Fading Echoes: A House of Monsters

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  "I know the entrance led underground and all, but does it really have to be pitch black?" Mirage murmured to herself, cautiously stepping deeper into the darkness.

  She had only entered the dungeon a few minutes ago, yet was already engulfed in blackness so thick that it felt more like a liquid or haze than a mere lack of light.  Every movement felt like a terrible accident waiting to happen.  The Zoroark kept expecting to fall into a pit, reach a dead end, get ambushed, and a bunch of other things that were all equally improbable in a place that had already been explored and confirmed relatively safe by myriad other teams.  She knew it didn't make any sense, but then again, so was a Dark-Type who was afraid of the dark.

  I wonder if creating the illusion of a lantern would produce real light, Mirage mused.  She was about to test the idea when she abruptly and slightly painfully walked into the dungeon's true doors.  After yelping in surprise, rubbing her faintly aching snout, and examining the golden surface with her hands, she gently pushed it open and walked through.  The room beyond was still very dim, but compared to the void-like blackness of the tunnel before, the Zoroark found it much more acceptable.  As she took in her surroundings, the doors swung silently shut behind her, though she failed to notice.  So this is what a dungeon looks like…

  It was not, perhaps, the greatest first impression; the room was small and barely visible, rather anticlimactic to the description of 'grand, sprawling labyrinths' that the Guild Leaders had provided.  That did not, however, mean there was nothing of interest.  A large Fleshcap sprouted near the entrance, which the Dark-Type quickly uprooted and stored in the satchel she'd been given.  On the room's far side was a sturdy wooden door secured with a hefty padlock.  And on the wall to her left was…

  "A face?" Mirage muttered incredulously, stepping closer for a better look.

  It was, indeed, a face; an expertly sculpted one, formed from the basalt rock.  It was that of an eerily jubilant Sableye, grinning an impossibly wide smile of razor-sharp teeth.  Its eyes, unlike the rest of its face, seemed to be comprised of pure diamond, like the real-life counterpart.  Unable to resist temptation, the Zoroark slowly reached out to grab one.

  But while in the process of doing this, she blinked, and suddenly, the sculpture was gone.

  "What the-?!" Mirage wildly swiveled her head in search until her eyes once again rested their gaze on the smiling face.

  It was next to the door now, seemingly staring straight at her, its beaming mouth stretched even wider and creepier than before.  Something else about the expression had subtly changed as well, so that it was no longer simply happy, but taunting.  The priceless eyes glinted mockingly, as if they knew they couldn't be obtained, but loved to see someone try.

  "Hey!  Get back here!" Acting on irritated impulse, the Dark-Type leaped at the face, realizing mid-spring how foolish it was.  She crashed forcefully into the wall regardless of this notion, with a clattering crack that suggested she'd done some notable damage.  Yet when she regained her rattled senses, there was no sign of destruction on the rock wall.  Then again, the face was also missing from its surface.  A quick scan of the room revealed the sculpture's newest position to her right, its face changed from a sneering smile to jeering laughter, with eyes squeezed tight and mouth agape.  A small object glinted gold behind its stone teeth.  Choosing curiosity and potentially revenge over better judgment, Mirage went to investigate.

  Peering inside the Sableye's open maw, the Zoroark was surprised to find a filthy golden key, dangling from a curled, ash-gray tongue.  Maybe it unlocks the door?  I guess there's only one way to find out.  It's not like I could go further otherwise…

  Cautiously, Mirage reached a hand through the gap between the spiked teeth-

  -Only to have them immediately snap shut, digging into her wrist and palm with a sharpness like double-edged knives.

  Yowling in pain, the Dark-Type frantically tried to wrench her hand free, claws scrabbling against their confines.  But the face's jaw strength was like a vice, proving both excruciating and inescapable.  Even the tongue was intent on keeping her there; it wrapped itself securely around her palm with disturbing flexibility.  Then she felt something cold and smooth brush against her fingers.  After a moment of initial, illogical revulsion, she realized that it was the key, and made the decision to grab it.  The moment she did so, the Sableye made the inexplicable choice to let her go.  Mirage went sprawling across the floor, the key clutched tightly in her bloodied hand.  As she landed, there was a click, as though some form of trap had been sprung, though whatever effect it had didn't seem to make it past her mane and shawl.  Or perhaps she was just too focused on her more apparent injuries to notice it.

  The Zoroark's right hand and wrist were now punctured with unnervingly deep teeth marks, though none of them appeared to have severed any nerves, seeing as she could still feel and move her fingers.  Unfortunately, bandages were not among the items in her loaned bag, forcing her to soil her shawl to stanch the bleeding.  Afterwards, she stood and examined the now-visible trap she had set off.  It was a square set into the ground, pocked with a grid of large holes.  A cautious poke of the toe made darts shoot powerfully from them, only to noisily ricochet against the ceiling and fall harmlessly to the floor.  Mirage counted nine of them in total.

  If I remember correctly, those guide books called this a Poison Sting trap, the Dark-Type thought.  Then, with a start, I've got nine of those things in my mane!?  Guess T.J. had the right idea when he said to leave the Egg at the Guild…

  As she finally finished meticulously removing the barbs whilst somehow not getting pricked by one, the Zoroark noticed that the stone face had disappeared, this time completely.  Feeling that it was for the best, she went to the door and inserted the key into the lock, allowing the entry to swing open.  Just before she stepped through, however, a low, malicious laugh echoed in her ear, and pointed fingers colder than ice drummed against her black-furred shoulder.  In her periphery, she glimpsed the glow of undead eyes and the glint of polished, bloodstained teeth.

  With several incredibly embarrassing and terrified screeches, Mirage flailed wildly into the next room and fell quite ungraciously on her face.  This new room was much larger than the first, with a tall ceiling that obstructed less of the filtered sunlight from above, making it much easier for the Zoroark to see.

  And, of course, for others to see her.

  The Dark-Type had barely started to get up when an unexpected bombardment of mud knocked her down again.  With much spluttering and rubbing of eyes, she tilted her head up to stare at an angered Barboach captain in questionable headgear.

  "You are trespassing on the territory of the royal King Wussy Whiskey Montgomery Mudscukery Sedimus Munge IV!  Vacate the premises at once, or suffer the consequences!" she commanded.

  "Oh!  Uh, actually," Mirage stammered, clambering to her feet and dusting herself off, "I need to speak with your, erm, 'king'.  See, I'm from one of the Guilds in Andalusst, and-"

  "So your with those soldier-beating, trap-busting, door-exploding scum that blew through here earlier, huh?  All the more reason to kick you out!"

  "What?  No, I-" the Zoroark's defense was abruptly cut off as an assault of mud was hurled at her face.

  From an outsider's view, the scene was probably very comical: a five-foot tall creature with claws and fangs being driven back by a limbless fish one fifth her size.  To Mirage, on the other hand, who hated getting dirty on account of how much hassle her fur was to clean, and who felt that a bitten hand was more than enough injury for one day, did not find it funny in the slightest.  Shielding her face with her left arm, she stumbled backwards through a passageway and into the next room.  Then she once again toppled to the ground, because for whatever illogical reason, the floor, walls, and ceiling were all coated entirely in ice.  To make matters worse, two more Barboach joined the charge: a plunger-wielding soldier who was standing guard in the room, and a somewhat ill-looking glutton who was drawn to the commotion from a nearby doorway.  Together, the three Water-Types barraged her with what was most likely Mud Slap, which, while not very powerful, was still irritating.

  Backed against the frigid wall and hastily wiping dirt from her eyes, Mirage felt a surge of anger at what was happening.  This is ridiculous!  First I have to bumble around in the dark.  Then I get messed with and bitten by some freaky ghost-statue-thing.  I nearly get poisoned, am now covered in mud, and these stupid gill-faced jerks won't even listen to me!  I always thought that going into dungeons was supposed to be thrilling and mysterious and fun, like all the stories he had heard, but this…

  "…I've had ENOUGH of this!" the Dark-Type snarled, furiously pounding her fists against the wall despite the right one's condition.

  To her shock, the icy surface actually gave way to the blows, sending large cracks racing around the walls, down to the floor, and up to the ceiling.  Several small chunks of ice and even a few icicles fell, clattering against the floor and the helmet of the captain, who, along with her companions, now regarded the Zoroark with mute terror.

 "I… I'm sorry," Mirage managed, struck dumb by her actions.  Her foes either didn't believe here or weren't truly paying attention, for their expressions remained the same.  An idea came to her as they stared, and she decided to use it, though she didn't approve in its manipulative properties.  "It's just…  I really need to speak with your leader.  If I don't, then others will come asking, and they're a lot more powerful than I am.  These cracks?  Y-yeah, they're nothing… Um, so, can you take me to him?  Please?"

  The Barboach glanced nervously at each other for several moments.  Then the soldier leaned close to his superior and whispered something along the lines of Bustershoot, prompting the captain to straighten and reply, "Why, of course!  R-right this way!"

  I'm really glad that worked, the Zoroark thought as she was led to the previous room and a locked door.  As one of her escorts fiddled with the key, she stared at her hands.  There was no sign of the power she'd accidentally summoned to them, though the ice had nicked them with several scratches.  Wrapping her right hand back in her shawl, she griped, Great, so not only are my moves useless when I do need them, but now they'll randomly happen when I don't?  This could be really bad.  What if I end up hurting someone?

  "Right this way," the captain instructed, breaking into the Dark-Type's thoughts.  She followed the three Water-Types stepped through the door into another large room.

  Size was where the similarity- and the normality- came to an end; this area was incredibly strange.  To start with, the walls and ceiling were not comprised of basalt, but of numerous precious stones and minerals, all varying shades of green.  Emerald, jade, peridot, you name it- if it was green, it was there.  Probably, anyway.  Mirage was not learned in identifying such things.  This phenomenon most likely applied to the floor as well, but it was hard to tell on account of the shallow water and moss coating it.  A few plant-covered islands rose above the liquid, and this, along with the vines on the walls that grew by light of an unknown source, gave the room an overall swamp-like appearance.  On the largest island in the room's center, flanked by a servant on each side, was the infamous Wishcash himself- and he was not at all pleased by the arrival of his new guest.

  "What is one of those despicable Guild scums doing in my royal chambers!?" he demanded the instant Mirage walked into the room.  "I told you imbeciles not to let anyone in here!  Get her out at once!"

  "B-but she's scary!" protested the plump Barboach, giving the Zoroark a twinge of guilt.

  "What he means, sire," the captain added, "was that we have taken too much collateral damage as it is.  If there is a chance to avoid more injury, we must take it.  Even if, regrettably, it involves allowing one of these intruders an audience with you."

  "You say you were intimidated by this?" Wussy questioned, raising an eyebrow.  "Pah!  That's ridiculous!  She's just an oversized puffball!"

  "I'd prefer not to be called a 'puffball', Wu- er, Your Highness," Mirage commented, now struggling between guilt and anger.  "But that's besides the point.  I need a favor from you.  My Guild wants to-"

  "Absolutely not!  I refuse to affiliate with those violent, destructive, invading brutes!  They attacked my soldiers, got rid of my safeguards, and made a mess of my dungeon!" the Water-Type interjected.  Becoming unfittingly emotional, he continued, "And that stupid sea otter even had the audacity to insult me!"

  Sea otter?  "You mean Cassidy?  Uh, well, Cassidy's part of the Explorers' Guild, along with most of the teams that have come here so far," the Dark-Type replied, thinking quickly, "so if you choose to come meet my Guild Leaders, you wouldn't have any trouble with them.  The Pokémon that want to talk with you are in the Hunters' Guild."

  "Oh?" Wussy stared doubtfully at her, his tone dripping with skepticism, but also carrying a hint of interest.  "And how are these 'Hunters' any different from the rest?  Do tell."

  "Um… well, f-firstly, they're courteous; you know, polite and stuff," Mirage began awkwardly, her fidgeting made uncomfortably apparent by the rippling water.  "They won't insult you, or lie to you, or ignore you, like the Explorers might.  Anything you think needs to be heard will be, I'm sure.  A-and, uh, you'll be very comfortable during your stay.  They've house other important 'mons before, like, er, like the ambassador of Iapon!  So yeah, they know how to treat guests.  Heck, I've only got a dorm room, and it's still pretty nice.  Um…"

  The Zoroark trailed off, having run out of ideas.  Thankfully, the appeal of a fair discussion and abundant luxury seemed to be enough.  "Is that so?  Perhaps I will go see these Guild Leaders then, if only to gain access to such hospitalities." Wussy stopped his rather revealing ramble to peer at her suspiciously.  "But if you're lying, girl-"

  "Oh, no no no no no, of course not!  Like I said, we Hunters are reliable, no matter what!"  At least, I hope I'm not lying to him, the Dark-Type thought.  The Guild Leaders would do all those things, right?

  "Very well!  Servants, prepare for departure!  We travel to meet these Hunter fellows at once!"  Turning his gaze to the three by the door, he added, "You, take this lady to her destination.  I might like the sound of her Guild, but that doesn't mean I'm going to let her amble along unguarded."

  As the Barboach servants began their preparations, Mirage approached the first three Water-Types, who, despite their leader's jubilance, were still regarding her warily.  "I was hoping to go to the exit leading to Geoda, if that's alright."

  "Of course," the captain replied stiffly, proceeding through the door behind her.  Her comrades and visitor followed suit, though the glutton soon left of account of nausea.  The Zoroark wondered what had caused it, but decided not to ask.

  The remaining three found and followed a long, dim hallway, where the Dark-Type collected more Fleshcaps and a lump of Spoolstone.  About halfway through, a door and a guard blocked their way, though once they got an explanation, they were happy to let the group through.  As the door shut behind them, Mirage heard a familiar sound.  It was the chilling laugh from before, when she'd exited the first room.  While no hand or teeth accompanied it this time, it was still incredibly creepy, especially since neither of the Barboach seemed to notice it.

  "M-miss?" the Zoroark murmured tentatively to the captain.  "You wouldn't have happened to see any… ghosts in this dungeon, have you?"

  "Ghosts?" she repeated dubiously.  "That's preposterous.  No one would dare haunt King Wussy's domain."

  Yet as they neared the exit, startlingly bright against the tunnel's gloom, the chuckle came again.  Mirage glanced back and immediately wished she hadn't, for, if only a second, she had glimpsed a thing huddled within the darkness, staring at her with eyes like shattered gems and grinning a wide, bloodied smile.
Um, so nobody guessed, but the Sableye is basicallyVincent Free Icon v.2 .  (goshdarnitIhopethisisokaywithRebornicaIswearItriedtoaskbutTumblreatsallofmyasksnyeh)
And thus, the FNaF references come to a close.  For now.  The story doesn't, though.  I'll try to work on the prologue as soon as I can, though because it doesn't count as part of the dungeons, there is no deadline over my head.  We'll see.  Also, I HATE sitting in front of a computer all day.  I don't like having to sit still for so long.  Meh.
Pokemon belongs to Nintendo.
FNaF belongs to Scott Cawthon.
Vincent is an interpretation of FNaF2's 'Purple Guy' made by :iconrebornica: (I love your stuff and hope this is okay with you)
Zoroark la plz Mirage is mine.
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