Diamond Dust: Burning Ice, Freezing Fire

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Literature Text

  This what you get for not listening, Ronnie reprimanded, drumming her fingers against the wall she couldn't see.

  Ignoring Edith's warning, the Sneasel had sprinted ahead into the dungeon entrance, intent on beginning her adventure as soon as possible.  It had only been after she'd been walking in the darkness for several minutes that she realized that her partner wasn't following her.  She then recalled how dungeons tended to shift its occupants about, and was now mentally berating herself for not remembering such a crucial and obvious fact earlier.

  If I want to become a high-ranking Researcher, I can't make stupid mistakes like this.  The Ice-Type sighed, adjusting the strap of the bag of equipment she'd been given.  Well, I guess there's no fixing it now.  Edith definitely came in after me, so turning back won't do any good.  Even if she didn't, the dungeon would probably just keep turning me around if I tried going the way I came…

  The possibility that she might be trapped, had it been given time to manifest, probably would've frightened Ronnie to no end; fortunately, she bumped into the dungeon's golden entrance long before anything of the sort could occur.  Pushing open the ornate door, the Shiny gasped, blinking at the sudden change of light.  She had been expecting a room lit dimly by sunlight filtering through the basalt stone above, but instead, the space was very well-illuminated, almost to the point of being an eyesore.  A closer inspection revealed why.

  "Woah," the Sneasel breathed, tapping a claw against her reflection on the wall.  It's like a mirror, but… better.  With fewer imperfections, I think.  Whereas most mirrors absorb some of the light that hits them, this substance reflects everything.  While that would normally create a blinding effect, the floor and ceiling are still regular basalt, so they absorb enough of the illumination to allow for proper lighting.  "Awesome!  I better take samples."

  Digging around in her bag of equipment, the Ice-Type withdrew a chisel, along with blank paper and a stick of graphite for taking notes.  After jotting down her findings, she very carefully took to the wall until several chinks of the material came loose.  Studying them, she added to her notes that only the surface had reflective properties; the inside was comprised of a glittering porous rock.  Then she gingerly tucked the stones in the bag with her tools, making sure that they were secure.  Once she did, she stood and surveyed the room, looking for a way forward.

  Two options were present: a door directly in front of her, and another to her right.  Choosing the latter, Ronnie pushed the door open, stepped through, and started in surprise.  Warm air, perhaps from underground geysers or lava, was blowing upward through cracks in the floor, stirring the Sneasel's fur and tossing about her lab coat.  While somewhat startling, the breeze wasn't necessarily unpleasant, and she smiled to herself as she fished out her notes again and recorded the phenomenon.  A few seconds, some written words, and several nearly blown away papers later, she turned her attention to the rest of the room.  There were no other exits, just a badly-hidden trap on her left…

  … And an angry, fast-approaching Barboach servant on her right.

  "Hey!  What do you think you're doing here!?" the Water-Type demanded, glaring furiously up at the Shiny, who, even at her small size, was still quite a bit taller than him.  "King Wussy will not stand for you Guild Pokémon taking over his territory, and neither will-"

  "Wait wait wait.  Taking his territory?" Ronnie interrupted, frowning.  "What are you talking about?"

  "The King has informed us that anyone entering this dungeon are from the Guilds of Andalusst, and should be driven off at all costs," the servant replied.  "I assumed it was because they- you- were encroaching on our lands.  To prove my point, some of your friends came through here earlier, disarmed several painstakingly-laid traps, and took out numerous soldiers who attempted to use peaceful methods."  He suddenly jerked back, eyes narrowed suspiciously.  "Why should you be any different?"

  "First of all, you have very little evidence that I knew the team that was here before, let alone that I was friends with them," the Sneasel began hastily, not wanting a fight.  "Secondly, those guys were probably from the Explorers' Guild.  They're supposed to get rid of any potential danger: traps, enemies, stuff like you said.  I, on the other hand, am part of the Researchers' Guild.  We-"

  "You're a researcher?" the Barboach asked dubiously.  "But you're just a little kid!  What do you experiment on, which toys are best?"

  "One's age isn't a factor when it comes to personal interests," Ronnie retorted, holding back a more insulting reply.  "As I was saying, we Researchers go into dungeons to observe the phenomena that runs rampant through them.  We take notes, collect samples, and consider practical applications for all of the strange things we find.  There's no 'land-taking' involved.  We just want to discover new things, that's all."

  After a moment, the servant relented, though not to the extent or for the reason Ronnie desired.  "I suppose it would be wrong of me to hurt a child.  But that doesn't mean I'm going to let you run amok in here.  I'm taking you straight to the exit, no buts about it.  Follow me."

  "My age has nothing to do with this!" the Shiny protested as the Water-Type proceeded to the door.  "And if I want to explore this dungeon, then I have the right to do so, no matter what you say!"

  "Actually, you don't," the Barboach replied as he exited.  "This is King Wussy's territory.  His word is law here."

  "You have no legal documents!" Ronnie responded, to no effect.  She grumpily stalked after him, not because she wanted to, but because there was no other way out.  

  "We don't need legal documents," the servant answered from the reflective room's other door, which he had just opened with his tail.  "We found it, we claimed it, we live in it, and we defend it; that makes it ours."

  "You're just saying that because you don't have any hands to write papers with," the Sneasel mumbled.  She spotted a small Fleshcap sprouting up from the rocky floor, collected it, and reluctantly joined the Barboach in the next room.

  This space lacked reflective walls, and was thus dimmer than the area before it, though still far from pitch dark.  Miscellaneous bits and pieces of things, made mostly from metal, were scattered across the ground; the Ice-Type wondered what purpose they had served, and if they could be put to new use.  There was a door on the left and an open passageway on the right.  Lastly, a plump Barboach lay snoring against the far wall.

  "Great, the glutton's been scavenging again.  I hope he gets food poisoning," the servant muttered, most likely not meaning to be heard.  Slithering to the right, he announced, "The exit is just through here.  Come on."

  Ronnie was about to gloomily follow when a thought came to her that completely changed her mood.  "Or, since you are against hurting children, I could do this!"

  The Sneasel darted left, heading towards the door.  Glancing back, she was surprised to see that the Water-Type did not give pursuit.  She got an explanation before she had a chance to consider why.


  The floor under her feet burst into flame, scorching the Shiny's feet and setting her lab coat alight.  Crying out in shocked pain, she quickly jumped away from the trap and rapidly stamped out her burning clothing, frantically wafting away the resulting smoke.  When done, she stared at her singed feet and coat, worried about both how bad the burns were and how she'd explain them to Edith.

  "This is what you get for disobeying orders," the Barboach reprimanded, approaching her.  "Now let's get you out of here before you do something even more stupid."

  "It was an accident, not stupidity!" Ronnie snapped defensively.  "And if you think a little a little fire will stop me, then you're the stupid one!"

  Despite her protesting feet, she promptly banged open the door behind her and plowed ahead, intent on doing as much as she could before the Barboach dropped his 'I-don't-hurt-children' philosophy.  She started by darting to the right and hurriedly stuffed into her bag the Spoolstone she found there.  With a glance at the Water-Type who was, this time, pursuing her, she then ran to the opposite wall, having spotted something glinting in its cracks.

  "Hey, wait, there's a-"


  Fire once again flared from the ground, burning for a second time Ronnie's feet and clothing.  Snatching the shiny object, she hopped away and set the newest bout of flames to smoldering.  Her feet were badly damaged now, along with her coat and even the tips of her tail feathers.  On the bright side, however, she'd gotten the item, and now clutched it firmly in her right hand.

  "…nother Ember trap," the servant finished, catching up to her.  "We booby-trap just about everything here, kid.  If you keep going, you'll get yourself killed."

  "Danger won't stop the advance of science!" the Shiny declared, pumping into the air the fist that still held her newly obtained object.  Which, it turned out, was actually two objects: a small, oddly-shaped gem that she stuffed in her bag for later examination, and a key, which she then used to unlock the room's only other door, despite the Barboach's protests.  Leaving the key in the lock, she proceeded onward.

  After narrowly avoiding a large clump of Bustershoot placed directly in front of the entrance, the Sneasel scanned the room, eager to continue with her discoveries before the servant could try to deter her again.  Oddly, he did not attempt this immediately, but she was too preoccupied to care.  To her disappointment, the only thing of interest in the room besides the Bustershoot and another passageway was a small, almost pitiful lump of Spoolstone.  Ronnie picked it up and frowned at it, unsatisfied.

  "I was hoping for something more exiting…"


  The voice was unexpected, but nonetheless familiar; looking up, the Ice-Type was delighted to see none other than Edith standing in the opening and staring at her.  The Sneasel quickly stowed away her findings and trotted over to her partner.

  "Hi, Edith!  I'm sorry that I didn't listen to you; we got spit up because of it, and that's my fault.  I'll be more careful next time, I swear!" she apologized with a guilty shuffling of pained feet.  "But what's important is that we're together again, right?"

  The Aurorus looked her younger partner up and down, seemingly only half-paying attention.  A fearful flare of orange rippled through her sails as her gaze fell to the burns.  "Where did you get those?"

  The Shiny chuckled nervously.  "Well, you see-"

  A shout from somewhere down the corridor behind Edith caught the team's attention.  Upon hearing it, the elder Ice-Type narrowed her eyes, adopting a more serious expression.  "Never mind.  You'll have to tell me later.  We have to get out of here.  Now."

  "What?!  Why!?"

  "I was ambushed by a squadron of Barboach when I entered the dungeon," the Aurorus explained hurriedly.  "Even in numbers, they aren't truly a threat, but their leader somehow knows Future Sight…  She doesn't have very good aim, but just the collateral damage left a mark."  At this, Ronnie realized that her partner bore several injuries on her right flank.  They weren't deadly or deep, but still notable, especially having been inflicted by a fish that was barely over a foot tall.  "If they have a chance of besting me, I do not want them to set their sights on you.  Especially not after you've already been hurt.  Now let's get out of here, and quickly."

  The Sneasel nodded, then went to the other side of the room, stepped around the Bustershoot, and pulled on the handle of the strangely now-closed door-

  -Only to find that it wouldn't budge.

  "Huh?!  Hey!"  The Ice-Type banged furiously on the door in the hopes that the Barboach would hear.  "Open up!  I got locked in!"

  "And who do you think did that, hm?" the servant called back sharply.  "I did.  You know why?  Because you didn't listen!  I tried to be lenient, tried to give you the easy way out, but you just wouldn't obey, would you?  Now you'll pay the price, brat.  I might not hurt kids, but the soldiers most certainly will."

  "Who is that?  And what is he talking about, 'not listening'?" Edith demanded, striding up to her partner.

  "Um… I might have annoyed a servant by ignoring his instructions to leave," Ronnie answered sheepishly.  "B-but I wanted to keep exploring, like we were supposed to!  And I knew I had to find you before leaving, no matter what!"

  The Aurorus sighed, but whatever scolding she was about to give was cut off by a triumphant, "There she ish!"

  Turning, the two Ice-Types saw a large cluster of Barboach crowding the passageway, led by one whose speech was impeded by the crooked spoon she held in her mouth.  "Looksh like the dinoshaur found hershelf a friend!  Guessh we'll have to teach them both a lesshon!  Sholdiers, perpare your Mud Bombsh!"

  Ronnie frantically glanced about as the squadron closed in, readying their attacks.  Her eyes fell to the large Bustershoot sitting dormant to her left.  If I set it off at the right time, it could knock out the Barboach, not to mention the door… and maybe us, too.  Well, there's not really a better option…

  "When I say 'now', run to the rightmost wall," the Sneasel whispered, to her partner's surprise.

  "Why?" Edith questioned, her gaze momentarily shifting from the countless advancing foes.  Their attack was about to begin.  "What are you going t-"

  "Now!" The smaller Ice-Type forcefully kicked the Bustershoot, then dove to the nearest corner with the Aurorus as white-hot rock and flame spewed everywhere, along with a wave of blistering heat.  Burning debris rained down on the room's inhabitants, including the two Researchers.  Though the wounds were mostly superficial, the heat they brought with them caused extra damage and pain, so that by the time it was over, Ronnie wondered if both her and her partner should still be conscious.  She quickly discarded the question; they were, the soldiers and their spoon-wielding leader weren't, and that's what really mattered at the moment.

  "Let's get out of here before any of them have the chance to wake up," Edith suggested, coiling her tail around her partner's waist.  Hoisting the Sneasel onto her back, she fled from the room through the charred opening where the door had been.

  The servant had also been affected by the fiery blast, though it seemed to have merely dazed and injured him, rather than knocking him out.  As they hurried past him, he blinked in surprise, then yelled, "You'll pay for this, you brat!  Mark my words!"

  "I really don't like that guy," Ronnie decided as they passed into the room littered with scraps.

  Edith slowed, since the threat was, for the most part, over with, and stared at the two other ways out of the room.  "Do you know which one leads to the exit?"

  The Sneasel pointed to the open passageway across from them.  "Mr. 'I-let-soldiers-beat-up-kids' said it was that way."  Looking at the bits of metal on the ground, she asked, "Can we take some of these?  They could be useful."

  "Alright, I suppose," the Aurorus replied, curling a few pieces in her flexible tail and 'handing' them to her partner.

  As Ronnie put the handful of wires, screws, and bolts into her satchel, her claws clinked against the as of yet uninvestigated object she'd procured from nearby the second Ember trap.  Having little else to do, she pulled it out, her curiosity fending off her oncoming exhaustion from the day's work.  The item was a small, crudely carved lump of golden-brown topaz, formed roughly to look like the outline of the head of a bear Pokémon, like Teddiursa or Ursaring.  There was no detail; only a simple engraving on  the back…

  "1-9-8-7," the Shiny read, frowning.  "What does that mean?"

  "Perhaps it is the code to that?" Edith offered, coming to a stop in the dungeon's final room.

  Tuning her head, the Ice-Type let out a gasp of awe as the rest of her tiredness faded away.  Before the two was an ancient golden obelisk, set with four numbered cylinders.  While the top two were untouched, the bottom two had recently been tampered with, so that they now displayed a '4' and a '2'.

  Ronnie squealed in delight and began climbing up her partner's neck in an attempt to get closer to the first dial.  "Ooh, can I put the code in?  Can I?  Can I, please?  Please please please please please please please please pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaasssssssssssssssssse?"

  Edith glanced back at the passageway, where no Barboach had bothered to follow them.  She sighed.  "I suppose so.."

  "All right!" The Sneasel clambered the rest of the way up the Aurorus's neck and onto her head, hands shaking excitedly as they touched the first cylider.  "1…"

  Edith lowered her head to the next dial.


  Again, the larger Ice-Type lowered her head.


  One last time…


  The monolith rumbled, causing the Shiny to squeak in surprise and Edith to back away.  With a loud whumph!, it plummeted through the floor, leaving a gaping square hole in its place.  Then, just as suddenly, the room was plunged into darkness, as though its illumination was not caused by filtered sunlight at all, but from some artificial, unreliable source.  Cries of alarm could be heard from where the Barboach were, implying that the inexplicable blackout had affected the entire dungeon.  To Ronnie's supreme unease, she was fairly sure she heard something like claws scuttling and scratching along the floor.  Then, from somewhere unsettlingly nearby, there came a long, slow, bone-tingling laugh that sent such a chill down the Ice-Types' spines that even they would've admitted was cold.  Something was watching them, the Sneasel was certain.  Something she'd rather not see.

  "I'm not sure what that just did, but I say we don't linger to find out, yes?" Edith suggested, with a voice so calm that it was obviously hiding another emotion, most likely fear.  Ronnie mumbled agreement, and the Aurorus slowly went to the room's exit, to the lengthy tunnel that would lead them out.


  "Bleh… All this stuff has made me sleepy."

  "Feel free to rest, Veronica; you're going to need it."

  "I am?  Why?"

  "Because when we return to civilization, you are in an unimaginable amount of trouble!"

  "Dang it…"
... Along with some Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, of course.

Feel free to guess what was unleashed.  You have until either tomorrow or Monday, depending on when I'm able to get Fading Echoes's entry up.  Hint: Be more specific.  Also, yes, it is still FNaF related.  But not just any FNaF.  Specific FNaF.  I need to sleep now.  Enjoy!
FNaF belongs to Scott Cawthon.
Pokemon belongs to Nintendo.
Free Sneasel Icon Aurorus Icon Characters are mine.
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