Chapter 21: The World Eater
The World Forge – Mountain Adjacent to Hrothofkiin, Several Weeks Earlier
"Show me what you already know. Let me taste of your Voice, 'hero'." His Rayquaza's semi-mocking tone echoed throughout the volcano. For some reason, he could not sense the Legendary Dragon, and it made battling him much more difficult. Even Shruikan could not follow his stealthy movements through the smoke-filled air.
The inside of the volcano was largely obscured, and had Alex not spent so much time around smoke, both from the Leaf and a certain super powerful dragon, he likely would've coughed himself raw, but it didn't seem to bother him. Whatever the Graybeards had done had changed him, it seemed. He was eager to test his new limits.
Suddenly, Alex's vision shifted, and he recognized sight through Leo's eyes, which cut through the obscuring smoke, and were all but immune to trickery. Alex gave the mental equivalent of a glance to his Luxray, who preferred to keep his eyes closed and napping.
"Teach me this 'dragon-tongue' of yours and Shruikan's. In return for my Sight Beyond Sight." Alex rolled his eyes. He was really nicknaming his ability. He wasn't the only team member to do so. Blaze echoed that he wanted to speak it as well. The fact that he couldn't speak the language of what his own species supposedly was, was irritating.
Arthur wanted in as well, and soon the entirety of their team had made their wish to understand this strange tongue for themselves known. They had second-hand knowledge of what was going on in this region from Alex's interpretation of what he saw and shared, but it wasn't enough.
Eventually, Shruikan caved to their wishes, and shared with all of them, the trick many dragon types used to make themselves seem Legendary. Not the Hyper Voice, but the tongue it used to shape reality. Tao informed Alex that he would be drawing on his knowledge of this tongue as well. It was a strangely familiar toy, but it was also new and unexplored. He could only imagine how the white scaled behemoth was using this new power.
Alex glanced at his disguised staff, wondering if what he sensed about Tao, and this language, was true, but he put that thought on hold for now. Tao could wait, his patience was literally infinite. It was good that he focused, for as his eyes had moved, distracted by his internal shenanigans, Rayquaza had decided to strike his distracted pupil, and his Dragon Tail, limned with pure green energy, came hurtling towards Alex.
He was reminded of Lizardon's attack, and had a feeling the similarities were purposeful. Using his borrowed visual prowess, he dodged the tail, which seemed to move in slow motion to Leo's vision. It really was almost unfair how much slower everything else was to him these days. No wonder he napped so often.
His eyes tracked the Rayquaza, and as requested, he unleashed his Hyper Voice. "Yol! Toor! SHUL!" The Rayquaza raised his brow at his pupil's choice of words as a torrent of bright flame, on par with a Flamethrower, not an ember, hit the dragon squarely in the face.
He was singed, clearly, and even had small, but still irritating burns. So much for fire not harming dragons. The burns healed instantly, but the dragon was still impressed he'd even needed his regenerative ability at all. Every human he had trained over his long life had always started with small Voices.
Then again, he realized, he had never actually properly felt the Voice of a true Dragonborn. They were rather rare. He'd been in their presence, but none had unleashed their power on him. It sent a chill through his ancient bones, bones so similar to his apprentice's attire. This power, unchecked, could devastate his race. He grumbled. Tao had been right, the Sages were indeed crucial to dragons, and every other living thing on the planet.
They kept events like that from ever occurring, trusting that their powerful human pupils would not, if put in a true position of leadership, abuse the powers that set them so far above most of their kin. Oranguru had told the dragon, on his latest visit to the Swamp, of the human from Unova and his potential, and so far, he had been correct. The human showed no signs of dark temptation. Yet.
He was calm, easygoing, sarcastically witty, and clever. When he needed to be. His use of this newest power would be a truer test of his right to rule. Dragonborn always had an inborn desire to lead. Power was intoxicating to them. That did not always end well for them, and more than one empire had been founded by such a person.
"Good. Very good. You understand the flames well…" The dragon eyed his pupil and Alex shrugged, smirking.
"I had the Graybeard who collected me share his knowledge of stringing a few particular words together…though, I knew what these, when combined, would do." The dragon raised his brow further, and Alex chuckled once more. "Well…it was more like an educated guess."
The dragon stayed silent, hovering in the air as he usually did, resting on his coils.
After several long minutes in the sweltering heat of the volcano, he finally spoke. "I see. That silly game has prepared you already, somewhat, but you must have noticed by now. The reality of using the Hyper Voice is a bit different, isn't it."
Alex nodded. The first chance he had, he'd tried breathing ice, electricity, speaking words of death, combing words of death into three-word Shouts that, usually, were devastating. Many had not worked. The few that did either did something completely different, or didn't have a visible effect.
Moreover, there were words in Norstad's tongue that he simply didn't recognize the origin of, though he knew the meaning. Many times, as he'd examined his new vocabulary, he had noticed that there were often two words, with identical meanings, but were definitely not rooted in prior languages, like so many other tongues were. The most universal was 'Common', originating from Albion, but it was standard practice to teach youngsters the language of their homeland as well as Common. Thankfully, Unova had always spoken it.
Tao's voice echoed in his head again. "When your kinsmen worshiped me, and followed my guidance to govern them, they too spoke the dragon tongue…my memories of that time are…fuzzy, however."
Alex focused on the dragon, as he was being unusually talkative. He'd sensed Tao's thoughts, more or less, through their bond, and this 'dragon tongue' was naggingly familiar. "I shall help you gain clarity…when I return."
He heard the Tao's chuckle echo in his skull. "If you return. You've stepped in it this time, apprentice." His unease swelled, but the First Dragon continued, "But, you are more or less prepared…or you will be, once Rayquaza trains you. Listen well, do as instructed, and you will find victory again."
The large, coiled green dragon sighed again. "You are not the first human to have some prior knowledge of this power, but you need to listen, and listen well. This is not the Shouting you know, forget everything you were taught by your fantasy world. The real one is quite a bit different, and if you continue blindly with guesses and improper verbiage, you are going to kill someone."
Alex stared at the dragon in return for a moment, and then nodded, deciding to trust Tao's advice as well. Neither of them had steered him wrong. He regarded Rayquaza again, and for the first time, sensed just how much stronger the dragon was. He was a dragon type now as well, but Rayquaza was far older. Wiser. And his looks matched his typing. Alex still appeared as a normal human, albeit one in heavy bone armor.
Alex bowed in the Unovan style, fist to palm, towards the dragon. "Teach me properly. Master."
The dragon grinned, and acquiesced.
Over the next several weeks, Rayquaza began molding the flood of knowledge Alex had gained, giving it the structure of an actual language. The difference between learning this one and, say, Japanese, was that after each lesson he could use these new words in varying combinations. Between that and repetition, his Hyper Voice grew stronger at an alarming rate. The Graybeards would have feared such rapid progress, but Rayquaza had other fears. Nidhogg, Alduin, The World Eater, this being had many names even amongst dragons. Even with such rapid progress, he feared it would not be enough.
It was through this mostly borrowed tongue that Arceus had imbued his dragons with the ability to manipulate their world with ease that no other Pokémon type had. With naught but their Voice, they could stop natural disasters, provide water for humans and Pokémon alike, even heal.
The Hyper Voice, when empowered with draconic energy, had the ability to manipulate the other types, provided there was a source for them. He then realized that his crystals could serve as such sources, and just like that, he felt the need to collect the rest. He knew he'd need them, but had put them from mind when Tao warned him of greed.
With this great ability, the dragons of their world had kept the peace, devastated violent armies bent on conquest, and had even battled against the Betrayer's minions. But few of those yet lived, and those that did, did so in prisons no mortal was likely to find.
Unless they gained knowledge from a fairy king and flew to one such prison that happened to have a village around it.
Nidhogg was another subject of his training, for the human had blundered onto him, and the imprisoned dragon had finally sensed a source of raw, unrefined power that he could use to regain his rule. Even when newly formed, Dragonborn had immense power buried within them. Alex had felt it during the long hours of training under Rayquaza. The dragon warned him that it was indeed finite, but even after hours of Shouting, he felt he could do more, if he needed to.
To better prepare him against his foe, Rayquaza gave the human and his team a crash course in history. Not human history, full of holes, inaccuracies, lies, and agenda's, but history as viewed through the very eyes of the Sky Guardian, and his kin, over uncountable years.
He started, with Giratina. Ever since the discovery that the white Arceus both did exist and were actually clones of the true Arceus, which presumably resided within his own dimension, the rumors and legends around the ghostly dragon had only increased.
Some said he was the destroyer, the opposite force of Arceus, who brought creation and life. That could only mean Giratina was the harbinger of death and destruction, surely. The truth was much more complicated, and as they were short on time, Rayquaza gave the young human just enough to whet his appetite for the full legend.
Arceus was as much a force of destruction as he was creation. He did as he pleased. He was the Alpha. There were twenty-three other such powerful Pokémon, or so Rayquaza said, each coming from a piece of Arceus' infinite power. Despite some being older and some younger, they were all more or less matched when it came to power, but all fell short of Arceus. Twenty-three beings on Tao's level was still a lot to grasp, but Alex filed much of this information away for later. His Gruncle would love it.
Giratina had been designated the Omega, but instead of being created last, had spent much of the early ages of creation as a valued, loved, and trusted friend of the masters of reality, time, and space. Then, came his betrayal. For reasons Rayquaza had glossed over, despite loud protests from the human and his partners, Giratina had been imprisoned.
This imprisonment came with a cost, however. Beings that held his kind of power were not so easily un-made, as Arceus soon learned, and thus, an entire dimension had been created to imprison Giratina. From there, he could watch as creation grew ever-brighter. That hadn't been enough for Giratina though, Rayquaza had said, so he had used his dimensional prison to his advantage, infecting one world after another with the essence of his own power. Shadow.
All throughout creation, aberrations began appearing. Pokémon sometimes turned inexplicably dark, enraged, powerful, but the cost was high. Their very minds were warped by this new force, and often, those infected with the shadow would eventually fade back into the nothingness from whence they were created. Some Pokémon possessed the ability to cleanse them, but they were usually on par with Legendary Pokémon, and as such, weren't around. Much like their creator, they required long naps to keep their power from fading entirely.
This 'shadow' energy was not like the dark type energy some Pokémon had, and such Pokémon were not, automatically, drawn towards those with evil intentions. In reality, it was the very antithesis of existence. Anti-matter. The domain over which Giratina claimed lordship, for not even Arceus could handle the volatile substance with ease.
Nidhogg was, in Rayquaza's own words, a 'unique' situation. As a Black Salamence, he had been extremely strong, especially amongst his own kin, and like most dragons with such an advantage, had come to rule over them. Norstad had, once, been green and lush, with marshes, ancient forests, and fertile coastal islands.
A human wielding the power of Giratina had come then, and through trickery, infused the beast with darkness. Unlike the Arceans, this wielder had known what she was doing, and thus, the shadow and the dragon became one.
Nidhogg, then named Alduin by the locals, had been unstoppable, a true tyrant, a second tyrant, for he first appeared not long after Arceus had Judged the primitive human warlord from Norstad, his Tyrantrum, and his army of bloodthirsty conquerors. Up until his infusion, he'd killed the humans that tried to slay or tame him, but otherwise let them go about their lives in relative peace. Dragons did not often concern themselves with the opinions, or lives, of humans.
Rayquaza had been tasked by Tao with helping to put him down once it had been devised that the Betrayer's Shadow had infected him. Indeed, forces from across the planet had united, at the Sage's behest usually, and the battle had been epic…but costly. Norstad had become a frozen wasteland after that conflict. Xerneas had gone to sleep, expending her remaining energy to save her land from becoming entirely desolate, and the Dark Times had begun in earnest.
Alex had been eager to know more, but his mentor would not budge. The rest of that tale was too long to speak of at the moment. He knew what he needed to know about Nidhogg. Now, he would gain the power that might suffice against his weakened, imprisoned form.
Rayquaza warned that even with the Strunzul, Nidhogg was unlikely to be an easy opponent. He was not at his peak, but each moment he spent free of his cage would see his dark power restored. This would not be a battle to the faint. There was only one outcome now.
In truth, they had simply not possessed the strength to end Nidhogg back when he was imprisoned. He had been too unstoppable. After millennia in the Hvergelom however, he might be weak enough for a Dragonborn to handle. Taming, subduing, and in unfortunate cases, slaying, was something they were literally born to do. A counter-balance to the dragon's powerful Voices, so that one evil minded dragon did not dominate humanity with no hope of ever unseating such a beast.
Slowly, Alex began to grasp how to properly wield the dragon's tongue, and with that understanding came a new level of strength. The entire fiery island had quaked as he practiced his Hyper Voice, and eventually, even the sky thundered at his words. That was when Rayquaza had deemed him ready.
The red scaled Rayquaza, now somewhat healed after a few items from Alex's bag helped stabilize him, had vacated the pool of blue lava in the caldera known as the World Forge. Rayquaza claimed to live here, but Alex didn't entirely believe him. His mentors were sly, and the details they gave about themselves were usually lies to avoid the question entirely.
The two dragons circled the mountain's peak, and once more, the Graybeards had gathered in their courtyard. Something was about to happen, they just did not know what, exactly. "Step into the lava." The green dragon called down, and Alex nodded.
He would've stripped, but aside from his helmet, his armor was thoroughly stubborn when it came to removal. He'd found that it would shift when he needed to badly relieve himself, but then it would reform shortly after, and once more be unmovable. As it was, he'd left his bag with Shruikan, as well as his belt.
His team watched him now, from the relative safety of the rock surrounding the pool of strange blue lava. Whatever this was, he'd said, he would face it alone. He'd kept his staff however, and it still looked like a Greatsword, strapped to his back.
He'd expected heat once he stepped into the pool, but was instead met with a tolerable, invigorating warmth. "You know the words." His Rayquaza thundered. "Use them."
Alex glanced at the sky then, and inhaled slowly, then exhaled. Using this attack, he'd learned, required near-perfect breath control. Something he'd long since unknowingly mastered thanks to his shenanigans with the Leaf.
He drew in a deep breath then, and the clouds darkened. His Rayquaza smirked. It was time. Alex's trained voice rocked the skies. "Naal viilut do dii sos, faal Strun Du'ul engein wah zey!"
The clouds parted with each word of his Hyper Voice, forming a circular hole in the storm. Then, from the center of the hole in the dark clouds, a massive bolt of lightning shot down, striking his form. As his mentor had instructed, he called upon both his psychic and dragon power for this moment. It was a good thing he had, for his form was still very much susceptible to that much power, and being torn apart by it.
He looked down as the pool glowed bright with a fierce bluish-purple color, electricity sparked over it and his own body, and Alex lifted his head to the sky again. A torrent of flame erupted from the volcano as his human yell became something much deeper, a true roar.
He looked down again, but aside from a few admittedly cool looking sparks of electricity arcing over his armored façade at various points across his body, there was no physical change. Mentally though, he felt renewed. The long green form of Rayquaza, followed by the red-scaled form of his younger western counterpart, descended to the pool once more.
"The Storm Crown has accepted you, Dragonborn. Cherish it, for in these times, you will be challenged for it. Unique individuals are appearing all over the world lately, even in Norstad." Alex nodded, listening to the dragon carefully. Rayquaza was usually not so forthcoming with facts like this. More and more he had a feeling there was some sort of global communication setup used by Sages and other such powerful Pokémon, but he kept his curiosity in check for the moment.
"So what exactly does this 'Storm Crown' do?" The dragon sighed at the trainer. Humans truly understood little, and always having to re-educate them was tedious. Then again, now, this one would actually live long enough to pass on this knowledge to many generations. Dragons, while immortal, could still be slain.
"You are a newly formed Dragonborn, and while your Voice is strong, it alone is not enough. The Graybeards awakened your potential to wear this, and now that you have it, you can truly tap into your dragon type abilities." The large green snake brought his giant eye so close to Alex, it towered over him. This seemed to be some sort of 'thing' dragons did for emphasis in Tinvaak.
"I know of the Sage's reluctance to enhance your psychic potential. Dragons, however, are beholden to no psychic type. And you, now, are a dragon as well. Until you age a few centuries, this 'crown' will keep your body from degrading. It takes time for humans to gain the immortality of this typing, and many Dragonborn before you have failed to attain it. Mostly because they tried building an empire too early, and were slain in the name of greed."
Alex looked down, but even then, the giant eye was unavoidable. He started to understand. To dragons like Tao and this Rayquaza, he was a hatchling. All dragons helped younger ones, when they were this small. It was a general fact amongst their kind that their numbers had dwindled during the Dark Times. All newborns needed to be given the chance to fully mature, at least. Where they would live was another matter, but any dragon worth their scales could defend their territory from a young upstart, and if they couldn't, many simply disappeared to pass on quietly, knowing their time was ending. This behavior had been observed by the humans, of course.
Once the Pokédex became a standard item to hand out to new trainers, many of the myths about dragon types had faded. Professor Dracaena, of Fornia supposedly, was the one responsible for discovering most of the new info on them. Nobody knew where her lab was, though. For beginners clever enough to find her, it was rumored she gave out rare dragon types.
"So…it makes me immortal? Just like that? I don't think I believe it…" He met the eye's stare, then.
"You were just struck by the natural fury of lightning and lived, unscathed, while standing in a pool of molten rock." The dragon smirked as he spoke.
"Good point…" Alex sighed, and Rayquaza rose again as he spoke. "Moreover, you can now summon the power of your crystals, with naught but your voice. You won't have to rely on your own power to fire beams of energy at my scroll reader."
As Alex awkwardly chuckled, he noticed six bright flashes from the ring around the pool of lava he still stood in. He smirked. His team had, upon hearing this news, attempted to speak the name of the elemental type they controlled, and the result, had been Mega Evolution. He grinned.
No longer did they have to wait for him to connect them to the power. They were always connected, and as long as the stones were on his person, they could draw from them. Only Terra and Blaze had done this previously, on their own, back when they'd faced down Kyurem, but they'd both admitted it had been pure instinct, and had been unable to do it again.
Alex looked up at the large green dragon once more. "This will likely make us stronger, true, but from what you told me, it took an entire planet's worth of unique and powerful Pokémon to bring Nidhogg down before. How are seven of us going to manage that?"
The dragon again smirked, and then, hatched a plan.
Valaskjalf – Present Day
Folokraan and Chari launched into the air, and since Fo was still too small to ride, Jess remained on her almost red Charizard, who even then, mega evolved as they headed towards Alex, and the monstrous outline of Alduin in the clouds. The rest of her team had followed her orders, joining Connor's below against the horde of ice and poison snakes.
Delphi alone was making short work of them with her cunning mind. Her flames bathed the cliffs in fire, and when that wasn't enough, she and Gar combined their power to rain fiery boulders on the lake. Along with Sophos, she was also distributing items to those who needed them via telekinesis. With the cliffs out of the fight, the snakes soon found themselves in a very large barrel, and many fled beneath the water before ice or fire or ground attacks could make them faint. Getting her own stash of healing potions and elixirs had been the first thing Jess had done once she'd left Alex for the first half of her own final semester, and now, the decision to build up her own stockpile was paying off.
As her Charizard took her up into the dark clouds, she came upon a sight straight out of a legend passed down from her ancestors. Many Unovans hailed from the supercontinent, and in the northern parts, full of mountains, snow, and danger, the people had, in the absence of society, reverted to following the religion of their ancestors.
It was in this way, with a bit of help from the Old Net, that the stories of the 'old gods' as they were commonly called, lived on. Now, she saw the bone-armored form of the awkward, tall farmer next door facing down a dragon that could probably eat a mountain, and still hunger.
There was something different this time though, and as she took a closer look at Alex and his dragon, she sighed. He'd gotten stronger. Again. Just when she finally had an edge thanks to Delphi, he'd gone and unlocked something new.
Then, she saw it. Her own psychic power had given her vision akin to a psychic type’s, a useful trick for someone who hadn't memorized the Pokédex. Unlike some trainers, she had had a social life, while her brother and Alex spent their days playing games in between bouts of extensively reading Pokédex entries. They claimed it was the best way to study. Given their grades, she couldn't really argue.
The plan they'd cooked up rather quickly soon became void as she realized even an ice attack from Fo would do next to nothing against a beast like this. She felt her lover's focus turn to her for a moment, as his dragon continued the admittedly beautiful spectacle of dodging and weaving between Charge Beams that could likely tear apart mountain ranges. With each dodge, a Dragon Pulse would slam into Alduin's face, hitting his eyes or nose. It was full of soft parts, and breaks in the armor that was his massive scales.
"Don't worry, the plan will still work. Find Terra below. Rayquaza gave us a strategy to bring him down, and we're going to need ice." His focus shifted again as Alduin's maw lit up with electricity, and the dragon, enraged, charged at the irritating gnat with enough persistent rage to keep him attacking constantly. Seeing this, Shruikan began flying ahead of him, only outpacing the massive beast thanks to the speed of his Mega Form.
While Jess was initially worried for him, she'd felt better once she'd heard his Rayquaza returned, and had trained his 'voice'. Whatever that meant. She'd tried using it too of course, but nothing had happened. She looked down again, and spied the three riders that Lokra had left to keep 'Shor' confined. He was, to all appearances, still encased in ice.
Nodding to herself, she took off towards where she sensed Alex's earth turtle was patiently waiting in the cold. He'd been reluctant to come out during this adventure, as he had no desire to experience winter, and while he had Thick Fat to protect against attacks, that did little to mitigate the freezing temperatures of Norstad. He was, after all, still a grass type at heart, and they hated the cold.
While his lover may have been worried about the gargantuan dragon snapping at them now, it was in truth what Alex and Shruikan had been goading the shadow-infused dragon into. Blind rage.
In this way he would hopefully waste his power, enough for their final attacks to bring him down. For once, his belt was empty, as the rest of his team was positioned around a perimeter that was several miles long, and just outside the sacred forest. He'd been leading the dragon from the Hvergelom for several long minutes now, mocking him with each missed bite from the massive Thunder Fangs. Just one hit was likely to seriously injure both of them.
He glanced back again, and the scene had not changed. Nidhogg was still furious, and still using his Thunder Fang to snap uselessly at where he thought his opponent would be. He was having a hard time adjusting for the speed of Shruikan's Mega Form, and while he was smaller, he was definitely faster.
Finally, Alex took Shruikan down below the clouds, emerging right over the remains of the Arcean's ship. He felt his team sound off as they caught sight of them, and then felt the numerous reactions to the sight of an enormous Black Salamence descending right behind them from the clouds, attacking with blind fury.
"He's using a Charge Beam!" The warning came from Arthur, who had perched in one of the forest's trees. Already in his own Mega Form, as were the rest of them, he began moving towards where he felt the dragon was likely to fall. His role was the most important, for out of all of them, only he possessed a weapon capable of truly ending Alduin's rage.
Now only feet from the snow-covered ground, Shruikan turned in mid-flight, and saw the familiar build-up of the move in question. He launched his own Charge Beam into the sphere, and the cancellation of the moves caused an explosion within the beast's mouth. The dragon roared in pain, and Alex spied serious burns on the insides of his mouth. "Hmm…not so fireproof on the inside…noted."
Pained as he was, the angry, hungry, and now wounded dragon slammed into the ground, from his perspective, out of nowhere. He let his left front limb stop his momentum, and as he slid along the frozen tundra, he made giant hills of ice and dirt in his wake. He looked around, and what little of his former self that remained stared in horror at the wasteland his home had become. Even when he'd been locked away, it had never been this bad. What little ember of hope had remained for his homeland faded. It was all dead. There was no point in holding back anymore.
The dragon's shock was short-lived, as he felt a super-effective attack slam into him. The gnat had launched a Dragon Pulse, rather than use his own electric power against his. If he wanted a battle of type advantages, that was no problem for Alduin. He raised his massive, spined tail, and it began to glow with the purplish-blue energy of dragon type moves.
"Dragon Pulse!" The command came from Alex who, atop Shruikan's head, had a good view of the dragon. Shruikan, Blaze, and Chari all responded, and as the Dragon Tail came moving forward, it faltered, and the power faded as Alduin's tail was left minus the power he'd summoned. It slammed into the ground uselessly, as Shruikan once more avoided it.
The dragon's sparking eyes looked around, but failed to find the source of the other two pulses. Then, he remembered he was on the ground. His wings rose to propel himself up once more, and then stopped, frozen in place. He looked up only to find his wings lifting into a Blizzard attack, followed closely by three more Dragon Pulses. The attacks tore through the thin wing membranes, and he roared in pain. A quick look at the damage told him he wouldn't be flying for a while. That was fine. These gnats would taste just as good on the ground.
Another Charge Beam lit the area, as the dragon shot in vain at where he suspected his enemies were hiding. The massive torrent of electricity tore an almost circular shape in the landscape, but Blaze and Chari had kept moving as soon as they'd attacked. Because they had such useful moves, they were key to bringing this dragon down. Now that he couldn't fly, Alex felt victory was more realistic. When he'd seen the sheer size of the World Eater, he'd been convinced they would fail, and everyone would die, but now…they had a chance.
As the Charge Beam faded, the Dragon Pulses came once more, from three different directions. Furious, Alduin ignored the other two, and charged the one he could see. Shruikan. Alex and his dragon had chosen their location for a reason, though.
The earth shook whenever he breathed, and after millennia of such things, Alduin rarely took notice of it anymore. He flew in battle, and did not fear ground attacks, he'd grown in Norstad, and did not fear the ice, and dragons alone could not hope to outmatch him. Not with the power the witch had bestowed on him. He'd been reluctant to accept it at first, but he could not, in that moment, recall why.
It was as the ground shattered that he remembered the warning of the Black Witch. If he stayed on the ground against clever opponents, he would die. She had seen it. Suddenly finding himself knee deep in rubble, and at least fifty feet below the surface of Norstad's tundra, the dragon snarled, deep and low. Deep as the hole was, his head still poked out of it, and he glared at the smaller Salamence, and his rider. He was tiring of these games. This Dragonborn had more than one creature at his command, and this fight, while initially in his favor, was rapidly turning.
He saw the earth turtle with the massive Ash Tree in the center of its shell stomp out through the snow, where it was soon joined by four others, all surrounding the new pit the turtle had created. It was large, for a gnat, and powerful judging by the size of the Earthquake it had caused. But that would not be enough.
Shadows began rising from his scales, and a purple fog leaked from his mouth. He'd never gotten a chance to truly use the dark powers the witch had granted him, but now was as good a time as any. He would not be imprisoned again, and if he was truly to fall here, he would make the songs of his death worthy of his glorious life.
The dragon roared, and a foul stench filled the air, one Alex, Shruikan, and Blaze were all instinctually familiar with. They'd scented it before, though this was far more…pungent. Lizardon had given off a similar stink…right before mega evolving.
"All of you! Attack! NOW!" Using his Voice rather than telepathy, there was no hesitation. Even Fo joined in with her own Ice Beam alongside the Taijitu swirls of numerous type combinations that were even then slamming into the dragon. Many had a type advantage over him…and yet, they did little to stop him.
One massive black claw gripped the edge of the pit. Then another. The dragon's head rose further from it as well, into the sky, and where once there had been remarkable eyes of pure electricity, there was now only two vacant sockets leaking what could only be described as pure Shadow energy. Rayquaza had been correct then. Someone had infected Alduin with it, and now, he was benefiting from it.
Alex raised a hand, and the attacks stopped. The dragon continued to rise over them. His wings stretched once more, and blobs of shadow filled in the holes in his wings. "Umm…Alex…do something!" Jess' voice filled his mind, but he stayed motionless. They needed perfect timing. There wouldn't be a second chance.
The dragon rose further, and his horned head blocked out the midnight sun of Norstad, blanketing the upturned snowy battlefield in darkness similar, but different from the night's. The dragon opened his maw, and a ball of pure black energy formed within it. Anti-matter.
Basic physics was a staple of any education in their world, and one did not need to be a scientist to know that an attack composed of antiparticles slamming into normal ones would create an explosion far greater than one caused by slamming a single regular particle into its' opposite. The ball forming in this dragon's maw would, quite possibly, literally eat the world, and at the very least, decimate Norstad.
Alex nodded at Shruikan. Now was the time. He raised a fist, and from the sky, a bolt of lightning struck and illuminated both of them. "Dragon Rush!" Shruikan shot forward, sparking all over, and limned in the energy of his kind, straight towards the dragon, but as he came close, his trajectory shifted, and the attack shot past the dragon's head with no effect.
Jess stared for a moment, shocked, awed, and then terrified. The attack had missed, and that ball of death was only growing. Yet, all she sensed from Alex was calm, and intense focus usually only required for Taijitu moves…suddenly suspicious, she glanced at the massive dragon's neck, and grinned.
While Alex wished to comfort his lover, and the few others he sensed watching this battle, he didn't have the luxury. He and Shruikan had a part to play, if Arthur was to have a chance. The electricity still sparked over them, and Shruikan held the power.
Then, with a roar of 'Dovah', the smaller dragon shot back towards Alduin. Instead of a Dragon Pulse or Claw however, his fangs were limned with the bluish-purple energy this time. They sank into the scales of the dragon's neck easily, and then, Shruikan's form began to grow. Fifteen feet…twenty…as he absorbed the millennia of built up draconic energy, Alduin rapidly shrunk. Rayquaza had not lied when he said the prison had weakened the beast. Only consuming a Dragonborn would let Alduin's body stay as large as it had been. Now, Shruikan and his rider took a piece for themselves, leaving the dragon withered.
He was still large, almost forty feet tall, and as Shruikan's fangs left his neck, he began to plummet into the pit. Arthur, who had jumped onto Shruikan and then Alduin, suddenly found himself without a dragon to stand on.
That too however, was part of the plan. Sacred Sword alone was not enough…but a Sacred Sword attack from several stories up might be. Arthur glanced at the shriveled dragon below him. He was smaller, his muscle gone, and his skin hung on his frame loosely. Their eyes met, and the World Eater closed his. He knew this was his end. Arthur grinned. His friends had given him a perfect target. Now, all he had to do was let gravity make the hit connect.
He poured as much power as he could manage into his right arm, and then combined the fighting type energy with his psychic power. Neither had an advantage, but Sacred Sword was not a normal move, and the additional psychic power only sped his form towards his target. He was a streak of blue and blinding gold in an otherwise gray sky as he shot down towards his prey with a burst of speed.
He drove the sword home, into the dragon's skull right between his massive horns, and his Sacred Sword cut through shadow, scale, sinew, bone, and then brain. With a final, terrible, almost pitiable cry, the World Eater departed from the mortal plane.
Alex recalled the rest of his team, save Arthur and Shruikan. His Gallade floated victoriously over the pit, Excalibur raised in victory, as Shruikan landed beside Chari, Folokraan, and her rider. They had all had attacks hit the dragon, the victory belonged to all of them. Alone, they would've surely perished.
As Alex dropped from Shruikan's new lofty height of thirty feet, at his best guess, and landed on the snowy ground with a thump, he felt himself immediately tackled into it by a familiar presence, in feel if not looks. "Forget what I said earlier. I'm glad you got stronger. You had me worried for a minute…"
Alex sighed, relaxing into the snow which, against his otherworldly garb and 'enchanted' armor, felt cool, not freezing. He brushed a brown lock of hair from her face, only to realize it was mostly braided now, not unlike the other riders.
"Pfft. No need to worry. This is what top-tier trainers do." He let his speech switch to telepathy, which was by its very nature, far more intimate. "Besides…you should know by now, I'd die, gladly, before I let anything harm you. Even world-devouring dragons." She rolled her eyes, but her face flushed regardless, which was all he'd been trying to see, really. A few weeks apart hadn't seemed all that long, but he had, quite literally, missed her face.
Once the following session of intense kissing had ended, the two headed towards the pit, and looked down. Shruikan and Arthur joined them. Alex spoke softly, glancing down at their fallen foe. "I know he was destruction incarnate…but it's still a shame such a powerful dragon had to die like this…"
A mental voice thundered in their skulls, and the four looked up to see a pair of Rayquaza descending from the clouds. "Do not mourn him. His tale may seem tragic, but that traitorous egg-breaker deserved this. We will take care of his remains." The green dragon winked at Alex as he and his red counterpart used their combined telekinesis to lift the massive form from its grave. "We will bury him where he hatched. It is the very least we can do…and even that he does not deserve." As they eyed the body, Jess winced in disgust as the green Rayquaza reached a claw into the dead dragon's skull, through his eye socket, and pulled from it a small, shining orb. He tossed it to Alex, who pocketed it without a word.
Alex and the pair of Legendary Dragons had discussed what was to be done in the event of their success. They had also made contingency plans for failure, but those were no longer needed. He had been the one to argue against burning the corpse. Dragons had their own rituals for death, and while he did not know them, Tao had offhandedly mentioned it during the training on his extra-dimensional plane.
With the body safely handled, Alex and Jess headed back to Valaskjalf on their Charizard. Shruikan was exhausted, and needed time for his body to adjust to the sudden growth spurt. The rest of his team was tired as well, but Blaze always had strength to fly with Chari. Many of his partners had fired multiple Taijitu attacks, and Alex had no illusions that, without them, and the final Sacred Sword, it wouldn't have been enough to end Alduin.
The village was mostly intact, save for where a few of the ice snakes had climbed up. As they reappeared, Alex withdrew the orb Rayquaza had tossed to him. Jess eyed him quietly, as he'd promised to explain it later. As they flew over the Hvergelom, every eye in the village once more was drawn to the lake.
The orb in Alex's hand flared, and then shot forward, arcing over the village, and slamming into a stone wall behind the main hall. Runes appeared around it, a door became visible, and the massive stone slabs that comprised it slid open.
"Behold, Riders of Valaskjalf! The way to Uppsalir is open once more! Your charge remains the same: guard it with your lives." His Voice reached all of them, but none moved towards the shining doorway. Beyond it, even more red and gold leaves could be seen. Green, untouched grass made a path through it, but beyond that, the view was obscured by light.
Lokra's massive Articuno met them over the lake. "You…you retrieved Woden's Eye?" Alex nodded, and the Chief Flyer looked him over again, as if just then gaining a measure of true respect for him. Both siblings had spoken of his strength, but Lokra was the kind of woman to believe what her eyes told her, and the trainer had not appeared all that intimidating when they'd first met. Strong, yes, enough for breeding, but respect was another matter entirely. "You will be sung about for all of our days…Dovahkiin."
Alex chuckled. "Thank you. I've always wanted that, honestly. Your songs will outlive all of us. They've done so before."
Lokra glanced at Jess then, and sighed. "You were right. I will not doubt your words again. All of you, despite being foreigners, did everything in your power to keep this village intact. You may consider the Riders of Valaskjalf your friends until your days end."
Alex grinned, and enjoyed the moment, but soon, the grin faded to a look of dark determination. "There is one more matter we must address…the changeling in your midst…"
The two women followed his eyes, and Lokra's narrowed. "Aye, you speak true. The deceiver will pay for his crimes…"
The three flew towards where Folokraan had imprisoned the 'mighty' Shor with her Ice Beam. The armored man stayed silent as they landed, and then grinned, showing blinding white teeth once he saw Alex.
"You've much to answer for, Pravus." Alex said, lifting the helmet off. "You can't wriggle free this time. Unova knows your true colors, as does Kalos, and by now, the world. Your cult will never recover from this."
The voice came from behind them, and not from the figure trapped in ice. Alex turned, and glared. Of course he'd escaped. They always managed to slip free. "No tangible evidence exists to tie the deaths in Kalos to me, or my people. They’re casualties of the mighty Yveltal…and as for Unova…well, the world knows how you people view my glorious western coastline." Pravus was floating as he spoke, and the disguise was gone. His figure was outlined in darkness, and his grin was entirely too confident. "Imagine what they'll think when they hear fair, equal Unova has denounced Fornia for their beliefs."
Alex raised a brow. "We haven't-"
Pravus cut him off with his sinister, almost greasy baritone. "Oh but you have." He held up a black baton that had hung at his side, and presumably served as a base for the hammer he'd used earlier. He clicked a button just above the handle. Alex's voice came out, easily recognizable, but filled with pauses, and clearly out of context. "I- swear, I will- see- the- Arceans- fall! Their- cult will never recover from this!"
The Prophet laughed as he saw the rage in the boy's eyes. "You must thank your granduncle for me, he gave me the idea. Having recording devices on hand is so very convenient…"
"Yol! Yolos! Sook!" Though his Shout was quick, Pravus' form easily moved to the side as a spinning torrent of flames shot up around the space he'd just been floating in. "I see you've learned a new trick…irritating, but it matters not. You cannot hit me…and I have better places to be."
He moved like Arthur did in the air, quickly, and able to suddenly adjust his trajectory. In the space of an eye blink, he was out over the Hvergelom again, and heading straight for the newly made door. Alex made a move to follow, as did Jess, but Lokra held them both back with a hand on their shoulders. "Patience, young ones. Do not think us unprepared for filth of his kind."
Alex looked at her. "He's after Xerneas! If he gets through that door, he may very well attain immortality!"
Lokra shook her head. "You should listen well to my words, Dovahkiin. I know my home better than you do. Besides…our king wishes a word with that one."
Alex and Jess shared a look. "King?"
Faarangar, Hall of The King
Pravus sailed victoriously through the gap in the stone walls. He'd discovered the spot days earlier, but had known it needed a key. He'd wheedled the information from some of the more infatuated riders, about the key's location. The dragon Nidhogg held it, and had done so since his imprisonment. The way to Uppsalir had been closed for millennia, and though the riders were loath to admit it, without the Life Pokémon's power freely flowing from that sacred place, Valaskjalf would eventually suffer the fate of the rest of Norstad. Only the Articuno had prevented it thus far.
He ignored the beauty of the place, the large, gorgeous trees with their equally gorgeous leaves, the warm, green grass that seemed to invite him to lie upon it and rest. His Darkrai, ever present in his shadow, propelled him through all of it, until they came before a massive hall. "What is it? Xerneas? Why do you stop?" Pravus' words were directed towards his 'mount', but his questions were answered as thunder boomed, and lightning cracked the sky.
A massive torrent of volatile plasma arced downs from the top of the hall, and slammed into the ground before Pravus' hovering form. It was a figure, male, by the build, clad in a dark cloak in hood. He rose slowly from the smoking crater his arrival created.
Pravus glared at the man. "Who are you, to bar my way?"
A light breeze blew the hood back, revealing an all-too-familiar face. Long, red hair, a long, red beard, and burning crimson eyes met his own, and for the first time in a long while, fear crawled up Pravus' spine. The man grinned, letting the cloak fall behind him, and as it fell, he drew a weapon.
It was, of course, a hammer. The hammer. The true God of Thunder raised it towards the ever present gray clouds that surrounded Norstad, and bolts of electricity arced down towards it. Electricity sparked over the god's form, and he gripped the hammer by a sturdy looking bit of leather hanging from the short handle. The weapon began to spin, glowing with the white-blue shine of lightning as it did, and Pravus swore, silently.