~Warning: Before you proceed, please note that this chapter is rated PG13-15+~
Chapter 22: Inner Demons
The weight that pushed down on me was like a thousand daggers, each one driving further into my body. Heh, a pain I was used to. The poison was sinking into me very gradually. I’d begun to lose track of time. Day or night, it didn’t matter anymore. I’d doomed myself ever since I severed the link with Zanna. Even as it pained me to do it, she would have a better chance of survival now with me gone.
A smile formed within my mind. Funny how I only smiled when no one was looking, or not at all. The only thing that kept me alive now was sheer willpower, and even that was dimming. So I’m to die like this,
I thought. Heh, could’ve done better. And the mission…
The mission which I’d sworn to do. I was meant to put the tracer on Zanna; she was my target ever since Deoxys had followed her. The mission had been simple: track Zanna and find out how she was involved with Deoxys by any means necessary. After that was done, I was supposed to lure her back to the Missionary for questioning. Now, it would probably be for experimentation. If we were to ever go back there, to my father, all would be lost. The last thing I wanted now was for Zanna to be tested on. I sacrificed myself for her, and I wasn’t about to let that go to waste.
Part of me had always wondered why I’d done it. Why would I risk my own life for another? A question like that demanded a simple answer; and I’d given it to myself. Because I cared. I cared what happened to this Pikachu. Cared enough to give my life for hers. Zanna was my friend, but lately, it’d been more difficult to do what was needed. When it came to Zanna, I realised I had no limits; I was beginning to care too much.
In my mind, I shook my head. This was wrong and I knew it. In more ways than one. To care for someone was already a big stretch for me, but if I was doing this, it could only mean one thing. I wasn’t about to say the word, no doubt it would just worsen the situation, but my mind thought ahead. Curse my intelligent mind when I needed it to be quiet. The fact was that I was clearly developing feelings towards her. And I…I didn’t want to go there.
Codan had laid down the golden rule as well, and I wasn’t about to cross it. But I’d seen it in his eyes before I’d known myself. He’d known all along. What would happen if I was to wake up? I wouldn’t drag her into my mess of a life, and that was only if she even reciprocated the feeling. Father…he would not approve at all.
Deep within the recesses of my mind, I snorted. My father had been the start of all this trouble. That time in the Records Room, when Zanna mentioned I was her friend, how could I be anything but shocked? I’d never had a friend since I was six years old. My father had clearly seen to that. And then Zanna came along. I had run then, like the coward I was. I didn’t want history to repeat itself. Not again.
A shudder coursed through my dreaming body. After that time, I’d lost him forever. That’s why I shuddered every time someone said ‘friend’. That’s why I never showed my feelings. That’s why I’ve become who I am. I may be cold, but I wasn’t always like this. The one creature whom I blame for my entire pathetic existence; a murderer. My father.
“Hey, Rye! Check this out!” A small green Pokemon stood before me. He winked as he tried to push the solid stone door open. When he couldn’t, the Larvitar slumped and panted, exhausted. I let my bell-like laughter fill the room.
“Oh, Kryal! You’re too much! And so weak. Here, let me show you how it’s done.” I smirked at Kryal who pouted and didn’t move an inch.
“No way! You said I could do this.”
I sighed, picking up a brown pebble and tossing it within my paws. “Yeah, you tried and failed. Don’t you think I deserve a turn?” Kryal raised himself off the ground with a paw, leaning against the door.
“Come on, Riley
.” The fur on my back instantly stood on end. I hated it whenever anyone used my full name; loathed it even. The rough snarl that issued from my throat was a clear warning of that. But it didn’t fool Kryal. My best friend, he’d been like a brother to me ever since the day I was born.
“Oh, there you are!” Great. Too late. That was Kryal’s other half, or his twin sister, if you prefer. Eon wasn’t the best Pokemon to play with, but on the plus side, she could clear a room in two seconds flat.
A smile played about my lips as she approached. “Hey, Eon. What brings you here?” I tried to play cool, but she was too smart to be fooled. Lucky for her.
“Don’t think I’d fall for that! Just because you’re the Commander’s son, doesn’t mean you can get away with it.” The smile on my face faded as I stared at her. What a piece of work this Larvitar was. Her figure alone implied ‘danger’ at every angle.
“Fine. Do what you want,” I snapped, too angry now to care. “But Kryal and I are getting into this room.”
“Darn straight!” I heard Kryal’s muffled voice from behind one of the marble statues. I covered my mouth with both paws to suppress a laugh.
A faint sigh was given from Eon’s direction, and then, "Forgive me, Lord Arceus.” A green fist swung forward, but I’d always been three steps ahead. Dodging her paw like it was nothing; I landed lightly a few paces behind her. Eon whirled around in surprise, a startled gasp escaping her mouth. My own curved up into a grin as I bound her tightly around the waist.
“Heh, did you really think that would work on me? I’ve taken extensive training, you know.” Ignoring Eon’s glares and shouts of protest, I flexed my arms tighter. “Now give me your word you won’t interfere, or tell father. Swear it!” My reply was harsher than intended, but I didn’t want anything to go wrong.
“Not in your dreams, Rye! Let me go!” I sighed. I really didn’t want to do this, but if she gave me no choice…I glanced at Kryal who’d recovered from his little escapade. He gave a slight nod and closed his eyes halfway.
”Sorry, Eon,” I mouthed. One of my paws whipped up to her mouth to stifle a scream and the other gripped the pressure points in her left shoulder. A second later, the Larvitar slumped into my arms. I frowned sadly at what I’d done. Thank goodness father wasn’t here to see that.
I manoeuvred between the marble columns and set Eon down in a corner. I stood over her for a couple of minutes before I heard Kryal’s voice behind me.
“Come on! It had to be done, right?”
“Mmm…” My eyes grew moist. I’d been told I was a cry-baby, but I wasn’t meant to be mean. My conscience usually saw to that. “Yeah, but…” I sighed again. Arguing with Kryal wouldn’t get me anywhere. Eon would wake up in a few hours, anyway. Right now, all I wanted was to see what was in the Forbidden Room. Just the thought of it brought a smile to my face again. “Alright, now
let me show you how it’s done!”
I was brought back to the present. I’d been unaware I was even reliving my past, let alone my nightmare. I drew deep within my mind and curled into a ball. Little had this effect on me. Just remembering made me so fragile; my whole body was encased with sweat, shivering uncontrollably. What had happened that day…”NO!” Thump, thump.
A slashing of steel-on-steel, and a scream to top it off.
I clutched at myself in terror. I don’t want to live! Take me now before he does!
The dark shadows that swam before my eyes haunted me. Without a doubt, I’d succumb to this poison. How could I live knowing what I was apart of? What I didn’t want to be?!
“You promised, Riley…”
“Huh? Eon?” Great, now I was hearing things, too?
“You promised me…won’t you keep your word?”
Eon’s voice echoed throughout my mind, but then warped into a new one. One which was part of me, but a demon. “He was bound to suffer. I saw him betraying you. On the contrary, Riley, I took pleasure in it. Pleasure in my killing…”
“GO AWAY!” I lashed out at the voice, clutching my head in agony. It had been so long since I was this afraid…so long since I could actually taste
the blood flowing on my lips. I needed death; it would be a comfort now. “Let me be! Haven’t you tormented me enough?!” Eyes wide with fear, the scene enveloped me again…
“And that should do it!” I smirked in confidence. My abilities were getting stronger! I clenched my paws as I made way for Kryal. The Larvitar peered at the dark crack in the doorway, just wide enough for us to fit through. He took a deep breath and then grimaced.
“I don’t know if I’m ready for this. How about the Lord’s son goes first?”
I snorted. “I told you to stop using formalities with me. It’s not like I’m a hero, or something.” Nevertheless, I pushed past the Larvitar and made for the dark void. I strained my ears to see if there were any sounds, but they must have been too subtle for me to pick up.
My muscles automatically tensed as I slid through the doorway. Who knew what I’d find. I heard Kryal follow slowly from behind. From his uneven footsteps, I could guess he was nervous. So much the better,
I thought. At least we’ll be on our guard.
The room we’d entered must have been called ‘forbidden’ for a reason, and I wanted to find out why. As the Commander and Lord’s son, I was allowed anywhere. To not be able to enter a room made me naturally curious. It was a very dark room filled with sinister shadows. I’d found that there was no light switch, but instead a clear orb hung from the ceiling. I snickered. This room must have been old to still have a mechanism like that as a light. I stopped walking and halted Kryal with a paw.
Focusing my electricity into both paws, I thrust them towards the light. In a burst of speed, the voltage from my body lit the orb. It seemed to glow almost instantaneously. The cold cement walls of the room were revealed…and others, besides. Everything else locked and froze around me; my mind had just shut itself off. All I could hear was my ragged breathing and the gasp of surprise that escaped my lips. This room…was filled with cages!
The silence stunned me, more than the dank, rusty smell. Yet something nagged at me. A room full of cages, but no sound? That could mean only one thing: there were no inhabitants here. My ears hadn’t caught any sound. I noted the nearest cage was to my right. The bars reached all the way to the ceiling and a small iron door was set about halfway down. Why wasn’t it at ground level?
I walked over to the cage, my footsteps echoing against the cool surface of the floor. The cement unnerved me. To my nose, it smelt like death surrounded this room. Kryal must have felt the same, for he’d not taken a step further to follow me. As I reached the cage, I placed both my paws on the metal bars. They felt so smooth, but I could also feel chinks within them, mostly on the inside. I shuddered inwardly because those holes felt like teeth marks. Something had been gnawing at the bars.
Eyes widening ever so slowly, I peered into the cage…and froze. I wanted to run, but my legs had frozen to the cement. I knew then that it wasn’t my doing. I was
trying to run. Something had bound me to the floor! “Rye!” Kryal’s scream made me jerk my head around.
“Ah!” It was with terror that I saw a hooded figure emerge from the north of the room. It made straight for Kryal. I could only watch as it bent over him…sniffing? The beast gave off a rough snarl and turned its head to me. It didn’t want to waste its time with Kryal, I realised. It smelt a more powerful foe in me.
As it sauntered to where I stood, frozen to the floor, I noted that its mouth was chained in a muzzle. Apart from that, it walked on two legs and was completely black. I’d never seen such a thing in my life; I was beyond terrified. My fur stood on end and I was shaking like I’d just been dropped in a sea full of ice. “Mother…” I whimpered, tears clouding my vision.
I scrunched my eyes shut as the figure drew closer. I knew I’d die now. There was no way out of it. But even as I heard the savage growl escape from its mouth and its warm breath upon me, the final blow never came.
I snapped my eyes open. Next to the figure, binding it with psychic powers, was my father’s oldest friend, Khrono. The Slowking motioned with a paw and the hooded beast was instantly chained to the nearest set of bars. He then waved a paw at my feet and Kryal’s. Both of us were set free and I hurried to Khrono’s side, grasping onto his leg firmly. “Oh, Rye…” he murmured, tousling my fur. “Let’s get you out of here before any more trouble occurs.” Khrono took my paw and then led us both to the door.
“A pity that a good thing has to go to waste, now.”
“Huh?” My eyes widened as I released the Slowking’s paw and turned around gleefully, yet I cringed. “Father!” The Electabuzz stared down at me with loathing.
“I’ll talk to you later,” he snapped.
I stared at him as he walked over to the beast. “Father?” What was going on here? Father stood near the dark creature and peered up at it. Strange, but the thing didn’t seem to want to attack him. I felt a gentle prod on my shoulder before Khrono drew me close to him. I noticed Kryal on the other side, also hiding behind a thick leg for safety. I opened my mouth to speak, but the Slowking shook his head roughly in a warning.
“When I say so,” he whispered fervently, “I want you to run. Don’t question me,” he added, seeing my face. “Just do it. Rye, ignore your father, whatever he says. Take Kryal and flee.” I frowned. He must be getting delusional in his old age. What was he talking about?
“Interesting, Khrono, old friend. It seems to me that you’ve been keeping secrets.” Father’s voice boomed across the room with a kind of contempt.
“Secrets?” Khrono answered. “Whatever do you mean, my Lord?” I noticed that he’d shuffled a step back. Why was he afraid of my father? He’d never hurt anyone before.
“Indeed,” he continued. “Maske here tells me that you’re planning to escape…with my son.” The Electabuzz’s eyes narrowed. I was used to seeing my father with red eyes, but they suddenly seemed to crave for blood.
“S-sir! Khrono stuttered. “I would nev-”
“RELEASE!” My father directed the cry at the beast called Maske. The cloak and chains slid off to reveal a dark croc-like Pokemon that my instincts told me was a Feraligatr. Khrono gave a startled cry and pushed Kryal and I backwards so hard that we ended up sprawled across the floor. Maske let off a terrifying growl.
“Father! What are you doing?!” I shouted across the room. The Slowking turned and called to me.
“No, Lord Rye. You musn’t-arrgh!” In the instant that he’d looked away, Maske’s jaws had closed around Khrono’s free arm. A scream of terror erupted from my mouth.
“Father! Stop this!” But as I looked over at him I saw my father smiling. He was enjoying
Khrono’s pain. Sweat beaded my forehead and my heart skipped a beat as I shuffled on the cold floor. I began to bite my lip so hard that I tasted blood; almost identical to the flow of sanguine fluid that streamed down Khrono’s body.
I stared, horrified, as Maske snapped at him again. Khrono was caught in the large jaws instantly. First a leg and then his other arm were torn from his body. Shreds went flying around the room, blood and fur alike stuck fast to the walls. My eyes were glued. As much as I wanted to scream and run, I couldn’t. Khrono’s own soundless gasping kept me seated, frozen on the floor.
Maske gave one, last savage growl before sending his fangs through the back of Khrono’s head. The Slowking shuddered as a nerve was hit and collapsed upon the ground, swimming in a pool of his own blood and organs. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the beast keeled over and started lapping at the remains. My mouth filled with bile and the blood from my lip. But I finally closed my eyes. Shadows of the figure haunted me now, and I could smell the rust and warmth of the death that had just occurred. What followed surprised me even more.
.” My father’s voice trilled with triumph. I felt my heart stop. He was no Pokemon; he was a monster! I buried my head in my paws and curled up against a part of the wall that was clean from gore. My ragged breathing and inaudible sobs were all that attached me to the real world now. That and Kryal, who had taken refuge behind a small cement block to my left. I heard father’s voice command Maske to stay and then he directed his shouts towards me. I moved my paws to cover my ears.
I…can’t hear you!
I repeated endlessly in my mind, grasping at my head so hard that I began to feel dizzy. But no matter how hard I tried, I could still feel his touch as he grabbed me roughly, yanking me to my feet.
“You disobeyed my orders! Do you really
want to know what’s in here?!” I didn’t reply, but tugged as hard as I could away from his grasp. It didn’t matter. I could have been a feather to him. “Well? I am creating an army of Dark Pokemon! The likes of which will defeat Deoxys!” So that’s why I couldn’t sense a life source…
I sniffled and opened half an eye. “But…but what about friends? The people who you trust to fight for you…?” My father looked at me in surprise and burst out laughing, dropping me to the floor again. I hurried back to the wall, my gaze flickering towards Kryal.
” he spat, gesturing towards the remains of Khrono. “There is no such thing! Let me tell you something, Rye. We exist solely to obey our orders. There are our team-mates, advisors and objects, but there is no such thing as a friend
. We do not need them. All that happens is injustice! A very piece of your soul to be torn away from you, until there is nothing left but a void of darkness and despair!”
I caught a sly grin on his face as his eyes narrowed. They were pure crimson now. I cringed as far away as I could against the wall until the jutting rocks cut into my back. I could feel the pain; it stung, yet it was nothing compared to my father at this present time. He was nothing but a monster! How was he a lord?! Hearing a soft squeak from my left, I turned to see Kryal cowering silently. I held my father’s eyes as he turned to him. You don’t need friends…
No; he wouldn’t…”NO!” I screamed, but I was too late.
Father had caught hold of Kryal’s legs. Pulling the tiny Larvitar upright, he held him by the ends of both his arms. I could see how little his pathetic struggles were doing. I closed my eyes again swiftly. All I could hear was Kryal’s muttering of terror, his plea for help. Like the fool I was, I ignored him. I just wanted to leave this place. “Watch!” my father commanded, and I was forced to obey.
I saw everything then; the manic look in his eyes, red and cold, his fangs glinting from the depths of his many teeth and his powerful arms as they pulled intensely away from Kryal’s body. I was forced to watch as my only friend was ripped in half by my father, the glee on his face stinging my mind like an unwanted thorn.
I was still. So still that the only thing that moved was my father. His footsteps echoed like metal as they scraped across the floor towards me. I hid my head under my arms and buried it within my fur again. I bit into my already raw lip and my claws found new holes to nestle into. “Come,” was my father’s only word. And like a puppy drawn to its master, I obeyed.
I exited the room in absolute silence, not looking back, with only a numbness spreading through me. Only a single sound was audible to me; three words that swam within my head.
Friends don’t matter…
And so I let the ice encase me.