Chapter 7: An Aura Guardian’s Test
Five days had passed since Ash, Misty, and Riley were in Celestic Town, and they were on their way to Hearthome City for Ash’s next gym battle. The journey had been quiet, as they had not encountered Team Galactic since they attacked the Celestic Town Historical Research Center. But the three certainly did not mind a quiet journey. And it had given Ash time to focus on his Aura training with Riley. Morning had come to the campsite the group had made the previous day, and Ash and Riolu were ready to resume training.
“Okay Riley, so what are we doing today?” Ash asked with his usual eagerness.
“Actually, since we’re in the area I was planning to go visit a friend of mine.” Riley revealed. “He’s an expert on Sinnoh myths and I’m hoping he can help figure out what Team Galactic wants with the orbs. But he’s a little odd, so it’s better if Lucario and I meet with him on our own.”
“So does that mean no training today?” Ash asked sounding a little disappointment. Riolu also had a look of disappointment on its face.
“Actually, since both you and Riolu have gotten the hang of seeing things by their Aura, I was planning to have you two battle while blindfolded.” Riley answered. “But I think Misty would make a good substitute for myself.”
“How ‘bout it Misty, wanna help me and Riolu with our training today?” Ash asked.
“Sure Ash, I’d be glad to.” Misty answered.
“Great! We can battle on that hill up there.” Ash said and he pointed to the top of a hill only a short distance away.
“Alright then, Lucario and I should be back by noon.” Riley told them. “Let’s go Lucario.”
With that, Riley and Lucario walked off, while Ash and Misty headed for the hill in the opposite direction. It was not long before they had reached the summit, where they found a very ancient-looking pile of stones that looked to be arranged in the form of some sort of shrine.
“Okay, so what does this training of yours involve?” Misty asked.
“Riolu and I are supposed to battle you while blindfolded.” Ash answered as he tied the black blindfold over Riolu’s eyes.
“I’m starting to have my doubts about this.” Misty said with a skeptical expression as she crossed her arms.
“Don’t worry Misty, Riolu and I will still be able to see what you’re doing. Just in a different way.” Ash assured her as he tied on his own blindfold. “Just don’t hold back.”
“If you say so.” Misty said as she got out a Pokeball. “Go Politoed!”
Emerging from Misty’s thrown Pokeball was a large light-green frog-like creature with pink cheeks and a single curled hair on its head. Its stomach was yellow and had a green spiral pattern on it. Pikachu hopped off of Ash’s shoulder and took a spot next to his trainer. Meanwhile Ash focused his mind and he began to see everything in the shapes of blue light that he had become familiar with. But suddenly he noticed a very odd shape off to his right.
It was a sort of black mass that seemed to take the shape of the monument of stones. Riolu seemed to notice the shape too, and Ash could tell from the young Pokemon’s Aura that it seemed nervous about it.
“Hey Misty, does that pile of stones over there seem weird to you?” Ash asked.
“No, why?” Misty asked.
“Well… ah, forget it.” Ash said, brushing it off. “Let’s get started. You can take the first move.”
“Okay then, use Water Gun Politoed!” Misty commanded. Politoed sprayed a jet of water from its mouth at Riolu.
“Quick Riolu, dodge it!” Ash commanded. Riolu twisted to the right and moved out of the way of the attack seconds before it hit.
“What the…?” a surprised Misty exclaimed.
“Okay Riolu, use Force Palm!” Ash commanded.
Riolu charged forward and came up to Politoed from the right. Just as Politoed twisted around Riolu fired a blue-green blast from its paw at Politoed’s chest. The frog Pokemon quickly recovered from the attack however.
“Alright Politoed, fight back with Water Pulse!” Misty commanded.
“Dodge it!” Ash ordered Riolu.
Politeod fired a sphere of glowing water from its mouth at Riolu. Riolu jumped to the left and the attacked kept going until it hit the odd tower of stones. The tower was completely demolished by the attack. Suddenly the sky darkened and an oddly shaped brown stone in the rubble began to glow with a strange purple light and float in the air. Then from the top of the stone burst forth a swirling purple mass containing several green orbs of different sizes. These orbs circled around the creature’s monstrous face.
“What is that thing?” Misty asked as both Ash and Riolu took off their blindfolds to get a better look. “Is it a Pokemon?”
“Let’s see.” Ash said as he took out his Pokedex.
“Spiritomb, the Forbidden Pokemon.” The Pokedex identified in its mechanical voice. “Spiritomb are supposedly made from 108 malevolent spirits.”
“I guess that means that it’s not friendly then.” Misty assumed.
Misty’s assumption proved to be right when Spiritomb suddenly fired a beam of golden light from its mouth. Ash, Misty, and their Pokemon managed to jump out of the way before the beam hit. The attack left a small crater in the ground where it hit.
“Whoa, that was a Hyper Beam!” Ash realized. “Quick Pikachu, use Thunder Bolt!”
“Pik… a… CHUU!” Pikachu cried as he shot a bolt of yellow lightning at the ghostly entity.
The attack hit Spiritomb straight on, but when it ended the malevolent Pokemon seemed virtually unharmed. Spiritomb retaliated by firing a barrage of black energy rings at Pikachu. The electric rodent dodged the attack only seconds before it hit. Suddenly Spiritomb turned around and flew off.
“So now what?” Misty asked.
Before Ash could answer they suddenly heard a scream. Ash and Misty turned to see an old woman who looked to be about four feet tall. Her grey hair was tied back and she wore a pink shirt and red pants. In her right hand she carried a long wooden staff that was curled near the top.
“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?” the old woman screamed. “Do you know what you children have unleashed?”
“Um, a Spiritomb?” Ash answered nervously.
“You fool!” the old woman shouted as she jumped up and whacked Ash on the head with her staff. “That Spiritomb was sealed away for a reason. Hundreds of years ago it terrorized the town at the bottom of this hill. But an Aura Guardian with Pikachu came along and managed to seal the Spiritomb into that stone monument you two brats destroyed. Now that the seal is undone that Pokemon is going to go on a rampage and destroy the town like it tried to do before!”
“How do we stop it?” Misty asked.
“I have no idea.” The old woman said gravely. The then looked Ash over intently. “Hmm… you seem to have a Pikachu with you, and a Riolu as well. You seem to be our best chance. You must stop that Spiritomb!”
“It was the battle Misty and I were having that broke the tower.” Ash admitted. “Okay… I’ll stop Spiritomb!”
* * *
Meanwhile in a small forest not too far away from the town, Riley and Lucario came upon a small wooden cabin. A light was on in the single window in the front of the house and smoke was coming from the chimney, meaning that someone was home. Riley went up to the door of the cabin with Lucario and knocked. They waited a few moments for an answer but there was none. Riley knocked on the door a second time.
“I heard you the first time!” a grouchy voice called from inside.
In moments the door opened to the reveal an old man that was about five feet tall and had a boney physique. He was completely bald and had a few liver spots on the top of his head. He had bushy grey eyebrows and grey hair coming out of his ears, along with a slightly long hooked nose that supported a pair of spectacles. The old man wore a blue shirt under a green buttoned-up sweater and brown pants that were a little baggy. He supported himself with an old wooden cane and had a sour expression on his face.
“Oh, it’s you.” The old man said in a slightly annoyed tone.
“It’s nice to see you too Quinton.” Riley greeted somewhat sarcastically.
“I heard you started traveling with a couple of kids.” Quinton said rather grumpily as he peeked out through the doorway. “They aren’t here, are they?”
“No, they’re off training while I’m here.” Riley replied.
“Good, I hate children.” Quinton said as he turned and started back into the house. “Well, come on in.”
Riley and Lucario entered the house, shutting the door behind them. The house seemed to be filled to the brim with old books and stacks of papers that were scattered about.
“So, I take it you’re here because of those two orbs that were stolen by that Team whatever they call themselves.” Quinton said as he went over to a wooden desk that had only a small spot of surface area that wasn’t covered by books and papers. “You think that I might know something about them, am I correct?”
“You know me too well.” Riley confirmed.
“Well I thought you might be stopping by,” Quinton said as he picked up an open book on the deck and limped back over to Riley, “so I went ahead and looked for something that might help so you can get out of what’s left of my hair much quicker. Have a look.”
Riley took the open book from Quinton and looked at the contents. The first thing Riley noticed was an illustration of two stones that somewhat resembled the stolen orbs over drawings of Dialga and Palkia.
“I found an obscure mentioning of a pair of stones that were said to bring out the full power of Dialga and Palkia.” Quinton said as he went over to a green easy chair next to a small table with more books and papers cluttering it. On the top of the pile was a cup full of tea and a saucer. “Now it’s only a hunch, but I think those stones might be the stolen orbs.”
“But what would Team Galactic want with them?” Riley asked.
“Who knows?” Quinton shrugged after sitting down in the chair. “It could be that they know something about the orbs we don’t. But it seems very likely that it has something to do with Sinnoh’s mythical dragons.”
“Then maybe my own hunch is right.” Riley said gravely. “Perhaps they are seeking to control Dialga and Palkia.”
“That would certainly be a good trick.” Quinton chuckled darkly. “But if they could control those dragons, and if the myths are true, then those thieves could remake the world as we know it. Not a very pleasing prospect, is it? There are some things humans shouldn’t have control over, and the power of the gods is at the top of the list.”
“Especially if that power is controlled by mad men.” Riley agreed.
* * *
Meanwhile Ash, Misty, and the old woman reached the small village on the other side of the hill. Already Spiritomb had left a path of destruction, with houses with damaged roofs and broken windows. Some of the houses were still on fire, and everywhere people were running through streets panicking. It did not take long for Ash and Misty to find Spiritomb. The malevolent entity was firing blasts of black rings at more of the houses from the sky. Immediately Ash and Misty ran to the area where Spitiomb was rampaging.
“So now what?” Ash asked Misty.
“Let me and Politoed try something.” Misty replied. “After all, we were the ones who broke the tower in the first place.”
“Okay, give it a shot.” Ash said with a nod. “But be careful, that’s one strong Pokemon.”
“Don’t worry.” Misty assured him. “Okay Politoed, use Water Pulse on Spiritomb!”
Politoed fired a ball of glowing water at Spiritomb. But the ghostly Pokemon saw it coming and moved out of the way before it could hit. It them fired another Hyper Beam at the frog Pokemon. The beam hit and Politoed hit the ground out cold.
“Oh no!” Misty cried with a worried expression.
“Guess it’s up to us.” Ash said to Pikachu and Riolu. “Pikachu, use Thunder Bolt!”
“Pik… a… CHUU!” Pikachu cried as it fired another blast of yellow electricity.
The attack hit, but just as before Spiritomb seemed completely unharmed. If anything Spiritomb seemed more enraged.
“It didn’t work!” Ash cried in frustration. “Alright Pikachu, use Iron Tail!”
Pikachu nodded and jumped up high in the air. As he did, the electric rodent’s tail glowed with a white light before changing to look like a piece of metal. Once in range, Pikachu flipped around and swung his tail into the top of the purple mass that qualified as Spiritomb’s head. The attack seemed to cause some slight discomfort to Spiritomb, but it quickly recovered from the attack and fired another blast of black rings at Pikachu. The attack hit and Pikachu fell to the ground, hitting hard enough to leave an impression.
“Oh no, Pikachu!” Ash cried as he quickly went over an picked up the fallen rodent. “You okay buddy?”
“Pika.” Pikachu said weakly.
“Misty, please take care of Pikachu while deal with this.” Ash requested.
“No problem.” Misty said as she quickly took Pikachu from Ash.
“Okay Riolu, use Foresight on Spiritomb!” Ash commanded. Riolu nodded and looked up at Spiritomb. Its eyes flashed blue for a moment, and in an instant Spiritomb’s body flashed with a similar blue light. “Now use Force Palm!”
Riolu jumped up high in the air and fired a blasy of blue-green light from its paw. The attack caused Spiritomb to actually cry out in pain. But the malevolent entity quickly recovered and fired a Hyper Beam at Riolu. Riolu cried out and fell back to the ground unconscious.
“Oh no!” Ash cried as he went over to Riolu. The young jackal Pokemon woke up after a moment and slowly got to its feet, but seemed too injured to continue fighting.
Suddenly Spiritomb fired off another Hyper Beam that headed straight for Misty. Ash quickly saw what was happening and ran in front of Misty to try and shield her from the blast.
“STOOOOP!” Ash shouted as he raised his right arm forward as if on instinct.
Suddenly a wall of blue light appeared in front of Ash seconds before the beam hit. When the beam made contact there was an explosion and the barrier vanished. Misty opened her eyes, surprised that she had not been hit. Riolu and Piakchu were both looking at Ash at surprised. Meanwhile the old woman that Ash and Misty had met earlier had arrived just in time to see Ash stop the attack and was simply stunned. Spiritomb was greatly surprised as well, but none were more surprised than Ash.
“What… did I just do?” Ash asked, as he looked at his right hand in utter shock.
“Ash, we have to stop Spiritomb, quick!” Misty reminded him.
“Yeah, I know.” Ash said as he returned his attention to the problem at hand. “And there’s only one Pokemon I’ve got who can do that. Go… Ho-Oh!”
Emerging from the Pokeball Ash threw with a shriek was a massive red bird with a long yellow beak and a white underside. Around its neck was a green band and shimmering green feathers rimmed its wings. It had a tail made of long golden feathers and atop its head was a golden comb. Spiritomb was greatly startled by Ho-Oh’s sudden appearance.
“Okay Ho-Oh, use Sacred Fire!” Ash commanded.
Ho-Oh’s eyes glowed with a blue light, and its whole body suddenly became wrapped in dazzling rose-colored flames. With a flap of its massive wings Ho-Oh sent those flames at Spiritomb like a wave. When the fire finally cleared Spiritomb floated in the air looking burned and weakened.
“Pokeball, go!” Ash cried as he suddenly threw an empty Pokeball into the air.
The ball hit Spiritomb and sucked it in before falling to the ground. Everyone watched intently as the Pokeball jiggled on the ground, Ho-Oh included. After many tense moments the Pokeball finally stopped moving and made the noise that indicated that the capture was complete. Ho-Oh landed on the ground as Ash went over and picked up Spiritomb’s Pokeball.
“Well, I guess I caught a Spirtomb.” Ash observed.
“Are you really going to try and train that thing?” Misty asked looking a bit surprised.
“Why not? I mean it’s a Pokemon, right?” Ash pointed out.
“You! Why didn’t you tell me that you were an Aura Guardian?” the old woman asked Ash. “I saw you make that shield that stopped Spiritomb’s attack. Only an Aura Guardian can do that.”
“Looks like I missed quite a lot.” A familiar voice suddenly said.
Ash, Misty, and the old woman turned to see Riley and Lucario standing nearby. Riley’s arms were crossed and a smile was on his face.
“How long have you been there?” Ash asked Riley.
“Not long.” Riley answered. “But as Lucario and I were heading back to the campsite we sensed something wrong in this little town, and then when we got to the top of the hill we saw that Spiritomb causing trouble. We of course rushed to help out, but then we saw Ho-Oh appear in the sky. I guess you had things under control. And it seems that you tapped into more of your power.”
“When Spiritomb attacked Misty I wanted to protect her, and suddenly this wall of blue light showed up in front of me.” Ash told him.
“You used Aura to create a shield.” Riley explained. “I told you the second time we met that Aura Guardians not only can sense Aura but manipulate it as well. Your desire to protect Misty allowed you to form that barrier, and in time you’ll be able to control that power more. But this shows that you’re ready for the next level of your training.”
“Well now, never before did I expect to see two Aura Guardians in this day and age.” The old woman said to the group. “I would like to repay you for saving our town. And since it is about noon how about I cook you all lunch?”
“That sounds like an appealing offer.” Riley agreed.
“Yeah, I’m starved.” Misty chimed in. “How about you Ash?”
“Lunch sounds like a great idea to me.” Ash agreed.