• Welcome to The Cave of Dragonflies forums, where the smallest bugs live alongside the strongest dragons.

    Guests are not able to post messages or even read certain areas of the forums. Now, that's boring, don't you think? Registration, on the other hand, is simple, completely free of charge, and does not require you to give out any personal information at all. As soon as you register, you can take part in some of the happy fun things at the forums such as posting messages, voting in polls, sending private messages to people and being told that this is where we drink tea and eat cod.

    Of course I'm not forcing you to do anything if you don't want to, but seriously, what have you got to lose? Five seconds of your life?

Frontier Town Sun Stone Saloon

Nova tensed at those last few sentences. "That's just going to scare 'em off," he mumbled. The null kept glancing at the door, ready to leave.
Steven kept his thoughts to himself as the conversation continued. By now, he was well aware how much trouble he could cause by speaking up about a topic he didn't know, and it was painfully clear how little he understood about almost everything in Forlas.

Spirits, humans, pokeballs, even! They all seemed similar enough to things that he was familiar with, yet it was becoming increasingly obvious how bad of an idea it was to assume anything here... He needed to keep an open mind and learn as much as he could.

Speaking of, he watched Dave with a skeptical eye, uncertain if it was wise to point out how foolish he was to dismiss the existence of Legendary pokemon so casually. Especially when one of them might be key in finding a way to combat these shadow pokemon.

His expression grew tight when the subject shifted to Brisa and the implication that the Covenant might be the ones hunting her down. He hoped that their organization wouldn't resort to such tactics. Their goal was recruitment, not murder. Harboring hatred like Nolan's was one thing. Violently acting on it was another thing entirely... It's not there was only one group out there who would be scared of humans and the power they could wield...

He shook his head to banish the thought. No assumptions. They'd work to find out the truth of what was going on.

As Laura spoke up to bring the meeting to a close, Steven made a mental note to catch up with her as soon as he could. In light of everything he learned today, he wasn't keen on meeting with Nolan alone or unprepared...

Last edited by a moderator:
[Ch03] The Audit
To Beldum Steven
at Traveller's Haus

I expect to be at liberty to talk
at Sun Stone Saloon this evening.
Please bring yourself, the items to
discuss, and any essential companion
you require, provided the time suits.



Steven had barely gotten settled in his new accommodations when he received Nolan's note. Thankfully, the Maus knew how to find him to deliver it, since he no longer was staying in his old room...

The Inteleon hadn't left him much time to prepare. Steven would have appreciated a few more days to recover after... the incident... But if Nolan showed up and he wasn't there with the mayor's ledger, Steven feared what that would look like in the face of their agreement. It was already a small miracle that Ridley (the kindly mimikyu who'd been among his rescuers) was able to save the notebook from being lost or destroyed in the attack.

So he would have to do the best he could given the circumstances.

In the time spent at Drungfields', he'd regained some of his levitation, though it was slower than before, and left him more drained than it should. Lucky, the doc had told him, it had come back so quickly. It would improve with time, (no physical stressors, especially battling, for at least a week) but that wasn't a luxury he had at the moment.

His company for the evening, Laura the meowth, was patient and understanding of not just his locomotive challenges, but the situation as a whole. She'd agreed to accompany him, since he didn't feel like facing Nolan alone (for a myriad of reasons even before the shadow pokemon took a chunk out of him.)

Steven anxiously adjusted the magnetic clasp of his makeshift cloak as the two of them entered the Sun Stone and set about searching for the distinctive features of the meeting's other attendee.
Last edited by a moderator:
It seemed Greasewood had been expecting the pair, as the Whimsicott appeared with astonishing rapidity at their side to politely show them upstairs. The same space that had been used for the team meeting was now where Steven and Laura would meet Nolan, apparently.

"I'll check on y'all from time to time," Greasewood assured them, "or you can hit the service bell on the bartop and I'll be here in a flash. You can help yourself to the stuff on tap, I'll know to put it on your tabs."

"Thanks," said Laura, meekly. "Don't think that stuff's for me, all the same."

"Suit yerself!" said the agreeable cotton fae, as he drifted back downstairs.

"You ready?" asked Laura, less as a question, and more as a signal she was heading in.

The Meowth pushed open one half of the double doors to the lounge bar, and soon spotted Nolan, apparently reading the Gazette— or, no. He was working on a crossword in the latest paper.

"Evening," said Laura.

The Inteleon looked up, and nodded stiffly. "You came. Excellent. ...I'm sorry to see you injured, Mr Steven. Are you quite well?"
Well, the blasted cloak did nothing to hide the shadow skorupi's handiwork from Nolan's keen eye. It was a ridiculous article of clothing and an even more ridiculous idea anyway; not like his condition wasn't painfully obvious even without seeing the full extent of the damage.

Steven suddenly felt vulnerable under Nolan's gaze, and he hovered a bit closer to Laura, keeping her between the Inteleon and his injured side.

"Ah, good evening," he said, eye tilting into a sheepish smile. "Truthfully, I've been better. I didn't want to keep you waiting, though. I know you're a busy man."
"I appreciate the diligence," replied Nolan, "but a fellow in poor health is a poor fellow to ask anything of. Do mind yourself, my good sir."

He gestured to invite the pair to sit with him. "My name is Nolan, miss. And you are?"

"Laura," replied the Meowth, with a carefully-neutral tone. "Another offworlder, like Steven."


Nolan's brow went up as he put his paper aside and steepled his hands.

"Where shall we begin? I expect one of you brought Voclain's documentation?"
Steven joined Nolan at the table upon his request, settling into the seat with a light thunk. It was a relief to not have to hover on his own the whole time. "It's no issue," he said with a shake of his head. "It's hard to keep the mind occupied when the body is at rest. A conversation I can handle."

At Nolan's next question, Steven looked to Laura and nodded. He had been more than happy to let her carry the ledger after she offered during the walk over.

"We have it," he said to Nolan. "And if it's not too much trouble, we'd like to go over it with you now. Although... We've been through a lot to get this document and keep it safe. Therefore, we have one condition of us sharing it with you, and that is it stays in our possession the entire time we're reviewing it. Hopefully that's an amenable arrangement?"
"I suppose so," said Nolan, thinly. He made a commanding gesture towards Laura to indicate she should bring out the notebook.

She did so, though her hackles went up at being ordered about in such a way.

"Do you mind?" asked the Inteleon, and with a look from Laura, he began to examine the material. "Thank you. I take it you must have drawn some conclusions already."

Laura nodded, and briefly explained some of their findings – coercive land purchases, dodgy use of public money, fabricated arrests.

"Pathetically typical," muttered Nolan, nodding along. "Disgraceful behaviour for someone of his descent. But he is behind bars and awaiting trial – I am primarily interested in pursuing this 'Terminal Two.' Has your... 'group' made any progress on that particular point?"

He eyed Steven, brow raised.
It wasn't lost on Steven the way Laura bristled at Nolan's treatment. He couldn't blame her; the Inteleon had already proven to be quite the unsavory individual. His eye narrowed slightly, and he repeated a mantra to himself, 'It's just business. It's just business.'
However successful he was at hiding his displeasure with Nolan as a person, Steven was less successful at hiding his disappointment that Nolan's initial examination turned up nothing beyond what he and Laura had gleaned already. But he didn't have time to express as much, as Nolan was already asking about something else.

"Terminal Two?" Steven repeated, buying himself some time. What had Bellatrix said at the team meeting? She thought she'd found it? Was it wise to tell Nolan as much? He stole a sideways glance at Laura.

"We know of it," he said eventually. "Though I doubt it's much more than what you already know yourself. After looking through the ledger, we discovered that the secret wagons the mayor was sending were bound for this Terminal Two. We... We tried following one, but we were attacked by a shadow pokemon before it reached its destination."

His gaze fell, and he gave an involuntary shudder. "Our best guess is that it was headed somewhere in or around Blaguarro. We'd tried investigating further by sending a group to Blaguarro, but we were attacked by a shadow again. These are the attacks you've heard of."

A truth. Not the whole truth. But enough of a truth to hopefully satisfy Nolan's question. They couldn't show all their cards just yet...

"I have to ask, though. How did you discover the existence of Terminal Two without the mayor's ledger?"
Laura nodded, corroborating Steven's account.

"The team who went to investigate found some evidence that it may be underground in Blaguarro," she added, "although interference by Shadows caused them to withdraw. We hope... We plan to find some means of fighting Shadows more effectively before heading back in greater force."

Nolan sniffed, and continued to flick through the notebook, his eyes rapidly combing through its pages.

"Quite reasonable. Do tread carefully, mind you. My organisation – and by this I mean either of the organisations with which I am affiliated – could well choose to send a substantial force to deal with this faction once they are entirely discovered. Do not take any unnecessary risks."

"It might be too late for us to avoid notice," responded Laura, bitterly. "A Shadow followed us back from Blaguarro and attacked some of us in the middle of the night."

Nolan made an alarmed, faintly sympathetic face.

"Well, that is most troubling," he conceded. "I can certainly understand your inclination towards direct conflict in those circumstances. All the same, I suggest you err on the side of caution."

"I have to ask, though. How did you discover the existence of Terminal Two without the mayor's ledger?"

Nolan looked up from the pages, frowning.

"I have been looking into this organisation since before I arrived in Frontier Town. At one time, I intercepted a communication that gave me the time and location of a courier en route to 'Terminal Two', and this courier was headed in the direction of Blaguarro. It is, perhaps, less than perfectly evidenced that this location is the same one you're speaking of, but I consider it a reasonable assumption."

In short, he'd caught wind that an agent of this organisation had been on their way to Blaguarro to deliver to Terminal Two, and put two and Two together.
When Laura mentioned the attack at the Haus, the tingling in Steven's side intensified, and he shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The expression on Nolan's face reminded him of something he'd been meaning to ask the Inteleon, something not necessarily about the mayor's ledger, but then Nolan shared some new information, and Steven's curiosity was piqued.

"This courier, did it turn out to be a dead end? Were you able to learn anything about what they were carrying? Or where they were sent from?"
Nolan's expression darkened. He seemed to almost wince.

"Unfortunately, that particular courier was waylaid by the so-called 'Wolf'. I was unable to retrieve any useful information, let alone tail him as far as his intended destination. He was travelling from further east, but I never learned his point of origin."
Disappointment colored Steven's expression, though he could have assumed as much if Nolan didn't have any other leads about Terminal Two. Although...

Alarm crept into Steven's tone at the name "Wolf" as he recalled Nolan's account from their first meeting. "Was... Was that the night you took that photograph of the Wolf?"
Nolan nodded darkly.

"If I could not perform adequate reconnoissance on the courier, I could at least try to capture the image of his assailant."

He glanced to the side, wincing again.

"I would not relish repeating that encounter."
Steven studied the table for a moment, contemplating something. His eye furrowed in thought, or perhaps it was frustration, or shame? Either way, the expression vanished as he made up his mind, eye narrowing in concentration as he undid the clasp of his cloak. It fell to the side, revealing the extent of the shadow skorupi's handiwork.

"If it helps, neither would I," he said, turning his gaze to Nolan, eye burning bright with determination. "It's as Laura said, we're involved in this whether we like it or not. That shadow pokemon from Blaguarro found us, or maybe it was even sent after us. Either way, it proves we can't sit back and hope to stay out of things. We're going to take steps to either find a way to fight back against the shadows, or put a stop to whoever is creating them. I'd prefer if we could work together on this, rather than tiptoe around one another."

Whatever fire was in Steven's words was short-lived, and he seemed to tire out from his outburst. He took a moment to rest, but he had one more question for Nolan, quieter this time, more reserved.

"Please don't take this the wrong way but..." Steven hesitated, wondering if such a question was going to make Nolan think he'd gone insane. "That night you took the photograph-- the night the Wolf attacked you-- do you recall any strange dreams that night? Any sinister voices speaking to you in your head?"
Nolan, to his credit, took the question seriously. Although, not without looking somewhat perturbed.

"No, my good sir, I have not. I am sorry if that is not the answer you had hoped for, but I suffered no such consequences. A fitful sleep, to be certain, and significant physical injury, but no visions, auditory hallucinations, or other bedevilments of the mind."

He leaned forward, brow creasing.

"Am I to infer that you, or members of your group, have experienced this...?"
Steven's surprise at Nolan's reply quickly turned to puzzlement. So the mysterious voice wasn't the side effect of a shadow attack? Or Nolan wasn't attacked by a shadow at all, but that didn't seem right; he wasn't acting. His ordeal with the Wolf clearly bothered him. But if the voice didn't speak to everyone who was struck by a shadow attack, why had it spoken to them?

Steven blinked, realizing Nolan was waiting for an answer. He nodded. "Yes, myself and several members of our group heard the same thing. A voice in our dreams the night after we'd been hit by a shadow attack. The messages were short, but very clear. They were threats, or warnings, or both."
Nolan nodded, and swallowed uncomfortably.

"Well, I, ah... I think— That is to say, one might conjecture, that, ahem..."

There was a flash of resentment in his face. A touch of acid disapproval. Then back to coldness.

"...Pardon my discomposure," he said, looking away from Steven and Laura. "This is simply very disturbing news. However, there are two factor to which one might attribute the... difference in our experience. The first is that the Wolf is a different category of Shadow as I suspected, and this gives him different properties. However, if attacks by Shadows in general gave one disturbing messages in one's dreams, I would expect to have heard of it by now. The second factor is that you, being summoned from other worlds, are eligible for these messages in a way I am not, as a natural-born Forlasan. These threats, or warnings, could well be directed at your group, specifically."
Strangely, it looked like Nolan went through a bout of indigestion just then. Nevertheless, he suggested much of what Steven had already feared...

He nodded slowly. "If this mysterious voice is trying to scare us off, perhaps this shadow pokemon crisis is the reason we were summoned here."

Steven shared a sidelong glance at Laura, to see if she was coming to the same kind of conclusion.

"If that's the case, it's imperative we find the culprits and get to the bottom of who is creating these shadows."

He turned his gaze back to Nolan. "Have you found anything new in the ledger yet that might point us in the right direction?"
Laura nodded back quietly – ruefully – at Steven.

"I've arrived at a few conclusions," replied Nolan, coolly, "and I'll take it as a compliment that you believe I can divine actionable information from all this in the space of a scant few minutes. On this occasion, at least, perhaps I can."

He coughed lightly, and turned the notebook to face the Wayfarers, gesturing to certain words and entries.

"I believe that the initials under these columns refer to the intermediaries between Voclain and his accomplices. I have interviewed a number of highway drivers in recent weeks hoping to learn more about this trafficking route, and I recognise some of these initials. Note the high occurrence of an 'R' followed by this or that other letter, and ending with an 'S' – there is a large family of Rattata in the greater Blaguarro area with the surname Schwartz. 'Rattata so-and-so Schwartz', you see? I take this as an indication that much of Voclain's trafficking was done with their assistance, and perhaps they have information worth obtaining."

Nolan flicked through the pages until he found a previous point of interest.

"Look here. From my own research, I've encountered many of these businesses – some are hollow corporations devised by Voclain to navigate the restrictions on his mayoral office, and others are businesses he coerced, blackmailed, or otherwise dealt with. However, this one occurs again and again in these notes, and it is not a company registered in Frontier Town to my knowledge. I believe it may be a front organisation for our Shadow-manufacturing faction. The next time you visit Blaguarro, perhaps you could look into this 'Puzzle Gulch Trading' company."

He hummed to himself, and withdrew the notebook to flick forwards again to where he'd made it to.

"And, of course, though it would trouble me to explain the reasoning, I am now more certain than ever that these Shadow operations are centred in Blaguarro. I'm sure that won't surprise you."
Top Bottom