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Frontier Town The Wanderin' Zera

Sympathy and frustration roiled inside Koa. Disappointment. She was just... mortal. Along with the sense of powerlessness. Three hundred years. He wanted to help her, comfort her or do something. There wasn't anything he could do. Would he have felt different if he were fighting for that long? He listened to Nova a moment, giving himself time to consider his words.

"Nova is right. You're right... I don't know what that's like. I haven't lost anyone like that, and its not fair for us to just dump this on you. But it doesn't change what's happening." He forced himself to level his voice, to not sound desperate. "I wish there was another way. But pokemon are getting hurt. I can't watch it happen if I can help." He had to.
Bellatrix watched the following exchange with an indifferent expression. She knew all too well the idealism of the young and inexperienced and though she had little in the way of understanding how old was too old, she related to that tiredness well.

"All fair questions and answers," Bellatrix said. "Although there is also a more pragmatic purpose to it. We agreed to aid Sierra in this who I had recently sparred with - a fine battle if I do say so myself, hence my words. You also seem to know her and her clan well, if not us, why not for their sake?"
Yeah. That made sense. And after 300 years of life, she’d probably be tired of young idiots like them running up on her. Unless she was like Odile. In which case, she’d probably enjoy it. And might try to eat them. Where was she going with that thought?

She eyed Koa with a wary look, before looking back at Luz. “You’re right to just want to sit and have a couple drinks. After a lifetime like that,” she said. “I’ve met ‘mon who have lived several lifetimes themselves, loved and lost, and it got to a point where it was just…exhausting. And knowing that, I don’t want to add more to your pile.” She sighed. “And I’d spare you the sound of my voice right now if we didn’t need this. Or just want to avoid anymore ‘mon getting hurt or worse here when there might be a way to help.”
Luz stared into nothingness as she nursed her whiskey, and the Wayfarers spoke. They sure did talk. At last there was a pause.

"You don't wanna watch it happen if you can help? Then do something to help."

Luz's voice was not soft, but neither was it angry, or cold. This was advice. Or a command. Maybe one she'd followed herself, nearly three centuries ago.

"Though, you are doin' something, ain't you? Sounds like you lot have already gathered allies aplenty, and the way I hear it, there's far more angels involved than just the few of you here talkin' at me. So do you figure you need Radiance to do what you gotta do? Sounds to me like maybe you have all this well in hand!" She sniffed, and leaned forward at the table, resting her weight on her elbow. "Maybe the light'd just be a liability for you anyway, given it'd pop the caps right off your burstin' hearts. You think I've never melted some poor bastard in the heat of the moment? Just imagine what you'll do with no inhibitions left to keep you tethered to the earth. How'd you fancy lashin' out with solar fury at every dumb son of a bitch who pricks your patience?"

A rhetorical question, not meant to be answered. But there was weight to Luz' words – the power she wielded had affected her judgement at times in her long life – a life long enough to store up countless regrets. Enough to deter her from letting anyone else do the same.

"Quit talkin' for a sec. Hush."

The Zeraora sighed, and briefly moved her gaze towards Nova, who'd seemed to get it, more or less. The one who spoke about being ancient like he'd experienced it for himself. Her face softened, very slightly.

"I appreciate you folks are tryin' to do the right thing. Good on you for that. If everyone did that, I coulda kept to haltin' natural disasters and had a hobby with my spare time. Good luck. I mean that."

Back to Koa.

"I'm not here to fight your battles for you. I've bled my share a hundred times over, and I've got nothin' to show fer it save an alehouse named after me where I can get a whiskey on the house and folks to fuck off for five goddamn minutes without wantin' me to be their bleedin' saviour. Nah. I'm here to pass the mantle to someone else."

She settled at last on Bellatrix – or just past her head, at least.

"I reckon you can figure out who."
Nova let Luz's words sit while he thought some of that over. The way she talked over her power sure sounded like it was unwieldly. Almost like shadows, but different in how they could fuck up their wielder. And hadn't Mhynt brought up similar musings when it came to a similar, or even identical, power source from her own world?

The team viewed this radiance stuff as a way to stop the shadows. And maybe that was true in a battling sense. But what about actually curing the shadows? Nothing in the Oasis had screamed "radiance" to Nova... and yet Cipher had gone after that relic.

And they already had shadows...

"If I may ask... is your power only meant to counter shadows from a fighting standpoint?" Nova kept his voice soft, like more of an inquiring mind then someone eager for Luz's help. "I was just thinking... if it's possible that shadows and radiance might be opposing energies that exist in tandem. They don't cancel out, but interact in other ways. So while radiance could help if we were forced to pacify a shadowed 'mon through a fight, it can't cure 'em..."

He tilted his glass again. The lone ice cube had mostly melted. "It's like how you get water and steam if you were to mix ice and fire..."
The Zeraora's expression flickered. There was doubt there, and concern...

"Radiance... ain't meant to 'counter' Shadow. They're just... opposite things happenin' to a 'mon's soul. Light; darkness – explosion; implosion – wildfire; avalanche. Radiance unchains your aura while Shadow locks it up tight."

The Wandering Light put one of her massive paws to her face and rested it there for a moment.

"...I wish I knew if I coulda cured the Shadows I met in my time, but I never did learn if it were doable. I was a warrior before, and that coloured how I carried my light. Like a lantern to banish the darkness. The touch of Shadow on me— I scoured it away. Didn't hold back. Couldn't."

She raised her glass almost to her lips.

"I don't know what'd happen if you mixed the two in one soul, neither. You got somethin' you wanna tell me 'bout that, fella?"

Down the hatch. Luz could hold her whiskey.
"Yeah." Nova tossed a couple more coins on the table and nodded at Gerome. "No point in hiding it. We can harness shadows already. I think we've had 'em... for a few weeks now.

"We can imbue attacks with them, but I wouldn't call us shadow 'mon per se. A little bit of a breather seems to make the shadows fade before they build up too quickly."

And the one moment where Wes got pumped full of shadows, but even then they were able to make his fade.

"So, gaining radiance would mean we'd be mixing the two into our souls. I think."
Luz's amber-clouded eyes widened, and her paw tightened around her glass enough that the Wayfarers could hear her claws scrape against it.

"No kiddin'?" she said, in a low voice.
Odette shifted her stance and crossed her arms over her chest. “I was just at the Abbey, actually. Met Akela. That’s how we knew to come find you,” she said. “We didn’t wield Radiance ourselves per se but,” she started nodding, “I felt it. Definitely felt it. A friend of ours got a little…dazzled, but he was able to chill himself out. But I’ve felt it in me, having already used Shadow more than once,” she explained.
Bellatrix rolled her shoulders back. "I have, yes," was her initial reply to Luz comment about who she would bestow the power to.

She glanced at Koa as Nova explained their relation to Shadows but her gaze didn't linger as she focused back to Luz. "It's true," she replied. "Although the source of Forlas' Shadow does seem to be fine with us using it and has given his word that we would not succumb to them if we are careful. He also takes issue with the ongoing Shadow problem out in Blaguarro."
Her words cut into his chest, leaving a strange ache he couldn't identify. His paws dug into the floor as his frustration surged, but he bit his tongue. He'd hoped Luz would have understood, wanted to help more, but that hadn't been why she'd come at all.

And the way she spoke of radiance... His throat tightened. What would he do with that power? Unease pricked at the back of his mind, along with desire.
"I'm not here to fight your battles for you[...]
He waited, considering, as Nova spoke and Luz told him of her radiance. Tried to understand. Radiance did make a difference against shadow though, didn't it? Maybe not one over the other, but there was something in how they interacted...

"I don't want you to fight our battles for us. I won't ask you to," he said, quiet but firm. His thoughts turned to his worlds Zeraora again. Did he see it like this too? Sick of fighting and helping and... Had coming here had been a bad idea? Luz didn't want to help, and they couldn't force her to. Maybe they should just face Cipher without Radiance.

Dipping his head to the others, he continued. "Nova's right, most of us have used shadows before in battle... to help. Isn't that the point? Radiance and shadow are about balance?" There was a note of confusion and genuine question in his tone. That had been how Odette described it from what he understood. How Powehi had. "Neither is superior or evil. But they can be effective tools, or dangerous ones; wielded carefully."
"Salt and fuckin' sand," swore Luz, quietly, shaking her head at Koa's description of the powers. "...Damnit, I need another drink."

Luz gestured to Gerome, and sighed, before turning back to the Wayfarers.

"You're just gonna come out an' say all that in a public house?" she asked, her voice dripping with irony. "You folks have a wild way of doin' things, you know. Consortin' with the well of grief himself, casually suggestin' you take up two powers, neither of which anybody oughta be usin' to begin with, and just see what fuckin' happens?"

Claws drummed on the table, a little faster than before.

"Listen. It's fucked up that some adolescent boy is askin' me about usin' Radiance and Shadow in battle, sayin' that's the point of 'em, like there's a point to a wildfire or an avalanche. I don't trust that you'll all keep cool heads if I give it t'you. But I can't get this notion outta my head that you're... unprecedented. Unpredictable. I mean, allying with Sierra? Oustin' the local mayor and neither takin' power nor gettin' driven out? Fixin' to cure Shadowed 'mon...?"

The ancient Zeraora turned away, her mind wandering somewhere in her own past. Dwelling on some long-ago grief, perhaps.

Regret could paralyse a person – even one who had been bold and driven in their prime. Regret could blind a person to possibilities just the same as fervour could blind them to risks...
Blinking, Odette gave the Zera a sweeping look, as if she were waiting for some sort of punchline.

“…we got pulled here on a precedence that this world needed help. No other information, no specifics, no nothing. Just ‘the world needs help.’ Probably an asinine-ass thing to respond to with no specifics, but what can I say, bleeding hearts abundant I guess. But we’re going in—“ she paused, seemingly catching herself on something, “—mostly clueless to the interworkings of this world save for what the kind citizens have told us, what we’ve learned from the thing that summoned here, and any other assface who showed up to throw a monkey wrench into what we’re attempting to do here. We had to find out through good, old-fashioned trial by fire to find out that these powers aren’t exactly safe to use, and we had to keep sticking our noses into the deeper darker areas of whatever’s going on here to find out what Shadow even was. I’m still learning what Radiance is; I’m a fucking human. Never heard of this stuff in my life before now.”

Breathe, she told herself. So she did. And she held her arms out in an exaggerated shrug. “And yet. We dethroned a crooked mayor just because it was the right thing to do. We found out about ‘mon being Shadowed by some otherworld team of fuckheads and want to stop it. We’re gonna stop it, one way or other. We came in here knowing nothing and have managed to figure it out. And we’ll keep figuring it out until whatever brought us here—and the world, by extension—says ‘you’ve done what you need to do.’ So yeah, call us unpredictable, unprecedented, sure. We haven’t had any choice but to be that. And so far, it seems to be working.”
Was she... considering? The 'adolescent' part he could let slide.

He gazed at Luz for long moment, wondering if she might change her mind. Maybe... maybe he should be fully honest too, not try to have false confidence. "I won't lie. You're right, maybe one of us will lose our head. It happened with shadows once but... the team was able to help. That's the only reason we've been able to do anything so far, because we look out for each other, pull each other back from the edge."
"It's a lot of winging it," Nova added. "Whatever brought us here, though, intends to send us back." He downed the melted ice from his glass. "If that's gonna happen, I want to return knowing I did everything I could. Even if it's a thankless task, I'll still try."
Bellatrix glanced at Gerome. "They're used to it at this point for 'unpredictable' is a bit of an understatement, I fear," replied Bellatrix. "Many things from the circumstances of our summoning to the events that surround us have been abnormal at their baseline. Overthrowing the mayor was the most 'normal' thing to have happened since our appearance."

There was a pause as Bellatrix eyed the Saint thoughtfully. "With all that in mind, it's only natural for us to be attracted to the unprecedented."
Luz nodded, still lost in thought, and tapped her claw against her whiskey tumbler.

"You're wildcards – inimitable, at that. You're a– a band, a posse, you're not any of you alone. And you're not here forever – least in theory, 'cause I know at least one angel who ain't fucked off home when his time came. And sure – maybe you've done alright for yourselves so far."

Luz took another whiskey from Gerome. She downed the whole thing like it was water.

"Shouldn't make a call like this while this deep in drink, but... fuck it. Guess I'm just sick of feelin' doomed. Let's try somethin' new."
Keeping her arms crossed, Odette found herself tentatively drawn in by the sudden alacrity, no matter how subtle it was. “I like the sound of ‘new’ right now.”
Koa's eyes widened slightly and a flicker of his excitement returned, along with hope. Caution and soberness tempered him however. This was serious not just some casual fight or chat. It couldn't have been easy after three hundred years...

He nodded in acknowledgement. "I have somewhere to return to. I won't be staying." After a moment of consideration, he continued. "Thank you, for taking a chance." It wasn't an empty platitude.
"Something new sounds good to me."

Nova placed his empty glass on the table behind him with a clink. To Gerome he said, "I'll have what she's having."
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