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Nicholas felt the cold water embracing him as he slowly sank to the depths. Why did they call for him? He was sacrificing himself for their sake.
Articuno wouldn’t harm them… Nicholas’ brow furrowed. Articuno? But he remembered leaving Articuno behind. And the voices were changing.
It probably wasn’t worth worrying about…
Nicholas’ eyes snapped open and he gasped, immediately gagging when water shot back into his lungs. Nessa pushed off of him as he twisted on his side, retching until he could draw a clean breath. The moment his breathing seemed to slow she had thrown herself back onto him. “Nicholas! I was so worried… I’m so sorry… I fell and then you-“ she choked when Nicholas raised a hand to stroke her cheek. “I thought you were dead.”
“I remember falling,” Nicholas croaked, the memories of Articuno’s island cave fading away. “What happened?”
“I lost you,” Nessa sobbed. “In the water. And by the time I realized…”
“Nessa.” Nicholas smiled up at her. “It’s okay. I forgive you.”
“Oh, Nicholas!” Nicholas grunted when she wrapped him in a tight embrace.
“Where are we?”
Nessa slowly pulled away from him. “We’re… here.” She looked at something behind him. “We made it.”
Nicholas struggled to turn around, Nessa helping him shift and managing to deposit him in her lap in the process. He didn’t mind though.
There, at the top of a short flight of stone steps, was the shrine. The door stood open, or maybe there was no door, and nobody stood outside. “Is there anybody here?”
Nessa shook her head. “I don’t know. Nobody has come out since I got you out of the water.”
Nicholas coughed to finish clearing his lungs and sat up. “Let’s head inside.” When his head spun and Nessa caught him he chuckled weakly. “…maybe in a few minutes.”
Once he had recovered he led the way up the steps. Stopping in the door he took in the interior of the shrine. There was a panel wall hiding most of the main room from view but he could see an entryway and a bit of the shrine itself.
Two lit braziers illuminated the center, windows high along the walls casting the rest of the light within. Beautiful murals stretched across each wall, each depicting dragons in motion. Fighting, swimming, flying, even taming scenes were present.
When he stepped through the door an old man appeared. “Welcome to the Dragon Shrine, tamer. Only dragons are allowed within.”
Nicholas stopped and looked back at Nessa. She had a worried look but nodded. “It’s okay,” she said, probably just as much to reassure herself as to reassure him. “It’ll be fine.”
“I need to do this,” Nicholas whispered, stepping back to embrace her. “All of this talk about me… the legendary tamer, a dragon tamer, the things I’ve done on this journey… I need answers. This elder can give me answers.”
“I know.” Nessa held him tightly. “I just don’t want to be separated from you. Not now.”
“I promise.” Nicholas squeezed her. “If they tell me to do anything else dangerous, I’ll walk away. No matter what.”
“But-“ Nessa whispered in shock.
“I promise you.” Nicholas pulled back to look her in the eye. “Nothing is worth hurting you.”
Nessa’s eyes filled with tears and she let go. Nicholas was turning back to the door when the man held up his hand. “In or out of pokeballs, tamer.” He smiled. “I will show them to a place they can wait for you.”
Nicholas hesitated for a while before releasing the rest of the harem. “Everyone, I’m not allowed to take you into the shrine with me.” He got Miyuki’s attention and lowered his voice. “Take care of Nessa.”
Miyuki’s ear twitched to show that she had heard him and the man nodded. “Esteemed pokegirls, please follow me.”
Lili made to follow when Nicholas called her name. She watched the others follow the man down a rocky path before turning to him. “Master?”
“Only dragons may enter,” Nicholas explained. “That means you get to see the shrine.”
Lili’s eyes widened. “I do?”
“Yes. You get to experience this with me.” Nicholas reached out and waited for her to take his hand. “Quite the way to start our journey together. Are you ready?”
Lili squeezed his hand. “I am, Master,” she whispered happily.
They walked into the building together. First the entryway, where the old man had first stopped him, and then through a secondary doorway that opened into the main room. Thick wooden pillars, at first hidden by the wall, now came into view, each carved to depict a dragon pokegirl. More people were also revealed - an elderly woman and man sitting at the far end of the building.
Nicholas cautiously walked forwards. A few other older men and women were kneeling to either side of the main path, seemingly deep in meditation, but the eyes of the pair waiting for him were wide open. As he got closer the woman bowed her head. “We welcome you to the Dragon Shrine, dragon tamer. You have done well to make it this far.”
Nicholas inclined his head in return. “Thank you.”
“What do you seek from the elder?”
Nicholas frowned at the question. The man still hadn’t spoken a word. “I seek answers.”
“Answers are worthless, without questions,” the woman replied. “What do you seek?”
“I am a dragon tamer,” Nicholas replied, “but I do not know why. I want to know. I am no Blackthorn nor any other dragon clan that I have been able to discover. Who am I? How am I able to… to bind my hearts to so many? Lili is my third dragon,” Nicholas explained, turning slightly to the Larvitar, “when I am told even a dragon tamer will only bond with one.”
Now the man raised his head. “What are pokegirls to you, dragon master?”
Nicholas blinked. “Master?”
“What are pokegirls to you?”
“Um…” Nicholas looked at Lili. At the complete devotion in her eyes. “They are my allies. My partners.”
“I see.” The elder nodded. “What type of battle makes your heart sing?”
“Any,” Nicholas replied. “I have learned that I am happiest in battle, no matter what kind it may be.”
“Hm.” The elder settled back. “You claim three dragons yet I only see one. Where are the others?”
“At home, in Kanto. I came to Johto to take the gym challenge and needed a fresh start.”
“Even though you would likely be partnered with weak pokegirls?”
“Weak?” Nicholas scoffed. “Untrained, perhaps. But none of the pokegirls I have met on this journey were weak.”
A slight frown crossed the man’s face. “What would you have done if you discovered one?”
“You don’t understand.” Nicholas straightened and stared right at the elder. “No pokegirl is weak. Only their tamers.”
Slowly the elder smiled. “That is the correct answer, dragon master.”
“You keep calling me master,” Nicholas protested. “I’m no master. Lance is a master.”
“You are. To have a heart that opens for multiple dragons makes you one, no matter if that is two or six,” the elder replied. “Every dragon is different. A dragon tamer may meet dozens before finding one who is compatible. How many have you met?”
“…just the three.”
“Then there is no question.” He leaned forwards again and pointed at Nicholas’ chest. “Your heart calls to every dragon. You are a dragon master.”
“But why?” Nicholas asked. “I’m not like you, elder. I wasn’t raised in a family of dragon masters.”
“Blood does not care who you were raised by,” the elder replied. “It cares who you were born from. Any dragon’s lineage, no matter how slight, will eventually manifest itself again.” He turned to show Nicholas the large object behind him. “Though you do not require a dragon’s blood to become a dragon tamer, only descendants of the original Draconid Clan have the potential to be dragon masters.”
Nicholas gazed at the shrine. The object resting on top of it, displayed reverently on a velvet pillow, was massive. Easily as long and as thick as his arm, if not more. With the color and shape it could only be one thing. “Is that a fang?”
“Yes.” The elder turned back to him. “A fang from the dragon that first gifted our ancestors their power. Rayquaza.”
Something tugged at his memory and Nicholas grimaced. “Draconid?”
“I met a Gyarados at the Lake of Rage, north of Mahogany Town,” Nicholas explained. “She called me a Draconid.”
The elder smiled. “Were her scales as red as blood?”
“Long have we believed she is blessed by Rayquaza herself,” the elder explained, “though Koryu keeps her secrets well. Out of respect, we do the same.”
Nicholas thought of Lance getting ready to attack the Gyarados and shuddered. “So much that even your own family don’t know who she is?”
“Only I do, and those here,” the elder replied. “She prefers it that way.”
“So she called me a Draconid…”
“Because to her, any dragon master is a Draconid,” the elder finished. “No matter what they call themselves. Her acceptance of you only further proves what you are.”
“So I’m descended from an ancient clan of pokegirl tamers, who were blessed by a legendary and became the very first dragon tamers,” Nicholas summarized.
“So it would seem,” the elder agreed.
“It’s so much to think about.”
“Will you stay with us here?” the elder asked. “It would be my pleasure to teach you your heritage. And perhaps more.”
Nicholas was hesitant but after looking at Lili’s enraptured expression he nodded. “I would be honored, elder.”
A smile spread across the elder’s face. “Excellent. I believe Jacob met you at the door; he will show you to where you may rest. And while your other pokegirls may not step foot in the shrine, you and your dragons are welcome at any time.”
Indistinct shouting rose above the howling tempest. One voice pleaded before being cut off by a thunderous explosion. Roars shook the very earth, the ground shifting as great waves continuously threatened to break over everything in sight.
Nicholas’ eyes snapped open. Slowly his breathing returned to normal as he took in the dark room around him.
The dreams had been getting worse. Nightmares. It had all started the first night he had been here, in the Dragon’s Den. The first dream hadn’t been much; some discomfort, the feeling of another presence, a greater one hanging over him. But as he had learned of the history of the Draconids from the elder they had evolved. Presences changed to shadowy forms, discomfort to raw emotion. Fear. Anger.
Taking care not to wake any of his harem he slid out of bed and padded to the door. Outside was the same low glow that persisted in the cave day or night. If not for the others at the shrine keeping track he wouldn’t even know as the days passed. So far, he had spent twelve of them in this cave.
He quietly moved to the main building and stepped inside. The shrine was dark, braziers snuffed, but enough light came through the windows for him to see the dragon fang.
Slowly he approached it. He’d been in the shrine many times, learning from the elder, participating in rituals, but always someone had been between him and the relic.
Not tonight. And as Nicholas walked closer he thought he could hear something whispering to him.
Nicholas whirled. The elder was standing in the door and he winced when the man followed him inside. “Good… evening, elder.”
“Can’t sleep?” The elder stepped past and the whispering vanished when he got between Nicholas and the fang.
“Nightmares?” The elder stopped and looked at him. “Perhaps of a great storm, shifting earth, and roaring pokegirls?”
Nicholas stared. He hadn’t told anyone about his dreams. “How did you know?”
“Do you know where your room sits, Nicholas?” The elder turned and pointed through the near wall. “The sleeping quarters are there. Your room sits closest to the shrine.” He turned back. “Usually, nobody occupies it. It’s too close to the fang.”
“So it is whispering to me.”
“To you, and to any with dragon’s blood,” the elder replied. “Tell me. How detailed have the nightmares gotten?”
“Not… very,” Nicholas replied. “There’s a lot of shouting. And the waves and earthquakes, like you said. But even though I know there are words I can’t make them out.”
The elder nodded. “Rayquaza’s power is awakening within you, drawn out by her fang. The nightmares are a memory of the moment she blessed our ancestors.” He turned to it and settled down. “Return to sleep. I will keep vigil so that it does not effect you again tonight.”
“Why do I have to have the nightmares at all?”
“You do not,” the elder replied without turning. “If you choose you may leave at any time.”
“It’s a test.”
“Perhaps the last,” the elder agreed, “and there is no shame in failing it. The power of a legendary is not meant for just any human. Even without it her ancient blessing affects your body, granting you a dragon’s will and stamina. With it, you would gain more. Strength. Vitality. But you would lose a part of your humanity.”
Nicholas let out his breath. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t tempted. But knowing that the fang was changing him… “I… I can’t. I’m not going to blindly devote myself to any legendary, even one like Rayquaza.”
“Your conviction is commendable,” the elder replied quietly. “Tomorrow, I will teach you the rest of what you should know.”
Nicholas nodded, leaving the shrine behind and returning to his bedroom. It took a while for sleep to find him but when it did it was dreamless. And he woke the next morning feeling completely rested.
Nicholas barely listened as the elder summarized the weeks of history he had been taught. A dragon’s will and stamina. Well he already understood his dragon’s will; that was what he channeled when he had challenged all of the dragon pokegirls. The stamina, though, he was confused by. He didn’t think he ran much better than any other human. Unless…
Nicholas reddened. Maybe the elder had meant sexual stamina. It would make sense. He regularly had full harem orgies and was no worse for it. In fact he was usually the last one standing.
If that was all he got in life, he’d be fine with it.
Nicholas got to his feet when the elder finished. “Thank you, elder.” He bowed. “One day, I may return.”
The elder bowed back. “We await you with open arms.”
Miyuki waved when he exited the shrine. “Hey, Nicholas! I hear we’re leaving today?”
“Yeah. We’ve got things to do.” Nicholas looked around at the smiling harem. While he’d spent most of each day with the elder or training with Lili, there had also been the opportunity to spend lots and lots of time with the others. Two quiet weeks. No gym battles, no enemies, nothing. Two weeks to rest and recharge. “First things first. Once we get out of here I’m getting my pokedex repaired.” He grinned when the harem chuckled. “I haven’t been able to play video games in weeks!”
“Maybe Mister Bill can help,” Miyuki offered. “He’s good with computers.”
A smile tugged at Nicholas’ mouth. “Miss him, Miyuki? Or,” he reached out and pulled her into a teasing grab, “do you want to show him how majestic you’ve become?”
Miyuki giggled and twisted away from his tickling. “Stoppit!”
“I’d love to see Bill again.” Nicholas let off and looked at the others. “How about it? Oh! Lili, Goldenrod is a large city. I bet we can find all the gear you were hoping for there.”
Lili nodded. “Then it sounds like a good destination, Master.”
“Good. We have a plan.” Nicholas looked around but just like when they had arrived the area outside the shrine was abandoned. “Hm. We can’t just swim back…”
“The man watching us showed me a path,” Miyuki offered. “He said it would take us above the whirlpools at least.”
“Well why didn’t you say so?” Nicholas winked at her. “Lead the way.”
Nessa worked her way closer to them as they followed Miyuki along the narrow stone path. “Did something happen?”
Nicholas looked at her. “Hm?”
“You just suddenly said we were leaving this morning,” Nessa replied. “Did something happen?”
“Sort of.” Nicholas shrugged. “But mostly I decided it was time to leave. After all,” he smiled at her, “we have promises to keep.”
Nessa smiled back and was about to allow Hana to cozy back up against him when Lili caught her eye. “Hey, what kind of training were you doing with Lili?”
Nicholas’ brow furrowed. “A lot of things, actually. I think the elder was testing our bond as well as training her skills.”
“She doesn’t look so good.” Nessa nodded at the Larvitar. “Kind of pale.”
Nicholas turned and surveyed her. “Maybe, but she doesn’t look sick or anything.” Hana grumbled unhappily when he moved away from her and towards Lili. “Hey, Lili, how are you feeling?”
Lili absentmindedly scratched her arm. “Fine, Master.”
“Nessa was just saying you looked a bit pale.”
Lili shrugged and now that Nicholas was closer he could see what looked to be heavy callouses all over her body, likely what Nessa had mistaken for pale skin. “Maybe a bit hungry.”
“Were those there yesterday?” Nicholas stopped her and peered closely at the grey splotches. They were everywhere, her arms, legs, stomach, even her neck and chest had a few. “You’re sure you feel all right?”
“Yeah.” Lili blinked at him. “Why?”
Nicholas’ frown deepened. Come to think of it she sounded… mellow. None of the spunk he had come to expect from the Larvitar. “Lili, you’re covered in callouses. Have you been training too hard?” He looked her over. For some reason she only had the minimum wrap to stay decent, no gloves, no shoes. “Where is your gear?”
Lili shook her head. “I’m fine, Master. I took my gear off so I could scratch.” When Nicholas raised an eyebrow she sighed. “They were irritating my hands. That’s all, really. Nothing hurts. Just itches.” She pulled her hand away from the spot she had been rubbing and waved her arm to showcase her point. “See?”
But Nicholas saw something and he grabbed her arm to hold it steady. There, where she had been scratching, her tan skin was peeling away from an almost gray layer, the same color as the rest of the spots. As his grip shifted Lili whined and tried to rub her arm against his. “Master that itches.”
“Lili, calm down.” Nicholas shouted when she yanked her arm from his grasp. “Hey!”
“I’m hungry and I’m itchy and you’re making it worse!” Lili clawed at her skin, huge patches peeling off as Nicholas tried desperately to stop her. “Why won’t it go AWAY!”
With a scream she bent over, claws still digging into her body as the gray patches began to glow. More and more of her skin flaked off as she evolved, the last of her gauze wrappings snapping from the sudden pressure her changing body placed on them. Cracking noises could be heard as her skin hardened, even on her head, and within minutes she had been covered in a hard gray shell.
Lili fell to her knees with a moan, her frantic movements slowing and finally stopping so she simply kneeled on the floor, panting from the exertion. Nicholas cautiously knelt with her. “Lili?”
Lili looked up. It was like Ryuko in her old armor - her head had been completely covered by a jagged, spiky gray helmet, with the only indication he had of the pokegirl underneath being her eyes looking back at him from two narrow eye sockets. “Master?”
“You okay now?” he asked, teasing to keep the mood light.
Lili slowly extended her arms. The gray carapace, or shell, or whatever it was shifted with her. It was very hard to see but there were still joints in the material, allowing her full movement even though it appeared to be a seamless covering. “What… happened to me, Master?”
“If I had my pokedex fixed I’d be able to tell you,” Nicholas replied. “But I assume you’ve evolved.”
Lili pushed herself upright. Even her hands and feet had been covered, forming wicked gauntlets and greaves that thudded against the stone when she moved. “It’s heavy.” She reached for his hand as she usually would and it was as if someone had dropped a large rock into his palm. “I see you, but everything is muffled.”
Nicholas took a closer look at her face. A piece of the helmet about where her nose should be was raised, forming a triangle between her nose and cheeks, and when he bent down he could see her lips underneath it. So that was how he could still hear her normally and she could breathe. But nothing for her ears, no matter where he looked. “It’s this helmet thing. It’s blocking your ears.”
Lili pushed at her face. “It doesn’t move.”
Nicholas was struck by a thought and he looked down. The carapace extended everywhere. Even over her ass and groin. “Erm, Lili… how am I going to tame you? I think this carapace is just… part of you now.” He shivered. “How will you go to the bathroom.”
Lili swallowed. “Well I don’t need to right now, Master.”
“This is a mystery that needs an answer,” Nicholas replied, crouching down and running his finger where her pussy should be. The material covering her groin definitely felt a bit different than everywhere else. More pliable, and he thought he felt a seam. As he played with it Lili grew more and more flushed. Even though it wasn’t her skin she could feel his fingers running across the carapace. She felt when he pressed against her crotch.
Her body trembled as Nicholas, oblivious to what he was doing, continued to stimulate her. And after a few minutes she felt something release.
Nicholas flinched back when Lili’s taint clenched. The carapace flexed, pulling back to display her vagina and anus. “Well there we-“ he stopped. Liquid seeped from Lili’s pussy and he slowly looked up to see her eyes trained on him, blood-red orbs drilling into his.
The impact when she fell on him nearly knocked him out and he struggled to breathe with her entire weight on his chest. “Lili!” He barely managed to push her to the side, clawing his way free to let her thump to the ground. “Be more careful.”
Lili rolled onto her back. Nicholas could hear her gasping even though the carapace on her chest never flexed. “Master.” For now, energized by her arousal, she was herself again. “Please, Master! Weyrleader, I need you!”
Sera had been nearby for the whole exchange and now she nudged him. “Hey. Master Nicholas.” She nodded down at Lili’s pussy, still flooded by her juices. “I think that’s your fault.” She grinned when Nicholas glared at her. “Calling it like I see it.”
“Well.” Nicholas removed his pants. With the tough carapace he wasn’t going to be able to enjoy much foreplay but that probably would have been torture, making Lili wait. “I suppose I should take responsibility.”
“What’s going on back here?” Miyuki poked her head around a corner to see the rest of the harem clustered together. “Why’d everyone stop?”
Sera grinned and beckoned her over. Miyuki could hear muffled noises as she approached and she blinked in surprise when the pair came into view.
“More!” Nicholas grunted when he came again, trying in vain to pull out for the umpteenth time. “More, Master, more!” Lili giggled, feeling him pound her over and over. Her thick legs were wrapped around him, removing any hope of escape, and she hissed happily when another slow orgasm shook her body. “More.”
“So, she evolved, then he was messing with her groin, and it took a while but when she opened up…” Sera laughed. “Once she did, oh boy. It’s been how long now?”
“Fifteen minutes,” Nessa supplied.
“Fifteen minutes.” Sera looked over. “She doesn’t seem like she’s slowing down either.”
Miyuki sighed and joined the group. “I guess we’re taking a break.”
“I’d love to join them but that armor of hers…” Nessa shook her head with a smile. “Heavy. Nicholas can’t move.”
“You could always join me,” Sera leered.
“No.” Nessa and Sera froze at the curt snap. “This isn’t an opportunity for you to slack off. As soon as Lili and Nicholas are done we’re moving again.” Miyuki pointed towards the lake. “Nessa, patrol the shoreline. Make sure nothing sneaks up on us. Sera, watch the sky. HANA! Join me.” She watched the harem scramble. “Ryuko. Watch the Master.”
Ryuko’s eyes flicked. Unseen to all her mouth was twisted in a gleeful smile. “Yes, Alpha.”
Miyuki settled back, keeping her eyes open for any sign of an attack. It had not just been Lili who had been tested for the last two weeks.
She, too, had been tested. As his high priestess. His Alpha. But now she realized she held another title.
Cold mist swirled around Miyuki, forcing Hana to shift slightly to stay warm. She had been scared before. Hesitant, and uncertain. Then she had evolved and found confidence, but had still taken time to accept what she was.
Their vacation was over. Miyuki smiled. She was his Queen. And she would act as such.
Tamer: Nicholas Topolski
Miyuki, Glaceon (Alpha) – Level 37
Nessa, Feraligatr – Level 36
Ryuko, Scizor – Level 37
Hana, Ampharos – Level 35
Sera, Crobat – Level 36
Lili, Pupitar – Level 37
Nicholas took another step and glanced warily at Lili. It was impossible to know the emotions behind her stony visage but he hoped she was mellow again. After holding him hostage for almost an hour she had finally relaxed, allowing him to escape with a sore dick and crushed hips. Almost as if nothing had happened she had gone right back to normal, plodding along beside him and only occasionally offering a word - usually to agree with him.
It was just a theory he had come up with, but he guessed that she had gained the Rock-type. Either that or an existing Rock typing had become more pronounced with her evolution. She seemed more methodical, as if her internal clock had slowed down, and that meant something that had taken a few minutes before now took ten times as long. Like sex.
To her, it probably had been a completely normal session. To him, it had nearly broken him. Nicholas skipped slightly to ease the pressure on his groin. He’d need to keep that in mind for the future.
It was a bit of a shame, really. He had been enjoying the spunky tomboy Lili was. Although… she had definitely been herself when taming. Under that shell was the same fierce dragon that he had gotten to know over the last two weeks, so maybe she’d evolve again. And break out.
Nicholas grinned and looked at Lili again. He knew the best way to train pokegirls. “Lili! Feel like testing your new body in a gym battle?”
Lili shifted her gait slightly. “Yes, Master.”
“That got you excited, didn’t it?” Nicholas winked at her. “I’m starting to see your little shifts and bumps.” He laughed when her toe dragged across the ground for a moment. “You just blushed!” His grin widened when Lili nodded. “I knew you were still in there, little pebble.”
Lili nodded again and he turned towards the other two that were walking with them. After fighting their way free of the Dragon’s Den Nessa, Sera, and Hana had been exhausted. “What do you think, Miyuki? Ryuko?”
The two nodded simultaneously. “An excellent idea, Master,” Ryuko said. “Will we be healing first? My bruises are beginning to sting.”
“I’m fine.” Miyuki smiled at Ryuko to show that she wasn’t posturing. “If you want to go immediately, I’m sure Lili and I can at least give it a good shot.”
“I wonder…” Nicholas mused. “I wonder if Clair is a dragon master, or just a dragon tamer.”
Miyuki frowned. “What’s the difference?”
“According to the elder the difference is that a dragon tamer will only ever have one dragon pokegirl,” Nicholas replied. “A master can have as many as they bond with.” He smiled slightly. “Like me.”
“So, if Clair is a master, she might have many strong dragon pokegirls,” Miyuki summarized. “If she is the gym leader then she probably will be.”
“Maybe. Maybe not.” Nicholas stroked his chin. “Nobody ever mentioned Clair having anyone other than her Kingdra, Nori. That might be because she doesn’t have anyone else.”
“Well.” Miyuki grinned. “I guess we’ll find out.”
Nicholas chuckled with her. “We will. Let’s go!”
An hour later they stepped out of the cave and Nicholas had to blink to adjust his eyes from the soft glow to the harsh sun. Ahead was the back of the gym and as they circled around Nicholas could see Clair standing out front, just as before. Only this time Nori wasn’t with her. And there was no crowd.
Clair turned at his call. “You finally returned.” Nicholas came to a stop when he saw the uncertainty on her face. “I expected you to be crawling back a week ago.”
“I’m… sorry to disappoint you?”
“Who are you?” Clair whispered. “Are you truly a Champion?” When Nicholas nodded she let out a shaky breath. “Just like cousin Lance.”
“Yes. And we’re really friends.”
Clair rubbed her face. “But you’re not a Blackthorn. Yet you stayed at the shrine. Grandfather taught you.” She lowered her hand. “Fight me, Champion. I don’t care that you didn’t want my badge, fight me!”
Nicholas settled back. He had stopped with enough room between him and Clair to approximate an arena so he spoke carefully. “I intended to. But shouldn’t we do this in your gym?”
Clair laughed softly. “This is my gym. All of it.” She raised a black and yellow pokeball. “One on one. Dragon against dragon.”
“Why? Because you only have the one?” Nicholas nodded when Clair faltered. “I thought so.”
“I am a BLACKTHORN!” Clair roared. “Nori is all I need!”
“This is why you are still not a master, child.”
Nicholas whirled at the voice. “Elder!?”
The old man was walking easily out of the cave behind him and Clair paled when she saw him. “G-Grandfather?”
“You are no master, Clair Blackthorn,” the elder growled. “There is still something you lack. Something this tamer, and your cousin, both share. A dragon’s heart.” He pressed his fist to his own chest. “A human’s heart is nothing to be ashamed of. But a human who pretends their heart is something more will never grow.” He nodded at Nicholas. “Do you accept, Nicholas? Dragon against dragon?”
“…no,” Nicholas replied slowly, “because my dragons do not fight alone.”
The elder smiled. “Well said.”
“Grandfather!” Clair stomped her foot. “I’m the gym leader! I set the rules!”
“You are only holding that title until you can prove you deserve it,” the elder retorted. “I am your elder. I set the rules.” He nodded to Nicholas as Clair spluttered. “I see your Larvitar has evolved. She will not lose, but she may not be able to win, either.” He smiled. “I am sure you have a plan.”
Nicholas smiled back. “I do.”
“Then show us your power, dragon master.” The elder settled down and relaxed. “Teach my granddaughter what she lacks.”
Nicholas was chuckling when he turned to Lili. “I never thought someone would ever ask me to beat up their granddaughter. Lili. It’s time for battle.”
Lili’s body tensed and she stepped forwards. Clair watched the heavily armored pokegirl take her position with a frown. “Is that your dragon?”
“She’s a bit different than the last time you saw her.”
“What I see is an easy target,” Clair taunted. In a flash of red Nori materialized. “Nori! Wash that girl away!”
Nori settled back with her translucent wings slowly waving behind her. She was suited more for underwater battling but Nicholas knew she’d still be a threat here on land. “Lili, can you move as fast as before?”
“You’ve gained a lot of defenses.” Nicholas thought about the best way to approach the battle. “Try trading blows.”
Lili nodded slightly. Across from her Nori was waiting for a command, and when Clair finally gave it she attacked.
Lili was driven to one knee when Nori struck, her leg wrapped in a weave of blue as it smashed into Lili’s shoulder. With a pained roar Lili retaliated, punching out like she had been as a Larvitar, but too slowly. Nori easily avoided her strike and dodged back in to land another hit, this one to Lili’s chest.
Lili felt it even through her carapace. The shockwave spread through her and she clamped her mouth shut to avoid retching. She was too slow to hit back. Too heavy.
She snarled, energy beginning to stream from the hidden joints on her carapace. If she couldn’t move to hit Nori then she would move the world instead!
Nicholas felt the earth drop out from underneath him and he stumbled, barely catching himself before he could fall. With a deafening roar, amplified by the carapace around her mouth, Lili slammed a glowing foot into the ground.
First came the earthquake. Nori crashed to the ground, her wings trying to keep her upright, but they were not made for flight. They were excellent at propelling her through water, not air. Behind her Clair also stumbled but like Nicholas managed to remain standing. “Nori!” Clair grimaced when she saw Lili raising her other foot. “HYDRO PUMP!”
Nicholas braced himself. His time training with the elder had given him one new ability - he had begun to sense auras, and the angry cloud that had been expanding from Lili was certainly a strong one. But it paled to the crushing power that was now seeping from Nori.
Lili’s follow up attack was interrupted by a deafening noise. A true dragon’s roar. Nicholas had only heard similar sounds from a few pokegirls - Kary, Sharra, and Oak’s Charizard were the ones that came to mind. From her position on the ground Nori had twisted, contorting into a violent pose. Her feet planted, knees bent back, wings extended, hands digging into the grass. But most importantly her tail had aligned with her spine and her head was pointed squarely at Lili. Her target was locked.
Lili started her motions again as the noise faded and Nori snorted. Her aura flared, immense power feeding into it until Nicholas noticed a small orb growing in front of her mouth. Then it wasn’t so small. With a scream the Hydro Pump tore through the air, what could only be described as an ocean of water bearing down on Lili.
“Lili get DOWN!”
Lili dropped, but she wasn’t trying to dodge. Her hand slammed into the ground and cracking could be heard as an indentation raced down the path of the Hydro Pump. With an explosion of dirt and stone jagged spikes erupted through the attack, some deflecting the water, others instantly shorn in half by the torrent. But they didn’t stop there. Nori choked when two of the spikes thrust into her body and her head twisted, sending the Hydro Pump sailing harmlessly into the cave wall.
Now Lili collapsed. Nori was forcing herself free of the spikes as Nicholas ran forwards to inspect her. She hadn’t been hit, had she?
Closer inspection showed that she had. Part of the Hydro Pump had sliced past her face and now blood oozed from a deep gash in her carapace. It hadn’t been much. But from an attack that strong, even a scratch had proven enough.
Nicholas recalled her and looked across the ruined field. Nori was recovering, and Lili was down. He knew exactly how this battle needed to end. “Miyuki.” He turned to the Glaceon. “Finish her off.” He winced when memories of Kary, frozen solid by Articuno’s ice, flashed past his eyes. He didn’t like giving this order, but it was a battle. If he didn’t fight Clair at their best there was no reason to fight at all. “You are a dragon killer now.” He looked her in the eye. “The power of ice is a dragon’s worst nightmare. Be hers.”
Miyuki didn’t nod. She didn’t blink, or speak, or do anything to answer him. She simply walked forwards as the grass under her feet stiffened and froze.
The quiet crunching got Clair’s attention and she turned to see the Glaceon approaching where Nori was still recovering. “NORI!”
Nori winced, looking up at her next opponent. “Mistress.”
“You have to stop her!” For the first time since he had met her Nicholas saw fear cross Clair’s face. “You… you have to!”
Nori hissed. She tried to raise an arm before wincing and lowering it again. Next she tried to settle into a firing stance before her back leg gave out and she fell to one knee. Just as the elder had predicted, Lili hadn’t won. But she hadn’t lost. Nori was crippled.
As Miyuki approached she gestured, spears of ice forming from the mist around her and orienting themselves to point at Nori. Nori’s chest was heaving when Miyuki stopped about ten feet away. “Get up.”
Nori spat at the emotionless Glaceon. “That dragon couldn’t do the job properly so she sent you. I bet she’s your bitch.”
Miyuki’s eyes flickered and the air grew colder. “Get up. You are not worthy to kneel before me.”
Nori chuckled quietly. “Go to hell, snowflake.” Suddenly her head snapped up and a beam of water cut through the air between the two pokegirls.
A burst of mist blew from the pair and all three humans covered their eyes. When Nicholas lowered his arm Miyuki was walking back towards him.
“My sister did well,” Miyuki reported quietly. “The battle is over.”
As the mist cleared away Nicholas could see what had happened. A bright core of ice speared down the middle of what had once been Nori’s water attack, frozen spikes showcasing the force that had broken it apart. At the other end was Nori. Ice covered her completely, almost perfectly, turning the Kingdra into a living statue.
Clair stood in stunned silence, staring at what had become of her pokegirl, before letting out a horrible wail. The recall beam picked up Nori as Clair whirled, racing towards the city with loud, hiccupping sobs.
Nicholas sighed and was surveying the damage when he heard the elder get to his feet. “A beautiful showcase.” He walked up and bowed slightly to Miyuki. “You are powerful, my dear. May I be so bold as to inquire your heritage?”
“Once destined high priestess of the Ecruteak convent,” Miyuki replied. She lifted her chin. “Now I serve as my Master’s high priestess and Alpha.” She smiled. “His Queen.”
Nicholas chuckled. “Haven’t heard you call yourself that before. But I can’t argue with it.” He stroked her cheek and turned back to the elder. “Will Clair and Nori be okay?”
“They will be fine. I will make sure of it,” the elder replied. “Go, do what you need. You leave for Goldenrod, yes?”
Nicholas shook his head. “Spying on me?”
“Who do you think warned Clair that you were coming?” The elder smiled. “I will attempt to catch you on the southern road. If I do not, I await your return.” He bowed again and headed off towards where Clair had fled.
“Pokecenter, then,” Nicholas said. He felt Miyuki nuzzle up against him and chuckled. “I bet they’ll have a spare room.”
Miyuki growled happily as he pulled her down the hill and towards the red roofed building in the distance.
Tamer: Nicholas Topolski
Miyuki, Glaceon (Alpha) – Level 38
Nessa, Feraligatr – Level 36
Ryuko, Scizor – Level 37
Hana, Ampharos – Level 35
Sera, Crobat – Level 36
Lili, Pupitar – Level 37