Disciples of the Phoenix
"Knock it off, Ashton. It can't be THAT bad over there." Zandria grumbled, having caught her lover trying to slink off into the forest by himself. The viscount whimpered pathetically, much like a dog being taken to the vet. Ever since Ash and his companions had set out from Oreburgh City, Ashton had become unusually moody and apprehensive. "I...uh...think I forgot something back in my...er...quarters at the inn. I'll just be..." Ashton muttered, trying to slip away again. But Zandria's grip on his cloak remained firm, "Don't even bother! What do you have against Ironspike City anyway?!" Ashton grumbled, "Just about everything, from what I've seen so far..."
Later, as everyone rested for lunch, Ashton still seemed as if he was going to make a dash for the trees at any moment. By then, Chiara was becoming rather annoyed by her lover's antics. "Ashton, what in the world has gotten into you? It's not like you to be this skittish." The viscount grumbled, "You should know by now... After the way Rukaria mauled me, I dread the thought of an entire village mobbing me in the same fashion..." The Lugia scholar sighed, "Ashton, don't be a fool. She never once harmed you on that occasion. And besides, would anyone believe you are the Angel of the Eternal Flame just by looking at you?" Ashton remained silent for a moment before facing his Lugia lover. "Fine. I'll go. But on one condition." Chiara gazed at him with a puzzled expression. The viscount then spoke, "Don't ask, don't tell."
Ashton slowly slurped his beef stew while everyone else gulped his or hers down at a more understandable rate. Zandria noticed the listless expression on the viscount's face and asked, "Ashton, it's not like you to take this long with your meals. Did I make a mistake somewhere?" Ashton glanced over at the Zangoose, "Oh, it's delicious as always, Zandria. There's just...something on my mind." Lucius turned to him, "It can't be that bad in Ironspike City. You look like an ordinary guy at a glance. You'll only bring attention to yourself if you're this uptight." The viscount grumbled, "No argument there... They would likely suspect I'm a thief while looking this nervous." Zandria then grinned as she patted him on the back, "That's the way. Just act like nothing's outta the ordinary and no one will bother you." Ashton continued to slurp his stew, this time a little faster.
Hours later, everyone was sound asleep only a few miles from Ironspike City, the trees around them blocking the moonlight. But as Ashton slept in Chiara's embrace, he began to stir. "No... Get them off me... Too many....." Feeling her lover rubbing against her, Chiara raised her head and looked down at him. "...Dear? Are you all right?" However, the viscount suddenly jumped out of her grasp and lashed out with a kick, striking a tree and leaving a significant imprint of his boot in the bark. "GET THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!!! YOU LOVESICK MAIDENS!!!" Ashton began to flail around, kicking a dozing Rukaria in the head by mistake. "Ow! What was that f... Whoa!" Rukaria climbed out of her sleeping bag to avoid being stomped on by the crazed viscount. Shadow jumped down from his lookout spot in the trees to investigate. "Ashton, what the heck are you doing?!" The viscount did not respond consciously, despite the fact that his eyes were wide open. Chiara gulped, "My word... He's having a night terror!"
"NO!!! NOT THERE!!! LET GO OF MY PANTS!!!" Ashton began punching and kicking every which way; completely unaware of what was happening around him. Shadow winced, "Should we just wait for him to snap out of it on his own?" Chiara gasped as Ashton brought his hands together, "I do not believe that would be wise. Stand back!" The Lugia then spread her wings wide as her eyes glowed a faint blue. Ashton shouted, "Stay back!!! I won't say it again..... Fine! I warned you! Fire Style: Phoenix Flower Jutsu!!!" A flurry of small fireballs was launched towards Chiara. But the flames struck a psychic barrier instead, fizzling out seconds after impact. Seconds later, Rukaria brought the long handle of her Hyup Do down onto Ashton's head from behind, sending the viscount falling to the ground in a heap. "Sorry, Sir Ashton..." By some miracle, no one else had been awakened by Ashton's rampage.
Ashton soon sat up, having been brought to his senses from the blow to his head. "Where are they?! Did they... GAAAHHH!!!" Ashton shrieked as he turned to face Rukaria. "Get away!!! Don't come near..... Wait... There's only one of you?" The blind Lucario maiden gave Ashton a somewhat disturbed gaze, "There's only one Rukaria....." Chiara then spoke up, "Ashton, you were having a dream. That's all." But the viscount shuddered, "A...dream, you say? No... That was no dream... That was a NIGHTMARE!" The viscount then fell on his side, clutching his legs in a fetal position. "I've never seen so many Lucario maidens of gray and crimson.... They swarmed me... Smothered me.... God, I've never been so frightened in all my life... Heheh... Heyahahaha!!!" Ashton cackled madly, his face expressing a bizarre combination of fright and delirium. Shadow sweated nervously, "Should I knock him out?" Chiara replied, "No. Allow me." She reached into her sack of medical supplies and pulled out a jar of Sleep Powder. The Lugia then gently blew some over Ashton, who promptly fell into a deep sleep upon inhaling some. "Sleep well, dear Ashton. We arrive in Ironspike City in the morning." Chiara then curled up next to him and fell asleep. Shadow, certain that no one in his or her right mind would approach the campsite after Ashton's episode of sleepfighting, took the opportunity to get some sleep as well. However, Rukaria sighed to herself as she climbed back into her sleeping bag. "Now I feel really bad for him... I hope everyone else gives him a calmer welcome than I did..."
The next morning, everyone continued on his or her way to Ironspike City. And sure enough after a few hours of walking, Ash and his companions emerged from the forest. But to their surprise, they found not a bustling city, but very many simplistic huts set up around farmland. Many different types of crops could be seen all over the place, ranging from corn to rice paddies. "Um... Is this really Ironspike City?" Ash asked with a puzzled expression. Rukaria nodded, "Not all of it. This is where the majority of the Ironspike clan resides. The more modern section of the city is way over there." The blind Lucario maiden pointed toward the distance. On the other side of the vast field of farmland and earthen huts were many modern buildings. But Ruby then asked, "But then where are all of the clan members?" Rukaria pointed out towards the fields. Working amongst the crops were many Lucario and a handful of Riolu. At the sight of them, Ashton gulped, "Remember, no one says anything about my name. That means you, Rukaria." The Lucario chuckled, "Wouldn't even consider it."
Before long, the group passed a few playing Riolu. One of them accidentally stumbled between Ashton's legs and under his cloak. Seconds later, the Riolu spoke up, "Nice sword, mister!" The viscount smiled, "Why thank you, lad." The Riolu then emerged from under his cloak, "It's so big! And the blade looks like the Flamberge!" At the mention of his zweihander's name, Ashton froze. "Oh.... It's nothing special... Just an ordinary great sword." But the Riolu then began to whisper amongst his playmates. Rukaria noticed Ashton's expression and smirked, "What's wrong, Ashton? Afraid you have a few new fans?" Ashton glared at her, "Shut up! Don't call me that!" However, the trio of Riolu gazed up at the viscount with looks of amazement. Ashton glanced down at them while trying to keep a straight face, "Don't mind her. She's not all right in the head." But one of the three Riolu, a little girl, asked, "Are you the Vulcan Warrior?"
Ashton began to sweat profusely as the three Riolu started to become curious. "That sword is so big! And the blade is so wavy! It has to be the Flamberge!" Trying to prevent the children from learning of his identity, Ashton spoke, "I have no idea what you're talking about. And I've never heard of this Vulcan Warrior." He then noticed out of the corner of his eye Rukaria with a mischievous grin on her face. The viscount then gave her a stern glare, "Say anything and I'll cut off a leg." Ashton's threat quickly caused Rukaria's expression to change to one of extreme nervousness. However, a young Lucario male approached the group with a pail of freshly picked tomatoes. He spoke up, "Easy there, kids. Don't go giving any travelers problems." One of the Riolu, a little boy, turned to the Lucario and smiled, "Papa! This is the Vulcan Warrior!" The Riolu's father smirked, "Oh please. We all revere the mighty Angel of the Eternal Flame, but he's been dead for..... Huh?" The Lucario then gave Ashton an odd stare. "That sword hilt... And that face and hairstyle...... No way." Seeing that the Lucario had his doubts, Ashton chuckled, "You've got it all wrong. I'm just a traveling swordsman." But the Lucario then eyed the Z-shaped scars under Ashton's eyes. Seeing that the Lucario was smirking, Ashton raised an eyebrow, "What's with that grin?" As if to answer the question, the Lucario turned to face the crop fields and shouted, "Hey, everyone! You'll never guess who's here! It's him! The Angel of the Eternal Flame!!!"
An ominous presence descended over the area. At least in Ashton's mind. Seconds after the Lucario had shouted his claims; dozens upon dozens of Lucario and Riolu began to emerge like a swarm of locusts from the fields of crops. Ashton remained rooted to the ground, petrified with fear. The countless Lucario began to whisper to each other, wondering if the man before them was indeed who they thought he was. Ash snickered, "Dang, Ashton. Who knew you were such a celebrity!" The viscount growled, "Shut it! And don't call me that!" A young Lucario girl spoke, "That round pommel and long hilt...... It looks just like the ones from the illustrations." Ashton began to sweat, (They're onto me...) Before the mass of Lucario and Riolu could question him further, Ashton jumped forward and ran across the field of Lucario by using their heads as steppingstones. But once he landed on the ground at the other end of the pack, they all turned to face him. One of the Lucario smiled, "That's so cool! That level of balance and agility! Definitely results from your training in the ninja arts of the Far East!" The viscount froze, his eyes wide open. Realizing that he had just blown his own cover, Ashton made a mad dash to the south, the pack of Lucario and Riolu in hot pursuit. Sapphire gulped, "Um... Is Grandpa gonna be all right?" Rukaria snickered, "Oh, he'll be fine. Very fine."
Ashton dashed across the fields, trying his best to stay ahead of his pursuers. Fortunately for him, the pack of Lucario and Riolu were not as agile as he and had some difficulty moving through the crops that littered the farmland. Before long, several Lucario came into view up ahead. However, these Lucario seemed prepared for a fight rather than to beg Ashton for an autograph. One shouted, "What kind of thief goes around getting the entire Ironspike clan's attention?!" It seemed that the small group of Lucario had mistaken Ashton for a criminal with the vast majority of the Ironspike clan pursuing him. But Ashton shouted, "Outta my way!" The Lucario lashed out at Ashton with various punches and kicks, but the viscount dodged and weaved around them without even stopping. One of the Lucario muttered, "Such speed and agility..... Who is that guy?" Ashton looked back over his shoulder for a moment as the pack of Lucario faded from view. He snickered to himself as he looked ahead again, feeling very relieved to have escaped them. The last thing Ashton recalled before losing consciousness was a wall of pale limestone bricks rapidly getting closer.
"Easy now... He's waking up." Chiara's voice spoke. Ashton slowly opened his eyes as he felt the Lugia's hand lift from his face. "That was quite a bump on your head. I must confess I never took you as the type who would be absentminded enough to run full-speed into a brick wall." Ashton brought a hand to his forehead, recalling running into a wall. "At least I was able to get away..." But Shadow then asked, "Um.... Ashton? Does your family have a history of heart attacks?" The viscount replied, "Not that I know of. Why?" The Lucario pointed, "Then I guess it's safe for you to look." Ashton sat up and looked around him. To his horror, he found himself and his companions completely surrounded by the Lucario and Riolu of the Ironspike clan. "Hail Mary, full of grace..."
As Ashton began to pray for salvation before his imminent demise, the Lucario and Riolu began to whisper to each other. "He does look a lot like him. But is it really possible for him to still be around? The real Angel of the Eternal Flame's been dead for 500 years." Ashton continued to pray. "Our Father, who art in Heaven..." But a woman's voice spoke out, "Relax, traveler. The Ironspike clan means you no harm." The voice was calm, not like a crazed follower's. Ashton glanced up and saw a female Lucario standing before him. She seemed to exude an air of authority. One of the Lucario spoke up, "Lady Night Claw..." The female replied, "It's fine. He is a noble soul." She then held out her hand, "I am Night Claw. The Alpha female of the Ironspike clan."
Ashton nervously took Night Claw's hand for leverage as he climbed to his feet. He silently cast his gaze upon the many Lucario and Riolu that surrounded him and his companions. Night Claw then asked, "Sir, who exactly are you? I've heard a rumor from my people that you might be the legendary Angel of the Eternal Flame." The viscount nervously replied, "Just gossip..." But the Alpha female pointed, "So you say, yet that sword you carry is identical in both size and form to the Flamberge, the primary weapon of said warrior." Ashton looked behind him and found the Flamberge lying upon the ground. "It even bears the words inscribed upon it as a safeguard against accidental injury to the innocent. I find that as more than just mere coincidence." Ashton began to sweat profusely, his cover all but shattered. He glanced over at Chiara, who nodded as she prepared to stop a potential swarm of admirers. The viscount then sighed, ".....It is true. I am the Vulcan Warrior. The Angel of the Eternal Flame. I am Ashton Redford Crimson of the Knighthood of Rohta."
Upon hearing Ashton's claim, the entire Ironspike clan burst into an uproar. "How do we know you're being serious?! Prove it!" After a moment more of her clan's jeering, Night Claw silenced them with a stern glare. She then turned to face Ashton, "I too am curious. Would you mind showing some proof to back up your claim?" Ashton sighed, "Very well... But under one condition." He then faced the entire Ironspike clan, "Stand your ground." The viscount then closed his eyes as the Z-shaped markings below them became bolder. He then grabbed his blue cloak and cast it aside. Seconds later, a pair of wings composed of rainbow flames emerged from his back. When he opened his eyes, everyone saw that his pupils were a fiery red like those of the phoenix herself. The Ironspike clan stared in stunned silence. Even Night Claw herself could only gaze upon the Angel of the Eternal Flame with eyes filled with wonder. Ashton then crossed his arms, "Satisfied?"
For a moment, it seemed that the Ironspike clan was too stunned by Ashton's revelation to make any advances toward him. But just as the viscount began to relax, around a dozen Lucario maidens pushed their way past the other clan members and rushed towards him while screaming wildly. "Not again!" Ashton flapped his wings and took to the air, hovering a good distance above the love-struck maidens. The sight of actually seeing the Angel of the Eternal Flame in flight was too much for the Ironspike clan. The entire pack of Lucario and Riolu went wild with cheering. Some of the other maidens in the pack even fainted from extreme emotion. While the twelve or so Lucario maidens below him began pleading with Ashton to come down, a few of them even begging for him to allow them to bear his children, the viscount brought a hand to his face and grumbled, "Some things never change..... Even after five centuries..."
It took only a few minutes for Night Claw to restore order. She then called up to Ashton, "It's all right now, Sir Ashton! You may descend!" Reluctantly, Ashton dropped back to the ground. However, he stood ready to draw a kunai from the pouch on the back of his right hip in case the pack of Lucario assaulted him. Much to his surprise, Night Claw seemed to be perfectly calm, even after he had revealed his identity. She then spoke, "Sir Ashton of Green Mile..." She then slowly dropped to her knees and bowed, "It is truly an honor." Much to Ashton's shock, the entire field of Lucario and Riolu bowed as well. Night Claw smiled, "Allow me to welcome you to our humble home. Welcome to Ironspike City."
Ashton stood perplexed, amazed that the vast majority of the Ironspike clan did not try to mob him. Night Claw then spoke, "You need not explain how you have returned to this world. Such matters are irrelevant." Ashton nervously nodded, "I...uh...see. You may rise now. No need to bow. I am but a humble knight." However, Night Claw smiled, "A humble knight who made a great difference in this world. Don't go thinking your noble deeds went unnoticed." Lucius then stepped forward, "Hang on... Seriously? You're some sort of legendary hero from long ago?" The viscount grumbled, "I'll explain later... It's a long story. A very long story indeed." But just then, a Riolu ran up to Ashton and pleaded, "Sir Ashton, please show us it!" Ashton asked, "Show it? What is it that you speak of?" The Riolu replied, "That holy sword! The Soul..... Soul something."
Understanding what the Riolu child was asking, Ashton glanced over at Night Claw. "You even went so far as to chronicle the existence of Soul Calibur?!" Rukaria sighed, "Didn't I already tell you that? When we first met?" Night Claw nodded, "How else would you have bested the likes of Soul Edge? It was all too obvious that you had to use the spirit sword to match it." Ashton chuckled, "You have a point there. I never would've managed to take that beast down without her." He then looked towards the many Lucario and Riolu that stood before him, then at the Riolu child at his feet. "Very well. I will show you." He then gripped the hilt of Soul Calibur on the back of his left hip and drew her from her scabbard. The viscount then held the beautiful spirit sword above him, "This is her. My old friend, Soul Calibur."
The entire Ironspike clan was awestruck by the sight of the shimmering blue sword in Ashton's left hand. Seeing just how calm Ashton had become, Chiara giggled, "It would seem he has adapted to becoming the center of attention for so many." However, Night Claw took a step forward and asked, "Sir Ashton. A small favor, if I may." The viscount nodded, "Ask away." The Ironspike clan's Alpha glanced at Soul Calibur, "The true form of the spirit sword. Will you show us?" The viscount nodded readily, "Very well. But give me some room first." As instructed, Night Claw jumped back. Ashton then raised the spirit sword above him as she began to shine brightly. Soul Calibur began to lengthen and widen while constantly being engulfed by a brilliant faint blue light. By the time the light receded, Soul Calibur had become a massive broadsword composed entirely of a translucent blue crystal. Her crystal core shimmered beautifully at the base of her hilt. Ashton then lowered the sword and pointed it towards the many Lucario and Riolu before him, "Be grateful. I only have Soul Calibur take on this form when absolutely necessary."
Ashton began to swing Soul Calibur around with just one hand to display how easily she could be wielded. One of the Lucario asked, "Isn't that sword really heavy in that state?!" Ashton replied, "Actually, no! It seems that no matter what form she takes on, Soul Calibur's weight never changes!" With the demonstration over, Ashton had Soul Calibur revert to her resting state and returned her to her scabbard. "Sorry for showing you off like that..." Ashton whispered to the spirit sword. She replied, "It was no trouble, young master." But during that time, Lucy had taken a moment to examine the building that Ashton had run into a short while ago. "Um.... Ashton?" The viscount turned to face her. The Lucario maiden then pointed, "Isn't this your house?" The viscount then glanced up at the wall before him. After examining the limestone bricks for a moment, his eyes went wide. "....No way!" Ashton then dashed around the side until he was at the front of the building. He then shouted, "What the hell is this doing here?!"
Ashton's companions ran over to him to get a good look at the structure before them. The building seemed to be Ashton's manor. "I don't recall having a second manor constructed in the Sinnoh region...... Wait a minute..." Ashton glanced from one side of the manor to the other, then from top to bottom. "I don't recall my home being so.....small." Night Claw, as well as a large number of her clan members, let out a good laugh at Ashton's confusion. She explained, "Of course it's smaller! It's not your home at all, but rather a museum." The viscount glanced over at her, "I beg your pardon?! A museum?!" The Alpha female nodded, "Indeed. This is where your legacy has been documented." She then walked over to the doors and opened them, "I would be honored to give you the grand tour. Shall we?" Curious of just how much of his life the Ironspike clan had documented, Ashton followed Night Claw inside with the rest of his companions while the majority of the Ironspike clan resumed their daily activities.
Just inside the entrance, Ashton noticed five doorways at both sides of the hall leading into a total of ten rooms. At that moment, Aurora burst out of her Safari Ball in a flash of light. "Whoa! How'd you get outta there?!" Ash yelped in surprise. The Suicune replied, "I overheard everything and felt a need to see this for myself." But just then, Chiara brought her hands to her face. "My goodness..... Is that....?" Everyone saw what seemed to be a beautiful stained-glass window at the very end of the hall. Ashton and his three lovers broke into a run and gazed up at it once they were standing before it. The window depicted Ashton clad in his favorite armor while holding the Flamberge above him with one hand. Standing directly next to him seemed to be a Lucario who lacked spikes on its chest and hands. On the other side of Ashton stood a Gardevoir lacking its two horns on its back and chest, an arm stretched outward. Positioned vertically around the three, with three on each side, was a Zangoose with the claws on its right hand extended, an Absol with an unusually long silver tail, a Latias with yellow feathers instead of pink, a Mightyena with fur as pale as snow, a Suicune with a deep blue mane, and a Lugia who was around the same size as the Suicune overall. Ashton dropped to his knees, tears beginning to form in his eyes. "Ruby. Serenade. Zandria. Cassandra. Laura. Laika. Aurora. Chiara. They're all here..." Zandria, Aurora, and Chiara were equally speechless as they beheld themselves imprinted upon the stained-glass window before them. Night Claw noticed Ashton's faint sobbing and asked, "Sir Ashton, are you well?" The viscount wiped his tears away and smiled, "Yes... I'm just so...touched that your clan did this for us." The Alpha female took his hand, "I'm honored that you enjoy it. But allow me to show you to the rest of the museum."
Night Claw led her guests into the closest chamber. Inside seemed to be various documents set upon pedestals. On two sides of the room were maps. One set showed the Kingdom of Rohta and the present-day Kanto region while the other showed the mighty Kingdom of Clavice and the present-day Johto region. Nearly all of Ashton's companions began to shuffle about the room, eagerly reading the articles. However, Rukaria stood near the doorway patiently. Night Claw noticed and asked, "You're not interested?" The blind Lucario maiden shook her head, "It's not that. I've already read these articles. Many times, to be precise." Ashton too began to look around the room. "Hmmm... Celestica was renamed Cerulean City? And Slatis was renamed Pewter City? How'd they come up with those names?" Lucius seemed to be looking the articles over with an unusual curiosity, nearly ignoring everything else around him.
Once everyone had viewed everything in the chamber, Night Claw took her guests across the hall to the adjacent room. This chamber was filled with general information regarding Ashton himself. "What the...?! I was HOW HEAVY when I was born?!" Ashton grumbled as he read what could have passed as his birth certificate. Aurora giggled, "Seems the Ironspike clan went through quite a bit of trouble to get that information." Once again, Lucius was drinking in the information like a scholar. "Fascinating.... Knighted at the age of thirteen... Became a father at age fifteen..." Pearl turned to Ashton and smiled, "That's so sweet, Ashton. You and Cassandra died in each other's arms? That's so romantic!" Hearing that in person for the first time, Ashton blushed deeply, "Now that you mention it, I suppose it was."
The next room Night Claw led her guests to contained more information on Ashton's life. Lucius read an article on Ashton's family heirlooms. "Family's private vessel was named...... The... The... Bwahahahaha!!!" The Shiny Lucario fell onto his back, rolling with laughter. "What kinda name is 'The Flying Duskull'?! Can't...breathe..." Lucius nearly passed out from laughing so hard. Ashton grumbled, "It wasn't my idea..." Nearly everyone else in the room could not help but chuckle at the mention of the viscount's private sailing vessel.
In the next room, Ashton and his companions noticed what seemed to be a pair of mannequins that had been crafted in the form of a Gallade and Gardevoir. However, instead of green, the Gallade was a shade of light blue in some spots. Ashton gasped, "Father?! Mother?!" He ran over to the mannequins, "How do you still live?! It's been over 500 years!" But before Ashton could touch them, Night Claw spoke up, "Sir Ashton, don't! They're just replicas! Statues." The viscount froze, "...Statues?" He ran his fingers over the face of the Gardevoir mannequin. It was cool to the touch and unnaturally dry. Ashton then sighed, "I see... I suppose I shouldn't be surprised..." Chiara then approached her lover and set a hand on his shoulder, "You must miss them." Ashton sighed, "Somewhat. I spent plenty of time with them during my afterlife... But I still long to see them again."
Shadow gazed up at the mannequin of the Shiny Gallade, "So this guy was your dad, Ashton? He looks pretty cool." Ashton grinned with pride, "He was a great man. His name was Siegfried." Sapphire then stood before the Gardevoir mannequin and glanced down at its chest. She then touched one of her breasts before touching the mannequin's. "Why is it so hard? I thought these are supposed to be soft!" Ruby then approached her daughter, "That's because it's just a statue, dear. They're made of hard substances..... What the...." The Lucario's eyes then focused upon the breasts of the mannequin. "Th...th...they're huge!" The breasts on the Gardevoir mannequin were even larger than Sapphire's. Ruby called out, "Ashton, why in the world was your mother this....so well endowed?!" The viscount walked over to them and glanced down at the mannequin's bust. He then shook his head while snickering, "I can't believe they took those into account. Her name was Starlet, just so you know." Lucy then read the article upon the pedestal that stood near the mannequin, "She had an odd condition that caused her to almost constantly lactate? No wonder they were so big..."
After examining the articles on Ashton's foster parent's lives, Lucius turned to face the opposite side of the room. "Ashton, who are they? Acquaintances of your parents?" The viscount turned to face the opposite side of the room, which he had somehow failed to notice. His eyes went wide, "Could they..... Could they be...?" There were two other mannequins placed a short distance apart from each other. One was in the form of a young woman with long red hair while clad in a lovely blue gown. The other mannequin was crafted in the form of a hugely muscular man with unkempt black hair with an equally dark beard and moustache. The mannequin was bare from the waist up and was barefoot as well. It was wearing tan slacks and what seemed to be a sleeveless jacket of the same color that was hanging around the mannequin's legs while secured to its body by a belt. The forearms of the mannequin were clad in black gauntlets with golden rims that had a red stone embedded in them. Intricately designed steel blades curved up and over the back of the gauntlets starting above where the wrists would be. Ash pointed at the woman mannequin, "With that hair and face, she looks a lot like my mom!" Ashton nodded, "I feel as if I've seen her somewhere before... In a portrait...in my home?" The viscount then turned to Night Claw, "Lady Night Claw, tell me! Who are they?!" The Alpha female replied, "I'm not surprised you don't know. You were so young when they perished. The woman is your birth mother, Maria Crimson. And the man is your birth father, Akien Crimson."
Ashton stared at the two mannequins of his birth parents as if he had seen a ghost. Lucash smiled, "Wow, Grandpa. Your dad's huge!" Ashton quietly nodded, "He... He most certainly is..." Aurora then asked, "Why are you so shocked to see them? Did you not encounter them during your afterlife?" At this, Ashton crossed his arms and began to think. Moments later, he spoke, "Actually..... I did." He then turned his eyes to the mannequins, "I was just surprised to see how my parents looked during life." He then scanned the mannequin that resembled his father and laughed, "Father wasn't joking in the least! I can tell just by looking at him that he was a very able warrior!" The viscount then chuckled, "I would never have guessed by looking at him that he was of noble blood. How often does one find a viscount in that attire?" But after a moment more, Ashton noticed a glass display case standing between the two mannequins. Curious, he approached it and looked down through the glass. A gasp escaped his lips. He then turned to Night Claw, "Lady Night Claw... May I?" The Lucario nodded, "You are the only human who is permitted to touch that. By all means, please." Ashton then carefully opened the case and removed its contents. When he turned to face his companions, they saw that he was holding a sword of sorts. Lucash gazed in awe, "Grandpa, what kinda sword is that?" Ashton held out the sword before him and gazed upon it in disbelief. "I thought it was lost forever..... The Crimson family's heirloom sword... Seeker."
Hearing the name of the sword her lover was holding, Chiara asked, "Seeker... Are you certain? But how? It was lost centuries ago when your father perished!" Ashton nodded, "I know... Unless this is just..." He then turned to face Night Claw. "Tell me truthfully. Is this indeed Seeker? Or is it just a replica?" To everyone's surprise, Night Claw closed her eyes. She then began to focus her Aura as her four dreadlocks began to float behind her. In their minds, everyone present heard the Alpha female's voice. "I am speaking to you this way to prevent eavesdropping. Yes, Sir Ashton. That sword you hold is the true heirloom sword of your family. We always claim that it is just a replica as a means to ward off potential thieves. Not that they could escape with the high level of security positioned around this museum, mind you. But yes, that is truly Seeker. It was located by the Ironspike clan's scholars centuries ago. It was a sheer stroke of luck, though the details regarding its discovery remain sketchy. As it was last wielded by your father, it was displayed here in this room with him." The Seeker's blade was single-edged and somewhat short, being only around the length of Ashton's arm at most. Yet its golden hilt was rather long, suggesting that it had been designed to be used with two hands should the need arise. Its golden hilt curved over Ashton's hand slightly at the base of the blade, providing a little protection. Red runes were inscribed along the blade that seemed capable of glowing. "I can't make out what these mean..." Ashton muttered as he examined them. Chiara then stepped forth and looked closely at them. "...Even if the Heavens fall, Justice must still be done."
Night Claw watched as Ashton marveled at his family's treasure. But she then smiled warmly, "Sir Ashton, please take good care of that sword." Surprised, the viscount turned to face her. "Take care of it? Whatever do you mean?" The Alpha female smiled, "That sword belongs to your family. In all regards, this museum should not be permitted to house it. You should keep it with you." Ashton then took the Seeker in both hands and held it before him. But after a moment, he solemnly shook his head. "...No. It does not suit me." He then returned the sword to its display case. "I would appreciate it if you continue to watch over it. However, once we prepare to return home, I shall return here to claim it." Night Claw nodded, "As you wish, Sir Ashton. I will have a replica of it forged in the meantime to replace Seeker when you return for it." But as everyone else began to examine the articles placed around the room, Ashton once again took Seeker into his hands. "Just a moment. I remembered something." He then rolled up his sleeve and brought the blade down onto his arm. But to everyone's shock, Ashton's flesh remained whole. "The legend was true. I can will the blade to become as sharp or dull as I wish."
Once Ashton and his companions had taken in their fill of information, Night Claw led them to the next room. Upon entering, the Lucario spoke, "This room houses replicas of weapons used by the Vulcan Warrior and his allies. Just be aware that they ARE sharp." Ashton glanced around, scanning the room and its contents. "The Flamberge... The Viper Edge... A cross pike and dagger... Dual short swords... A rapier... Soul Calibur..... Wait...what?" Ashton glanced over at one of the display cases. "Soul Calibur?! How can it be?!" The viscount dashed over to the display case. A sword with its blade split in twain down the middle rested inside. It was composed of a beautiful blue metal. Rukaria spoke up, "Um... Sir Ashton? That's just a replica. It isn't the real Soul Calibur. The real one is still in the scabbard on your hip." The viscount reached behind him and blushed, feeling a familiar sword's hilt. "Er... I knew that." Everyone present chuckled.
Lucius shuffled around the room, reading the various articles at a steady pace. But when he read the article next to the rapier, he laughed, "Are all rapiers really that fragile?!" Ashton approached him and read the article as well. "Uh... Actually, yes. Though I confess I forgot how many times Garyson's sword broke during our duels..." Zandria then grinned as she examined the Flamberge's replica. "They got the size and proportions just right. They even remembered to throw in the safeguard's inscriptions." Aurora approached the zweihander, "Ah, yes. To protect the beloved and slay the wicked. Excellent choice of words, Chiara." The Lugia scholar smiled, "You're too kind."
Ash took a close look at the article near the cross pike and dagger being displayed together. "Really? May's ancestor used something like these? And at once? That's pretty cool." Ruby examined the Viper Edge. There were two models. One of the sword while it was whole and another while the blade was extended. "A sword that can become like a whip? I honestly can't think of anything more dangerous to use. One mistake and it'll take the user's finger off!" Shadow then examined the dual short swords being displayed. "Used by someone named 'Koga', huh? Kinda brings to mind Silent Fang..."
A short while later, Night Claw led her guests to the next chamber. "See any familiar faces, Sir Ashton?" The viscount glanced around the room, but soon scowled. "I know these faces... The Night Hawk. Captain Lance. Archibald. The High Priest. And....and.....!" Ashton froze as he saw one other mannequin. Once everyone else entered the room, they too froze in fright. Lucius jumped back, "What the hell is that?!" Sapphire whimpered, "It's so scary.... Daddy, help me!" Standing with a grotesque great sword in its left hand was a familiar azure-colored golem. Its malformed right hand was curled into a fist at its side while its two eyes glowed like embers. A sphere of purplish glass connected the upper and lower halves of the creature together. Seeing just how terrified Ashton was, Night Claw chuckled, "There's no need to get so worked up. That thing, though hideous to behold, is just a mannequin. It can't hurt you." Shadow gulped as he calmed down somewhat, "OK, that's reassuring. But what exactly IS this thing?" Ashton replied, "This is...the complete form of the wielder of Soul Edge... The Azure Knight." Lucy then pointed, "Then this disturbing excuse of a sword in its left hand is...?" The viscount nodded, "It is... With all of its shards and fragments reunited... The Sword of Ruin itself... Soul Edge."
Lucius cautiously approached the mannequin of the Azure Knight and examined it and the sword in its left hand. "This is one ugly freak. Did you really have to fight this thing?" Ashton held a hand to his chest, remembering the duel. "Yes... What a terrifying foe..." The Shiny Lucario then gazed through the translucent blade of the Soul Edge replica, "Is this blade made of crystal?" Night Claw explained, "The original sword was, but this one is made of glass. The rest of it is plastic." Lucius then staggered back as he suddenly noticed the eye staring out from the hilt, "Holy... That's creepy." After a second more of examining the sword, he muttered to himself, (So this was the equivalent of the Sword of Shadows...) Ash then examined the mannequin of Archibald. "Kinda looks like Archie from Team Aqua. Except with an eye patch." A small model of the pirate vessel Leviathan was being displayed next to it as well. Pearl took the time to examine the mannequin of the High Priest, his pale complexion and yellow reptilian eyes intimidating her. "This guy... No way he was ever human." Lucash then gazed up at the mannequin of Lance, clad in black plate armor with his trademark Ahlspiess spear being displayed next to it. "Hey, Dad! Doesn't this guy kinda look like the Champion from Johto?" Hearing his son call him, Ash approached the mannequin and examined the face. "He does! I know that hairstyle and face anywhere!" But when he read the information regarding Lance's final days, he grumbled, "Only difference is that the Lance I know is a good man. This guy was a total jerk! Genocide?! What a monster!" But Ashton glared at the Trainer, "That's enough, Ash. He had his reasons. And he was not entirely without a heart." Rukaria spoke up, "You sound like you know what you're saying." The viscount sighed, "Take it from someone who once idolized him..."
After taking a good look at the faces of his old enemies, Ashton examined the Night Hawk's mannequin. Still clad in black clothing that seethed malice, the hood that normally covered her head had been pulled down so as to reveal her hair and face. The oddly designed wave swords that she used were displayed in a glass case next to the mannequin. As he looked at her face, Ashton recalled when he and Chiara infiltrated the Team Rocket headquarters west of Viridian City beneath the Forest of Rebirth. He frowned, remembering when he struck the mortal blow with Soul Calibur against the agent known as Black Tulip. Her last words flickered in his mind. "It was a pleasure, Pretty Boy....." He gazed into the mannequin's eyes. (The same face. The same hair.
The same voice. But not the same soul. At least her descendant had at least half a heart.)
Ashton approached the mannequin of the High Priest last. He shuddered, "Those inhuman yellow eyes still chill me to the core...... Hm?" He suddenly noticed a familiar sword being displayed next to the mannequin. It had a straight double-edged blade that was about the length of a bastard sword, yet had a hilt long enough for two hands to grip it. Ashton's eyes went wide, "The Grass Long Sword..... But why is it...?" Night Claw then noticed Ashton starting to hyperventilate. "Is something wrong?" The viscount replied with a shout, "I'VE BEEN ROBBED!" There was a sudden burst of wind as Ashton dashed out of the room at absurdly high speed and out of the museum. He then headed south, moving almost too fast for anyone to notice him. Aurora muttered, "Robbed? Of what?"
Just outside the Crimson estate's front door, James was busy trimming the ivy from the tombstone near the steps. "That should do it for a few months." But just as the former Team Rocket agent approached the steps, the rusty iron gates of the estate burst open with a loud screech as someone flew through the front door! "What the?! Who was that?!" James dashed inside and ran down the hall. But as he passed Ashton's bedroom, he turned back as he noticed someone inside. He found Ashton frantically searching his room. "Lord Ashton? When'd you get here?" The viscount replied, "That's not important! What's missing?! Did the thieves leave anything behind?!" James gave Ashton a most puzzled stare, "Thieves? What thieves? The only visitor we've gotten since you left was Mrs. Ketchum." Hearing this, Ashton froze, "You mean..... It's still here?" The viscount approached a familiar chest and opened it. Inside, he found a sword sheathed in a black wooden scabbard. He then drew the blade from the scabbard, "The Grass Long Sword. It's still here?" Ashton brought a hand to his face in embarrassment, ashamed of himself for not realizing that the sword in the museum in Ironspike City was just a simple replica.
Ashton quietly returned the Grass Long Sword to its chest and closed the lid. He slowly stood up, his face still red from embarrassment. But just then, he fell to the ground in a heap. "Lord Ashton?!" James ran to his employer's side. The viscount groaned, "I should've known opening the Gate of Rest was a bad idea. I'll be feeling this in the morning... Ouch." James stood up, "Don't move! I'll be right back!" The servant ran off in search of a first-aid kit. But seconds after Ashton was left alone, the viscount felt his soreness receding. "I'm feeling better already?" Soul Calibur's voice whispered, "I am merely accelerating the healing of your body. You should be mended in a moment." Moments later, Ashton stood up. He stretched, amazed to find himself free of pain. But before he could rejoice, Soul Calibur spoke, "Young master, I must warn you. While I am able to heal your injuries, I cannot combat your fatigue. Your body has its limits, and there are some things that only rest can cure." Ashton nodded, "I will bear that in mind from now on. Thank you, my friend."
While Ashton looked around his bedroom, James came running in with a first-aid kit in hand. "Lord Ashton, just hold still for.... Wait, you're all better?" The viscount faced his puzzled servant and smiled, "I'm just fine, James. But thanks for being so concerned for me. Now tell me, has anything occurred during my absence?" Seeing that his employer was truly unharmed, James explained, "Well... Mrs. Ketchum comes by every few days to help with chores. Aside from that, there's nothing really worth noting..... Oh, but I did dust your armor yesterday." Ashton smiled, "Thank you.... Wait... My armor?" He then brought a hand to his chin as he began to think. "I wonder....."
A few minutes later, Ashton stepped into the armory of his manor. Standing before him were two suits of armor and his old ninja garb folded neatly in a pile. His favorite suit of armor was in just the same perfect condition as Ashton last saw it. The other suit of armor was somewhat different in design. It was mostly a metallic blue, but had some red on the front of the cuirass and dull golden brown on the tasset and around the knees and ankles. The helmet was designed like a Salamence's head, complete with red eyebrows running over the top of it. Unlike Ashton's primary suit of armor, which had a leather bodysuit beneath it, this suit of armor had a sturdy layer of chain mail underneath. The exceptionally heavy suit of plate armor had been specially designed to leave as little of Ashton's body exposed as possible. With an inspired grin, Ashton pulled out a mostly blank scroll, paper tags, an inkbottle, and a calligraphy brush. "This should make things much easier. I should've thought of this a long time ago."
A short while later, Ashton soared through the sky on his wings of rainbow flames. "It would hurt like hell if I used the Inner Gates to get back to Ironspike City on foot. Besides, I can get a good view of the Kanto and Sinnoh regions this way." Ashton carefully scanned the ground half a mile below him. He soon passed by Viridian City and the Forest of Rebirth to the west. He then saw the stone-gray settlement of Pewter City as he drifted further north. But after flying north for several minutes, Ashton's eyes noticed something at the edge of his vision to the east. "Hm? What's that over there?" The viscount hovered in place, scanning the horizon. There seemed to be a town in the distance. "Oh, I see. That must be Rota. Former home of the Hero of the Wave. I really should stop by there sometime."
Ashton eventually found himself crossing the ocean, but the towering form of Mt. Coronet could still be seen on the horizon. "If I just follow that, I have no fear of losing my way." Sure enough, Ashton came to the Sinnoh region with Sandgem Town being the first settlement he saw. He adjusted his course slightly so as to head northeast. It did not take much longer for him to locate Ironspike City. Seeing the museum at the western edge of the crop fields, Ashton went into a dive. He glided gracefully over the fields, waving at the Lucario farmers as they passed by. Upon nearing the museum, Ashton landed and dismissed his wings in a flurry of embers. To his surprise, he found all of his companions waiting outside.
Sapphire was the first to welcome Ashton back. "Hi, Grandpa! Where'd you go? You were gone for a while." Ashton scratched his head, "I was? Just how long was I gone?" Ash glanced down at the Pokétch on his wrist and replied, "Around two and a half hours." Ashton blushed sheepishly, "Um... So sorry to keep you waiting. Did you enjoy the tour in my absence?" But Aurora replied, "Actually, once we were done with that exhibit, we all came out here to relax. We felt it would be rude to continue without you. After all, you are the guest of honor!" Night Claw then opened the doors to the museum, "Now that you've returned, allow me to show you the rest of the museum." But as everyone filed back inside, Zandria whispered, "Hey, why'd you run off like that?" Ashton replied, "I thought the Crimson estate had been robbed, but I found everything as I left it. I forgot that the Kusanagi here is just a copy."
Down the hall, Night Claw led her guests into the next chamber. But when everyone entered, Chiara gasped, "Is that me?" Situated around the room were a total of nine mannequins, each molded into the form of one of Ashton's lovers. Zandria took a close look at her own mannequin, "Hey! They even remembered to put claws on just my right hand! Now THAT is attention to detail!" Aurora then examined her mannequin, "It's a bizarre feeling, seeing yourself standing before you like this. I am quite lovely though." Ruby then took the time to look at the mannequin of Ashton's wife. She shuddered, "Now this is creepy. She looks just like me!" Pearl was busy examining the mannequins of Laika and Cassandra. "These two were very lovely. What a beautiful long tail! It looks like it's made of silver. And this fur... I've never seen a Mightyena with white fur before." Ash walked over to Laura's mannequin, which was suspended off the floor by thin wires. "So this was Latias' mom, huh? That's a really vibrant yellow. I can almost feel her energy." Lucy then approached the mannequin of Serenade and gazed up at it. "Um... I see she was quite well endowed too... But at least they were a more reasonable size than her mother's." But while his companions examined the mannequins and the articles near them, Ashton was drawn to one mannequin in particular. At the far end of the room stood a mannequin of a Salamence. "Serra..."
Night Claw soon noticed Ashton's melancholy presence and approached him. "I see you found the one of Serra." Ashton nodded silently. Before long, he turned to face the Alpha female and smiled faintly, "Thank you for including her. She was...my first love..." Night Claw nodded, "It would've been a terrible mistake to leave out the beloved partner of the Vulcan Warrior during his days as a squire. It simply would not be acceptable." Ashton then reached out and gently caressed the mannequin's face. For a brief instant, it almost seemed that the Salamence was smiling. "She's just as beautiful as I remember. Thank you for keeping her in such great shape for so long."
Ashton and his companions moved on to the next exhibit once they had indulged in the information on Ashton's lovers. But upon entering the next room, everyone stopped at the sight of twelve mannequins positioned around the room. Night Claw smirked, "See anyone you recognize, Sir Ashton?" The viscount walked to the center of the room and glanced around. Lucius then asked, "Ashton, who are all these Pokémon? Old friends of yours?" The viscount replied with a laugh, "Far from it! Say hello to my pride and joy!" Ashton's companions looked around in shock with the exception of his three lovers. Shadow exclaimed, "Don't tell me these are you kids! All twelve of them?!" The viscount smiled proudly, "Indeed they are. All twelve of them."
Once Shadow had recovered from his fainting spell, everyone began to examine the mannequins of Ashton's twelve children. The first ones Ashton approached were of his two sons, Lucash and Atlas. "Side by side, as usual." The two mannequins were only a short distance apart from each other. Atlas was a Shiny Zangoose with blue eyes and fur patterns instead of pink while Lucash was much taller than a normal Lucario, standing at around 5' 6. He also had human limbs, complete with hands with five fingers and legs that were not as reverse-jointed as the average Lucario. And like his mother, he lacked the three trademark spikes. Some of his father's traits had been passed on in the form of dark brown eyes and dreadlocks that were pointed at the end instead of rounded.
The eyes of Ashton noticed two other mannequins, each standing next to the mannequins of his sons. But unlike the others, these two were exceedingly basic with only white forms, much like those used to display clothing in department stores. Only instead of ordinary clothing, these two mannequins were displaying armor. A layer of flexible, yet durable leather armor covered all but the lowest section of the torso of the mannequin that stood closest to Atlas. Steel armlets covered the forearms while greaves were worn on the legs. A pair of spaulders rested over the shoulders while a red muffler was wrapped around the neck. A steel helmet rested atop the head, but had two gaps in the top to allow Atlas' ears through. The face was also mostly uncovered with the exception of the forehead. With the exception of his helmet, the steel components of Atlas' armor had red embroidering. Specializing in speed, Atlas wore armor that did not limit his mobility.
Ashton turned to face the mannequin that stood closest to the model of Lucash. All of the armor was blue, but had intricate red designs molded into the components as well. A tasset protected the sides of the hips while a pair of armlets was worn around the wrists and forearms. A breastplate covered the chest while spaulders covered the shoulders. However, possibly for artistic effect, small red wing-like protrusions extended from the backs of the spaulders. Like Atlas, Lucash's helmet covered all but his face, with a pair of gaps in the top to allow his ears through. Like his brother, Lucash preferred lighter armor so as to not hinder his speedy combat style. Ashton closed his eyes and thought back to the many battles he assisted his sons in. "You made me proud, my sons."
Pearl examined the mannequin of Cassandra's daughter, Cleo. "She looks like she was quite a doll. And her tail is just as silver as her mother's. It's a bit shorter though." Lucash took the time to examine the mannequin of Winston, which took up a significant amount of space due to a Lugia's size. "Wow, he's huge! He must've had a hard time getting around." Chiara nodded, "Very true. He had to leave home early because of his growth. A shame he could not stay longer." Lucy and Aurora examined the mannequin of Aurora's daughter together. "She looks just like you, except her mane is purple. And her name is Aura? Is she still alive?" Aurora nodded, "Most likely, though I have not seen her in centuries. I'm certain she is well though." Ash chuckled as he saw the mannequins of Latios and Latias hanging next to each other while being supported by wires attached to the ceiling. "Never thought I'd see these two in a museum. I gotta remember to bring Latias here sometime." Sapphire and Ruby examined the mannequins of Laika's children together. The Lucario child giggled, "They remind me of ice cream! Chocolate, vanilla, and caramel." But Ruby grinned, "You mean Luna, Natasha, and Blake. But you're right. What a variety of color!" Lucius read the articles near the mannequin's of Ashton's lastborn son and daughter, Kota and Monica. Kota was draped in a scholar's robe, a reflection of his dislike for combat and preference for peace. Monica was draped in a lovely royal red gown and wore a queen's coronet atop her head. "Impressive. I never imagined one of his kids became a queen..... Wait a second...." Lucius' face became slightly distorted as he read who Monica's mother was. He then turned to Ashton and asked, "Ashton..... Seriously? You had a child.....with your own mother?" The viscount blushed with a sheepish grin, "She wasn't my true mother, you know. And she always did love my father most. I think it may have been their way of rewarding me for destroying Soul Edge." The Shiny Lucario chuckled as he shrugged his shoulders, "Heh. As long as everyone was happy with the outcome, I really don't have the right to complain."
Upon entering the next room on the tour, Ashton's eyes lit up upon stepping inside. "No way... Master Koga? Captain Black Mist? Garyson? Mayka? Father Pietro? Lady Jessica? How are you all here?" However, Rukaria placed her hand on Ashton's shoulder, "You should know by now that they are just models. They're not alive." Ashton frowned, but soon smiled, "But they look...so lifelike. They look the same as the originals. That shows just how realistic they are." However, after a moment of watching his companions walking around and taking in the sights, Ashton finally broke down and leaned against the wall, quietly sobbing. Almost no one noticed, but Chiara rushed to her lover's side the instant she noticed his predicament. "Ashton, what is it?" The viscount sobbed, "I miss them already..... All my friends....." The Lugia tenderly embraced him with her wings, "There now, dear Ashton. They are all waiting for you. Surely you met them beyond the grave. You will see them again in due time." Ashton wiped his tears away, "You're right... I spent plenty of time with them in life and even longer after death. We'll meet again someday. It's inevitable."
The first mannequin Ashton approached was that of his childhood friend, Garyson Oak. "Still a handsome devil, aren't you?" Ashton chuckled with a smirk. Ash noticed and walked over to his ancestor. The mannequin was dressed in Garyson's favorite dueling attire, which he would often wear in public. "He looks just like Gary, only older." Ashton nodded, "Garyson and I were good friends since childhood. He started off as being the better fighter among us, but I eventually surpassed him." Ash grinned, "That sounds familiar. Gary was always better than me as a Trainer. But I finally surpassed him by beating him at the Silver Conference. It was only after that battle that we actually became real friends." Hearing this, Ashton glanced down at his descendant and smiled, "They say history repeats itself. I suppose that's true to a degree."
Ash and Ashton went from mannequin to mannequin, talking about their friends from the past and present. "Er... Wow. If this is how big Black Mist's chest is, I wonder how big Misty will be in a few years." Ash blushed as he saw the size of the breasts on Captain Black Mist's mannequin. It was clad in her favorite light blue jacket and black leather pants. "She even has the same face and hair! She must've been Misty in a past life." The next mannequin they examined was that of Koga. Like long ago, Koga was clad in dark purple ninja garb and a headband. Ashton smiled, "Koga taught me all I know about ninjutsu. It was thanks to him that I survived a great many battles." Ash chuckled, "He looks just like the Koga I know. He's the Fuchsia Gym Leader. I wonder if he can do all the stuff your teacher could." Ashton snickered, "Perhaps we'll find out one day."
Seeing the face of Father Pietro, Ash snickered, "So this is what Brock's gonna look like in sixty years." Ashton crossed his arms and nodded, "Maybe so. I was not around at the time Pietro was a young man, so I can't be sure." But Ash then smiled, "So, he was the one who married you and Ruby?" The viscount nodded, "He was. He seemed reluctant at first, but he quickly accepted the change in law regarding humans and Pokémon." Pietro's mannequin was clad in a priest's robe. The hairstyle and color was identical to Brock's while the face was similar too, albeit much more aged. The next mannequin the two examined was that of Mayka. But as he gazed at it, Ash blushed. "Wow..... She's...uh.....really pretty." Mayka had the exact same hairstyle as May from Petalburg City in Hoenn. The mannequin was clad in chain mail covered in red plate armor, though the lower legs were clad in leather boots. However, the fauld and gauntlets were a deep green color. Ashton soon noticed Ash's smitten expression and chuckled, "Attractive, no?" The Trainer smiled, "Totally! She's beautiful! If this is what May will look like in a few years, I can't wait to see her then!" Ashton sighed with a thoughtful expression, "She was my pupil. And she was a very able knight on the battlefield. I owed her my life several times over." Ash's face became one of respect as he looked upon Mayka's form. "It must've been awesome to fight with her beside you." Ashton nodded, "It was. Her cheerful spirit at times helped improve our moral." The viscount then bowed before Mayka's mannequin, "Lady Mayka. It was an honor."
Lastly, Ashton walked over to the mannequin molded in the form of the queen of Rohta, Jessica. Ash gasped, "No way..... She looks just like Jessie!" Ashton nodded, "I noticed that similarity myself." The mannequin had long vibrant red hair and was wearing the same kind of coronet Monica's mannequin was wearing in the previous exhibit. The mannequin was clad in a lovely purple dress, fit for royalty. Ashton sighed, "She was a kind and just ruler. She sympathized with the Pokémon of the kingdom and gave me her full support. I... I am grateful for her. I could not have asked for a wiser ruler." Ash faced his ancestor and smiled warmly, "I wish I could've met her." Ashton muttered to himself, (I'll be sure to introduce you myself when the time comes.)
Once everyone had enjoyed himself or herself thoroughly, Night Claw led her guests to the next room. "This is the last stop on the tour. I hope it is the most enjoyable part yet for you all." The Alpha female of the Ironspike clan led her guests into the final chamber of the museum. Upon entering, Ashton's jaw dropped as he beheld the exhibit. While the other rooms within the museum were rich in detail and content, this final chamber was the largest and most detailed yet. Illustrations lined the walls. Many documents sat open, waiting for visitors to read them. A few mannequins stood about, clad in Ashton's armor and various attire he had worn during important events. Ashton staggered back; overwhelmed by the sheer amount of feedback his eyes were giving him. Night Claw explained, "This chamber houses the details of your life, Sir Ashton. From your date of birth to your final breaths. It is here that your life and deeds are recorded for all to see."
Ashton's companions gazed about. The illustrations that lined the wall depicted places, creatures, and events from Ashton's life. Lucius quickly went to work, reading and viewing everything he could find. He muttered, "I have to admit all of these articles are rather entertaining to read." Everyone steadily read the information positioned around the room. But before long, Ash came to the part of the exhibit that detailed Ashton's final duel with Lance that involved a colossal Dragonite shrouded in darkness. There was even a chart comparing the size of an ordinary Dragonite with that of the Dragonite that Lance had used. But the Trainer then motioned for Ashton to approach him. The viscount asked, "Something catch your eye?" Ash nodded and pointed, "Ashton, did this Dragonite come from somewhere northeast of Cerulean City?" Ashton replied, "Cerulean City? Ah, the new name of Celestica. Yes, he did. Why?" The Trainer grinned, "Believe it or not, I saw that Pokémon before." The viscount turned to face the chart before facing Ash again, "Seriously? But that means.... He still lives?" The viscount then smiled warmly, "I must be sure to pay a visit to my old friend there. I only pray he remembers me."
Several illustrations showed various places from Ashton's past life. One showed the markets of Green Mile while another displayed the Crimson estate. But Ashton soon set his eyes upon a trio of basic white mannequins used to display clothing. One was clad in Ashton's first suit of armor, which he wore when he dueled Lance at the Demon's Cape. It was mostly a light shade of blue while appearing fairly basic in design. Another was clad in his favorite suit of armor, colored blue with red pauldrons that had metallic extensions that resembled feathers. Another was wearing Ashton's ninja garb from the Far East, the cotton cloth a very dark shade of blue to help mask his movements in the night. Lastly, another mannequin was clad in the heavy suit of plate armor and chain mail that Ashton had in his armory back home. He gazed at the helmet, its form strongly reminding him of his long dead first love. But after a moment, he glanced back over to the suit of his primary armor. "Something seems to be missing....."
Night Claw soon noticed Ashton closely examining the mannequin that was clad in his primary suit of armor and approached him. "Something wrong, Sir Ashton?" The viscount replied, "It seems that this suit of armor is missing its helmet, if memory serves." But the Lucario frowned, "Helmet? I always thought you wore this armor without a helmet." But the viscount smirked as he pulled a scroll out of the pouch on the back of his right hip. "Think again." The scroll unfurled as he whipped it through the air. He then reached out and pressed his hand against the side that had writing on it. The instant his hand touched the scroll, Ashton was engulfed in a plume of white smoke. The sudden spectacle caught everyone's attention as all eyes fell upon the viscount. A moment later, the smoke began to clear. "Now tell me. What do you see here that is missing from that mannequin?"
As Ashton stood before her, Night Claw gazed up at him. He was now clad in the same suit of armor the mannequin was wearing. However, there was a key difference. A helmet covered Ashton's head with only his eyes and the front of his lower face exposed. Standing up from the helmet's forehead was a pair of wing-like extensions. But while the rest of the helmet was the same shade of blue as the majority of Ashton's armor, the 'wings' extending from the forehead were a sunset orange. Night Claw muttered, "I...uh... I see. I shall send word to one of our blacksmiths to make that addition soon." But Rukaria then asked, "Hang on. How'd you do that? What did you do that made your armor suddenly appear?" Ashton faced the blind maiden and explained, "That was through the use of a summoning scroll. Many ninja use them as a means to store weapons and gear for easy access without having to lug them around physically. While I was home today, I set up special tags near my armor within the armory. Now I can summon them whenever I have any need for them." Ashton then pressed his hand against the same scroll and was once again engulfed by white smoke. When the smoke cleared, he was once again clad in his traveling attire and blue cloak.
Once Ashton had returned his summoning scroll to the pouch on his hip, Shadow asked, "One question, if you have a moment." Ashton turned to face the Lucario warrior. He then pointed, "What exactly is this armor for?" He was pointing to the heavy suit of armor with a helmet designed like a Salamence's head. Ashton replied, "Ah, that one. Before I answer that, do any of you know what a siege is?" Night Claw answered, "An assault on a fortified position with sheer numbers?" The viscount nodded, "That's a fairly vague response, but you do have the right idea." He then set his hand on one of the pauldrons, "I had this suit of armor crafted as a means to aid my sons in conquering criminal strongholds that specialized in Pokémon trafficking. Even though the enemies were common criminals, these strongholds often contained hundreds, even thousands, of hardened criminals who would not allow themselves to be taken alive. Therefore, a siege was required to bring the strongholds under control. I was often positioned within the vanguard of the troops who would lead the charge while my sons' unit infiltrated the stronghold during the chaos. With that many enemy units all around me, I could not afford to have even a single part of my body exposed as attacks came from everywhere I could look. This armor was crafted as a means to shield me from all sides."
One Ashton had finished explaining the origins of his armor; he took a moment to examine his ninja garb again. But he soon noticed something being displayed next to it he had overlooked. Standing straight up was a large war scythe. Its color was nearly black and had a sinister presence. As he beheld the scythe, Ashton felt his blood chill. "Even this... The Reaper Death Scythe... Thanatos." What was more; an illustration was displayed on the support pillar across from it. It displayed the initial form of the spirit of death when summoned with the Reaper Death Seal. Ashton froze, frightened as he recalled feeling his soul being devoured by the Grim Reaper so long ago. "Good lord... I pray I never have to resort to that jutsu again..."
Everyone slowly made his or her way deeper and deeper into the chamber while taking in the sights. But after a while, Sapphire let out a shriek! "SOMEONE HELP!!!" Everyone present made his or her way towards Sapphire's pleas. But upon arriving, they found Sapphire fallen on the ground, too terrified to stand up. Lucius was the first to speak as he gazed in the direction Sapphire was facing. "What the hell...?" Standing before them was a grotesque sight. A hulking beast with veins glowing with fiery light stood with a disturbing sword in claw that was preparing to chomp down on its opponent, fangs bared. Ashton shuddered, "Even Night Terror..... Such dedication." An impressive model of Night Terror stood facing a model of Ashton in his favorite armor. In the viscount's hands was a glass replica of Soul Calibur in her true crystallized form. Shadow gulped, "That thing in its......claws. Is that the same thing from...?" Ash shuddered, remembering when Soul Edge took control of him nearly two months before. Ashton nodded, "It is... The very same." Lucius then asked, "Ashton... Did you actually have to fight that thing? And did you win?" The viscount nodded, "Yes... But just barely." The Shiny Lucario glanced back at the display for a moment before smirking, "If that's true, then I wouldn't mind seeing what you're capable of sometime."
A short while later, Night Claw led her guests out of the museum. Once outside, Lucy sighed, "So much to see... My head's spinning a little." Ashton shook his head, "I feel a tad lightheaded myself. A bit too much studying in one day for me." Night Claw giggled, "Perhaps I should've saved one half for later." But she then asked, "Sir Ashton, may I ask a favor of you?" The viscount nodded, "Of course. What is it you wish of me?" The Ironspike clan's Alpha female bowed, "I would like to have a private duel with you to test your skills. Not to the death, mind you." Ashton frowned, "Er... A duel, you say? Um..." He then glanced at the Flamberge's hilt over his shoulder, "Would you prefer me to use the Flamberge?" The Lucario nodded, "Please. Face me as you would any adversary." Ashton grumbled, "But the Flamberge's safeguard won't allow me to strike anyone without evil in their soul." However, Chiara stepped forward, "If you wish, I can nullify the safeguard for a short while." The Lugia reached out and pressed her hand against the Flamberge's blade beneath Ashton's cloak. She briefly muttered an arcane chant before removing her hand. "There. The effect is only temporary, as the safeguard will reactivate in ten minutes." Ashton then took the Flamberge in hand as everyone else backed away to give the two warriors some extra room. However, Lucy hid behind Chiara, not thrilled at all about witnessing a real battle.
Ashton pointed his sword towards Night Claw, "I feel a tad uneasy about using the Flamberge now that it can even strike those without evil in their hearts. Are you certain you want to do this?" The Alpha female smirked, "I wouldn't have challenged you had I lacked faith in my skills." She then took a defiant stance as what seemed to be claws extended from her fingertips. They seemed to be composed of some sort of dark energy as they glowed a sinister purple. Ashton brought a hand to his chin, "Shadow Claw... An effective counter against Ghost and Psychic types. Clever." But just then, Night Claw dashed towards Ashton. As she drew close, the Lucario jumped back, staying just out of range of a wide slash from Ashton. She then launched a quick burst of her Aura at him, forcing Ashton to evade it, as the Flamberge's steel blade could not deflect it. "Most resourceful. Staying just out of my reach while launching indirect attacks from afar." Ashton smiled, impressed by Night Claw's cunning.
After a few more feints, Night Claw launched another burst of her Aura at Ashton. But instead of striking him, the Aura fell just short and hit the ground instead, exploding in a flash of blue light. Using the blast for cover, Night Claw dashed right up to Ashton before he could react. "Too slow!" Night Claw raked her Shadow Claws along Ashton's body, causing great pain while not breaking the skin due to lack of physical mass. Ashton struggled to evade her attacks, but was not able to effectively strike back due to the extensive range of his weapon. (She uses the weaknesses of her opponents against them! Maintaining a pointblank distance from me to prevent me from using the Flamberge effectively..... Brilliant!)
After a moment more, Ashton lashed out in his frustration with a kick. "Enough of this!" Night Claw did not anticipate the attack and was blown clear from the viscount. But upon landing, she only found the Flamberge sticking out of the ground before her. "He's gone? Where..." Before she could finish what she was saying, Night Claw was sent flying upwards from a kick to her chin from below. Ashton was low to the ground while holding himself up with just one arm and leg. "That was clever indeed, Lady Night Claw! But you forget that I am trained in more than just swordplay!" The viscount then jumped straight up and ended up just below the Lucario while she faced skyward. She could only barely look over her shoulder at the ground below. "I can't see him..." Just then, ropes of flames extended from Ashton's hands and wrapped Night Claw in what could have been described as a cocoon of flames. The viscount then reached out and held onto the Alpha female. "The proper condition for use has not been met, but I'll make an exception this time!"
Ashton's companions gazed in awe at what was occurring above them. Lucius spoke, "That position... Is he using Seismic Toss?" Zandria replied, "No, it's something else! A taijutsu trick?" Ashton and Night Claw went into a wild spin as they plummeted to the ground like a drill. Ashton screamed, "PRIMARY LOTUS!!!" Seconds later, there was a mighty crash as the viscount slammed Night Claw into the ground headfirst. The cocoon of flames holding her in place dissipated rapidly as Ashton jumped away from her. He panted, clearly exhausted from the sheer effort of using the forbidden technique. "Using the Primary Lotus after running several dozen miles with the Gate of Rest open in one day..... Bad idea... Ouch..." He then called out, "Chiara, tend to her injuries! Quickly!" As instructed, the Lugia scholar ran to Night Claw's side and applied Recover to her cranium. "Such a fearsome attack. If she was not part Steel type, the result would surely have been fatal."
Moments later, Night Claw sat up while somewhat dazed. She came to her senses as everyone around them burst into applause. Ashton walked over to her and extended his hand, "Our duel was short, but it was still fulfilling. I'm impressed by how easily you exploit your opponent's weaknesses to your advantage." Night Claw grabbed his hand as she grin, "I actually forgot about your skill in unarmed combat for a moment. I feel silly..." Night Claw brushed herself off before facing her guests and smiling, "Are you staying here this evening?" Ash nodded, "That was the plan. It's starting to get late anyway." The Alpha female then turned to Ashton, "Then I have a invitation to make. The Ironspike clan shall throw a feast for the Angel of the Eternal Flame to commemorate his visit to our home. And you are all invited." Having spent the entire afternoon caught up in visiting the museum, everyone only just then realized that they had skipped lunch. A loud murmur filled the air as everyone's stomachs growled simultaneously. Ashton blushed, "I think we're too hungry to say no." Night Claw then clapped her hands, "Splendid! The feast shall be ready in a few hours. I know it must be difficult to wait, but there will be plenty of food to make up for it!" The Alpha female then ran off to prepare for the event. Ashton then faced Lucius, "Now then, Lucius. Before we forget, come with me." Lucius, having all but forgotten why they had come to Ironspike City in the first place, nodded, "Oh. Um... OK."
Wandering about for a short while, Ashton and Lucius found themselves surrounded by the huts inhabited by the Lucario and Riolu of the Ironspike clan. "Do you even know where we're going?" Lucius asked with a hint of irritation to his voice. Ashton replied while sounding equally irritated, "Not in the least." Just then, Ashton noticed a Lucario farmer nearby who was tending to some rice paddies. "Excuse me, sir. May I ask you for some directions?" The Lucario turned to face him and smiled, "Of course! Anything for you, Sir Ashton!" The viscount chuckled, having grown accustomed to the Ironspike clan's reverence of him. "We are looking for the forge of someone named 'Shield'. Can you point us there?" The Lucario gave him a skeptical gaze before pointing to the south, "It can be found in the oldest part of the city. Just be careful. They say Shield's ghost lingers around there at times." Ashton bowed, "Thank you. We'll take care." As they went on their way, Lucius asked, "Who exactly did you ask to forge me a new sword?" The viscount smirked, "You'll see when we get there."
The oldest section of Ironspike City looked almost no different from the rest of the dwellings where most of the Lucario resided. "Now then, how would we locate a forge among this cluster of shacks?" Ashton muttered while looking around. Lucius then asked, "Hey, what about that smoke over there?" The Shiny Lucario pointed to a trail of smoke rising over the roofs. "Where there's smoke, there's fire. Most likely from a forge." The two approached the area and soon heard what sounded like a hammer striking an anvil. Ashton smiled, "There's a sound I recognize. A blacksmith is near." Before long, they stood at the entrance of a modest hut where the smoke originated. Ashton called inside, "Shield, are you home?!" A woman's voice replied, "Ashton, glad you could make it! Come on in! I'm just about done!" Following the voice, Ashton and Lucius entered and proceeded to a room hot from the forge's fire. Standing over an anvil was a familiar Shiny Lucario standing at five feet tall with royal purple eyes. She was examining a curved single-edged sword. "Perfect as always." She then slid the sword into a scabbard and faced the viscount. "Welcome, Sir Ashton. I take it the clan gave you a hero's welcome?" Ashton snorted, "They did, actually."
Shield stepped forward with the newly crafted sword in hand. She faced Lucius and smiled, "Are you the one in the market for a new sword?" The Lucario nodded, "Sure am. And you're the one who made it?" Shield nodded and handed the sword to him, "It was a pleasure. I'm Shield, by the way." Lucius examined the scabbard of his new sword, "Then you must also be the ghost we were told about. You a specter too?" But he then frowned, "Hang on..... This isn't the same scabbard from before." Shield smiled, "Yeah, it isn't. But that's only because the sword wouldn't fit. The old scabbard was made for a katana, not a tachi." Hearing the Lucario blacksmith, Lucius' ears twitched. "A tachi?" He then drew the sword from its scabbard and examined it. The blade was just slightly longer than a katana while being a tad more curved as well. "So this is a tachi, huh?" He then walked over to an open space and performed a few practice swings with his new sword. "Hmmm... It's a bit different from my last sword, but I like the change."
Lucius returned his sword to its scabbard and strapped it to his back. He then grinned, "I definitely got my money's worth. I hope I won't have to wait too long to try it out." But he then noticed that Shield's chest spike was missing. "What happened to the spike on your chest?" Shield glanced down and shrugged her shoulders, "An accident on the job. Not a big deal, really." But while Lucius and Shield were chatting, Ashton was walking around the forge, examining the place. Shield soon noticed and asked, "See anything that catches your eye?" The viscount sighed, "It just feels.....so nostalgic. It feels just like the workplaces of the blacksmiths I visited during my first lifetime." The Lucario blacksmith patted his back, "This place has been largely untouched by time. While part of Ironspike City evolved with advances in technology, some felt more at home with living like they have for decades." Ashton turned to face her and shook her hand, "I pray this isn't the last time I need your services, Lady Shield." The blacksmith smiled, "If you have any weapons or armor in need of maintenance, let me know." But just as Lucius and Ashton were about to leave, Shield spoke up, "Sir Ashton." When the viscount turned to face her, she gave him a pleading gaze, "Please, watch over Rukaria." The viscount warmly smiled, "I shall. May we meet again, Shield." As Ashton and Lucius headed back to their companions, Shield went back to her forge, extinguishing the flames to prevent a fire from breaking out in her absence.
Elsewhere in Ironspike City, Ash followed Rukaria along the edge of the farmlands. Shortly before, Ruby had pulled him off to the sides to speak with him in private. Her words still lingered in his mind. (It's about Rukaria. Her eyes are strange, so I've never been able to get a real feel for her inner feelings. But I can still feel.....something about her. Her eyes being so devoid of color. It's like it is telling me something about her soul. It feels like...her soul is just as empty as her eyes. It's a terrible feeling of loneliness that I can't describe.) Ash remembered his response, asking what he should do about it. (I... You know what I wanted you to do for Lucy. Now I want you to do the same for Rukaria. Her past. I can't help but sympathize with her, knowing my own past was a hell too. Please... Do whatever you can to make her life better.)
Before long, the two companions entered a vast cemetery reserved exclusively for members of the Ironspike clan. They passed many tombstones before pausing in front of four that were lined in a row. Rukaria then kneeled before them. Ash did the same, examining the inscriptions on the tombstones. "Frederick. Solaria. Ruko. Matariel." He then asked, "Old friends of yours?" Rukaria shook her head, "No. Only Matariel was a friend to me. We knew each other since childhood. Frederick was my father while Solaria was my mother." Ash waited a moment before asking, "And Ruko?" Rukaria remained silent for a moment, her face deeply pained. She then sighed, "My fiancé..." Ash's eyes went wide with shock, "You're kidding..... What happened to him?" The blind maiden spoke, tears beginning to fill her eyes. "Murdered..."
Ash felt his blood chill as he heard Rukaria's confession. "I never knew... I'm sorry." He then clasped his hands together and offered a silent prayer. Rukaria began to sob, "They've been gone for so long..... I miss them so much..." Before Ash could stop her, Rukaria took her kris dagger in hand before stabbing herself in the chest. But as she removed the blade, her wound closed almost instantly. "No matter what I do, I just can't follow them... I've lived long enough!" As Rukaria wept, Ash held her in his arms. "Rukaria, calm down! Listen to me!" After a moment, the blind Lucario maiden stopped crying and gazed into her friend's eyes. He spoke, "If there's ever something I can do to help take away your pain, anything at all, let me know." Rukaria remained silent, listening to her friend's words. Hoping to help lighten the situation, Ash asked, "Tell me about your parents. What were they like?" Rukaria explained, "My father was a warrior of the clan who was respected by his peers. My mother was a farmer, yet very beautiful. Some say she was as dazzling as the sun, hence her name." She then sighed, "When I left my clan out of shame, my parents and Matariel stayed with me. They showed that even after all of my mistakes, they still cared for me. But they couldn't live forever. If it wasn't for Joan, I would probably still be in a pit of despair right now."
Hearing a name he did not recognize, Ash asked, "Joan?" Rukaria explained, "She is my aunt. Well, not directly. She became like a member of the family while being trained by my father. I don't know where she is, but she's the only member of my immediate family who still lives." Ash asked, "Still alive? What is she?" Rukaria replied, "A Salamence. Well... A type of Salamence. Her body's like that of a human, but her features are that of a Salamence." Ash continued to hold Rukaria close, his hand stroking her head. The Trainer whispered, "I understand if you miss them. But I want you to know that you have new friends now. And I'll always be here for you, Rukaria. You're precious to me." Moments later, a single tear fell from Rukaria's sightless eyes. "You remind me of Ruko in so many ways..... The way you comfort me..." She then touched his hand with her own, "Ash... Never change..." She blushed slightly, feeling warmth fill her as her sorrow receded.
That night, Ashton and his companions stood amongst the Ironspike clan as many bonfires illuminated the area, the plains that surrounded the museum. A vast variety of food was set out on tables all over the place, a rich aroma filling the air. Night Claw raised a glass of cider, "It is an honor to have you in our home, Sir Ashton! Long live the Vulcan Warrior! Glory to the Angel of the Eternal Flame!" The entire Ironspike clan howled, "Glory to the Angel!" Ashton blushed in embarrassment, not used to such praise. Clan members played out music on various instruments, many others dancing to the tempo. Ash and Lucy were especially enjoying the music as they danced together, remaining close at all times to avoid getting separated among the other dancers.
As the feast went on, Ashton quietly enjoyed a kabob of meat and veggies. Night Claw then approached him and asked, "Enjoying yourself, Sir Ashton?" The viscount nodded, "I don't think I've participated in an event this grand since my own wedding. It really takes me back." Night Claw giggled, "Yes, your Lucario servant. Ruby, wasn't it?" Ashton silently nodded, enjoying his meal. But after a moment more of watching the party around them, Night Claw whispered, "Sir Ashton, I have a special request to make." Sensing the seriousness in the Alpha female's voice, Ashton turned to her, "I'm listening."
Night Claw sighed, "This is a most dire request, so I understand if you choose to turn me down. But please hear me out at the least." Ashton listened silently. The Lucario explained, "To the east within tunnels carved out of Mt. Coronet lies a gang of bandits. They have been a constant thorn in our sides for generations, even dating back as far as 300 years or more. They attack the city on occasion, abducting our people and sometimes selling them to criminal buyers." Ashton clenched his fists, disgusted at the thought of such actions. Night Claw continued, "They are cowardly and without morals. Despite our best efforts over the decades, the Ironspike clan has been unable to truly counter them outside of our own territory. It is even rumored that they have connections to the notorious Hunter J."
Hearing the name of the evil poacher he was not able to kill, Ashton glared at Night Claw with an expression most dreadful. "Say no more." Night Claw became silent. The viscount then growled, "I know what you are going to ask. I accept. I will find and obliterate those scum." The Alpha female of the Ironspike clan dropped to one knee, "Sir Ashton..... Words cannot describe how grateful I am." Ashton turned to face a bonfire nearby, "I was unable to reach Hunter J in time to deal justice. To compensate, I will send those bandits to Hell instead. This, I vow."
The Angel of the Eternal Flame gazed into the flames of the bonfire, almost able to see the soul of the vile Hunter J burning in the fires of Hell. "I'll be sending your comrades to join you tomorrow, J. And I'll be sure to tell them to give you my regards."