Chapter 33: The Wrath of Articuno
Fan fiction inspired by Pokemon, Pokemon Conquest
Rating: Young Adult
Tadaoki signaled a ceasefire to the rest of Lord Fujitaka’s army. Gracia had done the same for ours. Tadaoki led us slowly toward Viperia’s castle without another word.
I wanted to vomit as I looked around at the urban setting around us. Even if the city was coated in spring snow because of Articuno, it was also covered in red stains of human blood, and the smell of fresh corpses of humans and pokémon alike. Some of the warriors, too, had covered their mouths and noses with their hands, while others wrapped cloths around their faces like masks, to keep themselves from taking in too much of the foul odor.
Still, I was set at ease for a moment when I saw that Amy and her pokémon were okay. As part of the support squad, she had been running around the battlefield as a medic. I know that she’s a detective within the Pokemon League Trainers Association, but she also had a great deal of first aid training. For her, it was better than nothing.
I still didn’t understand. Tadaoki is Gracia’s husband, but I’ve never seen him until now. He is also Lord Fujitaka’s son, the man who had tricked Gracia’s father and killed him. There are so many mysteries surrounding this family affair, and yet Gracia and Gothorita appear to be very calm, as if nothing happened between them at all.
And those two wands. Even if their orbs were of different colors, their designs were exactly the same. What’s going on here?
“I’m sure you have a lot of questions for me, Lord Shuichi,” Tadaoki finally spoke up. “I can tell that you are still weary of my presence, as it should be when dealing with a ninja. You really are quite the warlord, for a foreigner. But I can assure you, I will not harm either of you.”
“How can I be so sure?” I said. “You can kill warriors in your own army and you continue to wear your father’s colors. How can this not be some kind of trap?”
Gracia tugged on my coat to get my attention. When I turned to her, all I could see was a calming look in her eyes and her index finger held to her lips.
“It’s true that a ninja is a master of deception,” said Tadaoki, continuing to have his back turned to us. “However, all of us are bound to undying loyalty to the things we value most, no matter what situation calls us to do.”
He turned to us with a less menacing frown, but still being absolutely serious.
“And even if it was a political marriage, I will always love my wife. Nothing will change that, so long as I have Black Snow.”
Black Snow. That must be the wand that Tadaoki carries with him to battle. He used other weapons in combat, so I’m unsure what his wand or Gracia’s can do in a fight, but that didn’t matter. These were special objects to them both. I’m sure those were the tools they have both chosen to channel their warrior abilities.
“Divine Snow” and “Black Snow.” Those were interesting names for the weapons they represent. They weren’t anything like “Ginkgo no Kusari” or “Sangen.”
“I’m happy to see that you still carry yours, Gracia,” said Tadaoki with a small smile.
Gracia’s face grew beet red.
“Of-of course I would! I always keep my promises!”
“I’m glad, really. And it looks like that Gothorita I left you has been doing well, too.”
“Yeah,” nodded Gracia. “And I trust Munna is doing the same for you?”
Tadaoki turned to face forward again and raised his thumb up in acknowledgment.
“She’s been a wonderful ally in my travels. I wouldn’t understand what that Spiritomb says without her.”
“Spiritomb?” I repeated. “You can’t mean–”
“That’s right, Lord Shuichi. You may not have known me, but I’ve been in close contact with Master Hanzo’s Spiritomb here in Viperia. My secret has been kept from Father for a long time, but lately he has grown more suspicious of me. Your timing couldn’t be more perfect.”
That all makes sense now. I couldn’t understand how Spiritomb could write those cryptic messages on those scrolls otherwise. It must have been Tadaoki who had been sending information to Hanzo.
“Well thank you, Tadaoki,” I said with deep gratitude.
“No,” he said with his back turned to us. “I should be thanking you. I wanted to see my wife one more time.”
He muttered something else so that none of us can hear him, but I was able to pick it up easily. Some of my students at the university in Saffron were soft-spoken too, so I learned to listen to them carefully.
“I am going to die today.”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We arrived at the throne room of Viperia’s castle. Thanks to some secret passages, we got there much more quickly than usual, even though no one inside tried to harm us. Gracia, Gothorita, Tadaoki, Munna, and I stood before two men and their pokémon.
The one on the left dressed in a vibrant Nixtorm-patterned kimono and matching hat was clearly the man we were seeking: Fujitaka. He was certainly an older gentleman than anyone else I had seen in Viperia so far, but his face showed very subtle signs of aging. He may have been in his late forties. He was accompanied by Lapras, a pokémon whose hard-shell back and four large fins made it the most ideal pokémon for sea travel.
But the man to his right worried me much more. He was significantly more slender, and he carried with him a single katana that had been sheathed. His armor was of a different color, so he could not have been from Nixtorm or Viperia; and he wore it proudly without feeling much fatigue from its weight. Accompanying him was an Alakazam, a psychic type pokémon that I am most familiar with, coming from the university in Saffron.
There was an aura about him: an invisible, yet very powerful aura that rivals that of any of my officers. Gracia and Gothorita trembled at this man’s presence. As we made eye contact, he gave a long, sinister grin as wide as his face.
“So, we finally meet, Lord Shuichi.”
Lord Takahiro. The warlord of the kingdom Illusio. The man who ended the ceasefire and incited his own campaign to rule Ransei. The man behind the assassination of all of the warlords involved in Ransei’s brief time of peace.
The one who strikes fear into all of us, without a second glance. I did not say a word.
“How unfortunate,” he continued. “I suspected a strong warrior features of a man who has had years of experience in battle, but I guess what Masahide said was true after all. You really are just a ball-lover, aren’t you?”
Skorupi, who had been on my arm this whole time, crawled up to the top of my head and screeched, raising her pincers angrily at Lord Takahiro. I had nothing more to say than she did, giving my enemy a clearly serious face.
“Settle down, settle down,” said Lord Takahiro. “I take good care of my pokémon. I love them as much as I love this country of ours. It’s all of those other warriors and pokémon who get in my way that I don’t like!”
“Why are you here?” I asked sternly.
“Don’t be so hasty,” he said. “I’m just here to finish a deal I had with the Lord of Viperia here.”
“What kind of deal?” asked Tadaoki.
“Just an agreement, my boy,” said Lord Fujitaka with a sinister grin.
“I decided that Lord Fujitaka here will be my most trusted retainer, as his rival Mitsuhide was for Nobunaga. In turn, he let me take all of Viperia’s citizens back to Illusio with me. That way, the innocent won’t have to be trampled on by your Resistance.”
“You displaced all of the people of Viperia and their pokémon?” I exclaimed. “And what were you planning to do with them?”
“Oh, that I haven’t decided on yet,” Takahiro grinned. “The warriors will likely be conscripted to the front lines of my army. Illusio has no need for their poison pokémon anyway. As for the rest of them, I suppose they would make good slaves.”
“It’s better than to have them die in the crossfire, don’t you agree? Your armies could kill each other off without having to murder the innocent. You should be grateful.”
“We’d never hurt the innocent!” cried Gracia. “Lord Shuichi would never allow his army to do such a thing!”
“Oh really now?” said Fujitaka slyly as he and his Lapras crept closer to us. “And what exactly makes one innocent anyway? You may not have killed anyone, dearest ‘daughter-in-law,’ but the blood of your demon father runs through your veins!”
“It’s not true! Daddy was always true to himself! He would never hurt others in such a way!”
“How can you be so sure?” Fujitaka chuckled. “Mitsuhide slaughtered many people and pokémon alike, warriors and townspeople, all for the glory of his master, Lord Nobunaga. I was there to witness it all. And when it came to that pokémon of his, no creature, human or pokémon, was discriminated by his wrath.”
“You lie!” cried Gracia.
“Am I? Why don’t I demonstrate then?”
Lord Fujitaka released a three-pronged spear sheathed from his back. The trident was made of a light-blue crystal, as if it was made from solid ice. Gracia’s eyes grew, as if she had recognized the weapon immediately. It was presumably Mitsuhide’s weapon.
Once Lord Takahiro and his Alakazam stepped back, Lord Fujitaka released a powerful energy from the trident that shook the very foundation of the castle. Gracia covered her head and Tadaoki held onto her tightly. Gothorita and Munna did the same for each other. With Skorupi still clenching her feet to my head, I released Roku for battle and held onto Ginkgo no Kusari.
When the shaking had stopped, the floor behind Lord Fujitaka flipped open, as if a trap door had been revealed. With Lapras covering his partner and Alakazam doing the same for his, a blizzard came out of from the hole. The snowstorm had been so powerful, the roof above us had been blown wide open, revealing the gloomy, cloudy sky above us.
I shielded my eyes as best I could from the snowy blast, but luckily Roku had also put up a protection barrier of his own for me. He has done well to coordinate that with me ever since I had taught him that technique, just before coming to Ransei.
And as the blizzard subsided, the majestic, yet terrifying, titanic bird of ice came out from below and swooped high into the sky.
“Behold!” shouted Lord Fujitaka proudly. “The legendary bird of the frozen cataclysm himself! A pokémon who knows few equals in this land! Freeze them all to death, Articuno!”
As the mad warlord laughed maniacally, I noticed Lord Takahiro and Alakazam were leaping away to make their own escape. Without hesitation, I dashed toward them and swung the chain in my right hand at them.
However, before I could make contact with a mid-range attack, my chain stopped short of its target, as if it had been blocked by an invisible wall.
Or worse, as if it had been frozen in time.
“I wouldn’t dare, Lord Shuichi,” grinned Takahiro. “Alakazam here is a psychic pokémon. With a sharp mind and unrivaled telekinetic powers, he won’t get you touch either of us with just a cheap physical attack. However…”
Ginkgo no Kusari’s fan blade fell to the ground in an instant as Lord Takahiro released his own katana. I recoiled the chain with a quick tug at it, but there wasn’t enough time for me to defend myself with it. Lord Takahiro was ready to take his first swing at me while I was unguarded.
But then, a powerful flame crossed his path and he was forced to dodge it. Lord Takahiro danced around to stamp our residual flames, as did his Alakazam. As they were distracted, I caught a glimpse of what was concealed under his sleeves.
My first thought was it was a typical bracer. But it was much more unique in shape than the rest of his armor, so I thought it might have been his warrior medium, much like Divine Snow and Black Snow were to Gracia and Tadaoki, and he only had one. But as I continued to stare at the bracer, I had recognized it from the information I had received regarding the Prof. Lawrence Sycamore case back at the Special Investigations Department.
“We came just in time,” said Okuni happily as she stood beside me. Her warm Volcarona had also joined her.
“Well it seems I’m outnumbered after all,” said Lord Takahiro calmly. “But that won’t matter. This entire kingdom will be laid to waste very soon. Until then, I will be taking my leave!”
With a sinister grin, Lord Takahiro waved his right arm, revealing the bracer more clearly than before. And without another blink, his Alakazam teleported both of them out of the castle.
There was no doubt about it. Lord Takahiro possessed a mega ring.
More warriors from our army and their pokémon had joined us. One of the ninjas approached Tadaoki specifically and whispered something in his ear. Tadaoki nodded and turned to the rest of us.
“Everyone in the castle has been evacuated,” he said. “We have to get out of here. The Resistance is going to level this structure to the ground!”
“But why?” I asked. “That wasn’t part of the plan!”
“Well it is now, Shuichi,” said a familiar woman who had grabbed my shoulder.
“Amy,” I said calmly.
“Lady Ina has already made the decision to destroy the castle, now that Articuno has destroyed its roof.”
“But wouldn’t it be better for us if we could hide within these walls?” I asked.
Amy grabbed my collar and held me to her face with only a few centimeters between us.
“With that roof gone and that legendary bird flying above us, we will all be killed whether the castle is standing or not. Don’t you get it?”
I nodded and gulped as I returned Roku. He was too slow to move out anyway.
“There’s no time to lose, everyone!” shouted Tadaoki as he guided all of us through a secret passageway that led out of the castle.
The last of the warriors who patrolled the evacuees out had gone through. Gracia, Tadaoki, Amy, and I were left.
“Once you get out of the castle, get ready to–”
Tadaoki’s eyes went completely white. Gracia, Gothorita, and Munna had been stunned as they looked back, tears welling up in all of their eyes. Amy and I also froze, as blood spattered from the three holes that bore into Tadaoki’s back and through his stomach. Three ice-like prongs, now covered in a dark red stain, recoiled and released themselves from the body it had been forced to wound.
As Tadaoki fell to the floor in his own blood, Lord Fujitaka grinned and laughed sadistically.
“You have betrayed me for the last time, my boy!” he said with delight.
“No, Tadaoki!” Gracia screamed as she knelt before his body.
Gracia wept and held onto his bloodied hand tightly. She was in more pain than I had ever seen her before. Then Tadaoki, with little strength left, raised his head slowly to her.
“Take it,” he said softly as he groaned.
Tadaoki coughed blood as he continued to say a few things to his wife.
“Take Black Snow with you. Do you remember what it means?”
Gracia sniveled and nodded. She gently grabbed the wand from his sash, cleaned it with her sleeve, and held it in her left hand. Tadaoki smiled once more.
“I’m happy to see your face. One… last… time.”
With that, Tadaoki’s body fell into Gracia’s lap and his hand dropped down lifelessly. Gracia wailed louder than ever in grief. Gothorita and Munna were also in tears. I turned away, trying to hold back tears of my own, feeling an intense pain that I just could not let go of.
Amy, too, could not hold back her tears. I can’t imagine how much pain she had felt just coming to this forsaken country, let alone for Gracia, the girl who was training under her watch. But then Amy shook her head vigorously and wiped away her tears.
“We need to get out of here, quickly!” she shouted.
Amy released Sneasel, Luxray, and Rhyperior. She ordered Sneasel and Luxray to grab Munna and Gothorita and run through the passageway as quickly as possible. She then grabbed hold of Gracia and placed her arm over her shoulder tightly.
“Shuichi, cover for us as we get out of here,” she commanded. “Rhyperior won’t let him escape.”
“You got it!”
Sneasel held onto Munna and Luxray carried Gothorita on his back as they dashed ahead of us. Amy carried Gracia and ran through as well. I turned back quickly to ensure that Lord Fujitaka wouldn’t attack us. When the coast was clear, I followed them into the passageway.
Lord Fujitaka charged at me, but his aging body had started to show frailty, as he ran slowly. This was convenient, if only because we were trying to escape.
As I got through safely, Rhyperior used her rock slide technique and forced the passageway to collapse behind us. Lord Fujitaka and his pokémon could no longer get through. Rhyperior then grabbed me, Skorupi clinging to my arm, and slung me on her back as she charged out of the castle as fast as she could.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As soon as I made it out, Ina greeted us all with a signal and shout, letting all of the Valora warriors and their steel pokémon know to level the castle. The small detail of pokémon threw heavy rocks at it while Okuni led her own detail of warriors and their dragon pokémon to burn the remaining parts of the structure to the ground.
With loud explosions and collapsing debris, Viperia’s castle had been razed. Hanzo’s team of ninjas and their ghost pokémon all provided a protect barrier to shield the rest of us from any collateral damage. We were lucky to have been at least two hundred meters away from the structure itself, thanks to that passageway. Otherwise, this operation would have been far too dangerous.
Amy and I sighed with relief. Gracia continued to weep as she held on closely to Divine Snow and Black Snow. I didn’t completely understand the meaning behind those two wands, but I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to ask that now.
“Don’t get too comfortable, everyone!” shouted Ina. “That goes for you too, my Lord.”
I nodded and refocused my gaze upon Articuno above us and the razed castle in front.
“The real battle has just begun!”