AGNPH Stories

Forbidden Love by XD385


Story Notes:

This may become a bit of a Naruto crossover, but no characters from the series will appear, this I promise.

Crimson Enlightenment

Through the morning mist, the Flying Duskull drifted toward land. After losing his beloved Serra to the dread pirate Archibald, Ashton was not in the mood for anymore mistakes. Holding the helm firmly, he guided the vessel towards the docks. At last, he had arrived in the Far East.

Zandria came up alongside Ashton and breathed deeply. "Aw yeah, smells like fish. There must be fishermen hauling in their catches now." Ashton smiled, "Fish is also the main ingredient of sushi. I've never tasted the stuff, but I've heard the flavors are simply heavenly." They then came within view of the shoreline. It was then that some men began calling up to them from below. Ashton walked over to the side and called down to them, "Ah yes, I am here on behalf of the queen of Rohta! I request that you allow us to dock here!" However, the men just looked at each other while muttering amongst themselves. They then called back out to Ashton. But the viscount could not understand a word they said.

Ashton brought a hand to his face, "I can't believe I forgot about the language barriers here. They don't understand a word I'm saying and I can't understand them either." It was then that Ruby spoke, "Let me try." She then leaned over the side and shouted down at them in their native tongue. They then called back up at her. Ruby then turned to Ashton and said, "They're going to throw some ropes up here. They want us to tie them down to the ship so they can dock us." Ashton simply nodded, but Laura asked, "Hold on! How could you understand them?" Ruby giggled, "I was born here. It's only natural that I was educated to speak their language." Laura grinned, "Oh, how obvious!"

Once the mooring ropes had been fastened to the deck, the dockworkers steadily pulled the Flying Duskull towards the docks until it was close enough for the gangplank to reach the pier. "Allow me." Chiara spoke as her eyes glowed a light blue. The gangplank was then lowered with her telekinesis. Once the gangplank was secured, Ashton and his entourage proceeded down to the pier. Ruby then spoke to them in their language. They then replied in turn. Ruby then turned to her master and spoke, "It seems they were expecting us. Someone should be here to lead us to the place where we will be staying during our visit." Ashton then nodded, "OK, but whom?" As if to answer him, a voice shouted, "Welcome to the Far East, my friends! My my, I do believe you've grown slightly since I last saw you, Ashton!" The viscount froze, "That voice..... Sensei?!"

Ashton and his entourage turned to face a tall wooden pole a short distance away. And at the top of the pole stood a middle-aged man clothed in a purple shinobi's tunic complete with a red cloak. His short spiky dark hair wavered slightly in the wind. With a leap, he soared through the air and landed before the foreigners with a quiet tap. As he stood up, he cast a welcoming gaze at his former pupil. "It's been quite some time, Ashton. And you're carrying quite a blade with you. Interesting weapon of choice."

Ashton bowed before his master, "It is an honor to be in your homeland, Koga-sensei." But Koga shook his head, "No, Ashton. There is no need for you to bow before me. I have heard much of your exploits against the Black Wing and the Night Hawk. That assassin had even taken the lives of some good friends of mine. As I see it, you and I are on equal ground." Ashton stood up, "I see. Still, I view you as my superior." Koga nodded and looked at the eight ladies who accompanied him. "It is good to see you again Cassandra, Serenade, Chiara, Laura, Zandria, and Aurora. Oh, but who is this?" He then noticed the Lucario and albino Mightyena. Ashton chuckled, "Ah yes. There have been a few additions to the family since I last saw you. Allow me to introduce you. This is Laika. And this is Ruby. She originates from the Far East as well." Ruby then bowed, "A pleasure, Master Koga."

Koga then asked Ashton, "So you wish to see the emperor?" Ashton grinned, "Well, that is the mission, is it not?" Koga nodded, "That it is. Please follow me." Koga then turned to lead his guests to the imperial palace. As they passed through the town, Cassandra looked about in amazement. "The architecture is even more fascinating than I expected! How exotic!" Zandria then smirked, "Not just that. Get a load of the aromas coming from the kitchens here. Can't wait to sample the fare!" Ashton spoke, "Don't get too hasty. We'll have plenty of time to enjoy ourselves here."

At the very center of the town stood a magnificent palace with a grand pagoda standing in the center. A large wall with towers positioned at several points surrounded the structure. A large red gateway stood at the center of the wall the group was approaching. But as they neared it, a pair of guards outfitted with oriental armor and kabuto helmets stood before them and crossed a pair of yari spears, barring access to the palace. One of them spoke, "You are outsiders. What business do you have with the emperor?" Before Ashton could reply, Koga spoke, "He is my pupil. He is also the ambassador sent from the kingdom of Rohta." The two guards pulled their spears back and set them straight up. "I see. Yes, we have been expecting you. Please proceed." Serenade then asked, "You speak English?" One of the guards nodded, "But of course. To help insure we are on good terms with our allies overseas, we have been trained to be bilingual. Is there anything else I can help you with, miss?" Serenade simply stared for a moment, but then replied, "" Ashton then spoke, "Come, sister. Our host awaits."

Koga led his guests through the exquisite halls of the imperial palace until they stood before another doorway. But instead of a door, the path was blocked by silk curtains. Two more guards stood in their way, but unlike the two outside, they were armed with wakizashi swords. They gripped the hilts and one of them spoke, "State your business." Koga replied, "I am escorting the ambassador from the kingdom of Rohta." They released their grips on the swords and stepped aside, holding the curtains open for the guests. "Please enter. The emperor is expecting you." Koga then led the entourage into the royal chamber. Kneeling between two advisors was a man who seemed no older than Koga. He had a long flowing black beard and wore a beautiful silk robe that shimmered like gold. He looked up to greet his guests. "Visitors from the Far West. I welcome you."

Ashton stepped forward and kneeled before the emperor. "If it is not too much trouble, may my servants join us?" The emperor looked ahead at the eight Pokémon standing behind him. "They may. All Pokémon are welcome in my kingdom." All eight of them, excluding Laika, showed surprise at the emperor's kindness towards them, but kneeled in a row at both sides of Ashton while Koga stood behind the young viscount. "You have my thanks. Now then, I have never been an ambassador before, so I'm at a loss of what to say." The emperor chuckled, "You need not say anything, Vulcan Warrior. Your exploits have even made themselves known here. And I thank you for slaying the Night Hawk. She had been marked for death some time ago."

Ashton nodded, "Indeed. The Night Hawk met her end at my hands. But who hired her?" The emperor raised an eyebrow, "Pardon?" Ashton explained, "As much as the Night Hawk enjoyed taking the lives of others, she only did so when someone commissioned her to do the deed. So who hired her here?" At this, one of the emperor's advisors spoke, "That is information that cannot be revealed to an outsider." But the emperor faced his advisor, "No, we can trust this boy. His eyes are ones of great kindness and understanding." The emperor looked back towards Ashton, "Do not mind my advisors. They simply care for my wellbeing as well as for this nation. But I know you can be trusted." Ashton nodded, "No offense taken."

The emperor spoke, "As you just said, yes. The Night Hawk was paid for her services while she was here. She had been hired to assassinate a number of veteran shinobi and kunoichi as well as a small number of individuals who were gathering information on a strange cult. We suspect that the Night Hawk had been hired by said cult." Ashton asked, "What is this cult you speak of?" The emperor sighed, "I cannot say. We have virtually no information on them at the moment. They are extremely secretive and their members have been spotted only briefly on only a few occasions. It is even suspected that this organization has no name to begin with."

Ashton frowned, "But you say that members of this cult have been seen. What did they look like?" The emperor replied, "All of the witnesses claim that each of the members had pale complexions and jet-black hair, although some were said to be bald." Serenade brought a hand to her chin, "Pale?" The emperor nodded, "Yes. About as pale as you, to be honest. But when asked if they were Gardevoir, the witnesses disagreed. I am certain that the members of this cult are all human." Serenade gulped, "I see. I was afraid you were going to arrest me."

The emperor then clapped his hands. At that moment, a servant walked in from the side of the room and set a small wooden chest before Ashton before leaving through the way he came. "As I said, the Night Hawk had been marked for death. To this effect, she had quite a bounty on her head. This is your reward for slaying her." But Ashton shook his head, "With all due respect, I don't need it. I'm wealthy enough as is." But Koga then spoke up, "That chest is filled with currency used by this nation. And the currency of Rohta is not useable in this land just yet. Are you saying you would rather stay in this land for the next month without having any means of buying food for you and your servants?" Ashton's eyes went wide as he gulped, "We can't use Rohta's currency here?" The emperor silently nodded. The viscount gave a nervous laugh, "Well...uh... I guess I WILL accept your offer! Thank you very much!" The emperor chuckled loudly, "You are very welcome, my boy. The amount of currency in that chest should be more than enough to fund your stay here. But should you happen to run out before you leave, simply let me know." Ashton nodded, "I am honored by your generosity."

The emperor then spoke, "Yes, you do indeed represent the future of your kingdom, Ashton. I will send word to the queen that I am looking forward to our alliance." He then looked at Koga and spoke, "Koga, show our guests to their home away from home." Koga nodded, "Yes, my lord. Ashton, please come with me." Ashton stood up with his eight servants following his lead. But as they left the palace, Serenade asked, "Master Koga, what is wrong with the people here?" Koga gave the Gardevoir an odd look, "Wrong? Whatever do you mean?" She then explained, "Aside from Ashton, I have never met a human who addresses Pokémon as equals before. Why do the people here see us this way?" Koga chuckled, "I'm not surprised that you noticed. Things are different here than in Rohta. Here in the Far East, Pokémon are viewed as valued partners due to their unique abilities that humans do not possess. Although not viewed as exact equals, they are viewed as being so much like humans that it makes no difference." Laura giggled, "Really? I'm gonna like it here."

Shortly after leaving the imperial palace, Ashton and his entourage found themselves at a humble little inn that was only three stories tall. Koga spoke, "This is where you will be staying. It may seem a bit modest at first glance, but rest assured that this inn is one of the finest in the land. It is known as the Akatsuki Inn since the sunrise from the top floor is a truly wonderful sight. Akatsuki means 'dawn' in our language." He then led his guests inside. Standing just past the entrance was a young woman dressed in a kimono depicting cherry blossoms. When she spoke, her voice had a heavy eastern accent. "Welcome to the Akatsuki Inn. My name is Yuriko. May I help you?" Ashton replied, "Yes. I am Ashton Redford Crimson. I am the ambassador of the kingdom of Rohta and I will be staying here for a while with my servants." The maid smiled, "Ashton? We have been expecting you. Your stay here has also been prepaid. Please come with me." Before the maid could lead the guests to their rooms, Koga spoke, "If you need me, I will be at my home. It is just to the east of the palace." He then waved goodbye at his pupil and left the inn.

Yuriko stopped before a sliding door, "Lord Ashton, this is your room. Please make yourself at home." Ashton grinned, "Thank you, Yuriko. If it is not too much to ask, may I allow one of my servants to stay with me?" He then motioned for Laika to approach him. "Laika here is my personal guardian. She is to be near me at all times." Yuriko nodded, "That is fine. If you need anything, please let me know." She then turned to the other seven ladies. "Please follow me. I will show you to your rooms." But Chiara asked, "We are permitted to have our own rooms?" Yuriko smiled, "Yes. You are each entitled to have your own rooms during your stay." Chiara grinned, "This is going to be an even more enjoyable stay than I imagined."

Ashton took a seat near the mat which served as a bed. "Well Laika, this will be our home for now." The Mightyena looked around, intrigued by just how different the room looked compared to the chambers of the Crimson estate. "No chairs?" Ashton nodded, "True. Instead of chairs, they use mats for kneeling on. Like so." Ashton then took off his boots and went over to the table at the center of the room, which was surprisingly low. He then kneeled so that the backs of his upper legs rested against the backs of his lower legs. "The mats cushion the legs so they don't scrape against the floor. Speaking of which, the floor is covered with tatami mats."

Laika approached the bed and rested herself on the covers. Ashton then walked over to her and took a seat next to her. "This is an ideal opportunity for you to improve your view of humanity. The humans of this land are much more accepting of Pokémon as partners than the humans of Rohta." Laika sighed, "Maybe so, but the scars of my past run deep. I can't guarantee that my views of them will improve during our stay." Ashton gave her a gentle pat on the head, "Even so, a little improvement is better than none. More than anything, let's enjoy our stay here." Laika nodded, "That I will."

That evening, as the moon glowed in the sky, Ashton made his way to the hot spring of the inn. Along the way, all eight of his servants joined him. But when they reached the entrance, they were baffled to find two separate doorways. And neither of them could read the symbols next to the doorways. Aurora asked, "Why are there two entrances?" Just then, a voice spoke, "The one on the left is the men's side while the one on the right is the women's side." They turned to look behind them and found Yuriko standing there. "It's also the same for every hot spring. Even if you can't read the symbols, just remember that the men's side is always on the left and the women's side is always on the right. Oh, and Lord Ashton? Koga came by and went into the hot spring. I'm sure he'd like to see you." Ashton nodded, "Thank you, Yuriko. Well ladies, enjoy yourselves." With that, they entered the hot spring on their respective sides.

"Haaaaa..... Now this is just heavenly." Ruby sighed as she sank herself up to her shoulders in the pool. "Indeed. I'm normally one for ordinary springs, but this kind of spring is even lovelier." Aurora cooed as she floated in the center of the pool. All eight of the ladies were indeed enjoying themselves. Even the stern-faced Laika sighed in pleasure as she rested in the shallows. Serenade smiled, "I wonder why we don't have springs like this back home." Ruby then asked, "Lady Serenade, why are your arms white? I thought they were green." Serenade giggled, "No, the arms of the dress I wear are green, as is the chest area. I can take it off at will. It is made of a fabric that only the Gardevoir who wears it can remove. See?" The Gardevoir then stood up. At that instant, all eyes gazed at her beautiful body. Her succulent white breasts were quite large, almost as large as her mother's. Her body also seemed more slender than usual without her flowing white dress around her. And her delicate womanhood was visible now that her clothing was removed. She asked, "See? I do wear a dress. Huh?" She then noticed some of her 'sister's' faces glaring at her. "Is something wrong?" Laura was the first to speak, "It's not fair! Why do you have to be so honking beautiful?!"

The girls then heard Koga's voice call out, "Ashton, are you about ready yet?!" They then heard Ashton reply, "I'll be ready within the minute!" Chiara cocked her head slightly, "He has not come in yet? What is he waiting for?" Just then, Cassandra noticed Zandria standing at the bamboo fence that separated the two sides. "Zandria, what are you doing?" The Zangoose snickered, "I've been waiting a long time for an opportunity like this! I'll finally see Ashton's jewels!" The Absol growled, "Oh no you don't! I'm seeing them too!" She climbed out of the pool and ran over to the fence, prying two sticks apart to see through. Laura giggled, "Me too! There's no way I'm missing out on this!" She then floated up to the top of the fence and peered over it. "Who knows when this chance will come again? I must take the initiative!" Chiara smiled as she levitated up next to Laura. Aurora then jumped out of the pool, "Make some room! I command you as the head maid!" She then peeked through a small gap. Ruby then climbed out of the pool and ran over to the fence, (If I'm going to bear Ashton's child someday, I need to know what he looks like down there.) Serenade then glided over to the fence, (Mother, I'll find out why you want me to marry him so badly.) Lastly, Laika walked over to the fence. "Might as well see for myself." She said, pretending to not show interest.

After about 30 seconds, the girls heard footsteps coming from the left. "Oh my god, he's coming!" "I'll bet he is drop-dead sexy!" "I bet it's huge! Like a sausage!" The girls kept muttering to themselves as the viscount approached the water, their eyes filled with giddy excitement. But just as he was about to come close enough for them to see him through the steam, their eyes went wide in surprise at a strange spraying sound, followed by a splattering sound that reminded them of rain hitting a street. Ashton turned to his right as he heard the sound of a liquid hitting the stone ground. He gasped at the sight of a small puddle of blood. "What the?! Hey, are you girls all right over there?!" Just before he looked in their direction, the ladies ducked out of sight. Chiara replied, "Uh...yes! We're just fine! We're...uh...really liking this hot spring! Nice and warm! No peeping through the fence! No sir!" Ashton stood there for a moment before muttering, "O.....K...?" He then stepped into the hot spring with Koga. "What do you suppose happened?" Koga grunted, "I'm not sure I want to know."

Back on the women's side, seven of the ladies cried in disappointment. Cassandra groaned, "We were SO close! I could almost smell his musk!" Ruby cried, "I could almost taste it! What went wrong?!" But just then, they heard a weak moan. They then looked to the left and saw Laura lying on her back, a glazed look in her eyes. Blood was oozing from her nostrils. She muttered, "So sexy..... So godly..." Zandria growled, "Laura, you ditz! How could you blow our cover like that?!" Aurora sighed, "Her excitement got the better of her. Lost control of herself before she even saw him..." The seven ladies silently wept at their wasted opportunity.

After some time, Ashton made his way back to his room while draped in a cotton robe while Koga went home. Shortly after returning to his room, Ashton asked Yuriko to bring him some green tea. Shorty after she left, Ashton heard the sliding door open and saw Laika walk in, her fur still moist. "Did you enjoy the hot spring?" The Mightyena nodded, "It was comforting." She then curled up next to him. A few minutes later, Yuriko returned with Ashton's tea. "Many thanks, Yuriko. I do believe I'll be fine for the night." After she left, Ashton tenderly sipped his tea. Laika asked, "How does it taste?" Ashton sighed, "It has a fairly modest taste. Although it doesn't taste like much, it's good for you and has a habit of growing on you." Laika simply set her head down again as her master continued to drink his tea.

Once Ashton had finished his tea, he walked over to the futon-type bed and lied down. He then held the covers open and motioned for Laika to come over. But as she approached him, he raised a hand. "Ah ah, have you forgotten your promise to me?" Laika simply stared at him for a few seconds, but then gave him a pleasant smile. "Your smile keeps improving." She then crawled under the blanket and rested her head on the pillow next to Ashton's. As he embraced her from behind, Ashton whispered, "Let there be no hate during this visit. We are here to enjoy ourselves." Laika nodded, "Very well." Soon, they both drifted off to sleep.

At around noon the next day, everyone decided to go off and look around the city on their own. Laika was even permitted to leave Ashton's side for the day. Zandria had decided to check out the various restaurants in the area. Her first stop was a ramen shop. She hopped up onto a stool and smacked down onto the counter an oval-shaped gold coin that had been giving to her by Ashton. "I'll take one of your best dishes!" The chef turned around and asked her something in his own language. After seeing Zandria give him a puzzled look, he chuckled, "Oh, you speak English? One moment." He then started to boil some ramen in a pot. Only three minutes later, he drained the ramen and poured it into a bowl of soup. He then set the bowl in front of Zandria. Along with the ramen, there were slices of pork, dried seaweed, and a small amount of green onions. "This is my most popular dish on the menu." Zandria took a deep breath as she sampled the aroma. "Man, it must taste even better than it smells."

Zandria looked around, "What's this? No fork?" The chef chuckled, "No. We use these. They're called chopsticks." Zandria looked up and saw the chef holding a pair of sticks between his fingers. "You hold them like this and then pick up the food between them." But as Zandria stared at the chopsticks, she had an idea. She extended the two claws on her right hand and made them touch each other. "I get it now." She then dunked her claws in the bowl and grabbed some ramen with them. She then carefully raised the noodles to her lips and slurped them up. A second later, her face went blank with amazement. "Yes, every single one of my customers has that face when they try this dish for the first time." Zandria then smiled, "I can see why! You really know how to cook!" She then really went to work on her meal, slurping up her ramen with gusto.

Near the harbor, Ruby was taking a walk towards the seaside. She breathed deep as the ocean air filled her nostrils. "This smell brings back memories." As she came into view of the harbor, she saw many seamen tending to their vessels. But she then noticed a merchant vessel nearby that was very familiar to her. And sitting in front of the gangplank connecting the dock to the deck was an old man.

"Master!" Ruby ran over to the old man, who had apparently dozed off. "Hm? Someone there? Wait... You look familiar..." Ruby then spoke in the dialect of the Far East, "Yes, I was the Lucario who had no spikes. The one who you gave to Ashton of Green Mile." The old man's eyes went wide with shock, "You?! I did not recognize you! You seem so much more joyful now. I see no sadness in your eyes at all. Is Ashton taking care of you?" Ruby nodded, "Yes. He is taking very good care of me. I owe him much." The old man smiled, "Good to hear. He is with you, is he not?" Ruby nodded, "Yes. He was sent here as the ambassador of the kingdom of Rohta. I came along with him." The old man chuckled, "Ambassador? For someone as young as him? He must be a very trustworthy young man. But now that I think about it, do you have a name now, my little No Name?" Ruby giggled, "Yes. Lord Ashton named me Ruby." Her former master smiled, "Such a beautiful name. When you see him again, give Ashton my regards." Ruby nodded, "I will. Take care, Master!" Ruby bowed and then ran back in the direction of the town, unaware of the many eyes glaring at her from a cage behind her master.

"The very same whelp that boy took." One of the many Lucario muttered. Another spoke, "She is not worthy of being claimed by a man. He should have chosen one of us instead." Yet another Lucario growled, "Then let us correct that mistake." In a loud clatter of metal striking the ground, the two dozen Lucario inside the cage shattered the bars and knocked out their master before he could interfere.

Ruby hummed a simple melody to herself as she skipped down an alley. But a voice from above shouted, "Die, you worthless wretch!!!" Out of instinct, Ruby used Extremespeed to dash forward a short distance. She heard a crash right behind her. But she came to a halt as a trio of Lucario blocked her way. She then turned to run, but found the other end of the alley blocked off by another three. She then looked above her and found numerous Lucario perched atop the walls. There were precisely two dozen of them. "You.... All of you are..."

One of the Lucario nodded, "So you remember, No Name. We are the pack members who sailed the ocean with you. We deserved to be taken in by those who would give us shelter. But you are not worthy of such. And for this, the mistake our master made will be corrected!" At that instant, they all lunged at her. "No! I didn't do anything wrong! Go away!" But when they were about to strike, a voice yelled, "Wind Scythe Jutsu!!!" At that call, a blast of wind sent the pack of Lucario flying to the end of the alley before landing in a pile. Ruby, who had not been caught in the gust, turned to face the other end of the alley. "Lord Ashton!!!"

The viscount hoisted the Flamberge to his shoulder, "Ruby, allow me to handle these thugs." He then walked forward as Ruby ran to the other end of the alley. Once the Lucario had gotten themselves out of the pile, they stood before the young knight. One demanded, "Stand aside. Our business is with that unworthy female." Ashton simply grunted, "From what I can see, she has done no harm to either of you. If you harm a member of my family, you will suffer the consequences." Another Lucario growled, "Family? You should have chosen one of us! She is not deserving of your kind heart! We have all of the makings that make us Lucario while she does not!" Ashton sighed, "You mean those spikes? Look, just because she lacks something that you have does not mean she is worse than you. Everyone has their flaws. Now get lost." Finally, one of the Lucario charged Ashton and leapt at him, "Get out of our way! If not, you will die along with her!"

Ashton stood his ground as the Lucario lunged at him. But as soon as it was within range, he performed a sideways slash with the Flamberge, splitting him in two at the waist. The two halves rolled along the ground due to the momentum, spilling his blood along the ground. Ruby became even bluer in the face than usual as she saw one of her own kind slaughtered. The other Lucario looked on in shock from watching Ashton swing something as large as the Flamberge so quickly. But after a moment, the viscount began to tremble violently. He slowly brought the Flamberge back up in front of him and gripped the hilt with both hands. Ruby could hear his breathing become erratic as he began to sweat profusely. He looked ahead at the pack of Lucario and screamed, "Stay away! Don't force me to kill you all!"

The Lucario simply looked ahead at the panicked expression on Ashton's face. "It seems he's cracking in our presence. Is it because we have him outnumbered?" One of the Lucario shouted, "This is your last chance! Stand aside, or die!" The entire pack then charged the cowering viscount. As they closed in, Ashton let out a wail the likes of which Ruby had never heard before. She closed her eyes and covered her ears as the sound of metal cleaving flesh and screams of death echoed out of the alley. Blood splattered everywhere along the walls and ground. In under a minute, the air was filled with only a deathly silence.

Without even turning around to face her master, Ruby could smell a sickly sweet odor fill the air. She called out with her eyes closed, "Lord Ashton, are you well?!" All she could hear was Ashton's erratic breathing. He then spoke, "Leave me..... Just for now..." Without questioning him, Ruby turned and made her way back to the Akatsuki Inn, hoping that Ashton had not been harmed.

Ashton dropped the Flamberge as he sank to his knees. "What have I done? How could I do that to them?" He looked around at the mangled corpses of the Lucario who had tried to murder him. He then dropped to his hands and screamed in remorse, surrounded by the disemboweled remains of the very creatures he had vowed to protect.

"That is quite enough, Ashton. There is nothing for you to be ashamed of." The viscount slowly looked up as he trembled in sorrow. Standing before him was Koga. "Koga-sensei... You don't understand... They were..." But the wise shinobi set a hand on Ashton's shoulder. "You said it yourself. Pokémon are people, just like humans." Ashton nodded, "Yes. That is why I vowed to protect them. But I...." Koga then spoke, "But since they are the same as humans, Pokémon are just as capable of performing acts of evil. Right?"

This made Ashton think of something that had never crossed his mind before. "Capable...of evil?" Koga nodded, "Yes. Since Pokémon have souls like us, they are also just as capable of performing acts of evil. There is no excusing the harm that the humans of your land force onto the Pokémon that reside within Rohta, but you must always understand that anything that has a soul can go either way. Never forget that. You did the right thing. If you had not killed them, they would have murdered Ruby. Pride is said to be the sin from which all other sins originate from. And they were drunk with it."

Ashton slowly climbed to his feet as he wiped his tears away. "Koga-sensei... Thank you. I had never imagined that Pokémon could be just as villainous as humans can be. I had always viewed them as victims. But now I know that even they can become just as cruel as humans can be." Koga smiled, "I know it must have hurt to see them fall before you, but you became wiser in the process." Ashton then picked up the Flamberge and placed it on his back, "Even so, I will not falter in my quest to make it known that Pokémon have souls. How will we ever know if Pokémon are evil from birth if we never give them a chance?" Koga smiled, "True. Now head on back to the inn and rest. I'll let their master know what happened. Trust me. He will understand." Ashton gave Koga a friendly wave as he walked away from the bloody mess. He looked to the sky, his soul now filled with renewed resolve.

That night, a lone figure made his way through a forest under the cover of darkness. His face was wrapped in a black hood that shinobi were known for wearing during missions. He came to a small clearing where a single figure stood. He dropped from the trees and kneeled behind the person. "My liege, it would seem that he has indeed arrived in this land. The Vulcan Warrior is among us." The figure before him replied in a quiet and raspy voice without turning to face his informant, "Is he now? The very same man who destroyed the Night Hawk?" The masked man nodded, "The same." The figure before him chuckled a bit, "Most interesting. He will prove to be a valuable ally indeed."

The masked man asked, "Ally? Are you certain that a person like him would truly aid us?" The figure before him smiled, "Indeed. He harbors much resentment towards humanity, even if he does not show it very well. And it is our goal to bring humanity to its knees. I'm sure we can arrange a bargain for his service under the watchful eyes of our master." The masked shinobi nodded, "I see. Should I inform the others to be on alert?" The figure replied, "Yes. But make certain that you do not harm him. He is our guest after all." The hooded man nodded before vanishing in a blur.

The lone figure chuckled, "Ashton Redford Crimson. The Vulcan Warrior. The carrier of the Eternal Flame. Such an ally will truly prove essential to our great master's revival." The mysterious man chuckled, his yellow reptilian eyes shining in the darkness.
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