The following chapter takes place three years after the conclusion of the original TOTGM series. Having come across an extremely rare Bounsweet in his area of the Ureaxion Region in the second After Story special, the Guardian, shrouded by his cloak and his mischievous shadowy Imp Pokemon by his side, the only of its kind named Midna, continue along their way with their new companion hidden safely away from predatory locals as the group strolls alongside a sprawling river, filling the forest they trek with the sound of gentle, and at times, rushing water as it leads them along toward their next destination.
Chapter 3 - The Will Of Fire
"Well... At least we haven't had to deal with any predators today." Chris sighed, thinking back on the past few days he'd spent fending off Pokemon that sought to make a meal out of the Bounsweet hiding away within his cloak. Slumping over his shoulder, Midna let out a weary sigh as well, a stream of smoke wafting from the imps mouth as it released its deep breath. "I gotta admit, you've done a good job keeping those hunters away too." Chris praised, the imp raising its hand in a "thanks" manner. Working its way up his cloak, the Bounsweet poked its head out from the side of his hood, pressing its cheek against his while doing so as it looked around in a confused manner. "...You act kinda funny, you know that?" Chris point out as the berry-like Pokemon scanned the area, a look of curiosity showing through its confusion. Continuing to glance at it, Chris looked around as well before raising an eyebrow. "I wonder..." he muttered before glancing at Bounsweet again. "You really don't see your kind around here. Like... EVER." he point out. "I've been around here since I was a kid and not once did I see one of you lurking about... Maybe you don't even come from this place?" he asked, the question making the Pokemon jolt. "...That a yes?" he asked, tilting his head as the Pokemon blinked and looked around again, letting out quiet murmuring noises. "You know... I kind of wish Serenity HAD come with me now." Chris sighed, unable to understand the little creatures behavior. Looking at Midna however, an idea popped into his head as he smiled at the imp, causing it to give him a curious look of its own. "I don't suppose YOU know how to help me understand Pokemon too? After all, you were part of her!" he point out. Blinking at him for a moment, Midna sat up and appeared to be thinking his question over before shrugging with a nervous grin, letting out an "eh heh... keh..." chuckle as a "sorry" type of response.
Letting out a sigh, Chris scratched his head with a "Bah... Oh well" comment. "Once you were split apart from her I guess it makes sense you'd lose touch with the things the two of you could do before... Heck, for all we know you really can't do anything she could since you're not connected." he point out, causing the imp to slump. Looking at it, Chris smirked and rubbed it on the head with his finger. "It's okay. It's just something that makes you and her stand more apart from one another. Both of you can do things the other can't. That's why you're Midna and she's Serenity." he assured, making the imp raise and grin. Looking back at Bounsweet, Chris paused and removed it from his hood, causing the Pokemon to kick and flail in a state of panic from being out in the open. "E-Easy! It's just for a second!" he assured, trying to set it down atop a nearby stump only for it to fight against being released, trying to scurry along his arms before he finally stood it before him, making Bounsweet stiffen to the point of being a statue while sweating wide eyed. "Geez... You're not going to be a target EVERY second of the day you know. We haven't been attacked today at all so far, relax." Chris lectured before sitting and looking at the berry-like creature. "Alright, so we can't actually talk to one another, that means you're going to have to signal your responses." he instructed, Bounsweet remaining stiff as stone and whimpering. "Now then, when I ask you something, either nod or shake your head like this." Chris added, showing it what to do before raising his finger. "First question... Do you come from here? I mean, were you born here?" he asked, trying to keep his words simple as the Pokemon remained still before finally rapidly shaking its head in response. "Okay then... So you're NOT from here?" he affirmed, getting a second rapid shake "no" as the answer.
"Alright, that's one thing." Chris sighed before raising two fingers. "Second question... You were attacked by that Toucannon..." he began, causing Bounsweet to let out a shrill scream before it shot toward him like a bullet, trying to hide itself in his cloak again causing Chris to fight with it before managing to firmly return it to the stump. "As I was saying..." he scowled. "That kind of Pokemon isn't from here either... It must have been migrating with those others. So the question is, did it bring you here?" he asked, Bounsweet remaining still before finally nodding its head. "So you were forced to come here... Wherever you're from, it must have dropped you along the way by accident, that's why it was so pissed too when I took off with ya." Chris muttered, thinking "saving it for a snack..." before the wind made the surrounding plants rustle, causing Bounsweet to shriek and look around in a panic. "...Your kind really does live a paranoid life, huh?" he asked, the Pokemon ignoring him as its focus went toward their surroundings. "That means I don't have anywhere to take you. As far as I know, your kind likes the tropics most, but the nearest beaches are so far away... It'd be no problem taking you home if I could still zip through the skies, but on foot it's a detour I can't afford right now. Plus there's no guarantee the places I took you would be where you actually came from to boot even if we could go places quicker..." Chris went on, crossing his arms with a frustrated scowl as he thought over the situation. "For all I know you may have even come from the islands." he added before thinking "But Alola is so far..." to himself as he rubbed his chin. Looking at the nervous Pokemon again, Chris shook his head before reaching his hand out.
"Well... Since it's not really possible for me to get you home right now, is it okay with you to stick with us? We might not be taking you back to where you came from for a while, but if you stick around we'll get you there eventually I'm sure. Looking out for you isn't too bad... It keeps our wits sharp at least." he point out before the Pokemon darted along his arm and dove back into the hood of his cloak, hiding behind his head. "We can work on your paranoia too." he added with a sigh while standing, Midna letting out an agitated growl while peeking in at the trembling Pokemon. "Hey now, no picking." Chris lectured, the imp backing away and sitting in a posture like that of a dog on his shoulder as it grunt out of jealousy. Taking his staff in hand, he resumed his trek along the river while glancing at the stones and Pokeball atop his staff. After a moment, the tranquility around him led Chris into flashing back through his memories, rubbing the Mega Stones as he walked along and thought of when he introduced their new caregiver Aoi to the others. While the staff of his mansion welcomed her with open arms, overwhelming the young woman at first with their doting behavior, initially the girls took time to convince. Though with proper explanation of her circumstances, even Serenity gradually warmed up to the new human in their abode, a bonding that was aided by their children's closeness toward the former slave. Thinking back, Chris remembered the first time Aoi met their bundles of energy the morning after her arrival, with him coaxing the girls into peeking into Aoi's room through the door after he'd noticed their kids entering the room, watching together as they silently poked their curious heads over the side of her bed.
Thinking about the way Serenity had dug her nails into his shoulders, it was too clear how strongly she felt about anyone getting near the life the two of them had created, though the others were just as unnerved in their own ways with Alicia's eyes showing an instinct to bring blood he'd rarely witnessed even during their journeys. Rose was the most collected, though she too was stiffened in the moment as their kids climbed atop the bed. The closer they got to Aoi, the more tense the girls became, their restraint seemingly ready to snap when Aoi herself began to stir. Sitting atop her body, their kids waited as their new caretaker began to wake, raising with a yawn only to jolt when she felt their presence and looked at the group of kids, freezing briefly before blinking curiously. Giving Serenity a nudge to let Aoi into their psychic bubble, the Pokemon begrudgingly did as requested, allowing the woman to understand the children as they greeted her and asked various questions in an infantile manner, the ability to know what they were saying catching Aoi further off guard. As they kept an eye on the kids, Chris recalled how the girls gradually eased their wariness until he was certain they were ready to meet the new member of their home. With his flashback ending as they went into the room, Chris shook his head, bringing himself back to reality before looking around as he continued along the river. Taking out his Pokedex, he noticed one of the beacons Ninetales instructed him to place on his map beginning to flash. Curiously enough, he found himself heading toward a strangely ominous area, where before him the forest slowly transitioned from lush and green to somehow blackened, the foliage having been seared with ash blanketing the ground.
Pausing for a moment, Chris walked up to one of the smaller ruined trees and gave it a push, causing it to easily fall before disintegrating into ash at his feet as though it'd been vaporized. Blinking in surprise, he looked around as Midna scanned the area atop his shoulders, crawling from side to side while Bounsweet warily poked its face out from his hood, letting out a wary noise as he continued on his way. Sticking by the river, it wasn't long until the grass beneath his feet was nothing but piled ash, making it seem as though he was walking through snow while the greenery had completely vanished. In a sense, it was as though he'd went from the midst of spring to the dead of winter, noticing the trees beginning to glow the further he went, still freshly smoldering as singed flakes waft about the air above. The more damage they traversed, the more wary Chris and the Bounsweet became, the area becoming silent as the sense of life around them vanished. Midna however, in its own strange way, became ecstatic over the destruction, grinning and cackling while jumping about on Chris's shoulders before leaping into the ashes below and tunneling through them, creating a mound everywhere it went and randomly leaping out before diving back in like that of a fish swimming though water. "...I still don't get you..." Chris muttered. Looking toward the river, it was the only thing still showing signs of life, with various water Pokemon hurrying through the current. "Weird... If a fire broke out it usually starts and spreads out... Here it's like it started on the outside and made its way in." he thought to himself, noticing how more plant life was glowing the further he went, embers thickening in the air.
Looking back at the river, Chris started noticing something strange wafting through the current, a color that looked somehow off as the water flowed. Walking up, he crouched down with a quiet "wha...?" while Midna returned to his shoulder for a curious look of its own. Spotting the same thing flowing through the river, the imp suddenly showed a somewhat malicious grin, a hungry sound of sorts escaping its mouth as it opened showing trails of darkness sticking between its teeth like that of drool. "Q-Quit that! It's creepy enough around here!" Chris lectured as Midna licked its lips. Twitching his eye, Chris shook his head and continued making his way along, keeping a wary eye on the river as the strange trails wafting through the river deepened in color to that of a familiar red. The darker it became, the more ravenous Midna behaved, pacing along his shoulders while letting out repeated hissing sounds of hunger. Feeling the Bounsweet trembling in his hood, Chris gave the Pokemon a pat, coaxing it to relax before looking ahead and pausing wide eyed. Having finally arrived at the first point set on his map, he found himself standing before the source of the redness streaming through the water. Just ahead, a Pokemon could be seen partially submerged on the opposite side of the water, appearing to have crawled out on the side of the river where it was weakly pushing an object away from the stream with blood seeping from its torso. About to walk up, his foot slipped on an object below, causing him to stumble before looking back and finding the skull of what appeared to be a canine Pokemon of sorts. Looking around him, the remains of countless other Pokemon could be seen sticking out of the ashes as well, all scorched to their blackened bones themselves.
Remaining still for a moment, he heard the struggling sounds of the Pokemon ahead, catching the object as it rolled back toward the water and trying to push it away again while attempting to crawl further out of the river toward the green foliage of the untouched forestry ahead. Where the Pokemon had been felled, so too did the destruction appear to end, and with a deep breath and a wary step, Chris continued approaching the wounded creature, noticing a way across formed from boulders. Staying as silent as he could, once on the other side and close enough he was able to make out the Pokemon while hiding behind one of the smoldering trees, discovering it to be a Delphox with the object it struggled with appearing to be an egg. With his eyes widening again, Chris muttered a hushed "no way" as the Pokemon before him started coughing, blood escaping its mouth as well. Still remaining wary, he nodded to himself and walked out into the open, further approaching the Delphox as it gave the egg another push away from the river. This time catching it beneath his foot, Chris stopped it from rolling back causing the Pokemon to freeze with a jolt, its eyes widening before quickly looking up at him, their eyes meeting for a brief moment. With both remaining still, Chris finally lowered, setting his staff aside and taking the egg in his hands, causing the Delphox to show an enraged look as it yanked out a long stick from beneath its body. Summoning a deadly flame for a brief moment around the tip of the object, the Pokemon coughed again and dropped its weapon as it tried to thrust it forward, gasping as it struggled to breathe through its own internal bleeding while the fire it summoned vanished. Weakly raising its head with its teeth grit, the Pokemon jolt when it saw Chris's hand outstretched, its eyes widened as it remained still.
Glancing at the stick the Pokemon had dropped, he reached out and took it in hand as well, making the Pokemon tense up before he offered the stick back. "...Here." Chris coaxed. "I'm not an enemy..." he assured, shaking his head as Bounsweet popped its face out of his hood and looked at the wounded Pokemon with a saddened expression. Finally making a move, the Delphox slowly took its stick back as Chris called for Midna, causing the imp to appear on his shoulder. Seeing the dark creature, Delphox tensed up again, tightening its grip on its stick as Midna looked at the bleeding Pokemon as though it was ready to feast, its sharp teeth bared while a hiss escaped its lips. Firmly calling its name a second time, Chris made the imp pause before instructing it to hold the egg. Remaining still for a moment, it wasn't until he looked at the creature that it obeyed, albeit in a begrudging manner as it crawled down his arm, letting out an agitated grumble before sinking into the ash on the ground. Creating a small puddle of darkness, it was like that of an eerie pillow of sorts, smoke wafting from it as Chris placed the egg on top of it, causing tendrils to rise and grip the egg to hold it securely in place. With a wary eye focused on the darkness, Delphox remained tense before jolting when it felt Chris taking hold of it, making the Pokemon shout and struggle for barely an instant only to put itself through further internal distress. Reaching out, Chris placed his hand on the Pokemon's chest, making Delpox pause as he closed his eyes. "...Just a little." he muttered. After a moment, a soft wind started wafting around them as his hand released a dim glow, pure in color until pulling it away. "...Now breathe." he instructed, looking at the Pokemon as its eyes met his in turn.
Looking down, Delphox felt its chest before it opened its mouth and slowly took in air, a surprised look on its face only to groan as pain rushed from its wounded torso. "I bought you a little time. You can breathe, at least. I was able to partially heal and empty the blood from your lungs, but... I'm afraid that's all I can do, and even that won't last..." Chris apologized while lifting the Pokemon from the water and helping it stagger toward a nearby tree. Helping it sit against the trunk, Chris backed away and took the egg from Midna, though not without some resistance from the hungry imp as it tried to cling to the potential meal. Nonetheless, he retrieved it and brought it back to the Delphox as Midna restored her form, rising from the dark puddle as it retracted and sitting like an annoyed canine. Taking the egg back in its arms, the Pokemon rubbed the top of it before wincing with a hiss, a weary look suddenly showing in its eyes before shaking its head and looking at Chris as he fetched his staff from nearby. "...Dunno what caused all this, I can tell you did it though, that's obvious." he point out while returning to Delphox and squatting in front of it. "...Your egg, right?" he asked, the Pokemon looking at him before facing down with a nod. "You're a psychic type, that means you can understand me better than most Pokemon too. If you're able to use telepathy, now's the time to do it." he affirmed. "...I'd like to know what happened, and..." he paused, looking at the egg. "...What I should do with that..." he added, Delphox looking down at it as well for a moment before groaning again. "I swear I'm not an enemy, I won't do anything bad to you or the egg. At least tell me what to do with it, if you can." he repeat, waiting for an answer as the Pokemon appeared to think over the situation.
After a moment, it finally reached for its stick and weakly held it in front of itself, forming a flame at the tip and letting out a noise along with grunts while motioning toward Chris with it. Tilting his head, he leaned in closer until the Delphox grunt again, signalling for him to pause as it held the flame between itself and his face. Taking a moment to gaze into the fire, the Pokemon appeared to focus itself, seemingly gazing through the flame and directly into Chris himself as its pupils sharpened. With the two remaining silent, eventually the Delphox sighed and lowered its stick, the flame vanishing as its pupils returned to normal, appearing to think something over once again before looking up at Chris, its eyes growing more weary. "...It's not ideal, but I could do worse for this child." the Pokemon finally spoke in an exhausted feminine tone, her voice echoing in Chris's mind causing him to jolt before sighing in relief. "Good... You can speak." he nodded. "I've looked into your past, and glimpsed at your future through my fire... I suppose it's only suitable I spend my final moments with a being like you." she nodded back. "I saw it all... You've traveled both worlds, you walk with spirits and demons alike by your side... You live as a being not of your own kind, yet not of any other either. Raised by man and beast... And now not alive nor' dead, neither defines you..." she point out before lowering her head with a smirk. "One who exists outside the laws of all we know... Who belongs in neither this world nor' the next..." Delphox added. "Curious... That as I cross the worlds, I meet one who has already been and returned." she sighed before looking back up at Chris with a nod. "Relentless in your struggles, firm in your ways... Yes... I could do worse for this child." she repeat with another weary breath.
"Some time ago, I birthed this life you see before you. It's nearly ready to greet this world, a right I struggled to protect." she began. "I was once part of a clan. But as my age took its toll, my position was challenged. And once it was discovered I was to birth an heir to my rule when others were so close to taking it for themselves, there were those willing to resort to extremes to insure their own rights didn't slip through their claws." Delphox went on, rubbing the egg in her arms. "And so, I found myself chased from the very clan I brought together. We were a prosperous group, more-so than any we've come across. So great was our success, other clans surrendered themselves willingly to join our numbers and thrive alongside us... There were so many who desired control of it all that I was far outnumbered, and thus found myself here." she revealed. "The scorched Earth that led you here was a battlefield, the fire controlled so as not to destroy more than need be... The bones are both, clansmen who hunt me down and locals alike who joined the fray out of their own fury from having their homes turned to ash." Delphox went on. "Through a combination of my attackers and myself, enemies and innocents alike were killed. I won't deny it." she confessed. "And because of that innocent blood lost, I suppose it's only right my own now seeps into the soil our battle tarnished..." she chuckled before groaning again. "...You asked what to do with this egg, and now you know of the home from which it escaped. It can stay neither with me, nor' return to whence it came." Delphox answered. "And so, having heard my story, being the one to discover us once the battle was finished and revealing your life and nature through my fire, one curse will now lead you into another." it grinned.
"You, who won't and can't refuse, will keep this child by your side, for the rest of your days as your own, and will endure all the challenges that come with it." the Pokemon affirmed, weakly holding the egg out toward Chris causing his eyes to widen. "That's right... I've seen all, thus know all. You've lived as an accursed being, so taking on another should be of little surprise." Delphox point out. "I uh... Keeping it WITH me..." he began. "Is precisely what you will do. Unlike the others you've left behind, this child will stay by your side. It is a normal Pokemon, thus it will grow normally. The others who are not and cannot will understand." she assured, causing Chris to jolt as she laughed. "I told you, I've seen and know all." she reminded. "Some of the things I've seen... The life you will share... I won't say I agree with..." the fox point out, giving Chris a suddenly stern look before sighing and relaxing against the tree behind her. "I won't fight it however... The child will act out of earnest, out of devotion. I cannot ask for more, whether I support what will occur or not." she affirmed. "My battle, my end, was as fated as our meeting and this child's future. To argue or fight against it in the time I have remaining would be to insultingly do so against the God's themselves." Delphox smiled, looking up as she rest her head back. "Though some things do not necessarily please me, the life this child will have will be one free of the struggles and dangers I endured, that it would have suffered had it taken on the responsibilities I would have passed down. It will be a life full of many things I may even have wished for at some point yet had to abandon along the way. Things that I wanted, this one will have, thus I suppose I can't ask for more." she nodded. "That in mind... You've my blessing to raise this one, and in regard to all that will happen between you." Delphox assured as he took the egg in slight confusion.
"...It seems I'm running out of time again." she added, suddenly coughing up blood again into her palm before looking at her trembling hand and facing Chris. "I thank you, and those within you for winding back my clock, however slightly it may have been." she smiled, her words causing him to show a somber look. "Sorry..." he apologized. "Don't be, it was not your place to do so yet you did nonetheless, despite my initial response you still stretched out a hand to aid me and did so using the very thing that keeps your own life tethered to this world." the fox replied, shaking her head before lifting her stick. "That too is why I entrust that child with you and offer my blessing... And now, as my final moments tick away, I have one other thing to leave with you." she added as her stick began floating before her. "I want you to give this to the child. It has served me well in life, and so too shall it serve the next generation when it walks this Earth upon its own feet." she added. Closing her eyes, Delphox lift its hands to the sides of the floating object, focusing as her body began to release a flame-like aura. "With the essence that remains within me, I will pour it into this gift. The child's power and my own will become one, and as its will and experience grows, so too will the potential it wields." she assured as the aura around her started flowing into the stick, a fiery aura of its own forming. "When the child wields this, all that I am will be its own to unleash. It's the least I could do for not being in this world alongside it..." the fox explained. After a moment, her aura faded away into the stick before it hovered toward Chris, the fire around it vanishing once he took it in hand. Looking at the now limp Pokemon before him, he noticed a satisfied and relaxed look on her face as a chuckle escaped her lips.
"It's... A curious sensation... Death..." she point out, her telepathy weakening as her breathing grew shallow, the sound of her lungs drowning once more becoming clear. "Not... The worst however... I've... Felt worse things..." she added before looking at the egg in Chris's arms. "In the past... And even now..." she added, focusing on the egg more than her own demise before looking at his shadow. "And you... Demon... You hunger, yes...?" Delphox asked. "In return for your master taking that child under his wing... You may do as you wish... My body will be just a shell soon enough..." she finished before her head began going limp, causing Chris to look at his shadow as Midna's grin appeared on its surface. Sensing the stone in his chest, Chris looked down for a moment before facing the dying Pokemon, noticing her eyes starting to glaze over. "...I can't keep you alive, but my friends... They say we can do something else for you. They can spare a little more energy, but... It will hurt, what I'll do to you..." he offered, the fox's ears twitching slightly as she struggled to raise her head which remained limp despite her effort. "...Oh...?" she asked before he leaned toward her ear and quietly explained. Pulling away, she showed another smile as the glaze over her eyes worsened. "...Interesting..." she replied. After a moment, as her eyes began to shut, Delphox gave him an "alright" response before he set her egg and stick to the side. Making Bounsweet stand on the ground next to him, Chris removed his cloak along with the rest of the clothes on his upper body. "I don't want the two of you to see this." he affirmed before instructing Bounsweet to stay under his cloak alongside the egg as he tossed it over both. Looking up, Chris muttered "sorry about this..." before pressing his hands together.
After a moment, with the same glow as before appearing from the stone in his chest and a deep breath, he directed the energy through his arm, the aura wafting along into his hand before he thrust it forward, piercing it through Delphox's chest making the Pokemon lurch back and hack out blood into the air. With her eyes widened as her chest released a somewhat spiritual glow, from deep within her, Chris slowly pulled out a light no bigger than that of a speck, the process making Dephox gasp and groan through her teeth as though he were twisting a knife within her until the speck of light snapped apart from her body. "I got it..." he assured, clutching the speck in his hand as Delphox went limp once more. "It's kind of breaking a few rules, but... It should work." he promised as a smile appeared on the Pokemon's face. "I sense... The God's anger..." she chuckled in a gargled manner. "I have a habit of annoying a lot of people... I think I'll be forgiven in time." he smiled back. "...Enjoy paradise. You'll love it up there. I should know!" Chris assured. "I'm the one messing with the rules, so you don't have to worry." he added. "You think they'd... Welcome me...?" Delphox asked. "After making sure your kid survived...? No doubt in my mind. You might have some explaining and making up to do, but there's still definitely a place up there waiting with your name on it!" Chris affirmed as she closed her eyes. "You're... Too kind..." she weakly smirked. "After putting a hole in your chest it feels weird to hear that." he point out with a nervous smile, the fox looking at him with another final smile of its own before he felt the link between their minds vanish. Letting out a bloody urk, her eyes widened and began to dilate as he jolt and watched death take her, the Pokemon slumping off the tree before lying still in front of him in the snow-like ash.
"...Good luck on your journey..." he nodded, reaching out and closing her eyes before shutting his own for a moment of silence. Once he was finished, Chris backed away from the Pokemon with a deep breath. "...You heard her, Midna..." he nodded, ordering "...Go." as he reached out his hand, the imp excitedly rising from his shoulder before shooting along his arm and leaping toward the body, enveloping it in a shadowy mass which eerily moved about and slowly condensed. Turning away, he looked at his fist which held the speck of light within, waiting for Midna to finish its deed. Hearing rustling from under his cloak, Bounsweet let out a nervous noise, causing him to jolt. "Not yet, just a minute longer." he assured, placing his hand where the Pokemon was and giving it a rub. "I'm almost done." he added in a soft tone, watching as the mound of shadow finally retracted toward him, revealing the bones of the Pokemon that had offered its body. Creeping up along his legs, the darkness made its way back to his shoulder, condensing itself as Midna began to rise and comfortably sat, rubbing its stomach with a belch as Chris returned to the remains. "Yeah... Almost done..." he quietly repeat with a nod. Looking the stick over he'd been given, he noticed a notch in it before looking at the skeleton. Reaching out, he snapped off a rib and held it up. "Midna, carve." he ordered, the imp showing a sneer of disinterest, not having a taste for bone. Obeying nonetheless, it rapidly shot around the rib, turning into a dark blur streaking around it as the bone whittled down to the shape of a toothpick. Returning to his shoulder, the imp let out a "blech" noise of sorts and picked at its teeth. "That's perfect." Chris nodded.
Opening his hand, the speck of light weakly hovered in the air before him as he lift the piece of wood in his left hand. "Stick of essence..." he paused while lifting his right hand, holding the whittled bone. "Rib of maternity..." he added before working the bone into the notch, making sure it was snugly in place. "Together they will bind you. When the time comes, this should help you re-connect with the rest of yourself that passed on... Long as you've got the will to make it happen, you'll be able to bring yourself back for a brief moment. Think of it like a strong beacon. Just make sure you do it at the right time... It's a one-use-only ticket and it won't give you very long once it's used..." he affirmed as the light float its way into the notch, vanishing within the bone with a subtle flash before the notch began to seal itself around the piece of rib. "...Every mother has the right to see their kid, right?" he asked, showing a smile while looking at the sky. "I'm sorry if what I've done upset you... I know I'm not supposed to use the stone like that but... I hope the reason makes it a little more forgivable." Chris laughed nervously before looking back at the stick, noticing the notch had completely sealed. Nodding, he returned his focus to the remains before him. Setting the piece of wood aside again, Chris took a nearby stone that was big and sharp enough to dig with and started working on a burial for what was left of Delphox while Midna started crawling along his torso, greedily cleaning away the blood that stained his skin until there wasn't a trace left. Feeling satisfied, the imp slipped its way back into his shadow to slumber as he worked while Bounsweet stirred once more, finally popping its face out from the cloak and finally taking in a deep breath of fresh air.
Looking around, the Pokemon was surprised to find Chris topless as he hammered his way into the soil with the stone. Hopping its way along, it warily approached his side, noticing the bones causing it to freeze wide eyed. "Yeah... It's the Delphox we found." he assured. "I had Midna take care of her... She wanted it and I needed a bone from her body." he explained, Bounsweet looking at him out of both horror and bewilderment. "I know it doesn't make sense, and it sounds disgust...!!" he paused, having cut his finger on the stone and sucking on it with a hiss before continuing. "It uh, sounds gross, but I learned a few things during my past travels. It's kinda like... I dunno... Is voodoo the right word?" he asked, looking at the tiny Pokemon as it blinked at him all the more lost. "...I'm not used to being without telepathy at all..." Chris sighed. "I... Uh... Did something bad, for something GOOD, is what I mean... Just think of it that way... Understand?" he simplified while continuing to dig as Bounsweet looked between him and the bones, struggling to figure out how it felt about the situation. Once he was ready, Chris started placing the skeleton in the hole he'd dug while the disturbed Pokemon watched, a strange curiosity somewhere within it as bone by bone he arranged what remained of Delphox in a proper burial position, the skeleton eventually looking like someone with their hands on their chest. With her skull the last piece to put in place, he softly rest it on its cheek before backing away on his knees and closing his eyes once more, his head lowered. Looking at him, Bounsweet did the same, imitating his behavior until he was finished and watching as he started pushing the dirt over the remains.
Once the grave was complete, Chris took a small rock and began carving into the side of the tree where Delphox rest. "And... Done!" he nodded, backing away while looking at the sketch of her face he'd made. "I'm not much of an artist... It's just a temporary marker. I'll have a friend I know who's better at this bring a proper stone for the grave." he smirked, thinking of Guile as he tossed the rock aside and returned to his clothes. Donning his shirt and coat once more, he lift his cloak and shrouded himself beneath it, looking down at the egg. "...They say that even before a Pokemon is born it can see things... I thought you'd probably seen enough if that's for real, so just in case... That's why." he nodded while tucking the stick from Delphox away and picking the egg up, taking his staff in hand. "We're out of here Bounsweet." he added, turning as the Pokemon hopped up and jumped into his cloak from beneath. "I'll have something sewn into my cloak for you once we're in the next town. A big pouch would make it easier on you." he assured before looking at the egg. "...Load's getting bigger." he thought, now carrying an extra Pokemon and an egg combined as he walked back to the grave, looking at the freshly piled soil with a silent nod before making his way along. "...Guess once you've come and gone yourself, death doesn't phase you as badly anymore..." he thought to himself, feeling a twinge of guilt from how casual the moment felt as he entered the forest and left the ashes behind. "Years back something like that would've rattled me something crazy." he muttered, thinking of all the troubles he'd originally endured with the girls. "Guess after everything else and getting a little older I've mellowed out." Chris smiled nervously.
Using its feet and mouth to climb its way up under his cloak, Bounsweet poked its face out next to his under the hood with a somber noise. "...While you were under the cloak, I did something I learned from a dear friend of mine who used to be inside of me..." he began. "Years ago, when I was born, there was a Pokemon who split its soul apart so half of it could live inside of me. To guide me... To protect me... It gave me powers you couldn't imagine." Chris smiled warmly. "As time went on, I was able to control that power better and better, and the more I used it, the more I learned how it all worked... And when the time came..." he paused, the memory of a massive explosion returning to his mind. "...I gave that power back to the Pokemon it came from when my time came, so that it would survive, without me..." he revealed, Bounsweet listening curiously. "Coming back was a surprise to everybody, really shocked me that's for sure! But... It's thanks to that knowledge that I was able to do what I did for Delphox..." he nodded. "Because of what I did, one day, when the time is right, that Delphox will be able to pay her child a visit. Even though that visit will be short... Even though what I did is cheating and could put me in a lot of trouble with a few folks higher up... I still did what I felt was right." Chris affirmed, looking at the egg in his arm. "I know from your perspective what you saw looked horrible, what I did may seem terrible..." he paused, glancing at Bounsweet as the Pokemon looked back. "But someday it will lead to something very, VERY good for this little fella... I promise." he assured, getting a smile back before Bounsweet rubbed its cheek against his. With a chuckle, he gave the Pokemon a "thanks" as he continued along.
"I've learned over the years, no matter what happens in this world, you've gotta keep moving forward. Through the good and the bad... And when you lose something, it doesn't mean you've lost everything." Chris affirmed, looking back at the egg. "...Guess you're mine now. If you really can see, if you can hear inside that thing... It's my first lesson for you." he added. "This is a big world, filled with a lot of troubles, maybe, but there's also a lot of good in it... If you work hard enough, and even if it takes breaking a few rules along the way, you can tip the scales in your favor and help make it a better place to be for a lot of folks, you can spread the good around, ease those troubles and bring a light of your own into the darkness others might be lost in." Chris smirked as Bounsweet continued listening as well. "Bravery, strength, determination... Compassion... If you let these things guide you, it can make all the difference." he affirmed. "At least, that's what my experiences have taught me." he assured with a laugh. "It's up to you though, in the end... To decide if the worst is behind you, or if you'll carry it over your shoulders your whole life. You can either look to the future, think of all it can bring, or focus on the past, and let it fester inside..." Chris went on. "I do my best to focus on what's in store ahead of me... It took a while for me to do it, but that's how I live now, and that will be the kind of role model I'll be for you." he affirmed, looking at the egg. "My question for you is... What will you do?" he asked as Bounsweet silently thought over his words itself, the lesson meant for the egg swirling in its own mind. Using his staff to push a branch out of his way, Chris made his way through the foliage before him as the battle scarred area behind grew further and further away.
Eventually, the day turned into night forcing Chris to make camp, having found a small clearing ideal for his rest. Setting up a circle of stones and lighting a fire via a pair of sticks, once it was brightly lit he piled wood in place to fuel it. Circling the nearby area, he scavenged for edible berries and nuts, making himself a snack to tide him over as he piled them on a large leaf. Making Bounsweet stay by the fire alongside the egg, he removed his cloak and snapped off nearby branches from the trees, using them to pitch it up like a tent before folding his coat into a makeshift pillow. "Home sweet home." he smirked while taking the egg away from beside the fire and sitting it beside him under his cloak, Bounsweet hopping up and sitting by his opposite side. "...A second lesson for you. No matter your success or riches in life, never let it cloud your path. Never let it feed into your self worth. Value yourself... But never let your own worth tower yourself above others. If you find success, use that to help those without it. Use your worth to help others discover their own... Each day you walk this Earth, take each step with pride, your head held high, make the most of it and help others follow in the tracks you leave behind. Lift their heads as high as your own, make their own steps as confident as yours." Chris affirmed before flicking a berry in the air from his thumb and catching it in his mouth. "Ah, good stuff... I've got more than I'd ever know what to do with, yet here I am eating off the land and resting under my own robes, a fire to light the night and the stars to lull me. I don't need the wealth I have to make me happy, to pick me up... Because I go out in the world, on my own two feet to lift me and I find my own happiness, my own way..." he explained with a nostalgic smile on his face.
"I've found all I need in this world, not from what I already had, but from what I found as I walked forward... And so I keep walking forward, because I know it may lead me to more hardships, I might come across sad things, but in the end I'll find so much more happiness waiting for me, and for others, beyond all that." Chris chuckled, Bounsweet's eyes widening as he rubbed the egg beside him. "You know... Some folks think I'm foolish for being the way I am, for living the way that I do... To have so much, yet travel so simply when I could just use my wealth to get me places in a flash..." he continued. "But what others say and think, even the ones I love... It'll never change me because I'm happy with the person I've turned out to be, I'm proud of the way I walk this Earth, grateful for everything I find by doing so, and that's all that matters." he nodded while looking into the fire. "What others say, whether you know them or not... Never let it change who you are or what you believe in, how you do things... Be who YOU want to be, do what YOU want to do. Find your OWN way in this world. And when others try to change you, if they try to put you down... It's only because they see something in you they wish they had, something about you they wish they could be... Never be angry at others for what they say to and about you. Pity them because they're envious enough to do it." he point out while taking another handful of nuts and berries. In silence, Bounsweet nodded at his words as they relaxed until Chris grew weary. Lying back with his head rest on his folded coat, he pulled the egg under his arm before looking at Bounsweet, lifting his other as he offered to hold it as well.
Making its way closer, the Pokemon rest its face against his side as he put his arm over it with a yawn. "What a day..." he muttered while closing his eyes. Once he and Bounsweet were in a deep sleep, Midna released a dark tendril from his shadow and snuffed out the flame, leaving only the light of the moon shining down on the forest as the imp rose from the ground and sat on one of the stones he'd placed in a circle. Looking up, it showed a surprisingly mellow expression, no grin or cackles but instead a look of silent thought and contentment before looking at Chris again, tilting its head as though the imp were curious about the man it followed and obeyed. After a moment, it grinned in a somehow satisfied manner before it slumped its way back into the darkness of his shadow, returning to its own slumber alongside them...
Three years after the original TOTGM series conclusion, the tales of Chris Nakazaki go on long after his first grand journey came to an end. Whether at home or abroad, those who both, need and seek his aid never cease to appear, the location and time irrelevant...