how to answer.

“If you can’t read the exam, then one of our teachers can help you take it some other way,” he managed to get out.

Trying to ignore the eyes on her, Espurr quickly nodded, then realized she was still holding her good paw up and put it down. She tried to mind her own business for the rest of the class, but still she felt the lingering presence of her classmates’ eyes on her the entire time. They never left.


“I’m afraid not,” Farfetch’d said, taking a sip from his recess wooden cup of tea. “I have to be the one to oversee everymon else’s exams. Wouldn’t do for the other students to be distracted with another classmate’s answers. I will direct you to Nurse Audino, however. She’s popular with the less able students.”

“I’m sorry, I just can’t,” Audino told Espurr, setting out the lunch prep. “I have to get this clinic cleaned up and prepare for the exam after tomorrow’s. Why don’t you ask the Principal?”

“Mine,” Shelmet growled, throwing open the door to the principal’s office with the pointy side of his shell and letting it whack Espurr in the face. Espurr, who was sick and tired of having her face shoved into things, had the sudden, purple-tinted urge to drag him out of there herself and throw him into a wall just to see how he liked it.

If she’d had two working paws to do it with. Just the thought of trying to do it with her head gave her the crimson tingles of a headache.

As the door closed behind Shelmet, the realization finally hit Espurr full-force. There was only one teacher left to ask, and she sure wasn’t going to learn Unown in a single day…

…Oh no.

“Can’t read, huh?”

Espurr spun around with a small yelp, startled. Pancham leaned against the side of the School Clinic, his arms folded.

“What’s the story there?” he asked nonchalantly. “Were you raised in the woods or something?”

Espurr wasn’t dumb enough to fall for that twice.

“I have nothing to say to you,” she told him flatly, then walked off east towards the School Clinic.

“Hey, y’know,” Pancham jeered loudly as she passed him. “Maybe I’m not that far off. I bet you were raised in a dungeon! It all makes sense now, why you can’t read, why you just had so much fun going out with the Troublemaker yesterday…”

Espurr did her best to ignore him. He just wanted the last laugh, because she hadn’t let him have it yesterday. She wasn’t going to let him get to her.

“And I bet that’s why you’re going to be learning the baby material when you fail the test tomorrow! Like a baby!” The words flew in on the breeze towards her. And that was the last straw. Espurr stopped. She turned around and marched right back to him until they were face-to-face.

“For your information,” she told him evenly, channeling the flickers of red flashing at the corners of her vision into something more directed. Directed at him. “I’m going to score perfectly on that test tomorrow. And when I’m walking around with a passing grade, we’ll see just how smug you are then.”

Pancham just smirked the most satisfied smirk Espurr had ever seen.

“Well then I guess we’ll see about that,” Pancham said, leaning in close. “Sure hope you can back your sass.”

He flashed a grin, spat the twig in his mouth out onto the ground, and then sauntered off.

Espurr wanted badly to say Pancham didn’t get to her. But the truth was, he did. He really did.


“Where’ve you been all recess?” Tricky fell into stride with Espurr as they walked down the cobbled steps from the School Clinic towards the classroom.

“Trying to get a teacher to help me with the test,” Espurr said. Indigo embarrassment fluttering on her eyes, she brushed that over as quick as she could: “What about you?”


Espurr couldn’t help but do a double take when she heard that. Tricky? Reading?

“One minute!” Watchog yelled grumpily from below. “Everymon had better get down here!”

Tricky spun on her paws, easily walking backwards down the path.

“By the way, that book on mystery dungeons? I checked it out again. Watchog must have been surprised I managed to get it, because his face was all like bleagh—”

She lolled her tongue out, bugged her eyes, and made an expression that was way too exaggerated to ever be on Watchog’s face.

“And guess what?” she continued. “There’s a small dungeon right near Pop’s oran berry fields! It’s where all the combee make their honey, and they sell it to Kecleon every year, so there’s no way it’s dangerous. Wanna go exploring with me after detention?”

Like clockwork, Deerling’s words replayed in Espurr’s head. No mystery dungeons…

“That’s what you said about the mines,” Espurr said. “And those turned out really dandy.”

“This’ll be different!”

“Like how?” Espurr asked.

“Well… there won’t be any monsters,” Tricky pointed out.

That did make it marginally better.

“Monsters aren’t everything,” Espurr replied. “It could still be dangerous.”

“But…” Tricky trailed off. She paused, struggling to come up with an excuse. “Once we join the Expedition Society, we aren’t gonna get breaks, so why take any now?”

There it was again. Expedition Society.

“When did I say I’d join the Expedition Society?” Espurr asked.

“You aren’t joining? Sacrilege.”

Tricky couldn’t help but stifle a laugh at Espurr’s face. “C’mon—I’m kidding! You take jokes waaaay too seriously. Besides…” she whispered, as they entered the classroom and took their seats. “I’ll convince you in time…”

The classroom went quiet as Watchog lumbered up, then took his spot at the teacher’s desk.

“May I have your attention, please,” he muttered out, looming over the students from the teacher’s desk. “Firstly, I’m sure I don’t need to remind everymon of what happens if I catch you using the skills taught in this classroom outside of it.”

“Detention for life,” the class wearily recited back in unison. “We know.”

“Good.” Watchog picked up one of Farfetch’d’s leeks and whacked the blackboard unceremoniously like a gong.

“Self-defense,” he began, monotone, before tossing the leek to the side. “We already know that all pokemon can draw on their inner energy and channel it into an external attack. What type you are affects what type of power you can use: A fire-type will draw from fire, a water-type will draw from water, etcetera.” He paced the classroom stiffly from side to side, his arms folded behind his back. “However, drawing from that energy depletes it. The energy required to perform a single attack would be enough to completely consume a small animal.”

A largish crow fluttered onto the ground near the classroom, pecking at the ground. Espurr could see Tricky staring at its glossy black feathers, distracted.

“Lucky for you lot of troublemakers…” Watchog continued. “Pokemon have much more energy than small animals. And you can both use and endure that energy… up to a certain threshold.”

In the back of the classroom, Shelmet lay asleep in his seat, having snuck in and dozed off at some point in the class.

“Everymon awake in the classroom!!” Watchog yelled at him. Shelmet snapped awake, quickly sitting straight up in his seat.

“Now what happens when your body is pushed past its energy threshold?” Watchog asked loudly, going back to addressing the entire class.

“You faint,” most of the students replied back tiredly.

“Fainting.” Watchog whacked the blackboard again with another leek. “Fainting is what happens when your body loses too much energy. You can faint from hunger, energy fatigue, or by getting hit with enough of them. In civilized settings, making your opponent faint is the universally accepted method of winning a battle. But in Dungeons, fainting can mean the difference between life and death.”

Watchog cast his intense gaze towards Tricky. “And that is why none of you should be playing around in mystery dungeons,” he finished, glaring at the fennekin accusingly. At Tricky’s determined smirk of ‘Never!’, Watchog changed gears, chucking the leek to the ground like it was an apple core.

“While going into an actual mystery dungeon for this lesson is a waste of time,” Watchog went on, “the Principal has given me express permission to use my Vice Principal Powers—” Tricky failed to suppress a loud snort of laughter “—to turn this classroom into a Fully Safety Regulated Mystery Dungeon! Ping-Shapow-Whazam!”

Watchog snapped and clapped his paws together repeatedly, the sounds coming from his mouth devolving into indistinguishable sputtering noises as he continued. It continued for a full half-minute, until eventually a final sound effect tapered off into a wheeze made him cough from loss of breath.

“We’re still in the classroom,” Tricky pointed out impishly after Watchog had finished.

“Yeah. Lame.” Pancham traded looks with a still-sleepy Shelmet.

“Use your imagination,” Watchog grumbled, leaning a paw on the desk as he caught his breath. “It’s not like you’re in any shortage of that.”

He took his position behind the desk again, staring at the students in their seats.

“Pair up! All of you!” Watchog clapped his paws together. “We’re going to be practicing harnessing your energy on each other today.”

There was zero enthusiasm from any side of the classroom. Pancham, from the back of the class, lazily stuck a paw up.

“No, you can’t use weapons,” Watchog said.

The paw went down.

“I need a couple of volunteers…” he began, his eyes gliding to two of the seats at the front of the class. “Espurr, Tricky!” he snapped. “Would you like to volunteer to demonstrate?”

“Why not?” Tricky got up from her seat, tapping Espurr on the shoulder with her tail as she passed. If it was possible for Espurr to sag down in her seat any more than she was already, she would have sunk through the floor. She’d already had to embarrass herself once; she couldn’t battle! Tricky knew that better than anymon.

But Watchog was staring at her expectantly, and she could feel all eyes on her again. Admitting she couldn’t read had been enough; if she had to admit she couldn’t battle, what would the other students think of her then? She couldn’t do it. So she rose from her desk, straightening her fur and joining Tricky at the front of the seats. Maybe she’d learn on the fly.

Watchog positioned them on opposite sides in front of the teacher’s desk, making them back up until they were standing against opposing sides of the classroom. He made the other students stand against the wall, so they’d be out of the way in case a stray attack made its way to the seats.

“On my mark!” he began, raising his stout arm into the air. “I want you both to hit each other with a strong, healthy attack.” Espurr moved her eyes from Watchog to Tricky, who was busy conjuring an ember in her chest. The fennekin opened her mouth, and Espurr saw the flickering flame that burned in the back of her throat.

“Entire books have been written on the art of harnessing your energy,” Watchog declared for the class. “But my opinion? The best way of learning is doing it in practice. Start!”

Watchog’s arm came flying down, and in an instant, Tricky planted her paws into the ground and shot a blast of flame straight at Espurr. At a loss for ideas, Espurr did the only feasible thing she could think of in the moment—she ducked. The Ember went straight over her head and flickered away in the distance as it flew off.

Espurr slowly picked herself up from the ground, ignoring the stinging where she’d hit the dirt. Her heart pounded in her chest, small green splotches fading away with every beat.

Watchog sputtered in annoyance. “Wh— what was that?” he questioned annoyedly. “Again!”

Espurr and Tricky took their positions once more. Watchog stood against the teacher’s desk, raising his arm a second time.

“On my mark!”

It was at that point that Espurr realized she had absolutely no idea what she was doing.

“Ready?” Watchog surveyed the both of them. Tricky nodded readily, practically bouncing in place. Espurr resumed her fighting position. Watchog had said that all pokemon could harness energy, right? Well, she was a pokemon. She had to be able to do something.


Once more, Tricky launched an ember straight at Espurr. And this time, it didn’t miss. Espurr felt like she’d been punched in the stomach, and the punch burned. She stumbled a good few feet back, falling against the edge of the blackboard tree.

“And that is how to properly use a move!” Watchog crowed, clapping his paws together in applause. Espurr slowly picked herself up from the tree, biting back the dull ache that had popped up in her bad arm. At least she hadn’t fallen on it.

“Alright, next pair over here!” Watchog pointed to the ground in front of the teacher’s desk. “You two. Up against the wall with everymon else!”

Pancham and Shelmet rudely pushed Deerling and Goomy aside as Espurr and Tricky took their spots with the others against the steps to the clinic.

“No misbehavior, either of you.” Watchog raised his arm again, eyeing both of them closely. “Three… Two… One…”


Tricky fired another ember from her mouth, which Espurr narrowly avoided. Watchog gazed down at her disapprovingly, arms folded, as she picked herself up from the ground.


Espurr was hit in the face.


Espurr stumbled against the desks.


Espurr charged forward with a stick in her paws—

“That’s cheating!”

“My throat hurts,” Tricky complained. “Can we do somemon else for a while?”


“Wow,” Pancham said, as a battered Espurr and Tricky took their places against at the end of the line. “You guys are getting beat. I’d hate to see you have to go up against me.”

Espurr wasn’t going to say anything in front of him. She stared down at her paws in frustration, the purple encroaching on her vision and building up in the back of her head. Why wasn’t she able to do anything? She was the only one who couldn’t!

She looked up at the sounds of crashing coming from the front of the classroom, where an obviously faking Deerling had just let Goomy tackle her to the ground. Espurr thought back to all the training rounds she had gone through in the last fifteen minutes. She hadn’t been able to land a single hit in any of them.

Then it occurred to her: Maybe she didn’t have to.

“Mr. Watchog?” Espurr raised her good paw. Watchog looked like he wanted to correct a certain honorific, but bit it back. ”Yes?” he asked.

“I’d like to try one more time.”

Watchog thought it over for the better part of a minute. Then he sighed, and pointed to the space in front of the teacher’s desk. Tricky let out a wordless groan, slumping her head in defeat. She began to trudge towards her spot in the classroom slowly.

“Not you.” Watchog stuck out an arm stiffly, stopping Tricky in her tracks. “I promised Audino I’d leave you all reasonably unharmed, so up to the clinic you go. Now!”

Without another word, Tricky changed her course towards the school clinic, bounding up the stairs quickly.

“Any volunteers?” Watchog asked the rest of the class.

“I’ll do it.” Pancham’s smooth voice rang out against the silence of the other students. Espurr watched him saunter up to the other side of the teacher’s desk, taking a fighting position confidently. All the better. She’d enjoy this.

“One more time! On my mark!” Watchog raised his arm, glancing at both students. “Everymon ready?”

Espurr closed her eyes, blotting out the world. She focused on Pancham, trying to see if she could grip him and lift him up in the air like she had done to those objects yesterday. Except… she couldn’t. She couldn’t seem to get a good grip on him at all, let alone lift him up properly.


Pancham wasted no time charging towards her, his fists brimming with colorless energy. That was going to hurt if it hit her. But Espurr was determined not to let that happened. If she could just get a good grip—

Pancham’s fist collided with her face, sending her flying back several feet. She hit the ground painfully, barely registering the sound of Watchog calling the match. Her face stung, but what stung even more was the realization that she’d just let it happen, and there wasn’t anything she could do about it. The frustration in her finally reached a breaking point. Her ears began to tingle, accompanied by annoying static. The wave of purple mounted in Espurr’s head, and suddenly turned into something much more tangible—

There was a large ‘boom!’ and then everything hurt, and she couldn’t open her eyes again for several minutes.


Headline today: Port Archaios on Sand Continent hits all time tourist high

The Sand Continent, home to some of the largest and toughest mystery dungeons on the planet, is completely fenced off save for the city of Port Archaios on the continent's southeastern flank. Despite the continent's harsh heat, the city and its unique culture attract so many tourists that hotels are running out of space to accomodate them.

"We aren't meant to be a tourist city," said Emboar, current mayor of the port. "We're a city, but we exist to manage travel in and out of this dangerous continent. That so many pokemon are coming to see large stone walls baffles me."

~ Cloud Nine News Network



“... Safety. Regulated!”

Watchog’s high-pitched ranting slowly trickled through the ringing fuzz consuming Espurr’s hearing. She blinked her eyes open a crack, her vision still too blurry to see anything right. Thoughts came to her, but in bits and pieces that still needed to be reassembled into something whole. The only thing she knew for sure was that she had a splitting headache, worse than anything she’d had before.

“Because what could a bunch of kids do?” The frenzied speech wavered in and out. She could barely focus on it. “But no…”

“Watchog! Calm yourself!” That was Farfetch’d. He was distant, he must have just gotten here.

“Calm myself?!” Some more sputtering. “L-look at the classroom! Just think of the repair bill for all this! What even was that??”

“That was a blast of uncontrolled psychic energy,” said a new voice it took Espurr a minute to recognize. It was a male’s voice, smooth and a little airy, and she could hear his footsteps approaching. Principal Simipour. “It’s usually linked to high emotional stress and seen in newborns. However… most pokemon learn to control their power before they even walk. To see somemon of her age with so little control is curious, to say the least. Nurse Audino, if you would like to do the honors?”

“Yes, Principal.” Another set of footsteps, right towards her, and then Espurr felt herself get lifted off the ground.

“Not fatal, my tail…” Espurr heard Watchog mutter in the distance. “Piece of the blackboard nearly got me in the heart.”

After that, the ringing, the fuzz, and the headache took over for a little while.


“Holy mystery dungeon!” Tricky hollered, leaning out the window of the School Clinic. “The classroom is wrecked!”

“So wrecked…” Shelmet said in between bites of food, “That school should be cancelled for the summer?”

“Nice try.” Audino said, setting Espurr’s lunch aside and taking a bite of an apple. In the corner, Watchog stared out the window and muttered quietly to himself in disbelief.

Principal Simipour poured himself a wooden cup of orangeberry tea and blew on it to cool it off.

“The classroom’s destruction should do nothing to impede our regular school schedule,” he said. “Exams will continue as usual.”

That garnered collective grumbles from all the other students. Simipour took a sip of his tea indifferently.

Espurr watched it all from one of the clinic’s nests, still a passive observer. Her vision had come together after a bit, the ringing and fuzz had gone away, and the roof of the clinic was only spinning a little now. Her head still pounded like she was being hit between her eyes repeatedly with one of Farfetch’d’s leeks, and she felt much wearier than she had before. She tried a move, and this was what happened. Maybe that was on her for pushing it.

“Doing better now?” Farfetch’d looked down at her, his pointy beaked craned down towards her head. Addled as she was, it took her a few seconds to register: “I think so.”

“Atta girl.” Farfetch’d lightly tapped Espurr on the head with his leek, before moving off to another part of the clinic.


Espurr barely had time to glance in the direction of the voice before she was tackled by Tricky. Soon after, she was swarmed completely by the rest of the students.

“You totally destroyed the classroom!” Tricky exclaimed. “It was awesome.”

“It was not awesome!” Deerling glanced at Tricky angrily. “Somemon could have been seriously hurt!” She looked at Espurr. “Are you alright?”

“I think I swallowed a wood chip,” Goomy complained.

“Maybe it’ll stay in your belly forever and ever…” Shelmet hissed to Goomy. A kick against his side from Deerling’s hind leg made him retreat into his shell.

Pancham didn’t say anything. He just folded his arms, and leaned back against the wall.

Audino placed Espurr’s lunch in front of her, a meager assortment of berries, nuts, and seeds.

“Seeing as you’re doing better,” she began. “You should be well enough to serve detention after school today.”

Watchog suddenly stood up, as if reminded on the spot.

“That reminds me…” he muttered to himself, before pushing open the door and heading towards the supply building in the distance.

Tricky flopped down upon the bean bag next to Espurr.

“I wonder what detention’s gonna be today?” She mused to herself idly.


“Separate detentions??” Tricky howled as Watchog pushed her out the door. “But why??”

“Doesn’t matter why,” Watchog grunted. “Any chance to separate troublemakers is a gift to me.” With that, he managed to push the fennekin out the door, Goomy sliming off with them.

“You’ll be helping me clean up the clinic today,” Audino said once they had left. “Start by picking up all the bits and pieces of food strewn around the place. I’ll clean the back room.”

With that, she pulled on a pair of gloves and continued into the backroom. Espurr saw a bed and a wall of wooden filing cabinets as it closed after her.

Left to her own devices, she got to picking up all the stray bits of food that had been scattered around the clinic by the rest of the students. There were copious amounts of nuts and seeds scattered everywhere, the splotchy remains of an oran berry that looked like it had been stepped on, and an entire discarded apple core that was probably Shelmet’s. Espurr even picked out all the small bits of food that had landed in the straw beds, a task she spent sorely wishing she could just rip all those bits and pieces out of the straw with her mind and not get a headache.

By the time she was done setting the empty wicker baskets on the counter that was almost taller than she was, Espurr felt thoroughly exhausted. She cast a look at the stack of baskets sitting on the counter to her right. Then she remembered. They had hidden something there, hadn’t they?

That stray thought was enough to jog Espurr’s memory. She had completely forgotten about it in the mess of a day that followed! Casting a look towards the back door of the clinic to make sure Audino wouldn’t suddenly walk in on her, Espurr raised a paw, and tried to use her mind power to shove the baskets towards her.

Splitting pain suddenly exploded through her head again, making her stumble back a little and clutch her forehead. It disappeared as quick as it came, replaced with the slight pounding she’d been feeling all this time. So that wasn’t happening, she’d just have to do it the normal way. She slowly pulled the stack of woven baskets towards her with her one good arm, trying to be careful as she pulled them down from the countertop…

Too late. They all toppled over on the floor, creating several clatters as they rolled to a stop.

The door must’ve opened seconds after that. Luckily, Espurr acted fast. She snatched the paper—glued to the bottom of the bucket with some of Goomy’s slime—separated it from the basket, and shoved it under a nest.

“Oh, honey! You don’t need to do that part.” Audino, who had just opened the door, rushed over and began to pick up the baskets. As she stacked them, she looked back at Espurr. “You should have asked me if you needed something from the counter!”

Espurr just tried to keep in a sigh. “I will next time.”

She sat on the nest, her legs brushing up against the paper she’d hidden in the straw. She could feel her cast brush up against her fur. A few days ago, the dull throbbing of the bone would have cut clean through her thoughts. Now, she barely noticed it. Did that mean it was healing?

“The next step is dusting,” Audino said, setting the stack of baskets back on the counter. I’ll get all the high places. I need you to dust in the lower spots for me. Can you do that?”

Espurr nodded, taking the duster she was handed that was only a fraction of the size of Audino’s big puffy one. It was going to be a while before she’d be able to sneak a peek at that paper, wasn’t it?


Café Connection


“Just some regular old cleanup at Kangaskhan’s,” Watchog said as he made Tricky and Goomy march ahead of him through the square. “What could go wrong? Everything. Everything could go wrong. But nothing. Is going. To go wrong. Or I’m not Vice Principal Watchog—Sharp left!”

The two of them both made a sharp left, heading up the steps and into the well-lit interior of the two-story Café Connection.

Tricky never got to be inside the Café Connection. She’d spied looks through the window, sure, but being inside was like entering a whole other world! It was darker, lit by candles that gave the place a nice-smelling scent and luminous orbs that hung like chandeliers. There were flowers hanging from the walls, plants in vases on the tables and counters, and long, leafy vines that drooped along the entranceways. Some kind of song was playing on an emera-powered radio behind the counter, but Tricky didn’t like it. And all the pokemon! This must have been why the village square was always so quiet a few hours before sunset.

“And what can I get for y—Oh! Watchog!” Kangaskhan behind the counter almost dropped the stack of seashells she was drying as she caught sight of Watchog approaching. “It’s not like you to bring students along for your evening drink.”

“Alas, duty calls,” Watchog told Kangaskhan, sliding onto a stool. “I’m here on official school business. These two troublemakers have landed themselves detention. I don’t suppose you have some chores they could help out with?”

“Doesn’t the school usually handle detentions?” Kangaskhan cocked a rocky eyebrow.

Watchog leaned in close over the counter.

“I’m not supposed to tell you this,” he began, his voice a dramatic hush. “But just between you and me: One of the students had an ‘accident’ in the classroom. A big accident. Boom.”

“Boom… ?” The other eyebrow went up.

“Boom.” Watchog waved his paws out, exaggerating the effect as much as possible.

“Well…” Kangaskhan set the stack of seashells aside before she had another chance to drop and crack them. “I guess I could use some help behind the counter. A—“

Tricky’s ears suddenly fell flat, terrified at the word that was about to leave Kangaskhan’s mouth. Kangaskhan quickly corrected herself before the word was uttered in its entirety, sending Tricky a brief apologetic look.

“I mean, Tricky could do that. And Goomy could help me with the dirty dishes. Sound all right?”

Watchog leaned back in his stool, relaxing himself. “Sounds wonderful. And I will have that drink, by the way. Mago berry, please. Here—I’ll pay you up front—”

As Watchog searched the small bag he had brought along for his money pouch, Tricky quietly slunk off into another section of the restaurant. She shook off the brief tremors that were still going through her body, trying her hardest to blot out the things she didn’t want to think about. It was going to be fun to see what made this place tick!

“H-hey! Wait for me!” Goomy called after her over the hustle and bustle of the restaurant. He was slower than here but still sliming his way over anyway. Tricky looked back, tilting her head at him.

“What’s the problem?” she asked.

“You can’t just leave me alone like that…” Goomy panted, sliming up to Tricky. “Not like what you did yesterday!”

“…What did we do yesterday?” Tricky was more clueless than a deino surrounded by a flock of noivern.

“You left me!” Goomy snapped at her. He snapped. Goomy never snapped. “All alone, for hours!”

“Oh, that…” Tricky’s eyes suddenly lit up. “That was fun. You should have joined in!”

“I spent three hours in the hot sun waiting for you guys!” Goomy continued angrily. “I almost dried out! That, that wasn’t fun! That was unpleasant! A-and hot! And dusty!”

Their argument was beginning to turn the heads of a lot of serenity villagers. Tricky’s ears slowly lowered at Goomy’s comments.

“Sorry…” she muttered, eyeing the ground she was beginning to paw.

“Just… Just d-don’t run off without me again,” Goomy said. With a slimy paw, he pointed behind him. “T-the door to the counters is that way.”

Silently, Tricky turned around and started trudging back to the front of the counter. Glancing back at Watchog, Goomy began to follow.

Seconds later, Kangaskhan propped her up on a moving cart against the counter.

“Don’t get too rowdy, okay?” Kangaskhan told Tricky. “I won’t have accidents in my restaurant. You’re my waiter for the night. Just take everymon’s orders and bring them to Houndoom in the kitchens. He’ll take it from there. You can start with this one: ‘One Mago berry drink, fermented.’ Got it?”

Tricky nodded so vigorously it made Kangaskhan look a little unsettled. “Alright then. Go!”

Tricky hopped down from the cart and sprinted into the kitchens, where a houndoom was searing something in a pan with his fire breath. Awesome.

“Oi!” He paused the flame to look over and snap at Tricky. “No kits in the kitchen!”

“But I’m the waiter!” Tricky announced proudly. “Also, I have all your orders, so you don’t wanna kick me out.”

Houndoom raised an eyebrow, taking a second to continue simmering the dish again. “Let’s see them, then.”

Tricky cleared her throat. “One Mago Berry—“

“No, not like that!” Houndoom snapped. “You’re supposed to write them down first!” he went back to simmering the dish full force, ordering Tricky out with his wiry tail. Tricky was gone faster than a speeding Thunderbolt.


Baram Town ~ Air Continent

~Mawile and Archen~

“Once we get back to the Society, I am taking a long, long nap,” Archen announced as he and Mawile idly strolled through the streets of Baram Town. “And then I’m not taking any long-distance missions for a week. So tiring…”

The lapras Mawile had chartered was running late, and the next wailord liner to the Water Continent wasn’t for another six hours. That left Mawile and Archen with nothing to do until their lapras arrived for them, and while Mawile would have much preferred to prematurely record the day’s events in her explorer’s log, Archen had almost forcefully dragged her out to see the town’s sights while they were here. In hindsight, Mawile couldn’t really complain. Baram Town was a tourist location for a reason, after all, and it even made Mawile a little wistful that they wouldn’t be able to return for a while after this.

“Count your lucky wooloo, that’s all we’ll hear about it officially.” Mawile held on tightly to the exploration bag as they passed through what looked like a disassembled bird pokemons’ choir. “We’ll be out of HAPPI’s snouts once we hand over those photos to Cloud Nine, and then it’ll be down to Dedenne and the Chief to handle Meowth and the local news outlets.”

“Wherever he is.” Archen added.

“I wonder that caused the delay?” he wondered aloud as they passed a stall of dungeon supplies. “I take this lapras all the time, he’s almost never late.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much on it,” Mawile responded. “Harbor traffic often interferes with lapras trave—"

A sudden commotion that erupted from the docks only seconds later turned both Mawile and Archen’s heads. Without another word between them, the two explorers rushed in the direction of the harbor, pushing past several other ‘mon who were fleeing in the opposite direction.

A panicking swirlix pointed a trembling limb towards the water as they and a few other pokemon arrived to see the source of the confusion. “look…” she gasped out.

The source of all the commotion made both Archen and Mawile’s hearts skip a beat. Floating on the water was the stone statue of a lapras on a wooden raft, a note stuck to their chest in thick, loopy handwriting:

Drop The Trail

Or You’re Next

This Is Your Only Warning

Mawile acted quickly. She pulled out an expedition gadget—it didn’t matter which one—and snapped a photo of the statue floating before them. Then two others. Then a close-up of the note, and another, just to be safe. Then she quickly pulled Archen away by the wing, the bird scrambling to keep up as she walked away from the docks at a brisk pace.

“W-what’s this about?” Archen squawked, trying not to end up with his poor feathers pulled out.

“This is better discussed at the inn,” Mawile said, but even her steady tone couldn’t help but betray the slightest hint of unease. “We don’t want to be tangling with this when the local rescue teams show up. It’ll create complications.”

Even stubborn Archen had to admit that was advice best taken. He made more of an effort to catch up with Mawile, and neither of them cast a single look back on their hurried path to the inn.

“I know this may be a bad time,” Kecleon asked hopefully as the pair of explorers walked by his stall. “But have you heard any word on when my supplier will—“

“Don’t count on it,” Mawile told him flatly. And then they were gone.


Café Connection


The normal waiter was an inkay, so there was no ink anywhere around the Café Connection to write with. But Tricky had found a fix for that. Oran berries were kind of like ink, and yes, she had used up like ten of them, and nibbled a few when Kangaskhan wasn’t looking, but now she had something to write with!

Mystery Dungeoneering Life Hacks, written by Wartortle of Pokemon Plaza. Tricky swore by it.

It was just a problem of remembering everything long enough to get it all down on paper, and hoping that Houndoom wouldn’t chew her out for misspelling a little something here and there.

Tricky scooted the moving cart over to the last pokemon currently in the café she hadn’t taken the order of yet, trying to get a good look at the pokemon who was obscured behind the giant menu.

“Can I get your order?” she asked cheerily.

“A plate of the vegetable pasta, please.” None other than Ampharos put down the menu, clearing his throat politely. “And a raspberry sorbet—those always have been my guilty pleasure, I’m afraid…”

Tricky’s eyes practically bugged out of her head. “No. Way!” she exclaimed, barely keeping her voice down to an excited hiss. “You’re Ampharos! We totally met in the square two days ago!!”

“That we did.” Ampharos folded the menu and set it aside. “I must say, I was looking forward to meeting the two of you again. What kept your friend?”

“You mean Espurr?” Tricky tilted her head. “She got stuck with detention somewhere else…”

“How unfortunate.” Ampharos lowered his head, looking pensive. “See,” he continued. “After our chance meeting, I got in touch with a close friend in the Expedition Society.” Tricky’s eyes widened and sparkled. “They pulled some strings with the top brass, and brought into my possession a pair of Junior Memberships.”

Ampharos sighed. “I was going to gift them to the two of you, but presenting them with only one of you around… that just won’t do! It’ll have to wait until I can meet you both.”

Tricky almost yipped for joy with excitement! Her dream was finally coming true and she couldn’t believe it! She just stopped herself from throwing a joy tantrum in the middle of the restaurant, instead taking a deep breath and asking Ampharos the world’s most important question—

“Whencanwemeet?? I know this really good place and it’s quiet and there’s a nice view and, and…“

Her throat was catching on her excited breath. She was so worked up she couldn’t even spit the final words out.

“Hmm…” Ampharos thought on it. “How about… in three days? I hear that’s when your schooldays end. I’ll be waiting for you at the hill with the tree at sundown.”

“That’s exactly where I was thinking!” Tricky excitedly slammed her paws on the counter before the yellow pokemon could say another word, scooting the moving cart closer as she balanced between them. “Now… what was that order again? I… kinda forgot.”


Serenity Village Outskirts


Once the school clinic had been dusted and swept from top to bottom, Espurr decided to clear her mind and get rid of her still-lingering headache. So rather than digging the paper out of the nest immediately, she decided to go for a walk. She wandered in silence through the forest-y pathway from the school and then into the village square, passing a few villagers who were enjoying the late afternoon breeze.

The place wasn’t big. The main plaza in the center was easily the largest spot in town. There was the forest path to the school up north, some houses to the west, and to the east laid the archways of the village entrance.

Espurr ended up wandering south.

The houses quickly got sparser as she continued; within less than a minute, she had completely outstripped all the buildings.

Except for the lopsided one.

It stood all on its own way out on the bay, on a small, swampy island that the house easily took up half of. It had two floors and an attic, a wide gash in the wall setting the upper half of the house at a slanted angle. A steep, shingled roof pointed up towards the skies. Two gnarled trees shot up around the ground on either side, looming protectively over the building like a pair of massive talons. The only thing connecting the island to the mainland was a ramshackle, rickety bridge that looked like it was ready to collapse into the water at just a touch. Espurr was sharp enough to figure out what it was: This was the Crooked House.

She cast a quick look both ways, just in case somemon caught her staring at the place. There was no way the old house was actually haunted, of course. And even if it was, the ghosts obviously preferred to keep to themselves. The entrance to the house, sealed off with several large wooden planks, made that much clear.

It was a place no-mon else in the village would go, not even Tricky. Just from here, Espurr could see the stark difference between its muddy, blackened boards and the sparkling water of the lake. She should just be on her way, and forget she ever saw it.

But for some reason, she wasn’t. For some reason, it was like the house was grasping her attention in its claws, beckoning silently for her to come here and take a look inside.

Just a quick peek, she figured. Just to sate her curiosity. It would be to the doors and back. She’d get it out of her system, and then she’d get to brag to Tricky about it.

So slowly, she crept along the creaky, moss-covered bridge, testing each new board hesitantly with her foot before she stepped on it. The island was far out, in the middle of the lake. Why did it have to be so long?

It didn’t get any better as she went. Some of the boards had completely rotted away, and Espurr nearly fell into the lake when a plank of wood snapped off and tumbled down into the water. And that was aside from the desolate feeling that pervaded the entire island. It made Espurr feel like she was being watched, and whether or not she was, it solidified one thing in her mind: There was something wrong with this house.

With this place. The entire island was evil, a blight upon the lake and she was sure of it, and she just wanted to leave before something bad happened…

But something she couldn’t quite make out kept her going anyway. She wasn’t going back now. She wanted to accomplish at least one thing correctly today.

Espurr trudged through the island’s mud towards the crooked house. It stuck to her fur as she walked, and made disgusting squelching noises. She shivered thinking about how it felt on her legs.

Something hidden in the mud caught her foot, and sent her sprawling forward. She yelped, planting her arms forward before she could hit the ground. They sunk all the way up to her elbows.

Now her paws were covered in mud. That prompted another grossed-out shiver. Lovely.

Hidden in all the grime was what looked like a pair of cards on a small tablet. Espurr's foot was caught in the groove between the muck and the object’s bottom, and she’d kicked the cards slightly out of place. She gingerly pulled her foot out of the mud and away from it – was it some kind of card game?

An experimental tug revealed it was attached to something beneath the ground. Espurr tried her best to put it back into place, but the mud smeared all over the surface it made it impossible. The best she was able to get it was back on its pedestal, but halfway out of its original resting spot.

It was only then that she noticed the doors of the Crooked House were open.

But it had been sealed. There were boards nailed to that door!

And yet, it was open anyway.

Against all better judgement, Espurr slowly trudged up near the house’s sagging porch. The structure loomed over her, absolutely massive when from a distance it had been so small. She gazed into the darkness that crawled out of the house’s front door, and her eyes locked on the complete and total blackness inside.

Something broke that blackness. Slowly she could make out what looked like a dancing blue flame, ghostly, transparent, fading. Was this one of the house’s ghosts? It looked like it was coming closer, but when it reached the doorstep it suddenly vanished. Just like that.

There was a gurgling deep within the house. And then a wet POP, and the sound of liquid being sprayed every which way. A few drops landed on the porch, brown and muddy. Espurr took several steps back, suddenly much less brave than before. It was a shocking thought, but maybe crawling all the way out across the lake by herself to the abandoned creepy house not even the village ruffian would enter was a bad idea…

Without warning an endless torrent of swamp water shot out the doors of the Crooked House. It engulfed Espurr completely, sending her skidding back across the island and onto the bridge covered in nasty-smelling water. Any yells of terror were drowned out in the flood of muddy water that got everywhere.

She picked herself up, coughing from the mouthful of swamp she had inhaled – swamp tasted disgusting—and tried to rub the water out of her eyes with her wet fur. When her vision cleared, she saw she was on the bridge halfway across, and the crooked house stared at her from a distance.

Even from here she could see: the boards were back on the door. Like nothing had happened. That was the point where a scared, sopping wet Espurr decided it was officially too weird for her. She was getting as far away from that house as possible, and she was doing it now.


Village Square

“Freedom!!” Tricky gleefully announced to the world as she bounded out the doors of the Café Connection. She did a victory circle outside the doors, taking a deep breath of the fresh sunset breeze.

“Your tail is still mine for the next three days, you hear that?” Watchog grumbled after her, still half-drunken.

Goomy silently slimed around Tricky, keeping to himself as he headed west. He probably didn’t want to rack up any extra detentions.

Finally over her burst of energy, Tricky spun in another circle in the middle of the square, then fell on her haunches dizzily. Glancing offhandedly to the south side of the village, she thought she saw…

… No way… Was it…

“Espurr!” Tricky called out, immediately making a beeline for her classmate. “You’re never gonna believe this—“

For a second, it looked like Espurr was running to catch up with her too—

But then she rushed right past, her coat smelling of wet fur, and Tricky’s face fell as she watched her only friend catch up with none other than Vice Principal Watchog.

“Excuse me, Vice Principal,” Espurr said as she ran up behind, following Watchog’s lumbering stroll.

“So now you use my title,” Watchog snapped, and it became clear to Espurr that he was not fully himself right now. “After you colluded with the Troublemaker, ran off during detention yesterday—made me worried sick—and blew up the entire classroom.”

Espurr was left speechless. That… was a lot.

“So what do you want?” Watchog’s harsh tone slapped Espurr back to reality. “Did you just come here to gloat? Or was Audino too much of a bore for you.”

“Actually,” Espurr began. “I wanted to apologize. Especially for yesterday.”

Watchog came to a halt, so suddenly Espurr outstripped him by a few steps before she realized he had stopped. His face twitched slightly, a look of disbelief covering it completely.

“You want… to apologize?” He asked slowly. Espurr nodded. Watchog sighed in disbelief.

“I’ve never had a student apologize to me before,” he said. Espurr wasn’t sure it was meant for her. “I-is that all you want?”

“That…” Espurr began. “… And maybe an oral session for the test tomorrow,” she finished quicker than she probably should have.

“I knew there was a catch.”

Watchog sighed and continued walking, but didn’t seem to object to Espurr following.

“So…” she began trepidaciously.

“Yeah, I’ll do it.” He muttered. “Happy now?”

Espurr wanted to say something, but she couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t spoil Watchog’s rare calm mood. Instead, she silently broke off at some point, running in the other direction and back towards the school. She ran right past Tricky without even noticing her there.


School Clinic

When Espurr got back to the school, night had just about fallen. Audino was busy setting tarps over the luminous orbs like she did every night. She stepped down from the stool she was on when Espurr walked in.

“I left a plate of berries out for you if you’re hungry,” she said.

When Audino wasn’t looking, Espurr finally ducked behind one of the straw beds and unfurled the paper in excitement. Finally, it was the moment of truth. She was going to see what had flown in on the breeze by chance. Unfolding the paper slowly, Espurr spread it out in front of her…

It was—or at least, it looked like—a map. It wasn’t like she could read any of it, but the pictures of towns and small trails snaking every which way made it obvious what it was. Espurr wasn’t sure if that upheld her expectations, or let them down completely. What was such a thing doing flying around on the breeze? And who did it formerly belong to?

Never mind the fact that the largest town on the map was marked with a sigil that looked like a golden circle with wings, and above it, more of those pesky Unown symbols that annoyed Espurr so. She tried to sound out some of them and see if she could read it, but to no avail.

But at the end of the day, that was it. It was obviously a map, but it was a map she couldn’t read at all. She flopped back against the straw bed, her ears tingling in frustration again. Everything she’d tried to do, and some stupid block kept getting in her way. She’d give anything to be able to remove them.

Anything… she drifted off to sleep that way, barely remembering to hide the map before she flopped face-down into her nest.


Baram Town ~ Air Continent

~Mawile and Archen~

“I—I—I don’t get it,” Archen said, more than one feather out of place. “Of all the lapras in the sea—why our lapras? Why us?”

He paced the room nervously, back and forth and back and forth and back and forth. They’d gone back to their room in one of the local inns. It was spartan and small, with a window that was perfect for flying throug but let a draft in if it wasn’t shuttered. They’d had to request nests to sleep in, because the room only came with perching spots.

“I knew that lapras,” he said, in a shell-shocked voice. “I knew that lapras.”

“The most important thing we can do right now is make copies of the pictures we took, and contact the Chief,” Mawile told him, taking the connection orb out of her expedition gadget and slotting it back in again.

“Yeah—and has he picked up yet?” Archen half-squawked. “You’ve been doing that for almost an hour.”

“Give it time,” Mawile calmly said. “He’ll pick up sooner or later.”

“How long before it comes here?” Archen wrung out his head feathers with his wings. “How long before whatever got to all those pokemon in Pokemon Plaza—whatever petrified that poor lapras—comes for us?”

“If you’re that concerned over it, then help me make copies of all these photos.” Mawile set the second expedition gadget on the table and scooted it towards the pacing Archen. “We’ll finish twice as fast.”

“But…” Archen stammered. “I— … fine. I need to sit down anyway.”

A sudden knocking at the room door roused both their attention. “I’ll get it,” Archen announced, standing up a little too readily.

Mawile spared a rare glance up from her gadget as Archen slowly opened the door a crack, and peeked out.

“M-Mr. Mayor!” he suddenly stammered out. That phrase caused Mawile to stuff both gadgets in her bag and stand up, posthaste.

The door was opened wide, and a pair of murkrow fluttered in, preceding Mayor Honchkrow himself. The mayor sighed.

“I thought I told you to leave,” he said, a weary tone cracking through his voice.

“Well,” Archen began, his voice beginning to rise into a squawk. “Maybe—“

“—We experienced a hold-up at the docks, Mayor.” Mawile smoothly cut in, nipping whatever petty stress comeback Archen might have had in the bud. “One I have no doubt you’re aware of by now. Given that all transportation to or from the Air Continent was cut off… We didn’t have much choice but to stay.”

“Well, it’s too late to do anything about that right now.” The mayor walked towards the table, picking one of the complimentary berries off the plate in the middle and stuffing it into his beak. “Stay here the night. There’ll be a sharpedo waiting for the two of you in the early morning tomorrow. I want you to take it.”

“We’ll be out of your feathers first thing tomorrow,” Mawile replied politely, setting the exploration bag on the opposite side of the room from the mayor. Satisfied, Mayor Honchkrow turned around and left, the murkrow closing the door after them.

“Another early morning,” Archen grumbled, falling back on the room’s cot and folding his wings. “Can this day get any better?”

Mawile held back a sigh, taking out her expedition gadget and formally beginning another attempt to contact Ampharos. This was going to be a long night.


Air Continent Administration Records: Baram Town

The main harbor port for the Air Continent, Baram Town has grown wealthy off the merchant trade and the supplies that travel to the Rescuer’s Guild. The city is known for its distinctive architecture, along with the windmills that power the city’s grain production and water channeling. Unknown to most of the public, Baram Town is built on a large network of caverns that have been repurposed into the city’s sewer system and production network. A lack of maintenance over the years has let the lines between the two grow increasingly thin.

Music of the week!

The Consul of Wizards
- Benjamin Wallfisch

Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta, Movement III – Bella Bartok
Last edited:
1~Eight - I Walk Through Your Dreams


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark

Cloud Nine: Senate or Sham?

The roaming airship known as Cloud Nine is a political hotspot. It's the place where the leaders of every continent meet to form a quorum that collectively decides the world's next step, overseen by Ninetales of Mt. Freeze. But just how impartial is this floating government base? And how does HAPPI's economic stronghold over valuable resources such as emera stones and presence on Cloud Nine affect the political proceedings of the quorum?

~ Back Page of The Lively Town Times





Slowly coming to. Espurr’s eyes opened to the blackness of the void.

Another dream. She pulled herself to her feet, surveying the darkness around her quickly. There was nothing here, except for the water that covered the ground as far as she could see.

But of course there wouldn’t be. The familiar whispers slowly began to invade her hearing again, and she decided she wasn’t going to be thrown for a loop this time. This was her mind, her dream. She wasn’t helpless in here… right?

They took the form of lights. Blue, flickering wisps of flame that danced around her and strayed just out of her grasp. Espurr stayed perfectly still, watching them fly here and there. Carefully raising her paws to her forehead in case she got a headache, she reached out with her sixth sense and tried to grab one with her mind.

The flames suddenly danced out of her vision while they had the chance, taking their incessant whispers with them…

And then they were gone, save for the lone one struggling in midair. Espurr took deep breaths and tried to contain her excitement as she reeled it in.

Soon, she was able to hold it in her paws. It didn’t burn like normal flame burned. There was no heat against her skin, no smell of charred fur. It just flickered above her palms, struggling less and less the closer she brought it to herself. It whispered things to her. Things that didn’t make sense. Things in a language she could understand only by instinct.

And Espurr listened. There was somewhere in the back of her head where she understood the words she was hearing, where the gibberish that was being spoken meant more than just nonsense. And then, once the whispers had died down and silence overtook the dreamscape again, Espurr did something she couldn’t explain—she leaned in, and softly blew it out.

She didn’t even know why. It just seemed like the right thing to do. A wisp of smoke spiraled upwards from her paws, leaving her in darkness.

Then the headache started. The absoLute, mind-crunching headache. It brought Espurr to her knees in pain. She clutched her head tightly, curling up in the middle of the black, wet floor. It was in her head, she tried to reason. Pain was in her head. This dream was just in her head. She could just wish it away. She could pretend it didn’t matter and just like that, it wouldn’t, because it never had existed anyway, and she was going to refuse to acknowledge it in three… two… one…

A horrible, blinding strike of pain split across her forehead. It hurt more than any surreal excuse a dream could come up with. This was real. This had to be. She needed to wake up!

Espurr began to breathe heavy through the pain and the panic. How to wake up?

Maybe she needed to shock herself.

A nightmare. A real one.

That would do.

What nightmare?

What scared her?

The house.

The Crooked House.

Make the Crooked House.

Make something…

With that dying thought, another searing strike of pain flashed across Espurr’s forehead, and she barely bit back a loud yowl of pain.

She heard the creaking of doors in front of her. Suddenly, the house was there, just like it had been at the lake. The blurry doors were opening in front of her, and then—

—The floor opened up beneath her, and she was unceremoniously dropped into a pit full of water.

There was no top or bottom in sight. The shock of being dropped underwater so quickly made her forget her headache for one second, and try to swim up to the top.

She found herself blocked. Where there had been a hole, there was now nothing but solid black wall. Espurr knew it was a dream, if she tried to breathe in water in the dream she’d just breathe in air in the real world, but for some reason she couldn’t seem to breathe. She couldn’t breathe! Espurr could feel the beginnings of air deprivation begin to take hold. This no longer seemed like a good idea. She would rather have the headache than this. She wanted out. She wanted out!

The headache returned. It felt like something was drilling its way into her head, nesting there… The pain increased, so much that Espurr couldn’t even see straight anymore, and then there was a sudden flash of white—


School Clinic

Espurr jolted awake, her body snapping out of its rigid position and sending her sprawling to the floor, gasping for air. She could breathe again!

“Oh my goodness!” Audino quickly ran over to Espurr, picking her up from the floor. “What happened?”

“Dream…” Espurr managed to spit out between gasps. “I… Was… Underwater… Couldn’t breathe…”

Audino helped Espurr sit back down on the straw bed, where she caught the rest of her breath. Once she’d calmed down a bit, she cast a wayward glance towards Audino’s book that lay on the counter. Her eyes flicked over the title on the spine, then went back for a second round, and a third one too.

But that wasn’t possible.

“The Adventures of an Intrepid Psyduck,” Espurr said, the shock tumbling out of her mouth along with the words.

“What?” Audino asked.

“That’s the title of the book.”


“Tell me this one.” Nuzleaf pointed to a random letter in the large textbook the Principal had given him.

“J,” Espurr told him immediately.

“An’ this one.”


“An’ what about this one?”


Nuzleaf closed the book with a snap. He showed her the front cover. “An’ you can read this?”

“The Beginning ‘Mon’s introduction to Unown,” Espurr read.

“Well, that settles it.” Nuzleaf set the book aside, wiping his forehead in disbelief. It had to be a nervous tic. “I reckon you’re all studied up an’ everything.

“Damn psychic-types…” Espurr heard him mutter to himself when he thought she wasn’t looking. “If I’da known she could learn the entire language in her sleep I’da jumped on that sooner.”

So would she.

But pokemon didn’t learn a language in their sleep, and that rattled her.


Nuzleaf left the textbook behind on his way out. It was a gift from Principal Simipour, but Nuzleaf had insisted it was school property, so Audino had to shelf it. And since Nuzleaf’s session had finished far, far earlier than expected, that left Espurr with a good hour of free time before the start of school.

A brief inspection of her broken arm by Audino revealed it had just about healed, and the cast could come off. The arm still hurt a little, and it felt weaker than her other one, but as long as she didn’t stress it too much, Audino assured her it would be fine.

Espurr used her free time to get as far away from the School Clinic as possible. She had no idea how she could possibly have learned the entire Unown language in a single night, and when combined with the strange dreams she had been having, it made the problem too big to wrap her mind around.

So she went to the place farthest from all of that: Tricky’s house.

She stood on the doorstep of Carracosta’s place, her paw an inch away from the door. Was this too early? Did Tricky have friends over often? She cast a glance around just in case she shouldn’t be here. How would Carracosta react? Eventually she summoned her courage, and just knocked on the door.

Only a whole moment later, it swung open, and the bulky form of Carracosta stood in the doorway.

“…Tricky’s new friend?” he grunted out after a minute.

Espurr quickly nodded, and held out her paw. “Espurr, Mr… ?”

“Carracosta.” The large blue turtle took a second to clear his throat. “Tricky’s not up yet. I always wake her up at the crack of dawn, but she sleeps until the last minute anyway. There’s no winning that with her.”

Espurr shut her eyes and quickly rolled them so Carracosta wouldn’t see. That sounded like Tricky.

“How long until she gets up?” she asked.

“About an hour, if she gets up early.”


~“By tha trees, through tha air”~

Espurr’s head spun at the sound of the scratchy, off-tune lyrics. She knew that voice… It was Nuzleaf.

He sang?

Carracosta quickly ushered her aside, worming his way out the door and lumbering down the path towards the sound of the voice.

~”Roots of time flow ev’rywhere”~

Slowly, the figure of Nuzleaf hiking up the hill became visible to Espurr, and Carracosta suddenly drew him into a hug before he had any idea of what was happening.

“Hah… Neighbor…” Nuzleaf patted Carracosta’s back desperately; wheezing for breath, and Carracosta let him down.

“You were here three days, and you didn’t come visit me?!” Carracosta boomed flippantly.

“I… I was busy.” Nuzleaf scratched the back of his head. “Just got back from the Grass Continent an’ all.”

“Come inside!” Carracosta ushered him up towards the house. “I was just making breakfast.”

Espurr suddenly realized that Nuzleaf, who had just been her language tutor for the past two days, was coming towards the house. Towards her. That was an awkward meeting she didn’t want to have right now. And if Tricky wasn’t going to be up for a while… she decided to make herself scarce, and fast.

“Huh,” she heard Carracosta mutter as he approached the door. “Wonder where that whippersnapper went.”

“Whippersnapper?” Nuzleaf brushed his leaf out of his face.



Carracosta’s House


Tricky’s nose twitched.

Which was an odd thing indeed, because she was currently beating the holy mystery dungeon out of a Monster House right now! A term so obscure and specific only the most dedicated Explorer knew its name! Probably.

Another really odd thing was that all the dungeon ‘mon suddenly smelled like pancakes.

Pancakes… She was kinda hungry.

Tricky opened her eyes lazily, then yawned. She was lying flat on her back in her bed in her room in her house, and not roasting several dungeon ‘mon at the same time with a flamethrower like she had been dreaming about.

…Come to think of it, could fennekin even create flamethrowers? She distantly recalled something about Watchog saying the technique took a lot of power to use.

Eh, whatever. It was a fun dream anyway. Tricky burst out of her room like a Quick Attack and practically flew straight into the washroom without even bidding Pops good morning. The door softly slammed shut after her.

“Wha—What in tarnation was that?!” She heard Nuzleaf’s muffled voice flip out from behind the door, accompanied by a couple clatters.

“The whippersnapper.” That was Pops. She heard a pancake flip. Pancakes…

“Aha... righ’.”

Pops had a method for washing the face, but Tricky thought it was super complicated. And dunking your head underwater for a few seconds did the same thing anyway, so Tricky did that. She shook herself off, took a few laps of the water in the bowl, gargled with that, then spat it out the window like Pops had told her it was rude to do. She stuck her head out and let the morning breeze dry her fur off.

That was when her eyes caught sight of something really odd, crouching near a bush on the hill on the way to her house.

Was that…

…No way.

It was!

Carracosta had just finished setting three plates of pancakes on the table when the washroom door suddenly bounced open again.

“I smell pancakes!” Tricky announced as she entered the dining room.

Carracosta turned to Tricky. “Don’t—“

Tricky bounded forward, took a seat, snatched the pancakes off their resting place on the plate, left her seat, and headed for the door.

“No—You fool!” Carracosta yelled after her. But Tricky was long gone.

Nuzleaf set his tea on the table.

“Whippersnappers. Nothin’ but trouble, if ya ask me.”



It was like pokemon had a sense of when she was coming their way, because Espurr stepped out of Tricky’s seconds before she skidded to a stop right in front of the bush. She bit down a little harder on the pancake hanging from her mouth, her eyes settling on the blue orb in Espurr’s paws.

“wapf—“ Tricky stopped—inhaled the pancake—swallowed—and began again. “What are you doing here??”

“I can’t come over?” Espurr asked. She brushed some dirt off the strange blue orb, showing it to Tricky. “We forgot all about this.”

“What does that matter?” Tricky tilted her head.

“Everything! This is a valuable piece of evidence.”

“Um, no…” Tricky gave Espurr her best skeptical look. “That’s a blue glass ball.”

“It’s Ampharos’ blue glass ball,” Espurr stressed. “This—along with what I found at the school last night—leads me to believe that Ampharos—“

Everything clicked in Tricky’s head all the sudden. She gasped loudly, cutting Espurr off mid-sentence.

“OhmigoshAmpharos! I totally forgot! The most amazing thing happened yesterday! It was Ampharos!”

Espurr just looked at her funny. Tricky took a deep breath—


Espurr just stared at Tricky. And stared. For a good ten seconds.

“Expedition Society?” she finally asked.

“Yep!” Tricky nodded so fast she thought her head might fly off her shoulders. “And you want to come along too, right? It’s gonna be so fun!”

“I’m sorry, Tricky,” Espurr said, suddenly eyeing the ground like it was the best thing since cake. “But not really.”

“But…” Tricky trailed off. Her best friend didn’t want to go along? “But we make such a great team! You really don’t want to change your mind?”

“Joining the Expedition Society is your dream,” Espurr pointed out. “It’s not for me.”

Tricky pouted.

“And why…” Espurr paused, then gingerly placed the blue orb somewhere in the grass beside her. “Why are you taking more things from Ampharos? We don’t know who he is. He could be spying on us and we wouldn’t even know it.”

“I’m sure it’ll be fine,” Tricky waved her off with a flick of her large ears. “But you’re coming, right? He said he brought two…” she trailed off promptingly.

“I’m not interested,” Espurr said firmly, folding her arms and turning away from Tricky.

“But… C’mon…” Tricky whined, her dejection leaking into her voice. “We’re friends, aren’t we? Why wouldn’t you want to go exploring with me?”

Espurr looked slightly frustrated, like there was something she just couldn’t get across. “Just because we’re “friends” doesn’t mean we always have to go exploring,” she stressed. “Can’t we do other things too?”

Tricky didn’t know how to answer that. Do… other things? But who wouldn’t want to go exploring?

All thoughts came to a screeching halt when her ears picked up on a sound she never thought she’d hear from Espurr—the sound of a belly rumbling. Espurr looked embarrassed, caught by surprise—had she even noticed it was coming from her stomach?

Tricky seized the opportunity, butting her head against Espurr’s back and pushing her back up towards her house.

“C’mon—We can talk about this later! Pops is making breakfast now! I… sorta ate my portion early, but still!”


School Grounds



“Around the wood chips. Around them! That means you, Tricky!”

Vice Principal Watchog brandished a pingy bell on a stick, herding all the students around the wreckage of the classroom and ringing it whenever somemon got too close. Though he seemed to focus mostly on Tricky, who was practically drunk on pancakes and didn’t seem to care much where she was going. She’d fallen behind. That left Espurr to walk with Deerling and Goomy as they headed up towards the School Clinic.

“Morning, I guess?” Deerling said after a moment’s silence.

“Morning,” Espurr said. She wasn’t very talkative. An awkward silence fell as quickly as it had been lifted.

Deerling took a breath, and continued. “So, Goomy and I were wondering if you wanted to come over after school today? We found this old board game in my parents’ closet, and we were going to try it out later.”

“But I have detention,” Espurr said. “I won’t be able to make it.”

“And that’s why I asked Watchog about the detentions,” Deerling responded. “He said they were cancelled today, because the school ordered some ‘mon to rebuild the classroom and he’s in charge of directing them. He also asked if I had detention somehow, but that’s paranoid and beside the point.” she looked at Espurr. “So, are you coming?”

Espurr thought on it for a few seconds. “I don’t see why not. Where should I go?”

“Oh, it’s…” Deerling tried to think of a proper set of directions off the top of her head. “You know the plaza? In the middle of the village?” Espurr nodded. “Start there. Head south, but not so far that you outwalk the houses. My house is on the on the right. It’s got the pink roof. You’ll find us quickly.”


“How can you not see the wreckage?!”


Exam day had begun. Everymon got their booklets from Farfetch’d, then spread out among the clinic. Watchog led Espurr out the clinic doors and around the back of the building.

“Hope you like the smell of old paper,” he grumbled as they entered the school’s storage room. “Because that’s both our lives for the next hour.” It was dusty, musty, and cramped. Cluttered shelves full of folders, boxes, and items lined every wall, and there was only a single luminous orb hanging from the ceiling to light the room. Espurr would have been put off by the lemony yellow of Watchog’s sour mood, but she was beginning to realize that was his default.

Watchog took a seat on a slightly sagging box of files, and gestured to a smaller one for Espurr to sit on. He pulled out a copy of the same piece of paper Espurr had seen all the other staff take, and set that by his side. The second sheet he pulled out he held up to his face, and began to read off it.

“Question one: How far back does the earliest known Human artifact date to?”

“2050,” Espurr answered. That was easy. She remembered her first day at the school like it had happened yesterday.

Watchog pulled up the second sheet of paper and read something off it. He marked something down with a quill on the paper, and sat it down once again.

“Question two: Where did pokemon civilization first begin to establish itself?”

That made Espurr stop for a second. She remembered it. It just needed a little digging.

“The earliest known pokemon civilization started on the Mist Continent,” she said. “The other continents were colonized based on how much resources they had.”

Watchog looked over the paper at Espurr. “In what order?”

“Water, Air, Grass, and Sand.”

Watchog marked another sentence into the paper, carelessly setting it down next to him with only the quill and the inkwell as a paperweight.

“Question three,” he read. “Give an estimate of the dates each continent was colonized.”

Berry crackers. Espurr didn’t remember that one. Watchog waited, an expectant expression upon his face. She needed a moment to think, but he wasn’t going to be that patient. She need to stall.

“That isn’t a question,” she said.

Watchog tapped the paper expectantly. “Yeah, well, I’m not here so you can argue about a question that was punctuated with a dot. Answer it.”

“I don’t know.” Pulling random dates out of nowhere would look bad, so she gave the most honest answer she had. The expression on Watchog’s face was indecipherable. He said nothing further to her, and marked it down.

“Question four…”

Espurr didn’t know question four. Or question five. Or question six. If it kept going like this, she was going to wind up studying way below everymon else, and Pancham would never stop gloating about it. And as if failing the test wasn’t bad enough, she was going to fail it getting barked at by Watchog.

Until then, those feelings had been simmering on the down-low. Now, it came to a boil. There was no world where she was going to let Pancham have the last laugh for an entire year. If she couldn’t make it on her own, she’d just have to make sure she made it. Subtly sticking a psychic feeler out, she nudged Watchog’s inkwell—

—And tipped it over in the process. An entire vial-full of bluk berry ink splattered all over Watchog’s chest, leaving him covered in dripping blue fluid.

Watchog sputtered. He looked at his chest like the ink was his own blood. He sputtered again.

“…Ha! I have to wash this off before it sticks. Don’t. Move. Understand?”

Espurr nodded, watching the stout pokemon hurriedly make a beeline for the door. He tried at the last second to make his exit look dignified, before letting the door slam shut after him. Once he was gone, Espurr was left all on her own. With two sheets of paper.

For a moment, she’d worried he was going to take them with him, but luckily for her he hadn’t thought of that. She wasted no time hopping off the box she was sitting on and marching over to where Watchog’s papers were. As she reached for the answer sheet, she tried to swallow the sour feeling pooling in her gut. Yes, it felt bad, but she needed to do this. She needed to buy herself that peace and quiet, that satisfaction that would come from proving Pancham wrong. If faking it was what it took, she could live with that.

With renewed determination she snatched the paper up, reading and memorizing the answers written on it almost angrily.

By the time Watchog threw open the storage space doors and strode back into the room, Espurr was back in her seat and it was like she hadn’t moved once.

Every question Watchog asked after that, Espurr answered correctly. Every once in a while she sent some psychic feelers out, but not once did she feel that Watchog suspected something. She didn’t think he’d be the type to keep a suspicion like that on the down-low, anyway. All she had to do was reword the answers and he didn’t suspect a thing.

“Question 23: Name the three most famous exploration facilities in the world.”

“The Rescuer’s Guild on the Air Continent, the Wigglytuff’s Guild on the Grass Continent, Pokemon Paradise on the Mist Continent.”

Watchog sighed, marking yet another question off on the sheet with the answer.

“Question 57: The species of the pokemon directly involved in the Time Crisis were…

“Meowth, Riolu, Litleo, Shinx, Grovyle, Celebi, and Dusknoir.”

Scritch-scratch: Another question marked off.

“Question 80, last one—What did the treaty signed twenty years after the Bittercold Incident entail?

“The Global Exploration Accords, signed 11083, placed every guild on the Mist, Air, and Water continents under the control of the Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute,” Espurr answered. “This was done so that legislation could travel smoothly between the guilds without interference or interruption.”

Watchog crossed the final question off the list, and sighed as he collected all the papers.

“You’re free to go,” he said. Espurr politely walked to the entrance of the warehouse and excused herself. Only when she was out of Watchog’s sight did she allow herself to relax. She had it. She had her passing score. It didn’t feel as great as she thought it would—that feeling she tried to swallow was still hanging around all the same, but she had it.

She’d just have to hope it was worth it later on.


The ‘mon who was supposed to fix the classroom came a couple of hours early. Audino ushered the rest of the class out of the school clinic, and led them around the wreckage quietly while Watchog and Principal Simipour met with the repairmon. He was a fletchinder, and didn’t strike Espurr as the builder type. They shuffled past as the ever sleep-worn Simipour talked about finances, heading onto the forest path back up to the village.

“Are we still on for after school?” Deerling asked, clopping up as they walked down the road. “I can walk you there myself.”

Espurr nodded gratefully. She’d be happy to distract herself right now, any way she could.

Tricky happily scampered up to Espurr and Deerling, falling into a jolly trot alongside them.

“I can’t believe Watchdog let us off like that,” she loudly bragged. “We got so lucky! Now we can explore that mystery dungeon in the berry fields together!”

“Tricky…” Espurr cast her eyes down towards the ground, unwilling to dash Tricky’s hopes completely. The last time, the fennekin had nearly imploded. “I… already agreed to go with Goomy and Deerling. Sorry.”

“Well, can’t we go together?” Tricky asked. “It’s only a class A mystery dungeon. That means there’s no wild dungeon ‘mon in there!”

“No, Tricky… I agreed to do something else with Deerling and Goomy.”

Tricky’s face fell faster than a bag of rotting berries.

“But… I thought we were going to spend after school together…” she complained.

“We can spend it doing other things,” Espurr said. “Deerling and I were going to set up a board game, what about that?”

“Actually,” Deerling cut in, “It’s just us two and Goomy. Sorry.”

A puff of smoke left Tricky’s lowering ears. Espurr could sense the building purple frustration behind her eyes.

“Fine…” she said, the disappointment hanging through her voice. “I’ll just go exploring on my own, then.” She turned away, and with that, she was gone. Espurr couldn’t help but cast a look back as Tricky plodded off, falling further behind.

“Why couldn’t she come along?” Espurr asked.

“Well,” Deerling scoffed. “You know how reckless she is, right? My mom’s a neat freak. If I bring Tricky over, she’ll ban playdates forever.”

There was a mix of colors in that sentence, swirling together in ways Espurr couldn’t read. But it was a lot of color for such a silly reason. Was there something more?

“But hey,” Deerling continued, her tone softening. “She’ll be fine. She’s been exploring on her own for years. One more day won’t kill her. And besides, now I can show you the way to my house! It feels good not to get lost, right?”

“I guess it does,” Espurr said.



Tricky looked up from her moping. On one side of her loomed Pancham. On the other side, Shelmet rather creepily lurked.

“…What do you guys want?” she asked, just a tiny hint of suspicion in her voice.

Pancham didn’t let his gaze falter for one moment. He looked her straight in the eye with that signature smirk. “I noticed your friend found somemon cooler to play with. That’s all. Moving up in the village ranks, amiright? No need to hang with the Troublemaker anymore.”

“’Tis a shame,” Shelmet added sagely.

“I don’t wanna hear it from you guys,” Tricky said, marching ahead of Pancham and Shelmet adamantly.

“But you get us all wrong, dear ‘Tricky’,” Pancham said, slyly falling into Tricky’s new pace. Shelmet bobbed along in the background, trying his hardest but not able to keep up with everymon else. “See, we aren’t like Deerling and Goomy and Espurr. We don’t care about what’s “cool” or what mistakes you’ve made. Heck, we’ve made many, and look at us!”

“…What are you saying?” Tricky asked, curiosity inevitably beginning to overtake the suspicion.

“What I’m saying, dear Tricky…” Pancham smirked. “Is that I’ve had a change of heart about exploring. My bro Shelmet has too. Right, Shelmet?”

“Hah… Hah… Yeah! Whatever Pancham said,” Shelmet panted. It sounded like he was even further behind than before.

“Really?” Tricky was half-optimistic, half-suspicious. Even for her, that was a little too good to be true.

“Yeah!” Pancham elbowed Tricky. “We fugitives gotta stick together, don’t we?”

“…Yeah,” Tricky admitted. “I guess we do.”

“Alright then! And here’s the best part: Me and Shelmet found the best spot for exploring! It’s some sick dibs. You’d have never found it. Trust us.”

And just like that, with the mention of a new location to explore, the dark spot in Tricky’s day became a little brighter.


Deerling’s House


Deerling’s house was one of the fanciest in town. It had an entire front yard, with a garden of dainty flowers and ivy hanging up and down the pristine walls and pink roof. The inside was no less lavish, furniture and pink décor decorating nearly every surface. There was even something called a “TV”, a large black box in the living room that Deerling said barely worked. Wide-eyed Espurr hadn’t seen anything fancier in her life.

“So… Apparently the pawniards are all in front… And the golurk are on the sides.” Deerling looked up from the instruction manual. The three of them were now in her bedroom, which was no less fancy than the rest of the house. Even her nest had fluffy pink covers. “Did you get all that?”

Espurr had not gotten that. For the fifth time, she removed all the pieces off the board and began to reset them all again. “I thought you said all the pawniards were in the back.”

“Yeah, this thing says everything but the pawniards are in back. That’s like the stupidest thing ever! You could just say they’re in front! And don’t even get me started on why half this manual is written in Footprint Runes…”

Espurr began to set all the pawniards in front. “And where do the bisharp go?”

“Um…” Deerling quickly returned to the manual again, flipping through it with her nose. Espurr went back to neatly rearranging the different wooden pokemon on the board until she received further instructions from Deerling, or Goomy got back from the kitchen. Whichever came first.

The door to Deerling’s bedroom slowly swung open, and Goomy slimed in with a plate full of what looked like… crackers. Espurr’s mouth watered. She’d had pancakes, but the stress of the test had done a number on her stomach.

“Y-your mom’s really nice…” Goomy said through a mouthful of cracker. “She got crackers for all of us. Want one?” He held the plate out towards Deerling.

“You mean the stale ones in the pantry she’s been trying to get rid of for weeks?” Deering never even looked up from the manual. “I’ll pass.”

“They taste fine to me…” Goomy slimed over and took a seat the best he could across from Espurr. He set the plate of crackers on the small play-table, and Espurr discreetly snatched one for herself. Stale for sure, but they tasted fine enough.

A loud bang drew both Espurr and Goomy’s attention. Deerling had just headbutted the manual in frustration.

“Ugh…” she grumbled in anger. “Why are there so many pawniards and only two bisharp?”


Serenity Village Outskirts


“Just a little longer…”

Pancham cleared himself a path through the bushes, letting Tricky duck under the ferns before they snapped back and blocked Shelmet’s path.

“Where are we going?” Tricky asked as they headed further west. They were way past the Village outskirts by now. Only the massive trees of the forest surrounded them. “If there were any mystery dungeons here I would know already.”

“What we found is better than a mystery dungeon,” Pancham declared. “And it’s just around the corner… Ah, here it is.”

Pancham stopped, smirking confidently as Tricky and Shelmet finally caught up with him. Tricky’s eyes widened. Located atop the trees of the forest was the wreckage of a small house, cobbled together from all sorts of raw material. Some even looked like they had come from pokemon Moves.

A tree-house.

“This is amazing!” Tricky declared. “How did you find this??”

“Oh, nothing,” Pancham waved it off. “Just that we’re good detectives is all. Go ahead! We want you to take the first peek.”

Tricky couldn’t believe her eyes. Or her ears, for that matter. This was like a dream come true! Almost too good to come true. She quickly scampered up the tree’s conveniently-placed pawholds, which would have seemed almost like steps if Tricky didn’t know better.

The house itself looked like it could collapse any minute. Tricky wobbled on the branches, doing her best to keep her balance despite knowing she was twenty feet up in the air and could fall at any given moment.

“You’re doing great!” yelled Pancham from below. “Just keep going!”

Tricky used the short boost of encouragement to quickly scamper across the rest of the branch, and jump safely in the treehouse though one of the windows. Once inside, Tricky quickly tiptoed up to a window and threw it open, planning to wave out at Pancham and Shelmet—

But the moment she leaned out, the house suddenly collapsed in on itself without warning. A rope suddenly tightened around Tricky’s hind legs, and she was left dangling from the treetops as most of the house fell to the ground, leaving a few choice pieces of wreckage in the trees. Tricky tried in vain to get herself upright, but was left helpless to Pancham and Shelmet’s snickers.

“Guys…” she spat out. “I think the ‘mon who built this place left a booby trap!”

“That's weird!" Pancham yelled up at her. "Just wait a few minutes—we'll get you down!"

But instead of climbing the tree and getting her down, Pancham and Shelmet turned around, and began to walk away.

“W-where are you going?!” Tricky yelled after them, dangling helplessly.

“We’re, uh, we’re gonna go find somemon to help out!” came Pancham’s shout from beyond the trees. She couldn’t even see them anymore. “Just hang in here!”

Tricky just flailed some more, her heart sinking as she realized they might not be coming back. Scratch that, they probably weren’t coming back.

It wasn’t like she could do anything else, really.



“No-mon touch anything…” Espurr slowly stepped away from the board as Deerling looked up from the manual. “I think we finally got it.”

All the pieces on both sides of the chessboard were finally in their proper positions, and a quick look at the picture in the back of the manual that they hadn’t discovered until after the fact confirmed it.

“That would have been nice to have like, an hour ago,” Deerling muttered sardonically.

“I-is it done now?” Goomy asked.

That was when Espurr realized…

“Do we know how to play chess?”

There was silence.

Then Deerling slammed her head into the wall and let out a wordless groan of frustration.

“Deerling! Headbutting is for outside!”

“Sorry Mom!”

Another hour passed, in which Espurr, Deerling, and Goomy all fiddled with the manual and tried to get a good idea of how the game worked. Before long, the sun was almost set, and Deerling’s Mother walked into the bedroom to tell them that they’d have to end before it got much later.

“Well, that was a waste of time,” Deerling announced in frustration as the four of them entered the living room.

“I warned you it wasn’t going to be easy for you three to play,” Deerling’s Mother, a sawsbuck, said. “Now tell your friends goodnight, please. Their parents probably want them back before dark.”

Espurr didn’t have any parents to put a curfew over her head, but she kept that fact to herself.

“So did you have fun?” Deerling asked as they walked to the front door.

“Lots,” Espurr said enthusiastically.

“I’ll bet it was much better than tromping through mystery dungeons all day, right?”

Espurr cast her eyes to the side, but couldn’t disagree. “Yeah,” she said. “It was.”

“We could do this again, if you wanted,” Deerling continued. “I could get Farfetch’d to give you that empty desk in class too. Y’know, if you want a break. And frankly,” an eyeroll, “anything to get Pancham off my back. He’s wanted that desk forever.”

“I’d like that,” Espurr said. “Doing this again.”

“Then it’s a plan,” Deerling said, as Espurr stepped out of the door. Goomy was waiting on the other side.

“Have a nice night,” she told them, putting on her best polite smile before she let the door shut.

“I-I live west,” Goomy said.

“I live north,” Espurr said. “We can walk to the plaza together.”

Goomy didn’t look opposed to that idea at all, especially since night had fallen.


It was sundown. Tricky would have enjoyed it a lot more if she wasn’t currently hanging upside down from a tree.

Pancham and Shelmet had never gotten her down like they had said they would. Although that wasn’t a surprise. She didn’t know how long she’d been up here, but it was long enough that it was beginning to get dark. Tricky had been left hanging in the tree, desperately trying to get herself loose. And now she was in trouble. The vines she had been tethered to were beginning to come loose from the tree, and it was a twenty-foot drop to the ground. She didn’t want to fall from that high!

The wreckage of the house was still caught on the branches around her, but there was no way for her to reach it all tied up like she was. It wasn’t like she hadn’t been trying for the past couple of hours.

Snap. The vines became a little more frayed, causing Tricky to gasp. She had to start thinking fast, or she was doomed. Any explorer worth their salt could do it…

Tricky glanced at all the wreckage around her, looking for the nearest piece. Her eyes settled on a piece of the wall that had become speared on one of the branches not-so-far below. She could make that.

She began to rock herself back and forth in ways she knew would twist the vine and make it break faster. Slowly, but surely, the vine was becoming more and more frayed. Any minute now, it was going to snap and send her tumbling towards the ground. Tricky just shut her eyes, and tried to relax. It was a trick written in Mystery Dungeoneering Life Hacks, by Wartortle of Team Go-Getters. If you closed your eyes, and tried not to overthink it… things would turn out just fine.

Except for the fact that she was hanging over twenty feet above the ground, and trying to make herself fall…

Calm thoughts… Think about what Pops is making for dinner tonight… Yeah, that!

…Ugh, it wasn’t working! What did Wartortle know, anyway?

Then the rope snapped, and there was no time for thinking. Less than a second later Tricky found herself digging her claws into the soft material of that wrecked wall. Maybe Wartortle had a point after all.

The drop to the ground was a little less than fifteen feet now. Tricky silently hopped from branch to branch with her back legs bound, trying to keep her mind clear and focused as she made her way down to the ground. When her paws finally hit solid dirt again instead of the rough surface of another tree branch, she released the long, shaky breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. It took another minute to bite off the binds on her hind legs.

It took a while to get home. Tricky spent much of the sunset trying to make her way out of the ambient forest before she got lost in the dark, and night had already fallen by the time she entered Serenity Village. All by herself. There weren’t any streetlights like there must have been in Lively Town, and the only light came from the buildings around the square that were quickly darkening. Even Kecleon’s was packing up on a weekday like this.

She felt beat-up and tired. Pops’ rule was dinner before dark, so she was going to get a lecture before eating.

It was then that she realized that none of this would have happened if Espurr hadn’t gone to Deerling’s house. If Deerling hadn’t stolen another one of her friends. Again. It wasn’t fair!

Tricky spotted Espurr politely waving goodbye to Goomy on the other side of the square—because of course she was warm and happy and fed, and this time she didn’t let it go so easily. Narrowing her eyes, she marched forward.

Espurr heard the slow brushing of footsteps behind her, and turned to see Tricky trudging towards her through the streets.

“Oh, Tricky.” Espurr turned around, looking at her. “You should have joined us for chess.”

“I wanna know something.” Tricky’s voice didn’t waver, even though she felt all beat up and on the verge of crying. “What did Deerling say to you? About me?”

“Why do you assume Deerling said anything?” Espurr asked.

“Because she always does this! She gets the new pokemon to stay away from me, and everymon always listens to her! It’s. Not. Fair!” Tricky yelled at the top of her lungs. Maybe she was blowing her breath in Espurr’s face. She didn’t really care. “You should have gone exploring with me, not them!”

She screamed every word at full blast into Espurr’s face. Espurr’s eyes narrowed.

“Well, maybe I don’t want to go exploring with you,” she hissed back. “All you want to do is drag me off into places no-mon else wants to go! ‘Expedition Society’ this, ‘mystery dungeon’ that! Why shouldn’t I go and hang out with the other kids?”

“Because all the other kids are rotten bullies!” Tricky growled. “Just like… you’re being…”

Something snapped. Maybe it was Tricky’s anger tearing red at the corners of her vision, or Espurr’s indignance at being called a bully, but Espurr decided she’d had enough.

“If I’m a bully,” Espurr slowly began, ice cold. “Then what does that make you?”

That shut Tricky up. She took a few steps back from Espurr, her ears flopping downward.

“I… I…” she began.

That was the point where it became too much for Tricky. She took off in the direction of home as fast as she possibly could.



Some part of Espurr felt worried about Tricky as she walked up the winding forest path towards the school. She walked with her arms folded, trying to ignore the wind that blew through the trees and rattled the branches and how dark it was getting now. But the other part said that she was right to say it. She’d laid out the truth, plain and simple. It would have hit Tricky in the face sooner or later. Better a friend break it to her than somemon like Pancham.

Fletchinder had obviously been up to something in the few hours they’d been gone. All the rubble that had littered the classroom was gone now, and it looked like little more than an empty field of dirt and grass.

Audino was standing outside the door to the clinic by the time that Espurr had finished climbing up the stairs. “Oh! Right on time,” she exclaimed. “I just finished locking up for the night.” Audino dusted off her exploration bag and ducked in as Espurr walked in through the doors. It was true. The luminous moss orbs around the clinic had even been tarped already.

Once they were inside, Espurr flopped down on one of the straw beds, watching Audino put her exploration bag away. Once Audino had stepped into the back room, she let out a sigh, her arms still folded.

She’d just check up tomorrow. When school was in.



The dormant connection orb lay next to Tricky’s bed, swept under in a place where no-mon was likely to trip on it. Tricky entered her room silently, trying to keep it all together so Pops wouldn’t try to console her any further and keep reminding her. Keep bringing her back. He thought she had gotten over this almost a year ago. She just tried not to think about it, so hard not to remember it existed. It almost worked.

The case containing the pair of scarves was at the front of the pile of junk that was under Tricky’s bed. Tricky pulled it out with her teeth. She opened it. She wasn’t sure why she did. It was another Reminder. That pair of dusty scarves stared her right in the face. It was like they had voices: Why did you lock us away for so long?

Tricky slammed it shut, so hard she almost broke the case. She kicked it back under the bed with so much force it pushed the other junk up against the wall. She didn’t like this anymore. She wanted her friend back. She wanted to forget about the stupid scarves. She wanted to forget about all of it.

But now she couldn’t. She hadn’t even gotten rid of the scarves. She wasn’t strong enough to do that. She hadn’t been then, and she wasn’t now. Tricky hopped into her bed, and buried her head under the pillow in a vain attempt to flush it out and forget.

That was how she spent the night.


From Wartortle's Guide to Dungeoneering: Luminous Moss

Native to the Water Continent, Luminous Moss is grown and used primarily in areas without emera-powered lights. The moss thrives in deep, dark caves, and when healthy emits a powerful glow that efficiently dispels the dark around it. Because of its usage as a nocturnal light source in most rural villages, Luminous Moss has become a popular item to grow and is in increasingly higher demand on continents like Grass. It is also used in the production of Luminous Orbs, explorer-grade items produced for seeing in dark areas.

Music of the week!

The End is Near At Hand
- Yuki Kajiura
Last edited:
1~Nine - Artemis


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
This chapter contains a graphic scene that may be triggering to those who read it. If you're uncomfortable reading that, message me for a summary of the chapter.

"Back in the old days, luminous moss was a hot item. You grew it, you put it in an orb or a lantern, and when it got dark, the moss would glow. Nowadays everymon uses emera tech. Ever since HAPPI discovered the process for harvesting emeras from dungeons, everymon wants better lights, lights than can shine brighter than moss... but only for a while."

~ Zebstrika, moss farmer on Water




Simipour’s House



The nighttime air of Serenity Village was sickly warm, with a dampness that felt sticky against one’s fur. Audino stood at the porch of Principal Simipour’s house, her bag tightly against her side. At some point while Espurr had slept, she’d left the house and trudged through at least ten minutes of the humid night to get here.

She did not fancy ten minutes more of it on the way back.


The door opened, revealing Principal Simipour himself. Recently he’d been looking like he was about to keel over from exhaustion on a good day; in the middle of the night he was practically sleepwalking.

“Nurse Audino,” he yawned, like he was struggling to keep himself awake. “What do I have to owe a visit from you at this—” a tired glance around. “Lovely time of night?

“I’m sorry to wake you,” Audino began, “but it’s an urgent matter concerning the test on Saturday. May I come in?”

Simipour yawned again, then cast a look towards the parlor inside. “I don’t see why not,” he slurred.

Simipour’s house was a single, large room separated into quadrants with minimal walling. The one touching the door was the parlor, and Audino could see the bedroom and the kitchen on either side. The houses with views were smaller here, but in larger demand than the loftier ones at the bottom. And thankfully, it had none of that sticky night air.

The Principal gestured towards the furniture in the parlor, a couch and an old pink armchair opposite a small table. Audino took a seat on the couch, letting Simipour sit in the chair before she began speaking.

“I happened to look at the location Vice Principal Watchog chose for his test when filing away the test work,” she began. “I think he should change it. It’s a safety hazard.”

“A safety hazard?” Simipour asked. “What makes you think that? The School Dungeon is a safe dungeon. No fog. No aggressive apparitions. That’s why we use it for exams like this.”

“The last time I went in, there was fog,” Audino stressed. “I filed the paperwork for that when I got back that night—didn’t you see?”

Simipour was quiet. It was an uncharacteristic quiet for him.

“It must have gotten lost in my desk,” he eventually said. “But I don’t understand the rationale behind such a change. Dungeons take centuries to grow stronger; the School Forest is barely a decade old.”

“The dungeon’s going bad, Principal,” Audino replied. “The Drilbur Mines… Wooloo Plains… Poliwrath River… All the dungeons here go bad faster than they should. We should move the test.”

“To what location?” Simipour asked. He didn’t seem to be fully there. “The School Dungeon is the safest dungeon around. Would you rather we hold our tests in the Foreboding Forest? What would Watchog think?”

“We should hold it on the school grounds!” Audino couldn’t help but raise her voice then. “We’re running a school, not a sporting event. Watchog’s test is crazy under normal circumstances, right now it’s unacceptable. I don’t care what he thinks; we need to change it.”

Simipour sighed.

“I’ll see that Watchog does a sweep of the dungeon before the test,” he offered limply.

“And he’ll change it if it looks dangerous?”

“That is his choice. Good night, Audino.”

He’d forgotten the ‘nurse’. And the ‘vice principal’. He almost never forgot to add those. In fact, something about this was all very off. The thought felt crazy, but the way Simipour had been holding himself this entire time gave her chills down her spine. It felt… unnatural. And if she felt unsafe, what did that mean for the children?

No. She was up too late, and letting her imagination run wild. She needed to leave this house and get a proper night’s sleep before she attacked this again.

“Very well,” she said, standing up and gathering her bag. “I’ll hold him to that tomorrow.”

Simipour didn’t walk with her. He just remained hunched over in the faded pink chair, his sunken eyes following her every step until she shut the door.

Audino shivered once she’d closed it.

She never knew how creepy this part of the village could get at night. Deep down, she knew it wasn’t the village, but she forcefully dismissed that thought. Annoyance filled its place.

Why was she the only teacher who had her priorities straight?



Tricky didn’t show up for class the next day. Espurr had considered going over to her house earlier in the morning, but figured that they could talk when she showed up for school. But class was in ten minutes, and the fennekin was nowhere to be seen.

Until now, she’d spent the spare time slightly uneasy, but filled it by idly reading things instead. Now that she could, it felt like a large weight had been lifted off her shoulders. It was easier and easier to forget what had happened yesterday, easier and easier to not wonder how. She wasn’t even reading because it was interesting. She was reading because she couldn’t have just a day ago, and it felt addicting.

With Farfetch’d’s class out of the way for the summer, the first event of the day was Audino’s exam, which Audino had upturned most of the School Clinic to prepare for. The straw beds had been pushed aside to make way for spare tables brought in from the storage room, and twin baskets of medicinal berries had been set on each tabletop.

And now the test had been postponed almost ten minutes, because Tricky wasn’t here. At some point, Watchog had said something about ‘starting without her’ and stepped out of the clinic, and Audino, with a hesitant look on her face, began the exam.

“On the board are the final versions of three different mixtures you will need to create to pass this test,” she said, pointing to a portable blackboard that had been wheeled in for the purposes of this class. “You have all been provided with the right berries and equipment to make them. Outside of that, you will need to rely on the knowledge you’ve gained from this week’s review, and make the decisions you believe are best for your mixtures. And remember the three rules of berry safety:”

“Smell, don’t taste, oran berries make the base, and always mash everything into a paste,” the class recited.

Audino nodded, flipping an hourglass from the storage room and setting it on the table.

“The test ends at noon. You have one hour. Best get mixing.”

The class was left to their own devices afterwards. Pancham and Shelmet took the table on the right with the best-looking berries before anymon else could even move, and Goomy got an entire table’s worth of supplies all to himself. Espurr sat at the table to the left, eyeing the blackboard from the stool she sat on. It looked like she needed to make a skin lotion, a psychic-muffling paste, and a sour elixir to pass the test.

Espurr decided to start with the skin lotion, since she still remembered the recipe from Tuesday’s class. She fished in the berry basket for an oran, but none were turning up.

“The oran berries are in this one.”

Deerling, who Espurr had taken a seat next to, pushed the separate basket of oran berries towards Espurr. “Audino didn’t want them to get mixed up with the others, since the orans are special.”

Espurr took an oran from the basket, and put it into the bowl. “Thank you.”

She snatched a bluk berry that was on the top of the other basket and put it aside for later.

“Deerling?” Espurr asked a moment later.

Deerling looked up from her work, staring at Espurr questioningly. Espurr mashed the oran berry to bits with the wooden masher, not really paying attention to what she was doing at all.

“Did… something happen between you and Tricky?”

Espurr never thought she would see Deerling stiffen up the way she did. All of a sudden those colors were back, the veiled ones that Espurr couldn’t quite see or read.

Deerling’s unnaturally cheerful response: “W-what makes you think that?” only served to reassure her that something was indeed going on.

“It was something Tricky let slip,” Espurr decided to go with. “I thought I’d ask around. Especially since she didn’t show up to class today.”

“Well, did you guys fight or something?” Deerling asked. “You wouldn’t know, because you’ve only been here a week, but Tricky usually doesn’t show up to school the day after a fight.”

Something about that answer didn’t quite sit right with Espurr, especially when the colors she could vaguely see only began to grow. She knew there was more, something Deerling wasn’t saying. She briefly paused to gauge her oran berry – which was now just a sorry pile of mush – then dropped the bluk berry into another bowl and started mashing that.

“She mentioned you,” Espurr continued. “She looked upset. And you said a couple of nights ago that you didn’t want to see somemon else get hurt because o—"

At that point, the colors exploded. Deerling slammed her hooves into the table, a seething expression on her face.

“Tricky is mad at me because I don’t want to see pokemon get hurt because of her, and I’m picking up the responsibility she doesn’t want to touch!”

“Deerling! Calm down, please.” Audino put her book down from the other side of the clinic.

Espurr silently mixed her two berry mixtures together, and covered the bowl.

“I’m sorry.” Deerling had her head hung in silence. “It’s… not a pretty thing. I… I can’t. I just can’t. Please don’t ask me.”

Deerling turned away from Espurr after that, unreadable, swirling colors invading Espurr’s head. The rest of the test was spent in silence.


Espurr barely passed Medicinal Berries. And only because she had arguably performed the best out of anymon in the class, on account of having one perfect mixture.

Deerling had used all the right berries, but had mashed them so hard the mixtures came out wrong, leaving her without a replacement before the test ended. Goomy was entirely lost, and Pancham and Shelmet together had flubbed all three mixtures, then proceeded to create a custom one so foul that Audino disposed of it as quick as she could.

Tricky, who was absent, automatically failed.

The fifteen-minute recess period between Audino’s exam and Dungeon Class was spent in silence, as three of the present students reviewed their test scores from yesterday and the other two were in no mood to converse with each other.

Espurr read the score on the paper she’d been given, a high mark just like she was expecting. She held the paper close to her like it was something precious, rising from the nest she was sitting on. It was time to make Pancham’s mouth fall open.

She marched over to Pancham’s table, where he and Shelmet were looking at their own scores—much lower than the one she had, she noted. She slammed her paper on the table, pushing it towards Pancham.

“Take a look,” she said, letting smugness spread across her face. “93 percent. I passed.”

Pancham picked it up. His eyes flicked over it several times. Espurr couldn’t see any of the colors from his head, but she wished she could. She knew she would have enjoyed it.

Then he slammed it back down, and pushed it towards her.

“What, am I supposed to be impressed by this?” he said.

“I’ll be studying with you next class,” Espurr said, folding her arms. “So, yes.”

“No way you learned that material in three weeks,” Pancham scoffed. “I bet you just cheated.”

“Yeah,” Shelmet cut in. “Maybe you did freaky mind stuff.”

“Maybe I really did learn it in three weeks,” Espurr shot a comeback at him, dancing around the accusation. “Just like I picked up reading. You got a 53%, by the way.”

That seemed to get to him. His eyes widened, and he made sure his paper was face down on the table before looking at her.

“W-well then, maybe you’re a freak,” Pancham said, copying Espurr’s tone. He leaned in over, closer to Espurr. “No normal kid does that. You’re a dungeon-raised, mind-reading freak. So go back to your freak friend and do your freaky dungeon stuff like the freaks you both are. “ He paused in mock contemplation. “Oh, wait, she didn’t show up. Guess you’re outta luck.”

Pancham and Shelmet suddenly broke out in laughter. Espurr held in a displeased hiss, her eyes narrowing, red blinking into her vision. She didn’t have to take this.

Snatching up her grade paper, she marched over to one of the clinic’s three nests, throwing herself in the nearest one and folding her arms with a huff. All she’d done, and it had been for nothing. She’d cheated because of him, and he was still going to give her grief. She let out a long sigh, eyes narrowed as she stared at the room ahead. Was anything good enough?

The sound of something sliming over caught her attention. She looked over, seeing that Goomy had just slid up.

“I s-saw what happened,” he stammered. After several seconds of silence, he continued: “I-I just stopped.”


“I just st-stopped.”

“Stopped what?” Espurr asked.

“T-the-the last t-time I tried to p-prove I was a big kid to P-Pancham he left me in a dungeon all alone,” Goomy said. “A-and when Tricky told me i-if I was c-cool I’d help her rob the berry farm, I g-got in trouble. A-and Shelmet s-said I should get rid of my stutter but I c-c-can’t, a-and Deerling t-thinks I’m a b-baby. S-so I just stopped trying to b-be cool for them.”

He mushed his slimy paws together uncertainly, as they both watched Pancham and Shelmet whisper and giggle at their own table.

“I t-think you should too.”

Espurr just silently huddled a little further into the nest. She knew Goomy meant well, but…

“They’ll hate me,” she said. “I don’t want to spend the next school year getting jeered at by them.”

“I d-don’t either,” Goomy said. “B-but Mom s-said you should f-focus on friends, n-not enemies. A-and real friends d-don’t care h-how cool you are.” He looked down. “R-real friends l-lift each other up. Mom says P-Pancham and Shelmet d-don’t have friends.”

Espurr’s eyes cast themselves down towards the floor. It was unspoken between them: she knew he was right.

That thought stayed with her as Watchog forced everymon in the stools for Dungeon Class. It cut through all Watchog’s loud prattling about pokemon types and how they matched up with and against each other, making it all a fuzzy droning in the background. At some point, she glanced around at the other students, hoping Tricky had silently slunk in at some point. She wasn’t there.

“…And that’s how type matchups work.” Watchog brought his lengthy speech to an end, stepping in front of the blackboard. “Any questions? Better ask now.”

No-mon cared enough to have questions.

Then class ended. Everymon went home, while Espurr was kept behind for detention. Goomy was having it with Audino today, so she’d be having it with the Vice Principal. Tricky still hadn’t shown. Watchog was off in the background, grumbling about how she was skipping school and now skipping detention too, and he was going to get the principal to extend hers into summertime.

By now Espurr was beginning to get worried. If she left in the middle of detention, she’d never hear the end of it from Watchog, but it was at least worth checking her house, right?

Espurr turned her attention back towards Watchog, who was nearly done stuffing his things in one of the school’s large exploration bags.

“Mr. Watchog?” she asked.

“Vice Principal.”

“I’d like to go check up on Tricky,” Espurr said.

“Really? Sounds like an easy way to cut detention to me,” Watchog said, trying to decide if the water canister he was bringing along was enough for the hot sun. He shrugged it off, placing it in the bag anyway.

“But she hasn’t shown up to school yet today,” Espurr said. “Somemon should go, right?”

“She won’t be there,” Watchog drawled. “She’s probably off prancing through some dungeon somewhere. And that’s why she’s getting detention in the summer. That’ll show her…”

He finished packing the bag he was currently stuffing full, zipped the top laboriously, and lugged it over his back. “Time to go,” he said.

Something innate told Espurr his mind wasn’t going to be changed. Maybe it was part of her sixth sense.

They walked down the path and away from the many houses of the village. Espurr considered what to do as she walked. She could go to one the other teachers, but it would cause such a stink, and from what she knew, the only teacher who would back her up was Audino. She’d just be wasting time she could use doing something that actually helped.

Soon, the daylight above them began to filter out, eclipsed by blue and purple shades of leaves and tree branches. Espurr knew where this route led: The Foreboding Forest.

“Start picking up all the mess in the area,” Watchog said curtly, handing Espurr a rake and a potato sack. The clearing all around them was covered in hundreds and hundreds of fallen leaves. “Tell me when you’re done. I’ll be waiting outside.” And with that, he was gone.

Espurr slowly raked up leaves in the clearing, but her mind wasn’t in it.

Knowing Tricky, Watchog was probably right about her not being at her house. She was off sulking in some mystery dungeon right about now. And after seeing what had happened back in the mines—she shivered—it was probably something dangerous.

If she left on a trip to Tricky’s house without Watchog excusing her from detention, she’d score herself a week’s more in the process. But the way she was going about detention meant it would stretch far into night. And if Espurr was right, and Tricky really was in danger, then sitting around here and shoveling up leaves was the worst thing she could possibly do.

She thought for a minute. Then another, mindlessly stirring the leaves on the ground around with her rake. Then she decided.

That was it. Fuddy-duddy Watchog could stick a wooper in it. She quietly set down her rake and the potato sack and crept off into the bushes, taking the long way back into the village. For both their sakes, she hoped she was wrong, and Tricky really had just been sulking around in her bedroom the whole day.


Carracosta’s House


Espurr knocked on Carracosta’s door. There was no answer, but she figured it would take him a minute to get there.

A minute passed. There was still no answer.


Espurr tried again. She pressed her ear to the door, hoping she could catch what was going on behind it. She only heard silence.

She looked left, then right. She was sure she wasn’t being watched… So no-mon would mind if she quickly broke in, right?

The window outside Tricky’s room had no glass. She could get in that way. The hard part was getting up there. Espurr levitated herself up to get up onto the sill, but a headache spiked before she was even half a foot off the ground. Luckily, that was all she needed. Catching the window bars with both her paws, Espurr gave herself one last boost with the rest of her energy—

—Which was enough to get her through the window, and somewhat neatly into Tricky’s room. She briefly rubbed her head to clear it of the headache.

Once inside, the first thing Espurr did was check the book on Tricky’s bed. Those dog-ears around the corners only meant it could be one thing, after all…

“A Complete Guide to Mystery Dungeons”, the title read. Espurr knew she had seen it before! She held it in her paws, looking at the page number:

Page 26: Nectar Meadows – Water Continent

Espurr read through the page, her eyes flicking over the text as fast as she was able to read it. Nectar Meadows was a Class A Mystery Dungeon, which meant there weren’t creepy dust apparitions, the dungeon didn’t fog up, and pokemon who entered it didn’t turn into rabid monsters like Gabite. Class A dungeons were usually the homes of pokemon who didn’t feel at home living in civilizations such as Serenity Village. However, Nectar Meadows was the home of a beedrill colony that had a reputation for being vicious and territorial in the honey-making stage of the year, which was… just around summertime.

Espurr set the book down, taking a minute to clear her thoughts. If Tricky had gone to Nectar Meadows, she would have had to leave about four hours ago to skip school like she had. Which either meant that she was still in the dungeon heading back home, or… something had happened to her.

“And guess what? There’s a small dungeon right near Pop’s oran berry fields!”

Tricky’s words from Wednesday rang in Espurr’s head, and so to the oran berry fields she went. She still remembered the way there from her first detention—down towards the square, through the village gates and on the path until it split away from the mountains and the trees gave way to fields of farmland and the hot summer sun. Nectar Meadows was somewhere around here.

The fields ended at the base of a large mountain, where a small alcove lead off into a dimly-lit cavern of flora that Espurr assumed must have been the dungeon. There was only one way to find out, so she walked up to it, and slowly crept inside.


Nectar Meadows

Espurr knew it was Nectar Meadows from the moment she walked in. There was nothing else it could be. The entire spacious cavern was filled with all sorts of plants, from moss to tall grass to various flowers that lined the walls and roof of the dungeon. Pollen hung in the air. The sweetness of flowers mingled with the rotting scent of mystery dungeon, making her wrinkle her nose as she walked. As Espurr stepped under one of the holes in the dungeon’s sunlight-filtered canopy, she saw that the halls ahead were completely empty.

But at least that meant there were no apparitions in the dungeon, just like the book said. She climbed to the next floor on that polished stone stairway unbothered. On the second floor, she sensed the presence of several other pokemon quietly observing her from the darkness. But if they were there, they did nothing but watch. The book had said some real pokemon lived in this dungeon…

At some point, on the next floor, it struck her that it had been too quiet. Where were all the beedrill the dungeon book had said would be here? And where was Tricky? Something didn’t add up. Had she gone to the wrong place after all?

She really hoped not.

All she could do was cautiously press on.

The pin missile suddenly slammed into her. It sent her flying back from sheer force until she hit the wall hard and tumbled to the ground. Espurr pulled herself back up as quickly as possible, ignoring her new aches. Her attacker was a large, hovering, insect-like creature she assumed was a beedrill. It was bigger than her. She stood her ground, brandishing her paws like they could somehow conduct her energy. She could do this. She could fight one off.

She quickly abandoned that thought when the first beedrill was joined by two others. The best idea was to run—

“Begone, foul beast!”

A shot of flame suddenly flew out of nowhere, sending the beedrill flying back. Espurr saw an offended sneer on one of their faces, before it was swallowed up by fire.

Tricky bounded out of a side route in the mystery dungeon and dashed up to Espurr, running past.

“C’mon!” her voice shot back. “Follow me if you wanna live!”

Espurr stumbled along, doing her best to keep up with Tricky as they ran as far away from the dazed beedrill.

Tricky was panting and looked run ragged. Suddenly, she made a detour into a dead-end on the side, practically pulling Espurr along with her.

They both pressed themselves up against the wall, trying to blend in with the flowers. The beedrill rocketed past, leaving them both behind.

“What are you doing here??” Tricky yipped excitedly once the dust had settled, and the beedrill were out of earshot. She sounded hyper, manic. Espurr shot her a look of disbelief. Of all the reactions she had been expecting, it wasn’t that.

“What am I doing?” she asked, the exasperation wavering in her voice. “I came here to look for you. You didn’t show up for class today. I skipped detention to come here! What would the teachers say if they knew you’d been frolicking around in mystery dungeons all day?”

“Touché.” Tricky didn’t seem particularly bugged by any of it. “I just woke up with so much energy today I had to run it off somehow, so I went exploring!”

She quickly paced back and forth in the side pocket, her movements stiff and erratic. Espurr could see her legs quaking, her ears flicking back and forth, her eyes peeled wide open like she couldn’t shut them, the way she was stretching the grin on her face. Had all this really happened just because they’d had a fight?

Espurr trailed off with an unsure sigh. How was she supposed to handle this? She’d only been around for a week.

“Let’s just go back to the school,” she carefully began. “Everymon’s worried, and you’re acti—"

“I was thinking we could go exploring in the Foreboding Forest next,” Tricky interrupted, like she hadn’t heard Espurr at all. She was chasing her tail in circles now. “And then we could run the School’s dungeon!”

Two thoughts came into Espurr’s mind: The school had its own mystery dungeon? And more importantly, had Tricky gone mad?

“…Are you sure you’re okay?” asked Espurr. At this point, she wasn’t sure either.

Tricky stared at her with a confused look, then burst into awkwardly fake laughter seconds later.

“Of course I’m okay!” she laughed out of herself. It sounded strained. “There’s nothing wrong! What makes you think I wouldn’t be okay?”

Espurr folded her arms, flicked her eyes over Tricky’s twig and dirt-ridden coat, and then gave Tricky a stare so telling there was absolutely no confusing its meaning.

“I mean yeah, I probably need a bath,” Tricky went on. “—Oh wait. No I don’t. I don’t need a bath! I never need a bath! I’m fine. I’m really fine! I’m totally fine! See?”

She pranced about in the nook of the dungeon she and Espurr were in for five seconds just to show Espurr how fine she was. Espurr wasn’t buying it.

“You don’t sound ‘fine’,” she said. “I think we should go ba—"

“No!” Tricky yipped, interrupting her again. The grin on her face was stretched so wide it was quaking. “I’m fine! I’m really fine! I have to be fine! I have to be! I have to be! See?”

She kept repeating that phrase. She was breathing heavily now, prancing around the small dead end as fast as she could to convince herself she really was fine. Espurr could see a tug-of-war between yellow and blue circling around Tricky, and it suddenly expanded into her—

It was like being hit with a train. Her vision became nothing but colors, and she lost her balance, falling flat on her behind. “Stop,” she whimpered, trying to shunt away the colors, the sheer force of it in her head, blotting out her sight, her thoughts. Tricky’s constant back and forth was intense, invading her mind, raising her stress levels by the second. She could feel everything Tricky felt, and it was too much. Too much. Too much!


She hadn’t realized she’d screamed it until the sound hit her ears, and something else blew out. Opening her eyes again, Espurr saw that all the flowers within a few feet of her had been uprooted, and Tricky had been blown a couple feet back. Knocked out of her mantra, she stared at Espurr in wide-eyed startlement. Then she calmed down. Her body stopped quaking as hard, her ears weren’t flicking back and forth anymore.

Then, slowly, she laid down in the middle of the ground. Her face was covered by her paws, and she was lightly trembling all over. Espurr slowly crawled forward,

“Th-that was an accident,” she said. “I didn’t mean it. I promise.”

Tricky suddenly let out an ugly sob. Espurr, inches away, froze.

“It’s my fault,” the fennekin croaked out.

“What’s your fault?” Espurr asked.

“Tricky’s just a nickname,” the fennekin began. It was quiet, barely loud enough to hear over the silence.

“My old name is Artemis. That’s what my Pops named me when he adopted me. I… had another friend before you. A year ago. He used to go exploring with me all the time. And…

She took a long shaky breath, as if to prepare for what she was about to say next:

“A-and I killed him.”


Serenity Village Outskirts


“Budew! Hurry up already!” Artemis’ ears twitched, sensing Budew as he dashed through the underbrush after her. They were at the outskirts of the village, where the buildings ended and the forest crept in, and he was already falling behind. She was going to leave him in the dust at this rate. “We’re supposed to go check out that mystery dungeon today!”

“Hah… Can’t you go a little slower?” Budew asked. “I’m dying back here.”

“Fiiine…” Artemis whined, falling back into a trot instead of a frolic. Why couldn’t her friends be as fast as she was?

“I thought we weren’t supposed to go into mystery dungeons,” Budew said once he had caught his breath. He adjusted the sky-blue scarf he wore like a cloak with his vines, quickly fixing Artemis’ before she could brush him away. He was a neat freak. She lived and breathed mess. They balanced each other out.

“Well, yeeeaaah,” Artemis drawled. “But it’ll only be in and out, and the adults won’t know a thing! Besides, all the great teams were doing this when they were our age! If we wanna grow up and join the Expedition Society one day, we need to start training now!”

“I guess…” Budew admitted. “Where do we go, though? Is there even a name for it?”

“It’s called Poliwrath River,” Artemis said. “Look—I know the way! I snuck a look at Farfetch’d’s maps today in class.”

“Then what are we waiting for?” Budew asked.

“I was just gonna ask you that,” Artemis said with a mischievous smirk on her face, and then she was off so fast that Budew had no hope of keeping up.

It felt like only seconds before they in front of the dungeon. It loomed above them, dark, gloomy, and overgrown unlike the neat, tidy forest around them. The border shimmered, reflecting the light in strange ways. There was a faint stench in the air, like something had died.

“I’m not so sure about this anymore…” Budew looked up at the entrance to Poliwrath River anxiously. “Can we go back now?”

“Nope! No take-backsies! You promised you’d go exploring with me today!” Before Budew could even protest, Artemis planted her head against his backside and began to push him up there herself.


“NOW can we go back?” Budew asked, glancing back longingly at the entrance of the mystery dungeon that they had just walked into. The place was dark and gloomy, overgrown just like the entrance was. Even Artemis had to admit it was creepy. But that just added to the thrill!

“You can’t go out of a mystery dungeon the way you got in, silly,” she waved him off. “The only way out now is up-up-up!

“Besides…” she added, countering Budew’s fearful face with a contagious grin. “This is a water-type dungeon! You have a type advantage here! Don’t you get how awesome that is??”

“I guess…” Budew said.

“Wait. You know type matchups?” he asked a second later.

“Yep.” Artemis trotted next to Budew, grinning like the smuggest fennekin in the world.

“I can’t believe you actually paid attention in dungeon class!”

“I try.”

All the chatter was clearly making Budew less and less anxious. That, and the fact that they had not encountered any enemy pokemon yet.

“So what kind of pokemon live around here anyway, ‘dungeon master?’”

“Uhh…” Artemis began. She hadn’t looked at that, she just knew the name. “It’s… a surprise!”

“A… surprise. Huh.”

“Yup,” Artemis nodded.

It happened in a split second. Artemis’ scream of surprise was downed out by Budew’s shriek as a large, mottled arm burst out of the foliage and snatched him up. It knocked Artemis out of the way; she hit the ground rolling, tumbling into a patch of golden weeds and out of sight.

Budew wasn’t so lucky. He ended up in the middle of the ambush.

There were two of them; massive, burly, poliwrath with mottled, slimy skin, making the most terrifying sounds as they pummeled and fought over Budew. They hadn’t seen her.

She wanted to do something, anything. But all of the sudden all that bravery and recklessness, those dreams of becoming a rescuer, left her. Terror petrified her, only able to watch with wide, terrified eyes as the scene continued. It was too painful to watch, but she could only watch, and listen to the sounds of Budew’s cries and leaves tearing apart and bones cracking.

It ended. Silence fell over the dungeon. She lost track of how much time she spent there, shivering, unable to process.

Slowly, she lifted herself to her paws with a sniffle, eyes bloodshot, and climbed out of the foliage.

“Budew?” she called out.

There was no answer.


She bolted forwards, terrified of what she might see. And when she did see it, she couldn’t look away.

She wanted to scream, but she couldn’t. All she managed was a croak, a waver in her throat. Next to what remained of Budew was the scarf Artemis had bestowed him as a sign of their friendship. It was clean, undamaged. There was only a single nick in it. He must have lost it early on.

That was the point where she couldn’t hold back the tears anymore. She grabbed Budew’s scarf in her mouth, and ran like the wind in the direction that would take her the farthest away from Budew. She didn’t care that she left his body behind, she couldn’t look at it; it was burned into her head when she closed her eyes. Her mind felt numb, woozy, unable to grasp that this was real. She shut down, recoiling from all thoughts except getting away from this place.

Somehow, she managed to blindly stumble her way out the dungeon by dark.



“Pops and the Principal said it wasn’t my fault,” Tricky continued. “But it is my fault! And I can’t... I can’t live without…”

Espurr sat and listened quietly. She didn’t say anything—how could she? There was nothing to say. She couldn’t even imagine what such an experience was like, let alone try to comfort Tricky with words. Instead, she settled for just comforting Tricky.

“I just want to forget,” she mumbled to herself, still breathing hard. “No-mon lets me forget. No-mon lets me just be Tricky. No-mon lets me…”

“Tricky…” Espurr began, reaching a paw out to console her.

“Tricky didn’t do this!” the fennekin suddenly snarled, looking up with wide eyes and aggressively brushing the paw away. “I did! Just… just… leave me alone!!”

She hopped up, spun around and bounded off down the dungeon tunnel before Espurr could say a word.

There wasn’t a question. She had to go after her. Tricky was going to get herself in trouble in her current condition for sure, big trouble. She could figure out what was going on later. Hopping to her feet, she began running after Tricky as fast as she could, even if she wasn’t as fast. There was still a little trip in her steps, but it stopped mattering. She just had to catch up.


Tricky ran down the dungeon aimlessly, the two scarves bound to her neck rustling with her movements. Where she went, she didn’t care. She’d find her way out! …Somehow. That’s what she always did.


Tricky ignored it. She could outrun them! They were only stupid bees.

But they were right in front of her.

But she could outrun them! She could do it! She was good at running! Really!

Not that good.

They converged upon her as soon as she got close enough, and even though she fought and screamed and tried to destroy them with her fire just like the Poliwrath had destroyed Budew, it was all for nothing. She felt a sudden painful stab in her side, and then she was suddenly too drowsy to stay awake anymore.


Espurr watched from a hastily-chosen hiding spot as the three beedrill made off with Tricky, lying unconscious in their stingers. As they buzzed off, she silently followed them. They went up one floor, then the next, until on the fifth floor they reached a large, open room that wasn’t a labyrinth. It was a sunny cavern, filled with bushes and flowers and plants of all shapes and sizes—this must have been the anchorstone!

Quietly following them in, Espurr hid behind a bush, watching as the beedrill set Tricky’s body down with a loud ‘thud!’.

“So what do we do with it?” One beedrill asked.

“It’s a honey thief,” the second one buzzed back. “The townymons never set foot in here unless they’re trying to steal our honey.” They folded their stingers. “I say we kill it.”

“Or we could take it back to the hive, like we’re supposed to do with intruders,” the third beedrill said.

“Waste of time,” the second one retorted. “It’s always a mess, and the others’ll never know.”

“And when the townymons come looking? It’s not a wild animal!”

That was it. Espurr shrunk deeper into the bush, huddling up and casting her focus away from their chatter. She needed a plan, and now. Before the Beedrill could finish cooking up whatever insane idea they were plotting.

And she was beginning to see the inklings of one.

“So what are we gonna do?” The third beedrill flapped its arms in frustration, floating back and forth in midair. “Are we just gonna wait for the honey thief to wake up? It’s a Fire—“

Clatter. All three beedrills’ heads spun to the other side of the room, where a rock had just skidded out into the open from behind a few bushes. A pair of sticks dancing at Espurr’s command shook the bushes and made it look like somemon was hiding in it.

Beedrill #2 shushed the others. With his head, he silently motioned for the others to follow as he buzzed forward.

And as they approached the bush at the other end of the room, Espurr ever-so-quietly slunk out towards Tricky. She held her paws out, honing her focus as the fennekin’s body began to move. Tricky rose unsteadily into the air, hovering in place. Espurr ignored the headache she could feel coming on. At the end of the room, she could see the stairs. A look at the beedrill said they were still busy with the bush; it was now or never. Renewing her focus on keeping Tricky in the air, she started running.

The sounds of leaves and branches ripping apart came from behind her, accompanied by several buzzing and stabbing noises. Espurr’s heart nearly skipped a beat. They were running out of time!

“Nnghh…” Tricky slowly shifted in midair, the beedrill’s poison slowly beginning to wear off. She slowly blinked herself awake. “…Whath’s… happenin’…”

“Quiet!” Espurr whispered, eyes wide and checking behind her frantically.

“Es…purr?” Tricky slurred out obliviously.

The stress was beginning to become too much. Espurr felt a sudden spike of pain flare up in her head, and tripped over a rock right after. She fell forward; Tricky fell unceremoniously to the ground.

Both Espurr and Tricky picked themselves up. Tricky, who was still feeling a little woozy from the poison, stood wobbly on all four legs. Then they both noticed the beedrill that were heading straight for them.

“Tricky, run!” was the only thing Espurr had time to say before turning back towards the stairs and dashing. Even an addled, sleepy Tricky had the sense to run for her life. They weren’t faster than the beedrill, but the stairs weren’t far. Only a few more seconds—

The beedrill quickly picked up the chase, zooming after them at speeds that seemed impossible for creatures of their size, and as Espurr and Tricky ran up the stairs and set foot on the next floor, one of the beedrill was fast enough to make it through. The staircase warped and disappeared behind them, the warping of space sending out a wind that blew the two of them forward into the hallway.

Their last chance, gone! Espurr and Tricky wasted no time trying to get farther away from the beedrill, but even with their newfound head start they were no match for the insect’s speed. The oversized insect ran them down and slammed into them from above, sending them tumbling into a dead-end to the left.

Beedrill #2 fell back into a hover as Espurr and Tricky coughed and tried to pick themselves up from the dungeon floor. He looked left, then right, then began to prepare his stingers.

“Alright then. I’m just gonna get rid of you myself. No-mon need even know you were here…”

Tricky attempted to hurl an ember at the beedrill, but only coughs and rasps came out of her throat. Her eyes widened in horror. A split second later, both of them barely ducked out of the way of the beedrill’s stingers. Espurr snatched up a rock off the ground and threw it at the beedrill. Her aim was spot on, and it clipped the beedrill in the face. They used that to get as much headway as they could.

“My throat hurts…” Tricky complained as they ran into the dungeon’s main hall and took a quick left turn.

Espurr didn’t have time to answer. The beedrill rounded the corner with sheer force and speed, heading straight for them and gaining ground fast.

“Hey!” it called out, bearing down directly on them. “You aren’t going to be able to run forever!”

A swipe of its stingers, and Espurr and Tricky barely avoided having the fur atop their heads sliced off.

They rounded another corner.

“I’m gonna catch you soon enough.” The beedrill dug its back stinger into the wall to bank the turn, leaving a large dent in the dungeon. “And when I do, I’m going to give the both of you a slow death just for all the trouble you’ve been. You’ll die miserable, rotting away in the dungeon as the plants feast upon your corpses!”

Tricky looked back at the last minute to see where the beedrill was. She suddenly rammed into Espurr and pushed her out the way at the last second before the beedrill’s spear could go through her stomach. Espurr hit the ground rolling on her side. Missing its mark, the beedrill swerved through the air as it stumbled to regain its balance.

Espurr got to her feet, looking at Tricky crumpled all up in the hallway behind her. In front of her, the beedrill rose in the air again, priming its stingers for one last shot.

“Really a shame you two can’t fight back,” he said, preparing to dive in for the kill. “But hey, what can a child do?”

This was it. Espurr felt power begin to rise up within her. Her fur began to glimmer with energy. Her ears unfurled, the insides gleaming with blinding light. Her eyes shone too. The power welled up to the surface, then stayed there. This time, she directed it into her paws. It was immense, and she couldn’t keep hold of it for long, but she didn’t need to. She looked up at the beedrill, who was hovering in front of her with his guard up.

“This,” she said.

All the power she had concentrated in her paws exploded out in a single, powerful blast that hit the beedrill right in the chest. The light was blinding, and Espurr didn’t see exactly what happened. Only that it was loud and spectacular, and all of the sudden she wasn’t feeling so great…

Her eyes fluttered. The sheen disappeared from her fur. Her legs suddenly felt unsteady. She fell to the ground, and lost consciousness.


Slowly coming to. Espurr’s eyes wearily blinked open once more.

She was, once again, surrounded by nothing but all-encompassing black. Another dream. Espurr brought herself to her feet, trying to ignore the aches and pains in her sides and head.

With a few quick looks around, she realized that her mind was not in the best shape right now. The explosion must have caused some damage to her surroundings—all around her, glowing white cracks wisped all throughout the air. A pang of fear struck its way through Espurr’s heart. If this was a dream, then had she somehow broken her mind?

But she didn’t feel broken. She felt just fine. Espurr inspected her body, devoid of the cracks that lined her surroundings. Maybe she’d just broken her dream, the one she’d been caught in for the past week.

She could live with that.

In the background, something slithered off.

Slowly, Espurr began to hear hushed voices slipping in and out in between the void. They swirled around her, mumbling and whispering phrases incessantly. Espurr quickly singled one out from all the others. The one that whispered a word she did understand: Human.

As if it had noticed it was being watched, Espurr felt the wind descend and spin loops around her. It strongly ruffled her fur with that rotting scent, but didn’t go back up to join the others that were spinning above her like a cyclone. Espurr made no sudden moves. She closed her eyes, and let her ears do the seeing for her.



When she woke up, the canopy of Nectar Fields met her. And it was moving… no, she was moving. She was being dragged through the dungeon, the dirt brushing roughly against her back as she slid. Blearily looking up, she could see Tricky dragging her along by a few tufts of her fur.

A few coughs sputtered out of her. All of the sudden, the dragging stopped.

“Espurr!” Tricky cried out, dashing in front of her and looking down. “Are you okay?”

Espurr was too bleary to form proper words. She settled for a small nod, ignoring how it made her headache spike. As her senses slowly fluttered back into view, she managed to drag herself up into an unsteady sitting position.

Now that the roof wasn’t spinning anymore, she noticed Tricky looked a lot worse for the wear. Her legs looked unsteady, and her tail was drooping weakly. She looked exhausted, like she was going to fall over any second.

“C’mon,” Tricky panted out, looking straight past her. “The exit’s over there! It’s just a few more steps!”

It was true. The hallway ended in light, shining so bright Espurr couldn’t see the corridor after it. She pulled herself to her feet, wobbling a little before righting herself. Her vertigo left her after a few seconds, and she was able to walk with Tricky all the way to the entrance before it could disappear or re-arrange itself somehow.



They came out the same way they had gotten in, just like they had in the Drilbur Mines. Espurr didn’t understand it at all, but she was learning to roll with the punches. Beside her, Tricky stumbled out the dungeon. They both sat down by the edge of the dungeon’s cavern, catching their breaths as they watched the sunset slowly set over the mountains, the edges of its rays casting the field a deep orange-green.

“There’s something I don’t understand,” Espurr said. “If Budew…” she trailed off, seeing Tricky’s ears suddenly flatten. “…If something bad happened in a dungeon, why do you keep going back into them?”

And why do you keep dragging me along with you?

“I don’t know,” Tricky muttered. She was curled up in a ball next to Espurr, her eyes directed at the ground instead of the sky. “When I’m in them, it’s like I can forget. I can just be… Tricky. Not the murderer. A-And then you showed up, and I wanted one friend who didn’t know, and I just thought if I tried really really hard…”

Her breathing started speeding up, and all of the sudden she was trying really hard not to look at Espurr. The blue invading the edges of Espurr’s eyes told her everything that she needed to know.

“You probably don’t wanna be—"

“Shake on it.”

The sudden interruption made Tricky stop. She looked at Espurr, her eyes flickering with confusion and surprise.


“Shake on it,” Espurr said, thrusting her paw out. “I’ll still be your friend. Just… as long as we aren’t only going into mystery dungeons. We can do other things too, y’know? Less… dangerous.”

“Why?” It sounded like Tricky barely dared to ask.

“Because real friends lift each other up,” Espurr said. “We haven’t been good friends, but maybe we could be.”

It was slow, but she watched as Tricky rose up from her spot on the ground, and held out her own paw for Espurr to grasp. They shook.

Espurr had never seen a brighter look on Tricky’s face, even as she was suddenly pulled into a tight hug by the fennekin, which she returned. All seemed to be well in the world.

Until Tricky quickly backed up with a sudden scared look on her face, and threw up on the ground in front of her.


Carracosta’s House

“You FOOLS!!”

Carracosta stood in his study, looming over his desk at them. On the other side stood Tricky and Espurr, both looking ashamed.

“Just what were you thinking, wandering off into a mystery dungeon like that?!” He yelled at them. “You could have died! You could have been trapped in there! And you are both lucky I keep pecha berries around, because Tricky would not have made the night alive without them!

He gave them both an intense glare, causing Tricky to droop. Espurr had to stop herself from taking a couple steps back—he was intimidating.

“Have I imposed upon you the seriousness of what you have done?”

Tricky nodded her head as fast as it would nod. Espurr looked at Tricky and quickly nodded her head too, before she ended up setting off Carracosta even more.

“Good!” Carracosta turned to Espurr. “Now the school tells me you’re under their custody until the start of summer, so I’ll leave your punishment to them. But you…” he glared at Tricky. “No sweets for a week! Vegetables and berries only!”

“But Pops—“ Tricky whined.

“AND an early bedtime! Go!”

Seeing that arguing back was futile, Tricky slunk off to her room dejectedly.

“And you!” Carracosta boomed at Espurr. “Out!”

“Mr. Carracosta—” Espurr began, trying to explain. “We didn’t mean to—"



The last rays of sunlight were disappearing over the mountains to the west when Espurr stepped out of Carracosta’s house. Nuzleaf’s place was unlit and idle; she suspected he was an early sleeper. She let the door shut behind her, quiet surrounding her for the first time in hours. With nothing but the chirping of bugs to fill the air, it felt… wrong. Too empty.


Espurr heard the sound whistle out of the bushes just outside the door to Tricky’s house. Seconds later, Tricky stepped out of the bushes, shaking a stray leaf out of her fur.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” Espurr asked.

“Nah.” Tricky took a seat next to the porch. “Pops never thinks about the windows. I use them to get out all the time and he’s never guessed a thing!”

She turned around and began to dig through the bush.

“I just wanted to give you this,” Tricky said through her teeth, pulling an entire appleberry out of the bush by the stem. “Pops gave me two, but I’m not that hungry tonight, so I wanted you to have it!”

She handed it to Espurr the best she could with her mouth. Espurr took it in her paws. Now that Tricky mentioned it, she really was famished.

“Tricky?” Espurr said, before the fennekin could finish slipping off back to her bedroom window. It had been present in her mind ever since the dream. She needed to say it. “Can you keep a secret?”

Tricky cocked her head. “What is it?”

Espurr took a deep breath, then blurted the phrase out:

“I’m Human.”


Open Seas ~ Water Continent

~Mawile and Archen~

“Let me ask this again, just to make sure!” Archen tried his best to keep the water out of his eyes as he squawked over the wind and held on for dear life. “Do you have any idea where you’re going?!”

Like the other times Archen had asked, he got no response from the sharpedo they were struggling to hold on to. A nasty freak storm building out on the water had stopped their trip home in its tracks, forcing them to camp out on one of the Water Continent’s more remote islands for the night. Now they were heading full-speed ahead for the Water Continent, but Archen was convinced that they were in fact going in circles. He hadn’t even seen a hint of land for ages, and already the weather was beginning to seem colder all over.

Mawile was much in the same spot that Archen was. Hanging on for dear life, she also had to make sure their bag of supplies wasn’t swept away in the east-blowing winds. Already they had lost a few things before Mawile was able to properly zip the bag, but nothing of major importance was gone… yet.

Archen was nearly thrown to the side as the sharpedo made a sudden bank to the right.

“What gives?!” Archen cried, but his shouts were lost to the winds and forgotten when he saw what Sharpedo was heading away from: A boat. An actual, wooden boat.

He glanced towards Mawile the best he could over the splashing water. Mawile leaned in towards the sharpedo, and whispered something in its earhole. The sharpedo nodded the best it could, then made a left-hand bank for the ship. Archen stared at the earhole on his side in disbelief. That was all it took?!


“Welcome, members of the Expedition Society!” Governor Primarina spread his fins in a welcoming gesture, bowing his head dramatically as Mawile and Archen stepped aboard the lavish ship. The wind ruffled Archen’s feathers eastward. Braixen, who had a far more flat expression on his face, retracted his mechanical pen and stuck it back in his fur. If Archen looked out of the corner of his eye, his fur almost seemed to lose definition.

“Thank you for hosting us aboard your ship, Governor,” Mawile politely said.

“Oh, it’s no problem at all,” Primarina said. “I always bring aboard any struggling seafarers the Exeggutor may come across aboard.”

“We didn’t need to stop the ship for this.” Braixen folded his arms nonchalantly, leaning against the Exeggutor’s mast. His lavender fur blew to the west. “That sharpedo is more than capable of taking them to land—“

He was suddenly interrupted by the sound of a sharpedo turning around and skidding back out to sea.

“…I stand corrected,” Braixen admitted reluctantly. “No objections.” And with that, he silently walked past Primarina and into the ship’s cabin. “We’ll dock at Lively Town at 1200 hours.”

“Please excuse Braixen,” Primarina said. He massaged his temples with one of his flippers. “He’s my secretary. He can be unruly when the whim strikes him.”

“It’s no bother at all,” Mawile responded, but Archen could almost see the gears whirring in her head through her eyes, which fixated on Primarina skeptically. She knew something.

And as Primarina led them into the Exeggutor’s main cabin, he could tell something was off as well.


From Wartortle's Guide to Dungeoneering: Class A Dungeon

The weakest and most benevolent of dungeons are Class A dungeons, which turn a small spot of ground into a large, static labyrinth. Hazards known to mystery dungeons do not often appear in Class A variants, such as fog, apparitions, and winds. Due to the benevolence of Class As, some tribes of pokemon make their home in these dungeons, away from the hustle and bustle of the towns.

Music of the week!

You're My Friend
- Yuki Kajiura
Last edited:
1~Ten - The Dungeon Test


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
Today's headline: Unrest on Air Continent following continued silence from Rescuer's Guild

The Rescuer's Guild on Air has been silent for nearly two weeks now, beginning to prompt questions and unrest from many in the local towns. Civilians worry about a lack of law enforcement, shortages in supply, and their loved ones over in the guild.

"I have a daughter over there," said Seviper of Baram Town. "She's only been at the guild for a few months, and we haven't heard from her in weeks. It's taking all my willpower just to stay put like the mayor asked us, but we don't know, we don't know if she's okay."

Mayor Honchkrow declined to comment on the matter.

~ Cloud Nine News Network




The Exeggutor

~Mawile and Archen~

Ambassador Primarina was far less pleasant than he seemed. He lounged around in a luxurious bath in the ship’s bridge cabin, lazily enjoying the water until the ship made its dock at Lively Town. Braixen had disappeared off to lurk somewhere, while Mawile went over the photos one last time with the now-dying expedition gadgets and Archen milled around the room uncomfortably.

There was the sound of water swishing around, and Primarina rolled himself into a position fit for talking.

“As you know, I’ve been made aware of the fact that you have photos meant for the possession of Cloud Nine,” he said. “In fact, the Exeggutor was just sailing to Lively Town to pick those photos up. Is there any chance we can quicken this exchange?”

Mawile froze, a rare occurrence for her. Unlike Mayor Honchkrow, Ambassador Primarina had complete jurisdiction over any guilds on the Water Continent, and could even overrule a direct order from Ampharos if need be. When Primarina wanted something, he got it. But there was no technology on this ship to extract those photos, meaning she’d need to relinquish the expedition gadgets to him. He would see everything. He would see that she had been making copies. And that was a line Mawile wasn’t willing to cross.

“You wouldn’t be able to make any use of them,” she finally said. “They’re buried deep in the photo archives by now. I intend to send them by Pelipper Post once we arrive at the Society and I can use proper technology to sort them out.”

“Nonsense!” Primarina waved a flipper in what looked like amused dismissal. “I shall sort them out on Cloud Nine.”

“Oh, I assure you Expedition Society technology is quite incompatible with the tech on Cloud Nine,” Mawile responded. “Our engineer designed them that way on purpose to ensure no-mon would copycat.”

Primarina couldn’t stop a scowl from building on his face. “Troubling…” he muttered.

Archen knew that the tech on Cloud Nine was very much compatible with the Expedition Gadgets, but for some reason Mawile didn’t want Primarina to know that.

“Very well, then.” Both Mawile and Archen’s heads turned towards Primarina, who lay his flipper back down in the bath in defeat. “There is no need for the Pelipper Post. I shall await at the Expedition Society myself for the photos. I assume you can host me?”

Mawile jumped upon the offhand comment like it was an escape rope. “We will do everything in our power to make your stay at our Society a pleasant one, Ambassador. Is there a transmission device we can use to notify the others? Our gadgets are out of power, I’m afraid.”

Primarina sighed.

“That way,” he said, pointing towards an inconspicuous side door. “Braixen will help you if you have trouble. It was his idea to install it.”

Mawile politely nodded her thanks, getting up and walking through the door. Archen reluctantly followed.


Carracosta’s House

~Espurr and Tricky~

There was a long bout of silence, in which Espurr feared the worst. Had she said something so ridiculous that even Tricky wouldn’t believe it?

Then Tricky let out a snicker. She couldn’t hold it in anymore.

“Bwa-ha-ha!!” she laughed. “That’s good!” she looked up at Espurr, who was staring at her with that same unreadable expression she almost always had on her face.

“…Wait. You’re serious?” Tricky looked at Espurr, bug-eyed. If Espurr was Human… than it made way too much sense. “No way! You’re totally serious!”

This was awesome!!

Tricky resisted the urge to prance around in excitement, leaning in close to Espurr.

“You can’t tell anymon else about this,” she said, her voice dramatically low for secrecy. “Not under any circumstances!”

“Wait. You… believe me?” Espurr looked surprised.

“Well duh I believe you! Don’t you see how awesome this is?!” Tricky pranced back towards the window, then back towards Espurr, then back towards the window, then back towards Espurr, then back towards the window, then back towards Espurr again.

“Meet me at the school library an hour before school begins! I’ll be there I promise!”


School Grounds

Tricky wasn’t there. In fact, she was almost an entire hour late. Which left them just ten minutes before the last day of school officially began. Espurr, who had been examining the spiderlike cracks in the building’s wall out of boredom for the last ten minutes, glanced up as Tricky stumbled up the hill and slid to a stop right into her personal space. She was wearing one of the blue scarves from her bedroom today, untidily stuck in her fur.

“Sorry…” she panted, shaking her coat off. “I overslept. I came here as fast as I could!”

The library itself was just an old, dim warehouse full of dusty old books, so Espurr and Tricky had no trouble slipping in through an unlocked window and searching the narrow, tall, crooked shelves until they found the book Tricky wanted.

“See this team?” Tricky shoved a book titled ‘Mons and Mystery Dungeons: A Complete History’ into Espurr’s face. There on the page lay a paw-drawn painting of a charizard, wartortle, and bayleaf. The oils were faded, dulled, but the picture was still clear. “That’s Team Go-Getters! They saved the entire world from a meteor almost two centuries ago! Wartortle writes books. I have all of them under my bed.”

“How does that relate to me?” Espurr asked.

“Well, get this:” Tricky put her front paws on the book and leaned in close. “Wartortle was Human!”

Tricky’s loud voice at close quarters rattled Espurr’s hearing a little, but all the sudden it all made a little more sense. Just not sense in a good way.

“Don’t you get what this means?” Tricky went on.

“That the world’s about to be struck by another meteor?”

“No! Wait—“ Tricky stuck her nose in the book once more and leafed to another page, where an artist’s impression of a meowth, a litleo, and a shinx sat. “Look at these guys!”

“…Also Humans?” Espurr guessed.

“Nope, just Meowth,” Tricky replied. “These guys—Team Ion—were the ones who restarted Time a century ago! And—And—“

She leaved even further into the book.

“Them—Team Anthem—They defeated the Bittercold 50 years ago!” Espurr looked at the pikachu and the dewott on the page, painted with those same faded, flaking oils. “Dewott’s the Human.”

Tricky snapped the book shut, her tail wagging excitedly. “NOW do you get it?”

Espurr had caught the trend. But she still didn’t understand how it meant anything good.

“But if I’m here… doesn’t that mean the world is about to be destroyed again?” she asked Tricky. “Which isn’t a good thing? I don’t see how that’s awesome.”

“Well…” Tricky’s happy look faltered, the wagging of her tail lessening for a second. “Maybe, —but still! This means we have to go on an adventure and get strong enough so we can defeat whatever’s coming to destroy the world this time!”

Espurr just gave Tricky an unconvinced look. That was not happening.

“…What?” Tricky asked. “It’s a good plan…”

It wasn’t.

“Alright, everymon front and center!” The distant, shrill sound of Vice Principal Watchog’s voice drifted in from outside the window, catching their attention. Jerking into motion, both Espurr and Tricky scrambled to get out of the library, tripping over as few books as possible on the way out.

On their way back to the school clinic, Tricky suddenly stopped short halfway across the hill, her front paws planting themselves into the ground.

“Berry crackers,” she swore aloud.

“What is it?” Espurr came a stop much more gracefully than Tricky had, looking back at Tricky urgently.

“You cut detention yesterday!” Tricky explained. “And I cut class! Watchdog’s gonna have our tails!”

Berry crackers. That was true. Espurr hadn’t even thought about that. If only…

If only…

…If only Watchog never even noticed them in the first place.

“We’ll climb in through the back,” Espurr decided. “Just walk in when I tell you to and he won’t even notice we were there.”

Tricky gave Espurr a perplexed look, but she wasn’t arguing.

As they both crept up to the school clinic, Espurr peeked in through the window while Tricky crouched down beside her. Watchog was pacing the classroom stiffly, while the other four students sat on the straw beds. On one of the counters near the far end of the clinic, she could see the baskets sitting beside a window, stacked high. If she could just nudge them a little closer…

It took some concentrating, but the stack of baskets slowly moved towards the end of the counter, and then fell off—

As they hit the ground with a loud clatter, Espurr ducked behind the window and huddled down with Tricky. Watchog let out a high-pitched shriek at the noise; Espurr was pretty sure he’d jumped at least a whole measure back. She couldn’t stop herself from grinning. Tricky was trying not to snicker so hard some steam forced its way out of her ears.

“Now!” Espurr whispered to Tricky, who dashed in through the back window like a yellow blur and took a spot near the back of the room. Espurr was right after her.

“Alright, listen up!” Watchog had finished gathering the baskets from the wood floor, returning to his militaristic pace of the classroom. “The final exam before Summer Vacation isn’t a cakewalk like the other two. You’re going to be heading into the school’s very own mystery dungeon, and you will need to rely on the things taught in my class if you want to clear the dungeon with a passing grade. We only use this dungeon for the exam, so you will be forced to deal with things you’ve only been taught about in books and school.”

He suddenly pivoted towards the class, leaning in intensely with a scrutinizing eye.

“First rule! Teams of three! Why? Go!”

Deerling raised her hoof. Watchog waited expectantly for an answer.

“Three is the proper number for a mystery dungeon team, sir?” Deerling guessed.

“That’s correct! Second rule! Dungeon safety kit! What’s in it? Go!”

Shelmet got that one.

“Two oran berries, a pecha berry, and an escape orb,” he answered proudly. “Easy.”

“Wrong!” Watchog barked loudly, nearly jolting him out of his shell. “You forgot the elixir! The paralysis wands! The warp seeds! What’s it gonna be like if you’re in a dungeon and you run out of those things?”

Shelmet shrunk back into his shell, only his eyes peeking out. Espurr decided Watchog was enjoying having the floor way too much.

“Third rule!” Watchog returned to his pacing. “What do you do if you get cornered by an enemy? Go!”

Tricky raised her paw excitedly.

“Use an item!” she called out. The sudden spike of green Espurr saw shoot out of her said she’d realized that was a mistake way too late.

Watchog’s gaze turned to Tricky and Espurr, and Espurr froze. Watchog narrowed his eyes, but he didn’t say anything to them.

“Correct. You’ll find supplies in the Principal’s office,” he said lowly. “Go on! Get out!”


“I can’t believe I’m with Pancham!” Deerling stormed. “And Shelmet! They’re both creeps!”

Watchog had quickly shooed them all out of the clinic, and then they went around the back and down the other side of the hill. There, the woods beyond shimmered, refracting the light in strange ways. It seemed to drive away the light, casting the woods beyond in darkness. The faintest hints of something rotting danced in the air.

“I’m afraid the teams were drawn randomly,” Farfetch’d said, fiddling with his leek. “Even if you didn’t get the pokemon you wanted to be partnered with, you’ll still be expected to work together as a team.”

“Well, can’t we have a redraw?” Deerling complained.

“No redraws!” Watchog cut in. “You know as well as I do this test takes all day,” he told Farfetch’d. “And if one student gets a redraw...” He let his sentence hang in the air to draw out the impact.

In the corner, Pancham and Shelmet did a victory dance.

Since Deerling was with Pancham and Shelmet, that left Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy on the other team. Each team was allotted by Audino one bag filled with all the supplies they’d need, under Watchog’s pretense of ‘all real exploration teams having only one supply bag’. Tricky strongly insisted she was going to be the team’s bag carrier despite Espurr being best for the job, and eventually both teams were at the foot of the dungeon, ready to begin the test.

“Just… be careful, okay?” Deerling told Goomy in the couple of minutes they had before Watchog walked in to start the test. Goomy nodded, and Deerling reluctantly backed off to join Pancham and Shelmet.

“Everymon ready?” All heads turned, as Watchog and the other teachers walked into the clearing, followed by none other than Principal Simipour himself.

“It’s only right that I should be here to see all the students off for the final exam of the Spring Semester,” he explained, seeming to notice most of the school was shocked to see him.

“Now I don’t wanna hear anything about fights and foul play, you hear me?” Watchog barked. “You encounter each other in the dungeon, you just walk away. Your mission is to capture one of the two red flags placed at the dungeon’s anchorstone by myself and Farfetch’d last night. First team to return with their flag wins.”

Watchog stood back, and silently shooed them all off into the dungeon. Deerling’s team went first, and once the entrance had finished warping around them and had returned to normal, Espurr’s team followed.


School Forest

“You know we need a team name, right?” Tricky eagerly pranced about with the exploration bag slung over her back as they walked through the school dungeon. “Maybe something like the Adventurous Exploration Squad! Or— ooh— the ‘Dungeon Destroyers’!”

Her two teammates were nowhere near as eager. Goomy looked more than a little frightened of the woods around him, but Espurr was worried for a completely different reason: This was it. This was the forest. The one she had woken up in just a week ago. The one where she had been hunted down by the beheeyem. The one where she had broken her arm. It had been the school’s very own mystery dungeon!

And now she was back. What if the beheeyem were back too? What if they had never left?

She didn’t want to risk another encounter if she didn’t have to. Espurr cast a look behind them, just in case the entrance to the dungeon might still have been open.

It wasn’t. And using the escape orb to magic herself out of the dungeon meant a failing grade from Watchog for sure.

Not that anymon but Audino and maybe the Principal would listen if Espurr told them about the Beheeyem.

“Tricky?” Espurr began, trying to keep the shake out of her voice. The fennekin looked back questioningly. “Can I carry the exploration bag for now?”

Like she expected, Tricky did not look happy at the idea of losing the exploration bag.

“I guess…” she mumbled, telegraphing her disappointment. “Why do you need it, anyway?”

“Just a bad feeling,” Espurr said.

Lugging a heavy exploration bag through the dungeon’s many twists and turns was less-than-convenient, Espurr soon found out. By the time they reached the second floor, she was already sagging under its weight. But that was okay—the bag made her feel safer. She clutched its strap like it was a stuffed doll, or a magic shield that could protect her. A heavy magic shield, but she could cope. She thought she saw Goomy looking at her in concern a few times, but for the most part he was busy just sticking with her and not getting himself lost.

Free of the bag’s weight, Tricky constantly pranced ahead of Espurr and Goomy, peeking around corners for dungeon ‘mon and giving them paw signals when the coast was clear. Espurr thought it was dramatic, but it did save them from dungeon apparitions they would have otherwise walked into.

The Dungeon Anchorstone, Tricky explained, was the patch of land a mystery dungeon formed around. An anchorstone could be a cave or a rock or a tree or a grassy field, but it would always remain the same, no matter where it ended up in the dungeon.

“Everything in a dungeon is made from parts of the anchorstone,” Tricky went on, “So you always know what to look for when you find it!”

“But if everything around us is made from the same parts,” Espurr asked, “how will we know when we get there?”

“Well…” Tricky began. “You’ll just… You’ll know it when you see it! And there are the flags too. Unless Pancham got to them first…” she spat.


“But dear Deerling,” Pancham began, using one of his lame pick-up lines for the tenth time. “—Or should I say, ‘Dearling’?”

“Please stop,” Deerling groaned. “Don’t make me murder you.”

“But you wouldn’t do that, Dear Deerling,” Pancham continued, snuggling up close to Deerling’s earth green coat as they walked.

“Try me.” Deerling swiftly sidestepped Pancham and let him hit the ground.

“Now that—th—that was just cruel.” Pancham picked himself up, trying to make it look like it had never happened in the first place.

“You know,” Shelmet panted out once he had caught up reasonably with the group. “I was thinking… maybe we should have a team name of some sort. Like ‘The Serenity Village Squadron’ or something. Whadyaguys think?” Only seconds later, he regretted ever letting those words leave his mouth. Pancham spun around, giving Shelmet the worst look he could muster.

“Really?” he lectured Shelmet. “You really wanna be like the pest?”

Shelmet shook his head fearfully.

“Thought so.” Pancham turned his head back around and stated looking far too proud of himself. And that was just a peg too far.

“Actually, Shelmet,” Deerling began. “That sounds like a wonderful activity to pass the time.”

“Wait—what?” Shelmet eyed her in confusion. Since when did Deerling of all pokemon pay attention to him?

“You heard me. Let’s brainstorm some names.” Deerling trotted down the path, smugly savoring the rare cowed look upon Pancham’s face. “Me… I think ‘The Merry ‘Mon’ sounds like a good nickname.”

“You wouldn’t dare,” Pancham seethed.

“Watch me,” Deerling responded in the sweetest voice she could muster. “Don’t you want to be a Merry ‘Mon?”

Pancham looked somewhat horrified at the prospect of being a Merry ‘Mon, but he simply growled and folded his arms annoyedly.

“Dungeon ‘mon ahead!” Shelmet yelled loudly. “To the right! Look!” Both Pancham and Deerling’s heads spun around to see what Shelmet was looking at. In the distance, a trio of pokemon were making their way through the dungeon tunnels. Deerling’s breath caught, as she realized those weren’t dungeon ‘mon—they were the other team!

Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy all stopped short at the sound of distant talking to their left.

“I-is it a dungeon ‘mon?” Goomy asked.

“No, it’s…” over by the corner of the hallway ahead, Tricky craned her neck and squinted her eyes to get a better look.

“…Holy mystery dungeon. That’s Pancham’s team!” she quickly scampered back to where Espurr and Goomy were standing. “And they’re heading this way!”

Sure enough, Deerling, Pancham, and Shelmet were in fact heading straight towards them. Espurr had the creeping feeling it wasn’t going to end well.

“Are you sure we should be doing this?” Deerling lectured Pancham as he strode towards Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy. “You heard what Watchog said—walk away!”

“What Watchog doesn’t know don’t hurt him,” Pancham replied. “This is revenge for the mines.”

Shelmet was too busy trying not to get left behind to add anything of substance to the conversation.

“Well, well, well.” Pancham came to a stop in front of Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy, who were all standing their ground at the dungeon crossroads. “If it isn’t the pests. It seems like we’ve come to an impasse.”

“Just let us pass, you big meanie!!” Tricky yelled at Pancham. Espurr silently prepared for a fight, if it was going to come to that.

“As much as I hate to agree with Tricky, she’s right,” Deerling said. “You guys all know what Watchog told us. Just walk away!”

“Y-yeah! Listen to Watchog!” Goomy added in from Espurr’s side.

“Y-yeah,” Pancham mimicked, making a crude imitation of Goomy’s voice. “L-l-listen to Watchdog. You guys walk away, and maybe we’ll return your flag in one piece.”

Something snapped. Tricky stepped up, staring Pancham dead in the eye. She took an attack stance.

“Guys?” Tricky asked, her tone making it clear that it wasn’t a question. “When have we ever listened to Watchdog?”

There was a brief moment of silence, as all the students tried to think of a single time that they had ever listened to Watchdog. Espurr resisted the urge to slap her paws into her face and groan. Did everything have to end with a fight?

“…Good point,” Pancham said, and then he punched Goomy clean across the wall.


Tricky’s declaration of war was cut short when she received a rock to the snout, and then everything became chaos. Tricky attacked Pancham. Shelmet attacked Tricky. Pancham attacked them both. Espurr tried to get to Goomy, who was currently trying to make sense of being splattered across the dungeon wall. The exploration bag she was carrying bounced heavily against her side as she ran, and she found it hard to keep her balance with the bag and dodge the stray debris and attacks from the ongoing fight at the same time.

“Stop this!” Deerling shouted, stamping her hooves into the ground. “Stop this right now! Pancham!” a loose Ember from Tricky hit her square in the face and sent her reeling back.

“U-ugh…” Goomy was still a little dizzy by the time Espurr reached him. She quickly made to grab him—looked for a tangible place to grab—then finally settled for one of his slimy flailing paws. Quietly, they both huddled behind a rock until the fighting subsided.

“That’s it! You guys made me do this!” Deerling took a battle stance. She took a deep breath, then charged headfirst at Pancham, Tricky, and Shelmet. All three of them were knocked apart by Deerling’s headbutt. Tricky fell on her back, spitting out an ember into the endless canopy in surprise. A tree branch came falling down, and Espurr realized almost too late it was coming down upon her and Goomy—

She did the first thing she could think of. She summoned some of her mind power and shunted Goomy out of the way.

Espurr was lucky enough to avoid being crushed by the branch. The exploration bag was not so fortunate. The seams ripped out from under the branch’s weight, sending the combination of an escape orb and a warp seed hurtling right to the ground in front of Espurr. There was a bright flash, and then Espurr was gone.

The dust settled. Everymon picked themselves up. Goomy slimed out from around the branch and looked at the contents seeping out of the crushed bag worriedly. Pancham got up from where he had landed, right on top of his own team’s exploration bag.

There was a moment of silence, as everymon took in what they had just done.


Pancham then said a word that made Deerling gasp in shock.



The two teams agreed to walk away after that incident. Pancham, Shelmet, and Deerling had walked off in a huff, all for different reasons, while Tricky and Goomy carefully continued down the hallway. The stairs had been grimers and moved themselves while Tricky wasn’t looking, which meant that both teams were now searching again. Espurr probably would have said that was a blessing in disguise.

Espurr… just the thought made Tricky’s stomach do a little loop-de-loop. But she had teleported out of the dungeon when the tree hit that bag… right? Right. That was what escape orbs did. She had to have. Especially because if she didn’t it was Tricky’s fault but Tricky didn’t want to think about that.

Tricky tried not to think about Goomy, either. He looked scared, but that came with exploring and he clearly wasn’t cut out for it. He was just slowing her down. She even had to go back for him a few times, having left him behind in her hurrying onwards. She hoped the stairs were near…

The stairs were in what Tricky had assumed was a dead end the first time around because there was little else it could have been. Except the hiding spot of the stairs.

Tricky wanted to climb them so badly. She’d get ahead of Pancham’s team soooo easily. She’d get the flag first! She’d win! She and Espurr would get perfect grades!

But she couldn’t.

She couldn’t, because Goomy was taking a full hour to get his slimy behind over here. At this rate she was going to run into Pancham and Deerling again.

Tricky wondered where Goomy was, actually. She hadn’t really noticed him for the past few turns…

“GOOMY!” Tricky called out into the dungeon. Her voice echoed down the hall. There was no answer. Tricky even went up to the very edge of the passage and peeked out both ways. Nothing but dungeon.

She turned back and scampered down the hall, all the way back several corners until she was worried she’d lose the pathway to the stairs. He wasn’t there. He must have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

“GOOMY!” she called again. It echoed down the hall. Nothing.

Well, m-maybe he'd gone ahead. Or bumped into the stairs by accident. Yeah. That sounded like him. She didn't leave him behind, this floor wasn't that large anyway. She'd catch up with him on the next floor and then Espurr after that, and then they'd take the flag and everything would be alright again. She just needed to not get left behind.

Trying not to think about the alternative, Tricky quickly scampered up the stairs.



Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily.

She didn’t remember the last time an escape orb had spirited her away, but she hoped it had not been as uncomfortable as that. She felt dizzy and like puking.

The first thing she noticed was that she was lying on her back. She rolled over and tried to pull herself to her feet, but she was still too disoriented to stand properly. The second thing she noticed was the sound of the river rushing in the distance.

A river. Espurr’s ears pricked up, and that was when she truly opened her eyes.

She recognized this patch of the forest. And although she couldn’t see the river, the sound of it rushing by clicked in her head, and then so did everything else: She was back. And all alone.

Half of her wanted to freak out and hide in a tree until somemon found her. The other half pointed out how badly that had gone the last time and proposed that she around for help instead. The third, mostly overlooked part cordially suggested that she use her newfound knowledge of mystery dungeons to try and find her own way out. That was the plan Espurr decided to go with.

Her dizziness had lifted enough for her to be able to stand properly. The bag wasn’t anywhere to be found, but she was a bit too rattled to care much about it now. She slowly walked through the woods, ready to unleash a psychic blast on the first thing she saw or heard move. The place didn’t have the same feel to it that it had a week ago. It wasn’t deathly quiet like it had been before, and the sounds of what sounded like the local wildlife slowly lowered Espurr’s guard a little as she went on.

It didn’t take her long to figure out that this was the dungeon’s anchorstone. It explained why it didn’t look anything like a dungeon, for starters. She had no way of knowing how long that uninterrupted rushing river she was currently following was, but now that Espurr had some basic mystery dungeon education, she couldn’t believe she hadn’t figured it out in the week she’d had.

This was good. This made things so much easier now. One-by-one, all the other students were going to enter this floor—the anchorstone—and then it would be easy cruising to the top. And Espurr hadn’t even seen a single trace of the beheeyem, which only made her day better.

Now all she had to was find the flags. Part of Espurr wondered if this dungeon had been crafted from an entire forest simply from how big the anchorstone was, but she also knew Watchog and Farfetch’d wouldn’t just drop the flags in any old place. The river was the only thing that acted anything like a map. So Espurr continued to follow it.

Eventually, she saw them—two red flags, waving in the air from their spots in the ground. Espurr began to run up towards them. As she got closer, she could make them out better—they were the flags alright! Now all she had to do was stakeout for the other teams.

Until she felt the heart-wrenching feeling of stepping into thin air, and suddenly she was falling, and then Espurr hit the ground several feet down. And then she whacked her head against a rock and blacked out.


School Grounds


The entrance to the dungeon warped. Then it burst open for a split second, and spat out Tricky. The fennekin hit the ground rolling, a red flag hanging out of her mouth.

“Ab Team Dungeof Rubbers tafes tha prise!!” Tricky declared in triumph through a mouthful of flag. She spat it out for good measure, even though she didn’t seem to have an audience. None of the teachers were here. But none of the other students were here either. Tricky tilted her head. She didn’t see Espurr or Goomy on the way up here, so she thought they made it out first…

“Actually, that’s us,” said Deerling from the trees. Seconds later, she strode into view, accompanied by Pancham and Shelmet. “The Merry ‘Mon.”

Pancham opened his mouth to say something to the opposite effect, but just closed it, folded his arms, and pouted.

“But… I was supposed to make it back first!” Tricky angrily declared. “I even got the first flag and everything!”

“You and what army?” Shelmet bounced back.

“Yeah…” Deerling’s eyes narrowed, scanning Tricky and realizing something. She slowly clopped forward. “What about Espurr? And Goomy?”

Tricky’s face fell. She slowly began to back away as Deerling approached.

“D-didn’t they come out with you guys?”

“Tricky, where are they.”

Tricky gulped.

“I… lost them?”

Deerling stopped. It was hard for Tricky to tell what she was thinking, but it was clear that cogs of rage were turning inside Deerling’s head.

“You sick ANIMAL!” she suddenly shouted, sending Tricky reeling back against the nearest tree for balance.

“You lost them?!?” Deerling continued, her face practically red as she stormed towards Tricky. “Espurr and Goomy are living, breathing ‘mon, and you LOST them like toys?!”

Tricky’s ears could not have drooped any lower. She lay curled up at the foot of a nearby tree, pleading for Deerling’s mercy with her eyes. Deerling had none.

“I can’t believe you did that,” she seethed. “Oh, wait. Yes I can. Because that’s what you do. You lose pokemon. Just like you ‘lost’ Budew. You know that’s why Mrs. Rosiela moved away, right? Not because she couldn’t handle winter, but because she couldn’t handle winter without Budew! I am not letting you do the same thing to Goomy and Espurr. Find them. Now.” Deerling stamped her hoof into the ground.

Tricky did nothing but huddle down further and whimper. She didn’t want to think about this anymore. She just wanted to go exploring and make friends and not… think…

“Alright, that’s enough!”

Everymon looked up. Deerling quickly backed away as all four of the teachers entered the clearing.

“Is that the other team?” Watchog asked. “Can we start grading?”

The teachers stopped short once they caught sight of Tricky, but not Goomy and Espurr. Watchog sputtered for a second.

“Wh—where’s the other team??” he asked.

“They got left,” Deerling spat. “in the dungeon.”

The reaction between the teachers was split. Audino and Farfetch’d both looked horrified, while Watchog’s annoyance grew and Simipour’s reaction was unreadable.

“Leave it to the troublemaker to lose her entire team… Alright, somemon needs to go in after them,” Watchog began.

“I’ll volunteer.”

Everyone looked at Audino, who was returning with Gabite’s old exploration bag slung over her shoulder. It took all of Tricky’s willpower not to point that out.

Watchog didn’t seem too thrilled at the prospect of spending over an hour alone with Audino, but he didn’t contest it. Instead, he silently walked over to the entrance, brashly gesturing for Audino to follow.

“All students, follow me, please...” Simipour’s voice rang out in the silence that fell once the dungeon had fully warped around Watchog and Audino. “Let’s go back to the school and wait for them to return.”

Tricky marched with the rest of the students as they made their way back up to the school clinic with Farfetch’d and Simipour, but she couldn’t help but glance back wistfully at the dungeon anyway. If only she could help somehow…



Light slowly trickled into Espurr’s eyes. Groggily, she sat up. What had happened? Had it all been a dream? And why was she sitting at the bottom of a tunnel…?

Oh no. Now she remembered. She had fallen. Down several feet, it looked like. Espurr looked up at the hole she had fallen down. A thick wall of mist obscured her vision above. Had she really been in there that long? Espurr got to her feet, then looked at where the cavern she had fallen into went. A tunnel just large enough for a pokemon of her size twisted along in the other direction. Espurr decided to follow it. After all, a potential way out was better than none at all.

Espurr stumbled down the tunnel as fast as she could go. She wanted to make it out before the rest of the students made it to the anchorstone. Otherwise, she was going to be stuck in the dungeon herself again. And it seemed like the tunnel was never going to end. It continued further and further, looking hastily-dug the entire way. Whoever had dug this had wanted to get away from something fast, she realized.

Eventually she saw light. It was distant and at the end of the cavern, but it didn’t flicker like the torches in the mines, so Espurr stumbled in its direction. It turned out to be a ramp heading up to the surface, and Espurr readily climbed up it. Emerging into daylight once more, Espurr immediately had to shield her eyes from the brightness. But once the temporary blindness faded Espurr realized that she was no longer near any part of the anchorstone that she recognized.

Now she understood where the green, icky parts of the dungeon came from. It looked like a swamp, if only there had been some water to justify calling it that. But soon Espurr became thankful for the lack of water, because just like she wouldn’t have wanted to walk through a flooded tunnel she didn’t want to trawl through flooded trees either. The sun was blotted out under the trees just a little more than in the dungeon, but the place still wasn’t as evil as it had been when she last woke up in here. It was only when she saw the familiar wall of fog beginning to encroach upon her position that the hope drained from her face. She’d barely outrun it.

In her fear, Espurr unwittingly backed into something. She whacked her head against it, quickly turning and clutching the back of her head.

When the pain faded enough for Espurr to be able to look up, she finally got a good look at what she had walked into: in front of her was what seemed to be a perfect stone sculpture of a riolu, caught mid-run. Espurr was even mildly impressed that the artist had found a way to keep the sculpture’s balance without a base… but why here? Who was going to stare at their art in the middle of a mystery dungeon? It was even collecting dirt around its front paws, almost like it had been…

Espurr looked back in the direction of the tunnel. Then she looked back at the riolu.

But that was silly. It was just a statue.

But it was so weird for it to have dirt collecting there.

But dirt got in weird places.

But it was frozen mid-run.

Still… something didn’t seem right.

And with all this fog around Espurr really wasn’t going to risk playing detective. The sound of the treetops rustling from the deep woods caught her attention. She looked ahead, to the dark, twisted, gnarled trees near her.

A wind blew, and suddenly the stench of something dead hit her face-first. Blinking through the smell, Espurr realized there was something there. Something blacker than the darkness within. It was hazy, barely even there if you weren’t looking, but she was looking and she could clearly tell the figure apart from the rest of it. The long, spindly arms that stretched down from its gangly torso and ended near its feet, the way the top half of its body was at a crooked slant, the head that was way too small for the rest of its body, and the glowing, pinprick eyes that sat in the middle of it. It seemed to see her, very still as if waiting for her to move. It looked completely unnatural.

Espurr didn’t wait around like she had for the Beheeyem. Nope, this was way above her paygrade. She booked it out of there, and fast.

A thunderous roar erupted after her as she ran, getting further and further away in the distance by the second. Espurr didn’t dare look back.

She had to find a way out of here.



The students that had made it out of the dungeon all sat in the school clinic, watched by the weary but ever-vigilant eyes of Principal Simipour. He said nothing, only sitting on the stool in front of them with a sleepy look on his face, but the students all knew better than to try and make mischief under his watch. Because he was watching.

And no-mon regretted that more than Tricky. Deerling was giving her death looks from her spot on the other side of the clinic, but that wasn’t what Tricky cared about right now. What she cared about was that Deerling was right—it was her fault that Espurr and Goomy were trapped in the dungeon. And if one of them—gulp—died in there, then it would be her fault too. She couldn’t bear going through that again. This wasn’t what explorers did! Explorers didn’t let things like that happen to other pokemon! Explorers were supposed to stop those things from happening in the first place! And if she couldn’t do that… then maybe she wore a scarf, but she couldn’t call herself an explorer.

And maybe that was the hardest thing to admit after all. Maybe Deerling was right. Maybe Pancham was right. Maybe even Watchdog was right. Maybe she was just a troublemaker after all, trying to cover her mistakes up so she didn’t feel sorry for herself. Maybe she really didn’t deserve friends….


She could do it! She could live up to her title! She could rescue Espurr and Goomy, before Audino and Watchog even knew what had hit them!

But if she wanted to rescue them, she needed to move now.

“Principal?” Tricky asked. Principal Simipour lazily opened one eye.

“Yes, Tricky?” he asked.

“I need to… go…” Tricky did what she thought was a good impression of needing to use the washroom, but just made her look constipated. At least this time she wanted to look constipated.

Simipour stared at her for a moment through those laid-back, weary eyes, and she got the feeling he was onto her.

“Very well, Tricky,” he said. “You may… ‘go’.”

And with that, Tricky was up and out of the clinic as fast as she could go.


“I can’t believe this is happening,” Watchog muttered to himself as he continued through the dungeon with Audino. Already, a sea of mist had descended upon the dungeon, making it extremely hard to see more than two feet ahead of oneself.

“Well, remember, it IS your test,” Audino said from beside him, gingerly walking around an ickier patch of the dungeon she had barely avoided stepping in. “It’s your responsibility to make sure everything’s ‘safety-regulated’.”

“Well, your test could end with somemon making poison,” Watchog mumbled. “What do you say to that?!”

“I take precautions so that kind of thing doesn’t happen,” Audino shot back. “And I’m there to supervise them. What did you give the students? A bag of items?”

“A bag of items should be enough,” Watchog grumbled.

“Well, maybe it wasn’t,” Audino said. “They’re kids, Watchog, not an exploration team!”

“Well, that Tricky seems to think she’s one all by herself,” said Watchog.

“We aren’t talking about Tricky. And Tricky’s gotten herself into a fair number of scrapes too,” Audino replied.

“It’s Tricky’s fault we’re in this situation,” Watchog grumbled back. “And you say she’s not a troublemaker?”

“Tricky is a kid. They’re all kids, Watchog!” Audino replied, having come to the absolute edge of her temper. “That’s your problem—you can’t seem to wrap it around your head that kids aren’t invincible!”

Watchog simply ‘harrumphed’ and folded his arms. “I’ll believe it when I see proof.”


Watchog opened an eye. “Where?”

But Audino had already run ahead, and Watchog found himself with no choice but to follow.

Soon, they stumbled upon what Audino had spotted—what looked like the wreckage of a battleground. And smack-dab in the middle of it was the pair of exploration bags both teams had been given, laying on their side and leaking with the juices of the smashed items inside.

“There,” Audino said, picking up the bags and emptying them to the side. “There’s your proof.”

Unbeknownst to the two, another ‘mon quietly slunk through the dungeon, making sure to stay out of sight. Tricky took a few seconds to make sure the ‘mons in the hallway were indeed Watchog and Audino, then continued on her quest for the stairs. While she wasn’t a full-blown genius, she knew she could count on Audino and Watchog to bicker and slow each other down enough for Tricky to slink past them unnoticed. She could also count on them not being perceptive enough to notice Tricky sneaking past, which was extremely important to her plan. On both counts, apparently, she had been right.

Now to find Espurr and Goomy.



“A-anymon? P-please h-help?”

Goomy was beginning to get scared. He had been wandering the tunnels of the mystery dungeon for what felt like hours. First Espurr had disappeared, then he had gotten left behind by Tricky… Not even Deerling had waited for him! Goomy was losing hope that anymon was coming back. At some point he’d just had to hide.

The fog was only getting thicker and thicker. He huddled into his hiding spot a little further. The Dungeon Wraith was due any minute now. Any minute now he was going to begin to hear its horrible roars and screeches, and then he would be too scared to move until somemon came to find him… or a dungeon ‘mon came to eat him. That last thought made him shiver with fear.

But there came no roars. The Dungeon Wraith didn’t rear its ugly head. There were no unearthly screeches from the depths of the dungeon. Every passing second without those things filled Goomy with cautious hope. Maybe the Dungeon Wraith had taken a day off. It must be tiring, scaring all those other pokemon after all. Maybe it had decided to go on vacation! He knew if Deerling was here she would just tell him that the Dungeon Wraith wasn’t real, but Deerling wasn’t here, so it was on vacation and that was that.

Slowly, Goomy unpeeled himself from the crevasse he was hiding in, and began to slime through the fog. He could do this. He would do this. He would find the stairs, fog or no fog. He would escape all on his own!

He slimed as fast as he could through the dungeon (which wasn’t very fast at all), checking through corridors and back-alleys for sight or sound of the dungeon stairs.

Around the fourth corridor, he found what he had been trying so hard to avoid all this time: a pack of dungeon ‘mon.

Goomy quickly slunk back. It wasn’t like their corridor was the only corridor in the entire dungeon… he could go another way, right? Then he looked again, and he realized that he couldn’t—for just past the dungeon ‘mon was the very thing he had been looking for: the dungeon stairs.

Goomy went over his options. He’d go another way, but there was no other way. He looked again. There were five of them, all huddled over something in the corridor. A… dead bird—Goomy lurched back. He was going to be sick.

But he had to get them away from those stairs somehow. Shakily, he picked up a stick from the ground with his slime. The dungeon ‘mon scared him… but being trapped in the dungeon scared him more. He took the stick, and threw it at the dungeon ‘mon with all his might before ducking out of sight.

He couldn’t see it, and he was sure the dungeon ‘mon couldn’t see him. But he heard their horrible cries upon getting hit with the stick, ones that made all the goo in his body stiffen out of fear.

It was all or nothing, and if Goomy was ever going to make it, now was the time. He slimed out into the corridor, where he found to his delight that most of the dungeon ‘mon had fled.

Except for the blitzle. It stood to face him, mane glowing. Then it charged.

Goomy didn’t know where he pulled it from. He only knew that one second, the dungeon ‘mon was charging full-force at him, and then the next thing he knew there was a whoosh of faint white energy, and he had tackled it to the ground. Seeing that he wasn’t going down without a fight, the blitzle quickly got back to its feet, dumped Goomy to the ground, then ran off into the dungeon without even looking back. Goomy decided not to push his luck. He hurried for the stairs as fast as he could.

Goomy only gasped when the dungeon began to let out a blood-curdling roar—



—That Espurr heard through the woods she was desperately trying to get out of. She spun. That roar came from the direction she was running from, and it wasn’t far off. She made a left turn on instinct, half because the woods looked lighter there and half because it was the opposite direction the roar had come from. She didn’t look at what was behind her.

She really hoped the stairs weren’t the other way.


“What was that?” Audino asked, carrying the two empty exploration bags over her shoulder along with her own.

“Just the dungeon,” Watchog replied. “Let’s keep going.”


Espurr could still hear the roars. She ran through the forest as fast as she could. She had been through what looked like the clearing with the flags at least two or three times, but the flags weren’t there. Which led Espurr to believe, as much as she didn’t want to, that the others had already passed through here and left her behind.

A sound to Espurr’s left drew her attention—the sound of somemon warping in from another floor. She quickly changed her trajectory that way.

Stumbling into another clearing, Espurr’s eyes settled upon the ‘mon that had warped in—it was Tricky!

The moment Tricky noticed Espurr she quickly tackled her to the ground.

“Espurr! Where have you been?”

Realizing that Espurr had not expected to be tackled, Tricky quickly moved back. Espurr got to her feet and tried to brush the dirt out of her coat.

“Looking for you,” she said. “Where’ve you been?”

“Looking for Goomy. You don’t know where he is?”

Espurr looked around. “If he’s on this floor I haven’t found him.”

They were both distracted by the sound of somemon warping in to their right.

“That must be Goomy.” Both pokemon immediately scrambled in the direction of the noise.

However, upon reaching the area the sound had come from, Espurr realized that it was not Goomy, but in fact Audino and Watchog—

“Get down!”

Espurr didn’t have any time to react before Tricky quickly pushed her to the ground. She did her best to get back up as Tricky peered over the bushes at them melodramatically.

“Why?” was all Espurr could muster through her confusion and momentary shock.

“Because…” Tricky began. “If we go with them we’ll never find Goomy!”

Espurr finally managed to get into a comfortable spot behind the bushes. “But shouldn’t we at least try to look like we’ve been found?”

“We can’t let Goomy wander around here any longer than he already has!” Tricky explained. “…and-I’m-not-supposed-to-be-here-but-that’s-not-important-right-now.”

Espurr gave her a stare.

“Look—“ Tricky began. “Did you see him pass this floor while you were here? Going with Watchog is the absolute worst thing we can do right now! We can’t leave the dungeon without Goomy!”

Another bloodcurling roar shook the dungeon, but Espurr seemed to be the only one bothered. Tricky never even flinched. Espurr recalled her saying something about dungeons roaring when they got mad.

“What do you mean you aren’t supposed to be here?” she asked.

“I…” Tricky looked to the floor in shame. “…kind of exited the dungeon without you guys.”

“You left without us?” Espurr asked.

“Well, I came back now!” Tricky said.

“You just don’t want to get in more trouble!” Espurr accused her, her anger taking over. Had everything that happened yesterday meant nothing to Tricky?

“Why would I be here again if I didn’t care about you guys??” Tricky hissed indignantly.

“Because you probably got into trouble out there, and you think if you rescue us you’ll get out of it again.” Espurr folded her arms in finality.

“That’s not true!” Tricky howled as well as she could under her breath.

“Then what is?”

“I’m here because…” Tricky began. “…Because that’s what explorers do! They rescue other pokemon! They don’t leave them behind in mystery dungeons! And if that means getting in trouble then I get into a lot of trouble anyway! I… kinda forgot that. But if we leave Goomy behind… then everymon today fails as an explorer. So tell me, as an explorer: Is Goomy safe?” Tricky peeked out at Watchog and Audino, then slowly bowed her head. “If you think he is… then we’ll go with Watchog. I promise.”

Espurr felt a warm golden glow coming from Tricky and dancing across her vision. Somehow, some deep part of her instinctively knew what it meant: Honesty.

She took a moment to think on it. There was something on this floor with them. She wanted to leave as soon as she could. But if they left without Goomy… Could she say, with all certainty that Goomy was safe? If several hours had passed, and pokemon were searching for Goomy…

Then she remembered what had happened in the Foreboding Forest, and somehow she knew that he wasn’t. And that was why she shook her head no.

“You’re right,” Espurr finally decided. “He isn’t safe. We’ll stay. If Audino and Watchog missed something, maybe we’ll find it.”

She half expected Tricky to have a joy tantrum right there and then and unwittingly give away their location to Audino and Watchog, but nothing of the sort happened. Tricky was all business. She silently nodded and led Espurr through the bushes, making sure to avoid low patches of shrubbery where Watchog might catch a glimpse of them.

“C’mon!” Tricky said. “We don’t know where Goomy will appear, but we need to be ready to hear him when he does!”

“Wait,” Espurr said. Tricky stopped, and looked back at her.

“You should know: There’s something on this floor,” she continued. “That’s what’s making the roars. I saw it coming after me.”

Tricky just tilted her head and contorted her expression in confusion.

“Are you sure you didn’t just see a big dungeon ‘mon?” she asked. “I hear that roaring all the time and I’ve never seen anything.”

Audino and Watchog had already gone to the next floor, it seemed. It wasn’t for lack of trying- they had certainly searched the anchorstone for Espurr and Goomy. It was just that Tricky was very good at taking pokemon for a loop (although the fog certainly helped as well). They had never even suspected that Espurr and Tricky were on the dungeon floor.

And now the two pokemon had the run of the place to themselves. Until the dungeon began to lash back at them. Already, they had had to deal with two trees spontaneously falling down upon their heads—two incidents they had barely escaped with their lives intact. Espurr was beginning to worry that Goomy had not made it, that they should just go ahead. She knew that would destroy Tricky, but if it came down to destroying Tricky or destroying them both, Espurr was willing to make the sacrifice.

Until they heard a loud sound to their left through all the fog—the sound of somemon warping onto the dungeon floor. Tricky, who had been almost as ready to give up as Espurr, suddenly perked up.

“That must be Goomy—C’mon Espurr!” she shouted gleefully, bounding off into the fog so fast it was all Espurr could do not to get lost again as well.

Sure enough, once Espurr and Tricky arrived at the area the sound had come from, they were met with the pink-purple visage of Goomy. It was a sight Espurr was elated to see.

Goomy was panting, no doubt from the ordeals he had endured down in the dungeon. He slowly looked up at Espurr and Tricky, his face rising in joy as he realized who the ‘mon standing in front of him were.

“Espurr! T-tricky!” He cried, throwing himself against them the best he could. On any other occasion, Espurr might have worried about getting Goomy’s goo in her fur. But right now, she simply didn’t care.

The dungeon roared. It howled so loudly Tricky’s ears lowered in pain, and another tree fell right beside them with a might crash.

Espurr, Goomy, and Tricky stared at the tree in shock.

“…Okay. That’s bad,” Tricky finally admitted.


School Grounds

The entrance to the School Forest warped, and Audino and Watchog stepped out. They were met with the faces of Principal Simipour, and the rest of the students.

“They wanted to wait out here for the rest of the students’ return,” Simipour explained. “And who was I to stop them?”

Both Watchog and Audino traded looks.

“We… couldn’t find them,” Audino admitted.

“Got attacked by the dungeon several times on the way out,” Watchog added. “It’d take nothing short of a miracle for them to get out alive.”

Audino directed her gaze down towards the ground, and then she was silent.

Suddenly, the dungeon entrance began to warp again. Everymon stood back, giving the entrance a wide berth, until the dungeon finally spat out Espurr, Tricky, and Goomy in a pile.

Everymon was silent for ten more seconds, gazing at the students in shock. Then everything exploded into chaos. Audino quickly swooped over to them, helping the three students up and getting them to the school clinic. The other three students quickly followed along, bombarding them with questions. Simipour folded his arms behind his back. Watchog just viewed the whole scene, and sputtered in disbelief.


“You three should count yourselves lucky,” Audino warned, locking away her medical supplies in the School Clinic’s cabinet. “I’m amazed you three got out of that with as few injuries as you did. You just might be the single luckiest kids I have ever seen in my entire career. A bill of clean health for all three of you!”

She sounded put together, but Espurr could tell she had her business face on to hide how shaken she was.

Once Goomy was released, he was almost immediately pounced upon by Deerling, who began bombarding him with a thousand questions and admonishments all at once. That left Espurr and Tricky all alone, and for once with nothing to do.

“So… now what?” Tricky asked. Espurr didn’t know.

Then Tricky caught a glimpse of the sun, which was beginning to set.

“Ohmigosh!” she yelled. “Look at the sun! We’re gonna miss Ampharos!”

Both Espurr and Tricky turned to leave the school clinic, but suddenly they both felt a pair of claws swiftly clamp down upon their heads.

“Not so fast,” Watchog growled, lowering his head to meet Espurr and Tricky’s and eyeing them both menacingly. “You know, I was going to let it slide, being the last day of spring and all. But then you both missed it for the last two days…”

Both Espurr and Tricky froze. Oh, berr—

Watchog snarled with a grin.


Sunset was nearly over by the time Espurr and Tricky got free from Watchog’s detention and made their way up towards the Hill With the Big Tree. As promised, Ampharos was indeed waiting for them under the tree’s branches, a smallish box tucked under his arm. A westward breeze was blowing, causing him to fiddle with his misbehaving cloak.

“We… we made it…” Tricky panted out after she had caught her breath enough to talk.

“So I see,” Ampharos responded. “And you brought Espurr with you too—how splendid! Although I must admit… I have a bit of a confession to make.”

“Confession?” Tricky glanced at Ampharos in confusion, tilting her head. “What kind?”

“See, I might have lied when I said there were two Expedition Society Memberships…” Ampharos quickly laughed it off, setting the box down in front of them.

“Behold!” he shouted, opening the box. “One Expedition Society Membership, because one is all you will ever need.” Espurr and Tricky gazed inside the box, where a small, hexagonal device sat.

“With this, you can officially register an Expedition Society dungeon team,” Ampharos continued. “You just insert your blue orb of choice, type in the name, save it, and you’re good as a gastradon!”

Blue orb…

That made Espurr pause. Ampharos knew… he did, didn’t he. He couldn’t have dropped that orb by accident. He must have known. Who was he? Why was he here?

“Who are you?” Espurr asked, her eyes trained on Ampharos suspiciously.

“Why, dear Espurr…” Ampharos bowed. “You already know the answer to that. I am… the Dashing Wanderer!”

And with that, he threw his cape up flamboyantly, but the wind kicked it up over his face.

“Ah… never mind that,” he muttered, muffled as he messed with the garment. He adjusted it into a more comfortable position, batting it down so the wind wouldn’t blow it up again. “As of today, you two children can be proud to call yourself Junior Expedition Society Members!”

Tricky was over the moon at the idea of having anything to do with the Expedition Society, and there was nothing Espurr or Ampharos could do to calm her down. She pranced around the tree until the sun began to sink a little low into the sky, and even Ampharos had to leave for the night. Soon after, she calmed down, sitting next to Espurr and watching the sun finish sinking.

Espurr looked down at the box, which had been sitting next to her for a while. She pushed it back over to Tricky.

“It’s all yours,” Espurr said. “I know you wanted it.”

Tricky looked down at the box uncomfortably, like she wanted to say something she’d been stewing on for a while. “Actually, I wanted to ask…”

She pushed the expedition gadget back, until the box sat an equal distance between them. “Do you want to make an exploration team with me? We’d go into dungeons prepared, and…. And only if you want to. You just have to tell me now. I-It’s fine if you don’t want to.”

Her head turned down towards the grass in front of them immediately. Espurr felt put on the spot. They’d just gotten out of a life-threatening encounter with a dungeon… and Tricky wanted to drag her into one again?

“I just don’t wanna do it alone,” Tricky quickly admitted, breaking Espurr’s train of thought. It was little more than a mutter, nearly silent as she studied the grass beneath her. “I wanna do it with a friend.”

“As long as we can be friends outside of mystery dungeons?” Espurr asked.

Tricky looked up at her with something resembling shock.

“Th-that means yes?” she asked, sounding shocked. Espurr could both hear and see her disbelief.

“If you’ll be my friend as much as I’m yours, then I can go exploring with you,” Espurr said. “Does that sound acceptable?”

“Yes!” Tricky exclaimed, nodding her head almost too fast for Espurr to follow. “I promise on the tip of my tail, I’ll be your best friend ever!”

“Then sure,” Espurr replied brightly, before she could get second thoughts. “You’re on.”

“Really??” Tricky’s face lit up brighter than the sun. Espurr nodded for finality. Before she knew it, Tricky had her wrapped up in a nuzzling embrace.

“Thanksyousomuch! We’re going to have the best summer ever!”

The mood was so bright it couldn’t last, but Espurr didn’t want to ruin the moment. For right now, there was just the blowing of the wind, the setting sun over the lake, and a quiet peace she hadn’t felt before. No matter how terrible Pancham was or how scary the dungeons got, at least she didn’t have to face them alone anymore. There was somemon who could have her back through everything, and for now, that was enough. Enough to feel like she could conquer anything that came her way. Enough to feel like tomorrow really would be a good day for exploring.

Enough to make this new, unfamiliar place feel just a little more like home.

When the sun finished setting and they both split their separate ways, Espurr headed down the forest path towards the school clinic feeling warm, fuzzy, and excited for the day ahead.


From Wartortle's Guide to Dungeoneering: Dungeon Wraith

A legend that has persisted and been passed down over centuries, the Dungeon Wraith is a fictional monster said to simultaneously exist in all dungeons. In old times, pokemon attributed the characteristics of stronger dungeons such as the dungeon fogs and winds to the coming of the Wraith, who would steal away a pokemon’s sanity if they stuck around in a dungeon for too long. While there are still many conundrums about mystery dungeons, especially the mind-corruptive effect of the dreaded Class-Cs, the Dungeon Wraith is widely agreed to be a myth from times long gone.

Music of The Week!

Launch Vipers
- Bear McCreary
Last edited:
Interlude the First: Strange Things on The Horizon


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
"It's hot out lately, isn't it?"

~ Citizen of Lively Town




Expedition Society Headquarters ~ Lively Town

The Last Day of Spring


“Five minutes until the ambassador gets here—Everymon hurry up! Where’s Nickit?!”

Dedenne had received a fuzzy transmission from the Exeggutor at half-past-noon stating that the Ambassador of the Water Continent would be staying several nights at the Expedition Society—although the transmission itself had been sent hours earlier, from a completely mechanical transmission machine aboard the ship itself. Dedenne cursed those machines with all her heart—Why couldn’t the snobs on Mist get their paws dirty and send transmissions via electrical pokemon like everymon else?

But the real kicker was that the Ambassador was due in half an hour, which naturally turned the Society upside down the moment it finally came through. That was 25 minutes ago. Now, Dedenne was scampering down the hall at a brisk pace, rapidly assigning orders to whoever she came across.

Bunnelby, who had just stumbled out of the observatory and spotted Dedenne from across the hall, quickly hopped into pace with her.

“Where is everymon??” Dedenne hissed, pulling herself to two paws. “It’s gonna look bad on us if we can’t even organize ourselves properly!”

“Half of us just got done dealing with Jirachi,” Bunnelby panted—Dedenne was just noticing that he looked mighty beat up—“And Team Limestone left on a mission. They aren’t gonna be here for the ceremony.”

Dedenne resisted the urge to slap her paw into her face. Of course they would do that. One, Two, Three… that was five members missing now. And the Chief. She was going zu-bat crazy trying to keep the Society in check, which wasn’t getting any easier when the engineer needed a remedy to keep himself on a nine-hour sleep schedule, the chef ate everything in sight, and the medic kept disappearing to probably play cards with Murkrow! Why, oh why, did the rest of the executive faculty decide to leave on a pair of farfetched missions??

“Find Nickit,” she told Bunnelby. “Try the vault first—they’re probably in there.” Bunnelby nodded and hopped off as fast in the direction of the vault as his legs would take him.

“Pokemon incoming!” Buizel yelled down from the spiral stairway leading up to the observatory.

“Is it the Ambassador?” Dedenne screamed back up.

“No! It’s… Mawile! And Archen!”

Dedenne perked up with new life. That made her day so much easier.

“Well, help me get them inside!” she promptly bossed up at Buizel.

Mawile slowly came to a stop, folding her arms behind her back as she looked up at the Expedition Society. She and Archen traded looks at the faint yells and crashes that were coming from inside the building. Not a good sign.

The double doors of the Society slowly opened one after the other, and then Dedenne and the rest of the Expedition Society slipped out through them and lined up on the pavement outside. Bunnelby stumbled out after them, followed by a murkrow wearing a tie and an unruly-looking Nickit.

Mawile quickly took her place next to Dedenne as Acting Chief of the Expedition Society, and together they welcomed Primarina to the Expedition Society.


Residential Wing


“I just wanna sleep,” Archen murmured as dragged himself into his allotted bedroom in the Society—which, like all the other bedrooms, had a view of Lively Town at Ampharos’ request—and flopped down headfirst on one of the two straw beds in the room.

“That one’s mine.”

Archen pulled his beak out of the straw, gazing at the pokemon who had just stepped into the room irritably.

“Since when?”

Nickit strode over, maybe-on-purpose nudging a potted plant dangerously close to falling out the window with her tail.

“Since you left for nearly a week and I switched the beds around, birdbrain. Yours smells like bird dander, by the way. Might wanna look into getting it cleaned.”

Archen just rolled over and folded his wings. Seeing that they weren’t going to be humored anymore, Nickit trodded over and flopped on the other bed.

“Can’t have the window forever, you know.”

Archen opened his eyes and stared at her annoyedly.

“What is it?” he asked. “What’s bugging you so much that you need to come here and ruin my nap for me?”

“Well firstly, it’s my room too,” Nickit ticked it off on her paw, a smirk on her snout. “I can come here if I want.”

Archen’s eyes narrowed.

“Does something rub you the wrong way about that Braixen guy?” Nicket asked, dropping the pretense. “I keep feeling off around him.”

“I don’t think he likes a lot of pokemon very much,” Archen grumbled. “What makes you special?”

“Don’t you ever just ‘know’ something?” Nickit asked. “Even though you can’t prove it—and then later, it turns out to be true?”

“Never had that feeling.”

“Huh,” Nickit trilled. “Must be a fox pokemon thing.”

“You’d better get used to it.” Archen rolled over the other way. “Because he’s staying with us for the next week.”

And then he left Nickit in silence.

“One more thing.”

Archen turned over one last time.


“Come nightfall, that window bed is mine, sucker.”


Serenity Village Outskirts


Ampharos was lucky that the inn rates in Serenity Village were low. Well, at least compared to places like Pokemon Paradise (Swanna Inn drove a hard bargain). He had needed to leave the hill with the big tree before Espurr and Fennekin to collect his supplies. By the time he had made his way back to the hill with his bag over his shoulder, they were gone.

And this time, he was leaving.

He had to admit, he would miss this cozy little village. It seemed to be the perfect little slice of everything—he hadn’t been entirely lying when he had said he’d come to see the sights. Maybe he’d make this his retirement spot when he decided to officially duck out of the mapping business.

But that was far off into the future, and Ampharos needed not think about it now. He adjusted his cloak and his bag, and officially set off for Lively Town.


Music of The Week!

Something Dark is Coming
- Bear McCreary
Last edited:
Special Episode I: The End's Beginning


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark




Rescuer’s Guild Plaza ~ Air Continent


~Two Weeks Before Spring~

It was still hours until noon, but the tall, stone halls of the massive Rescuer’s Guild were bustling with pokemon of every shape and size. This place hosted rescue teams from and took missions all across the Air Continent, so it wasn’t any surprise that it was as busy as it was.

That didn’t make it any less annoying for Bryony.

Things were done the old-fashioned way at the Rescuer’s Guild. Connection orbs weren’t utilized in day-to-day affairs, all paperwork was printed and filed manually, and anything powered by Z-crystals was barred from the guild premises. The legendary hero Wartortle had long held that newer technology was detrimental to the functioning of a proper guild, and only got away with it by threatening to make the Rescuer’s Guild independent of any parent organization otherwise. Most suspected he just didn't like HAPPI meddling in guild affairs.

The Rescuer’s Guild: One of the only organizations in the world powerful enough to rival the Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute. Just the guild building alone stretched far above the trees and down across the land below. The city had been built around it. The forest parted ways for it. As far as anymon was concerned, the guild ruled the entire Air Continent, and some of the Grass Continent too. Perhaps that was why Wartortle got away with as much as he did.

Bryony slid herself through the halls, trying to avoid getting her tail stepped on, her flippers crushed, and her snout batted every which way by other ‘mons’ exploration bags. Brionne were made for the water, not land-bound halls that they could barely fit in. Too bad you had to haul freight or passenger to make a good living underwater.

So that landed her here. She had a cushy desk job that many other ‘mon in the guild might have killed for, but it meant a lot of hall-going. At least she only had to make this trip from her dorm to the office she worked in twice a day, and the halls were much more bearable at night.

She finally freed herself from the neverending stream of pokemon entering the hallway, scooting herself into the guild’s head office. The one that belonged to Wartortle.

Wartortle’s office smelled like old paper and tea. A window on the far end of the room took up an entire wall, offering a view of the courtyard from three floors up. Wartortle himself was working away at a stack of paperwork as she entered the room, a wooden teacup beside him. Outside of the massive shelves that lined the wall and the violet rug that covered the floor, the only furniture was a pair of maroon bean bags. Neither of them were in use.

“Oh, Bryony,” he said as she entered without even looking up at her. “Right on time. Grab a stack of paperwork, any stack, and start signing.”

“I’ve got a message for you.”

After a moment of no response from Wartortle other than the scratching of paper, Bryony took that as a cue to continue.

“The storage department received word from HAPPI this morning. They asked me to tell you that they’ve gotten ahold of that supply shipment that was supposed to come in yesterday.”

That made Wartortle glance up from the papers he was working at. “What did they say?”

“It was delayed because they had to go through some storm out on the waters, but it’ll be here by one past noon today,” Bryony explained.

Wartortle sat up with a heaving breath, beginning to sign papers again. “Well, if it’ll be here by one, then we need to get half of these signed by then.”

“Sir.” Bryony scooted over to a stack, it didn’t matter which stack, and started sorting the papers off one by one.

Two kinds of papers came into Wartortle’s office. The first kind was the administrative paperwork only Wartortle could sign. Bryony set those aside in a stack for Wartortle to take care of. The second kind was the paperwork about mystery dungeons.

Not all mystery dungeons were created equal. If there had been one big improvement when the Rescuer’s Guild had been bought out by HAPPI, it had been implementing a system to mark dungeons by how dangerous they were. The difference between a Class A dungeon and a Class B dungeon was astronomical, and sending a novice team into a dungeon above their rank could easily spell death.

And that wasn’t even factoring in the Class Cs.

Few dungeons reached Class C rank. On the Air Continent alone, there were only three, and the Sand Continent had a single one. Those were the oldest and most powerful dungeons, the ones that spread their tendrils out across the land, the ones you could go mad in. Only the most experienced of rescue teams were authorized to enter or escort pokemon through those.


Wartortle looked up from his paper, glancing over at Bryony. “Yes?”

“This paper says they’ve found another Class C out there.”

That was enough for Wartortle to set down the papers he was reading through and give her his full attention.

“Which one?”

“Craggy Reach, sir.”

“Hmm.” Wartortle got up from where he had been sitting, walking over and looking at the paper. He took it out of her flippers, signed it quickly, and handed it back to her. “Take this down to mission control. They’ll get a team to look at it.”

“Sir, wouldn’t this just be faster if we used connection orb technology?” Byrony asked. They’d had this argument before. The lines were almost rehearsed.

“It would,” Wartortle said. “But we don’t use those here. Go on, now.”

“Yes, sir.” Bryony nodded, hiding her sigh. She stuffed the paper in her sack and got up from where she was, trying to hide her obvious distaste at the idea of more hallways.


By some miracle, they had managed to get through just about half the stacks of paperwork in the office by noon. Wartortle counted every sheet, his face falling in disappointment as the last one fell onto the twin stacks.

“Drat,” he said. “Almost beat my previous record.”

Tomorrow it would be like they hadn’t done anything at all.

Noon was when the guild held lunch for the explorers coming back from early missions and the pokemon who helped staff the guild like Bryony. The mess hall was one of the largest rooms in the guild—grand, tall as three stories, and decked out in shades of crimson from the stone floor to the archways above. Long tables that stretched from one side of the hall to the other had been built to accommodate pokemon both large and small.

Bryony slid herself into the hall, dragging her tray of fish along with her in the small wagon she liked to bring around whenever she had to carry things. She glanced around, searching for an empty spot in the impossibly long tables. Her eyes settled upon a worrying lack of an empty spot, but something that made up for it anyway.


A seviper was looped around one of the benches, trying her best to ingest a large slab of meat in front of her. Bryony scooted over and did her best to make a space next to the snake. The sentret sitting next to them that had been nervously eyeing the Seviper gladly moved over for Bryony.

The Seviper looked over as Bryony sat down, swallowing the slab of meat whole before she said anything.

“So what have you been up to lately?”

Charlotte had her head down on the table, her tongue lazily flicking out of her mouth. Bryony took large bites of the fish on her plate. It was fresh and tasted like the ocean, a welcome break from the gross dried stuff they served during the winter months.

“Nothing much,” Charlotte muttered. “Just rescue team stuff. You?”

“Believe it or not, I actually have been doing nothing,” Bryony said, puffing her cheeks out with fish. “We just got finished filing paperwork for four hours straight.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it! And let me tell you, it is not always this easy. One day, when the guild got snowed in, we were doing it for eight hours straight just to stay warm.”

“You know you two could have just started a fire or something, right?”

“In Wartortle’s office? Definitely not.” Bryony took another bite of fish.

“So now you have to tell me what you’ve been up to,” she said. “Since I told you about the paperwork.”


“Well, ‘nothing’ has to be more boring than sitting around, dealing with papers all day,” Bryony said through a full mouth of fish. “You’ve seriously not been doing anything interesting?”

“Me and my team have been taking fodder missions that pay dirt all day,” Charlotte said. She had been unsuccessfully trying to ingest the piece of meat on the table for as long as Bryony had been sitting here. She hissed and punched it with her head. The sentret sitting next to Bryony shivered a little and moved over a bit more.

“Somemon needs an escort through the Ardent Ruins,” Charlotte continued. “An idiot wandered into the Shifting Forest and needs a team to get them back out again. Someone dropped their sentimental scarf in the Lousy Lake. I think my scales are beginning to dry out from how many times I’ve slithered through the Lousy Lake. Does any of that that sound interesting?”

“Is it worth it?” The words came out muffled. Bryony was too busy stuffing her face with fish to stop for talking.

“Huh?” Charlotte turned her head towards Bryony.

“I said…” Bryony chomped down on another mouthful of fish. “Is it worth it? You’ve been working here almost four months, why not quit and get a new job? Tons of exploration teams here do that every year.”

“Well… I do like seeing the happy faces on our clients when we get out of the dungeon. And then walking home knowing you’ve made a pokemon happy. So… I guess it is worth it.”

“Then I think it’s interesting.” One last chomp of fish, and Bryony’s meal was gone. “That’s the reason I took the paperwork job. Somemon’s got to help keep this place organized.

“Wish it was a bit easier to handle, though,” she added.




The bells in their high towers seventeen stories tall tolled loudly and with rhythm. It had been spotted half a mile away: the supply shipment was arriving.

Five minutes until the arrival. The guild’s halls were a-scramble with pokemon in a frenzy to get every which way to their important posts. Byrony was almost squished as she tried to fight the flow of the crowd to reach the entrance of the courtyard.

Seventy of the guild’s present staff shuffled out into the vast front courtyard, scrambling to get into proper formation. Bryony once again found herself struggling not to get stepped on, whacked by bags, and tripped over as she made her way through all the chaos to get ready. Soon enough, every pokemon present in the courtyard had lined up into two neat rows. In front of them, Wartortle stood, dressed in the fancy robes he always wore when a large event happened at the guild.

The courtyard was surrounded by walls two stories tall, and was vast enough to hold an army. A loud, full horn blew from one of the watch towers in front, announcing the coming of the supply shipment. In the distance beyond, Bryony could hear marching, barely audible from the other side of the distant walls. The loud clinking of chains, and the massive gates of the guild slowly began to rise up, revealing the path beyond. A long caravan of wagons tromped through, the first cart entering the plaza and pulling to a stop. It was painted bright white, and pulled by a burly-looking machamp. On the wagon’s side was the golden three-ringed badge, the insignia of HAPPI.

As the tromping of hooves and feet died down around them, it became clear that the caravan had rolled to a halt. The courtyard was deathly silent, and stayed that way. Wartortle strolled out into the plaza, walking up to meet the pair of gliscor that flapped down from the lead wagon’s helm.

“Paperwork here, please,” he said without introducing himself. There was no need. The gliscor silently handed him a clipboard full of papers for him to sign. No matter how much paperwork there was, it never stopped coming. There was a clipboard for every wagon.

Once everything had been signed, it was time to start unloading the wagons. The pokemon who staffed the guild quickly split up amongst themselves, opening the first wagon and unloading the freight systematically. Bryony couldn’t carry the large crates on her own, but she was able to help carry some of the lighter ones with a helper.

“Hey,” the buizel that Bryony was helping whispered as they carried one of the boxes away. “Don’t those workers creep you out any?”

“What workers are you talking about?” Bryony whispered back. There must have been nearly a hundred pokemon in the square; did he expect her to suddenly gain the psychic type and start reading minds?

“The ones that rode in with the wagon,” the buizel said, his voice still low. “Those gliscor. You didn’t notice anything wrong?”

Truth be told, she hadn’t been particularly looking.

“I didn’t get a good look at them,” she said. “What’s wrong?”

“Well, they’ve been getting a good look at us,” the buizel said. “They’ve been staring at every pokemon that goes in or out of the place. Gives me the creeps.”

They were coming back to the wagon now, and buizel quickly quieted down. Now Bryony could see it too. The two gliscor were standing off to the side, intently studying everymon who walked in and out of the wagon. Something in their stare sent chills down Bryony’s spine, but it was their eyes that sealed the deal: dull, vacant, and without pupils.

“What do you mean we have to unload these one by one?” A croconaw complained, folding its arms in annoyance. “Don’t you have pokemon overseeing these wagons?”

“You don’t just drive a caravan over here with only two pokemon!”

“It’ll take the whole day!”

“It’s our guild—let us do things our way!”

The gliscor looked at each other, then back at the angry Rescuer’s Guild workers.

“There’s only two of us,” the gliscor said tonelessly. “these wagons will be unloaded one by one.”

The first wagon was begrudgingly unloaded, then the second.

Large mubray and machamp pulled each new wagon up to the front of the line when the previous one had been unloaded, while the empty wagons made wide turns back towards the gate. Bryony often looked at the ‘mon pulling the carts, but none of them would meet her eyes. Some of them had the same vacant stares as the gliscor. The others looked traumatized. Not a single one uttered a word to her.

Eventually, the caravan drew to an end. The last wagon in the train looked more beat-up than the others. It was scratched all over, there were pieces of wood missing, and every so often Bryony thought she saw it jostle. Was there something alive in there?

Perhaps against better judgement, she decided to take a look. This wagon was completely unattended, tied to the wagon ahead of it by only a few ropes. Bryony inspected its side, looking at all the scuffed paint and small cracks that ran up and down the wood. Then she saw a hole. It was too small to put a flipper through, but big enough to let some light in. Bryony peered in through the hole, looking to see what kind of freight was being hauled here.

The inside was nearly pitch-black, but just light enough to see that there wasn’t anything like cargo in there. Instead, there was something that looked almost… glossy. Like it was reflecting the light, but was also darker than the inside of the box. Bryony squinted, and peered in closer. The Rescuer’s Guild never got anything like this…

Whatever was in the wagon suddenly moved—

Bryony yelped loudly, springing back from the wagon almost immediately. The noise was enough to attract the attention of the two gliscor at the front. They immediately left their supervising perch and flew over to Bryony.

“No touch!” one of them hissed, perching atop the wagon. “This wagon is off-limits!”

“Off-limits?” Bryony spat, half out of fear and half out of confusion. “So you can hide whatever you’ve got in there?”

“We haven’t got anything in there,” the other gliscor said. “Nothing mattering to you.”

“What’s the matter here?”

The voice was Wartortle’s. He walked up to the wagon, looking up at the gliscor that had perched on top of it. “Did I not sign the paperwork for this wagon?” he asked.

“This wagon cannot be opened right now.” The gliscor on the left said.

“Well, if it’s brought onto our guild premises, I reserve the right to know what is inside,” Wartortle said.

“…Carrots,” the gliscor on the right said after a pause. “Carrots from a farm.”

There was a bump from inside the wagon that made it jostle.

“The carrots fell over,” the gliscor halfheartedly explained.

“I think I should take a look anyway,” Wartortle said, walking up to the doors of the wagon. “I trust that won’t harm your carrots?”

The two gliscor didn’t look amused, but didn’t stop him.

The carriage lightly jostled more as Wartortle undid the rope holding the doors shut. The jostles were coming from inside the carriage. As he threw open the doors, something that sounded like a squelch came from inside.

But Wartortle threw open the doors on a perfectly normal stack of crates. Bryony watched from the outside as he walked in, inspecting the crates. He knocked on one for good measure. It sounded slightly off.

Wartortle closed the doors, and walked back out of the carriage. The gliscor flapped down on either side to meet him, almost as if surrounding him.

“Just carrots, yes?” the one on the right asked.

“Who appointed you to these positions?” Wartortle asked. “You two aren’t our normal providers. We would have been notified of a change.”

“Last minute change,” the one on the left said. “Director of HAPPI authorized it. Wanted us to deliver this carriage.”

“Priority! Priority!” the other one cried out.

Something changed in Wartortle’s look at that point.

After the next-to-last wagon had been unloaded, Bryony made her way over to where Wartortle was, helping pull a particularly large crate in towards the entrance.

“Sir,” she began in a hush. “I saw something in there and it wasn’t carrots, it was big and black and—”

“Quiet,” Wartortle hushed her in a tone soft enough that only Bryony could pick it up. “In my office after this is done. It’s not safe to talk here.”


Guild Halls

“Have the last wagon delivered expelled from the premises,” Wartortle said to a team with a gold rank badge in the hallway. “Destroy whatever’s inside.”

“What’s inside, sir?” one of the team members, an X, asked.

“Carrots, apparently,” Wartortle said. “All the same, be on your guard. Trust nothing. Bryony, with me. The rest of you:” he now addressed the thirty or so pokemon who had been unloading the carriages. “Take the supplies down to the storage department. Sort through it. Thoroughly. Look for any sign of sabotage.”

"Sir, what is this about?" Bryony asked, scooting herself the best she could after Wartortle as he walked down the hall. Thankfully, most everymon was busy unpacking what had been unloaded on the wagons, so the halls were clearer.

"In my office," Wartortle said, rounding the corner quickly. It took Bryony a minute to catch up with him.

They reached the door to Wartortle's office, which he quickly pulled open and walked inside. Bryony caught up, using her flippers to prop herself up on the open door.

"Sir, do you know what was in that carriage," she asked, with emphasis.

“Sit here," Wartortle said. "Close the door. I have a task for you.”

Bryony did as she was told, shutting the door behind her and joining Wartortle at his study’s wall-size window. Down below, they could clearly see the courtyard where the last of the HAPPI wagons were beginning to depart through the gates.

Scene - Wartortle's Confession.png

“Let me share a secret with you,” Wartortle said. “For many years now, ever since our benefactors brought the Rescue Federation crumbling to its knees, I have long known they are harnessing a power they shouldn’t be.”

He pointed to an old poster that hung on one of the shelves, marked with the slogan "HAPPI Makes Pokemon Smile!"

It was a far-fetched statement, a conspiracy theory even. If Bryony dared to call it that. HAPPI managed the world's guilds, and supplied the world's connection orbs and power crystals. If something was wrong, wouldn't more pokemon have noticed?

But this was Wartortle, who knew everything. Wartortle, who was centuries old and had built this guild from the bottom up. Wartortle, who was almost always on-point and sharp with his judgements. And after what she had seen today… could she really pass it off as a joke?

“What do you mean by that?” she asked. “Sir,” she quickly added afterwards.

“I meant what I said,” Wartortle replied. “HAPPI is using powers they shouldn’t be. You saw it down there today, with the gliscor. HAPPI were the ones who pulled a new substance the world had never seen out of their tails, the ones who always knew just where to poke to make the world bend at their whims and rival guilds fall to their feet. You don’t do that naturally, I wager. Not in only a few years. And… I’ve known ever since HAPPI’s director tried to use it on me in my own office.”

“She what?” Bryony couldn’t stop herself from asking.

“Of course, she wouldn’t dream of it now,” Wartortle said. “This was back when she was younger. Inexperienced. Sloppy.” He took a sip of the tea he always had by him, then set it down. “But I know. And she knows I do.”

He got up. “We ban Z-power crystals and connection orb technology from the premises because the Rescuer’s Guild cannot afford to rely on HAPPI like the rest of the world. We can’t trust her. Years ago, when she told me the Rescue Federation was no more and that my only hope for this guild to stay afloat was to join HAPPI, I focused on making this place as independent as possible. The only official contact we have with Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute are supply shipments, and an ownership contract that can be severed at my own discretion.”

He looked back out the window, watching as the mighty gates below closed behind the last wagon.

“The Rescuer’s Guild is the only guild under HAPPI control that could separate from the organization and stand strong. The director knows this; she considers it a threat. She’s thrown various pieces of legislation at me over the years, and I’ve batted it all back. But I always knew it would only be a matter of time before she decided to move against us in less conventional ways. That day is here.”

He walked over to a shelf, and pulled out a thick, dusty book. From behind that, he pulled out a letter that looked almost as aged as most of the older sheets of paperwork in the office did.

“This is a letter to be sent to a contact of mine in Baram Town. He’ll mail it to what remains of the Rescue Federation on Grass. If anything happens to me or this guild, that letter has all the important information that must make it into safe paws.”

He dusted off the sealed envelope, dropped some poke for flying fees on it, and handed it to Bryony.

“Go down to the post department, and have this mailed to the address on the envelope with utmost speed and priority. Tell them not to let anymon open it until it gets there. Do you understand, Bryony?”

He was looking directly at Bryony for that one, and his gaze was the most serious she had ever seen it.

“Wouldn’t it be faster to us—” Bryony's muscle memory kicked in for her conventional argument, but stopped herself mid-sentence when she realized she had just been told why not. She instead nodded. "I understand."

Wartortle nodded.

“Very good. Go! Make haste!”

Bryony slid out through the hall, happy that for once there was actually adequate space for her to scoot around without getting stepped on every which way.

A stunky fiddled with one of the guild’s hall phones as she passed it.

“Hey,” he said as she passed. “You know if this thing’s broken?”

Bryony tilted her head at that. “I’m pretty sure it just had maintenance done on it a few days ago…”

The stunky slammed the phone back on the hook. “Well, I’m pretty sure it broke again.”

“What’s the issue?”

“I can’t reach our outpost on the south side of town. That’s where the caravan left from. I was told to contact some gold-rank team that went out there, but the phone isn’t picking up…”

“Well, I’m on my way to the mailing department,” Bryony said. “If you can’t reach them with the phones, we can send a messenger tailow to go look.”

“No thanks,” the stunky said. “I’d like to keep my pocket money, it’s probably just broken. There’s another phone on the other side of the guild, maybe I’ll try that…”

He hopped down from where the phone was and scampered off. Bryony shook her head and continued on towards the mailing department.


Before long, there was a pelipper flying off with the letter Wartortle had given Bryony to mail. It left the same way the caravan had gone, back to Baram.

She wasn’t looking to take the long way back through all those halls again, so she took a shortcut. A door off to the side connected the mailing department with the storage department, and then led into the hall that would take her straight to Wartortle’s office. The storage department was busier than she had ever seen it, filled with tons of pokemon unpacking the supplies and diligently checking it for any signs of tampering. A large pile of opened and cleared crates and boxes sat near the back, dwarfed by a much larger pile of sealed ones.

“Such a delay…”

A lucario impatiently tried to undo the harness he was strapped to, fumbling with all the straps and buckles and missing all his marks. The carriage he was strapped to shook from his efforts, making it almost impossible for him to undo everything right. Bryony signed, scooted over, and helped hold the carriage still so the lucario could free himself. Once he had, he hopped out of the harness with glee, landing next to Bryony.

“Thanks,” he panted. “Thought I was never going to get out of that.”

“Don’t mention it.” Bryony took a look at the sigil on the lucario’s cart: Ten interlaced rings surrounding the head of a lizard pokemon. “You’re delivering for Kecleon’s?”

“Yeah,” the lucario said. “His wares were supposed to go out last week, but the shipment never came through. He was supposed to get them today, but at the rate this—” he gestured to the commotion around them “—is going, it’s probably gonna be tomorrow.”

He leaned back against the cart and sighed. “Isn’t it a mess?”

“Huh?” Bryony looked back. “What’s a mess?”

“The way we’re doing things,” the lucario said, gesturing around him. “We’re doing stuff like we did it 50 years ago. If we had the tech here, we’d have already been through all this backlog.

“Truth be told, I’m thinking of applying for a transferal to Pokemon Paradise,” he continued. “Heard it gets freezing at night, but it’s better than living in the past here.

“Well, we don’t have the tech for a reason,” Bryony said.

“Yeah, I know, ‘technology drives us apart’,” said the lucario, making air quotes with his paws. “It’s not like we’re any better off without it, though? You know how much paperwork this is gonna be, right?”

Bryony knew the lucario was just annoyed at the delay, and that he’d have to leave in the middle of the night. She couldn’t blame him for that. The bit about paperwork struck a chord within her.

“A lot,” she replied, a hint of dejectedness sneaking into her tone.

“And wouldn’t it be nice to live by electrical lights, instead of by moss at night?”

“Yeah,” Bryony admitted. “It would.”

“There’s lots of pokemon in the guild who feel the same way,” the lucario said. “Seems to me, if there’s a problem, it lies elsewhere. Only problem I can see is that it takes us six hours to get sorted through all this mess because we’re working with paper and claws.”


Bryony returned to Wartortle’s office, and the sorting of the paperwork began. Wartortle kept his cool the best he could while they worked, but she could tell he was uneasy anyway. They continued until night began to fall, and by the time the candles needed to be lit and the luminous moss uncovered, nearly all the paperwork was sitting in neat stacks, waiting to be carted off to the archives. But it would all be back by the beginning of next week, because the paperwork came faster than either Wartortle or Bryony could keep up with it.

The bells of the guild rang to announce dinner. The amount of explorers coming in from late night missions were much, much larger than the amount of explorers coming in from earlier ones, so Bryony knew the halls would be packed to bursting. She helped Wartortle pack up all the loose stray objects in his office before they both left for the mess hall.

Bryony had to lock up after Wartortle. She was about to close the door and do up the latch when a loud ‘thunk’ rang out in the room behind her. There was the sound of fluttering paper, and that meant whatever it was had knocked over some stacks of paperwork.


She was almost convinced to leave before the halls got too crowded, and her stomach called to her too. But leaving it tonight would mean more work tomorrow…

With a sigh, she opened the door, and scooted her way back in to deal with the mess.

Two stacks of paperwork sat around the east corner of the room in a spilled-over mess. In the middle sat a book that Bryony had never seen before. It didn’t look anything like the books on Wartortle’s shelves, and there wasn’t a gap in his bookcases anyway. It was thin and made of what looked like animal leather, and there was a thick metal latch holding the book closed. Had somemon thrown it in the window? There wasn’t a hole in the window, nor shattered glass on the floor. And she would have heard that anyway.

Bryony undid the latch on the book. It spilled open, and she barely caught it in her flippers. It was old, and the smell of dust and must hit her straight in the face. She flipped through its contents, skimming it over. It was paw-written, not printed with a press. The illustrations were claw-drawn, but detailed and horrifyingly realistic.

Some of them were pokemon. As Bryony poured through the book, barely stopping to read the words on the pages, the illustrations became more and more grotesque. They featured pokemon that seemed to be half pokemon, half twisted into a gruesome black shape, and monsters that didn’t look like pokemon at all. The only consistency amongst all the drawings were the eyes. The hollow, sunken eyes. The eyes that looked familiar to Bryony. Where had she seen those before? Where?

The gliscor. This looked exactly like that. Where had this book come from?

But as she stared out into the city, something odd caught her attention: There were no lights. No candle lights, no luminous moss, not even the odd electrical light somemon had brought in from the outside. The entire city that should have been a beacon of brightness in the night was dark.

A rippling boom that sounded far off. A brilliant flash of orange lit up beyond the walls of the courtyard below. It took Bryony a moment to register what it was: an explosion. Not one of fire, but rather move energy.

Something was going on.

All of the sudden, noises were coming from below, even outside the room. Screams, yelling, the blasting of attacks. Bryony dropped the book and headed towards the doors to see what was the commotion—

—A passing group of pokemon ran back down the hall, inadvertently slamming the door back in her face before she could open it. There was a series of loud blasts, and then the noise in the hallway gradually died down. Bryony stayed completely silent throughout, listening in silent terror as the amount of voices beyond the doors rapidly dipped. Had any of them made it?

And away from what?

Something stomped through the hallway, the only sound left. Bryony had to fight the urge to panic. She restricted her breathing as whatever it was got closer to the room. She could hear it breathing, heavy, raspy breaths that accompanied a low snarl. Then everything went quiet.

There was deathly silence. The cries outside were gone. Not even whatever was on the other side of the door made any sound. Bryony stayed still, not daring to move, breath, or risk any chance of whatever was out there finding out she was in there.

Bang. Something threw itself against the walls of the room. It made Bryony jump despite herself. She immediately returned to being still, hoping she hadn’t accidently alerted it to her presence.

A wrenching sound against the door, like the paint was being ripped off, told her otherwise. She crawled behind one of the stacks of paperwork, trying her best to hide herself for when whatever was out there eventually made its way in.

The wrenching sound continued, accompanied by the splintering of wood and the fracturing of the doorframe. Then there was a sound Bryony could only assume was the door being torn clean off its hinges.

There was a moment of silence, punctuated only by Bryony’s own breathing and the low, raspy breaths that came from whatever was in the room that she couldn’t see.

What was left of the door flew over her head and thunderously crashed through the window. Bryony was pelted with glass and splinters of wood. They cut through her skin and stung like pins.

The monster took one step into the room, then another. She heard it sniff, and tried to restrain her sobs of fear and pain against the stinging of all her cuts.

Another step. Then another. It was getting closer to her. And soon, it was over her. She couldn’t see it, she refused to, she wouldn’t open her eyes. But she could hear it, and it was right above her. All she could do was whimper and huddle in further into a ball.

The creature’s arms closed around her, and she could hear the telltale hum of energy bring gathered for an attack. She was resigned to it. The attack blasted into her, and for a split second everything was pain.

And then she felt nothing.



Bryony came to soon after. She stood in the same room she had been, completely unharmed. But she was the only thing that was unharmed.

All around her, degrading stacks of paperwork rotted away. The walls were jagged and only reached half the room’s original height, and all the bookcases were either gone or toppled over. Books were everywhere, but only half of them were in readable condition. And they were all covered in rust-red dust.

But more than any of that, what scared Bryony was the sand that flowed everywhere and got in between her flippers, and that the sky was a deep, dark red.

Where was this place?

She walked her way down the guild’s hall, trying not to make a sound or panic. Everywhere around her was the same as it had been in Wartortle’s office: devastated, deserted, and covered in red sand. Even the mess hall had been torn to shreds, filled with the decimated ruins of those long tables and the rubble of the upper half of the walls and archways. The guild was a shadow of itself, a ruin that only stretched half as far as it had once stretched in jagged peaks.

As she scooted herself down the hall that lead towards the courtyard, she began to pick up on the sounds of voiced. Lots of them. Bryony rushed through the hall and towards the large, missing doors that led outward into the plaza.

She emerged into the only room in the guild that was populated by any pokemon other than herself. Every guild worker she had seen or come to know under her time working at the guild was here, looking around and talking to each other with the same uncertainty that Bryony had. There was clear unease everywhere; from the whispers and hushed voice circulating around, it seemed like no-mon knew anything more than she did. She wormed her way through the crowd, looking for somemon familiar.

Flashes of dark green scales through the crowds. Bryony recognized who they belonged to.

“Charlotte!” she yelled out. Her attention caught, Seviper Charlotte’s head swung back to where Bryony was. Her eyes lit up, and she immediately slithered towards Bryony. The two pokemon embraced, and didn’t want to let go.

Wartortle was at the front of the courtyard, looking like he was silently pondering his options. He opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by the sounds of several gasps.

Behind Wartortle, visible through the wrecked gates of the guild’s plaza, a figure was stealthily advancing towards them through the blowing winds and sand.

It walked in complete silence, its footsteps making no sounds in the sand. It looked nothing like any pokemon Bryony had seen before. It was pitch-black from head to toe, and a mountain of sharp spines stuck out of its back. Its arms were bulky, and its claws looked large and sharp enough to impale a small pokemon completely. But more unsettling than anything else was the complete lack of any eyes on its face, the tube-like face adorned with rows of sharp teeth.

Wartortle turned around. As the figure continued walking towards them, he took a look back at the employees of his guild.

“Spread the word back,” he said to the frontmost of the crowd. Bryony heard him. “Be ready for violence.” Then he took a step forward, facing the approaching creature.

“We come in peace!” he announced loudly, his voice echoing around the courtyard. “Are you a friend or a foe?”

The figure stopped. It was a good twenty feet away from them. Bryony watched it carefully. It seemed to be studying them somehow.

“Are you a friend or a foe?” Wartortle repeated loudly. “Do you understand what I am saying?

The figure was completely still and silent for a few seconds longer. Almost like it was studying them.

Then it threw back its head, and let out a long, piercing screech that drilled into Bryony’s ears like knives. She tried to cover her ears with her flippers to blot it out, but the screech droned through it.

The call was met with several others in the distance from all sides. Bryony had never heard it before, but somehow she knew what it was by instinct: A hunting call.

As the inhabitants of the Rescuer’s Guild braced themselves for a fight, the figure opened its spiky-toothed maw, then charged.


The end of Part I.

From Wartortle's Guide to Dungeoneering: Class B Dungeon

When a Class A Dungeon has been around for a while and gathered enough age and power, the first glimmers of malice begin to seep in through the cracks. Dust apparitions begin to fleetingly appear in the dungeon, gusts blow out of thin air and disappear as fast as they come, and before long, the fog moves in. When this is recorded, the dungeon is upgraded from Class A to Class B. The most common type of dungeon in the world, Class B Dungeons are anywhere from a century old to in the ballpark of 5000 years. They are the industry standard nearly all equipment and guidelines are produced for. A subdivision, Class B-2, exists for older, stronger dungeons that still fall under the Class B rank despite their increase in danger from milder ones. Both the Rescuer’s Guild and HAPPI require that any team entering a Class B-2 Dungeon be at least of Gold Ranking on their scoreboards.

Since its publishing in late 2019, these eleven (twelve) chapters have gone through… checks five different revisions. That's because I considered this the most problematic arc of anything I've ever written. A lot of the characters used to either read as blissfully incompetent or downright toxic, I straight up did not have good explanations for a few major events that happened, and the pacing was molasses and made it all a slog to read through. I've managed to change nearly all of that, but I've come to accept there will probably always be some issues I can't perfectly tweak.

It can likely be attributed to the fact that this is the first time I've ever published a "season" of something this big and made it all the way to the end. But also, so much of this changed conceptually through the writing of this first arc that by the fifth (currently sixth) chapter, I had abandoned my outline completely and was writing on the fly. Mawile, Archen, and the rest of the Expedition Society were never supposed to have a spotlight or any screentime at all; I added it in based on a throwaway line in the initial conversation with Ampharos. I didn't know what Tricky's backstory was until the chapter I wrote it. Chapter Seven was basically a big loose cannon, where I sloppily tried to abort the old trajectory (which involved a character plot between Espurr and Watchog, as well as a wildly different version of Part II) and set it on the current one. But the biggest conceptual change came back when I was writing the prologue.

The original prologue looked basically nothing like the current one. It would have seen Espurr wake up in the middle of a cranky landlord's house within the proximity of the village, and then become a slice-of-life/sitcom fic situated entirely in Serene Village. I retooled that scene for an afternoon, decided it wasn't interesting enough to publish, and stuck her in the canon opening instead. So I guess it really went off-track from the very beginning. I've since added in/smoothened a bunch of things, including the loose cannon that was Chapter Seven, adding in something hidden into the three dream scenes to foreshadow their true purpose, and improved the pacing of the chapters based on user feedback. The special episode is also a recent addition, one I’ve been revising for a while. I think it’s stable now.

If I sat down to write this arc again with my current level of experience, I think I'd definitely be putting greater emphasis on balance, pacing, and character direction. A lot of those things were out of whack in the original version of this, and if you looked too hard at it in the wrong place, it all fell apart. But it's been a learning experience! I don't think I'll ever get this arc perfect, but if you've made it this far, the bumpiest part is over.

I'm glad you've enjoyed (or read) this far, and I hope this story can make it all the way to the end!

Music of the Week!

House Atreides – Hans Zimmer
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PART TWO: Chapter One - Deerling's Day


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark

You were right.

I didn’t deserve anything this world threw at me. Not a single bit of it. But I rose above it. I trampled those who wished me harm. I created an organization that’s made life better for everymon on the planet.

Now I sit in my office, and wonder why it’s all come to nothing. There are so many who were once like me, who could have risen to greatness, despite everything that was thrown at them. But they choose to wallow in filth. And who do they blame for their own bad decisions? Me. “Why don’t you give more?” they cry, but no matter how much you give, it’s never enough. And why would it ever be enough for them? They had their chance. They don’t understand the way of this world. And so they are doomed to be stepping stones.

Selflessness is met with disregard in this world. Honesty with lies. Loyalty with betrayal. You win by gaming the system. Sucking up to the right pokemon. Stepping on the heads of others. Making sure the public never sees any of it and continues to believe you are as innocent as they are. Not because you’re rotten to your core, but because you know the world is. Those who don’t understand that are doomed to fail.

Tell me, why should I continue to strive for what’s right when this world fights me at every turn? When it and the ungrateful pokemon within deteriorate by the day? When an entire continent hates me for the good deeds I’ve done? What have good deeds ever gotten me?

They’ve gotten me empty words, hollow sympathy, and blind hate. But no more. I survived by doing what was necessary. I can continue to do what is necessary. Grab this world by the throat, wring it for all it’s worth, and sever those who are unfit to live on its ground.

I’ll help you with your plan, whatever it is. You’ve guided me this far. Maybe you can take me to the end. And when it’s all over, I’ll sit in my comfy throne and watch the flames from a distance.



“Your demons will devour you if you give them the chance.”






Open Pass ~ Water Continent


It was nighttime.

Audino had always been a superstitious ‘mon. She’d depleted her store of herbs early this month, but superstition forbade her to return to the School Forest to collect new ones before the full moon had come again.

Luckily, she had a backup just in case. The Open Pass, a dungeon that lay far to the northwest of Serenity Village, had a few choice bushes of herbs that Audino could easily use as substitutes until the next full moon. And in a brilliant stroke of luck, the dungeon was only four floors long. She would be gone almost the whole day just getting there, but Simipour knew where she was and she had never been much for noisy holiday celebrations.

The bad news was that all the escape orbs in Serenity Village had been used by the school for Vice Principal Watchog’s test, which left Audino without an escape plan. Not that she couldn’t defend herself if she had to, but she preferred to avoid fights whenever possible.

She checked the clasps on her bag to make sure everything was fastened properly as she approached the dungeon. It took her eyes away from the path, but even without looking, she could tell she was here. The place just felt different, and when she looked beyond, the looming, massive trees just ahead were shimmering. This was the dungeon, and it was stronger than she remembered. Way stronger. Audino tightly hugged her bag against her side, and walked forward into the mouth of the pyroar.

The Open Pass made her work for her herbs. She couldn’t find the bush on the first or second floors, even after a careful search of every hallway. Doubts swam in her head as she climbed to the third. She didn’t know this dungeon well, had she missed it? Or perhaps it had changed in the time she was gone. The bush could have vanished completely from the dungeon by now.

She shivered as the stairs deposited her on the third floor, her sensitive ears and fur catching the air around her shift. A slight breeze had picked up, tainting the air with a faint rotting smell. Stronger gusts would follow. But the shift was more than just the air, it went deeper. Everything looked darker, harder to see, the plants more overgrown, the trees more twisted and gnarled.

The dungeon was evil here, and its power stained both the ground and the plants that grew from it. Even the apparitions had taken note. Audino didn’t see a single one as she walked through the labyrinth that the forest twisted into, the silence hovering around her like an omen. If the apparitions weren’t here to defend this section of the dungeon, it only meant one thing: something worse was.

Every so often, Audino would hear a Swish in the distance, as if somemon was walking towards her through the tall, overgrown grass. But no-mon ever greeted Audino’s eyes when she glanced back, so she hesitantly kept an ear peeled and went on her way.

She winced in pain suddenly, clutching the back of her head. For just a second, a sharp pain had punctured her there, not unlike a poke from a needle. But when she felt around for what it was—a stray bug?—there was nothing.

Ten minutes later, when Audino was beginning to lose hope, her eyes caught sight of leaves that matched the ones in the School Forest—an herb bush. Success! She quickly kneeled over it, rooting around in the dirt to make sure they were the right herbs. Upon finding that they were, she uprooted them from the ground and stuff them in her bag as fast as possible. The sooner she could get out of here, the better.


Audino froze. She whipped her head around. But just like all the other times, there was nothing there. But that didn’t make sense. The noise was crisp and sharp, too sharp for it to be a trick of her mind. She wasn’t alone in here.

It was only thanks to Audino’s stellar hearing that she managed to notice the pokemon sneaking up upon her from the other side. The only warning she had was the sudden change in the way the air sounded, a strange whistle that meant something was flying towards her—

She quickly ducked. What looked like a large, shadowy ball flew over her head and exploded against a nearby tree. From out of the shadows flew a beheeyem, hurtling towards her like a speeding haunter with its limbs held out in front of it. Audino rolled out of the beheeyem’s way and watched as it uncontrollably flew past her, then picked herself and the bag up and ran like the wind in the opposite direction. The stairs were just down the hallway. It was time to get out of here!

By the time the mid-air-beheeyem was able to turn itself around and come back for Audino, she was already sprinting down the hallway with the stairs in close reach. The corridor seemed to stretch out longer and longer as she ran. Roots grew over each other as they twisted into a corridor that seemed to outrun her. Or was that the fear playing tricks on her mind? All she knew was that she needed to keep running. Just a few seconds more—

—Audino suddenly dug her feet into the ground, trying to stop until it was too late. Her face whammed into a wall that just a few seconds ago, hadn’t existed. It hurt. Frenzied, she unpeeled herself from the wall and looked around, recalibrating her vision. The corridor looked normal again, a T-shaped hallway that wasn’t as long as it had seemed. There were no stairs. Why were there no stairs?

The air shifted–once more, then again–and she spun around to notice that she was being approached on all sides by the trio of beheeyem. They closed in, faster and faster, until they were so close it was practically impossible for Audino to escape at all. The stairs: they were fake. This was a trap. She would have fought them like any other dungeon ‘mon, but something in the way they moved threw her off from it. Just like it had back in the School Forest. These weren’t ferals.

“What do you want from me?” she asked them in the most level voice she could summon. They had to be intelligent—dungeon ‘mon would have attacked her by now.

The beheeyem said nothing. Instead, all three of them slowly raised their limbs in her direction, and suddenly Audino grunted as the pain from before returned, like an impossibly sharp phantom needle being inserted into the back of her head. The lights attached to the ends of the beheeyems’ wrists flashed, and even though they had said nothing Audino somehow knew what they wanted.

Give us the child.


They meant Espurr.

And as much as she hated the thought, she wasn’t exactly in a place to refuse them.

“Alright,” she breathed, still backed up against the wall and making every effort to stay calm. “Alright. I’ll take you to her.”


Serenity Village ~ Morning

“It’s summertime!!”

A well-placed Ember sent several ducks and geese flapping over the poorly-made fences of their enclosure, honking and quacking loudly. Seconds later, Tricky pounced into the middle of the flock, sending them all scattering in an even louder cacophony of noises.

“Vat?! Vat iz the meaning of zis?? Tricky! You monster!!”

“Sorry Hippopatas! I forgot about the—ack! Geese!! Geeses!!” A particularly largish goose had taken the opportunity to chomp down upon Tricky’s tail, and began to run her with wings spread down the moment she bolted back towards the pen.

Hippopotas glared daggers in Tricky’s direction as the geese continued to chase her relentlessly.

“Zerves ‘er right.”



Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily to the grating tune of somemon banging on the windowpanes of the school clinic.

Wearily, she glanced at the window. Her vision was too blurry to make out who was banging on the window, but… the sun shouldn’t have been that high.

She’d slept in!

Espurr quickly sat up in her bed, brushing the straw out of her fur. How come Nurse Audino hadn’t woken her? In fact, where was Nurse Audino? The clinic was completely deserted.


Almost completely deserted. Espurr blinked a couple of times to clear her vision, then looked at the window despite having a good idea who was banging on it.

Sure enough, Tricky was outside, waving frantically at Espurr from the other side of the window. Espurr spent a few seconds catching her balance, then got the door for her.

“What are you doing still sleeping?” Tricky quickly asked once Espurr had let her inside the school clinic. “It’s summertime! We should be going exploring! We won’t have time to later today!”

She caught herself at the last moment, calming down and shooting the floor a hesitant look. “I-if you want to.”

“I haven’t even had breakfast yet…” Espurr wearily mumbled, still wiping the sleep from her eyes.

“Oh.” Tricky’s tail swished across the floor, batting some of the dirt she’d inadvertently tracked in across the floor. “Well… I’m sure we can get something from Pops! Pops always has a bunch of food around. And then can we take a look at the expedition gadget?”

Espurr and Tricky had agreed beforehand that the expedition gadget Ampharos had granted them would stay with Espurr. Which meant that for the time being, it would need to be stored at the school. She had stashed it inside one of the three packed straw beds that lay inside the clinic. Which in hindsight wasn’t comfortable to sleep on, but at the time it had seemed like the best option for a hiding spot.

Espurr stretched, then walked over and dug the gadget out of the straw. She set it on the ground and looked over its sleek—dead—surface with Tricky. It then occurred to Espurr that the expedition gadget hadn’t exactly come with an instruction manual.

“Do we know how to turn it on?”

“Um…” Tricky clearly wasn’t expecting that question. She sat still in thought for a moment, digging for ideas. “Uhhh… wow. I guess we do need help... What—what did Ampharos say again? Something about a blue orb? And gastradon?”

“He said…” Espurr tried to remember exactly what Ampharos had said. Which was a bit hard when her mind was sleep addled as she was. “I think… ’just insert a blue orb and you’re as good as a gastradon!’”

It wasn’t a very good impression of Ampharos. Tricky snorted.

“You sound nothing like him,” she said.

“You try, then,” said Espurr, whose face was suddenly burning.

Tricky’s impression was even worse.

“Soo… can we just put any blue orb in?” Tricky asked. “Do we stick an oran berry in there? That’s blue. If we needed a specific orb, why didn’t he just give it to us?”

“Maybe... he did,” Espurr said, coming to the realization. “Remember the first day we met him, and he dropped that orb? Is it still in the bush outside your house?”

“I… think I took it inside,” said Tricky, trying hard to remember. “…Yes! I did! It’s under my bed!”

She got up from where she was sitting, scampering over to the doorway.

“C’mon! I can get us the orb and breakfast! I… kinda skipped it too.”

Espurr grabbed Gabite’s old exploration bag, noticeably tattered compared to the newer one that sat next to it, and dropped the expedition gadget in. Then she slipped it over her shoulder and followed after Tricky.


The townspokemon of Serenity Village seemed extra jolly today. Everymon was out in the village square, chatting with each other and hanging decorations from the luminous moss streetposts and buying things from Kecleon’s stall. Espurr had only been here a week, and yet she had never seen things so… lively.

Perhaps it was because it was just the start of summer and this was how the village looked in summertime, but Espurr wanted to ask about all the decorations that were being hung. Was this some kind of special event? Tricky seemed to be right at home, prancing through the square and occasionally into other pokemon without a care in the world. It was all Espurr could do to keep up and sightsee at the same time.

“Oh! Hi, Espurr.” Deerling tried to greet Espurr the best she could, who had briefly stopped for a moment to catch her breath and untwist her legs. She was still getting used to her legs.

Deerling, whose earth-green coat had grown in completely and become less tawny now, was with her mother. Both of them were waiting in the long, long line for Kecleon’s. Tricky, who had backwards-walked all the way over to Espurr after noticing that she was no longer keeping up, did not receive the same politeness Espurr had. Deerling simply turned away and refused to acknowledge her at all.

“These are your friends from school?” Espurr looked up to see that Deerling’s mother had turned away from the line to look at Espurr and Tricky. She looked at Espurr. “I think you came over a few days ago, right? To play chess?”

Espurr nodded. “I’m Espurr.”

“She’s new,” Deerling added helpfully.

“I see. Are you excited for the festivities tonight?” Deerling’s mother asked.

Espurr didn’t know what the festivities tonight were about, but also didn’t know how out-of-place asking about them would look. She nodded and settled for a generic answer instead. “They look like fun.”

“Alright then. Go play, you three. You don’t need to stick with me.” The comment was directed towards Deerling, and she was gently nudged towards Espurr and Tricky. Deerling’s Mother turned back towards the line, and it was clear there would be no more talking with her. Deerling quickly shook herself off, then walked around Tricky gingerly.

“Mom thinks the shopping goes faster without me,” Deerling explained as soon as they were on the other side of the square. “She’s been trying to find an excuse to get me away from her ever since we started. She doesn’t think that, y’know, maybe I actually like shopping…”

Deerling shook her head. “Anyways—where’re you headed?” she asked Espurr.

“We’re going exploring!” Tricky helpfully added from behind Deerling. Deerling waited for Espurr’s answer.

“We’re headed to Tricky’s house,” Espurr’s response was short and simple. Tricky danced all around them, trying to find a good place to slot herself in. Eventually she just settled for walking on the other side of Espurr, which was as far she could get from Deerling while still remaining with the group.

Deerling tilted her head at Espurr. “You… don’t know what’s happening today, do you?”

Tricky’s eyes practically bugged out of her head with disbelief.

“Wait, you don’t know??” she couldn’t help but blurt out. “It’s Deerling Day!”

“What’s Deerling Day?” Espurr had to ask. Finally, she was going to know why all the lampposts were being strung up with decorations!

“Deerling Day celebrates the start of summer,” Deerling pointedly cut in, severing Tricky’s statement before she could even say it. “Since Deerlings’ coats change with the season, when Deerling Day is celebrated depends upon when a Deerling’s coat changes. But nowadays mostly everymon just celebrates it at the start of Summer Vacation. It makes more sense that way.”

A hint of smoke escaped Tricky’s ears as she fell silent. She looked peeved at Deerling’s silent treatment. If Espurr focused enough, she could see Tricky and Deerling’s respective annoyance dancing in the air over them as colors. Blue-green for Tricky, a vague red-purple for Deerling. Unfocusing left them as brief flickers of color that she sensed more than saw.

The three of them walked past the tent that was decorated like a big red bird, which, unlike the Café Connection and Kecleon’s, wasn’t getting business at all. The sight of the tent turned all three pokemons’ head for a moment. Espurr could smell something like strong incense coming from inside.

“I wonder what’s in there…” she muttered to herself, before looking back at Espurr.

“I think I’ll go see the inside of that tent for a minute,” Deerling said. “Mom never goes in there. Coming?” she asked Espurr.

Tricky gave Espurr pleading ‘please don’t’ eyes. “Don’t you want to get breakfast?” she asked. “And then we can go look at… the thing…”

Deerling gave them both ‘you’re weird’ glances.

“I guess not. Anyways… have fun ‘exploring’,” she said, making her disdain roll off the tongue at the last word. Then she turned around and walked off towards the tent, disappearing within its its darkened entrance.

“What are you looking at that tent for?” Tricky asked, trying not to sound nervous. “Pops’ house is this way!”

Espurr took one look at Tricky’s uncomfortable, blue-greenish brainwaves and easily read between the lines.

“Right,” she said. “Coming.”


Carracosta’s House

“Good morning Mist, and welcome back to another episode of the Jellicent Show, where we pair a hotshot reporter with a couple of celebrities and let the sparks fly! Sometimes literally. Wink-wink.”

“We’re coming to you today from Cloud Nine, currently cruising over the tourist hotspot that is the Great Glacier. For anymon in the possession of a TV set, you can see for yourselves just how stunning the Great Glacier really is! For those of you tuning in on the radio… well, you’ll just have to take our word for it.”

“Oh, but what a word it is. On the reporting side of things, we have Meowth, the leader of an up-and-coming news outlet in Lively Town. Meowth, do you have anything to say to our viewers here?”

“Well, I’d like to say that it’s a pleasure to be here, Jellicent. And I’d also like to urge our viewers to check out the Lively Town Times—“

“Alrighty, moving on~”

“And for our celebrity fix, we have… the famed magnagate researchers who’ve been in a tizzy ever since their field of research was banned, Espeon and Umbreon!”

“Thank you for the introduction, Jellicent, although ‘tizzy’ isn’t the word I believe either of us would use to describe our current state of minds.”

“Really? Tell us more, please.”

“We’d use… ‘cautiously optimistic.’”

“We’re planning to appeal in favor of the ban’s removal in less than a month. We’re hopeful Cloud Nine will see things from our point of view, and lift the ban.”

“I see. Am I correct in my assumption that the initial ban had somewhat of a negative effect on you two?”

“Oh don’t even get me started.”

“Well, I’m sure our viewers would love to hear the story behind that…”

Carracosta’s radio played loudly in the kitchen, where several things were sizzling and the smell of so many different foods only reminded Espurr of how she’d missed breakfast. After enough pouting from Tricky, Carracosta let them both have an appleberry.

They passed a large, unfrosted cake sitting on the table on their way to Tricky’s bedroom. Tricky lolled her tongue out and drooled at it.

“Are you gonna stay there forever, or what?”

Tricky rolled upside down on her bed, staring at Espurr flatly.

Espurr slowly peeked out the doorway, where Nuzleaf had moved out of the doorways’ view of the kitchen. Setting the core of the appleberry she had just finished eating aside, she walked to the other side of Tricky’s room, unloading Gabite’s tattered old exploration bag next to Tricky’s bed and pulling out the expedition gadget.

“Where’s the orb?” Espurr asked.

Tricky froze. “I… Wait just a sec.”

Quickly, she rolled off her bed and buried her face under it in one fluid movement, rifling and rattling through junk until she finally emerged with a transparent blue orb clutched in her paws. “Here!”

“Ah—Fire! Fire!” Nuzleaf’s voice suddenly emerged from the kitchen, accompanied by sudden scrambling movements, the clatters of a few pans, and then the sudden sizzling of water against a hot surface..

“It’s out, it’s out now. Calm down.”

Espurr heard Nuzleaf pant in relief. “Ruin’d tha soup, though…”

“It’s alright. We have ingredients for more. Let’s just work on getting back on track.”

“Ya gonna take this thing or not?” Tricky was still stretched out on the floor, the orb in between her paws dramatically. Espurr quickly took it once she noticed. Tricky hopped back on the bed, trying to get a better look from above than she could from below.

There was a large, sphere-sized indent in the middle of the gadget that looked just about the right size for the orb Espurr held in her hands. Carefully, she stuck it in, hearing a satisfying ‘click’ as it connected to the machine.

The gadget suddenly sprang to life, startling both Tricky and Espurr and causing both to jump back a bit. It whirred silently for a second, and then suddenly Tricky’s room was filled with bright blue light.

It took Espurr a second to realize what it was, and where it came from. One minute, the room had been lit normally, and now the upper walls and the roof were covered in an ocean blue the same as the orb. Tricky rubbed her eyes, then gazed up at the roof along with Espurr.

“Wow… this is aMAZ—“ Tricky lowered her voice at the last minute. “—I mean, wow… holy mystery dungeon…”

A few pots crashed from the kitchen, causing Espurr to glance at the doorway for a second.

“Think we can set it up on the wall?” Tricky asked.

Half a minute later, the expedition gadget was projecting its display onto the wall instead of the roof. Espurr and Tricky sat on Tricky’s bed, studying it from afar. It hadn’t taken long for Espurr to guess that the hovering portraits that now decorated the wall were missions of some kind.

“I wanna study it up-close…” Tricky grumbled.

“We’ll block out the light if we do that,” Espurr pointed out.

“I know…” Tricky mumbled.

“Look at that one.” Espurr pointed to the top-left portion of the wall, where just one of the many, many hovering portraits on the wall dwelled. Spread out all large on the wall like this, the text was just large enough for Espurr to read. “Retrieve bag of poke from Wooloo Plains. Client: Eevee. Mission Rank: A. Reward: Half the bag of poke.”

Tricky’s ears shot up straight, and then she sat up straight. Her face gleamed with both excitement and mischief. “Did you just say wooloo?”


"That’s the last of the soup vegetables.”

Carracosta uncurled his flipper from around a large knife, removing the cutting board filled with neat piles of vegetables from one side of the counter and dumping them all into the large stockpan that currently sat beside the stove. Nuzleaf, who had just finished preparing one of Hippopatas’ large geese, hesitantly tried to figure out how to set it over the fireplace without burning himself as well. Carracosta set the cutting board on the counter and quickly tromped over to the fireplace.

“I’ll stick it in there. Why don’t you go check if the cakes have risen yet? It’s about high time we start icing them.”

Nuzleaf gratefully handed the pan of goose to Carracosta, then haphazardly wiped his hands off on the apron he was wearing. “Y-yeah… I’ll jus’ go do tha’ instead.”

No sooner had Carracosta set the goose properly in the oven and Nuzleaf walked off to check on the cakes did Espurr carefully walk towards the door, apparently trying not to be noticed. Carracosta humored her.

“Epfur waiffor meeeee!!”

Carracosta saw Espurr glance back towards the hallway. Tricky bounded into the kitchen, the sky-blue scarves Carracosta hadn’t seen for so long hanging from her mouth. He hadn’t seen those scarves since…

Looking away, Carracosta continued to play dumb, sautéing the soup vegetables purely from muscle memory. One eye discreetly stayed trained on Espurr and Tricky the entire time.

“Take one!” Tricky spat out the scarves and pushed one towards Espurr. She worked the other one around her neck, shaking herself off to let it settle properly.

“What’s it for?” Espurr asked.

“It’s an explorer’s scarf!” Tricky explained to Espurr excitedly. “Pops got them for me from Lively Town when I was five. Now I want you to have one!”

It took a minute, but eventually Carracosta saw Espurr pick up the scarf and fit it around her neck. “Thank you,” he heard her say.

Carracosta didn’t even make an attempt to move until Espurr was outside the door and Tricky was about to follow.

“Remember to be back before dark,” he warbled before Tricky could exit the door.

“Uh…” Tricky stopped dead in her tracks. “…Yeah! We’ll do that! Bye Pops!”

And with that, she was gone before Carracosta could blink. He shook his head, then curled his flipper around the radio’s volume dial once again and turned it up.

“…And now a final question from your hosts! Can you authenticate the claims from my source that things have been getting a little… ‘steamy’ between you two, shall we say?”

“Who told you that?!?”

“W-who told you

“And that’s the end of this episode of the Jellicent show! Tune in next week for more celebrity shenanigans~“

“Alright, listen up! You’d better ‘authenticate’ the name of your source to me right now so I can claw their eyes out!!”


Expedition Society Vault


Cards were a game best played over the course of hours. At least, that was how Nickit liked to play them. It was a game where you kept your hand secret, stalking ever-closer to your unwitting prey like a midnight lycanroc, the winning card in your claw. But you had to be careful about how you did it, because if the other players were to figure out you had the winning claw, you got sniped. And Nickit hated being sniped. She did that to other pokemon, not the other way around!

Alternatively, you could play your claw all at once and steal the catch for yourself, like Murkrow almost always tried to do, but Nickit preferred the long con. The trick was to draw it out until everymon else was high-strung and on their last strings, and you could be sure no-mon else could snipe you. Except that Murkrow had pitifully tried to play the long con once, and Nickit had still sniped him anyway.

“Prepare to suffer,” Murkrow suddenly stated, somehow smirking with a beak. “Weep at the sight of my great orange wings!” he slammed a card down on the table, face-up. Nevermind that you were supposed to put them face-down; Nickit looked at what it was anyway.

Moltres. Murkrow ruffled his feathers in smug satisfaction. Nickit almost snickered and let the jig up. He really thought that would save him.

“But if I cry, you’ll die,” she told him.

“Dying builds character.”

Nickit sniped him. Silvally. She had gotten the card during a random redraw of claws, and had been holding on to it for a moment exactly like this. Silvally was the most powerful card in the deck, after all, and also the only way Murkrow had ever won against her.

“You always win,” Murkrow grumbled. Like a mannequin, his body began to stiffly reach for the empty card box.

“You never try,” Nickit drawled. “Always the same thing, every time. You’re even beginning to bore me a little.”

“But no-mon else will play cards with you, so I guess you’re stuck with boring old me,” Murkrow said as he put them back in the box.

“Ain’t that a shame.”

Murkrow set the card box back in its place behind the chests of poke. “Our plans for tonight are still on, yes?”

“Duh. Spinda’s?”

“I was actually thinking of the place where they only serve vegetarian noodles.”

“You hate me.”

“You do not like noodles?”

“…You know what? How does a bird even eat noodles?”

“How does a fox eat noodles?”

“From a plate. Your turn.”

“…Not very cleanly.”

“Alright. We’ll go eat vegetarian noodles, and I will take embarrassing pictures of you eating on the expedition gadget.”

“—Spinda’s is fine.”

A loud bang from outside the door of the vault startled both Nickit and Murkrow. They quickly looked towards the door of the vault, as a series of clicks came from the outside and the large metal door slowly opened.

“Somehow I knew I would find the two of you in here,” Mawile stated as she walked in. she turned to Nickit. her hands formally clasped behind her back. “Your presence is urgently required in the main hallway, Nickit. That’ll be all.”

And then she left.


“I had to tell him it was a poffin – and he was drunk enough to believe me – but I managed to knock him out with a sleep seed.”

Nickit, Mawile, Bunnelby, and Braixen all stood at the foot of the straw bed in Ampharos’ vacant office, where Primarina currently lay.

“He’ll be like that until tomorrow,” Nickit added. “Ooh, he’s gonna feel bad tomorrow. But he’ll sleep it off. Just don’t give him any medicinal berries for the next couple of days and he’ll be fine.”

“That doesn’t look ‘fine’.” Braixen glanced over Primarina’s comatose body anxiously. Nickit felt woozy for a minute just looking at him.

“He’ll be fine,” Nickit said. “I’m the doctor.”

Braixen looked like he wanted to argue on that, but glanced at the other two pokemon in the room and decided against it. He silently bared his fangs at Nickit, then abruptly left.

“…’Don’t think I like him much,” Bunnelby decided once Braixen was out of earshot.


Wooloo Plains

By using the exploration bag to catch the gadget’s display as they walked, Espurr had been able to find a brief description of the mystery dungeon on the gadget’s logs—Wooloo Plains had originally been a field of grasslands before a strong mystery dungeon had formed over it and tragically ensnared an entire flock of wooloo within it. They were now the dungeon’s inhabitants. Its placement blocked off the straightest line to and from Serenity Village, and even the beaten path gave it a wide berth.

That was why she’d been wary of entering the dungeon in the first place. But it was only three floors, and the dungeon itself was a fifteen-minute leisurely walk away from Serenity Village. No way would they be in there long enough to get in danger, let alone be late for the festivities.

Espurr and Tricky had found Eevee waiting there for them outside the dungeon’s entrance. She hastily explained to them that she was in a hurry to make an important appointment, had taken the dungeon as a shortcut, and needed to have her money back by nightfall. Which didn’t seem hard, considering that it was still afternoon.

The vast plains that stood before them had been barely recognizable as a mystery dungeon from a distance, but now that Espurr was up close she could see it reflected in all the little things. The little bits and pieces that added up to tell you that the place was just wrong. She could even taste the tiniest hint of the mystery dungeon’s foul scent on her tongue if she stuck it out enough.

Tricky wasn’t disturbed at all, and Espurr was almost unwillingly pulled along into the dungeon before Eevee could even bid them good luck. Although, it didn’t look like she was going to.

“Huh,” Tricky said as once they combed the dungeon’s first floor for the bag of poke. “Where are all the wooloo?”

“Count us lucky,” Espurr said. “I’d rather we didn’t run into the wooloo before we run into the bag of poke.”

Which was fair. Tricky didn’t have a good comeback.

“You think they’re all sleeping?” Tricky asked again once they were on the second floor. “It’s not even dark yet… I wonder where they all went.”

By the third floor she was just pouting to herself. They were both overjoyed to find the bag of poke hanging from a low tree branch shaped like a hook. After narrowly stopping Tricky from lighting the branch on fire and setting the dungeon aflame, Espurr used her powers to snap the branch and send the bag hurtling down towards them. She caught it firmly in her paws, that was half the mission done. Perhaps they wouldn’t even need to deal with the wooloo!

“Tricky I can see the stairs from here,” Espurr said, having stopped in front of an offhand dungeon corridor that Tricky had rocketed past without a second thought. The fennekin backtracked, glancing down the same corridor Espurr was.

“Oh,” she said, restraining a cowed laugh. “There they are. Hah…”

The anchorstone looked almost like the rest of the dungeon. True to its name, it really was a large, rolling plain, with scattered trees all throughout. It looked from the inside just how Wooloo Plains had looked from the outside—breathtaking. Barren. Dead. The horizon was fuzzy, like a painting. Despite all appearances it was clear to Espurr that they were still in the mystery dungeon. And they still had no idea where all those wooloo were.

Espurr glanced up at the sky. She looked at the position of the sun. It was… almost sunset. Had they really spent that long in there? Even if they’d combed all that ground… now that she thought about it, the journey had been longish and tiring. She even felt a bit fatigued all over.

The same couldn’t be said for Tricky.

“How big is this place?” Tricky asked excitedly. “Ooooh—do you think the wooloo are here, Espurr?” she couldn’t help but let her tail wag furiously in excitement. Espurr, however, had her sights set on a dead tree in the distance.

“We can find out,” she said, pointing straight at it. She did want to know. Knowing where they were made it so much easier to avoid them.

Tricky climbed the tree first. It took Espurr a minute, but eventually she managed to pull herself up into the barren canopy along with Tricky, who was glancing all around excitedly.

“I don’t see any…” Tricky murmured with disappointment. Espurr quickly crawled beside her and began to study the distance from the branch they were both current perched behind. If she squinted, she could almost see the ethereal barriers of the anchorstone in the distance… but all those smaller branches were in the way. She could barely see over them all. She needed to get a little closer.

Looking left and then right to make sure that nothing would take her by surprise, Espurr carefully began to crawl out onto a larger branch. The exploration bag she was wearing threw her off her balance a little, but she was quickly able to regain it.

And then Tricky gasped.

“Look!!” she said, pointing with a paw in the direction opposite Espurr. “Wooloo!!”

Espurr could already feel the faint vibrations reverberating through the tree branch. She squinted to look in the direction that Tricky was pointing, and then she saw it: An entire massive flock of wooloo, all charging as one directly in their direction. And she was balanced quite precariously on a small branch.

Berry crackers.

Before Espurr knew it the stampede was upon them. Once they reached the tree the vibrations were so bad it was all Espurr could do to hang on for dear life. And then the exploration bag began to slip off her back. No… no no no no--

Espurr barely caught it just as it slipped off her arm. The bag hang from the tree unsteadily, suspended in midair only by Espurr’s grip. Hugging the branch, Espurr glanced down at the stampeding wooloo below her, trying to pull the bag back up. But it was so heavy now that it had both the expedition gadget and the sack of poke and all Gabite’s odd and ends inside it, and Espurr suddenly realized with horror that it was dragging her off the branch too—

“Tricky—help!” Espurr called out, unable to stop herself from slipping off the branch. Tricky snapped out of her amazed stupor to snap her head in Espurr’s direction, but she was too slow—before Tricky could reach the tree branch, Espurr fell.

Intense, yellow fear mingled with her sight for a minute. She landed on the back of a wooloo in the middle of the herd. The exploration bag landed a second after her and smacked the wooloo in the face. It brayed loudly, losing control for a second and bumping into the wooloo to its left before steadying itself. Espurr quickly grabbed the straps of the exploration bag before it could fall off and dug her other paw into the wooloo’s wool for steadiness.

The herd continued on without another care in the world, at the same fur-rippling speeds they had been going at beforehand. Espurr used both the exploration bag and her grip on the wooloo’s fluff to pull herself properly onto its back. She looked behind the wooloo, taking in all the others flocking in the same direction exactly behind it. There was no way out. She would just have to wait until the herd calmed down.

Espurr had barely begun to catch her breath when she realized something was happening at the front of the flock—it looked like the wooloo at the very head of the herd was now… rolling. And then two. And then three. And then too many to count, all travelling through the herd… and down to her. Espurr’s eyes widened. Could she just not catch a break?

The expedition bag jostled a bit, and Espurr remembered it was still sort of lodged on the wooloo’s head.

That gave her an idea.

Steadying herself on the wooloo’s back, Espurr carefully nudged the bag over the wooloo’s eyes. It brayed loudly again at the loss of its vision, but Espurr kept it steady. If the wooloo couldn’t see what was happening in the flock ahead of it, then maybe it wouldn’t roll itself up into a ball and crush her. That was what she was counting on. It spread further and further down through the flock, until Espurr could see exactly what was happening in up-close detail. The wooloo’s ears twitched. Espurr’s eyes darted over to those, and then she grabbed them. The wooloo brayed perhaps the loudest Espurr had heard it yet, and then began to shake its head around wildly in an attempt to throw Espurr off.

Espurr barely held on. And even then, it was by letting go of the creature’s ears and hoping that its wool was a good enough cushion to catch her. She barely caught a good pawhold before she could fall off its back. The wooloo shook off the expedition bag. It flew back and hit Espurr smack in the face. She cried out in pain and fell backwards, but she had more important things to worry about—it could see now! It was going to—

—Espurr’s face suddenly ate dirt. It took her a moment to figure out what had happened, and in that time she was trampled by so many rolling wooloo she couldn’t even hope to have counted them all.

And for some reason, she wasn’t dead. Espurr then realized—wooloo felt like the softest thing in the world! It was like being trampled by a herd of blankets, and she didn’t feel crushed in the slightest.

By the time Espurr had regained enough of her bearings and energy to even try moving again, the herd was long gone. She turned herself over in the soggy dirt, gasping for air.

That had been dangerous. She could have been crushed! But even so... she couldn't deny the rush that was coursing through her. That had been the most… exhilarating moment of her life! At least, as much as she could live in about a week, but still.

She was disturbed from her thoughts by a sudden chill that ran through the air. To her right, a massive wall of mist slowly encroached, bringing with it the smell of rot. It would have been breathtaking if it were anywhere outside of a mystery dungeon. Here, Espurr wanted nothing to do with it. It was time to go.

The lengthy trudge back to the tree they had been both perched on took a full five minutes, and it was more than enough to fully calm Espurr down. Her breath no longer came back in shaky, ragged gasps, and her limbs weren’t trembling from excitement anymore. She exhaled one final time as she glanced up at the tree, which was empty—


Tricky pounced on Espurr out of nowhere, knocking her to her side unceremoniously.

“What happened to you?” Tricky asked. She looked like she was trying to keep up appearances for appearances’ sake, but just from the sheer, blue-colored vibes she was exuding, Espurr could tell she was shaken. “I was gonna go look, but I thought—I…”

She shook her head. “…Nothing. Can we go now? I think I’ve seen enough wooloo for today…”

“Me too.” Espurr got to her feet. They both looked at the ominous wall of fog that currently loomed over them. “I think I saw the exit off somewhere to the east.”


Serenity Village

Eevee had definitely parted with a little less than half the bag of poke. Espurr was too tired to haggle it out and Tricky just plain hadn’t noticed, so no other words were exchanged over it. The mission was considered a success. Eevee had accompanied them back to Serenity Village, but she was silent the entire way and wouldn’t speak a word even though Tricky kept bugging her.

The sky was already beginning to darken by the time that they could see the familiar wooden archways that stood above the village’s entrance, but the village was already in full celebration mode. Colorful decorations hung from the houses, the luminous moss streetlamps had been pre-emptively uncovered, and a large bonfire burned in the center of the plaza. The square was filled with pokemon who were talking with each other in groups, warming up by the bonfire, or eating something they had taken from one of the food tables. Some were even dancing. Espurr didn’t think she had seen so many pokemon out and about in the village in… ever.

Kecleon’s stall had been rolled back, and so had Hawlucha’s Slam School. A trio of long, tree-carved tables had been set up all along the borders of the square, all filled to the brim with eateries of every kind. Espurr and Tricky both stared longingly at all the food—they hadn’t eaten since breakfast! Eevee just walked over to the bench, snagged a bread roll, and trotted off somewhere.

The mud from Wooloo Plains had begun to clump up and stick to Espurr’s coat, and it bugged her. She didn’t want to be walking around town with unkempt fur in general, especially not like this! She’d have to wash it off in the river. Preferably before she ate anything. Espurr carefully removed the exploration bag from her shoulders, and handed it to Tricky.

“Want to carry this for a while?” she asked.

Like she suspected, Tricky was ecstatic at the prospect of carrying Gabite’s old tattered bag for a while. “Where’re you going?” she asked, jolly. “You’re gonna miss the food!”

“I want to get cleaned up first,” Espurr said.

The luminous lights and the spiderweb of decorations that hang above extended all the way along the beaches to the shore, but there were few if any pokemon loitering about there at all. Fine by Espurr. She didn’t want anymon gawking at her as she washed all this nasty mud off anyway.

Tricky’s scarf rustled against her neck, and then Espurr remembered it was there—she didn’t want to ruin that. Undoing the tie and pulling it off, Espurr saw to her dismay that it had gotten dirtied just like the rest of her. She tried to brush the clumps of mud and dirt off, but to little avail. There were still small brown stains and clumps on the scarf by the time that she had accomplished all she could with her paws.

Oh, well. Assuming Tricky didn’t ask for it back, Espurr could deal with that later. There was probably a way to wash them. There had to be.

The water of the shores was ice-cold to the touch. But it couldn’t be helped. She needed to get cleaned up. Maybe if she just took a quick dip… She took a deep breath, put a rock on the scarf so it wouldn’t blow off in the wind when she wasn’t looking, and then tripped into the water.

The mud came off easily underwater, even if it left Espurr’s coat of fur soaked. But it was cold. Espurr quickly resurfaced, pulling herself back onto the beach and shaking her body off the best she could.

Maybe this had been a bad idea in hindsight. She felt freezing.

“I didn’t know cat pokemon liked water.”

The combination of the cold and the startlement made Espurr gasp. Her head snapped in the direction the voice had come from. Deerling sat next to a few wooden crates that had been hastily lopped just out of the reach of the tides. Espurr straightened up immediately.

“W-what are you doing here?” she asked, trying to recover from the shock of being startled.

“Stargazing,” Deerling replied. After Espurr’s glance made it clear she wasn’t satisfied with that answer, Deerling continued: “Really, I just wanted to get away from the party for a bit. You can only get hit on by Pancham so many times before you want to bash his head in with your own hooves, you know?”

She quickly cast a glance back in the direction of the bonfire. “He didn’t follow you here, right?”

Espurr quickly checked to make sure that Pancham indeed hadn’t followed her there, then shook her head no.

Deerling relaxed. “Whew. That’s good. What about you? I don’t see Tricky anywhere.”

“Tricky’s off eating,” Espurr said.

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.” Deerling’s hoof toyed with a large splinter in the box she was leaning forward on. She looked at Espurr’s soggy coat uneasily. “You went exploring with her again, didn’t you?”

Espurr causally nodded yes. Deerling’s face sunk.

“You’re… not being careful, are you?” she asked. “Tricky’s rubbing off on you.”

Espurr realized she didn’t have a counter for that. Mostly because… she couldn’t deny it.

“Mystery dungeons are just dangerous,” she improvised. “You come out of one squeaky clean and then talk to me.”

Deerling sighed. “You’re new. You probably don’t know what hap—“

“Tricky told me already,” Espurr interrupted. Deerling was silent for a moment.

“I just…” she paused, taking a deep breath. Changing gears. “I just don’t want to see another Budew. I don’t want to see another pokemon get hurt. You might think Tricky learns from her mistakes, but she doesn’t. She always falls back into them. You’re just going to get hurt. Please sto—“

“And who else should I hang out with?” Espurr asked angrily.

There was a pause. An uncertain pause, like that had caught her off guard and now she didn’t know what to say.

“I don’t know,” Deerling finally scoffed. “But you can do better than a child killer. Way better.”

So that was how it was.

“I’ll hang out with who I want, thank you,” Espurr said, and then she snatched Tricky’s scarf from off the sand and briskly marched away.

Away from the beach. Away from Deerling. Back into the light. Back into the noise. She still felt cold. Maybe she could sit by the bonfire and warm up as she ate something. Espurr carefully retied the scarf around her neck so that she wouldn’t lose it somewhere.

The pot of that soup that had smelled oh-so-heavenly earlier that morning sat on the middle table, and there was a makeshift set of stairs made out of a few boxes for pokemon too small to see over the top of the pot. Espurr carefully climbed to the top of the staircase and ladled herself some into one of the remaining wooden bowls that sat idly by the wayside.

“No! You will NOT eat like a dungeon feral in front of all these pokemon!”

“Buff Popff…”

“No buts! We practice manners here! You can eat like a civilized pokemon, or not at all!“

Espurr looked to her right, where Tricky and Carracosta were in the middle of a heated argument with each other that was quickly turning into a lecture from Carracosta. By the time Espurr had managed to successfully transport herself and the bowl of soup off the makeshift crate staircase, Tricky looked like she had had enough of Carracosta’s lecturing for the time being. Espurr didn’t hear exactly what went on between them, but she saw Tricky trot off in the opposite direction, and then Carracosta began to trudge in Espurr’s.

“Espurr,” he grunted in brief greeting as he passed her. Espurr watched him as he went. Yet another draft of summer evening breeze blowing through the square reminded her that her coat was still a bit damp. She needed to warm up. Taking a sip from the bowl (it tasted just as good as it had smelled), she began to walk towards the bonfire, looking for an unoccupied place she could sit. In the distance, Carracosta was talking to Nuzleaf, who seemed to be as far away from the fire as he could get, and Espurr couldn’t see Tricky.

There was a spot on that currently empty log by the fire. Espurr quickly made a beeline for it, making sure to edge far in enough so that she couldn’t see Nuzleaf or Carracosta anymore. And then, for the first time that day, Espurr relaxed. She took another sip of the soup. Somehow she had forgotten how pleasant it was to just ‘sit’ every once in a while, instead of trying to keep up with the world constantly. She could already feel the effects of the fire warming away the moisture on her coat. It was even a bit too toasty, now that she thought about it. Maybe there was a way to move this log out-

“Epferr! there you are!” Tricky quickly trotted up to the log, an entire piece of a goose hanging from her mouth. She passed the log, curling up nearer to the fire than Espurr thought was safe for anymon and letting the goose piece fall to the ground in front of her.

“I feel like I haven’t eaten all day…” she proclaimed to no-mon in particular. Espurr felt the same, but she was too busy drinking soup from the bowl to answer her. Tricky quickly did a perimeter check to make sure that Carracosta couldn’t see her, then proceeded to tear into the piece of goose with a ferocity that would have scared off a dungeon ‘mon.


The sky got darker, and the lights of Serenity Village shined brighter, long into the night. The bonfire was continuously fed and controlled so that it wouldn’t burn out or burn down the town, and Espurr and Tricky were able to eat their fills from the various foods and drinks that had been laid out by both Carracosta, Nuzleaf, and Kangaskan’s crew (who were the only pokemon in the village with a lick of cooking sense, Espurr found out from a random liepard on an off-chance).

Sometime after the sky had fallen, four or five pokemon walked out into the square and began to play lively music for the inhabitants of the village. Some pokemon danced. Others ate. Still others loitered. A good few were holding conversations that quickly turned into yelling conversations against the music, and the music was beginning to win.

Eventually more and more pokemon began to dance, and even though Tricky thought it looked fun and wanted Espurr as a partner to join, Espurr could barely stand straight at that point. As fun as this had been, she wanted to rest now. She told Tricky as much, and went to grab the exploration bag that had been ignored next to the table where Tricky had left it.

On her way out of the square Espurr and Tricky managed to cross paths with Deerling once more. Deerling said nothing, simply taking in the two of them condescendingly, and then she walked off.

“I mean, what’s her deal?” Tricky grumbled as she followed Espurr up the forest path to the school grounds. “Why does she hate us so much?”

“I think she just hates… you,” Espurr said.

There was an awkward silence in which it looked like Tricky wanted to say something, but didn’t.

They stopped once they reached the outdoor. The school grounds looked just as deserted as it had this morning. Not even the lights in the School Clinic had been uncovered, and under the shade of night the entire school looked almost as creepy as the Crooked House. Where was Audino?

Far back behind them, a light went out. Both Espurr and Tricky looked back at the sudden loss of light. The bonfire in the middle of the square had been extinguished, and the sounds of lively dancing music no longer drifted out from the square. The festival was over.

“I better go,” Tricky said after a minute. “Pops probably wants me to help with the food pack-up. Night, Espurr!”

She hesitated a moment before she left. Espurr felt the brief flash of blue, and she was about to ask if Tricky wanted to say something, but Tricky scurried off before she could. Espurr watched her head down the square with enough speed in her paws that one would almost believe she hadn’t been doing cartwheels in mystery dungeons the entire day. Then she felt a bit weary on her own paws, and remembered how tired she was. She’d ask tomorrow.


Expedition Society Headquarters ~ Nighttime

The celebrations in Lively Town were quieter this year. There hadn’t been a parade or festivities of any sort, and for the most part Lively Town was looking particularly unlively tonight. Normally, the Expedition Society would have had fireworks imported from the Grass Continent to launch, but there had been a shipping delay due to a storm and they hadn’t arrived in time. The great big double doors of the Expedition Society’s lobby closed after Murkrow and Nickit, and then Mawile had the building to herself.

Mostly to herself. She caught a glimpse of something uneasily pacing outside Ampharos’ office as she passed the hallway leading to it. Another glance to make sure she hadn’t been seeing things, and there was Braixen. She rubbed her forehead for a second, then left him alone. Maybe she did need that night of rest after all. Mawile climbed the stairs that led to the third-floor observatory.


A gong crashed, unceremoniously rousing Jirachi from his sleep.

“Wha—wha…” he sleepily asked. “…Wha?”

“I assume you haven’t talked to Nickit about replenishing that remedy yet?” Mawile asked, carefully setting the large gong-stick under the gong.

“…Yeah,” Jirachi answered once he had assembled enough of his brain to do so. “I’ll go talk to her later…” He yawned and stretched. “…Was gonna do it yesterday, but I fell asleep.”

The observatory was currently a tangled mess of clotheslines that were empty and looked like a spiderweb. “Don’t touch anything!” Jirachi called down to Mawile as he zipped up through the observatory to places only he could reach. “I know it looks like a mess, but I have a system!”

Any efficient system didn’t entail covering the entire observatory in a mess so tangled even Jirachi had to jump hoops to navigate it, but Mawile decided to keep that to herself. Less than a moment later, Jirachi emerged once again from behind the brass telescope, descending to the ground with a few photos in his hands.

“See?” he asked. Newest photos up where no-mon’ll see ‘em, oldest ones near the bottom. And this is what I got. For now,” he quickly added on at the last second. “Printer’s still scanning the rest.”

Mawile took the photos in her hands, and leafed through them. There were only ten so far, out of the combined fifty that she and Archen had took together. Some general shots of the devastation, a shot of a petrified pokemon up-close, but the last one was what caught Mawile’s attention: A picture of the entity that had attacked them that day. It wasn’t the main focus, but a good portion of its spined, muscular body was in the photo. Mawile held the photo up in front of her, and studied it closely. She clutched that one in her right paw, handing the other four back to Jirachi.

“I’ll be keeping this one,” she told him. Jirachi looked slightly hesitant, but what was he going to say? He just nodded and flew off to re-hang the photos before they could be lost. He could make another copy.

Mawile entered her cramped, cluttered office, the photo still in her paws. Outside, she could hear Braixen endlessly pacing, but if that was how he wanted to spend his holiday then she wasn’t one to stop him. Mawile reached in her drawer and pulled out a chesto berry. It seemed she could subsist on one period of sleep a week after all. Tonight, she had research to do.


Open Pass

For all intents and purposes, Audino was a prisoner.

The beheeyem had left her the exploration bag once they had gone through it and realized it was filled with nothing but plants, but that was the only illusion of freedom that she got. She was made to walk ahead of them as they made their way through the dungeon, with her paws clasped behind her back so that she wouldn’t try to attack them out of nowhere. It just so happened that the beheeyem had already found the dungeon’s third floor staircase—the real third floor staircase—which had crunched the time she had to come up with an escape plan of some sort by half. By now she was leading them around in circles and hoping they wouldn’t notice. Silently, she looked for a chance to break away and make her escape.

The beheeyem’s lights flickered behind her as she walked. Audino focused on them out of the corner of her eye. The beheeyem had forgotten to close the psychic link to her brain. Which left them just as open to Audino listening in on their conversations as it did her to attack, but they didn’t seem to realize it existed so Audino didn't clue them in on it. Instead, she focused on what they were saying, the link unconsciously translating it into words whenever the lights on the end of their arms began to flicker again.

And what they were saying didn’t put her any more at ease. They were getting tired of her. They were beginning to catch on to the fact that she was leading them around in circles. They were beginning to consider the idea of disposing of her. Audino didn’t like the sound of those thoughts. She would have quickened her pace towards the stairs or possibly tried to make a run for it in any other situation, but with the mental link open it was too risky. From what she knew of psychic-types, a powerful-enough one coupled to your mind would be able to lock up your body in seconds. She’d never make it far once they realized.

And then, a plan began to form. She’d have to break the mental link before they came around to the stairs again. Otherwise, she was done for.

Audino didn’t expect the beheeyem to do it for her—even if she was crafty enough with words to convince them, she got the feeling they weren’t open to talking. But she had read in a book she’d picked out from the library several months ago about Calm Mind, a technique that helped the mind repel psychic-type pokemon.

Psychic-type meddling reveled in a cluttered head, because the mental probes of a psychic-type could easily slip in unnoticed amongst the thoughts and noise. Calm Mind trained a pokemon to clear their head, to make the brain silent enough so that those psychic probes had nowhere to hide. And then the pokemon could snuff them out.

Unluckily, Audino had never been good at clearing her head. And she was on a time limit. She didn’t think that the beheeyem would tolerate another round of the dungeon. She tried and tried, but to no avail—the thoughts of all the danger she was in weighed over her mind like an immovable wall, and she just couldn’t make it disappear. Audino began to breath faster in fear despite herself. How was she going to get out of this?

No. She had to calm down if she wanted to maintain any hope of escaping. Surely there must be something else she could try. Audino adjusted the bag strap on her shoulder, and she suddenly felt the mental link in her head spike as one of the beheeyem snapped its head towards the movement. It faded almost as quickly as it came, but it gave Audino an idea. Slowly, Audino rustled the bag on her shoulder again. It was meant to look like she was uncomfortable with the strap on her shoulders, but if she could just locate that mind link again…

The mental spike came again, and this time Audino jumped on the opportunity. She couldn’t clear her mind well enough to locate the psychic link on her own, but now that it had been brought to the forefront of her mind Audino quickly focused on that, and that alone, like it was her one chance at survival.

Because it was.

Within seconds, she had it in her mental grasp. But now what?

Audino kept her eyes closed, focusing on the link alone. How did she get rid of it? Could she cast it out with her mind alone? Audino doubted that was possible. Her feet stepped on a familiar twig, and without opening her eyes Audino knew that the stairs were coming up just ahead. How was she going to get rid of the mental link in time? She needed to get it out somehow. She focused on it as hard as she could. She wished she could just get rid of it—

—And then suddenly, it was gone. Audino opened her eyes once again. The lights of the beheeyem flashed, but she didn’t understand them. The link was gone. She had done it. But there was no time nor cause to celebrate yet. She was still in danger. Audino cast her eyes towards the hallway in which she knew the staircase lay. It was a long corridor, and she needed to be ready to move at a seconds’ notice.

A minute of walking passed, in which Audino felt like her heart might explode. She was sure that any second, the beheeyem might catch on to her and then she’d be done for. But it was just a little further. Just a little further, and then she’d be ready. Just a few more seconds…

Audino stopped at the corridor she had seen the stairs in. It was now or never. She just had to hope that the staircase wasn’t another illusion, and take a leap of faith. Audino made to turn towards the right-hand corridor, then in one fluid motion pulled the exploration bag off her shoulder and whacked the beheeyem nearest to her with it straight in the grills. Caught purely off-guard, the beheeyem stumbled backwards into its companions, and Audino immediately began to run for it.

The wind whistled against her sensitive ears. Leaves rustled and sticks snapped under her feet. The exploration bag was carried less by Audino’s arm and more by the air. Audino heard the attack the beheeyem fired, and there was no way to dodge it. She just had to reach the staircase first—

—Audino didn’t know which had happened first. Perhaps they had both happened at the same time. But somehow, Audino had found herself deposited on her back outside the Open Pass, completely untouched. And if she remembered mystery dungeons, that staircase had moved, so the beheeyem weren’t following her anytime soon. She took a moment to calm down, then grabbed her bag and began to exhaust the rest of her energy fleeing back to Serenity Village with the speed of a Quick Attack. There was no need to waste her head start on them.


Serenity Village

By the time that Audino finally staggered into the clinic, Espurr was already fast asleep in one of the straw beds. Not even bothering to close the door behind her, Audino let the exploration bag she had been carrying for the entire trip fall to her feet haphazardly. It hit the floor with a muffled thump, but Audino barely cared anymore. She still couldn’t believe that she had made it out of that dungeon safely.

As she trudged off to her room Audino’s ears suddenly picked up on the sound of somemon rushing towards the clinic. She spun around just as Watchog slid to a stop in front of the entrance.

“Hey, what’s the—“ Watchog stopped short at the sight of Audino. “W—what happened to you?!” he sputtered.

Audino didn’t have the energy left to answer him.


Principal’s Office

The torches in the Principal’s Office were never lit after dark except in the case of an emergency, because the Principal’s Office was never occupied after dark except in the case of an emergency.

Tonight, the torches were lit. All three teachers had gathered in the room after Audino had been given a chance to clean herself up. She sat in the stool in front of the teacher’s desk, looking over a short pile of Water Continent outlaw posters.

“And you’re absolutely sure these are the same beheeyem?” Simipour asked. “Are you certain we aren’t dealing with different outlaws of the same species?”

“They wanted Espurr,” Audino stressed. “They said it to my face. Why wouldn’t they be the same beheeyem?”

Simipour sighed, deep in thought. He rose from his seat and walked up to the window. A moment later, he spoke:

“I understand you have a house near the center of the village?” he asked.

“Yes, for emergencies,” Audino responded.

“Consider this an emergency.” Simipour walked back to the desk. He grabbed a quill, dabbed it in the inkwell for a moment, then drew a straight line from the Open Pass all the way to the School Forest. “The school grounds are no longer safe for either of you. The beheeyem latched onto you because they saw you with Espurr. That puts you in as much danger as Espurr currently is.”

“And I’m just fine in this?” Watchog asked, his voice beginning to squeak a little. “I’m guarding the bloody school—I don’t want these things coming after me!”

“I’m afraid they don’t want you,” Simipour told him. He rolled up the map, and stashed it with two others next to his desk.

“I’ll have to ask you that you pack up and move first thing in the morning,” he said to Audino on the way out. “As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, time is of the essence.”


Music of the week!

The Dance - Bear McCreary

Travel Delays
- Alan Silvestri

Espurr_by_Dragonfree.pngArt by Dragonfree
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2~Two - The Dungeon Runners, Part I


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
"Winter storm's been hovering out on the Western Ocean for a few weeks. "Grimmsnarl's storm", we call 'em. But the way it's placed, it's been disruptin' travel ever since it appeared. Our ships' been disappearin' into that thing, and they don't come out. Takes a couple days to go 'round it, but lately those ships' been disappearin' too."

~ Zweilious, sailor from Grass




Principal’s Office


Everything felt cold. For once, Artemis didn’t feel like bouncing off the walls or sneaking out after school to explore mystery dungeons.

She sat on the floor of the principal’s office, still slightly shivering all over. Not from the cold–she was cold, but that wasn’t why–but from the events of the day. In the other room, Pops was talking with the principal. Even though the door was closed, she could still hear their hushed voices. They were talking about her. They were talking about what to do with her, now that she had killed Budew.

Now that she was a murderer.

She should have been crying. She should have been mourning somehow, now that her friend was dead. But she felt nothing. There wasn’t even anger, just… nothing.

Just… quiet. Sadness. Crushing her inside. And nothing to do but wait for Pops and the Principal to finish talking and think about what she had done.

Her ears pricked up as the sound of a stool sliding back came from inside the Principal’s office, and then the door slowly opened. Pops trudged out, followed by the Principal. Artemis did her best to make it look like she cared what their decision was anymore. If she was going to spend the rest of her life locked up in an apricorn ball, she probably deserved it.

Pops sighed. He looked at Artemis, and his eyes did the talking for him: “Why?”

“As you know,” Simipour began, “the penalty for killing another pokemon is lifelong imprisonment via apricorn ball, regardless of age. Effective only when undeniable proof of the murder has been presented, or if the pokemon accused confesses to it.”

Simipour walked forward, and sat on the bed next to Artemis.

“This will hurt, but that is why I have to ask: Did you kill Budew?”

Artemis had known the question was coming from the moment Pops had dragged her to the Principal’s Office, but she wasn’t prepared for it. Her body locked up, and even though she knew that she was guilty, that she deserved to go in that apricorn ball for the rest of her life, she was so scared and she couldn’t bring herself to say it…

“N-no”, she managed to stammer out, quivering all over. She felt like the world’s worst pokemon.

“No, you didn’t,” Simipour spoke. “You and Budew were the victims of circumstance. No-mon here is a murderer. Do you understand that?”

Artemis nodded, but deep down she knew it was a lie.

For a brief moment, there was silence between all three of them. Artemis just felt cold. Nothing but cold.

Then Pops began to trudge towards the door, motioning for Artemis to follow him.

“No more mystery dungeons,” Pops muttered as he walked out the door after Tricky.
“Never go into one again.”



The day after the Deerling Day festival was a somber, cloudy one. The cold and dampness of the early morning chilled Espurr’s bones, and even though she had planned to go to the library today and get ahold of a few books she was looking at, she wasn’t particularly keen on walking out into all that cold. Instead, she just picked a book from the small shelf of books that Audino kept around in the school clinic, curled up in the straw bed near where Audino had apparently crashed at some point in the night, and began to read.

The book was a very old one, one of the 10,000 year old relics from the Human Age that had been reprinted and repurposed for the Pokemon Era. It was about a ponyta roped up into an impromptu road trip by a sirfetch’d who was convinced he was a knight.

Espurr had been busy reading when a muffled bang from the windowpanes caught her attention. Espurr didn’t think she had to hazard much of a guess at who that was.

“Are you just gonna read all day if I don’t come get you?” Tricky asked as she and Espurr walked down the pathway leading to Serenity Village. “We’re part of a mystery dungeon team! We have responsibilities now!”

“But we haven’t even registered as a team yet,” Espurr pointed out, shouldering the exploration bag she had taken to carrying around with her. “So technically we have no responsibilities at all. We should spend the day doing tha—”

“Good point. I have something better than a dungeon!” Tricky gleefully announced. With that, she began to prance down the path faster than Espurr could keep up with her, and she was almost the entire way downhill before she noticed Espurr was lagging behind.

“Come on!” she yelled back at Espurr. “We’ll never reach it at this rate!”

Tricky guided Espurr through the village plaza (which was almost completely deserted after last night’s party), and down southward, until the buildings began to disappear in place of lush scenery, rivers, and foliage. Espurr had been here before. It was the same route she had taken back on Wednesday. And that meant…

When they passed the Crooked House Espurr briefly stopped to study it. It stood proudly like the dark pillar of evil it was, its doors boarded over with rotting wood like they always had been. Until they weren’t. Today a thin shroud of mist surrounded the island, but this mist felt different from early morning mist. It was thicker, and Espurr felt a chill looking at it that wasn’t from the cold. It only made the house even spookier.

Tricky backtracked over to where Espurr stood, staring at the Crooked House as well.

“No-mon goes in there,” she said. “Ever. I don’t like that place.”

Espurr agreed.


Serenity Village Outskirts

The grove of trees stood before Espurr and Tricky, the remains of Pancham and Shelmet’s treehouse still hanging from its branches and littering the grass around it. They were a ways out from the village, so much so that the buildings were only tiny specks in the distance and could fit in Espurr’s palm if she held it out in front of her.

“It was Pancham and Shelmet’s work,” Tricky spat, staring up at the wreckage from below. “But I was thinking—what if we had a team base? Like a treehouse or something? All the great teams had one, and this place is perfect!”

Espurr looked up at the trees, observing their branches. It was true that the placement of the branches made for a very promising treehouse… but the materials Pancham and Shelmet had apparently used were less than ideal. There was even a scrap of paper in there somewhere. Which begged the question: How were they going to build a treehouse if they had nothing to build it with?”

“Maybe we should just stick to exploring for now,” she told Tricky. “It’s not like we have to build it today, right?”

Tricky’s face slowly fell.

“I guess you’re right…” she said. “I still call dibs on this spot though.”

Luckily for the both of them, Espurr had had the foresight to grab Gabite’s expedition bag, which still had their expedition gadget, the sack of poke, and miscellaneous other odds and ends that hadn’t rotted away with the rest of Gabite’s supplies. Espurr and Tricky made haste to dispose of a few rotting berry husks that had somehow made it all the back to Serenity Village, then pulled out the expedition gadget and activated it. Espurr set it up so that it projected its display onto the shaded trunk of the tree, and then they sat down in the tree’s shade to study the gadget’s offerings.

There were quite a few missions up for offer around the Serenity Village area. Somemon wanted a rescue team to accompany them to the Foreboding Forest and help them evolve, there was a mission to beat up a salamence outlaw who was currently camping out in the Lush Forest, and a cinccino had lost an entire exploration bag in the Lively Mountain Range and would pay handsomely to get it back. Espurr looked up at the large mountains that loomed over Serenity Village in the distance. That was way out of their reach. Anyway, the mission was crossed off, so it must have been taken already.

In the corner at the bottom, Espurr spied something that didn’t quite look like the other missions. It wasn’t displayed in big text like the missions were, so she crept as close as she could without getting in the way of the light. It was futile. She still couldn’t read it. Frustration began to stew in Espurr’s head. This gadget had been hard enough to set up in the light. How did anymon work with this thing?

There had to be a way. Maybe one of these buttons… Sparing a brief glance at Tricky, Espurr crawled over to the expedition gadget, and pressed the button closest to her. The display dimmed. Tricky suddenly looked up, as if roused from a trance.

“What’re you doing?” she muttered, a little bit annoyed.

“Making it bigger,” Espurr responded. Then she clicked the button above it, and the display disappeared entirely.

Tricky sat up straight. “What did you do?” she asked, horrified. Espurr hurriedly clicked the button again, and the display returned to the screen.

“One of these makes it bigger,” Espurr said. “We have to figure out how to use it eventually, why not start now?”

“But now?” Tricky whined. “What if you break it?”

“You can’t break something by pressing a button,” Espurr proudly announced. She clicked the top one, and suddenly the gadget produced a loud ‘click’ that startled both Trick and Espurr and sent them both scrambling back a little. The gadget fell on its face, and then it was silent.

Espurr and Tricky shared a look. Slowly, they crawled back to where the gadget sat. Espurr carefully sat it up straight again.

“What was that?” Tricky finally broke the silence between them.

Espurr had no clue. The display was back, but after that she wasn’t very inclined to touch the gadget again.

“Maybe we shouldn’t touch any more buttons,” she said.


It had been an hour since Espurr and Tricky had decided to bench missions for the day. After the incident involving the expedition gadget neither of them had wanted to touch it again, so they had both mutually agreed to put it away for the day.

They both sat on opposite sides of one of the log benches from last night that still sat in the middle of the square. The square was filled with pokemon now, but they avoided the area where the bonfire had once been, which left a nice cozy space for Espurr and Tricky to sit until somemon came to pick up the logs and wash away all the remains of the fire.

And for the first time since arriving in Serenity Village, Espurr felt boredom. There had always been too much to do and not enough time to do it in, and then all of the sudden there was nothing to do and all the time in the world to do nothing with… it was grating.

“Are you bored too?” she asked Tricky.

“Yep,” Tricky lazily answered back.

They sat in silence for a minute.

“Think we should do a mission?” Espurr finally asked.

“I thought you were never gonna ask that!”



A pebble whizzed through the air and clipped the tip of Eevee’s ear. She flinched and grit her teeth. Stupid wind… And even stupider floppy long ears. Debris was always getting caught in those things. And she worked in lumber. The noisiest pokemon profession in the world. In other words, a pokemon with ears as sensitive as hers was bound to go deaf sooner or later. If not from those pebbles—ow, another one—it would be just from hearing things. Oh, she couldn’t wait to evolve (preferably into something with smaller ears).

“Oi,” Eevee called out, walking up to the fletchinder that had currently taken a seat off the left of an obscure, strange-looking tent marked ‘Hawlucha’s Slam School’. “You that ‘mon from the construction company?”

Fletchinder looked up from the leaf-full of seeds and berries he had his beak halfway dug into, staring up at Eevee.

“Yeah, that’s me,” he said once he had swallowed all the seeds in his beak. “And you are… ?”

“Eevee to you. I’m representing Lively Town Lumber.” Eevee held out her paw to shake the best she could. Fletchinder carefully set his leaf of seeds and berries aside, then shook Eevee’s paw the best he could with a wing (which wasn’t very well at all). Both pokemon awkwardly retracted their limbs and backed off for a second. The gesture wasn’t designed for them.

“So…” Fletchinder began. “This has something to do with why the lumber for that classroom hasn’t arrived yet, right?”

Whizz—crack. Another pebble. Eevee lowered her right ear annoyedly, then cleared her throat. “Alright, so I’m technically supposed to be all formal about this, but I’m tired, you’re probably tired, so I’m gonna give it to you straight: Big storm last week. Lumber from Grass Continent. Barge sank. Lapras barely got everymon out of it safely. Lumber shortage. No lumber.”

Fletchinder sighed, and covered his face with one wing. “And how long until lumber becomes available again?” he asked.

“This week,” Eevee answered. With great difficulty she managed to work her four-legged-friendly bag over to where she could remove the sack that was in it, then set it on the ground in front of Fletchinder. “There’s a fraxure travelling into town on Thursday. He has the last supply of lumber south of the Lively Mountain Range. On behalf of Lively Town Lumber, I’m here to provide you with the necessary funds for purchase…” she paused for a moment. She still couldn’t believe what she had been told to say next. “…And help you pay for it myself.”

Another pebble whizzed through the air, clipping both Eevee’s ears. That one was too large to have just been propelled by the wind. “Alright, who’s throwing pebbles?!” Eevee yelled in the direction the pebble had come from.

Realizing he had been caught, Pancham quickly dove back behind the back of the Café Connection with his slingshot in hand. He was gone before Eevee could even get a good look at him.



“But… aren’t you just kids?” Teddiursa asked in confusion. “I appreciate the gesture… but I kind of wanted a real rescue team to help me out with this.”

“We are a real rescue team!” Tricky gleefully announced. Espurr showed them the expedition gadget as proof.

“We’re here because of the mission you posted,” she said, letting the gadget project the mission straight onto the ground.

“Huh.” Teddiursa looked at the sigil on the gadget skeptically. “I didn’t know they let kids join the Expedition Society.”

“They don—“

“—If we want to make it through Foreboding Forest before dark, it’s best to leave now,” Espurr cut in before Tricky could obliviously finish her sentence. It had taken them a good hour to find Teddiursa in the first place, and the afternoon was already beginning to fade. “Unless you don’t want our help?”

Teddiursa seemed to consider that for a moment. “I… guess if you have the gear…” she finally concluded. “…Alright, fine. Let’s do this. Just… please don’t make me regret saying that.”


Foreboding Forest

Now that Espurr thought about it, Foreboding Forest wasn’t all that foreboding after all. It was a run-of-the-mill mystery dungeon, after all. And even though there were actual floors this time instead of just the one solitary anchorstone, Espurr found that she and Tricky had little to no trouble traversing the dungeon’s insides. In fact, it was just a little too easy. There were no dungeon ferals out and about like Espurr had hoped there would be, which left her and Tricky at a loss. How were they supposed to help Teddiursa evolve if there wasn’t anything to beat up?

“Oh, pokemon don’t have to evolve during battles,” Teddiursa quickly said once Espurr brought it up. “You just… really have to want it. Or need it. And your body has to be ready for it. Me? I’ve been training for months. I want this so bad. Hoping beating up some dungeon thugs’ll finally let me get it.” She danced on her feet and punched the air a couple of times to prove her point.

“Then why don’t we just make some noise?” Tricky asked.

“Don’t wanna attract that many dungeon thugs,” Teddiursa said. “I wanna go home in one piece, thanks.”

Halfway through the dungeon, they took a short break to rest. Espurr hadn’t properly gone through Gabite’s supplies ever since she’d swiped the bag from the Drilbur Mines. Inside, she found three very peculiar sticks with intricate markings etched onto their sides. It looked like somemon had worked hard on these. But they had been rotting away in a dungeon for around forty years, and Espurr doubted anymon cared about them anymore. It would make a good torch.

“Hey, Tricky?” she asked.

Tricky pried her eyes off Teddiursa’s lunch and looked towards Espurr.

“Can you light this on fire for me?”

Tricky’s face lit up. She gleefully grinned and nodded. “Tell me when you’re ready!”

Teddiursa, who had been in the middle of eating a quick lunch she had packed for the dungeon, looked up at what Espurr and Tricky were about to do. Her eyes settled upon the stick that Espurr held high above her head and widened.

“Wait NO—“

Too late. Tricky took a deep breath, and then spat out an ember that caught the top of the stick perfectly—

—It burst into bright green flame at the top, burning brightly enough to illuminate the entire room they were in.

“Put that out!” Teddiursa cried.

“Why?” Espurr tilted her head in confusion. The stick was burning steadily above her, lighting the room they were in up well enough for them to see properly.

“Yeah, why?” Tricky echoed.

“That’s not a stick!” Teddiursa continued. “That’s a

Then the stick began to fizz. Then it popped. Sparks flew everywhere like it was the bonfire back at the Deerling Day festival, and then the stick exploded—

Teddiursa took cover. Some of the fire caught Tricky’s tail as she ran, but her fur was immune to burning. Espurr was thrown back by the blast. She landed by the dungeon wall, rolling to a stop.

Espurr carefully caught her breath. Most of the fur on her arm had been singed, and her paw stung like something vile. The smell of burning plant drifted by Espurr’s nose, and she quickly looked up from where she had been thrown to see that some of the sparks from the exploding stick hand landed on the dungeon and caught fire.

Espurr began to panic. What was going to happen if the mystery dungeon burned down while they were in it? She… she didn’t have an answer. And that scared her. Forgetting the stinging from her paw, she immediately leapt up from her spot on the ground and got to snuffing out the fires the best she could.

“Help me!” Espurr yelled to Tricky, who was still cowering by Gabite’s exploration bag. Tricky peeked out from behind the bag, and saw the fires. Her ears flattened in panic.

“What do we do??” she asked.

“Help me stamp them out!” Espurr yelled back.

“I… I…” Tricky glanced around in panic for a few seconds at the fires that were rapidly catching onto the shrubbery on the ground, then tried leaping straight onto one of the larger flames in front of her. “Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!” she gasped, leaping off the flame just a few seconds later. “That hurts!”

Espurr wasn’t having any luck at all quelling the flames that were getting larger by the second. Teddiursa was petrified, and could only take a few shaky steps back as the flames spread.

Everymon went quiet as a low roar began to rumble through the dungeon. It got higher and higher, until an ear wrenching high-pitched shriek wreaked havoc on the false canopy above them. A strong wind suddenly ricocheted through the dungeon’s corridors, and once it reached them it blew all three pokemon off their feet. It was strong enough to snuff out all the fires, and then only the acrid smell of burning plant and mystery dungeon greeted Espurr’s nose as the dungeon’s screech died down.

Espurr pulled herself off the ground once again, not met with the sight of orange flickering flames but instead with blackened shrubbery and the dim blue light that filtered in from the false canopy above.

Teddiursa got her feet and checked her coat for dirt and plants. “I can’t believe you guys—” she brushed some grass off her arm “—lit a wand on fire! What kind of rescue team are you? You nearly killed us!”

Tricky was cowed. Espurr was equally cowed. She didn’t know what a ‘wand’ was, and Tricky obviously hadn’t studied.

“Look.” Teddiursa looked shaken. “The mood’s gone. I’m not gonna evolve today, thanks for that. Let’s just get out of this place—“

—She was interrupted by the echoes of countless loud snarls and barks from the distant halls. Everymon fell silent, listening to the noise and trying to figure out where it was coming from. It sounded like it was coming from everywhere all at once. Tricky’s ears went flat against her head.

“Dungeon ‘mon,” Espurr said.

Those two words sent everymon into a frenzy. Teddiursa grabbed an unused wand. Espurr ran for and grabbed Gabite’s exploration bag. Tricky ran over to Espurr, and all three pokemon quickly grouped together in the center of the room.

“How many is that?” Teddiursa asked, brandishing the wand like a weapon. Espurr didn’t know. She could barely hear Teddiursa over all the dungeon ferals’ howls and screeches, let alone tell how many there were past ‘a lot’.

And they were coming from everywhere.

Espurr waited with bated breath for the mob of ferals to converge upon their stretch of the dungeon. For almost ten seconds there was nothing but the sound of the ever-closer screeches, and then it got deafening to hear and just seconds after that the mob arrived—

There were so many Espurr couldn’t even count. It must have been all the ferals on the floor. All three of them were swarmed before Espurr even knew it, and it was all she could do to do the first thing she could think to do—shunt out as much mental power as she could. Several of the ferals closest to her went flying back into the ones behind them, but others quickly moved in to fill the gap. A loud bark flew past Espurr’s ears amongst the other noise and she turned to see a rabid furfrou that was quickly stumbling its way towards her in all the chaos. A rotting pink bag was peeled to its side, covered in leaves and dirt. Its eyes stayed trained on her no matter what. Espurr picked up a rock from the ground and nailed the dog pokemon’s face with it. She was violently pushed to the ground by another feral who wasn’t even after her in the first place.

Espurr did her best to stay low and hope the others would survive until the swarm had passed. There were so many! Where had they all come from? This floor had been deserted five minutes ago!

And then there was the sound of Teddiursa yelling. Not in fear or pain, but… Espurr quickly snapped to attention.

“Hey!” Teddiursa yelled, deftly fighting against the ferals that were attacking her. She still had the wand in her hand, and her eyes were split between the ferals she was fighting and Espurr. “You! Get your friend to help me light this!” she slashed the face of an encroaching bellsprout, then sent Espurr a quick prompting look.

Espurr quickly ducked just in time not to get knocked unconscious by the hooves of a stantler, quickly scanning the swarm of ferals. Where was Tricky?


Now that she was actively looking for it, Espurr could hear Tricky’s faint cries over the noise of the battle that was taking place. Northeast of where she was standing.

“Epferr—“ Tricky briefly managed to get her head over the swarm of pokemon taller than she was, but she was dragged down almost immediately after. Espurr immediately hit the dirt. She took a deep breath, and focused on the furfrou that was currently between her and Tricky. If she could just…

The furfrou let out a confused yelp as it was dragged away by an invisible presence. Tricky was quick enough to take advantage of the escape route she had been given- she dove out from the circle of dungeon ‘mon that had been attacking her, running over to Espurr was. Espurr rolled to her feet and pointed to Teddiursa—

“Espurr watch out!” Tricky suddenly screeched. Espurr turned around to see what was happening, but she wasn’t fast enough and the stunky that was behind her clipped her on the head.

“Espurr no!!” Tricky screamed. She spat out a flame that sent the stunky reeling back, then sprinted straight over to where Espurr had landed. Espurr managed to sit up. She felt dizzy.

”Hey!” Teddiursa screamed at Tricky, waving the wand up in the air. “Light this for me!”

Tricky didn’t ask questions. She took a deep breath, and exhaled an ember that caught the top of the stick and set it alight.

“Now get down!” Teddiursa yelled, and then she threw the stick as hard as she could. It soared off into the hallway, catching the attention of many of the dungeon ferals. Espurr heard it go boom only a few seconds later.

Nearly all the ferals took note. They looked up from what they were doing, and then the swarm continued down through the hallway and left Espurr, Tricky, and Teddiursa all alone.

Teddiursa slowly looked up from her spot on the ground. So did Espurr and Tricky. The howls of the swarm faded into the distance, and then the dungeon was deserted.

“…Is that all of them?” Teddiursa dared to ask once they could no longer hear the howling.

Espurr slowly got to her feet again. “I think so.”

Then the furfrou attacked. It came from behind, so Espurr hadn’t even noticed it. There was a loud snarl, and then suddenly she was pinned under the dog pokemon as it attempted to maul her—

Espurr suddenly saw a bright flash, followed almost immediately by a loud boom. The furfrou looked up from Espurr, suddenly worried, and then there was large stomping and the furfrou barely jumped out of the way of a large ursaring’s claws. It scampered down the hallway away from Espurr, whimpering in fear.

“Espurr, are you okay?!” Tricky was suddenly all over her, checking Espurr for cuts and scratches. Espurr barely managed to nod amongst all Tricky’s prodding.

“Yeah. I think I am,” she said.

“Huh,” Ursaring said, examining her new claws. “Sick.”


Serenity Village

“Oh, Uncle’s gonna be pissed.” Ursaring lazily stretched her arms as she, Espurr, and Tricky all walked back through the underbrush to Serenity Village. “But you know what? He can go suck on a lemonberry. This is hecking awesome.”

Tricky had been studying the ground the entire way back. Espurr sent her a concerned glance every so often, but didn’t want to start something in front of Ursaring. Eventually, Tricky’s mood began to affect Espurr’s, and she felt somewhat depressed by the time they finally walked into the village square.

Ursaring turned to leave, but then she stopped. “Oh, I forgot. I know I have it on me somewhere…” she clumsily pawed through the bag that was now far too small for her to use, eventually pulling out a leaf-sewn tube of something Espurr didn’t recognize. “It’s not much, but… here’s the thing. The… the mission reward.”

Espurr took it in her paws, looking it over.

“What is this?” she asked. Now that she thought about it, she hadn’t taken a look at the mission reward before they had taken the mission.

“It’s a tube of bluk berry toothpaste,” Ursaring replied. “I took it from Uncle’s room. You could sell it for a bunch. Just don’t get the stuff in your eyes. I did that once and they stung for days.”

Then Ursaring went home, and Espurr and Tricky were left to their own devices for the rest of the day.

“I think I’m gonna go home now,” Tricky muttered. The negative vibes radiating off her were almost smothering. “Night.”

Before Espurr could say anything to her, she left.


Café Connection

“Your order?” Kangaskhan looked down at Eevee from the other side of the counter.

“Just wait a minute. I’ve got to get this stupid bag off me first.” Eevee struggled with her bag (which had been advertised as quadruped friendly, but was actually on the lower side of quadruped tolerable), finally managing to slip it off her back and root through her personal belongings for her wallet. Kangaskhan waited patiently while she dug.

The sound of something loud clattering to the floor rattled through Eevee’s ears. She lowered them annoyedly. At least the restaurant wasn’t as noisy as it could be. She extracted the necessary poke from her wallet, then pointed out the dish she wanted on the menu to Kangaskhan, who jotted it down on a note and passed it off. Eevee slumped down against the counter, looking to her right where a Watchog was taking a long swig of a mago berry drink. He looked at her out of the corner of his eye, then quickly set his drink down so fast he nearly spilled it.

“You’re new in town,” he slurred after a moment.

“I’m not staying,” Eevee replied. “I’m just here to help a client.”

“Yeah?” Watchog took another swig of his drink. “What do you work?”

“Lumber,” Eevee replied. “Well, actually I’m just the secretary. But of course I’m the ‘mon who gets to come out here because ‘Well, four paws equals twice the speed! Be a good ‘mon and do what you’re told!’” she coughed, then switched off the impression of a deep voice she had been doing back to her normal one. “You?”

“Education.” Watchog curtly answered.

“You don’t look like the kind of ‘mon who works in education,” Eevee replied.

“I’m in charge of discipline,” Watchog said.

Eevee raised her eyebrows, staring at Watchog dryly. That made more sense.

“Guarding the school right now,” he continued. “Sundays and Thursdays. Work sucks. I’ve got better things to be doing with my summer.”

Eevee couldn’t disagree with that.

“Well, that makes two of us,” she said.



The dark silhouette of the school clinic up on the hill stood before Espurr once again. It was almost nighttime, and she could clearly see the building displayed against the pink and orange-toned sky, its lights still covered. Espurr tilted her head as she walked up the forest-shaded path to the school. Usually the lights were uncovered by now. Was this just how the clinic was left in the summertime? A pity. Espurr had had designs on finally using the library after she got herself cleaned up.

“There you are!”

Audino ran down the path towards Espurr, a menagerie of herbs and belongings Espurr assumed must have been from the medicine cabinet stashed in the two exploration bags she carried. “I’ve been looking for you all day!”

Audino ushered Espurr along before she had time to ask any questions. “We’re relocating for the summer. I have a house in the middle of town.” Espurr took a breath to ask why, but Audino answered for her: “Before you ask why, I just wanted a change of scenery. You can’t be up in the school all by yourself.”

She tried to look calm as she walked, but Espurr could feel the tension hanging in the air. The corners of her vision blurred yellow when she focused on it: Fear. Danger. Escape.

Espurr stayed silent for a minute. “You’re sure it’s nothing?” she asked.

“Yes, it’s nothing you need to worry about.”

That was a lie.

“What about the library?” she asked. “I wanted to go sometime.”

“You’ll have to get somemon older to go with you,” Audino responded. “Watchog has guard duty most days this summer. He’ll probably help you.”

Espurr remembered Watchog and his overreactions to everything under the sun.

Probably not.


Audino’s House

The door clicked open, the first time it had done so in almost a year. Audino walked in, setting the bags of supplies against the wall next to the door. Espurr followed after her. Her nose wrinkled at the smell of dust that pervaded the air, and she could even see a light film of it on the floor.

“We’ll clean it up tomorrow,” Audino said once she noticed Espurr’s disgust at her surroundings. She pulled the old, ragged cover off the lights, and the luminous moss inside the orbs weakly glowed. The insides of the orbs were dusty.

“Hmm,” Audino muttered. “We’ll need to replace those too.”

Now that Espurr could see better, she could make out the interior of the house. It looked like a mirror version of Tricky’s house–the parlor that they were standing in, a small kitchen to the left, and a hall down to the right with a washroom and a bedroom on either side.

“When I lived here about a year ago, I always kept this room tidy just in case of emergencies,” Audino said as they walked down the hall. “Hopefully, it’s still usable.” She turned to the bedroom on the left, allowing Espurr to walk in before she followed. Like the rest of the house, the bedroom was covered in a light layer of dust that managed to cover everything. There was a straw bed in the middle of the room that somehow hadn’t been eroded or fallen apart with time, Espurr caught sight of a tarped luminous moss orb sticking out of the wall above.

“You can sleep here tonight,” Audino said. “And then tomorrow we’ll have a housecleaning. I’ll be in the other room if you need me.” And with that, she began to leave the bedroom.

“Ms. Audino?” Espurr asked before Audino could step out the door completely. Audino, half out the doorframe, turned back to look at Espurr.

“How long can I stay here?” Espurr asked.

There was a moment before Espurr got her answer, as if Audino had been considering it.

“As long as you like,” Audino finally replied. “Good night.”

And then she left the room, and Espurr was left in silence for the night.

A large bang came from the wall, jittering Espurr in her bed a little. She stared alertly at the wall for a second, where a large dresser sat, but it remained silent.

After watching it for a moment, Espurr flopped her head back down on the bed. She was too tired for this.


It was almost dark by the time Tricky made it back to her house. Pops was already setting dinner on the table when the door slammed open with enough force to slam into the wall and shut itself and Tricky entered. He looked at her coat, which was dirt-ridden and covered in grime.

“Clean up before dinner,” he said. Tricky hurriedly trotted off to the washroom.

It was leftover night once again. The leftovers were made up of whatever the other pokemon of Serenity Village hadn’t wanted of the Deerling Day feast. It was also Tricky’s favorite night of the week. Their dinners were completely silent most of the time. Pops wasn’t one for talking much. Which was why when she heard Pops draw his raggedy breath as if to say something, she gave him her full attention.

“So… what did you do today?” Carracosta asked. He took a sip of the soup from his spoon. “How did you get so dirty?”

“…Not much,” Tricky answered, taking care to eat her food politely instead of the right way. “I just played with Espurr. Fell down a hill. Landed in some mud.” She looked up at Pops to make sure he was buying it.

“You and Espurr…” Carracosta began. “You’re friends now?”

Tricky pulled her face out of her bread roll, then nodded and trilled in confirmation. Carracosta slowly took another sip of soup.

“…Be careful.”

“I will, Pops.”

That was all that was said between them for the rest of the meal.

Those two words hung in Tricky’s head, even as she went to her bedroom and flopped down upon her mattress. No matter which way it was cut, mystery dungeons were dangerous business. Could she be careful? Could Espurr?


Serenity Village School



Everymon showed up for school the next day. Everymon but Budew. Principal Simipour must have told the other teachers, because Farfetch’d left her alone, and Watchog was giving her suspicious glances the entire time.

Pancham and Shelmet talked behind her back; Deerling just waited patiently at her desk. Artemis was slumped against hers.

Eventually Farfetch’d walked up the teacher’s desk and began the class. Artemis saw Deerling raise her hoof.

“Where’s Budew?” Deerling asked. Farfetch’d didn’t answer her.

Classes went on like they usually did, but Artemis couldn’t bring herself to care about any of them, not even Dungeon Class. All her ears heard were the words of the teachers which got filtered out into mumbling, and Deerling’s questioning as she got more and more uneased with every single moment Budew didn’t come back.

He wasn’t coming back. She wanted to scream that at Deerling. She wanted Deerling to feel stupid for not knowing that he was dead, he wasn’t ever coming to class again, and it was all her own fault, and—

—And then classes ended, and Artemis was no longer chained to a desk. Before yesterday, she would have pranced off to a mystery dungeon and ignored Pops when he admonished her about how dangerous that was. But today she didn’t really feel like doing much of… anything.

Her ears pricked up as she caught a snippet of a nearby conversation. Between Deerling and Farfetch’d. Tricky quickly looked in their direction. She didn’t hear everything Deerling said, but she got enough: Deerling wanted to know where Budew was.

Farfetch’d hesitated, clutching his leek in his wings. “I… think we should discuss this up in the school clinic,” he said, and then he led Deerling up there and out of earshot from all the other students still packing up.

Artemis was still collapsed against the desk when Deerling came out. Deerling didn’t say a thing. She just gave Artemis a look that said ‘I’ll
never forgive you’, and then she walked out of the classroom without a word.

Artemis went straight home.


Music of the Week!

A Quiet Family -- Marco Beltrami
Last edited:
2~Three - The Dungeon Runners, Part II


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
Various shortages in Waterport reflective of Grass Continent legislation

Several transports sunk off the western brink of the Air Continent half a week ago, set to affect the supply of various items in the Waterport in the coming weeks. These barges, carrying items shipped from the Grass Continent, sunk after a dangerous journey around the northern cape of Air during winter months. The items could not go through the Air Continent due to a piece of legislation forbidding interaction in the waters between Air and Grass. Grass is one of the largest suppliers of essential items and food to the other continents, which only serves to make this law more outdated.

~ Cloud Nine News Network




Carracosta’s House


Tricky felt better when she woke up the next day. It was summer, so she got to sleep in without anymon bugging her. The sun was already higher up in the sky than it should have been if it had been a school day, but it wasn’t a school day, so Tricky didn’t bother moving. It was only when the smell of simmering berries and vegetables came from the hallway that she finally stirred in her bed, stretching and then plodding across the hall to the washroom.

Dunking her head underwater for a second brought clarity back to Tricky. Now she remembered what had happened yesterday, and why she had been so shaken up. In the Foreboding Forest. That dungeon ‘mon swarm. Espurr had almost died—Tricky had almost died. It was almost Poliwrath River all over again!

For the first time in what felt like years, Tricky wanted nothing to do with mystery dungeons. She had only been friends with Espurr for nine days—she didn’t want a repeat of Budew! Not so soon… not ever. They were getting too reckless. It had to stop. Before…

Tricky sat in the middle of the bathroom, breathing hard. Thinking about this was beginning to bring back bad memories. She just wanted to move on and not think about it.

But she couldn’t. Not this time.

Maybe breakfast would help. Those berries smelled good.

And with that, she quickly took a large gulp of water from the pot, spat it out the window like Pops had told her never to do, and trotted off to the dining room.

Breakfast was sautéed vegetables and berries, which Tricky wasted no time eating her portion of. Those were gross when they got cold. Then she left the house, heading down towards the village square and quickly taking a hard left through an alleyway up towards the school. It was her little shortcut. She’d go get Espurr, and then they’d find something fun to do in the village square for the day! Something that didn’t involve dungeon exploring.

The School Clinic was deserted. Tricky banged upon the window, peering in through the windowpanes the best she could. They were made for pokemon at least twice as tall as she was.

“Hey Espurr!” she called out.

No answer greeted her back.

“Is anymon in there?”

The clinic was silent. It seemed like there really was no-mon in there. Tricky backed away from the door, staring at it in confusion. But if no-mon was here, then… where was Espurr?


Audino’s House


Espurr was cleaning. Audino had woken up and roused Espurr at the crack of dawn (but Espurr was used to waking up early at this point anyway), and after eating a quick breakfast made up of whatever Audino had managed to pack from the School Clinic, they had begun to tidy up Audino’s old house.

And now, after about two hours’ worth of hard work, the house was finally beginning to look presentable. The cleaning was long and tedious, and Espurr’s throat was still scratchy from all the dust she had breathed in while cleaning. Audino opened the windows to air the place out, and the rest of the cleaning had gone over fairly well. After the straw beds had been sorted, cleaned, and re-packed, the last thing to do was polish the luminous moss orbs and replace the cloths. That was something that Audino would do herself later when she went out for supplies.

Which left Espurr free for the time being. She was currently playing with the expedition gadget, clicking buttons to see what did what. The button at the bottom both dimmed and raised the power of the display, while the top two on either side helped maneuver the display the connection orb broadcasted, and the one at the very top gadget took pictures (as Espurr had found out when she’d pressed it a few moments earlier and had the gadget blink her straight in the face). The green one near the bottom turned the display off… which meant that the only one she hadn’t pressed was that red one on the other side. Espurr had no idea what it did, but there was no better time to find out. She clicked it. The gadget whirred for a bit, but it didn’t seem to do anything.


Expedition Society Headquarters ~ Lively Town

Dedenne had been going about her morning affairs when she suddenly felt that familiar tingling feeling in her cheeks – somemon was calling via connection orb.

Only she didn’t recognize the frequency. It didn’t feel like any of the Expedition Society ‘mon, and it definitely wasn’t the Chief, so… who was it?

Dedenne shrugged it off. Sure, the Expedition Society had a closed orb network, but it wasn’t hard for somemon to game the system and get in. It wasn’t her problem either. That was what the telephone Murkrow was supposed to sit by and answer was for. If somemon wanted to contact the Expedition Society, they could do it the right way, or just not bother at all. Dedenne didn’t need anymon to make her job harder for her.


Audino’s House

The gadget stopped whirring after a moment, but nothing had happened. Espurr tilted her head in confusion. What was that button for, anyway? It seemed pretty useless.

Audino was at the fire-lit stove, cooking a pan of chopped things Espurr didn’t know the names of but smelled good.

“I’m going out,” Espurr announced, the exploration bag slung over her shoulder.

“Don’t you want lunch?” Audino asked. “We’ve been cleaning most of the day.”

“I’m not hungry,” Espurr said. And she wasn’t, not really. The real reason was that it felt wrong to eat between breakfast and a mystery dungeon trip, but she didn’t want to fill Audino in on all her mystery dungeon trips with Tricky either. Somehow she got the feeling those wouldn't go over well.

“Well, alright then,” Audino sighed. “Just make sure I see you back by dark.”

Espurr nodded, then ducked out the door.


“Espurr!” Tricky called out as she walked through the village square, looking around for her friend. Where was she? Espurr’s sudden absence was beginning to bug Tricky a little.

She flinched as a pebble suddenly whistled through the air and caught her ear. Tricky glanced in the direction it had come from, but there was nothing she could see through all the pokemon who were currently in the square.

“Espurr!” Tricky called out again. By the time she had reached the end of the village square, she still had not seen hide nor hair of her friend. Tricky lowered her ears glumly. That was the whole village combed. Oh well. She guessed Espurr would turn up sooner or later. Unless something bad had happened to her… Tricky quickly shook her head to clear her brain of those thoughts. Nothing bad was going to happen. Nothing bad had happened. She was sure of it.

“I-I Just want to be left alone…” Tricky’s ears pricked up once again. She looked to her left. On the southern side of the square, Goomy was sliming up towards the eastern exit of the square, and Deerling was following in his wake.

“Are you sure?” Deerling asked. “You’ll be all by yourself all day…”

“I-I’m sure.” Goomy slimed up past Tricky and continued on his way towards the eastern side of the village. Deerling clopped up near where Tricky was standing, but reluctantly didn’t follow Goomy. Noticing Tricky, she promptly turned her nose up at her and walked away in the opposite direction. Tricky sat on her haunches for half a minute more. Then she took off in Goomy’s direction. There was something to do!

Goomy was busy making his way up through the houses when Tricky caught up with and fell into a trot beside him.

“O-oh. Hi, Tricky,” Goomy said.

“Have you seen Espurr?” Tricky panted out. “I can’t find her!”

Goomy shook his head the best he could. “N-no. I haven’t s-seen her. Not since summer s-started.”

“Oh…” Tricky let the dejection seep into her voice. “Can you tell me if you see her?”

“I-I’m going back h-home,” Goomy said. “I’m hungry.”

Now that Tricky thought about it, she was kind of hungry too. Again. “Well… wanna come have lunch at my place? Pops won’t mind.”

Goomy looked like he was thinking it over.

“…W-where do you live?” he finally asked. “I-I never saw your house.”

Tricky immediately perked up. “It’s this way!” she yipped excitedly, heading straight down the path faster than Goomy could ever hope to keep up with. “Just follow me there!”


Espurr decided to take a trip to Tricky’s house first. Audino lived next to the west side of town, so it was more of a breezy stroll than anything without the walk down from the school grounds and through the village square first.

It took about five-or-so minutes of walking to get there, but eventually she saw Carracosta’s house peeking out among the others, its roof decorated the colors of his shell. She quickly ran the rest of the way there.


Espurr knocked on the door. She waited for an answer. After a moment the door swung open, and Carracosta glanced down at Espurr.

“Tricky’s not here,” he warbled out before Espurr could ask. “She left almost an hour ago. Didn’t say what she was doing, just said she was going out with friends.”

Espurr felt like the words had been snatched straight out of her mouth. It was almost ten seconds before she was able to reply to that intelligently: “…Oh. Thank you anyway.”

Carracosta grunted in reply, and then the door closed behind him. Espurr was left there on the porch, wondering where Tricky could have gone. Then she set out back towards the village.

Ten minutes later, Tricky bounded up towards the house, spinning around and waiting for a panting Goomy to finish sliming up onto the hill.

“C’mon!” she yelled. “You’re a slowpoke!”

“N-not everymon was blessed with legs to w-walk on,” Goomy stuttered. “I-I can only go so f-fast…”

Tricky waited impatiently for Goomy to finish making his way up the hill, and then immediately ran to the door and began to push down the knob with her paw.

“Pops, I’m back!” she yelled into the house. She trotted in, followed by Goomy. Carracosta was in the parlor, jotting down a recipe with a pen made specifically for his large flippers. He looked up at Tricky, and then his eyes veered down towards Goomy. Tricky quickly took the opportunity to introduce Goomy. “This is Goomy, Pops.”

There was a moment before Carracosta said anything.

“…I see.” He let his eyes remain on Goomy a little longer, then went back to his recipe writing.

“Are there any leftovers from breakfast?” Tricky asked. She didn’t like them cold, but she wasn’t the one eating them.

“Have berries,” Carracosta grunted. Tricky shrugged. She jumped up onto one of the chairs, then realized Goomy couldn’t get up onto the seat. She glanced down at him.

“What kind of berry do you want?” she asked.

“A-appleberry,” Goomy replied.

Tricky nicked an appleberry from the bowl on the table with her teeth, then hopped down from the chair and handed it to Goomy.

"Your friend was here, by the way," Carracosta said.

Tricky immediately perked up.

"Really??" she asked. "Where did she go?"

"Didn't see," replied Carracosta.

"Oh..." Another close miss. Tricky's tail lashed impatiently. "How long ago?"

"Ten minutes," came the warble.

Ten minutes... it took half of that to get to the square. If Tricky really rushed, maybe she could catch Espurr. But she had to go now.


Village Square

Espurr couldn’t find Tricky. She sat just outside the village square, under the front window of Audino’s house where Audino couldn’t see her. How large was this village, anyway? It seemed almost ridiculous when Espurr got down to thinking about it, how two pokemon could stay separated in a town this small. She supposed she could have just waited at Tricky’s house, but that would be wasting the entire day. She wondered if she could go up to the library–but then she remembered she’d need Watchog’s help to do that, and she was currently spying him standing in the ever-present line to Kecleon’s in the near distance. Espurr sighed, then pulled the expedition gadget out of her bag. Even without Tricky, she could still probably take a mission. It was better than wasting a day sitting around in the village, at any rate.

It seemed like the number of missions in the Serenity Village area was beginning to multiply, now that somemon was actually taking them instead of leaving them on the shelf to collect dust and rot. One caught Espurr’s eye quickly—it was another retrieval mission just like the one in Wooloo Plains, only this time it was a scarf that was lost. The mission was marked with three stars, more than any of the missions on the display were. Espurr was supposed to retrieve it from Poliwrath River, and the reward listed was a pair of psychic papers. Espurr had no idea what those were, but they sounded useful.

Alright then. That’d be her mission for the day. It sounded easy, anyway. Espurr just had to do one thing first.

Audino had already finished eating by the time Espurr walked in. “Can I borrow a piece of paper?” she asked.

Audino looked up from the book she was reading. “There’s some in the bag, if you want it. Why?”

“Just writing a note,” Espurr responded.

“To whom?” Audino asked.

“Tricky.” Espurr dug in the pair of stuffed exploration bags, finding the pieces of paper that were crumpled up inside and extracting one. Once the note was written, she packed up the quill and ink the best she could. And then she was out the door again.

She left the note stuck to the door on her way out:

“Living here now. Gone to Poliwrath River on a mission. ~ Espurr”

Tricky walked down towards the village square. If Espurr was going to be anywhere, she’d be there. Right?

In passing, she noticed that the old vacant house next the village square that had always been empty had its windows open. That was worthy of Tricky’s attention. Had somemon broken in?

She walked up towards the house, glancing up towards the window. Inside, she spied… Nurse Audino! Reading a book! Tricky gasped sharply, then quickly dived down under the window before Audino could notice her. This was Nurse Audino’s house!

Then she noticed the note taped to the door. She walked over to it, and read what was on it.

Tricky’s heart skipped a beat. Then sank. She wanted to scream in horror. She began to shake all over with terror, her mind running in circles. Espurr had gone to… she couldn’t have! She just couldn’t!

But the note was there, right in front of her, and no matter how much Tricky wished it would change it didn’t. Espurr had gone to Poliwrath Woods. She didn’t know. She didn’t know. Tricky hadn’t told her yet.

Tricky eventually broke out of her stupor, taking a deep breath and trying to hold in a sob of horror. She had to help Espurr! She couldn’t go back to Poliwrath River… But she had to! She just… she’d die if another one of her friends died in there too, and she knew it. It was better if they both died instead of only her living.

And with that one thought lingering in her mind, Tricky quickly took off in the direction of Poliwrath River. If she kept her mind straight, she could almost remember the way there.


Poliwrath River

Espurr walked through the woods, trying to crush as little foliage as possible with the exploration bag. It was a ways out from the village to the south, and the ground was muddy here. She checked the sun. Afternoon. And it looked like she was almost there.

The breeze blew in her direction, and Espurr caught a whiff of that familiar rotting stench—the stench of a mystery dungeon. The wind was blowing from her right, so she looked that way. Just through the trees, she could see what looked like an unusually shrouded grove of forest, all viny and tangled. That must have been it. Espurr trudged through a small stream as she headed for that.

It was definitely a mystery dungeon. And a powerful one too. Espurr could feel its presence practically hovering in the air around her. Even from outside, the dungeon felt malevolent. Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe it was better to go back. She could tackle this another time with Tricky.

But could she? For all she knew this mission wouldn’t even be here the next time she looked. And how much of a difference would Tricky make? It wasn’t like Espurr was helpless herself. She took a deep breath, then stepped forwards, and felt the air vanish into Mystery Dungeon.

The place was deserted, even for a mystery dungeon. Espurr trudged through the marsh that barely even qualified as mud, looking for that scarf. She hoped she found it soon. This place was absolutely putrid.

Every once in a while, Espurr got the feeling she was being watched by something. Things that swam in the water, taking care to stay far out of view. Even though she never caught full sight of any creature other than herself, Espurr kept a wary eye on her surroundings anyway. She didn’t want to get jumped by a dungeon ‘mon in this nasty sticky marsh.

The first floor of the dungeon was cleared without any major incident.

On the second floor, the dungeon suddenly went cold. It wasn’t the cold found on top of a frigid mountain—rather the kind that sent chills down one’s back and made them feel like they were being watched from all sides, and that was how Espurr felt as she traversed the dungeon’s second floor. This was an evil place. More evil than all the mystery dungeons she had encountered so far. And she still hadn’t found that scarf. Maybe it had been lost to the marshes long ago. Espurr wasn’t so interested in completing the mission anymore as she was just clearing the dungeon and getting out. She passed the second floor without finding the scarf as well.

Maybe something had happened here, Espurr wondered as she walked through the third floor. The absence of dungeon ‘mon was beginning to unnerve her a little. Dungeons were almost never deserted like this. Not unless there was something worse around. And there was something worse lurking around—Espurr could feel it in the air, getting closer with every floor she passed. And eventually, she’d have to face it. There was no going back: all she could do was be ready.

The dungeon only got more overgrown as she went, and the marsh deeper. It almost sucked in her whole legs now, and the bottom half of the exploration bag was practically dragging through the muck. The only relief was that it seemed to be thinning out into swamp water instead of just thick mud, and it was getting easier and easier to wade through the dungeon. But even so… any higher, and Espurr might not be able to cross. She was already waist-deep.

She did not find the scarf on the third floor, either. Instead, she found the stairs, half-submerged by the marsh. Espurr didn’t ask questions. She just pulled herself out of the mud with a squelch, and hurried up to the next floor as quickly as she could.

The next floor led onto dry land, and Espurr was finally free to move her mud-caked legs again. But her relief didn’t last long—if the last couple of floors had crept her out, then this floor terrified her. It was like the dungeon was practically looming over her, and Espurr was hard-pressed to keep her wits about her as she traversed the soggy wet land. Where was that stupid scarf?

And then she came to the borders of a proper marsh. It was expansive, and looked too deep for Espurr to trudge through even if she submerged herself all the way up to her neck. Espurr took a few careful steps back from the riverbank, for fear of the slippery mud giving way and catapulting her into the marsh. How was she going to get past that? Her eyes wavered to one of the ridiculously big lily pads floating on the water above. Could she… it seemed ridiculous.

But could she?

The dungeon suddenly roared. It was all Espurr could do to brace herself for the wind as it buffeted her towards the marsh ahead, but it didn’t knock her to her feet or blow her back like the winds of Foreboding Forest had. It felt weak. And then just like that, with a whimpering howl, it died. Espurr slowly uncovered her face. There was no time to waste.

Espurr snapped a vine off a low-hanging tree. She picked a stone up from the ground and tied it to the vine. Then she swung it with her paws, and threw. It landed on one of the lily pads in the distance. The stone caught on the edges of the lily pad, and stayed there. Espurr tugged gently on the vine. The rock didn’t budge. That was a good sign. Slowly, Espurr began to pull the vine back towards her, tugging the lily pad across the river as it went. Soon, it was close enough to the shore that Espurr could touch it if she reached really hard. Then it bumped up against the mud. That was close enough. Espurr took a deep breath, and then slowly put her front paws on it.

It felt fragile, but it didn’t break. Espurr slowly climbed onto the rest of the lily pad, staying on all fours to spread out her weight. She put a paw in the marsh, and gently began to paddle forward.

The lilypad cut across the water slowly, but smoothly. Espurr carefully paddled with a single paw through the marsh, slow, silent strokes taking the lilypad across the lake at a snail’s pace.

She had paddled for almost five minutes when she thought she saw something ripple in the marsh to the left. Espurr barely held in a sharp gasp. There was something in the water with her. And on this lily pad she was almost helpless to do anything about it. Except keep calm. And get to the other side. And so Espurr began to continue paddling like she had been before, breathing a little harder this time.

A minute later she saw the water ripple ahead of her, and it occurred to her that whatever was in the water might just be toying with her. If that was true… she might never reach the other side of the marsh. But she was so close… Espurr began to peddle faster.

Then the poliwrath attacked. A blue slimy fist suddenly punched through the underside of Espurr’s lily pad and grabbed Espurr by the stomach—

—Espurr screamed and bit down on the hand with her fangs. The hand jerked, let go of her stomach and sank back into the water slowly. But its absence left a large hole in the middle of her lily pad. And she was taking on water fast. Espurr began to scramble for something to stop the flow—something to fill the hole with, but there was nothing. It was going to sink and then she was going to die and—

—And the shoreline was just over there. If Espurr swam for it she could make it. She was sure of it.

Another blue hand suddenly grabbed the edge of the lily pad behind her and then before she knew it Espurr was flipped into the water—

—She caught her bearings fast under the water and began to swim for it. The shore was right over there. She was going to make it.

Not fast enough. Something grabbed her leg and pulled her deeper down with a whoosh and then Espurr finally saw the poliwrath in all its glory for the first time. It was massive. Scarred. Blue and ugly. Its eyes were black as night. She directed all her mental energy in a straight beam towards the poliwrath, and it was knocked back a good six feet in the water. Espurr didn’t waste any time getting to the shore.

She pulled herself onto dry land, grabbing the waterlogged exploration bag from the water and standing up. Her fur was heavy, and she was freezing. But before she could finish catching her breath, she noticed a large pair of feet in front of her. Looking up, she found herself face to face with another poliwrath. Espurr let out a whimper of fear, and then in the space of a second the poliwrath kicked her straight back into the water.

The water was cold and muddy and murky, and Espurr felt herself sink down into it, still woozy from the punch to the gut she had taken. She saw the underwater poliwrath swim up towards her, and it made to grab her head—

—But then there was a muffled explosion from above. The poliwrath looked up. Espurr, who was not suited to underwater conditions at all, tried not to die. And then the poliwrath swam up towards the surface. Like she had never even existed in the first place.

Fine by Espurr. She was finally beginning to collect her bearings again, most importantly the fact that she was completely out of air. She began to swim towards the top, trying not to lose the exploration bag in the process.

Espurr pulled herself onto the shore once more, gasping for breath and checking around the immediate area for any more poliwrath. The sounds of a battle crashed behind her. Espurr turned to look. Both poliwrath were on the shore, being barraged with attacks from…

…Was that Tricky?

Espurr quickly stood up, coughing a bit but keeping her balance. “Tricky!” she yelled.

Tricky looked up at Espurr, but then the poliwrath took the opportunity to land a pair of twin attacks against her. Espurr ran forward on instinct, barely stopping herself at the riverbank. She had to help!

Tricky tried to get up from the muddy ditch she had been punched into, but the poliwrath were already on top of her before she could. She was punched again. Then suddenly an invisible force yanked one of the poliwrath back away from her, leaving one side completely open for Tricky to escape. She looked in the distance—it was Espurr! But there was something Tricky had to do first. She spun and spat an ember into the second poliwrath’s face, scampering away before it could do anything. Espurr’s hold on the first poliwrath slipped—it was too strong! But it couldn’t stop what it had been trying to do for the last ten seconds: Charge forward. It collided headfirst with the other poliwrath that had been charging after Tricky. Tricky ran across the length of the shore towards Espurr.

“Go! Run!!” she screamed. Espurr unfroze. She didn’t question those orders. She quickly shouldered the exploration bag, and then the both of them bolted off into the foliage together.

Espurr didn’t know how close the poliwrath were to them, only that they were following them and that she could smell the small of something burning in the distance, and that was what she asked Tricky about as they quickly made their way to the forest: “Is something burning?”

“I…” Tricky panted as they ran. “I kinda sorta maybe by accident… set something on fire a few floors down."

The burning smell was coming from ahead. Espurr and Tricky suddenly stopped short—it looked like the dungeon was on fire! And through the burning plants and trees and vines Espurr saw them: A pristine set of stone steps sitting amongst the smoldering shrubbery.

“Look!” Espurr shouted, pointing into the fire. “The stairs!”

An entire tree was thrown to the wayside behind them. Espurr’s head spun around, and she saw the slimy blue hides of the Poliwrath as they approached from the other side. Espurr looked between the two hazards—death by poliwrath, or fire?

At least they had a chance of living with the fire. Tricky didn’t even think twice—she bolted off into the inferno, sparing only a single look back at Espurr as she ran.

“Come on Espurr!” she yelled, sounding terrified. “It’s just fire!”

Tricky didn’t seem to understand that not every pokemon was fireproof. But the poliwrath were practically on top of Espurr, and she didn’t have much of a choice. She dashed into the flaming part of the forest, and the poliwrath went after her. Espurr carefully edged and shimmied around the flames—she didn’t want to end up roasted! The poliwrath snuffed out the flames as they went and threw aside entire flaming tree branches and objects. Espurr saw a stone go soaring towards her, but it went over her head and landed in a ditch a couple of feet ahead of her. She kept her head down after that.

She was nearly at the stairs now, where Tricky was waiting impatiently. “Come on!” she yelled once more. Espurr wanted to say that she was going as fast as she could, but that would have taken up too much time. And then she was at the stairs, and the poliwrath entered the clearing, and they began to charge—

—One almost got Espurr’s foot. But then the stairs began to warp, and suddenly Espurr and Tricky were all alone in the cold, dark marsh. And yet Espurr could still smell the burning. It was distant, but still there.

Tricky caught her breath from before. “What… what were you doing in here??” she half-yelled at Espurr. “You scared me to death!! Don’t ever do that!”

“Do what?” Espurr asked, confused. All she had done was take a mission. How was she supposed to know the dungeon was going to be this terrifying?

Realizing how crazy she sounded, Tricky took deep breaths, trying to calm down. “This… this is the place where Budew died,” she said.

Then all of it suddenly made sense to Espurr. No wonder Tricky had come all this way after her!

“…Sorry,” she finally said. “I didn’t know.”

“I never told anymon.” Tricky began to trot off. “I just wanna get out of here,” she said hurriedly, her voice shaking. “Can we do that, please?”

Espurr nodded.

The dungeon was overgrown with vines and tangleweeds, which twisted over the ground so badly that not even dungeon ‘mon could survive in it anymore. This must have been why it was deserted. Espurr and Tricky traversed the marsh, searching for the staircase to the next floor. The burning smell had gotten stronger, so much now that Espurr was sure the fire was on the floor somewhere. She wondered why the dungeon hadn’t put it out yet. Then she looked at some of the vines hanging off the dungeon’s gnarled walls, how dead they were. She remembered the wind. This dungeon was a place of death and decay. It must have been dying too. It was too weak to put itself out.

Good. Espurr didn’t want to see this place ever again. Only, she didn’t want to be caught in its downfall, and neither did Tricky.

Places all along the floor were even beginning to smoke and smolder now, and the bristling heat of the fire had evaporated almost all the water in the marshes. Espurr was even beginning to feel too hot for comfort. She hoped they found the stairs soon.

“I see the stairs!” Tricky announced a little while later, pointing down the hall. Sure enough, there was the staircase. But no sooner had they begun to walk towards the stairs there came the sound of heavy stomping behind them, and both Espurr and Tricky turned to see only one of the poliwrath from before charging towards them.

“Berry crackers run!!” Tricky yelled, and then they both wasted no time getting to the stairs and climbing them before the poliwrath could reach them instead. The stairs warped, and then the poliwarth’s unholy screech of rage was cut off like it had been hit with a brick. Espurr and Tricky both caught the breath in the marsh once again.

“…So it can chase us across floors,” Espurr finally concluded. Tricky nodded hurriedly.

Three more floors passed in silence. They didn’t see either of the poliwrath again, but Espurr was more than sure that the one they had just narrowly escaped from was following them closely. The fires were more persistent. More than once Espurr saw parts of the floor smoldering away or just plain on fire, and the ambient heat that pervaded the entire dungeon was beginning to make her nauseous. There were fires in so many places that Espurr had been genuinely scared they wouldn’t find the staircase before the flames consumed them in the first place. But now she could see the stairs to floor nine, which she hoped was the Anchorstone.

“Tricky, the stairs are that way!” Espurr pointed to the right before Tricky could go too far in the wrong direction. Tricky said nothing, just backpedaling and trying to get to the stairs as hastily as possible. Espurr didn’t blame her. The distant screech of the poliwrath sent them both sprinting to the staircase as quickly as possible. It had caught up with them!

And then they were deposited on Floor Nine. It didn’t have walls. There was no labyrinth filled with endless dead ends and a perfect stone staircase hidden within its many twists and turns. There was only a thick, overgrown wilting swamp, and at the other side of the swamp in plain view lay a light-filled archway between the trees. The way out. Both Espurr and Tricky couldn’t help but grin widely. They’d made it!

But then Espurr heard a very familiar sound, and her blood turned to ice. No way.

But it was. The poliwrath was behind them. It looked like it had been burnt badly by the fire, but that was just making it more angry than anything else. Both Espurr and Tricky looked up at it with wide-eyed horror.

“Oh, COME ON—“ Tricky yelled—and then it punted her straight into the marsh. Espurr ducked and barely avoided one of its punches. She knew she couldn’t beat that thing on her own. Not if she fought fairly. She looked at the burnt spots on the poliwrath’s body and arms. Maybe those… maybe she could do something with those.

Espurr stayed perfectly still. Like she predicted, the poliwrath raised its left fist to punch her into mush on the ground, and then it brought its powerful fist down. Espurr grabbed a pointy rock from the ground, and before the punch could land she stabbed the poliwrath right where the fire had seared away some of its skin. The poliwrath screeched in pain and rage, and used its other fist to punch Espurr to the side. Espurr recovered quickly—she had to—and glanced at the riverbank that Tricky was quickly pulling herself out of. She didn’t want to bring attention to Tricky. Tricky briefly glanced at Espurr, then quickly began to charge an attack. Espurr tried to make it look like she hadn’t seen Tricky as the poliwrath advanced upon her. Just a second longer…

And then Tricky spat an ember. It landed against the poliwrath’s back. The poliwrath let out a screech of rage. It spun and began to charge for Tricky—

—Espurr was quick. She grabbed the stone again, and jumped forward and slashed Poliwrath in the ankle. All the sudden Poliwrath was brought down to its knees. An ember from Tricky sent it reeling onto its back, and then both Espurr and Tricky backed a good distance away for good measure.

The poliwrath lay on the ground for a moment, completely silent. Espurr brandished the stone anyway. Was it dead? She and Tricky shared looks, both breathing hard. Espurr looked at the stairs. That marsh looked deep. How were they going to cross it? Carefully, she began to move away from where poliwrath lay on the ground, edging over to the marsh.

“Is it dead?” Tricky asked.

“I don’t know,” Espurr whispered back. She could already feel the floor beginning to heat up under her feet. “Can’t you feel the fire?”

Tricky looked down at the ground. She said nothing, but Espurr could see in her eyes that she did. They needed to get out of this place.

There were vines hanging all over the anchorstone, and Espurr broke off yet another long one, pulling its long, snaking form out of the trees and tying it to that pointy rock. Then she and Tricky together both hoisted a pair of lily pads over to their side of the marsh.

Slowly, they climbed on the lily pads and began to paddle their way to the other side. Not another word was uttered between them, silence exchanged for speed.

Then, when they were halfway across the pond, the sudden sound of something bursting into flame caught Espurr’s ears. She and Tricky looked back to see that the fire of the dungeon had spread into the anchorstone—the very fringes of the back foliage were blazing, having caught fire as if out of nowhere. Espurr began to paddle faster, but Tricky’s question that made her look back a second time: “Hey Espurr? Where did the poliwrath go?”

Espurr snapped her head back—it was true. The poliwrath was gone! That made her paddle so fast she was practically splashing water everywhere.

Then her lily pad imploded. Espurr was cast into the water in horror. She emerged from it silently struggling, with her neck stuck in the grip of the poliwrath. The poliwrath that was staring at Tricky with a demonic glare. Tricky gave Poliwrath a glare back. All around them, the trees that hung over the marsh had caught fire.

“You killed my friend,” Tricky snarled. She began to charge an ember in her throat. “It was you!!”

Poliwrath locked eyes with Tricky. She didn’t see remorse in them. Or anything at all. Just plain hate. Slowly, deliberately, it began to tighten its grip around Espurr’s neck. Espurr was left defenseless, unable to do a thing to stop it but attempting in vain to pry the poliwrath’s fingers off of her.

“No!” Tricky shouted. “I won’t let you!” she spat an ember in Poliwrath’s face, but it didn’t even phase Poliwrath. In Poliwrath’s fingers, Tricky could see that Espurr was beginning to suffocate. Her eyes narrowed. Then she shot another ember. It flew over Poliwrath’s head. It looked at her with a flash of incredulity—‘was that your big plan?’

“Nope,” Tricky responded to Poliwrath’s imaginary sentence. “This is.”

Then the tree fell. It hit Poliwrath over the head , knocking the pokemon into the water and causing it to release its grasp upon Espurr. Gasping for air, Espurr fell into the water, but Tricky quickly reached out and grabbed Espurr with her teeth—

—And then the lily pad capsized, unable to hold both their weight combined. They had floated nearly all the way to shore.

Tricky emerged on the shore just a moment later, pulling out Espurr with her. Espurr was all woozy from having been punched and kicked and strangled and dunked underwater… berry crackers, she couldn’t even remember how many times now, but after a minute of catching her breath, coughing up water, and the heat of the fire to dry their fur off, she was ready to sit up again. Then Espurr realized what that heat meant. The entire anchorstone was on fire! They had to leave!

“Can you walk?” Tricky asked worriedly. Espurr got to her feet, grabbing the waterlogged expedition bag and nodding. And then they both ran for the exit.


Espurr and Tricky were sent careening to their sides out of the dungeon. Even from outside, they could both see the smoke rising, and plumes of flame flickering from within. And then the dungeon let out one last ear-wrenching shriek, and both Espurr and Tricky were buffeted with wind that smelled like rotting meat, and then the dungeon imploded upon itself. It collapsed into the ground, leaving nothing but the blackened, twisted remains of a swamp in its wake. The shriek died down into a withered croak before disappearing completely, and then Poliwrath River was no more.

For a moment, Espurr and Tricky didn’t move. They just laid on their backs, staring up at the sky. Then Tricky giggled. And couldn’t stop giggling. And then Espurr began to laugh, because Tricky was laughing and the whole thing was just so stupid. Neither of them could stop laughing, for a full two minutes. And then suddenly, it wasn’t funny anymore.

“…Let’s get out of here,” Espurr said, completely serious. Tricky agreed.


Serenity Village Outskirts

“It wasn’t like that when… when me and Budew went in,” Tricky said as she and Espurr both walked down the road back to Serenity Village. “It wasn’t a swamp. It had plants. It had ground. There was light. And now…” Tricky glanced back towards the distance, where they both knew the smoldering remains of Poliwrath Woods lay.

“It was evil,” Espurr said. “You could taste evil in there. I’m glad it’s gone.”

“Me too,” Tricky replied. Now no-mon could ever die in there again.

They never had found the scarf.

Espurr set the exploration bag down once they reached the stream just outside Serenity Village and dumped out its contents. The waterlogged expedition gadget fell out, followed by Gabite’s now-unusable journal, two wands, and that sack of poke Eevee had given them. Espurr and Tricky both stared at the expedition gadget.

“It’s wet…” Tricky said dejectedly. She shared a look with Espurr.

A moment later, Espurr and Tricky both slotted the connection orb into the indent in the middle of the gadget. There was half a moment filled with bated breath—had the water broken it?—but then suddenly the orb lit up! Both Espurr and Tricky sighed in relief. At least it was that durable.

It was the beginning of sundown. Espurr and Tricky used the rest of the daylight to wash all the mud off their fur in the stream, and then they dried off in the wind that blew by the big tree on the hill.

“I want to say something,” Tricky spoke up. “From now on, we have to be more careful. I know I wasn't, but... I don't want to lose you in there."

Espurr still felt every blow that the poliwrath had delt back in there. If Tricky hadn’t shown up, she’d have died for sure.

She looked down, folding her arms. “I know.”

“Today we both almost died,” Tricky said. “And yesterday too! And then you got trampled by that wooloo herd I thought you did die! And… I couldn’t…”

She fought the urge to curl up on the ground, even though it was all she wanted to do.

“You can’t ever go into a dungeon without me again,” she said, sticking a paw straight against Espurr’s chest. “If we do something, we need to do it as a team. You would have been killed if I didn’t go after you!”

She couldn’t fight it anymore.

“Maybe this was a bad idea. Maybe we shouldn't be doing this. I don’t want somemon else to… to die.”

“Why do you go into dungeons?” Espurr asked matter of factly after a minute.

That made Tricky pause.

“If you’re worried about pokemon dying in there, why do you go?” Espurr asked.

“I… I don’t…”

It used to be about mindlessly romping off to have fun, copying the heroes that she’d always looked up to. Then it was about hiding, hoping she wouldn’t have to face the truth. Now it was about…

Flashes of Budew. She’d never see him again. She realized she’d always known.

“Because not everymon can save themselves from a dungeon. I wanna train to rescue others.”

“Then I think you should keep going,” Espurr said. “We just need to be more careful. We’re the only explorers in the valley. We’re the only ones who can help pokemon out. And we did some good. We helped that teddiursa evolve yesterday. And eevee with her money sack before that. If we didn’t go, they would have had to go in on their own.”

“But we can’t keep going if we’re gonna be reckless, if one of us is going to…” Tricky broke off.

“Then maybe we can be more careful,” Espurr said.

“But how do we be careful?”

“By packing the right things,” Espurr said. “By always going together. By only taking the missions with one star. I think those are the ones that aren’t dangerous.”

Tricky perked up a little at that. She did remember reading something about that in Wartortle’s Guide to Dungeoneering…

“ If we can be careful and use common sense,” Espurr said. “Then… we shouldn’t end up in a situation like today. Ever again.”

Tricky ‘hmm’d in approval, drying her eyes on her tail and sitting up. They watched the sun slowly turn the sky from blue to amber as the breeze dried off the rest of the moisture from their coats.

“We still need a team name.” Espurr broke the silence that had been held between them for the past five minutes. “We can’t be nameless forever.”

“That’s true...” Tricky sighed. Then she groaned. “Ugh. Why is coming up with team names so hard?! It sounds fun and then you can’t think of anything and your brain hurts and…” her words devolved into another groan. She massaged her head with her paws, frustrated.

“What about Team Determination?” Espurr asked.

“Nah,” Tricky answered quietly. “Team Incredimon?” she propositioned.

“Too weird,” Espurr said. “Team Anthem?” Espurr had overheard the world anthem somewhere and she didn’t remember where but she liked the way it rolled off the tongue.

“Too stuck-up. What about Team Scarf Scouts?”

“But what if another pokemon joins our team and doesn’t like scarves?”

“Then they don’t join! We’re the Scarf Scouts! They can make their own stupid team if they hate scarves so much.”

“Team Ion?” Espurr asked. Tricky batted at her.

“That’s already a team, you doofus!”

Espurr knew she had heard that one somewhere before.

“Team Hellraisers.”

“Too much Pancham.”

“Team Quest.”

“We go on missions, not quests.”

“Team Shine?”

“That sounds dumb. We should call ourselves Team Team!”

It was Espurr’s turn to bat at Tricky for something up with such a stupid name. A voice flashed in Tricky’s head—

“Y’know, ‘dungeon master’? ‘Cause you know a lot about dungeons? Get it?”

Dungeon Masters.

…Nah, that sounded stuck up too. Tricky and Espurr weren’t dungeon masters, but they did a pretty good job of clearing dungeons. Maybe running dungeons. So obviously that made them…

“The Dungeon Runners,” Tricky said with an air of finality. “We’re Team Dungeon Runners.”


Carracosta’s House


It had been nearly a year since Budew died. That was how Artemis told time now. Three years before Budew Died. Six months after Budew Died. One week from fifty-one weeks after Budew Died. And yet, somehow Artemis felt like she was finally getting over it.

The town didn’t talk about it, which helped. They called it a “disappearance”. Budew was the missing child, the kid who ran off one day and never returned. Artemis liked to think maybe they were being nice to her, so she wouldn’t have to deal with it being talked about. But none of the students wanted to be her friend anymore. All of the adults, even the ones she didn’t talk to, shot her dirty and worried looks when she passed. Pops grew distant, unsure of how to help her. Deep down, she knew it was so they didn’t have to talk about it. And so no-mon talked about it.

It felt almost like a distant memory. She had shut it out so much, made every attempt to forget, and it was finally working. At least it didn’t hurt as much if she didn’t try to remember it.

She went into mystery dungeons on her own now. As long as she avoided… that one, they helped her pretend like no-mon had ever gotten hurt there and they were still fun places full of mystery and adventure to explore in. And if something did kill her in there, at least she wouldn’t be alive to regret it.

Deerling was finally talking to her again. Artemis had gotten the silent treatment from her for almost an entire year, but then Goomy became a student and Deerling clung to Goomy and slowly got better. And the first time Deerling had talked to her in a while was yesterday, so Artemis was sure she was getting better.

Farfetch’d had asked the students yesterday to pick a book of their choice and try to read it before summer vacation started. Artemis had picked a fiction book out of the school library, and taken it home with her. She didn’t have much to do nowadays, so she didn’t put off reading until the last minute like Pancham and Shelmet were doing. They tried to pick out picture books anyway until Farfetch’d stopped them.

It was called Ocean’s Descent, and the main character was a lapras outlaw who had to flee to the bottom of the ocean to escape a sharpedo who hunted and ate other sea pokemon. To cover up her crimes Lapras went by a nickname. A different name, so no-mon would ever know what she had done in the past. A clean slate. A new beginning.

Artemis wondered if she could have that. If she could walk around town and not have to think about that poor pokemon she had killed ever again. If she could pretend it had never happened, just like Lapras in the book pretended she wasn’t an outlaw…

Artemis spent the rest of the evening coming up with a suitable nickname. It could be anything, after all, and she only had one chance. She didn’t want to mess it up!

It wasn’t going to be something stuck-up like her real name., She wanted something cooler. More flashy. Fun to say! She wanted something more like herself.

And then, right before dinner, the perfect nickname popped into Artemis’ head.

“Pops?” Artemis asked as they ate. “Can I have a nickname?”

Carracosta looked up from his bowl, looking straight at Artemis. “Why do you need a nickname?’ he grunted. “Your real name works just fine.”

“I…” Artemis didn’t have a comeback. And she
really wanted this! “I… just want a nickname!” she looked at Pops in the hopes that it would be enough to sway him.

Carracosta just shrugged. He ladled himself some more soup. Artemis took that as her ‘yes’. She cleared her throat dramatically.

“I wanna be called… Tricky.”

There was half a moment of silence. Then, Carracosta shrugged.

That meant yes.


Music of the week!

Smokers Sighted
- James Newton Howard
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the cat is mightier than the pen
  1. dratini
  2. dratini-pen
  3. dratini-pen2
(Prologue review)

I'll start off with the disclaimer that I haven't played Super Mystery Dungeon. So I'm reacting to Espurr more as an OC than a canon character.

The italics section is giving me standard PMD vibes – questions are referenced, it's implied the character is not from the pokemon world. I was a bit confused by the way your wrote their initial reaction. The moment she registers her hands are smaller than they should be and covered with fur seems to be the appropriate moment to freak out, no matter how thirsty she is. Her nonchalance about it a few sentences later was also a little weird.

She was sure it wasn't 'Espurr,' like she had caught herself using at least once or twice in the back of her thoughts, but…
This struck me as strange. We don't narrate our lives in third-person in our heads, so how would she catch herself thinking of herself as Espurr?

Her entire mind was a blank slate!
Seems contradicted by the earlier sentence that “everything that seemed to be floating in the back of her mind; all her memories, thoughts, fear, doubts…” That makes it sound like everything is there, but inaccessible.

pokemon, her mind helpfully substituted. Espurr was mildly unnerved, but opted to use it all the same)
This again doesn't seem to be the way people think. It acts like she has a running narrative in her mind, but if we know what a word is, we don't really decide to use it, it's just there.

Approaching from behind, a trio of pokemon lurked in the woods.
Approaching implies movement forwards, but lurking implies staying in one place. It's hard to imagine these actions to happen simultaneously, in the way the sentence implies.

She wisely backed herself against the nearby tree, lest she fall into the lake unawares.
Bit of a question of what kind of third-person POV you're doing here. “Wisely” implies commentary from an omnipotent narrator, but in general you seem to be keeping to a tighter third person, where we're seeing the world from in Espurr's head. A word like wisely makes me wonder who the narrator is. “Lest” is also a bit jarringly archaic here.

She dreamt of her very being sucked into the void, lost forever more to eternal blackness, and she dreamt of the things she might find there.
This is all a little vague. Since my suspicion is she was just in some kind of void, some details would make this a lot more impactful. Was it cold there? Did her eyes strain to find light in a darkness that never ended? Exactly what kind of things is she afraid of encountering there? Are we talking tentacles? Evil spirits? Etc.

Was she just an evening snack to them, or was it something more sinister?
Evening snack isn't exactly unsinister as an option, in my opinion . . .

Flickering lights of the red, green, and yellow variety lit up the fog right below her tree. Swish. That was the sound of foliage being brushed aside by something.
This bit was nice and suspenseful. The unearthly lights flashing through the fog is a strong image.

I found the writing in the Audino scene tighter. The dungeon actually felt more ominous in this scene, because Audino is comparing it to a norm.

They weren't dungeon pokemon, Audino realized; their movements were too composed for that. Too calculated.
Hm. And beheeyems are psychic types, too.

Hard to get a sense of where you're taking this from the prologue alone! It's the usual PMD set-up—MC inexplicably wakes up in the woods. I gather Espurr is not meant to be the main character figure, but she seems to be a transformed human as well, so I'm not sure what's up there. I'm probably missing a fair bit of context from not having played this particular game, so don't want to speculate! Will try to get around to the next chapter at some point, so I can give you something more substantive on the plot.

Grammar related:

Slowly coming to. Espurr blinked her eyes open wearily.
Period should be a comma

The third thing she noticed (And the least important, her mind argued, to the chagrin of her body) was that she was parched.
Tricky, but I think the parenthetical should be lower-cased and set off with em dashes.

You also have a fair amount of missing line breaks!
2~Four - Photos and Conspiracy


Back on Her Bullshit
a Terrace of Indeterminate Location in Snowbelle
  1. espurr
  2. fennekin
  3. zoroark
"Every year, thousands of tons of freight are hauled off the Grass Continent for use on Air, Water, and Mist. Do the rescue guilds of Grass condone HAPPI stealing their resources? No. But they don't have a choice. They can't trade with anymon but HAPPI, because HAPPI controls all the trade."

~ Arbok, Air Continent politician




Expedition Society Base – Lively Town


It was morning.

Primarina lay on his back in the bed of straw, oh-so-uncomfortable but unwilling to move. Needles of pain prickled at his forehead, threatening to split it open. The light hurt his eyes, so he would have shut them. But shutting them made it all hurt more. In the corner of his sight, something black flickered and was gone.

Secretary told him that was what he got for drinking so much alcohol in one sitting. Primarina had dismissed him. He didn’t have time to listen to such things when his head felt like it was splitting apart and he needed the most luxurious water bath in the world, but didn’t feel good enough to get up and request one.

Destroy the photos.

Primarina stopped rattling through complaints in his head. That last one hadn’t been a complaint. It wasn’t even on the subject of complaints. It had come out of nowhere. It wasn’t his. Whose was it the—

“Oh,” he muttered lazily, coming to the realization. “It’s you again.”

Destroy the photos.

There it was again. Primarina had heard it before, but it had only informed him of things in the back of his head in the past. Things like what the pokemon he was talking to was thinking, or how many jars of shellfish Secretary had bought for breakfast on any given day. And it had always been right, so when the Voice had told him to position the Exeggutor in a certain spot between the Air and Water Continents, he sailed there at its behest. But it had never been this forceful before. And truth be told, that worried Primarina a little.

“Secretary?” he weakly called out. Maybe it was high time he did something about it after all… Secretary would help him. Secretary always had something handy. Secretary would—

Your pet will not help you.

Primarina decided he’d had enough. He tried to raise himself from the bed of straw, but found that he couldn’t move—he was paralyzed!

Destroy the photos. Rip them tear Them kill them to shreds.

Primarina was horrified—not about the photos; he couldn’t care less—but at the fact that something was in his head and controlling him like this! He wanted to scream but not even his mouth worked anymore.

Destroy the photos. It is in your best interest.

There was nothing Primarina could do. Nothing but listen to the Voice. Maybe try to bargain with it. And then that last sentence caught his attention.


It is in your best interest. What you see on those photos will destroy life as you know it. destroy the photos, and you never have to see it. Destroy the photos, and you can continue living. Destroy the photos, and you can pretend it never happened. You can do that… can’t you?

Perhaps it was the hangover, or the dream-haze Primarina was currently in, but something about the Voice’s words sounded very agreeable. Of course that made sense. He had a good life. Why would he want to spoil it? He was finding himself agreeing with the Voice more and more by the minute.

Destroy the photos.

Destroy the photos. He could do that.

you can do that.

But how?

You know how. They will trust you like the fools they are. Leave no traces behind. they must be gone for good, or you have failed.

Primarina couldn’t move, but in his mind he nodded. And then, just like that, the needles of pain evaporated. The fog that lay in his head disappeared, leaving an empty space for his thoughts to exist once more. He could think clearly once again.

Allow me to aid you.

Black sparks hummed through the air, crackling and popping as they did. They disappeared into Primarina’s body, and then movement returned to him. He sat up straight in bed, blinking his eyes. He felt no traces of the hangover he had been suffering previously. In fact, he had never felt this healthy in years!

Remember your mission. You know what must be done.

Primarina nodded. He did.

Destroy the photos.



The single photo was pinned to the wall, isolated from the others. There had once been a lot of things pinned to that wall, but Mawile had taken them all down just for this occasion. They currently lay in a big fat messy pile on the other side of the room, untouched.

Mawile had foregone her hypothetical period of sleep that week in favor of research. Over the years, the Expedition Society (mainly Mawile) had traded, bought, and bartered their way into a vast collection of old, ancient, and new books—and now that Mawile had what was likely the closest thing that existed to a photo of whatever had attacked them in Pokemon Plaza, she planned to use it.

So far, she hadn’t had any luck. She had cross-referenced and pulled open books galore, following any lead she could possibly find. A small settlement that disappeared off the shores of Sand 250 years ago turned out to be the work of a nasty spiritomb that had since been slain by a pair of Sand-native explorers, and a group of travelling cannibal pokemon were responsible for a slew of murders across the Grass Continent only a century before, but there were apparently no existing records of pokemon spontaneously becoming stone statues recorded anywhere in history. And Mawile had spent the whole night researching. Water. Grass. Mist. Air. Some lore and slight digging into Sand, but that was barely scratching the surface when it came to Sand.

There was nothing. No evidence. No clues. No leads. Nothing to go on. For the first time in a long, long while, Mawile found herself at a loss. Had it all really been a trick of the light? Did it exist at all? It had felt real.

But even so, a psychic skilled enough could make one believe anything was real. What if they had just been throwing attacks out at thin air the entire time?

But the photos didn’t lie. There it was, displayed clear as day on the photo’s sleek surface: The proof that even if it was trickery, it was physical trickery. Whatever its true form was, it had been there.

But then what was it?

A sudden knock on the door rang out amongst the quietness of Mawile’s personal office/library, stirring her from her sleep-deprived thought stupor.

She cleared her throat, attempting to look composed as she turned towards the door. “Come in.”

The door opened a crack, and Dedenne peeked her head in.

“I would have called you…” she panted—it looked like she had run the entire way there—“but I just got a call from the Chief! He’s in Lively Town!”


Lively Town


Ampharos could see the familiar observatory tower of Headquarters stretching above all the other buildings of Lively Town. It was a welcome sight indeed. He kept the billowy, earth-green hood of his cloak up as he walked through the streets, for what good it did him—many of the pokemon in Lively Town had all seen that cloak enough times to hazard a pretty good guess at who was underneath it. That, and his tail was peeking out. An instant giveaway.

Beside him, Team Limestone walked, looking almost as weary as Ampharos felt. He owed them a healthy round of thanks, in fact. He would have been stumbling around the Lively Mountain Range for at least another day if he hadn’t run into them by pure chance in the middle of the morning. Torracat Cinder could read and keep track of a map better than Ampharos could, and they had made it back to Lively Town within the day.

They stopped just outside the Lively Town market. Cinder needed to return the exploration bag they had ventured out into the mountains to retrieve to the cinccino that owned it and collect the bounty, and he said Ampharos could leave without them. Ampharos said he’d rather wait for their return but declined to accompany them to the client’s house. Which left him loitering around the marketplace until they came back. He estimated about five minutes.

There was still a little poke in his sack. Ampharos had expected Kangaskhan’s rates to be much, much steeper, but even with the cheaper Serenity Village inn rates staying almost thrice as long as he had originally planned to had put quite a dent into the funds he was carrying. Not enough to spend it cleanly, though. Ampharos had to remember that not every motel in the world had rates like Swanna Inn did. He pulled the remaining poke out of his sack. It jingled in his paw, and there was also little enough of it to fit in his paw. Ampharos frowned. It might buy a few appleberries.


Expedition Society Headquarters


“How go the missions?”

“It’s good to see you all again!”

The pokemon of the Expedition Society excitedly greeted Ampharos and Torracat’s Team as the four pokemon entered the Society’s lobby.

“Are you guys feeling alright?” Dedenne asked. “Any cuts? Scratches? Feeling sick? I can wire you through to Nickit, just say the word.”

“I think if anymon here was sick it would be obvious,” Cinder yawned dismissively, a piece of apple still in his mouth. He padded around Dedenne lazily, puffing out his fur as he went.

“That’s not always true—“ Dedenne began angrily, but Cinder had already prowled off. Vulpix and Rockruff shared looks.

“Do you wanna get poked with metal things for an hour while bandit-fox makes nasty comments about your fluff?” Vulpix asked Rockruff in a hushed tone. Ampharos sent them both a disapproving look. Vulpix’s eyes widened in realization, and she muttered a quick ‘sorry’ before scampering off down a hallway. Rockruff just pawed the ground for a minute, then walked off in some random direction before Dedenne could scold her more.

“So how did the map work?” Dedenne asked, scurrying after Ampharos as he walked up the grand lobby stairs. “You still have it, right?”

“That… is… classified,” Ampharos announced.

“You lost it, didn’t you.”

“That is…” Ampharos began, more sheepishly than last time. “Also classified.”

Dedenne looked like she wanted to mutter something foul.

The staircase took Ampharos up through a large archway and into the second floor hub, where Ampharos and Dedenne finally split paths. Ampharos made a left-hand turn for the library, depositing the miniscule stem of what used to be an apple in the second-floor-corridor waste bin and making to knock on the door.

The door opened before Ampharos’ paw made contact with it, and he suddenly found himself face to face with Mawile.

“Chief,” she said in acknowledgement, stepping to the side to allow Ampharos in.

“Mawile.” The door closed behind them, and then they were in privacy.

“Shall we compare notes?” Mawile asked, stepping over to where her open books of research lay. Ampharos noticed the way she looked extremely sleep-worn.

“Have you been sleeping well?” he asked.

“One period a week,” Mawile answered offhandedly, shuffling a few books. “Chesto berries work wonders for the mind and soul.” There was a half-eaten chesto berry on the desk, which Mawile discreetly finished in one bite.

Ampharos ultimately decided to hold off from commenting on the way her back maw looked like it was drooping over from exhaustion. He took a seat in a chair near the door where a few dusty cloaks that may or may not have fallen off his own back during previous meetings were draped. After standing all that time, Ampharos had almost forgotten what sitting was like. He took a moment to relax before speaking.

“Through no small effort, I have managed to locate the Human,” Ampharos finally began. “A child; about 13. Female. Species: Espurr. Almost always seen with a fennekin friend. Currently safe and sound in the secluded Serenity Village. Through a couple of ‘chance meetings’ I gifted them a connection orb and an expedition gadget, so they should be trackable on the Pokemon Nexus. We’ll know their every movement from here on out.”

“A child…” Mawile rapidly jotted it all down on a piece of paper. “None of the others were children when they arrived. How are you sure you found the right pokemon?”

Ampharos leaned forward in his seat. “I am almost certain we have the right one,” he spoke in a low voice. “You can see it in the eyes. This is the only Human we’re due to get.”

“There were two energy surges,” Mawile responded. “Common sense dictates that two Humans entered this world.”

“Then why not send them both at once?” Ampharos asked. “Why space them out when there is strength in numbers? No, somemon is trying to clean up a mistake. One Human. I’m sure of it.”



Dedenne walked down the first floor of the Society’s west wing, filled with left-hand doors to bedrooms galore. She scampered towards the one room that didn’t have its curtains drawn back yet.

“Time to wake up!” Dedenne called into the room. “It’s already afternoon!”

Some blankets rustled, but there wasn’t an answer.

“I’m gonna open the curtains!” Dedenne called out. “Five… Four… Three… Two… One…”

She whipped the curtains back—

—The tiniest discomfort struck her, like her brain was fuzzy. She wouldn’t have even noticed it if it didn’t come on so suddenly. And then it was alright, and she shook her head and shrugged it off like it had never happened. Dedenne peeked into the room, where Braixen had sleepily sat up in his pile of straw. He rubbed his eyes lazily, looking at Dedenne with a glint of annoyance in his eyes.

“Who sleeps until noon?” Dedenne cried in exasperated response.


Residential Wing

~Team Limestone~

The curtains were drawn over the room’s entrance, but the window was wide open.

“This place needs fresh air,” Holly said, swinging her tails around to expel some dust from the windowsill. “And don’t either of you deny it.”

“I’m not denying it…” Granite whined, covering her nose with her paws. “What happened here?”

“Dedenne said the room was used to house a skuntank or something,” Cinder grumbled.

“Our room?!” Holly moaned, slapping a paw over her face. “We’ll never get it ooouuuut…”

“Just deal with it,” Cinder grunted. He didn’t seem to be bothered by the stench at all. “At least the mission loot was a lot. We can buy something even smellier and block out the stench.”

“How is something smellier going to help?” Granite cried.

“We’ll never smell a thing again,” said Cinder. It was his attempt at a joke. The look Holly gave him reeked with the lowest form of unimpressment.

Then the curtains suddenly whooshed back, causing the three of them to jump.

“Alright,” Nickit said, trotting into the room. “Little birdie told me the three of you didn’t show up for your post-mission checkups.”

“Was this ‘birdie’ a mouse?” Holly asked, flopping upside down on one of the straw beds with a completely unamused look on her snout. “Tell her to die for me, thanks.”

Nickit sniffed the air. “Smells like a skuntank died in here,” she commented offhandedly.

All three pokemon shared an uneasy glance, as they realized they hadn’t checked for bodies under any of the beds.

“Eat this,” Nickit plopped her bag on the ground, opened it, and handed an oran berry to Cinder. “Eat this, eat this.” Granite and Holly got oran berries too. “Don’t make me shove it down your throat,” she snapped upon seeing Granite’s look of disgust. The rockruff quickly ate it.

All three members of the team were then made to sit, stretch, and stand in awkward positions as Nickit poked and prodded them with the many apparatuses in her bag.

“Eat this,” she said, handing a rawst berry to Cinder. “And for god’s sake, stop eating spicy foods! You’re making that heartburn problem of yours worse.

“Have you been taking those dust baths?” she asked Granite. “Remember those pictures I showed you? Do you wanna end up like that? No? Then take dust baths.

“Less water means less ambient coolness means more suffering for you,” Nickit said, sprucing the fluff on the top of Holly’s head and watching closely to see how it settled. “Drink more water. Or maybe you’ll melt! Don’t ask me what happens then; I’ve never studied a melting vulpix before. So don’t make me.”

“But none of us are sick?” Holly questioned as Nickit trotted over to her bag and began to pack up her kit.

“Nah,” Nickit said, grabbing the bag in her teeth and throwing it on her back. “You’re clean.

“And remember, nothing with medicinal berries in it for the rest of the evening,” Nickit called out as she trotted towards the door. “’Nless you wanna wake up tomorrow and spend the rest of the day in my office.”

And then, just as quickly as she had arrived, Nickit was gone. All three members of the team stared at each other in befuddled silence for a moment. Then they quickly hopped into action.

“Berry crackers check the beds!”


Expedition Society Headquarters ~ Midday

Clack. Mawile rolled the shutters over the windows, casting the room into darkness. The doors on all sides were closed, including the almost-never-used gate that barred the second floor from entry via the stairway. Mawile had sent Dedenne around with a roll-call sheet about a half hour ago, and now the entirety of the Expedition Society was gathered in the room. Braixen leaned against the wall to the side, his arms folded as he looked at the completely blank wall in the back of the room.

Mawile directed her gaze towards him, and then spoke: “Would you kindly get Primarina for us?”

Braixen didn’t answer that. He just unfolded his arms, and walked off in the direction of Ampharos’ office silently. Ampharos shook his head to clear it of the slight tingling.

“What a strange ‘mon,” he commented offhandedly to himself. And it was true. Something about that braixen he found concerning. He almost looked too young to be an adult, even if he was the Ambassador’s secretary. And learning that the Ambassador had travelled all the way from Cloud Nine just to pick up these photos was even more concerning. Ampharos knew that wasn’t standard procedure; the Ambassador had no business meddling in affairs that didn’t concern the well-being of his continent. If Cloud Nine even knew about the photos, they would have sent a sanctioned rescue team from Pokemon Paradise to pick them up, not Primarina.

Which begged the question: Why was Primarina here?



Primarina was in the middle of hurriedly packing his bags when he heard a knock on the door.

“Come in!” he announced, slithering in front of the bags as if to hide them. The door opened, and then Secretary peeked in.

“Um… yeah,” he said. “They want you for some kind of event out there. Looks important. You should probably go.”

Primarina quickly nodded, as if he wanted Secretary out of the room. “Tell them I’ll be there shortly,” he said.

Secretary closed the door, and then Braixen walked back down the hall to the room where the rest of the Expedition Society waited.

“He’ll be there shortly,” Braixen said, and then he folded his arms and went back to leaning against the wall.


There was a small indent in the floor of the very middle of the room, just large enough to fit the bottom half of a connection orb. Mawile carefully slotted an orb into the opening, then stood back. The sound of several large clacks clanged out from under the pokemons’ feet, and then the floor began to roll back from the center. Mawile stepped back behind the hexagonal circle of safety tape that decorated the floor, and made sure that everymon else had done the same.

The connection orb rose up into the air on a pedestal, and a six-sided console followed by a railing both slid up out of the empty cavity in the floor. The large rumble of something slotting into place below them traveled throughout the room, and then all was silent. Mawile stepped forward, pressing something on the console. Ocean-blue light shot up out of the pedestal and through the connection orb, illuminating the white draw-down projector screen ahead of them with light.

“Slide one.” Mawile clicked something on the console, and a skyline photo of the deserted city of Pokemon Plaza appeared where the connection orb’s ocean-blue glow had been. “Approximately two weeks ago, communications in and out of Pokemon Plaza halted completely. The Expedition Society was drafted at the behest of the Helping Adventurous Pokemon Prosper Institute and Cloud Nine to investigate the issue, and our findings have proved sufficiently disturbing.”

Mawile clicked the button again, showing a close-up picture of a petrified zangoose with a terrified expression on its face. “Slide two. Here we see the anomalous phenomenon that has managed to affect every pokemon within a mile-wide radius of Pokemon Plaza. While I hate to present such speculation as fact without conclusive evidence, it seems as though the affected pokemon have been turned—inside and out—to solid stone. Not even the rock types have been spared.” Mawile clicked the button. Slide three: A petrified geodude.