AGNPH Stories

Rukario Romance by XD385


Brother of the Angel

Tia growled hungrily as she feasted on freshly roasted meat that had been cooked over an open fire within the Skydiamond clan grounds. Several other clan members too were enjoying their meal nearby. The Skydiamond Oracle approached Tia after finishing his/her meal. "How is the fare today, Lady Tia?" The Alpha female belched, "Tasty as always. Never fails to hit the spot." The Oracle smiled before taking a seat next to her. "The Angel of Hope continues to hold strong amid the influence of the Angel of Doom. Whoever her companions are must be very precious indeed to her." Tia smiled, "If all goes well, the Angel of Doom may never surface again in the Angel of Hope's current lifetime." However, the Oracle sighed, "That would indeed be wishful thinking."

As the rest of the clan enjoyed the spoils of the latest hunt, the Oracle whispered towards Tia. "There is something you should know. Over the past month, I have been observing a malevolent presence that arrived in Sinnoh around Canalave City to the southwest." Tia glanced at the Oracle, "And what do you make of it? Is it a direct threat to the world?" The Oracle frowned, "Difficult to say. It seems to be in the possession of a noble soul with a strong will. I doubt this force will become a threat so long as its host remains vigilant." Tia then brought a hand to her chin, "You make it sound as if this presence is a parasite. What do you see when you observe it?" The Oracle closed his/her eyes as he/she focused. "I see......a weapon at the host's side... Possibly a sword..." Tia frowned, "A sword, eh? ......Sword of Shadows...?"

Just past noon, Ash and his companions were on their way to Jubilife City, and to Oreburgh City beyond for his first Sinnoh League Gym battle. The Trainer smirked, "Gonna get me my first badge in no time flat. And with just one Pokémon this time." Shadow chuckled, "That confident, are we? You want me to handle it?" Ash nodded, "You bet! I'll be counting on you." The Lucario grinned, "No problem!" Everyone else was politely listening in silence while also chatting with each other.

Nearby, a figure was moving through the trees. "I've been searching all over the western edge of Sinnoh... Still no sign of her... Where in the region could she.... Hm?" The mysterious figure landed on a tree branch within sight of the main path between Jubilife City and Sandgem Town. He noticed a group of two humans, a female Zangoose, and multiple Lucario. Among them was a female Lucario with a flat chest and her right ear drooping forward. ".....Is that her? I can't remember, but... It feels like it." Cautiously, he began to approach them while staying concealed in the trees.

Sensing the stranger's presence, Soul Calibur began to resonate on the back of Ashton's hip. He grasped her hilt upon feeling the warning. "Yes?" The spirit sword whispered, "Beware, young master. To the west. A foul presence draws near." The viscount froze in his tracks and turned to face the western edge of the path. "Over there?" Seeing that Ashton had come to a halt, everyone stopped and turned to face him. Rukaria asked, "Something wrong, Sir Ashton?" He replied, "Soul Calibur just alerted me to some sort of foul presence to the west." Rukaria then focused her Aura a little more than usual to increase the range of her vision. "There's someone out there, all right." Ashton then called out, "Who's out there?! And don't try to hide!" Within the cover of the trees, the mysterious figure grumbled, "How'd they know I was here? Guess it doesn't matter now." The stranger then leapt from the trees and landed before Ashton, the viscount's hand firmly grasping the Flamberge's hilt.

The person standing before Ashton was clad in a black trench coat that included a hood over its head. On its back was a sword that was curved and had a black and red hilt. However, the stranger's stature was less than impressive, as it seemed to stand no taller than the average Lucario at four feet. But as Ashton looked more closely, he found that the feet of the stranger were like those of a canine and its hands were black with silver spikes on the backs of them while a black muzzle could be seen under the coat's hood. "You are...a Lucario?" Ashton asked, his grip on his sword's hilt relaxing. The cloaked stranger nodded, "I am. And thanks for not striking. I mean no harm." The stranger removed its hood, revealing a Lucario. However, his eyes were a golden hue instead of the usual red color. What was more; the fur on his head that was supposed to be blue was a pale yellow, exactly the same as the Shiny Lucario blacksmith Shield. He spoke, "My name is Lucius. Of the Skydiamond clan."

At the mention of Lucy's clan, Ash stepped forward with a defiant glare. Lucius noticed and asked, "Yes?" The Trainer then asked, "You're from the Skydiamond clan. Are you after Lucy?" The Lucario replied with a puzzled expression, "Lucy? Who?" Ash took a step back and stood between him and the young female Lucario with her right ear drooping forward. She peeked out from behind the Trainer with an extremely wary gaze. Sensing Ash's hostility, Lucius held up his hands, "Whoa, easy there. I forgot to mention. Formerly of the Skydiamond clan. I have no connections with them now." Ash then asked, "And Lucy?" Lucius shook his head, "Never heard the name before."

Certain that Lucius was of no threat to Lucy, Ash extended his hand. "Sorry if I was uptight about you being from the Skydiamond clan. Another guy from your clan tried to hurt Lucy a while back, so I was naturally suspicious." The Lucario took Ash's hand and gave it a hearty shake, "No offense taken." Ash then proceeded to introduce everyone in his company to him. When Lucius learned that Ash was the father of Lucash and Sapphire, he was naturally surprised. "You're a dad? Even though you're just a boy yourself?" Ruby nodded, "Yeah, he is. You got a problem with that?" Sensing Ruby's sudden change of tone, Lucius nervously smiled, "No need to get feisty with me. Seeing as how Pokémon can breed at fairly young ages, I shouldn't be surprised that humans can too. Are there any other kids of his?" Pearl smiled, "There is, but the little dear hasn't been born yet." She rested a hand on her lower belly. Lucius gulped, "Hang on... You have TWO lovers?" Ash blushed deeply as Ruby and Pearl gave the Trainer a warm embrace from two angles. Lucius then shrugged his shoulders, "Come to think of it... I hear that male Lucario occasionally have more than one mate at a time." Pearl grinned, "Glad that you know your Lucario customs well, Lucius."

After a few minutes, Lucius' gaze shifted to Lucy again. Even though he had no memory of ever seeing her before, somehow he felt that he knew of her. (My sister... Could it be...her?) He casually approached the Lucario maiden and asked, "Lucy?" She took a step back, "Y...yes?" Lucius then asked, "You too originate from the Skydiamond clan, right?" Lucy silently nodded. Lucius spoke, "My full name is Lucius Hikari. What is yours?" The Lucario maiden gasped as she took a step back, "Hikari? But...that's my last name too! Lucy Hikari..." With a relieved smile, Lucius stepped forward and grabbed the surprised Lucario in a tender embrace. "I finally found you, sister."

Everyone present stood aghast at Lucius' claim. Rukaria spoke, "Hang on... I never knew you had a brother, Lucy!" Lucy replied, "That's the point! I don't! I never had any siblings!" Hearing Lucy's claims, Lucius released his grip on her. "You don't remember?" The Lucario maiden quickly took a few steps back, "I'm sure of it. I had a mother and father, but never a brother or sister. I'm sorry, but the fact that we share the same last name is surely pure coincidence." Lucius sighed to himself, (I'm not surprised. It's been so long. And we were so young. But I'm certain now. She must be her...) He then bowed, "I'm sorry for the mistaken identity, Miss Lucy. Please don't hold it against me." Lucy nodded, "It's all right, Lucius. You meant no harm."

As everyone became acquainted with Lucius, Ashton was constantly eyeing the sword on the Lucario's back. He muttered, "He seems to be a good man, from what I can see. Are you certain he contains a malevolent presence?" Soul Calibur replied, "No, not him. The blade he carries harbors a presence most vile." Ashton then stepped forward and asked, "Lucius, a moment in private please?" The Lucario nodded, "Oh, sure." When he followed the viscount a short distance away from the others, Lucius asked, "So, what's on your mind?" The viscount then pointed to the hilt extending over the Lucario's shoulder. "That sword. What is it?" Lucius gulped, "Sword? What about it?" Ashton then asked, "May I hold it?" Lucius hesitated for a moment before slowly drawing the blade from its scabbard. (I hope this isn't a mistake... )

Ashton gently took the sword in hand. It was unusual in that it had a black blade. But after no more than a moment of examining it, the sword was suddenly engulfed by a vile black aura! "What the devil...?!" Ashton felt a strange presence come over him as Lucius looked on in panic. But before anyone could try to intervene, the crystal core of Soul Calibur between her hilt and blade began to shine brightly, driving the sword's dark presence back into it. Her voice boldly spoke out, "Begone, foul demon!" Ashton panted, "Too close... You saved me again, Soul Calibur..." The spirit sword replied, "I will always protect you, young master." But Lucius then asked, "Where's that voice coming from?" But Ashton replied with a stern expression, "You answer me first. What in the world is this sword?" As everyone began to draw closer after witnessing the strange event, Lucius sighed, "It is called the Sword of Shadows. As I'm sure you could tell, it is an evil blade with a will of its own."

At the mention of the name of the sword, Rukaria spoke up, "Sword of Shadows..... I've heard of it before." Lucius turned to her, "You have? How?! What do you know of it?" The blind Lucario maiden explained, "My clan... The Ironspike clan has some knowledge of it, though the details are sketchy. It is said that the sword contains an evil spirit, and that it unleashed havoc upon the world in the distant past. However, there is a prophecy. 'That a young warrior with a great resolve will one day control the evil within the sword and use its powers for good, or the evil will corrupt the very being of the warrior's heart.' At least, I think that's how it goes." Ashton glanced back at the sword, "And this is the same sword that is referred to in the legend?" Lucius nodded, "Wouldn't surprise me..." But the viscount then drew Soul Calibur from her scabbard, "If it is indeed as great a threat as the legend claims, it would be better off destroyed."

Lucius turned to Ashton, "Trust me. I've tried several times to rid myself of this thing. And every time I separate myself from it, the blasted thing keeps ending up back in my possession." However, Ashton explained, "You were not listening. I never said anything about throwing it away. I said it should be obliterated." The Lucario sighed, "And what makes you think it can be..... Wait... What's that sword in your hand?" The viscount smirked as he held out Soul Calibur, "I'm glad you asked. This is Soul Calibur. She is a holy sword, filled with angelic might. This is also the source of that voice you heard a moment ago." Lucius raised an eyebrow, "A sword that can speak?" In response, a feminine voice spoke in a sage-like tone, "Yes. And that foul presence would not be the first my master and I have erased." Lucius looked at Ashton, "Are you serious? There was another?" The viscount nodded, "Yes. This sword you carry. It is intimately similar to the Sword of Ruin. Soul Edge."

At the mention of another sword much like the Sword of Shadows, Lucius gulped as he took the evil sword back into his hands. "There was another...?" Ashton nodded, "Yes. Soul Edge was an evil sword that possessed a will of its own. And like this 'Sword of Shadows', it could take control of whoever grasped its hilt. And if Soul Calibur could destroy it, then she can destroy this one too." Lucius glanced down at his sword and back at Soul Calibur. "Can you really do that?" The viscount smiled, "It would be our pleasure. Shall I rid you of this evil sword?" With only a brief moment of hesitation, Lucius smiled, "Do that, and you'll have made my year."

With Lucius' mind made up, Ashton gave everyone the signal to give them some space. "Now then, you think you can make that thing be still for a moment?" Lucius nodded and took a few steps back. But he looked on in surprise as a blindingly bright light engulfed Soul Calibur as she seemed to grow. When the light receded, the Lucario looked on in disbelief, as the spirit sword had become a massive great sword that seemed to be composed of crystal instead of metal. "What the hell...?" Ashton calmly smiled, "This is the true form of Soul Calibur. Do not be alarmed. Now, stick that thing in the ground." Lucius nodded before turning the Sword of Shadows around until he was holding it in a reverse grip. But as he prepared to thrust the blade into the ground, he felt its dark presence beginning to resist. As the Lucario strained to implant the blade into the ground, Ashton called out, "What're you waiting for?!" Lucius growled, "Whatever that sword is... This thing knows it is its Achilles' heel...... It's afraid of her." After a moment more, Lucius finally gathered the strength he needed to plunge the evil sword's blade into the ground. He jumped back quickly after releasing his grip, "There... All yours, Ashton."

Ashton slowly approached the Sword of Shadows, the crystal core of Soul Calibur beginning to glow beautifully. He could feel the evil sword's presence practically screaming at him and the spirit sword. Upon closer inspection, it even seemed that the sword was quivering. "All right, Lucius. Stand aside." But Lucius asked, "Forgive me for asking, but how exactly will you destroy this thing?" The viscount replied, "I will use Soul Calibur to deliver a purifying strike. Of course, since the sword is purely evil, rather than being purified, it will be erased." Lucius glanced down at the sword before looking back towards Ashton, "If it's not a problem, would you mind purifying me as well?" Ashton gulped, "...Wait... You? Why?" The Lucario explained, "Since I've been in possession of that sword for so long, I fear I may have become infested with some of its evil presence. Just to be safe, I'd like you to purify me as well." With a concerned expression, Ashton raised the blade of Soul Calibur to Lucius' head. "Well, Soul Calibur?" The spirit sword replied, "His soul is most noble. He will be spared." Ashton then smiled, "Very well, Lucius. Stand close behind that sword and we'll do the rest." Lucius grinned, "I owe you one."

Once Lucius and Ashton were in position, the viscount gripped Soul Calibur in both hands and slowly raised her above his head. At the sidelines, Rukaria began to tremble in anticipation. "Oh boy, is it really happening? Are we gonna see it?" Zandria chuckled, "You're a real fangirl, all right." A few seconds later, a long beam of holy light blue energy engulfed Soul Calibur's blade and extended beyond the blade's tip, tripling the sword's reach. Rukaria screamed, "That's it! Salvation!" Lucius gulped nervously, "Is this really not going to hurt?" Ashton replied, "Not at all! You'll probably pass out, but you'll be no worse for the wear when you wake up!" The Lucario closed his eyes, "OK, just get it over with." At Lucius' words, Ashton brought Soul Calibur down with a mighty overhead swing. The instant the blade of holy energy cleaved right through Lucius and the Sword of Shadows, a trail of light blue crystals rapidly extended along the ground from both sides of the blade. As the blade of holy energy began to fade, everyone saw Lucius standing perfectly still, his body engulfed in blue flames. A moment later, he stiffly fell backwards onto the ground with a thud.

Everyone ran over to Ashton and Lucius as the viscount plunged the blade of Soul Calibur into the ground before releasing his grip on her. Ash asked, "Ashton, was that the same move you used on me when I...?" He nodded, "It was. Salvation does not actually harm the target, but instead purifies it of evil malfestation. Of course, this means that if it strikes anything that is mostly or purely evil, it results in instant death." Lucy then reached out to Lucius, "Then Lucius should be all right?" Ashton smiled, "No worries. If Soul Calibur says he would be spared, then he'll be just fine." Ash smirked, "I got it. Aurora, douse him with Water Gun!" The Trainer tossed his Safari Ball, from which emerged the Shiny Suicune in a flash of light. "Gladly, Lord Ash." She proceeded to spray Lucius in the face with a torrent of water. "Hey! Pfft! What was that about?!" Ashton then asked, "Feeling better?" Lucius looked around, "Better? What're you... Oh. Um... I don't really feel any different, but I still feel fine." The viscount then helped the Lucario to his feet. But Lucius then gasped, "Wait a second! What happened to the Sword of Shadows?!" Aurora looked ahead, "See for yourself." Everyone looked towards where the sword had been standing. While its shape remained unchanged, the evil sword was now composed entirely out of a translucent crystal identical in color to Soul Calibur.

"It changed...into crystal?" Lucius took the Sword of Shadows in hand, bewildered by its change in form. Ashton spoke, "Just a moment, Lucius." The viscount then drew the Flamberge in his right hand. "May I see that for a moment?" Lucius nodded before handing the crystallized sword to him. Ashton then tossed the sword skyward before preparing to swing the mighty steel blade of the Flamberge. Everyone realized what he was about to do and quickly jumped back, giving him more room. As the Sword of Shadows fell in front of him, Ashton lashed out with a wide horizontal sweep of his sword. Upon being struck, the Sword of Shadows shattered into countless tiny shards that then scattered across the path.

"That should do it." Ashton smiled as he placed the Flamberge on his back beneath his cloak. However, Lucius stood still as he watched the many crystal shards of his sword scatter before him. Pearl noticed and asked, "Something wrong, Lucius?" The Lucario then began to slowly chuckle, "It's gone... I can't believe it's really gone..." In a moment, Lucius burst into wild hysterical laughter. "I'm finally rid of that creep for good! Oh, joyous freedom!!!" However, Zandria cleared her throat loudly to get the Lucario's attention. Lucius then slowly turned to face his companions while grinning sheepishly. "Oh... Uh... Sorry about that. Just can't believe that thing is finally out of my hands for real." He then noticed Soul Calibur sticking up out of the ground a short distance away. "May I examine that?" Ashton nodded, watching as Lucius approached his prized blade.

As Lucius examined Soul Calibur, Rukaria also approached the blade. She muttered, "It's so beautiful... So this is the true form of Soul Calibur." Lucius nodded, "It is a dazzling weapon. Never knew a sword could be this beautiful." But just then, Rukaria jumped up and pulled the sword down onto its side. "Lady Rukaria... What are you doing?" Soul Calibur asked, somewhat worried of what the blind maiden was planning. Rukaria smiled, "I just want to know what it's like to hold you in this state." She then reached down and grasped the sword in both hands, expecting it to be quite heavy. However, she had no trouble lifting it. "What is this...?" Rukaria then weighed the spirit sword in her hands. "It's no heavier than before!" She then began to swing Soul Calibur around quickly to see how easy it was to wield a weapon so large, yet so light. Lucius jumped out of the way to evade her wild sword swings, "Hey! If you're gonna swing that around, don't do it so close to me!" Rukaria stopped swinging the spirit sword at Lucius' complaining. "Oops... Guess I got caught up in the moment."

Once Ashton had returned Soul Calibur to her scabbard, Ash spoke up. "So, what're you gonna do now, Lucius?" The Lucario replied, "To be honest, I was hoping I could stay with you guys." Ruby raised an eyebrow, "With us? Even though we just met you?" Lucius explained, "I've been alone for so long, and you guys were the first group of people who really warmed up to me. And because my..." He paused as he glanced over at Lucy for a second, knowing that she did not believe that he was her brother. "Well, it's up to you guys. May I stay with you?" Ashton smiled as he placed a hand on the Lucario's shoulder, "You seem like a fine fellow. I'm sure everyone else would like to have you along. Right?" Everyone did not seem to be in disagreement with Lucius' request. Ash grabbed the Lucario's hand and gave it a shake, "We'd be glad to have you with us, Lucius." The Lucario smiled, "Thanks..."

Before everyone could be on their way, Lucius turned to Ashton, "One more thing. Now that the Sword of Shadows is gone, I'll need a new sword. Any idea on where I can get one?" The viscount glanced at Zandria. The Zangoose nodded, "To be honest, I don't know if you should even bother. Most swords these days aren't combat worthy. Knives, yes. But swords that can actually be used in battle are hard to come by." However, the Lucario persisted, "I'm not bad with just my hands and feet, but I really could use a sword." As Ashton listened to Lucius, he remembered something in the back of his mind. "Lucius, what type of sword would you prefer?" Surprised, Lucius turned to him again. "What type? You know where I can get one?" The viscount nodded, "In a sense. But first, what style of sword would you prefer?" The Lucario removed the empty scabbard from his back and handed it to Ashton, "I've always been proficient with a katana. However... I've always been curious of what it would be like to wield a tachi as well." Ashton took the scabbard in hand, "A katana or tachi. Got it. You go on ahead. I have something to tend to." After his companions went on ahead, Ashton ducked into the woods nearby.

"She must be close by..." Ashton wandered about for a moment before calling out, "Lady Shield! Are you here?!" Seconds later, a trail of white mist began to approach the viscount. "Ah, there you are. Have you been well?" A voice replied, "Well, it's hard to not be well when you're already dead. Right?" The cloud of mist began to take on physical form. A moment later, a Shiny Lucario standing five feet tall with royal purple eyes stood before Ashton. "It's been a while since we last met. Have you being doing well, Lord Ashton?" He smiled, "I've been well. Never better, actually. And before you ask, Rukaria is well too." The Lucario smiled, "Thanks for the update, but you don't have to address me with honorifics. I'm a commoner, after all." But Ashton chuckled, "A commoner by birth, but a true artisan with the hammer and forge." Shield giggled, "You're too kind, my lord."

Ashton held out the empty scabbard that Lucius had given to him. Shield asked, "An empty scabbard? What's this for?" The viscount explained, "If you are able to, please craft a blade to fill that scabbard." The Shiny Lucario quickly examined it. "Judging by the length and the angle of the curve, I would say that this is designed for a katana." Ashton nodded, "A katana, or if you prefer, a tachi." But Shield then asked, "Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I thought your weapon of choice is the zweihander." The viscount nodded, "It is. This is for a new friend of mine. He needs a new sword crafted for him. But can I trust you to do this?" Shield smiled, "Absolutely. It's been a while since I last paid a visit to my forge, so I'm eager to put my skills to the test." But Ashton then spoke, "Before that, please bear in mind that the user is a Lucario, so he stands at only four feet tall." The Lucario blacksmith grinned, "Got it. When you have time, stop by my forge in Ironspike City. I should have it ready within a week." But at the mention of the Ironspike clan's home, Ashton gulped, "There? Your hometown?" Shield nodded, "Yes. That's where all my tools are. I'll see you there." As she walked away, Shield muttered to herself, "What should it be? A katana? Or an exotic tachi?" But Ashton groaned, "Oh good lord, why?! Anywhere but there!"

That evening, everyone looked on as Lucius greedily devoured some of Zandria's cooking. The Zangoose gulped, "Sheesh, slow down. You'll barf if you keep it up at that pace." The Lucario panted as he took a moment to rest, "Sorry. Just...can't believe how good this is. I honestly can't remember the last time I ate something so....delicious!" Zandria responded with a smile, "Well, anyone who loves my cooking is OK by me. Just don't go wasting that food. You can't absorb the nutrients if you puke it all up first." Lucius let out a loud belch, "OK... I'll relax for a bit." Ash chuckled, "Just don't relax for too long. The rest of the food will be all gone!" Lucius growled, "You wouldn't dare!" Sapphire let out a giggle, "Oh boy, this might get messy!"

Two days passed as Lucius adapted to his new group of friends. But on the evening of the second day since leaving Sandgem Town, they once again came upon the roadside inn they had stayed at a few times already. Lucius asked, "Are we stopping here for the night?" Ruby nodded, "It's getting late. And it beats sleeping outside, right?" Lucius chuckled, "No denying that. Have any of you rested here before?" Ashton replied, "A few times, actually. Commendable service and reasonable prices." Convinced that the inn was as good as his companions claimed, Lucius followed them inside.

After enjoying a hot dinner, nearly everyone retired to the hot springs as the moon rose into the night sky. Lucius sighed, "Wasn't expecting this place to have a hot spring. Superb." Shadow chuckled, "You can say that again. There's not much better for male bonding than a long soak in a hot spring." Lucius let out a laugh, "I remember that saying! And I'm really starting to like you guys!" Lucash swam by the Lucario, "You really mean that, Mr. Lucius?" He nodded, "Of course I do. I'm glad you let me tag along." Ash glanced over at his new Lucario friend, seeing that he and Shadow both shared the same clothing, Shadow having removed his blue shorts and yellow vest and Lucius removing his yellow shorts and turquoise vest prior to entering the hot spring. The only things that allowed him to tell them apart with the exception of their voices were the colors of their eyes and the contrast in the coloration of their fur and clothing.

Ash sighed as he crossed his arms just below the surface of the milky water. After some time passed, Lucius moved over to Ash's side and relaxed. "We made a good choice by stopping here, wouldn't you say?" The Trainer nodded, "Yeah. These little country inns are some of the best around. Even better than those big city hotels in some ways." The two friends relaxed together for a moment before Lucius whispered towards Ash. "Hey, if you don't mind me asking..." The Trainer glanced over at the Lucario out of the corner of his eye, "About what?" Lucius continued, "Lucy. Tell me. What is she to you?" Ash blushed for a second, "What is she to me?" Lucius frowned, "You're blushing. Are you her...lover?" Ash seemed like he was going to yell, but he soon turned his gaze back to the water. "I... I don't know yet..."

Lucius raised an eyebrow, "You don't know? Either you are or aren't. Which is it?" Confronted with the Lucario's questioning, Ash sighed, "I'm not... At least...not yet." Lucius waited quietly for a moment before asking, "Not yet? Do you mean...?" The Trainer nodded, "I won't make any excuses. I do love her. But I'm...afraid to tell her. I'm afraid to take our friendship further." He was speaking barely above a whisper, knowing Lucy was soaking in the hot spring just on the other side of the bamboo fence that separated the men and women sides. Her hearing was much more acute than his and she could hear him much more easily than he could hear her. Lucius too was aware of this and had been keeping his voice down. The Lucario asked, "Why are you afraid?" Ash replied, "I honestly...don't think she cares for me like that. We're great friends, more than that."

With a sigh, Lucius looked towards the bamboo fence that was blocking his view of his sister. He then turned towards Ash again and whispered, "I have to say I think otherwise." Ash glanced at him, "What makes you say that?" The Lucario smiled, "I've been watching her since joining you. The signs have been subtle, but I've noticed that she has a very unusual interest in you. I've even seen her occasionally blush while looking in your direction." Ash began to blush madly at Lucius' revelation, "Are you serious? She really does have a thing for me?" He nodded with a calm smile, "It's something only a brother would notice. Trust me. I'm sure she thinks of you as more than just a friend." He then reached out and placed a hand on Ash's shoulder. "If you and her ever become lovers, I just want you to know you have my approval. I'll support your bond as long as you make my sister happy." Ash then glanced over at the bamboo fence before smiling softly. "Thanks, Lucius. I feel a lot better now." But he then asked, "Just one thing. How do you know Lucy is your sister?" The Lucario chuckled, "Trust me. It's a feeling I can't describe, but I know she is."

To the north, Tia relaxed against a tree as she watched over some of the Skydiamond clan's youth sleeping soundly beneath the trees. The Oracle was meditating nearby, seemingly asleep while still awake. After a moment, he/she muttered, "...Most peculiar. What happened to it?" Tia glanced over to him/her and asked, "Is it that Sword of Shadows again?" The Oracle nodded as he/she opened his/her eyes, "I felt a presence most holy suddenly emerge near the evil presence. Then it just...vanished." Tia nodded, "I wonder who our new ally is....." However, the Oracle then added, "No, wait... Not quite vanished. It still exists. Barely. I can hardly sense it at all." But the Alpha female replied, "But with it that weak, it's surely not a threat as it is now. And should it regain strength..." The Oracle nodded, "Should it become a significant threat, it will be our duty to pass judgment on it. Right?" Tia nodded, "Exactly. Though I have to wonder what could nearly erase something so powerful so suddenly..... In any case, continue to monitor for signs of instability between the Angels of Hope and Doom." The Oracle nodded, "I shall."

Moments later, the Skydiamond Oracle whispered, "Lady Tia. A moment, if you will." Tia approached the Oracle and sat down beside him/her. "Yes?" The Oracle whispered, "I will not say this too loudly, but something has begun to stir at the edge of my vision. And it perplexes me." The Alpha female frowned, "And what is it that you see?" The Oracle explained, "...Humans with strange attire and even stranger motives. Their goals border on absurd. However, I see somewhere within their designs.....the Angel of Doom." Tia's right eye widened with an alarmed expression, "What are they planning?" The Oracle replied, "They... It would seem they wish to..." The Oracle then slowly opened his/her eyes and sighed, "My vision becomes cloudy..." Tia grumbled, "...Would they be stupid enough to try and control her...? No. The fact that they would even know of her means that they know just how unruly she is. The Angel of Doom would slaughter them the instant she emerges. Hopefully they only wish to contain or destroy her." The Oracle closed his/her eyes and whispered, "I pray that it is the latter that turns out to be true..."
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