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Sojaveña Wilds Bedaurejo Castle Mystery Dungeon

Inkedust

star-crossed elegy
Heartache staff
Pronoun
she/her
Built by the Tenacine Protectorate, Bedaurejo Castle stood proudly on a hill, from where it overlooked a town left behind by time's indifferent march. They said Bedaurejo was one step from being a ghost town.

Though its layout was warped by distortion, the castle's magnificence was preserved, its halls twisting endlessly into a labyrinth of ornate finery. Large courtyards and wide interiors in the neo-romantic architectural style granted plenty of space for large or airborne pokémon. The grand hall held a ceremonial round table in the Old Protectorate style which – though discoloured and oxidised – added to the grandiose atmosphere.

Dungeon dust peppered the walls, ethereally glinting in beams of silver lunar light that shone through the high windows. No matter the time of day outside the distortion, the castle was now eternally overlooked by a dusky nightfall, painting the skies in subtle hues of pink and purple, struck with orange on the horizon, and silver across the parapets from the false-moon ever overhead. Besides the whistling winds, the most common sounds were the cries of wild Ghost-types, bats, and other crepuscular 'mon.

Though far from a shabby location to set up a base of operations, the lack of Vanguard iconography made it clear that any arrangements here were temporary, made in haste to reach the heroic spirits first. Instead, faded banners in the courtyards and halls displayed the imperial heraldry of the Old Protectorate – silver laurels, crossed blades, and crescent moons.

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Ch02 Finale ~ Beneath the Moon's Gaze
They made a strange group, on the way to Bedaurejo. Laura tried not to look at Isidora, and certainly didn't address her directly – easier to let Gladion do the talking, since he'd passed on Farin's message to begin with and gathered them together. Not that there was a lot of casual chatter – the Kricketune whose fishing boat they'd hired to take them downriver was prone to singing as he steered the small watercraft.

Eventually they arrived just up the shore from the town, at a small stone quay overgrown with lichens and ivy, where they ascended a lesser-known entrance to the local mystery dungeon. The castle's distortion was young, and relatively benign by all accounts. It wouldn't challenge them too dearly, especially with their knowledge of the quay, which provided a shortcut nearer to the 'end' of the dungeon – the inner courtyard and observatory tower where Valere and Farin had made their camp.

Laura shivered. She was so used to feeling a touch too warm all the time that the night chill of the dungeon was unexpected.

"Ready for this?" she asked the group, softly. "I honestly don't know what to expect, or how this'll go, but... This could be a break for us. We should do everything we can to have it go right."

She hadn't heard Farin's telepathic sendings. Laura wondered if she'd be at all like Malachai – the earnest scout Gladion had described sure didn't sound like a grand, proud dragon. More like... one of the 'heroic spirits', as the cloud of light kept calling them.

Maybe this would go right.
 
"I believe I missed the memo beyond the cryptic explanation for what this is," Mhynt said, looking at Laura, then the others. "Can someone explain the importance of this meeting for the class?"

The Treecko adjusted her one accessory--it seemed to be a tiny scarf, more like a handkerchief, wrapped around her wrist.
 
So this was a Mystery Dungeon then... The perpetual late twilight was an interesting touch... with a permanent moon and everything. The castle at first glance didn't seem too out of the ordinary... at least, when it came to how ordinary an ornate castle could be, but there were faint... hints... that something about this place was off beyond the eternal evening. To Corey, the feeling was as if he were just falling into a dream, one that started only slightly off, but would slowly unravel into utter surreality without warning.

"I... I'll admit I wouldn't mind another quick briefing myself," he spoke up after Mhynt's comment, carefully readjusting his facial bandages so he could see clearly... As clearly as possible in this lighting. "I mean I think I got the gist of what this is about but I'd rather not be mistaken..."
 
Kimiko hummed quietly to herself, along with the kriketune as he steered the tiny, cramped boat. She enjoyed the distraction; she wasn't sure how she'd fare on this mission if she'd been forced to pay attention to the crushing thoughts bouncing around her mind.

She hadn't yet gotten to speak with either Odette nor Ridley about their watchtower experience, and that was only compounded by the mawile revealing she'd also heard some kind of Dream Voice afterwards. This fight had been proposed as a way to prove themselves in more than just their battling ability (and a means to gain some valuable information), but Kimiko also hoped it would help her own self-confidence, too, after being so helpless against that shadow skorupi.

On top of all that, this trip would be her first true venture into a dungeon since she'd arrived in Forlas (why this was the spot chosen, she had no idea). She'd heard enough unpleasant tidbits about them, so she was also fighting down her own anxiety, which was a constant struggle with the familiar sounds of fucking ghost wails in the distance.

Kimiko only vaguely recognized almost everyone here (treecko aside). Thank the gods there was at least one familiar friendly face with her.

"You'll not get anything less than my best," she said in response to Laura, forcing as much confidence into her voice as she could muster.
 
Isidora kept her hat inside her bag. It felt nice to stand in the cold again. Real cold, and not the lukewarm summer nights of Frontier Town. She couldn't help but stretch her arms and claws against the cool air, feeling more comfortable moving in her body than she ever had since being summoned.

The moment passed as soon as her arms dropped, and she glanced around at her surroundings, slightly perturbed. Back home, the perpetual night alone would have classified it as a mystery dungeon, but Forlas Mystery Dungeons felt the need to be excessive, according to just about everything she heard. And so this would be her first one. Her thoughts strayed to what she read of Liber's own abandoned castle dungeon. On the bright side this one won't slowly kill me. Probably.

As Laura spoke, the sick, dreadful feeling from the boat ride returned. Maybe it should.

Isidora didn't say anything. There was nothing to say. She didn't know enough to explain the full situation, but what little she did was more than enough reason for her to be here right now. "And I'm not here to screw it up," she whispered to herself.
 
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Gladion looked around at the group that had assembled. He recognized... Laura. Her recognized Laura and only Laura. Well, it wasn't as if he knew enough people to claim any right to pick the best himself. And it wasn't as if he had strong reservations about anyone here, he just didn't know them at all. He'd seen a couple before. He'd fought alongside Silver before and the guy had been good at his job, it figured he was a good pick. The Treeko was Mhynt, who he knew of on account of a Gazette article. The Sneasel was from the Blaguarro drop-off, he remembered she'd been named Isadora mostly because it was the same name as a Binding Shield character. He only knew of the Ralts on account of getting mummified, so he presumed they were here on account of someone down the chain of invitation telephone taking "strongest of wills" extremely literally. The last two, the Snivy and the Mimikyu, were the only ones to be a total blank to him.

"I believe I missed the memo beyond the cryptic explanation for what this is," Mhynt said, looking at Laura, then the others. "Can someone explain the importance of this meeting for the class?"
Gladion sighed. "There's not much of a memo to have missed, honestly. Noivern shows up, looking for signs of the less pleasant group of humans— the Coven, as seems to be their name. Especially a Greninja. Nothing of note on that front, but she also passed on a warning about them to me. You know the drill there. Introduces herself as Farin, equivocates a bit about her boss Valere, who I know shit fucking all about, and they want to have a meeting with those of us who have 'the strongest of wills' inside this dungeon."

"They seem to be some kind of counter-movement, got some kind of bone to pick with this 'Coven.' Gave me two days notice. So yeah, wasn't gonna go around interviewing and hand-picking people or anything, but it sounds like a challenge to us. Logically, it would probably more of an ideological one, but what do I know, strongest of wills also seems to insinuates some kind of fight. Also Farin is mute, she'll talk with telepathy, try not to freak out too much if someone pokes into your brain. Though if we do fight I give it fifty-fifty odds her soul can Boomburst for her anyways, seems to be how shit goes when trying to apply reason here."
 
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On the boat ride, Silver stood quietly on his side of the boat, limiting himself to paying attention to the group. None of them didn’t seem to pay much attention to him, however.

But if he had to guess, it might have been because his pelt had decided it didn’t want to be short and dark anymore, and it became much fluffier and lighter as soon as the temperature dropped. Now he was mostly… silver-colored, as a result of his ermine phase, and he couldn’t help but groan at the irony. He pulled his head feather to his face, noticing how its tip had been tinged in lavender.

“Huh… I gotta say this, just in case. I’m still Silver,” he said some time after they disembarked. “Y’know, in case you didn’t recognize me because of this new… attire.” He crossed his arms. “At least my name makes more sense with this new fur…”

“Anyway! If we’re here to learn how to deal with those arseholes who’re messing up with innocent ‘mons, then by all means! I welcome that with open arms!” His eyes narrowed while a soft growl reverberated in his throat. His arms stayed crossed, however. “Any clue ‘bout their shady business and how to stop ‘em would be very much appreciated.”
 
Laura fidgeted with her claws, wondering whether to speak up herself. Gladion had covered it okay...

"I didn't get to meet Farin myself," she said, clearing her throat. "But... Even though we still know hardly anything about the human organisation Gerome warned us about – this 'Coven' – I think if they're a serious problem, it makes sense that there'd be some group to oppose them, and that they'd want to... to vet us, I guess. Especially if they're worried about us getting... targeted."

She took an unsteady breath. It felt weird talking about the group as potential recruits for an organisation as shadowy as that. It wasn't like they knew who they were supposed to side with, or why. The cloud of light didn't seem to know. It didn't seem to be able to reach them just now, either, but surely once they got a little deeper inside the dungeon...

"We need to learn as much as we can," she said, trying to sound decisive. "Maybe these 'mon are who we ought to side with, and we can prove ourselves to them – maybe it won't work out that way. But we should meet them, and if they're anything like pokémon in my world... they'll want to battle us before they hear us out. So we should expect and be ready for that."

She glanced at an empty frame on one wall, stripped of whatever painting had been there before the castle's occupants abandoned it. How were dungeons born, she wondered...?
 
This was Ridley's first time in a mystery dungeon. That was strange for him to realise. He'd been in this world for - how long had it been, now? - and the dungeons which had been the first topic which had caught his interest. He'd been so distracted, first by the whole situation with Sonora and the mayor, and then by the rumours of Witching Beasts around Blaguarro, that he hadn't even noticed when he'd stopped thinking about them.

His curiosity had been reawakened now, though.

Even without the strange distortions which warped its geometry and cast the area in perpetual twilight, the castle would have been beautiful, an architectural spectacle from times past. Others might have found the gloom and the distant cries of ghost-type unnerving, but for Ridley they were a comforting reminder of a childhood spent exploring similar places. If there was one thing Galar had a surfeit of, after all, it was old abandoned castles.

With his focus firmly on his surroundings, Ridley only paid half-attention as his companions discussed why they were even there in the first place. Something to do with the human supremacist group? They were gonna meet with some people who didn't like that group, and probably fight them to prove they were cool? Okay, sure.

It was at times like this that Ridley really felt the lack of his rotomphone in this world. He could happily have spent days or even weeks here, just wandering around.
 
Laura glanced out of a long row of tall windows that seemed to look out on a misaligned version of the semi-arid forests they'd passed by on the river. Motes of sparkling dungeon dust hung in the air, suspended in moonbeams.

Howls, she wished she had her phone.

"I feel like we must be nearly there," she said, just to break the silence.

She happened to be right.

The party emerged from that last hallway into a walled courtyard, containing a central tower just as Farin's instructions had described. This was a 'stable zone' of the dungeon – a part of it that would hardly shift, if at all. The moon hung overhead, and the pale flagstones around the tower almost seemed to reflect it. Statuaries looked down from recesses in the walls – the work done here had been marvellously intricate, only to be swallowed by the distortion.

Laura braced herself, and called out into the quiet.

"Hello? We're here, like you asked!"
 
From up above perched a noivern wearing a scarf, obviously Farin based on Gladion's description. She eyed the group carefully before flying down to the ground to greet them.

'So you made it!' Her telepathy spread wide, reaching the minds in everyone of the group. 'I hope the dungeon didn't throw you off too much.'
 
"Yeah, we made it— hope that isn't a surprise to you or anything. And the dungeon didn't throw us off too much," Gladion echoed, in case the dark-types couldn't here them.

He tried to look to either side for anyone who could be Valere, not that it did much in his current state. "Is Valere here? I honestly can't really tell like this, but if there's still that information they'd like to share in person, then I'd hope they're here somewhere."
 
The moon rising over the tower was only barely waning, and might have appeared full at first glance. It bathed the entire courtyard in silver light, sparkling in places where the dungeon dust was particularly concentrated. The wind hung unnaturally still.

And then a crescent blade of psychic energy struck the tile floor mere feet away from the party, shattering the stillness and the masonry. It had come from the direction of the tower.

Silhouetted against the moon was a tall, slender, humanoid figure, draped in a silky cloak. Without further fanfare, he leapt down from the tower and landed in the courtyard below in a pose that might have looked like a regal bow, in another context. He drew himself back up just as quickly.

"I am Valere," the Gallade said. "Farin has told me about you. That you're humans who've come from another world to save ours." He paused, something shifting in his eyes. "I've heard that before. How do you intend to do that?"
 
The sudden attack made Isidora jolt and take a step back, just stopping herself from leaping. She calmed herself and put her claws away as the figure jumped down to reveal himself. A gallade, huh? And with a penchant for theatrics. Logically she knew being a gallade didn't necessarily mean he was a noble in this world, but that was how her mind wanted to process him. And so she returned a defiant glare at his question.

"Some of us are human," she clarified. "And..." Her defiance faltered. She reached for her hat and it wasn't there. "...We're still trying to figure that part out."
 
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And then a crescent blade of psychic energy struck the tile floor mere feet away from the party, shattering the stillness and the masonry. It had come from the direction of the tower.

The sudden impact of the psychic blast made Kimiko flinch; she'd kept quiet during the walk, taking in the sights of the dungeon, and it seemed most of her companions had been doing the same. She instantly shifted into a defensive stance, prepping to toss some leaves back in the direction the blade came from - they'd find their target, assuming they could fly that far. She'd adapted to battling for herself unnervingly quickly. Or maybe she was just still on edge from the last few days and it showed. Damn it. If that was meant to be a test, she had a feeling she'd just failed.

That you're humans who've come from another world to save ours." He paused, something shifting in his eyes. "I've heard that before. How do you intend to do that?"

Gods, Kimiko really hoped they'd learn why they were summoned soon. Having to constantly repeat "we have no fucking clue, mate" was not only getting old, it didn't leave a great first impression nor likely fill anyone with confidence.

She relaxed her stance a bit, but remained wary as she answered the newcomer. "We don't yet know why we were summoned," she said, again projecting her own conviction as she added to the sneasel's reply. "Just that it was... or will be... significant enough to warrant a large number of us. What we do know is that we're going to need to get stronger than we currently are if we're going to actually be of any help. Which, y'know, we want to do."
 
Shit, Valere was melodramatic as hell apparently. Did he climb the whole-ass tower just jump off for a dramatic entrance? He hadn’t realized they were dealing with such a… character. Still, Gladion had to give some respect to the guy’s sheer commitment to the bit even if it was a bit silly.

"I am Valere," the Gallade said. "Farin has told me about you. That you're humans who've come from another world to save ours." He paused, something shifting in his eyes. "I've heard that before. How do you intend to do that?"
Some of that info had definitely been mangled along the line.

“Close enough? But…”

He gestured towards Isadora and Kimiko. “They’re right. We’re not all from the same place, or was everyone here human. And right now we’re still trying to gather enough information to make informed decisions. It would check out if the reason for summoning a group of outworlders instead of one was to oppose another group of out— or, exclusively former humans in their case, at least as far as I’ve been told. Still, we don’t even know if that’s the actual reason. It’s just an unconfirmed suspicion.”
 
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Now, Silver knew that Noivern were huge night dragons that could strike fear in the hearts of cowering prey, but when the one named Farin swooped down and landed in front of them, he couldn’t help but stare in awe. She would already be a giant compared to his regular human form, but as a much shorter Sneasel, she was colossal compared to him.

“…Whoa.”

But his amazement was cut short when a glowing psychic blade embedded itself into the floor. Such a sudden action made his instincts squeal in alarm… or maybe it was he who let out an actual squeal, albeit faint? Considering that his claws were dripping poison and that his feathers were outstretched… oh, by the gods. He did that, didn’t he?

“Hmph! Someone should lay down on their heroic mangas. Exaggerated entrances are so outdated…” he grumbled to himself, rolling his eyes dismissively and placing a paw on his hip, pretending to be unbothered.

“Yeah, well, my teammates basically covered my thoughts,” said Silver, staring intently at the duo. “And we gotta find out why we’re here before we can do something to deal with… whatever’s troubling this world. We’re kinda splashing ‘round like a bunch of waterless Magikarp at the moment.”
 
Corey managed to hold fast after Valere's particularly grand entrance, though he likely looked more than a little taken aback behind the bandages. What a brilliant maneuver, even for a creature as graceful as a Gallade... and yet that didn't seem to dull his cynicism... Not so surprising if he'd had experience with these humanocentric oppressors-to-be... and this was all to say nothing of the thoroughly intimidating Noivern... What a rare sighting indeed, and hearing her voice transmitting telepathically... well, that was more jarring to Corey than the Gallade's blade had been. He hadn't figured a Noivern could do that... Must've taken quite a bit of work...

"You could say we're something of a united front, humankind and Pokemon-kind alike, seeking to help one another, and we're not in the business of putting one before the other," he decided to chime in, figuring he had an obligation to at least attempt to help the cause.
 
"Some of us are human," she clarified. "And..." Her defiance faltered. She reached for her hat and it wasn't there. "...We're still trying to figure that part out."
Valere gazed at Isidora. "Outworlders who aren't human..." It was a strange, foreign concept. He'd only ever known...

“They’re right. We’re not all from the same place, or was everyone here human. And right now we’re still trying to gather enough information to make informed decisions. It would check out if the reason for summoning a group of outworlders instead of one was to oppose another group of out— or, exclusively former humans in their case, at least as far as I’ve been told. Still, we don’t even know if that’s the actual reason. It’s just an unconfirmed suspicion.”
"We don't yet know why we were summoned," she said, again projecting her own conviction as she added to the sneasel's reply. "Just that it was... or will be... significant enough to warrant a large number of us. What we do know is that we're going to need to get stronger than we currently are if we're going to actually be of any help. Which, y'know, we want to do."
“And we gotta find out why we’re here before we can do something to deal with… whatever’s troubling this world. We’re kinda splashing ‘round like a bunch of waterless Magikarp at the moment.”
Valere paced a bit while Gladion, Kimiko, and Silver said their bit. It seemed he got restless if he stood still for too long.

"I can understand not knowing the threat you're up against," he said with a heavy exhale. "But why are you here? Why you? What is your motivation? Anyone can say they want to help, even while they're causing the most pain."

"You could say we're something of a united front, humankind and Pokemon-kind alike, seeking to help one another, and we're not in the business of putting one before the other."
"You're not the first person to tell me that, either," Valere said to Corey, his eyes like stone. "Everyone who says that believes it, too. If you're a united front, then I want to hear what the Pokemon have to say, rather than humans speaking for them."

He glanced around at the party expectantly. And then his expression slowly fell as he realized, from the looks on their faces, that there was only...
 
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