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Frontier Town Traveller's Haus - Guest Rooms

At around that time, Isidora had just left her room and closed the door behind her. Her Sneak Scarf was no longer on her neck, instead wrapped tightly around her left arm. She had difficulty tying it up properly, or really at all, but it held. Kinda. Hopefully it'd hold until she could get something to eat.

She was so busy fiddling with the scarf that she didn't notice the chimera as he came down the hall. She looked up and stopped just in time to not bump into him, feathered ear upright with surprise. "Oh! S-sorry."

The sneasel stepped to the side to allow passage, then took the chance to inspect him. Gladion? No, this is the other guy from the square. Isidora was ready to just move on... but she was curious, and she had time to kill. "Actually, so uh, you're the other chimera, right?" Wait is that insensitive?
Nova stopped walking. He blinked once. Twice. That really wasn't what he needed to hear after his dismal battle performance.

Deep breath. Keep it together.

"Depends. Are you the non-poison sneasel?" He tried to keep a measure of tongue and cheek in his tone.
Non-poison? What? "Uh, I guess I am, yeah." Isidora picked at her scarf. "Guess it was an obvious question..."

He seems tired, maybe now's a bad time to pester him... Even just interacting with a chimera was intimidating. She'd only ever heard of them before, and now one was in front of her. There were so many things she wanted to know, but standing there, she realized she had no idea if this 'mon was human like Gladion, or why either of them were chimeras in Forlas to begin with, or even if any of her questions were answerable, if not offensive. Maybe I didn't think this through.

So instead she tried to save face. "I was just wondering, 'cause I uh..." She crossed her arms. "Went on a mission with that Gladion guy recently, and he's got me curious about some things. But I've had a hard time approaching him. Not that it's really all that important, though."
"Mission?" Nova tilted his head. "A chunk of us were at a dungeon with some of the rangers. Had to fight 'em as a test to see if some of us are 'worthy' to join 'em. Did you just take something off the magical bulletin board?"
A ranger test? Sounds quaint. She almost wished she could've been there for that battle instead of hearing damage. Her ears pulsed and folded at that thought.

Isidora shook her head. "No, nothin' from the board, it's actually a lot more important than that." She nonchalantly lifted a paw. "We're gonna have a group meeting about it soon, but I guess I can give you a head start." She brought her claw to her mouth and tried to think of how to explain it. "...Well, actually it's a long story, but long story short, there was this gallade from a group called the Vanguard, who wanted to warn us about a group of humans called the Covenant of Light..."

...Thinking about it, based on how this 'mon reacted, she could learn a few things about him without having to ask.

Her eyes narrowed. "Apparently, this Coven thinks humans are the only ones who can be trusted with this world, and they've been going around recruiting more humans to join their cause. And since our group has a bunch of humans in it, the gallade was trying to get to us first so he could test us and make sure we're not the type to go along with them. Thinks we can't be trusted."

She absentmindedly fiddled with her makeshift scarf-bandage. "Was a tough fight too..."

We also lost someone, but I have no idea how to talk about that...
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"Covenant of Light," Nova parroted, tiny gray eyes blinking slowly. "So, you found the human supremacists? Or, uh, pokémon opposing them?"

A tough fight. "Natives?" he wondered. "Or do they secretly have ties to humans, too?"
"Yeah, pretty much." Supremacist was a weird word, but she got the gist of it. "Didn't realize you already knew about 'em." Or that word had been spreading about the Coven before all this...

At his second question, Isidora's eyes turned thoughtful. "Well, they sounded like natives. Seemed concerned about their interests, at least. But..." She considered the next part carefully. It wasn't a robust hunch. "Maybe I'm jumping to some conclusions, but I did get the feeling there was more to it than that. At least from the gallade, specifically."
"I just knew there were human supremacists," Nova said. "And what you're describing sure sounds supremacy-like to me." He shrugged his shoulders. "But a gallade? Did he do something specific in the fight?"
But who else knows? Isidora figured it didn't matter for now. They'd sort it out at the meeting.

"It wasn't anything he did in the fight..." Or was it? Maybe from a more jaded perspective his relationship with Farin could be viewed a certain way, but it seemed like he respected her. "It's just kinda a hunch. Like, he seemed to know a lot about the Coven. To the point where he'd have to know more than he's lettin' on." She scratched underneath her ear. "But he was pretty straightforward otherwise, so it's more like he has some things he doesn't want to talk about."
"Maybe he was involved with them once." Nova shrugged again. "Or lost someone to their cause or something. Who knows."

He looked down at the floor. "Come to think of it, the other week there was this monferno out of towner who dropped by Nina's Place. Asking a lot of questions about the team." Nova's fur prickled. "Going on about how humans were just naturally stronger than native pokémon, like it's woven into the very fabric or Forlas or something to that effect. I left before he could prattle on much longer, but I think some of our teammates stuck around and heard him out more."
Involved with them... The possibility Valere was human did occur to her. I can't rule it out.

Fear and anger bristled Isidora's fur at the chimera's mention of 'natural human strength.' "Made up buncha shit," she grumbled, picking at her scarf more forcefully this time. "I haven't noticed anything like that..." It better be made up. I want it to be made up.

She looked up and glared, not at him, but at his words. There was a bad feeling. "You don't think that monferno was one of the Coven, do you? And they believed him?"
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"Didn't stick around long enough to find out," Nova said. "But he sure sounded like someone who holds humans-turned-pokémon a cut above everyone else." His claws twitched. "Which, well, look at me. Can't exactly say it's a sentiment I share."
Isidora's glare faded back into curiosity. "Wait, so you're a natural chimera?" Wait, bad wording. "Or, I mean, not human." She bashfully avoided his gaze. "I’m not human either, for the record."
Nova winced.

Right, she must've met Gladion first.

"I don't know what the voice was thinking sticking that kid into a body like this," he said, suppressing a cough. "Outside the mask, I've been like this since the day I was activated."
"Outside the mask...?"

It was a weird helmet, but Isidora had kinda figured it was just... a part of him. Chimera weirdness, or something like that. It's not like she was an expert on them. And now that she knew it wasn't just his head, it was starting to give her second-hand claustrophobia just looking at it.

A chill ran down her spine. 'Activated' was such an ominous word, too.

Isidora scratched her arm. "I'd been thinking it was ironic, in a messed up way, that a human'd get turned into a chimera like he did. In my world, humans are responsible for making them. Just... one of the screwed up things you hear they do sometimes. That's all that's got me curious."

And once again, that curiosity got to her. "So... if it's not part of you, what's the mask for then? Why do you wear it?” She winced at the way her own question came out. “S-Sorry if I keep askin' offensive shit, I just don't get why the voice would put it on you or Gladion."
"I don't have a choice."

Despite whatever Nidoran did back in the dungeon, talking about the mask practically made it tighten. Nova couldn't help bending over and clawing at it.

"There's a human in my world... a pokémon wielder. He used the power of the Red Chain to bind my soul. Make me a prisoner in my own scales." He shook himself out. "The mask symbolizes my sealed fate. An inability to do anything but watch as my body moves on its own, laying the foundations for Him to finish evolving beyond humanity."

Nova thought about what the voice said. "My 'species' exists here. And apparently they all have masks, so this body had one, too. Maybe it means something different to them, but to me it's like spending every waking moment looking straight into your worst nightmare." He righted himself slowly. "And I have to... try and function like this. Pretend like things are okay when they're not."
Isidora stepped back as he started scratching at his helmet, and her mind went blank as he spoke. What in Giratina's name kinda hell...?

Just then, she could feel her scarf-bandage begin to undo itself. She grabbed at it -- "Shit!" -- and tightened it back up. She kept her arm over it and tried to play it off. "That's uh... sounds rough."

She winced again. That's all you got to say?! What was she supposed to say? She was no good at these kinds of things. Pretending like things are okay... The wound on her arm stung. She had her own set of reasons for being afraid, but her problems just felt cheap at that moment.

"I... can't say I understand any of that shit, to be honest." Isidora kept her gaze low, unable to meet his eyes. "But um, sorry you've been abused by humans." Her claws unsheathed into her fur and she scowled at the floor. Her voice shook. "'S screwed up."
"I don't think humans are inherently bad," Nova mumbled. "But the worst ones always seem to find a way to make the most noise." He looked for a window but this part of the hallway didn't have one. "That must be the case here to some extent. And I'm--" He shifted his weight uneasily. "That Ranger test showed me I can't fight here. I was borderline useless. Nothing like how I could battle at home... back when I was able to think and act for myself."
Isidora took a deep breath and let the tension go. "Dunno what to think about humans sometimes, but I can definitely get that, at least," she said, bits of resignation and spite in her tone. She leaned her back against the wall and inspected her claws. "I was a good fighter too. Used to be no one wanted to mess with me, unless they wanted learn somethin' the hard way. But now I can't even keep half my old pace without hurting myself." She stared at her scarf and sighed. "It's like... I'm trying to make up for what I lost somehow, and I just can't."

She wished she had her magic. Whether the ability existed in Forlas was hard to say so far: there were a lot of conflicting variables that made the whole thing confusing. It made her wonder if it was a phenomenon exclusive to her world. Would she even be able to talk about it, and have someone understand?

Her gaze turned troubled as she tried to think of how to best put it. "I used to have a... special ability, that'd I use to win fights. Guess I depended on it too much. Don't know if it's anything like what you've been dealin' with, but that's where I am."
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"I can't strike." Nova lifted his foreleg and lazily wiggled his talons. "My attacks are actually useless. All I can do is stand around and take its, which doesn't do any good when enemies know you're worthless in battle.

"In a vacuum, it wouldn't be that big a deal. But that's what the wielder forces me to do back home. I never attack anyone. I don't hurt them. They just... lose their will to keep fighting when they attack me."
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