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Frontier Town Frontier Town Outskirts

Archie’s muzzle pulled back into a grimace, showing teeth. At the same time, he rocked back on his heels, a paw rising up to rest against his chin. So, it really was a shallow grave, after all? He glanced Seth’s way, it was true that The Wolf was wanted for various crimes up to and including murder, but… Honestly after learning he was Wes, Archie hadn’t wanted to believe it. Because if Seth was capable of murder, it suggested that Wes was too, which was a hard thing to learn about someone the Oshawott considered a friend.

… Odette was right though. If Seth was a hardened killer, why would he be here guarding this particular grave? Why not just bury this Fein in the desert and be done with it? Had they caught him in the act, had he only just finished burying the Zoroark when they’d come across him? Why make his presence known, in that case, then? This grave was well off the beaten path, and Seth could well have hidden in the reeds and they would have passed by none the wiser. Why take the risk of exposing himself unless there was something more going on here than just a dead Pokemon? Was the red Lycanroc just that confident in his abilities that he believed he could’ve driven them off?

… And if the person he was hiding back here was already dead, then who, exactly, had Seth been performing for with all his over the top shouting earlier?

“You may not want to believe it, but we really don’t want to be your enemies,” Archie said, looking back at the red Lycanroc, “If you’ll just tell us what happened, I’m sure we can all work something out. As a team.”
Seth looked like he was about to snap at all the 'mon grilling him, open his jaws and either bite them, or saying something bitingly sarcastic.


"Fine," muttered Seth, halfway collapsing, save for anything to collapse onto. "Listen the fuck up. I'll spill."

He hardly looked at the Wayfarers as he spoke. It seemed he was addressing the corpse of Zoroark Fein more than anyone living.

"Like the kid here, I'm from a shitty wasteland of a region called Orre. Since before I was even a kid, it's been a worthless region ruled by gangs. I was forced, at knifepoint, to join the Snagger Gang – professional pokémon thieves – before I was even a teenager. There are no wild pokémon in Orre. Something tainted the fucking earth long ago, and they know not to come near, but humans were just too stupid not to settle the fucking place, they ran their towns into the ground, and now their kids don't got the cash to just up and leave. Around the time I was getting ready to finally hit the bricks and leave the Snaggers in the dust, things started getting worse."

He tossed a look over his shoulder, northwards.

"You know Blaguarro? Pretty much the same thing. Shadow 'mon in every goddamn alleyway, mines that dried up, some shady fuckers in the underground kidnapping people and terrorising the rest. They're an organised crime syndicate so powerful they pretty much run half the region; they call themselves 'Cipher'. They make Shadow 'mon – strong pokémon that are so battle-crazed they can't disobey or refuse to fight. Half the folks in Orre are so sick in the head they either can't see the difference, or they like it that way. Hell, I couldn't always tell – it's subtler in the human world."

Seth's voice sounded tinged with Shadows, but he was so drained after the gruelling battle that no corrupted aura manifested as he talked about his past, and the truth. Had he not been so soundly beaten, he would certainly be consumed by the darkness, and lash out.

"I got caught up in it. Didn't mean to; just kinda happened. After that, I became a person of interest for Cipher. Ended up spending years fighting them, guerilla-style, on my own. I couldn't trust anybody, and they weren't gonna trust me, so that's how it had to be. I stole Shadows, even tried to cure 'em, but Cipher destroyed the only thing that could. Burnt down the only forest in the region to do it, too. So I just kept fighting. And fighting. And fighting..."

The Lycanroc's voice hitched. There was a flicker of Shadow, dancing in little motes around his face.

"'Til I got unlucky. I was the best in the goddamn region, but everyone gets unlucky someday. They caught me, caught my pokémon, Shadowed 'em... Beat the shit outta me until they believed I didn't have anything useful left to tell 'em. But I held out long enough to figure out an exit. Thing is, before I could pull it off, they figured I was useful for one more thing."

Seth gestured to himself with a grandstanding attitude befitting a stadium heel – more of that attitude from early on in the fight. Did he just show off like a tournament trainer because it helped him cope...?

"They fuckin' Shadowed me, too. Turns out you can do it to humans. Fucks 'em up in the head something fierce, kinda like with pokémon – less empathy, more aggression, suggestibility to commands. They got pretty far with me, 'til about halfway through I broke my way out and made a run for it. Chewed my way through half their laboratory – and I do mean chewed – before I found the other fucked up thing they were workin' on."

He grinned in a way that almost seemed smug, and gestured to the world around them.

"Portal to another world. They ran out of whatever the stuff was they were mining in Pyrite Town to make Shadow 'mon with, and I guess they figured the best next source was another dimension with renewable sources of Shadow energy. Until recently I thought Cipher's portal machine was the only way in or out of Forlas. Hence me thinkin' you fuckers were tied up with them to begin with."

He chuckled, self-deprecation seeping from his voice.

"I went right back to doing what I did before. Jumping Cipher goons and fucking with their plans. Only, staying under the fucking radar 'cause they didn't know what fucking species I turned into or nothin'. Couldn't let them know I escaped into this world instead of Orre, couldn't let them know that so long as they had my boys, they had leverage to threaten me with. Until that motherfucker showed up, dressed like my human self, and jumped me. I freaked out. It was already gettin' harder and harder – the Shadowing messes with my fuckin' head, makes me paranoid, and some lizard asshole fucking took a fucking photograph of me a few weeks back, and I started showing up in the fucking bounty posters, started thinking they were onto me... Yeah, I freaked out. Iced him. Buried him in the nearest decent spot I could find. And then you little shits showed up with the worst timing in the multiverse and beaned me in the head with a fucking rock."

Seth took a moment in his speech to flip his middle claw at Wes and Archie.

"Tried to scare you off, thought it might've worked. Stuck around watching the place, in case any Cipher peons came looking for Fein. Then you lot turned up in force. You know the rest."

Now, Seth collapsed to the floor, still not meeting anyone's eye.

"It's too late. One way or another, Cipher will find out now. There's no way this doesn't leak somehow."
Wes climbed out of the shallow grave as Seth began to speak, not too eager to stay standing next to a corpse. He sat a small distance away—far enough to give Seth space, but close enough to hear, and most importantly, far enough away from the rest of the group—and listened with slowly mounting horror.

Shadow Pokémon. Shadow humans. Could…could Cipher do that in his Orre, too? Would they do it to him, if he ever got caught? Was that what they’d planned for Rui? He felt sick.

Seth had seen a level of hell Wes hadn’t experienced. To be beaten, tortured, experimented on, and to have his Pokémon taken away to suffer the same fate…Wes swallowed, his mouth dry and still tasting of blood from the fight. Was this to be his fate, too, then? A life of pain and misery and anguish, fighting hopeless odds and losing the only family he had left?

Why didn’t you leave?

The question burned on his tongue, but Wes couldn’t bring himself to ask it—not in front of everyone here. But it swirled in his head like a burgeoning storm all the same. If Seth hadn’t ever tried to leave Orre…if he’d chosen to stay and fight…then what did that say about him?

Seth was…a braver, better person than he.

It was a surreal revelation, after all that time Wes had spent hating him, determined that he was at least better than some cocky, self-absorbed outlaw. Now what little shred of confidence he’d had in that thought was utterly gone.

He sucked in a shaky breath and forced himself to stay with the present. “Do they…still have them?” He met Seth’s tired, haunted eyes—eyes that no doubt looked just like his own. “Your Pokémon, I mean. They’re still captured?”

If that was all Seth had left to fight for, then everything else about his actions made sense. The anger, the desperation, the infuriating stubbornness. Wes spared a hesitant glance into the pit, at the copycat’s corpse. If Cipher had taken his Pokémon…Wes would have stopped at nothing to get them back, too. Even if it meant a body count.

The speed at which he reached that solid conclusion disturbed him a little.

He looked back to Seth. “What’s your plan now? You say you’ve been disrupting their plans here—does that mean you know where their base is?”
The Lycanroc finally met Wes' eyes. He nodded, his face haunted. Yeah. Yeah, Cipher still had his pokémon. Of course they did.

"I know where their base is," he replied, to the other question. "But I can't take them on all at once. Gotta be smart about it, pick 'em off one by one. And don't give me that drivel about help – every extra person's a liability for secrecy, and another potential Shadowed enemy. Hardly anyone can handle being fully, forcibly corrupted. It's bad enough for me and they didn't even finish the job yet."


Seth didn't really believe he'd win.
So, that explains it.

Nova hadn't been activated for terribly long when his creator dispatched him and his units to Orre. He never questioned the order. Even when he found nothing but some shady grassroots organizations that were weeded out before they could truly sprout into anything serious. He never asked why lesser methods weren't used.

With hindsight, though, the way she gave the orders was strange. Like she had too much information.

Eh, it wasn't worth dwelling on. Not where there were, apparently, two shady human groups that may or may not be at loggerheads with one another. Assuming they weren't just different flavors of the same beast. And certainly not with the way Seth finished that briefer explanation.

"Yet," Nova parroted. "You're still fighting, but that 'yet'..." He looked up at the night sky. "That's resigning yourself to fate. What my shadow's preached for a very long time." Maybe the shadows were magnifying Seth's doubt, too?

"What about this voice that's guiding you, then? If you're listening to it... I doubt it's with Cipher." Nova glanced at the others. "It's going to be visiting the lot of us in the near future thanks to this. And I'd rather not just have it say something cryptic and fuck off. Because that just raises the chances that we'll take the Forlas-honored 'beat answers out of it' approach when we inevitably find it."
So that was a lot. Like a whole lot. And it was going to take a good long while to process. Archie couldn’t help but study Wes closely all through Seth’s explanation, searching for any kind of reaction from the blue Lycanroc to his red counterpart’s words. Especially when Seth fessed up to murder. Even despite their different forms, the two wolves’ expressions read remarkably similar. Tired, defeated, pushed to their physical and emotional limits. Beyond that, the Oshawott wasn’t sure. So he turned his attention back to Seth.

“Look, this… Cipher? They’ve almost certainly noticed us by now,” he said, “Even if we wanted to just walk away, we couldn’t. They would come for us eventually. And, well, you saw, we’re all already corrupted. There’s no avoiding it, there’s only controlling it.”

He reached a paw out towards the red Lycanroc, “We don’t have to be friends, but we shouldn’t have to be enemies either. Work with us. If we’re the ones making the moves, then Cipher won’t have reason to think you’re the one doing it. Stealth… Isn’t exactly something our group specializes in. Meanwhile, you can keep moving in secret.”

“And Nova’s right,” he continued, gesturing towards the Chimera. “You want to save your Pokemon, don’t you? So don’t give up, it’s not over until it’s over! They’re relying on you to come through for them, no matter what.”
Koa stared numbly at Seth. Orre. Not his worlds, but an Orre. He wondered for a moment if this Orre was tainted for the same reasons... And Wes was from the same place. Same life.

His mind roiled with conflicted emotions. In any other situation his disgust for Seth would have burned brigther than anything else, just for the mere idea of working with a criminal group. And the body. But Seth'd just... been some trainer. Maybe his age. And he'd tried to do everything he could to fight back. Until he'd lost his pokemon. And now the same group was here. And if Seth was truly telling the truth then he'd tried to defend himself. He'd wanted to stop them, to save his pokemon. Koa remembered how easily the shadows had almost overpowered him... and how quickly Wes had succumbed.

"We can't do nothing," he said hoarsely, finally finding his voice. "Maybe Cipher finds out but it wouldn't be from any of us," he growled firmly, glancing around. "Not by choice."

Kneading his paws into the dirt, he stared into the distance for a moment, desperarely trying to sort through the mess of thoughts in his skull. Maybe if Seth had explained any of this - but then how could, if he thought they were Cipher - and how could they and... Cutting off the spiral, he focused on Seth. Tried to pick the words from the bubbling mire of thoughts churning in his brain.

"Whats done is done. But you're wrong about something. Trusting might be risk but its not only a liability. If you're a trainer I know you know that. I... You saw that battle. The shadows here can be controlled. And stopped. I've seen it. There's ways to fight it. We survived and beat you and stopped him-" he jerked his head toward Wes, "because there was more of us."

Raising his head he leveled a furious glance at Seth, though it was clear he was furious about the situation and not at him. Furious at the idea of Cipher. "You clearly know them better then us. Archie is right. Use us then. You know how to fight them so help us do it in a way that doesn't get your team hurt. I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out something, to know a better way. Tell us." His lips curled and he bared his teeth. "Don't believe me if you don't want to but if Cipher really has you team then I'll do whatever it takes to help you get them back and destroy Cipher." He spoke the name with hate.
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Of course he was still going to refuse help. Wes closed his eyes for a moment, struggling to digest all of the…everything. He visibly flinched when Koa spoke up and mentioned “beating him.” The venom in the kid’s voice was impossible to miss, all right.

I can’t blame him.

Still, Koa made an excellent argument. Wes might have even said as much, but he got the feeling that acknowledging him whatsoever would only serve to make him angry. Instead, he simply opened his eyes and looked at Seth. “Look…either way, we’re going to be crossing paths since we have the same target. If you don’t want us screwing up your plans…then help us. You aren’t going to convince us to sit this one out. Plus, the things you know are invaluable.” He leaned forward slightly. “Help us, Seth. Please. Help us, and we all stand a shot of getting rid of those bastards, getting your boys back, and finding a cure. For everyone.”

Wait. A cure…

“That’s it!” he blurted. “You said…you said your Orre had a cure. Where?”

He stood, suddenly restless, and started to pace, ignoring the aches in his body at every movement. If there was a cure in Seth’s Orre, then surely there was a cure in his. And…

“If they’ve got the means to make Shadow pokemon here, somehow, then…then there’s got to be a way to cure Shadows here, too.” Maybe. Hopefully. It was a reach, but Wes had to believe it. He spun to Seth. “If you tell us what you know about the cure, then maybe we can look for something similar here, in this world.”

He paused. “You’d mentioned a forest, right?” The dots started connecting. Wes only knew of one forest in Orre, one forest near—

“Rui.” Wes frowned, then looked at Seth. He hadn’t mentioned her at all, but—how was that possible? “How were you able to find Shadows without seeing them?” he asked slowly. “How…did you never meet her? The woman from Agate who can see—”

They burned it.

Isn’t that what he’d said? Burned the whole forest?

A horrible, horrible realization began to dawn on him.

“Seth,” he breathed, “what happened to everyone in Agate?”
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Okay...so she'd been wrong. He really was just a shitty murderer. Granted, he was under the influence of shadows, but he'd still killed the guy and stood by guarding the grave.

She knew what Orre was--that lawless continent on the other side of the world that she'd only heard about during her secondary school geography lessons. She'd never heard of anything called Cipher coming out of it, but Wes and Seth seemed to know all about it. Still, though, she couldn't help but get just a little agitated. Another organization with access to a crazy power, and they were out doing some absolute fuckshit with it? What was with shady individuals getting ahold of absolute power like that and using it to cause problems on fucking purpose?

Exhaling a sharp breath, she ran her tongue along her teeth to keep her aggravated quips in check. Tasting the blood that had settled on her gums wasn't necessarily a welcome alternative to saying something nasty, but she supposed it worked better for the moment at hand.

It was like what she'd told Koa. Dark didn't need to mean Dark unless it was in the wrong hands. But it sounded like every single pair of fucking wrong hands ever just had a knack for getting ahold of it. Maybe that's why all things Dark just had a shitty rep. Fuckers like Cipher and Enigma and every other shitty evil organization out in the multiverse just couldn't keep their grubby hands off of it.

But, seriously...this Cipher team had a fucking portal to Forlas? And were just hopping in and out trying to bring means for creating Shadow back to their world? Not to mention, Seth bringing up a lizard wasn't lost on her either; of course he'd seen Nolan. Nolan had mentioned that they'd fought. She wondered how intense their altercation got, if this one was any comparison.

She didn't want to feel bad for him. He fucking punched her lights out not 5 minutes ago. She'd returned the favor, yes, which definitely helped with her nerves, but he also bit her. Like, full on fired up his stupid fangs and sunk them right into her fucking arm, like the raging dickass he was. The fact that Wes, and even Koa, sounded so sympathetic and ready to help him get his partners back made her want to throw something at both of them, and she felt that that was well within a sound frame of logic.

So why did she feel bad for him?

Getting kidnapped and tortured by a nefarious organization, turned into a borderline monster, losing his Pokemon, having to battle back a huge organization by himself...

Fuck. Not only did she feel bad for him. She even empathized with him a little bit.

Fucking ew, she thought defiantly. But, there was nothing to be done. Her heart was set, even though her mind and body were still at odds with that decision. She started rubbing her face, hoping to coax the frustrated groan she felt bubbling in the back of her throat away. She wasn't ready to say anything just yet, and judging by the grave-sounding question Wes had asked, it definitely felt like a bad time. So, she kept to herself a little while longer.
Leaf remained quiet as the others talked, still kind of looking down at the grave but not quite having the space in her brain to process or focus on anything in particular. That was a lot of information to take in all at once; it'd sure be neat if everyone could slow the hell down for like five seconds. It had, at least, been made crystal clear that "Cipher" was bad. Horrible. Absolutely had to be stopped. No question there.

...but did he have to kill the guy?

The guy had jumped him, he'd said. The guy probably would've taken him back to... to all of. That. And he'd been terrified, and shadowy, and not thinking right.

But he'd still killed the guy.

(And he'd been terrified and shadowy and not thinking right when they'd fought him, too. When he'd hit her, and Archie, and it hurt.)
Seth listened to the Wayfarers piling on with his paw at his temple. From the look of bitter, hot shame on his face, Wes' questions about Agate hit especially hard. Of course.

"I was too late to do anything about it," he growled, his voice jagged-edged and harsh. "The town wasn't razed or anything, just the forest and the Celebi relic there. That was the cure, supposedly – a legendary's fancy rock that could force pokémon hearts all the way open. That's how you can tell a 'mon is Shadowed, by the way, other than if they use Shadow moves – their 'hearts being closed', or whatever you wanna call it. Same kinda behaviours as abused 'mon." His brow furrowed. "The woman from Agate who can see... Shadows? I don't... I don't know? There was a girl..."

He shook his head, and changed the topic sharply.

"Look, I'll fuckin' cooperate with you idiots if I gotta. No point keeping up a brick wall now we're this deep in shit together. Just... I don't believe you won't spill. Shadow fucks with your will, your perception, your reasoning, everything. If they interrogate you, they will learn what they wanna know. You guys are already partly Shadowed, somehow, and that's a liability. Just happens to be one I'm familiar with."

He eyed Koa with a kind of ironic smirk.

"Plus, you guys aren't exactly a united front of trust and collaboration in the first place. I saw you guys at each other's throats when the Shadows went up – you want me to believe you're all about teamwork and trust and noble heroic whatever?" The Lycanroc pointed at Wes. "This dude's literally me with a less fucked up backstory and no body count, and you hate his guts already for some fucking reason. Entei's ass-crack, kid, you're a fucking riot."

Seth gasped, sounding like he was short on breath. One paw went to clutch his gut, and the other trembled in a loose fist.

"You. The fuckin' cop in the mask. You asked about the voice."

Seth's breaths came quick and shallow.

"He calls himself Powehi."
Wes felt his lungs freeze over as Seth started on Koa. He didn’t dare glance at the kid to see what his face looked like. “He’s got more than enough reason to hate me,” he said quietly, keeping his head turned away from everyone but Seth. “Leave him alone.”

He closed his eyes and sucked in another breath. He couldn’t get distracted by that, not right now. He had to focus on the other things Seth had said.

Celebi…? So that mon was real? Wes felt a tiny trickle of relief upon hearing the town hadn’t been destroyed, but it wasn’t enough reassurance. Not with the way Seth abruptly changed the subject.

Why do you care so much? It’s not like she’s the Rui you know. And you barely know her in the first place.

But Wes couldn’t shake the anxiety mounting in his chest, and he wasn’t about to let Seth off the hook. “So you did meet Rui. Or someone like her, at least.” He narrowed his eyes. “What happened? Tell me.”
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"Cop in the mask" was a step above "deranged cultist," so Nova would take it.

Powehi, huh? And that was what he called himself. Did he choose that name?

But of course Wes had to keep pressing about Seth's Orre. At this rate, Wes was going to be able to write his double's biography. (Or did it double as his autobiography?) What was he supposed to do, tell Wes to put a sock in it and have his extended interrogation later?

"So what's Powehi been telling you? Gotta be more than variations of 'you don't belong here.'"
Koa fought back the scowl at Seth's words. It was getting hard to tell which of the two annoyed him more. At least Seth had agreed to help, and that was enough. Still, Koa's annoyance started to resurface, and he found himself on the verge of pointing out that No just because he didn't like some of their group didn't mean he'd sell them out so easily or that he couldn't work with them.

Wes spoke before he could.
“He’s got more than enough reason to hate me,” he said quietly, keeping his head turned away from everyone but Seth. “Leave him alone.”
Don't speak for me! Yet some spark of him felt oddly strange to hear those words come out Wes's mouth, much less any kind of defense.

Looking away, he cut down the impulse to say anything. Did he really hate Wes? Everything felt too confusing now, after the fight.

It didn't matter. Wes and how he felt and all of that didn't matter right now. What mattered was learning everything they could and making a plan to fight Cipher. And finding out more about this... Powehi. A name to the voice that'd been in their heads. Finally. "Do you know anything else about this voice? When did you start hearing him?" A thousand more questions bubbled up but he held them back for now.
So, the Shadow Voice was called Powehi? Unfortunately, it meant nothing to the Oshawott, as far as any hint as to what kind of creature it might be was concerned. Still, it was good to put a name to the voice, undoubtedly they’d get more opportunities to communicate with it in the future. Maybe one of these days they’d get to talk back instead of just having to sit there and listen…

The second bit of information, that Celebi was somehow related to the cure to Shadow Pokemon, that was something more substantial. If that was true in Seth’s world, it could well be true here. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder what it was about Celebi that was helpful to Shadow Possessed Pokemon? It was legendarily a time traveler, there were plenty of folk tales back home of Celebi bringing legendary heroes forwards or backwards in time to periods of great crisis that only they could resolve. But that hardly seemed related…

The Oshawott was broken from his thoughts by the red Lycanroc’s gasping. It looked like Seth was starting to really struggle. This maybe wasn’t the best idea, but… He couldn’t just stand here and watch him suffer, regardless of his feelings about The Wolf otherwise. He pulled the Oran Berry he’d been holding onto back out of his pocket, and offered it to the gasping Lycanroc.

“Here, eat this, it should help,” he said, an expression of obvious concern on his face.
Seth barely held eye contact with Wes for long enough to force out a reply.

"Yeah, I met some girl with that name who could tell Shadows apart. Cipher was after her for that. I dropped the first couple goons who came for her, but once she realised who I was, she split. Kept my history a tight secret after that. Never opened up to anyone else."

He cleared his throat in a noise that sounded like he was choking.

When Archie offered the oran, he looked confused, unsure, suspicious – but with a fatigued resignation, his shoulders slumped, and he took it.

"Thanks, Fedora," shot Seth, trying to downplay it.

It didn't do much for the Lycanroc's shakes, but his voice was a little stronger after.

"Powehi spoke to me pretty early on after I landed in Forlas. I was lost, didn't know what the fuck was going on, reeling from turning into a Rockruff, and I had patchy memory at first. Powehi was... curious. Suspicious of me, but... interested. Helpful. At first he just told me where to go, how not to draw attention. He seemed to know all the fucked up shit already, didn't care. Just wanted me to get rid of Cipher for him. Doesn't care whether I scare 'em off, or kill them all, from the sound of it."
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Nova considered the explanation, along with what Betel had said. Shadows were a part of this world for a long time.

"I think... Powehi might be this world's native shadow source. And isn't taking kindly to outside influences trying to take his power. Or something like that." He wondered if this more consistent shadow use would mean they could now have actual conversations with this guy instead of just getting a rare cryptic dream message. Not that Nova had gotten any of them yet. That'd soon change, though.
“You’re welcome, Mr. Wolf,” he replied, teasingly. “Name’s Archie, I, uh… Don’t remember if I gave it to you in our last encounter.”

That encounter had, after all, ended with Seth beating him and Wes within an inch of their lives. But, given that they had more than returned the favor and were now seemingly making progress with the Lycanroc, Archie was willing to let bygones be bygones. Still, he had to wonder, what made for such a stark difference in how Powehi spoke to them compared to how he spoke to Seth? They’d definitely seen the suspicious side, but the Shadow Voice came across more cryptic and accusatory, less interested or curious, and certainly not particularly helpful!

On the one hand, Powehi definitely seemed more than a little annoyed with the fact that so many of them had come through all at once, and that was understandable given what Archie at least believed he understood about how travel between universes, well, worked. On the other hand, they didn’t exactly have any control over how they got here, and it would be really helpful if the voice could be a little more level with them and not just say things that sounded vaguely ominous and threatening and then leave without taking any questions!

… But if Seth here was in a question answering kind of mood, then maybe…

“Does Black Water mean anything to you?” Archie asked.
"Yeah. It's what Powehi calls Blaguarro. Some of the native, tribal types, too."

Seth sniffed, and nodded his head towards Nova.

"I don't think it's all that complicated. Offworlders weaken the 'walls of the world' or whatever, agitate the mystery dungeons, that kinda thing. Plus, I guess every wannabe do-gooder is another potential schmuck who could get Shadowed, or start swinging their weight around where they shouldn't. Powehi sure has a fuckin' combee in his bonnet about you guys turning up en masse without a competent guide. Reckons you were brought here by a goddamn moron who doesn't know what they're doing."

Black Water was Blaguarro? As in, the source of the Artificial Shadows, the place around which most of the Shadow sightings were taking place, the area that this Cipher was apparently based out of in this world, where Seth had be wrecking havoc for as long as he’d been in Forlas, Blaguarro? Why would Powehi not want Archie – and presumably others as well, the Oshawott wasn’t exactly certain who all had gotten that last dream – to go there? Did he just think they’d get in the way, mess things up? For a second, he considered not offering any sort of follow up, and just keeping that particular proclamation to himself…

But they’d have to return to Blaguarro eventually, and when they did, Powehi would likely either know or find out somehow. And if he passed that along to Seth, that might jeopardize their fragile working relationship. Better to tell the Lycanroc now, that way if it came down to it maybe they could get The Wolf to vouch for them, or be the middle ‘mon seeing as Powehi wouldn’t deign to speak with them the same way he did Seth.

“The last thing Powehi said to me was not to return there,” the Oshawott explained, “But I don’t know if that’s something that’s going to be possible…”

Seth’s rather flippant description of Betel did cause the Oshawott to frown. But, he tried to remind himself to stay diplomatic. They were making actual progress here and with Seth being how he was, getting too defensive could well set him off again.

“Our summoner is doing the best they can,” he began, folding his arms, “But… They aren’t a master at this. So, any insights that you can convince Powehi to share with us, I’m sure we’d all appreciate it. We all want the same things, so we don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”

Hopefully the others wouldn't mind him speaking for them on that... Or if they did, they'd wait until later to berate him!
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