The Once and Future King
Forests North of the Pledge Grove - Unova Region
She ran as fast as she could, the edge of her 'dress' whipping in the wind. The little Ralts in her arms wailed at the sudden harsh movements, and she calmed him with her mind. "Hush little one…hush…you're okay…" He'd only hatched a month ago, in the safety of the Pledge Grove. It had been a wonderful month, the best one in years, since fleeing her home in the small kingdom of Albion, just north of Galar. Since abandoning the throne to that witch. Since the new Queen's relentless pack of Trainers and Pokémon had murdered her mate, and forced her into hiding.
Like most baby Ralts, her son had learned to Teleport almost immediately, which was what had caused this current chain of events. There were only so many Ralts in Unova, and those that hunted them, had sensed him as soon as he'd left the grove. A chilling howl filled the air, a howl that still haunted her dreams. Dark circles had formed under her blue eyes, the only thing that marked her lineage as different from the rest of her species. She knew that howl. The Houndoom had her scent. She would never escape.
"Cobalion!" She shouted again, through her telepathy. The Pokémon with the will of Steel did not appear, however. Out of all of those she had fled to, seeking asylum, the Swords of Justice had been the only ones to take her in, despite the risk. They had been royal guards of Albion, once, even though their origins were in Kalos. Treachery had turned her mate against them, and led to their own banishment here, in Unova, but that hadn't stopped them from being heroes. If she somehow managed to go home, she intended to exonerate them. Not that it was very likely now. None escaped a Houndoom.
Despite what she'd done to them, what her mate had labeled them as, they had still taken her in. They were, truly, the noblest of Pokémon. She still could not believe how easily they had all been fooled. But none of that mattered, now. The Houndoom had her scent. She was as good as dead. It would never let her go.
She looked at the little Ralts in her arms, and teleported to the Pledge Grove. She knew it would lead the hunters there, but she had to try and get help. There was no choice but to battle now. The Houndoom's howl echoed again in the distance, but this time, four figures appeared in front of her. She collapsed, panting. "Please…they're coming."
Cobalion looked at her, and nodded. "Keldeo." His mental baritone was impressive, and commanding. The youngest of the Swords looked up, already in his Resolute Form. "Take the young one north. To Humilau. The humans there are kind, and there are many places to hide. Wait for our return."
Keldeo looked ready to argue, but another howl echoed. This one was closer. "Go!" Cobalion growled, "If it gets the young one's scent, he too is doomed."
The Gardevoir looked at her son as Keldeo prepared to flee. She reached out to him, her mind enveloping his. She shared her memories as well, though she locked them deep. They would only surface when he was ready to see them. She hoped that someday, he would be the king his father had foreseen. The king Albion needed. "Go little one…be safe…I love you." The young Ralts was too upset and confused for words, so he settled for emotions. Love. Sadness. Reluctance to leave. It almost broke her noble composure. Almost.
Keldeo took the young Ralts onto his back, and jetted out of the grove with the water shooting from his hooves, over the trees, and began heading north. Minutes later, a growl filled the grove. "Down, Cerberus." A voice silenced the Houndoom. A human voice, belonging to a human woman. She was clad in red leather that was entirely too revealing. She matched the colors of her mega evolved Houndoom, but where he was more black, she was more crimson. They went well together. She grinned at the exhausted Gardevoir. "Igraine…at last."
The Gardevoir's eyes went wide. "Circe…? I don't…but why?" She had never seen the Trainers behind the Houndoom that had followed her from her former home. She'd never imagined this, however. She knew Circe had a Pyroar and a pair of Lycanroc, but the Houndoom was new, and most likely borrowed judging by the name. If that was indeed the case, she'd had more enemies than she'd originally thought. Cerberus only ever hunted for one master, though it had a bad habit of ending others who tried to take his name as well. It made more sense now. That witch had foreign aid from the Imperium. She was playing with fire, and she probably didn't even realize it. The Imperator was as devious as he was charismatic and charming.
Her eyes moved to her defenders, as they stood before her in a protective triangle wedge. "Now now…you shouldn't get inv- wait a minute…I know you three…oh my Arceus…you found the Banished Knights! And they're actually protecting you! Oh, this is too much." The woman laughed for a good fifteen seconds. Terrakion snarled. The Houndoom eyed him most of all with a wary look, but he was only half paying attention. He could almost smell another Ralts line scent. Cerberus blinked, as he recognized the Gallade King he'd been ordered to kill. His scent was all over the three warriors in front of him. The Houndoom drooled. That fight had been truly enjoyable...and delicious.
The woman continued, "Do you know what they say about you three back in your 'homeland'? Do you know how the people of Arborstone see you? Egg breakers, they call you. Honorless deceivers. And Cobalion…" she grinned at the blue Pokémon, "You they hate most of all…the renegade leader who returned to kill the king he once protected. Uther's death is on your horns."
"Lies!" Cobalion's telepathy filled the air around them.
"Truths. Although this is Unova, so it could be Ideals." The woman said, grinning. "Morgana says it, and the beloved people you hoped would one day respect you again believe her, easily. It must be tiring. You do so much to save them, all of them, and yet only the Pokémon ever actually believe in you. Maybe that's why you spent so long protecting them in this region, and not the humans."
"We defend all who need our help…humans have a tendency to be more of a hindrance. Your kin are not defenseless. Not in this region. Unovans are fierce warriors." This came from Virizion now, who had spent quite a while with the Trainer-turned-Champion, Hilda. Hilda still had her Pokéball, but did not mind if she stayed with her fellow Swords. It was the closest thing to a home any of them had had since leaving Albion.
"It doesn't really matter what Unovans are. Or what any of you do. You already know how this ends. Tonight, the false Queen dies." The Houndoom snarled, and Terrakion faced it down, shifting the wedge to take point position. The Houndoom drool paused, as Cerberus realized how outmatched he was. Normally, three on one would be no problem, but only his true master could bring the other heads out. One of the many reasons he hadn't wanted to be 'traded' temporarily to this woman who barely knew him.
"Your little puppy has to go through me first." The large rock type lowered his head, but did not charge.
The woman frowned for a moment, and then pulled another ball from her hip. It was a deep purple with green highlights. "Natubratus…Forest's Curse!" The Trevenant she called out glared at the Houndoom for a moment, before doing as ordered. Terrakion charged, but the massive purple roots that were a part of the ghost tree's move stopped its charge before it even began. Circe grinned. "Now you're all weak to my fire…" In this instance, the Trevenant had replaced Terrakion's rock typing with grass…for as long as its roots held, anyways.
The Houndoom leapt forward then, and bathed all of them in its' fire. The Swords cried out in pain as the unnaturally dark flames burned them, and the Gardevoir they were defending.
Just North of Humilau City - Unova Region
Keldeo finally stopped running once he found a cave that lacked inhabitants. He'd gone the long way for sure, spending most of the trip running atop the water, a trick he'd learned once he'd mastered Sacred Sword, and made full use of his elemental typing. The little Ralts had hung on the entire trip, often asking for his mother. Keldeo did his best to calm the young one, but knew what the fate of his mother likely was.
He didn't know about the other Swords, but he did know that a Houndoom never gave up on its prey. Their Mega Form was even more brutal, and relentless. He'd heard legend of one Houndoom with three heads, Cerberus, who was the most relentless of all, but he seriously doubted that howl had been from the three headed beast. Cobalion and the others had been in worse scrapes, they could handle a Houndoom. And, they had Terrakion. No fire type stood a chance against him.
Days passed, as Keldeo scavenged the nearby forests for berries. Thankfully, it was summer, and the fruit was plentiful. Only Alola got more sun than the eastern coast of Unova this time of year.
The young Ralts grasped much of what had happened, mainly from sensing Keldeo's emotions. The conclusion he always reached, was that whatever had befallen his mother was entirely his fault. She'd warned him not to Teleport blindly out of the grove, but he had done exactly that.
It had been fun, at first. He met all manner of Pokémon in the woods, and only reached out in fear to his mother when he heard her shouting for him, and the howl that shortly followed.
He often wandered the woods around the cave they now called home, on the northern shore of Unova, sad, lost, until one day, he ran into something he'd never seen before.
His mother had called them humans, and had spoken fondly of her own, back in the home-she-never-named. From what he could sense, this human in particular was kind, and what's more, was this human had a psychic type with her. He didn't recognize it, but it was red and yellow, and had a long stick that shot fire into the air.
He'd approached the Pokémon quietly, and realized suddenly that it was a male when he heard it speak to him. "I see you, little Ralts. You should not wander far from home. What would your mother think?"
The Delphox had thought that would scare the little Pokémon back into the woods and safety, but instead, it started crying. He blinked, glanced at his oblivious, sleeping human, and then moved quickly, shushing the little one, and then noticed how young it was. "Hush now, it's okay. Are you lost?"
The Ralts sniffled, and then shook his head. "My mother…gone…" He didn't have psychic-type speech down very well, but he'd learned a lot from Keldeo in the past few days.
The Delphox's eyes narrowed. "Was she caught? Did a human take her?"
The Ralts again shook his head, and fresh tears welled up from under his green hair. He couldn't explain with words, so instead, he reached out to the kind, strange Pokémon, and shared his memories. The Delphox sighed with sadness. A Houndoom. That explained much.
"I don't know where to go…lost." the Ralts managed, and he kept whimpering. The psychic fox examined the hatchling's memories, and nodded, slowly, in understanding. This infant was heir to a Kingdom, and, under the protection of Keldeo. Since this was Unova, the fox decided not to interfere in Sword business. Those who did had a habit of dying.
The Delphox looked around for what he assumed was Keldeo, but the Sword was thankfully nowhere to be found. He did however, know where the cave they were residing in was, so he guided the youngling back there. "I can help guide you lost one. But come, first show me your cave. We shouldn't stay out in the open. Not unless you want to be caught."
The Ralts didn't know what 'caught' meant, but he led the kind psychic type back to their cave anyways. Once there, the strange Pokémon began gathering sticks, plants, and other strange materials that it pulled from the depths of its fur. "Sit here, little one, and I shall give you guidance."
The Ralts tilted his head, feeling somewhat better being back in the cave, and munching on an Oran berry. "Guidance? Gratitude."
The Delphox smirked. He was saying emotions now. He'd forgotten how cute baby Ralts were. "Hush. Watch. I will discern the nature of your future…and from that, you can figure out where to go. Perhaps you'll even find your mother."
Thankfully, the little Ralts was too young to understand what skepticism felt like, and instead he sat, and did as the red and yellow Pokémon said.
The Delphox drew his wand then, and the circle of twigs lit up on the cave floor, incinerating the plants he'd put within it. Smoke filled the immediate area, and then, he summoned the power. "I see…you will become strong. A Gallade, like your father…a great warrior…with a weapon of serious power…" He glanced at the Ralts, not quite believing what his third eye told him. Excalibur? Even Pokemon thought that only a legend. He continued on regardless. "You have many paths before you, but only one will lead to the answers you seek. If you wish to find your mother…go with the... turtle? Hmm."
Ralts tilted his head. "Turtle?" He smiled. "Turtle turtle turtle!" He liked that word.
The Delphox chuckled. "Yes…something turtle related will guide you towards your destiny…I can't tell if it's a Pokémon or not…but that doesn't matter. You will know the turtle when you see it, so trust your instinct, and go with it when you find it."
"How I find?" The Ralts asked, and the Delphox swatted him with his soft tail. The Ralts giggled, the concept of swatting in general was entirely unknown to him, thankfully. Thus, the grabbed the tail and snuggled it. "Soft. Gratitude!"
"You mean, 'How do I find it'." The Delphox managed through a hard laugh. "Let's see…it's near here…interesting…in three days, go north-west from this cave. You will find your turtle." He grinned at the Ralts, sensing his next question. "North-west is that direction." He pointed, and the Ralts nodded.
"Del! Where are you!?" The Delphox's ears perked up. His trainer was calling for him. He'd recognize her voice anywhere.
"I must go now." He said to the young Ralts. "Stay safe, listen to Keldeo, and do as I told you in three days. Which way is north-west?"
The young Ralts pointed, and the fox chuckled, and gave him a pat. "Good lad. Now, go rest. Perhaps we'll meet again in the future."
The little Ralts gave him a hug, and shared an emotion he couldn't name, so again he said "Gratitude..." It was sad though, tinged by the understanding that they were parting. He had bad experiences with parting.
Del smiled. Using Future Sight like that took a lot out of him, but in this case, he sensed it was worth it. He didn't quite know why, but he did know one thing. They would definitely meet again.